The “Steve Browne Experience” -- #SHRM19 Interview with Steve Browne


You may not know this about me, but I’m a huge music enthusiast who has been the lead singer of a cover band! So, I was “geeked” to talk to mega session speaker Steve Browne – a fellow music freak. Little did I know that our conversation would lead to life lessons and the power of positivity!

You’ve got a wildly popular book, you’re an active blogger, member SHRM Board of Directors, run a global HR network, thought leader, influencer, and clearly very shy! What would you like people who are just being introduced to you to know?

I’m not a conformist, and I am as informal as they come. I am a genuinely curious person. When I walk into a room, I want to know every. single. person. Like I REALLY want to know them. It’s both a blessing and a curse because I feel so compelled to try and reach everyone. I just really enjoy learning about others. People wonder if my being positive is for show or some schtick. It isn’t. I am genuinely this positive almost all of the time in work and life. If people choose to attend my session, I want to make sure to share ideas and advice that I’d use myself.

In the description for your SHRM 2019 Annual Conference and Exposition Mega Session, HR Rising! From Ownership to Leadership, you say that HR has the opportunity to shape, define and implement the people practices that drive a business’s success. And, that the time to move HR from a “support” function to a leadership resource is now.

Can you speak to this, and what attendees will learn from your session?

 In the past I’ve talked about how we need to “own” what we do. Now, we need to lead in all that we do. We need to be self-aware of what we bring to an organization. We need to intentionally step into this and not shy away. Be self-assured. Instead of waiting to be asked, step forward. It’s like the song by Bob Marley, “Get Up, Stand Up”. HR on Purpose was the “Get Up”, now it’s time to “Stand Up.” Dispel the fear that you can’t lead. I don’t think everyone should be a leader, but everyone should lead. If your role is FMLA, then crush it. Lead in what you do, and what will come is credibility through performance. Even though HR is coordinating leadership and development initiatives in our organizations, we need to remember that we should be included in our own personal leadership development. We are not exempt from them.

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

One thing I do is to surround myself with people who aren’t in HR. I need to learn from business people. I touch these areas daily through my current HR role, but I don’t necessarily “learn” from the folks I work with. I want to learn to speak like operations, marketing etc. Teach me.

Secondly, I’m working on development, not training, teaching our managers on how to better work with people. 90 percent of our days in the workplace is spent with people, I am learning from them. I am developed by hearing what they’re doing and mold it, shape it…learning is ongoing. 

Thirdly, I intentionally connect with people. If I find you, you’re mine. The more people you intentionally meet, the more you’ll find yourself learning from them through that connection.

Looking back on your journey and knowing what you know now, what is one piece of advice you would have given yourself along the way?

Understand how to come out of failure. Failure is inevitable, but no one teaches you how to learn from it. There’s so much shame associated with failure. We tend to fear failure because we feel we’ll be nailed by others. We shouldn’t track and punish failure. We need to help others learn from it. If we did this our organizations would thrive because failure is a certainty. Make it a learning opportunity.

You speak often about turning away from the negative and making the conscious choice to be a person who can change the world. What advice would you give the overworked, overlooked, overwhelmed HR professional who is trying to do that?

It sounds cheesy, but I believe in people who practice HR. I know how challenging it is and we feel that no one is in our corner. I want other HR pros to know that someone believes in you. People want to know they’re cared for. People should be confident that there are others who believe in them as well. Being an HR Department of One is a reality in company, but it’s not true in the profession. You’re not alone, there are many people who want to connect with you. Quit the martyr crap. When did being a martyr ever work in what you do? There’s no reason to be isolated. When you isolate yourself, then the reality of all you have to do will become overwhelming. Reach out and connect with others on purpose.

So, I hear you are an “off the charts music freak.” If you could choose a song for the soundtrack of #SHRM19 this year, what would it be?

Beautiful Day by U2 – because that’s how I feel every day should be for everyone!!



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