My Posts

Four Steps for Simplifying Your Digital Life

“Reversing years of negligence will take a bit of time.”

That’s what I told myself a year ago. I was woefully unprepared for what I needed to do in order to actually clean up the mess I had made.

For the past five years, I was responsible for keeping two dozen websites up and running, including a few significantly bigger than my own. I had a blog that continued to age—poorly, I might add—with very little fresh content. Social media was a mess. I could barely keep up with the people I wanted to and knew far too much about people I didn’t even remember.

I also have a good job. One that keeps my mind engaged and my writing fingers busy. A family and a social life took up some of that time, too.

But, I still wanted to write. Shit like this post, sure. Hopefully, other things that are more entertaining and fulfilling.

At some point, I had to cut bait with some of my digital baggage.

Here’s the process I went through:

  1. Be self-aware. The first to go was maintaining websites, as it had became both my most stressful and least enjoyable task. I still have a few left to migrate but I have the biggest headaches off my hands for good. I didn’t realize how much I disliked maintaining websites until I tried it and then tried to get out of it for a year. I could’ve probably saved a year of stress just by being more self-aware of how truly loathsome the task had become.
  2. Choosing to be public or private. I made my Facebook and Instagram profiles private and deleted people I couldn’t recognize if I ran into them on the street. I became more public on Twitter and LinkedIn. I’m not a privacy freak like some people but being intentional about where I put things helped forge better connections with people I wanted to keep up with.
  3. Deleting old content. I spent a few weeks going through every page on my blog and chose to delete a good 60–70 percent of the content. Some of it still lives here and I might cull more in the future. Really though, the biggest challenge for me was deleting content that I worked hard on that was no longer relevant to me (or if I’m being honest, practically anyone). That’s always been tough for me.
  4. Simplifying processes going forward. The less I have to think about how something gets done, the more I can focus on simply getting it done. Logging into my WordPress dashboard with updates needed and comments to be moderated meant there was work before the work could even start.

So as part of this, I moved my blog from a self-hosted WordPress install to Medium. You’ll find writing that revolves around work, life, and technology. All of my favorite things and the things I generally wrote about anyway. I also included a special section that I used to archive what I considered to be the best of my old HR blog, too.

For me, it was making an intentional decision about where I spend my effort and to make some content decisions that weren’t easy, but necessary, so I could keep writing.

So, if you’re looking for an old article, you might not find it. That’s okay. I hope to share new stories that you’ll enjoy more.

My Posts

10 Years Later: The Best of

I started writing about HR issues more than 10 years ago. I was anonymous for three years and wrote more than I ever had. In that time, I wrote a lot of stuff. It launched me out of my HR career for the better.

Some of it is still pretty readable. Most of it wasn’t.

Instead of making you wade through a ton of self-referential posts and entire blog posts dedicated to complaining about blogging or blogging drama, I just decided to go through everything and pick my favorites.

So here you go. The best 40–50 posts from the archives of

My Posts

Politics and the Internet

Do you remember the website LiveJournal? It was one of the first social networking sites (pre-MySpace and Friendster) and it was built around blogging. You could friend, unfriend, and there were larger communities of people with similar interests. If that sounds familiar, that’s because most of the conventions of social networking have been around for a long time.

I got into LiveJournal in 2002 via an invite (sound familiar, Google+?). In addition to personal blog posts, I also posted (a lot) about politics. And in doing that, I eventually became the moderator of the largest conservative political community on LiveJournal for a couple years (basically 2004–2005). That’s a bit entertaining for a couple of reasons. For one, while I was definitely heavily conservative leaning back then, I was probably in the bottom 25 percentile in comparison to most of the members. Another point was that I let anyone of any political persuasion post assuming they followed some basic guidelines (including that it was about conservative politics or thought).

This led to some rancorous posts. Hundreds of comments were typical. Name calling, trolling, baiting… it all happened there. And in the context of the relatively new Iraq war and a Bush re-election, it led a lot of people to lose their minds in this public forum. I (mostly) watched detached from the discussions going on and eventually moved on when I found a job and a more productive outlet for my energy (mainly this blog).

I only give you this history because the current debt crisis is the latest political issue to infect my social networks and I’ve generally made a pretty easy to follow rule: if you want to talk politics or religion, I generally won’t do it over the internet (or any written form). Why?

  • I observed people with unlimited character lengths not be able to fully explain the nuance of their political position. Twitter is the equivalent of pulling bumper stickers out of a drawer to have a political debate. It may be clever or make you laugh but the depth there is zilch.
  • People lose track of the fact that you’re a real person on the internet. When we’re in person, we often assume the best of people but looking at the black and white of text on a computer illicits the opposite effect. The internet robs us of some of that humanity and compassion.
  • There are no winners and losers in internet debates. Everyone usually loses because they spent time and emotional energy on something that could have been better used elsewhere. Nobody changes their mind on a major issue due to an internet debate. It takes time and humility to accept you may be wrong about an important issue. Notice neither one of those is someone typing in all caps in response to a posting they made.
  • Social media has become the e-mail forwards of yesterday. The amount of incomplete, out of context or simply untrue statements circulating is simply astounding. “I saw something on Facebook that said…” is the new “I got a forward from my crazy uncle that said…”

The fact is, writing about politics in a compelling, smart way takes a lot of practice just like anything else. So when I see the amateur stuff I see from social media acquaintances, I cringe a bit. And you can bet that a bunch of other people feel the same way too. It isn’t like this is new either. It has been going on since the dial-in BBS days too and certainly in all of my experience as being on the front lines of this phenomenon. The conversations haven’t improved or changed.

While I do think HR people should be more politically involved, it doesn’t mean you have to do it like an amateur on the internet. Here are three better ways to be involved:

  1. Be educated. Take in information from different sources and consider alternatives.
  2. Have discussions in person with people you know. Be patient and empathetic.
  3. Have a relationship with your political representatives. Give them feedback and get to know their aides.

I can tell you almost universally that arguing on the internet is a big fat waste of time. And when you add in the character restrictions of Twitter and Facebook, you just add fuel to the fire.

My Posts

You Don’t Have To Blog To Rise Up

I know this is a crazy post.

I know my blog has certainly helped me rise up. Other’s blogs have helped them rise up. I am going to an unconference that is going to focus on HR people who are interested in blogging. Someone may ask me if they should start a blog.

In the past, my answer was an unhesitant yes. Of course you should. Why shouldn’t you? The real question is how do we get you going and exposed as quickly as possible.

Now? My answer depends on a number of factors. In some cases though, my answer is going to be no.

What gives?

I haven’t soured on blogging nor do I believe the space is crowded. On the contrary, I still think there is a lot of space out there for people to talk about business and talent. We’ve barely scratched the surface of possibilities. But I think there are also a lot of dead blogs out there and that sucks. It means someone put in a bunch of effort, got frustrated and left it behind.

That could have been prevented because while I don’t believe there is one way to blog, there are many ways to fail at blogging:

  1. You aren’t passionate about the subject — You want to use your new blog as a tool to rise up but you aren’t passionate about the subject. Reverse course matey! Go back and find your passion and then blog about that.
  2. You aren’t interested in improving your writing — Blogging has helped me improve my written communication skills immensely. Rarely do people come into blogging with that background. Are you willing to craft and recraft messages until you get used to it?
  3. You can’t write on a consistent schedule — This is a big one. I say writing once a week is the necessity. That’s 52 posts a year. I’ve averaged two posts a week for over three years. It honestly isn’t tough but if your schedule is rough and tumble, you’ll lose interest if you don’t post for a month.
  4. You can’t do the other things that make your blog great — Keeping up on what other people are doing in the context of what you write is as important as what you write. Making comments, networking with fellow bloggers, and pushing stuff out to your network? That’s part of successful blogging.

So If You Don’t Do Blogging…

You can rise up in different ways. People have this tendency to assume that the path they take is the best path for everyone but that simply isn’t the case. Even with blogging. Now I believe that if you have those four traits, anyone can learn how to blog and do it very well. Seriously. Anyone.

There are other ways to rise up though:

  • Through your company
  • Speaking and volunteering through local associations
  • Doing interesting things and getting press coverage
  • Doing guest blog posts
  • Using other social media tools effectively
  • Start consulting and advising (even pro bono)

I am just scratching the surface here. My biggest point: don’t let anyone tell you that you have to blog. Should you have a findable, online profile? Absolutely. You can build that through any number of resources though that doesn’t involve a blog.

My Posts

Not Everything In Life Is A Lesson

I watched the NBA Finals on Sunday night like a lot of people. As a Portland Trail Blazers fan, watching the Lakers win was like watching Lex Luthor (Kobe Bryant) take down Superman (Dwight Howard): the villain won. As I watched as the Lakers celebrated and the Magic sat there with glazed over eyes, I was looking for a lesson I could share with you about HR or about organizations or about your career. Maybe I could talk about the fall and rise of Kobe. Or how Dwight catapulted himself into the national spotlight. They were stretches but not any worse than what I have done in the past. Then I decided:

Not everything in life is a lesson.

I think bloggers are particularly guilty of this but it is a very human trait. We seek explanations for everything that happens in life to us. We try to extract more meaning from every little thing. We laugh in the face of microscopic evaluations. “Please! Give me more detail!”

Can I tell you what happened in the NBA Finals this year?

The best team won. The other team was great too but it wasn’t enough. There’s no secret lesson to tell you about. No insight beyond the minutia. The most talented, skilled and experienced team won the series. It happens in life all of the time:

  • You don’t get the job because the other person had more experience.
  • A candidate rejects your job offer because his wife was given a big counter-offer to stay.
  • You got the sale because they talked to you first and just wanted it done.
  • You get a great deal because the other person just got a call to clear everythng out.
  • You stumbled upon a great candidate through a chance encounter.
  • You pick the slowest line at the grocery store.

We have become so programmed to look beyond routine happenings and try to replicate the good and eliminate the bad. When we can’t replicate results or eliminate negatives, we figure we just interpretted it all wrong.

Sometimes there is nothing to interpret. As my good friend Rasheed Wallace used to say, when “both teams played hard” and you still lose, there’s nothing to take from that.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes there is nothing to learn from either one.