#SHRM19 – 5 Ways to Gear Up for The SHRM Annual Conference


Warning: Long post ahead. #sorrynotsorry

The countdown has already begun for the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition - in Las Vegas!  I am giddy with excitement this year! Of course, I’m giddy every year. (Ok. I’m giddy every day… Don’t judge.) I’m particularly giddy to attend this year for good reason. I was invited to participate as an official #SHRM19 Blogger! How fun is that??
Before I dive too deep into this post, I invite you to meet and connect with this year’s #SHRM19Blogger squad: Creating Better Workplace - Meet the #SHRM19Bloggers.
There are a hundred reasons why I look forward to attending every year. But let me take a step back for a second and paint a picture for you.  I’ve been attending this conference for years. And every year I see and hear things that make my heart sad, and make me wonder why some people choose HR as their profession. I hear things like “the session was boring” and “there are too many people” and “the coffee line is too long”.

I find it incredibly ironic that we HR pros for years have been trying to unlock the secrets to creating positive workplaces. And yet, here we are, complaining. We know better than anyone in our organizations that you can’t please all the people all the time. So why are we choosing to be on the negative side of the coin. Stop it. Just stop. Let's first make sure our attitudes and behaviors support our efforts.
I’m reminded of a quote from the movie Wyatt Earp. Doc Holliday (played by Dennis Quaid) said to Wyatt Earp (played by Kevin Costner):

"​For some people, this world ain’t ever gonna be right."

Check out the clip here.
Listen up, HR Pros. The conference is what you make it. It isn’t every speaker’s job to ensure that you walk away with 10 golden HR nuggets – at every session. At the end of the day, this is your career. Your development. You take away what you choose. I’m sure you can find just one thing useful in every session you attend. But that is up to you. It is, indeed, a very large conference. #SHRM18 in Chicago broke attendance records, and drew 22,000 attendees. So you will have to navigate through crowds, which I realize is a challenge for many people. And, yes, the coffee line is super long at the conference center. So plan ahead and don’t wait to purchase your coffee there. But if you do, don’t be a grumpy butt. See all those people in front of and behind you? They want coffee, too. And, likely, they want it pretty tout suite. Wouldn’t it be something if you started some conversation and helped make the long wait more pleasant?

I know that for many people (like myself), it’s energizing to think of all the possibilities that a conference this size holds. The vendors. The speakers. The bookstore. The Smart Stage. The learning opportunities. The networking opportunities. Connecting with old friends. Hopefully making new ones. All the awesome HR gear. And. So. Many. People. I mean, com’on. Just soak that up. For some of us, when we enter a room of hundreds (thousands) of people, we just revel in the goodness of that energy! (My giddy is showing!)
For many others, especially as a first time attendee, whether it’s 160 attendees or 16,000, it can be quite overwhelming. 
In order to prep you for a conference of this magnitude, I want to share a few action items that can help you make the most of your conference experience - before, during and after. Here's a countdown of 5 ways you can gear up, have a great conference, make amazing life-long friendships, and continue to build that momentum long after the conference is over.

#5. Be courageous.
I have thought a lot about fear and courage lately. We all know people who let fear dictate their next move – or lack thereof. Fear, if you let it take hold, will stunt your growth. Franklin D. Roosevelt once said:

Think about that for a minute. Courage is not the absence of fear. That means you can be fearful, and yet still be courageous. (**mind blown**) 

A couple of weeks ago, my family and I watched a documentary called “Free Solo.” (Highly recommended.) It’s about Alex Honnold who climbed Yosemite’s 3,000 foot granite cliff El Capitan without ANY ropes or safety equipment. None. I watched the whole thing between my fingers. I wasn’t even there and it scared the poo out of me. (Not literally…)
People like him have a different perspective of fear. They are able to control and use fear - become hyper-focused, confident and prepared. Sure he was scared. And he did it anyway.
If I’m being honest, I spent a good portion of my early career hanging out in fearful places. Rather than let fear act as cement, I learned to use it as a source of motivation to continue to stretch and explore the unknown. I’ve learned that fear is usually my guide. If I feel fearful, that usually means I’m on the right path and something extraordinary is about to happen. Sometimes fear can be exhilarating! (I call that the “Wee Factor.” It’s that moment when you realize how FUN fear can be!) But it does take courage to keep moving forward.
It is not unusual to be fearful of large, unfamiliar places, filled with unfamiliar faces. I get it. Many people are simply uncomfortable around strangers – even more so 16,000 of them. 

Do it anyway. Use that fear as a motivator for you to try something new. Embrace the fear, and step out with courage.
The moment that little voice inside your head starts throwing out fear statements, or tries to convince you not to do X, shut it down. YOU are in control of your thought pattern. If you live your life in a place of fear, it’s high time you start writing a new narrative.

#4. Build Your Professional Network
It took me far too long to understand the power of a strong network. For some, networking comes naturally (**ahem** Steve Browne). For many others, networking is terrifying. (Please refer to #5.) There are a ton of books, blogs, articles and podcasts you can read and listen to to learn how to network. The big aha moment (and the moment networking became fun) is when I learned that the more I give and serve, the more I get back. The kicker is that I never give for the purpose of getting. It’s that this miraculous thing happens when you give: You receive. 
A starting point prior to heading out to SHRM19 is to log into SHRM Connect, click on “Groups,” and then find the SHRM19 Annual Conference Community. If you are traveling to Vegas solo, this is a great place to start making connections NOW. You will find people posting as a first time attendee asking to make connections. Post one, too! Make plans to meet up – for coffee, lunch, dinner, cocktails, dancing, site-seeing, WHATEVER. Plan a dinner somewhere and post how many dinner partners you’re looking for. You will be shocked (and pleasantly surprised) at how many others are in the VERY SAME PLACE you are! The reality is that people want to connect. Let’s not do this introvert/extrovert labeling BS. The most introverted people in the world still want connections with other humans. And the most extroverted people in the world still need down time. Everyone wants to belong. Be intentional about those connections. How many times have you attended a conference or a Chapter meeting, you sat at a table of strangers, introduced yourselves, exchanged business cards, and then the moment you return to the office, you either throw the business cards in a desk drawer, or worse, in the trash? Spoiler alert: That’s not networking.
If you do some networking prior to the conference, once you get there, intentionally connect with those people you’ve been networking with. That conference center jam-packed full of thousands of people will feel a whole lot smaller when you see a familiar face or two.
During and after the conference, follow through on the connections you made (and continue to make) with others. Be sure to exchange contact information. Make a plan to connect in person (if local), or by phone call, or better yet, through Zoom or other video conferencing. (Claire Petri is a master at this! Anytime I connect her with someone new, I know that on the short end of that introduction is a Zoom call. It’s brilliant!) I’m not suggesting that you need to make every person you meet your new BFF. What I’m saying is be the kind of person that others know they can count on – whether for great content, sound advice, knowledgeable counsel, or another connection. One of the most powerful tools in your HR toolbox is your network. The HR Community is chalk-full of amazing, smart, innovative, experienced professionals. On top of that, most people want to help others. We want to see others succeed. Be the kind of professional that helps build others up. What a legacy!!
#3. Find a mentor
We have so much to learn. Wherever you are in your career, there is zero chance that you know everything there is to know. Sometimes we all need a nudge. We need someone to impart wisdom – to help us make decisions (which very well could be life or career altering), to help guide us when we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, to share experiences and knowledge where we lack one or the other, or both.

"I am not a teacher, but an awakener."
Robert Frost

Mentors are teachers, or as Robert Frost said, awakeners. (Ooo, I love that!) We all have greatness inside of us. Mentors can help to unlock and unleash – awaken – that potential. Mentors can be the conduit between mediocrity and extraordinary. They can be the boost we need to be courageous in the face of our fears (see #5). They are the ones who lead us to truth. Or in some cases maybe just encourage us to recognize the truth we already know and give us just the right kick in the backside to muster the courage to do something with it. (Future blog post on this topic...)
#2. Be a Mentor
One of the best ways to learn is to teach. You do not need to be someone with 20 or 30 years of experience in order to teach others more junior than yourself. All of us have experiences we can share with others. That is one of my favorite things about the HR profession. I am continually impressed by the number of young professionals entering this field, and the level of passion, creativity, innovation and knowledge they already have to share. Find one that you can mentor and help guide and shape, and in return, you will learn oh so much.  

"The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves."
— Steven Spielberg

#1. Intentionally Find And Build Your Community
Life was meant to be experienced together. We aren’t meant to walk alone – personally or professionally. Iron sharpens iron. It takes a village. Community is a natural result of consistent presence and intentional relationship building (see #s 4, 3, and 2). When we build relationships with the professionals in our network, when we teach and are taught, connections begin to have more meaning. We build friendships. We find the people with whom we share more intimate details of and the struggles in our lives. Community isn’t limited to a number, or to a certain radius of miles from your work or home, or to the individuals with whom you have the most in common or happen to be most like. Community is what you make it. It can be as large or as small as you feel comfortable. I have found that the more I invest in people, the more I am intrigued and interested in who they are, and the more excited I am to draw them into my community– like gravity.
Choose your community. Choose them well. Choose to pull closer the people who make you better. Nurture those relationships.

Here's a picture of one of my communities: The #StatelineCrew. More details on that in a future post. I love these people. My Tribe. My village. My friend.

The SHRM Annual Conference is an opportunity to expand your community, be challenged and stretched, and take purposeful steps towards a more meaningful career. This year, decide ahead of time what you plan to get out of your attendance and how you plan to bring all of that back with you to help create better workplaces. Start now. Even if it scares you, do it anyway. If the thought of 20,000 people in one spot stresses you out, come anyway. If you don’t have a mentor now, find one anyway. If you feel like you have nothing to teach, mentor anyway. If you prefer to keep your community small, build relationships anyway. Then follow through - during and after the conference.

After all, we are in the business of people.

For another great list of conference tips, I want to give a shout out to fellow #SHRM19Blogger and #StatelineCrew #HRTribe pal – and dear friend, Jeff Palkowski. Jeff and I met in person at #SHRM18 in Chicago. Prior to heading out, he had created this super fun Bingo card, which he enthusiastically branded SHRM-O. I don’t want to steel his thunder, so head over to his blog: HR Sushi Bar. He does a wonderful job of providing great tips for attending #SHRM19 in Vegas. A Case of Déjà Vu All Over Again
P.S. – My #1++ conference tip is to wear comfortable shoes! Ladies, this is NOT the time to sport your brand new 4 inch pumps. You will regret it within the first 30 minutes....
Originally posted on HR Shenanigans blog.

#SHRM19…A Case of Déjà vu All Over Again?


“Bright light city gonna set my soul, Gonna set my soul on fire…”

– Viva Las Vegas - Elvis Presley


Although I’ve lost count, I believe that my visit to Las Vegas for the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition will be at least my 20th visit to this desert oasis, but my first in a “professional” capacity. My previous visits were usually for a quick getaway either with my wife or for a “guys weekend” to take in all that Las Vegas offers. There were a few years where four visits within a 12-month period was not uncommon. While the frequency of my visits has certainly slowed down over the years, with my last visit in 2014, Las Vegas is a still a very familiar and enjoyable getaway for me.

This visit to Las Vegas will be very different for a number of reasons. First, my plan is for the first 3+ days to be fully immersed in the full “SHRM Annual Conference experience.”  Being only my second SHRM annual conference, with the first in 2018 in Chicago, I think that I have a pretty good idea of what to expect, which provides me with both a level of excitement as well as a bit of anxiety. I was so overwhelmed in 2018 (in a good way) at my first conference that I hope my goals and expectations are realistic for this visit. Second, having the honor to attend as a member of the SHRM 19 Blogger Team yet adds another level of excitement and anxiety to ensure that I am not only experiencing the conference for myself, but also sharing these experiences with others that may or may not be in attendance through my social media and blog posts. Finally, after the whirlwind of SHRM 19 is completed midday on Wednesday, I hope to then see the many sights of Las Vegas that I’ve enjoyed over the years in just a few short days after the conclusion of the conference.

As I make my plans for SHRM 19, I thought I would share some ideas for both new conference attendees (as I was last year) and also some ideas to experience all that is Las Vegas outside of the convention center.

I am a person that is very driven by both lists and goals, so I’m looking to repurpose a concept that helped me ensure that I made the most of my first conference at SHRM 18. Leading up to that conference, I had the pleasure of “meeting” many human resources professionals through social media. Many were members of last year’s SHRM 18 Blogger Team and I made it a goal to meet IRL (in real life) as many as I could. To help keep me on task, I created a bingo card with the Twitter handles of 25 HR pros that I tried to meet up and take a selfie with at SHRM 18. To make things more interesting, I pledged to donate $5 to the SHRM Foundation for each person I met and if I filled the card, I would donate and extra $25 for a total $150 donation. I called this game SHRM-O 2018.

My completed SHRM-O 2019 card


While I came up just three names short, it was still a great experience to meet 22 out of 25 new friends and also make a $110 donation to the SHRM Foundation. And since “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, feel free to give this a try and make your own “SHRM-O 2019” card.

For 2019, I hope to offer a fun activity for attendees by creating TWO similar cards for the conference that I hope attendees will consider using. The first (SHRM-O 2019 – Conference Edition) will be focused primarily for first-time conference attendees to ensure that they make the most of their conference experience. The second (SHRM-O 2019 – Viva Las Vegas Edition), which will appear in a future post, will focus on post-conference activities and list some of my favorite secret and not-so-secret attractions in Las Vegas.

Here is my 2019 SHRM-O 2019 – Conference Edition Scavenger Hunt/Checklist:

  1. Follow #SHRM19Blogger on Twitter
  2. Find and add ribbons to your conference badge
  3. Have a book (or books) signed by a SHRM 19 speaker
  4. Stay out “All Night Long” on Tuesday with Lionel Richie
  5. Hear Martha Stewart say “It’s a good thing…”
  6. Pick up some exhibit hall swag for your co-workers
  7. Hear keynote speaker Brene’ Brown
  8. Register for SHRM 2020 San Diego
  9. Visit the SHRM Foundation Booth and learn about their mission
  10. Attend one or more Smart Stage sessions
  11. Buy something with a SHRM logo at the bookstore
  12. Meet Steve Browne
  13. Stay after a session to meet the speaker
  14. Attend one or more sessions that take you “outside of your comfort zone”
  15. Introduce yourself to those sitting next to you at sessions
  16. Hear keynote speaker Blake Mycoskie
  17. Kick off the first general session with Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.
  18. Meet a #SHRM19Blogger in person
  19. Attend an evening networking event
  20. Thank a SHRM volunteer
  21. Track your daily steps at the conference
  22. Hear keynote speaker Vineet Nayar
  23. Commit to staying connected after the conference with someone you just met
  24. Make it to a 7:15 a.m. session
  25. Share your experiences on social media with #SHRM19

To print out a card for yourself, click on the card image below to:

I hope you enjoy “SHRM-O 2019 – Conference Edition” during the conference. Watch the SHRMBlog for my next card, “SHRM-O 2019 – Viva Las Vegas Edition!”


Originally posted on HR Sushi Bar blog.



Honoured to be invited to the #SHRM19 Bloggers Squad


It was back in 2012 that I was lucky enough to sign up for being a blogger with SHRM - I had blogged about that excitement back then.  Over the years, I ended up attending SHRM's annual national conference five times upto 2018 of which two more have been as member of the elite bloggers squad. Frankly, I tweet more than I blog as I found that twitter, although not that intuitive to many, gave me the opportunity to simplify text and think deeper in an attempt to get the message to 144 characters. No prizes for guessing the connection I found to the Title and the reason for my blog.

So it is with special excitement that I am sharing to my blog readers that I will playing an active part in SHRM's Annual conference and Exposition this year at Las Vegas, Nevada - as a#shrm19Blogger once again. 

I shall be posting another blog about stuff I'm planning to do at #SHRM19 around the them building better work places.

So long..
Leaving you all with a link to some of my old tweets from 2012 - Yes, I tweeted these.


Originally posted on Delving Deeper blog.




Reasons To Look Forward To #SHRM19


In June 2018, I attended my first SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition (#SHRM18) without knowing what to expect. SHRM stands for The Society of Human Resource Management and is the largest HR professional society in the world. With over 300,000 members worldwide and serving as the leading provider of resources that help professionals do their best at work, there is something to be said about its conferences.

Even though I had been an active member of SHRM, I only ventured into the conference arena last year. The theme of #SHRM18 was “Expand Your World.” I’m happy to share that I’ve been expanding my world! In less than a year, I have had experiences that have shaped me as an HR professional. From writing for the SHRM Blog to having access to HR mentors, and connecting with HR experts and influencers from across the world, #SHRM18 left me a lasting impression. In terms of logistics, I was in awe of how thoroughly planned that conference was for its over 18,000 attendees. It was a great experience, and I haven’t stopped talking about it.

This June, SHRM will be holding its 2019 Annual Conference and Exposition (#SHRM19) in Las Vegas with the theme, Creating Better Workplaces. This time, I have been offered a tremendous opportunity to attend the conference as a member of the SHRM Blog Squad. This means that we will be creating content about the conference, generating excitement, and sharing our articles with those who are either making plans to attend or those who cannot be there but will like to stay updated. So, I will be sharing my interviews with some of the conference speakers and vendors, and my thoughts about the overall experience. Stay tuned!

Since I’m making plans to attend this conference, I thought it might be helpful to reflect on my experience at #SHRM18 and share my ideas about what to expect at SHRM19, particularly for first-time attendees. In my opinion, there is nothing more professionally-rewarding than being in the same location as other HR professionals who share the common goal of creating better workplaces.

These are some reasons to look forward to #SHRM19:

  1. Opportunity for Continuous Learning: The HR profession is ever-changing and always evolving to meet the demands of society and our workplaces. As HR professionals, we need competencies that can position us to handle those workplace challenges, and be actual resources for resolving them. At the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition (#SHRM19), there are almost 200 sessions for HR professionals at different stages in their careers. These sessions are grouped into nine new and relevant tracks—Workplace Strategy, Technology, Business Acumen & Metrics, Compliance, Global HR, Leadership, Communication, Talent, and Compensation & Benefits. #SHRM19 is an opportunity for HR professionals to stay current with industry trends, discover new business strategies, and learn ways to implement them in our respective roles.
  2. Re-energize Yourself: I believe that it takes superhuman qualities to be in HR. Our profession demands that we sacrifice ourselves for our people and organizations, and requires a lot of personal commitment and involvement. Simply put, we are prone to burnout because of the emotional drain that we experience regularly. At #SHRM19, you will realize that you are not alone and that there is help for you. For example, I know HR professionals who are Departments of One (HRDOO), that found #SHRM18 helpful in connecting with other HRDOOs. Being among people with like minds and experiences can be re-energizing. You can expect to receive best practices from speakers or advice from fellow attendees that you can apply. #SHRM19 is undoubtedly the right opportunity for you to re-energize yourself and reignite your enthusiasm for this great profession.
  3. Networking: Personally, #SHRM18 gave me a new perspective on networking. Everywhere and anytime was an opportunity to network. #SHRM18 was different from other networking events I had been to because it took the pressure off being evaluated on my networking skills. Networking just happened effortlessly— in the hallways while walking to our sessions, on the lines waiting to grab coffee or lunch, in Uber rides and Shuttle buses from the conference center, by phone charging stations, by restroom sinks, or even in our hotel lobbies. I found myself chatting with people, exchanging business cards, or immediately connecting with them on LinkedIn. For #SHRM19, come prepared to network with people but don’t force it. It is about the quality of interactions, not quantity. One good professional relationship can change your world.
  4. New Vendors, New Solutions: A significant part of the conference experience is the Exposition Hall which exhibits thousands of products and services that offer solutions to workplace challenges. These vendors showcase their products and services and are always prepared to answer your questions. At #SHRM19, you can expect to learn about innovations, or find solutions to those challenges you are facing with recruitment, onboarding, performance management, wellness, learning and development, compliance, and more! #SHRM19 is your opportunity to establish connections with vendors which may lead to future client relationships. If you are a vendor, this is also your opportunity to learn about what solutions your competitors are offering and the ways to stay ahead of the market.
  5. Recertification Credits: It is one thing to pass your certification exam, but it is another to maintain it. If you have an HR certification, you need to earn credits toward your recertification as a way of demonstrating continuous learning. Otherwise, you will have to retake the exam after three years. At #SHRM19, your attendance can earn you over 17 Professional Development Credits (PDCs) toward the recertification of your designated HR credential. How awesome is it to get so many recertification credits from one conference?
  6. Make New Friends or Reconnect with Old Friends: Many real friendships have come out of SHRM’s conferences. Like I discussed earlier, people connect over anything. Friendships could start after realizing that you live in the same city, state, or country as another HR professional, or that you work in the same industry, or that you are experiencing similar life events. At #SHRM19, you have an opportunity to reconnect with your friends or to make new friends. Either way, you will find it particularly rewarding that you have friends to share in your experience.
  7. Have Fun: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! As HR professionals, we lead busy lives and sacrifice much of ourselves for our workplaces. To create better workplaces, we need to make ourselves better first. So, at #SHRM19, we will have an opportunity to have fun during the Tuesday night concert. The concert is something to look forward to because the legendary singer and songwriter, Lionel Richie, will be with us to get us singing and dancing All Night Long.
  8. It’s in Las Vegas!

Let's make this journey toward creating better workplaces worthwhile. I hope you attend, and I look forward to connecting with you in Las Vegas!




Zen Your Work: A Mindful Interview with Dr. Karlyn Borysenko Part I #SHRM19


My first awareness of the concept of “mindfulness” came several years ago when I first read Thich Nhat Hanh’s masterpiece, "Living Buddha, Living Christ." Today, the topic of mindfulness seems to be EVERYWHERE. Just do a Google search. But it is with great reason! I can personally attest to the benefits of incorporating mindfulness practice into my daily life. However, don’t take my word for it! I'm not the expert! Let me introduce you to someone who can much better explain what mindfulness is and how incorporating it into your life can lead to positive outcomes.

Recently, I had the exciting opportunity to interview someone I have admired for a long time. Dr. Karlyn Borysenko is the Chief Science Officer at RallyBright and the Founder of Zen Workplace. She is an organizational psychologist and executive/performance coach, who is a leader in integrating mindfulness strategies in a work setting (and other settings).

She is hosting a MEGA Session at the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition (2019) called Zen Your Work: Creating a More Mindful Work Experience. Zen Your Workplace will be held on Tuesday June 25 from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. #SHRM19 attendees interested in becoming more aware, focused, confident, and productive should definitely make it a point to check our Karlyn’s session! Those who won't be in attendance certainly don't feel left out! She is incredibly accessible, and in addition, she wrote a book that is worth every penny. Without further adieu, here's Part one of my two part interview with Dr. Borysenko!

Thank you so much for taking time to discuss your upcoming #SHRM19 presentation with me! I am a huge proponent of mindfulness practice. I was first introduced to the concept by reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s Living Buddha, Living Christ. It was a transformative read.

When and how did you first get introduced to the idea of “mindfulness?” What was that like for you?

You might be surprised by this but there was a time I was huge skeptic about mindfulness. I was really interested in Buddhist philosophies when I was younger but years of formal education and existing in harsh environments led me to believe they were simply unrealistic in the real world that always seemed to be beating down on me and serving me one blow after another. So, when “mindfulness" first started creeping up as a buzzword in a business context while I was completing my doctoral work in organizational psych, I really dismissed it at first out-of-hand. I was a different person then and was really closed off to a lot of ideas that I considered to be fluff. But it was my study of psychology that actually turned me onto it. I sort of backed into it as I was exploring different types of research and was really establishing my perspective - “If X is true, that means Y has to be true…and if Y is true, that means Z has to be true,” and before I knew it, I’d landed in the realm of mindfulness. Even then, I was very resistant! But I thought “what the heck” and started practicing it little by little.

I took up meditation and started exploring different belief systems and philosophies. My most transformative read during this time was Conversations with God, which is not a book about mindfulness. However, it is all about mindfulness at the same time because it’s about creating a fulfilling experience as a human being by setting aside all of the ingrained beliefs that many of us are programed with from the time we’re kids and looking at the world in a new way. And that was the thing that inspired me to learn how to integrate mindfulness into work in a way that goes beyond meditation or breathing, which is the basis of the work I do today.

I am glad you brought that up because many associate mindfulness with breathing meditation, but as you just said, you believe it’s much more than that.

Without giving too much of your presentation away, how would you describe mindfulness to a beginner?

There are three core concepts that form the foundation of how I teach mindfulness: Be aware, be non-judgmental, and be in the present moment.

  • Being aware is about being fully conscious of the internal and external factors at play in any context you’re operating in, including the inner dialogue going on in your mind, the sensations you’re feeling in your body, and the personalities you’re working with.
  • Being non-judgmental is about resisting the inclination to immediately judge things going on around you as good or bad, right or wrong, better or wrong. By reserving judgment, you can explore different possibilities and perspectives and choose the ones that best serve your goals.
  • Being in the present moment is about not allowing negative things that have happened in the past influence the actions you take now with the understanding that the past may not have any relevance to what is going on right now. 

To be clear though, I’m a big fan of meditation. I meditate more than the average bear for sure and have found it to be a game-changer and certainly makes it a heck of a lot easier to integrate the strategies I explore in my work. However, the reason I don’t focus there is because there are so many people who are resistant to the idea of meditation, or believe (falsely, I would argue) that they can’t meditate. If we say to people “the bar of entry to mindfulness is that you have to sit and meditate every day,” we’re going to lose a lot of people. So, I focus on teaching other ways for them to practice mindfulness that seem easier, or more practical, to help them build the habits and experience the value of it. We start with the smaller stuff, and if they experience the value and change it can bring them, I’m able to work them up to meditation over time as they release their resistance to it.

That's awesome to hear. There are many forms of meditation. Not all require sitting with crossed legs focusing on the breathe. Breaking people in over time is a great approach.

Over the past decade (and likely longer), the concept of mindfulness has really gained widespread traction throughout the Western world. Why do you think so many people have been turning to mindfulness practice? 

People are more stressed out than ever and are looking for ways to find balance in their experience. Mindfulness is something that anyone can do, is absolutely free to practice, and can make a profound impact. I also don’t think we can dismiss the impact of younger generations here too. Now, normally I’m not a fan of making generalizations based on the year someone was born, but I do think that Baby Boomers were born to be much more “tough” than the generations that came after them. I don’t mean that they have greater levels of mental fortitude. Rather, that they were willing to take a lot more grief without speaking up and saying “I deserve better” because they just accepted it as the way the world works. Think about it: How many of us were taught growing up that work has to be hard…that’s why they call it work! But that’s a big lie that’s been perpetuated so much that many accept it as truth. We can talk about the entitlement of the younger generations as a problem, but I actually see it as a really great thing. They know that they deserve to be happy, and that’s not a right they have to earn. In this way, I think that entitlement has led them to exploring ways they can take care of themselves that their parents might have dismissed off-hand. Mindfulness is one of those ways. And of course, it’s led to them expecting their employers to do more too, or they are very wiling to get up and go somewhere else.

Taking it a step further for people to be so committed to the practice, it must provide great outcomes. Could you describe the positive benefits that one gains from mindfulness practice? How does mindfulness assist people in controlling their emotions and thoughts?

To put it simply, you’ll live a more empowered life because you take responsibility for the experience you are creating every day. Becoming aware of your inner dialogue is key to this. Our brain likes to go to the worst case scenario as part of our survival mechanism, so when we aren’t working at it, we tend to make decisions based on the worst possible outcome, even if that outcome is extraordinarily unlikely! 

I was working with a coaching client just the other day who is a great example. A brilliant HR pro in fact! We were talking about her implementing a new process for recruiting that she was nervous about for a variety of reasons. I asked her what the worst thing that could happen was if she went forward with it, and before I knew it, she had created a whole scenario that led to her being fired on the spot for implementing this new process that had been developed collaboratively with different stakeholders across her company! She was so detailed about it: “This person will complain to my boss, and my boss will decide to give them my job, and then I’ll be fired. Then, I’ll be so embarrassed that I won’t know what to do!” She delivered this whole story in a way that was absolutely convincing that the most likely outcome of this scenario was that she would be fired.

Now, of course that’s not the case. There is a very low probability of that actually happening, but what this exercise made her aware of was that she had unconsciously created this very detailed scenario in her head and had been ruminating on it for a bit. That’s why she was so stressed about pulling the trigger - she had convinced herself that if she did, she would be fired. But all of that was going on in her subconscious, so she wasn’t overtly aware of it. Our exercise brought that inner dialogue out to the forefront and made her consciously aware. And that’s where we get to the good stuff because once you’re aware of a story, you can disrupt it. This is how you take control - by making the choice to take responsibility for those thoughts by becoming aware of them, evaluating if they serve your goals, and then choosing to have different thoughts if they don’t! Don’t like the story you’re telling? Replace it with another one. Don’t like how you feel today? Take a few deep breathes and choose to feel a different emotion. These choices are always available to us. We just have to take advantage of them!

I love that phrasing! "Choices are always available to us!" It's something so simple yet we forget it, or don't realize it. We are always in control of how to feel. We just need to remember it!

So, how would a beginner incorporate mindfulness practice into a day at the office?

There are a few really simple things anyone can do, that seem deceptively easy: Turn off your email and block your calendar.

When you keep your email on all day, you keep yourself in a constant state of multi-tasking in which your attention is draw from a task you should be focusing on to answering every message as soon as it pops in. This inhibits your productivity - it may seem like you’re getting more done, but this constant shifting energy makes that impossible. So instead, turn it off for the first 45 minutes of every hour. Use that to focus on the task at hand. For the last 15 minutes, turn it back on and answer any messages that need answering. Believe me, if it’s an emergency, someone will come and find you. And frankly, we shouldn’t be emailing in the case of an emergency anyway! You have to train your co-workers that they are not entitled to an immediate response for all messages - it just makes no sense. Over time, they’ll learn and behave accordingly.

When you keep your calendar unblocked, you open it up to being scheduled for meetings at all time. Your work time is no less valuable than the time you spend in a meeting. In fact, many people would agree with the statement “meetings in my organization are unproductive,” which means your work time is actually MORE valuable. So treat it that way. Try blocking off an hour every day. This is your time, and it is sacred. Use it to focus on making measurable progress on your goals and you’ll get more accomplished. That means you won’t be working all hours at night, or stressing out over how much you didn’t get done.

Part II will be released later this week. Until then, please read more about how awesome Dr. Borysekno is! Her bio is below with links to her other work and social media sites!

Dr. Karlyn Borysenko is the Chief Science Officer at RallyBright and the Founder of Zen Workplace. An organizational psychologist and executive/performance coach, she is a leader in integrating mindfulness strategies at work to increase productivity and creativity, reduce stress, and create better work experiences. Her practice is based in the greater Boston area and serves clients all over the world. She holds an MBA and a PhD in Psychology, is an experienced trainer and facilitator, coach, and award-winning speaker. Karlyn is a contributor to and the author of Zen Your Work: Create your ideal work experience through mindful self-mastery.




Hopperx1 Seattle – Suggestions for Male Allies


Last weekend, 1,500 people gathered in Seattle for the Hopperx1 Seattle, a local Grace Hopper celebration of women in technology.

Seattle is home to many of the world’s largest tech companies. While the overall workforce is comprised of (roughly) 50 percent women, in technology, the ratios are very different – approximately 25 percent of the tech workforce is made up of women.

With 92 speakers, 31 sponsors, over 100 volunteers, and 1,500 attendees representing industry leaders, students, tech founders, and an incredible array of roles and expertise, Hopperx1 Seattle hopes to help build and reinforce a strong community of technical women in the Seattle area.

I wanted to share three takeaways, for men to consider attending conferences celebrating women in technology.

  1. Your participation is required! – as industry, if we are going to address the engineering shortage – as every company becomes a tech company – then we need more women engineers – and that will require male managers to take a more active role. Take time to join your local community or Women’s ERG. Attend conferences and take the time to learn.
  2. Diverse teams are more creative and innovative – if you are a male manager – or an HR professional supporting a male manager, you/he will be a better leader and have a more innovative team if you can build a diverse team and create an inclusive culture. There’s plenty of research to show this. Scott E. Page has some great work here, as well as and NCWIT.
  3. This is a technology conference first and foremost – and a lot to learn, whether it be data science, mobile technology, AI, STEM, etc.

Seattle is fortunate to have a great community for women in technology. As Sheila Oh, community leader for the Seattle community said, “It was refreshing to see so many allies at the event. Men came up to me and asked, “What sessions should I go to?” and “How can I help?” This is exactly what is needed! So, when in your next meeting, take note of the dominant voices. If the voice of women or underrepresented minorities is not being heard, ask questions or amplify what is being said. We need your support to help provide equal access, opportunity, and representation.”

There is a lot that we can all do to build a brighter future for technology by ensuring we have supportive and inclusive cultures that ensure everyone can play a role.





#Nextchat: Creating Better Workplaces with the #SHRM19 Bloggers



Creating better workplaces starts with a commitment to excellence. And there's no better place to begin or continue this commitment than the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition – #SHRM19.

HR's role sits uniquely at the intersection of people and business – and this positioning presents unique challenges and opportunities. Hot-button issues facing society have permeated our workplaces as technology and innovation continue to change how work gets done. The 2019 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition will keep human resources professionals informed, ahead of the curve and ready for what's next. From the bold new ideas that are transforming how we think about work, to pragmatic advice on how to solve common HR challenges, the wide selection of educational sessions at #SHRM19 will help HR to make work better.

As thousands of HR professionals and exposition vendors make plans to travel to Las Vegas from June 23-26, SHRM will be working around the clock to prepare yet another amazing experience for attendees.

It’s difficult to describe the enthusiasm, excitement and positive vibes generated by the thousands of HR professionals who attend each year. 

Maybe it’s the dynamic speakers, the compelling content or the innovative solutions in the Exposition Hall; or maybe it’s about reunions with friends from past conferences and meeting Twitter connections “in real life” for the first time. One thing’s for sure: Not only is it a magnificent HR conference, it’s a celebration of the human resources profession.

For many attendees, the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition is a four-day hiatus from life in the workplace trenches where they can network with other HR professionals who understand their challenges -- and who can offer advice, or a different perspective. 

So what’s the secret to making the most of your experience at a SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition?

We’ve reached out to all the members of the official #SHRM19 Blogger Team to join us at 3:00 p.m. ET on April 3 to share their tips, advice and experience. Mark your calendars for what promises to be a fun and informative conversation.

Have you attended a SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition in the past? Are you headed to Las Vegas this year? Please join us! 

Q1. What are you looking to get out of your 2019 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition experience? What are your goals for attending this year? 

Q2. What "know-before-you-go" advice can you share with SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition first-time attendees?

Q3. What sessions, speakers, and activities are you most looking forward to at the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition?

Q4. How can attendees engage in social media and other pre-conference networking opportunities in advance of the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition? 

Q5. What networking techniques are most helpful when attending the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition? 

Q6. Networking with more than 18,000+ HR professionals at a SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition can be a daunting experience for many. What advice do you have for the introverts who are excited but anxious?

Q7. Sharing is caring! How do you plan to share what you learned at the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition with your HR team when you return?

Q8. What are the must-visit hot spots, hidden gems and best kept secrets when visiting Las Vegas for the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition? 


How to participate in an HR Twitter chat




Working at Home: It's not All Naps and Bunny Slippers


Q: I’ve always dreamed of being my own boss, and working from home. But I’ve been on my own for over a year and –even though I like it- I also find it very challenging to stay focused.   I know you write about the workplace, but I wonder if you had any personal productivity tips for those of us who are self-employed and work from home.

A: Why, yes! You see, for most of my life I had a regular job with regular hours. Then, about 10 years ago I decided to become “my own boss”.   I had visions of working in pajamas and doing what I pleased.

But as you’ve found out, working from home is not all pie-in-the-sky and bunny slippers.  Here are some suggestions:

Have a morning routine - Get up around the same time, have coffee, breakfast, exercise, meditate, whatever. After that, and –this is important- get dressed and groomed. Sure you can dress comfy, but have some rules (no sweats, lounge wear, or slippers). Even if no appointments or video calls are scheduled, you should look presentable to yourself. It’s psychological, it’s about for your own self-regard. When you catch a glimpse of yourself during the day, you should like what you see.

Know your productive times - I’m a morning person, so I protect mornings to work on the hard stuff. Meetings and phones calls are scheduled for later.

Set work/life boundaries - Don’t pay bills or do laundry when you should be working. At first, I thought, “Well I need a break, I might as well do this one chore.” But, it didn’t work, I often got distracted, off-track and it required effort to return to “work mode”. Same with checking work email before going to bed. Don’t.

Create the right environment. Assign a dedicated workspace and add those things that make you productive. Music playlists (depending on the task); a plant; a view or some nice pictures. A clean uncluttered desk. Quality work tools. Whatever gets your productive juices flowing.

Beware the freedom of the internet – I’m online way too much. To work, to socialize, to learn a recipe, to watch a movie, to consume news (I’m a junkie.) So this is still a daily challenge for me, working on it.

It can get lonely, so get out of the house and meet other people – whether it’s attending professional events, a business social or serving on boards, it’s important not to become isolated. Even if you enjoy working alone. I belong to a business incubator where I attend a regular weekly meetings with peers, and it anchors my schedule.

Working at home may not turn out to be the ultimate work fantasy we envisioned, but I still prefer it to a regular day job. In time, you probably will too.

Originally posted on HR Box blog.





An Interview with #SHRM19 Expo Vendor AXOMO



One of my favorite things about being on the blogger team for the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition is chatting with speakers and vendors to learn more about them and create some pre-conference buzz! Before #SHRM19 in Las Vegas, I have 3 vendor interviews lined up for you!

As I was looking through the vendor list, I was Googling company names I hadn't heard of to see what they were all about. As soon as I saw that AXOMO focused on branding and offered a self-guided platform for employee engagement and company merch, I knew I had to find out more. Thank you to Brad Gasaway, VP of Marketing, and Kreslynn Knouse, Marketing Manager for taking the time to hop on a call with me and share more!

Let me start with a quick story. Have you ever been the person in charge of ordering branded gear for your company event? Maybe the company picnic, annual holiday party or employee appreciation day is coming up. You know it’s impossible to please everyone, so you do your best while silently bracing yourself for the few sarcastic “Gee, thanks...” moments. The to-d list has only just begun. You still have to track down all sizes and quantities needed, double check specs and order details, get production proofs approved, handle the transactions, and then prepare the finished product for distribution on event day. After the event takes place, you somehow ended up with extra shirts in the storage closet and don't notice your employees wearing them again. I know I've been in this spot!

AXOMO takes challenges like these and solves them with 21st Century technology.  Instead of guesswork and busywork (which inevitably result in waste and/or disappointment), organizations can easily design and upload a variety of trending items, and give their employees store credit to go and shop the company-branded gear that THEY get excited about. I know as an HR professional, time is money, and I do not want to spend time trying to coordinate the ordering process and then distributing the items!

Can you tell me a little bit more about the background of your company and how AXOMO came to be?

AXOMO is part of the Namify family. Namify has been around since 2001 as a customization business. Over the years, we perfected the process of getting names and logos on items. We realized there was another problem out there that we could solve. Through listening to our customers, we started finding out that they had extra swag laying around in storage closets not being used. We decided to rescue managers from the guessing game of knowing what their employees want, as well as save them time by automating the process of collecting sizes and placing orders. Employee engagement is a hot topic right now, and to hear that employees were not engaging with their company's brand because they didn't like the swag they were getting is a big problem!

Let's talk more about the benefits of using AXOMO such as employee engagement, marketing and cost savings.

We find that most companies do have a budget for employee engagement and rewards. Your employees may not want a t-shirt or koozie, so we give them the option of selecting from the hundreds of items available on our site, so they will actually use the items and represent the company. Next time one of your employees is recognized for something or wins a company contest, you can give them a store credit and they can go onto AXOMO to pick out the item that they really want. AXOMO’s user data claims that employees are 80% more likely to use their gift frequently, if they get to pick it out. Marketing departments love this because employees become walking billboards and ambassadors for the company when they sport their jacket, backpack, water bottle, or whatever item they've selected that fits their life style. Finance leaders love it because it eliminates waste and funds aren't being spent on items that employees don't want.

What are you looking forward to most about the conference, and what can HR professionals expect when they visit your booth?

This is our 2nd year at the annual conference. Attendees may remember our staff at the booth last year in Chicago sporting t-shirts that say "My boss picked this shirt for me :-(" We will be showing HR professionals how our platform works and giving out $50 gift cards to those that want to get in and test out the platform. You'll be able to upload your company's logo, pick an item and check out all while at our booth. It will be very interactive. We have so much fun talking with HR professionals, hearing about their pain points and sharing how we can help boost their employee's engagement.

I know I'll be stopping by the booth to order my item and chat with the AXOMO team! If you want to learn more, you can visit them at the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference Exposition Hall Booth #847 in Las Vegas, or check them out online at