#WorkHuman Conference: 2 Words – BRENE’ BROWN!

Hello Friends!

Check out my latest VLOG on why you must attend the 2018 WorkHuman Conference this April.  One of the keynotes is a favorite of mine — BRENE’ BROWN (I love her so much).

Brene’ is an expert on vulnerability.  I mean check this quote out: “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness”. IMO, this is critical for modern leadership.

ALSO – when you Register for the conference, use the Magic Dawn Discount code WH18INF-DBW

SEE You There!




#Hamilton files: Good HR Recruiters should hire a Theatre Major


“Great theatre is about challenging how we think and encouraging us to fantasize about a world we aspire to.”  — Willem Dafoe

Sounds like how high-performance teams must work now.  Let me tell you why.

I finally saw Hamilton in Chicago.  OMG.  My theatre nerd came out of me in all directions.

I got tickets as a Christmas present, so have been anticipating the greatness that is Hamilton for 8 months.  It was worth the wait.  I’ve had  the soundtrack for months, I know the lyrics and obviously knows how it ends.  With that in mind, I felt certain there wouldn’t be tears as I watched.  Wrong — at the end I was holding back a semi-ugly cry and at one point I started welling up because the production quality was just so good.

As I watched, I thought, if these guys didn’t make it in Theatre, what would their profession be?  I for one would hire them.  Why?  Let me tell you why… most were theatre majors, or in the very least learned professionalism through working in the theatre.

We often hear managers make leadership and teamwork references to sports.  My God! Enough already.  Expand your horizons and think differently.  Frankly, the same analogies can be made for those in Theatre.  Traits for those lucky enough to be in Theatre include:

Commitment: Theatre folks of all disciplines, from actor to director to lighting technician have to dedicate large amounts of time to rehearsing, auditioning, and keeping relevant.  If they flake, a show could be jeopardized.  I mean, there is no “not showing up” or “I’m feeling sick today”, or “my throat hurts”… you show up or someone will take your place.

A quest to be the best:  Theatre professionals have no choice.  The market is too full, competition is fierce and yes, there is no-cap on personal ambition.  No one can tolerate a bad production.  Or a patronizing clap.  Anathema.  Hubris.

Ability to take rejection:  A part of the quest to be great in the theatre means getting OK with rejection.  A lot of it.  This translates well in the professional world as well.  I mean, have you worked in the corporate world?  Jesus, enough said.

Teamwork:  Putting on a class-A production requires many separate teams to collaborate daily, through the entire rehearsal process and production.  This can be 3 months to many years. If the costumes don’t match the vision of the director, if the lights don’t actually follow the actors or enhance the mood of the play, if the sound technician forgets his cues and mics the wrong actor, if the guy who pulls the curtain up and down at the right time jacks it up, if actors forget anything, especially when not to stand in front of pyrotechnics, not only is it dangerous, but the production is screwed.

Ability to have each other’s back:  If a light cue does go wrong or an actor forgets their lines, the show must go on.  Other members must seamlessly “have their back”  and just like sports teams, all must trust the others have their back.

Ability to give away the spotlight to others:  Scenes only work when performers know when it is time to “give” the scene to their partner.  This means, it is appropriate for the actor to step back, focus attention on the other, and listen.  Sounds like a high-performance team, right?


Have passion and purpose:  Folks in the theatre have passion for what they do.  If they did not, theatre would not be worth it.  The life is too hard.  Also, sorry, without passion an actor just isn’t an actor (or a good actor). And passion and purpose are big motivators to the modern workforce.  Win.

What does an actor in the workplace need from leaders: 

  • Continuous feedback
  • Praise when deserved 
  • To be heard

So, if you are one who love to hire athletes, you should flip your script and hire those in the fine arts.  Not only will you have folks that work well in high-performance teams, but you also may have someone who can entertain you daily, which in today’s workforce certainly can’t hurt.


I Was In Charlottesville, Here’s What Locals Want Me To Share.


By the biggest of coincidences I was in Charlottesville the weekend of the recent protests. My husband, who rarely has to travel outside of AL for work, had to take a deposition in a small Pennsylvania town not far from Charlottesville.  Since we’ve both wanted to visit Monticello (the home of Thomas Jefferson), the University of VA, and wine country, all located in Charlottesville, we decided to make it a weekend trip.  We’d never been before — it would be fun.

We had no idea, until during an ATL layover to Charlottesville, there was to be a Unite The Right rally.  Wait–What? And that I should be careful.  Holy crap.

What were the odds?

When we arrived in Charlottesville, for a nano-second Bo and I thought about going to the anti-protest.  But we quickly decided nothing good could possibly come out of rally where tiki torches were required for the side we wouldn’t be supporting.  Also, the fact that we were two white people from Alabama who just happened to be in Charlottesville for the very first time…we thought the optics may not be so good (sorry AL, I don’t make the rules). We decided to scrap any events we planned to do downtown, stay away from campus for a while, and stick to our weekend of wine, mountains, and American History emersion at Monticello.

In addition, some more context. You see, I’m born yankee. However, in addition to living in Ohio, Minnesota and Illinois, have lived the majority of my life in southern towns (North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama).  My husband has lived in the south his entire life.  Robert E. Lee rhetoric is nothing new.  Typically, protests are small gatherings of mainly pissy, older white men with nothing better to do.  Although I completely disagree with the sentiments shared at these these protests, and have always been baffled why there were so many statues of the General committed to spitting our union, and confused why there where tributes to the guy on the losing side, and couldn’t believe that these weren’t in museums yet, and couldn’t imagine being non-white and seeing these “revered monuments” all over an American city I paid taxes in…the protests were typically non-violent, discussed over the water cooler the next day, and forgotten.  For better or worse.

Bo and I hoped the event in Charlottesville would just be more of the same.  We were wrong.

It wasn’t until late Saturday afternoon that reports infiltrated our tourist cocoon.  When Bo’s mom called his cell, that was our clue something had happened for she is the bell-weather of any events that may effect us.  While Bo’s mom was telling us from Alabama what was happening 6 miles from us, others at the winery were getting calls too.  Mostly family members telling the latest news that someone was killed at the protest.  Jesus.

We felt like shits saying, with a glass of wine in hand, that we were OK.

So here is what I need to share with people about the experience.  Almost every person we encountered from Charlottesville was desperate to ensure us this is not Charlottesville.  Riots are not Charlottesville.  Violence is not Charlottesville.  The locals we encountered we horrified their city was in the middle of something outside of their control.

So that is what I am going to share.  I am going to share the message the locals we talked to wanted all to understand. I’m also going to thank people who kept me and my husband safe and informed, and for the record they were all different races.

  • To our African-American waiter at IHOP (really the nicest guy you’d hope to meet), who made us smile in spite of insanity around us, we thank you.
  • To the Middle-Eastern staff at The Afghan Kabob,  who served us late since most other restaurants were closed, we thank you.
  • To the Caucasian worker at the Jefferson winery who gave us updates on what was happening in town, we thank you.
  • To locals at the winery and Monticello giving us updates, we thank you.
  • To the Caucasian and Hispanic UVA guards at the hotel who stayed up all night, made our stay safe, and ensured we were OK, we thank you.  And yes, their were guards.  We were staying at a UVA hotel not too far from the Jefferson Statue; aka Tiki Torch Central.

And finally to the shops throughout the city, who displayed these signs the day of the rally, we thank you.


I’m not naive enough to think any town, no matter who you talk to on a vacation, is immune from bigotry, ignorance, and racism.  But for the two days we were there, two pretty remarkable days, we saw some of the best in Charlottesville during a time when the worst was rearing it’s head.

Charlottesville, you’ll be alright.





Want Affordable, Effective Workers Fast: Hire “Brandless” Employees.

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Companies and agencies are continuously trying to find the “holy grail” of talent:  New hires who can do the job well and come at an affordable salary. As an HR pro, I don’t know how many times I’ve been told by hiring managers to find the best talent for the cheapest price possible.  Unfortunately, there have been a few problems with this equation, namely:

  • Managers aren’t sure what “doing the job well” is.
  • Managers believe candidates are worth less than they are told.
  • Candidates believe they are worth more than they really are.
  • Candidates who do know what they are worth try to negotiate for much higher.
  • There are too many candidates to choose from, primarily due to electronic means of advertising jobs and applying for jobs.

The outcome can be a lengthy, expensive recruiting process due to too many interviews, too many decision makers, and salary ranges that are based on a negotiation game.

The Potential Solve:  Go “Brandless”.

Hey Gang:  Read the rest of my post (and lots of other great stuff) at Fistful Of Talent



Fad or Fundamental: Millennials Are The Most Demanding Generation?

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Special Note:  Scroll down to the bottom to receive the Dawn Magic Discount Code for this fall’s ClearCompany Talent Success Conference… and now, on to the blog post! 


For those of you who want to throw a tomato at my head (gently please) because I’m writing an article about Millennials… slow your roll!  Cause I’m gonna drop some knowledge on you that may rock your world just a little bit.  Ready?

Turns out Millennials aren’t the most “demanding generation” anymore.  Arguably they aren’t the most entitled.  Want to know why?  Turns out, in the modern workforce, all generations want the same things of our employers.  The generational “wants” in the workforce are no longer so broad or stereotypical.  

So, to answer the question, is considering millennials the most demanding generation an HR fad or an HR fundamental? …

Hey Gang:  Read the rest of my post (and lots of other great stuff) at The ClearCompany Blog


Also:  Here’s How To Register for the ClearCompany Talent Success Conference using the Dawn Magic Discount Code :

Come see me speak, along with wonderful speakers such as Kris Dunn, Libby Sartain, and many others at this year’s ClearCompany Talent Success Conference.  Dates:  September 13 – 14th in the great city of Boston.  And guess what — if you use the “Dawn Magic Conference Code” you’ll get 25% off the registration fee.  

The code is simple to remember:  Just typeDAWN” as the promo code during registration..  

See you there! 





My Toughest Leave of Absence Situations: A Lesson In Generosity

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My following piece, originally posted on ALEX by JellyVision, is part one in a three part series titled:  My Toughest Leave Of Absence Situations.


There are some experiences that simply fall into your lap. Experiences you don’t see coming and many times aren’t quite prepared for. However, these situations usually teach us the biggest lessons: lessons about patience, empathy and grace. This certainly has been the case during my 17 years as an HR pro, especially when dealing with employee leaves of absence (LoA).

I’m happy to share with you one of my toughest LoA situations and the lesson I learned from it.

A Lesson In Generosity

Early in my HR career I dealt with what was the most trying of all my LoA experiences…

Hey Gang:  Read the rest of my post (and lots of other great stuff) at MEET Alex by Jellyvision


VIDEO: No Scrubs with John Nykolaiszyn : How to Help Your Employees Beat Burnout

Hello Gang – New Episode of No Scrubs VideoCast Up!  How to Help Your Employees Beat Burnout.

No Scrubs is brought to you by Jobvite and Fistful of Talent.

In this episode me and my guest, John Nykolaiszyn, from the College of Business Career Management Services Office at Florida International University, talk first about what sort of career preparation college students are getting prior to graduation, and then go in deep on the topic of burnout.

These days, most tasks workers are faced with, they can’t say no to—so how do we keep employees from falling over the edge with their workloads? Dawn and John dig in and give advice all managers need to hear on keeping your employees sane and safe from burnout.

Check out the video now!


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Keep Your Culture From Becoming The Cult Of Personality

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This is likely a no brainer to most, but it can be tricky, so worth exploring.  I am a big, big advocate for the concept of culture in the workplace.  What does cultural advocacy mean?  It means I believe:

  • The way people work around a place is indeed a culture
  • Culture is the appropriate word to describe that phenomenon
  • Organizations (and their leaders) who understand their culture have a higher chance of achieving corporate goals

I have been fortunate enough to work in HR Leadership roles for companies who have embraced the notion that creating an employee-friendly culture has increased the likelihood of corporate success. I have been very lucky in that regard for any alternative culture probably would not have been a fit for me.

But cultural excellence (for lack of a better word) is hard to navigate.  Very quickly a culture can indeed tiptoe into a cult. So, what is the definition of a cult?

Cult:  a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.

 Some examples:  Steve Jobs, Starbucks coffee, Apple products, Spanx, Micro-brews, Vinyl records, Ben Platt (look him up), organic vegetables, Scientology/Tom Cruise!

All agree the connotations of the word “cult” is bad.  HR Pros, here are some tips to help ensure your culture remains out of the cult category….


Hey Gang:  Read the rest of my post (and lots of other great stuff) at Fistful Of Talent


Job Transition > Enjoy Limbo While You Wait For Your “McRib”

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I am currently in a job transition.  However, this time, before I jump back into the fold, I’ve decided to take a breather from corporate HR.  It’s been a new and enlightening experience for me.  This is the first time since 1996 I’ve had the opportunity to take time between full-time jobs.  That’s a mighty, mighty long time.

Interestingly, although I’ve chosen to take some time, I typically don’t do “limbo” well.  I’m a creature of habit in many regards.  For example, I was at my last job for 7 years.  The job before that 10 years. Other examples? When a McDonald’s employee who served me coffee every day for 2 years was no longer there – it stunk!  Who else knew I was “small coffee, two Splendas”?  When my past company ran out of Coke Zero for a week…the horror.

My point is, even silly transitions can throw you into limbo.

My definition of limbo is

Read the rest of my post (and lots of other great stuff) at Fistful Of Talent


#workhuman:  How Do Opposites Attract? Common Purpose.


So this picture of George W. Bush and Bono may be one of the greatest pictures I’ve seen.  Like me, I bet when most see it they are taken aback, do a double take and ask, “Is this photoshoped?”  Your fingers want to type out “caption this…” and see what craziness follows.  But then, when your brain re-orients itself and you pick your jaw up off the ground, you take a moment to read the post underneath written by “W” himself (it’s from his Instagram).

“Bono is the real deal.  He has a huge heart and a selfless soul, not to mention a decent voice.  @laurawbush and I are grateful he came to the ranch to talk about the work of @thebushcenter, @onecampaign, @PEPFAR, and our shared commitment to saving lives in Africa”

So how did an American, conservative (actually moderate in today’s political environment), ex-president and an Irish Rock Icon/Political Activist become partners, advocates and dare-I-say friends?  And get this, for the better part of 10 years? Common purpose.

I attended the U2 concert last week in Houston and was amazed Bono made a very gracious, inspired, and heartfelt thank you to #43 in front of the 72,000 person crowd.  Bono thanked him for his unyielding commitment to AIDS awareness and anti-poverty work over the last 10+ years. Even the most politically jaded concert-goers on both sides of the isle cheered.  Some of the loudest cheering of the night.  It seemed everyone was relieved to see positive common ground and a sense of collaboration from two unlikely partners.  It was like drinking a cold glass of lemonade after mowing an overgrown field of weeds.  Refreshing and rewarding.

In our work (and personal) lives common ground can be very difficult to find.  Time constraints, politics, and work overload put finding common purpose on the back-burner.  Why?  It takes time.  It takes conversation.  And it takes prioritization. Perhaps top prioritization needs to go to connecting with the people you assume you have the least in common with.

You may be very surprised.  And in looking for common ground underneath those “un-turned stones”, you may even change the world.