As a city upon a hill

by John on June 28, 2016

US Capitol at Night I have never wanted to write about terrorism, sadly, that has changed.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some naïve soul, but I can no longer be silent about the lingering fear and horror that has manifested over the past few days and weeks.

I worry about my friends that wear a uniform and serve on a wall. I worry about my friends who have children that serve, hoping and praying that their kids remain safe. I worry about my daughters and try not to cry when I drop them off at school. I say small quiet prayers daily, hoping that everyone I hold dear will not be a victim.

It all started by chance. A random encounter this past week in Washington D.C.. I wasn’t expecting to have a heavy conversation with my driver about the war on terror. Nor was I expecting to hear his story about risking his life and the lives of his friends and family in Afghanistan.

He spoke with conviction and his eyes shone with pride about his service to the Special Forces troops as a translator and how he had to flee his home country. How he had lost his country to extremism. How he had tried to make a difference in a war by protecting and empowering women. How he was shot twice, while escaping the Taliban.

Now here in the states, he was driving for a ride sharing service, translating on the side, trying to educate his countrymen from afar on the dangers of extremism.

I listened intently, adding a bit to the conversation. I sat there going through an entire range of emotions: fear, shock, awe, and fear again, until I could finally ask one simple question.

“Do you think America is still the bright, shining city on the hill? Are we still the beacon of hope for the world?”

He immediately replied, without any hesitation or wavering in his voice.

“Yes! Absolutely!”

The ride was coming to an end and he turned to me and said “Please, do be careful crossing the street”. As I was exiting his car, he held his hand over his heart, looked me in the eye and said “I wish you and your family peace”. Misty eyed I did the same and quietly replied, “I wish you and your family peace”.

Street safely crossed, I looked back just in time to see him push a few buttons on his phone, and then drive off into the night. Turning back and walking into the building, I couldn’t stop myself from saying a small prayer for him and his family.

Hoping against all odds that my small plea to a higher power would make a difference.


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Dispatches from #SHRM16 – Day One

by John on June 20, 2016

Ahhh, Washington D.C.. The last time I spent a good amount of time in this city was about 27 years ago, so it’s nice to be back in a great city attending the annual SHRM conference. The multiple landscapes have changed since I’ve been in D.C…geographical, political, and yes, even the world of work.

The official theme of this years SHRM conference is “Breakthrough”, a sentiment that some attendees may feel is long overdue. Personally, I like the theme, it’s an easy way to remind us that we all must evolve, especially in the business of people.

Alright, enough of the fluffy stuff, here are some of the interesting dispatches for Day One:

  • HR has moved from the “Seat at the Table” to the “Drivers Seat”. Yes, it’s a new buzzword, but at least this one is a bit more empowering.
  • HR has evolved into a true “Global Profession”. I don’t know how to feel about this one yet, but I’m leaning towards the positive.
  • I was impressed by Alan Mullally’s story and overall delivery. I know that what he shared can seem like common sense, but let’s be honest, there is a level of uncertainty with people that can’t be managed along a critical path flow chart.
  • Mike Rowe (of Dirty Jobs fame) shared during his opening keynote that there are over 5.8 million jobs that nobody wants. While that number is a big one, I don’t know if it tells the whole story or the stories behind the number. I think as HR Pros we may have some hidden accountability issues there.
  • Mike Rowe shared some great stories with the crowd. I kept thinking it could have been a great SNL sketch: “HR’s hottest speaker is going to tell us about San Francisco, his talk has everything an HR pro needs to deal with, Sewers, Popping Pipes of Poop, A puking cameraman, Rubber suits in the Tenderloin, and how to deal with those pesky vendor emails.”
  • Mike has an amazing TED Talk (that’s poop & roach story free) and I highly suggest to check it out to hear more about Anagnorisis & Peripeteia. Check it out here

Based on that last point, I think it’s fairly safe to say that this years annual conference is off to a pretty interesting start.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go wash my hands with some really hot water…


Peace for our time? #JeSuisCharlie

June 12, 2016

#JeSuisCharlie #NouSommesCharlie

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A #SHRM16 interview with Scott Wayne of The Frontier Project

June 8, 2016

The annual SHRM conference is almost upon us, and by now you should be starting to think about the sessions that you’d like to attend, the vendors in the hall you’ll need to visit, and of course you can’t forget about catching up with some friends and colleagues. Sounds like might need a “map”. My […]

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Prepping for #SHRM16

May 31, 2016

In just twenty short days, a couple thousand of my closest HR friends will descend upon Washington D.C. for the annual Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) conference. Having been lucky to attend a few of these gatherings over the past few years, I think it’s important to share a quick list of tips to […]

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