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Posts from the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Lazy Gardener

This morning I spent nearly three hours digging out a Wisteria from my front garden. It was there when we moved in 5 years ago, hastily planted by the sellers to make the house look more appealing. “Wait”, I was told by people who knew more about plants than I do. “It takes a couple of years, but it will give you beautiful flowers.”

So, I waited. And every summer it sent green tendrils up and around and along the wrought iron fence. Slowly at first, and then like an evil, starving octopus grabbing at the other plants, reaching boldly out into thin air, slapping at passerby’s faces. We’d regularly trim back the “tentacles”, as we came to call them, but they quickly reappeared. Sometimes it seemed like I should be able to actually see the vines growing, they regenerated so fast.

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Civility at Work: Should We Just Do It?

The costs of incivility in the workplace are easily felt, though perhaps harder to quantify. Calls for civility then, a common refrain lately in and out of the workplace, seem like common sense. But is that definitely the case?

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Losing the Map

As the end of the year draws closer, I find it hard to resist the urge to plot out goals for 2018. I’m a planner and find goals highly motivating. In years past I’ve taken time to carefully plan annual objectives and break them down into the quarterly, monthly, or daily activities required to reach each goal. While I don’t always achieve everything I set out to, I’ve done quite well with this approach (as long as you don’t ask me about my meditation habit).

2017 was not a bad year for goals. I set out to improve my writing by committing to publish a blog post every week this year, and unless something catastrophic happens, I will achieve that goal (as well as having reached my 100th post on Talent Vanguard). I diligently kept up my weightlifting training, and hit PRs on all three major lifts. And I overcame a significant fear to do some public speaking (I didn’t die, but it’s still terrifying).

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Reflecting on 100 Talent Vanguard Posts

I really try not to blog about blogging, because there are far more interesting things to blog about. However, I’m going to ask you to indulge me today in light of the fact that I published my 100th post here on Talent Vanguard this week .

As part of my 5 week countdown, I’ve been sharing my top 5 most-read posts of all time, and some that I liked, but which failed to attract a lot of readers.  Here they are:

Most Read

  1. HR Capacity Building – January 2013 (by quite a large margin, my most read ever)
  2. HR’s Future: People Persons Need Not Apply – May 2013
  3. HR’s Sloppy Thinking on Culture – December 2012
  4. Utopia, Dystopia, and the Future of Work – March 2013
  5. HR and the Myth of Best Practices – January 2013

Less Read (but possibly worth your time)

  1. Stop Hacking Your Productivity – June 2017
  2. Organizational Plumbers – October 2013
  3. HR and the Art of Oppression – April 2013
  4. HR: Organizational Cheerleader or Agony Aunt – December 2014
  5. Message in a Bottle – October 2013

On Writing Talent Vanguard

I started blogging back in 2012, when it was a lot cooler to blog about HR, or blog in general. It’s taken me a while to hit 100 posts, mostly because I nearly stopped publishing for a couple of years. I started 2017 in a new role, with a goal to rededicate myself to writing as a deliberate and regular practice. To keep myself accountable, in January I publicly shared that I’d be posting something every week, on Sunday night.

I’m pleased to say that I’ve kept that commitment, missing only one week due to an unexpected emergency in February.  I’d love to tell you that I treat writing like the craft it is, and have some kind of ritual or process. The truth is I have no shortage of ideas and all of them are really hard to get out my head into words that make some kind of sense to other people.  I record ideas or links into Evernote (which I’ve used for years and think of as my second brain), and compose on the computer (sometimes right into WordPress). Although I have aspirations to start writing earlier in the week, I often start writing my post on Sunday, sometimes finishing moments before I hit publish in a race against the clock.

Every writer I admire says pretty much the same thing: you have to practice, a lot. Blogging this way, non-negotiably, every week has definitely improved my ability to generate ideas, and I have increased my writing speed significantly. That’s great, except that I was slow AF to begin with, so now I suspect I am only slightly slower than average. Lots of edits. Once it’s published I can’t read it again otherwise I feel compelled to keep changing it.

My early days of blogging led me to connect with many other wonderful HR people, which I am incredibly grateful for. I still connect with people through writing, but it felt more like a community back then, and I can’t tell if it’s changed, or I have.

I constantly have to fight my tendency towards ‘post creep’ (is that a thing? I maybe just made that up), where I want to connect an idea to others, or think more broadly about something…and then it becomes bigger and bigger and gets lodged in my brain because it’s too big, and I give up on it. This has led me to notice how I do this in other aspects of my work too, and I’m trying to get better at starting out with smaller components, prototyping, removing false requirements and extraneous elements, not getting stuck.

I’m still really wordy…the most common constructive feedback I hear is that my posts are too long, and while I appreciate people caring enough to share that, I decided a while ago that sometimes that’s okay. I occasionally worry I seem negative, but I just tend to be more interested in reflecting on what’s not working and why, or what we’re accepting as true without thinking critically about whether it really is. Agreeing with people all the time is not the way to advance thinking about anything.

My posts sometimes attract several hundred readers (or in a handful of cases several thousand), and sometimes they barely hit a hundred. I’ve never been able to predict what will be most popular, and I try not to think about it much, instead just writing about what is most interesting to me at the moment. I try to avoid ‘clickbait’ (which to me means sensational or buzzword-titled posts designed to get views, rather than readers). I also frequently revisit topics (because I still find them interesting or I’ve changed my mind about them).

This year I deliberately pursued more speaking opportunities because I find it really scary in comparison to writing, and I’d like it to be less so. Writing a presentation or a talk is very different than writing a blog, so that’s been good learning too. Probably like a lot of introverts, I’m much more articulate in writing than in person, but I’m hoping I can close that gap with practice.

Well, this is the fastest post I’ve ever written and I’m going to just leave it as is. Apologies for any typos. And thank you for reading, whoever and wherever you are. It’s a strange and wonderful feeling to know that someone takes the time to look at something you’ve created, even if it’s just a little HR blog 🙂



Disrupting HR and Hawking on AI

A weekly post in which I share (some of) the most thought-provoking content I read this week(ish), which I am too lazy to write full blog posts about:

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Mentorship and the So-Called “Entitled Generation”

Happy Easter (or long weekend) to you! You can find me guest-posting at the EOList this week as part of a great Mentorship Month line-up. I  got  a little bit ranty about ‘millennials’ and mentorship. Check it out!


Image credit: Faye Cornish

Why Your Organization Needs More Rebels, Heretics, and Weirdos

What a whirlwind at the 2015 HRPA Annual Conference this week! On day one, following three keynotes, 2 sessions, lots of coffee, and two after-parties later, I arrived home with a brain full of ideas and an iPhone full of notes. Here’s my first post from this week’s HRPA Annual Conference 2015:

Why Your Organization Needs More Rebels, Heretics, and Weirdos

Take a second and think about the best team that you have ever been part of. What made the team great? What did it feel like to be part of it? How did the team members interact with one another?

If the team you’re thinking of was the picture of harmony and cooperation, it might be worth questioning your rose-coloured recollections of just how great it actually was. In the session “When Getting Along Doesn’t Equal Results” Nicole Bendaly notes that while harmony and cohesiveness often figure into our individual visions of an ideal team, these qualities can often mask a disconnect between what a team is doing and why they are doing it (the connection to organizational results). Read more

I’m Back and Pre-Conference Blogging at LiveHR!

Hello there! Season’s greetings to you. It’s no secret that I’ve taken a significant break from blogging here at Talent Vanguard in the past several months. Life got pretty busy in 2014 and I suddenly found myself chairing a committee which runs the largest mentorship program for HR professionals in Ontario, planning a wedding, painting a house, and managing a busy job. These are all wonderful things that I am immensely grateful for, but over the summer my ‘overwhelmometer’ redlined and something had to give.

Anyway, I’m writing this because I’m back! I’ll be live blogging the HRPA’s Annual Conference in January over at LiveHR, and I am determined to return to a regular blogging schedule here at Talent Vanguard in 2015. Ahead of that please check out my pre-conference post “An Insider’s Guide to Selecting Your Conference Sessions” over at LiveHR where I offer some sage advice (if I do say so myself) on the art and science of selecting one’s conference sessions – a task that anyone who has attended an HR conference will know can make or break your conference experience.

For anyone attending the conference here in Toronto, I can’t wait to see you. May 2015 bring great things for us all.

P.S. It feels so good to be about to hit Publish in WordPress right now 🙂 I missed this…



What Marissa Mayer Wears in Vogue Doesn’t Matter

Oh, I hate to be so predictable as to write anything about Marissa Mayer, but I simply can’t stop myself this time.

So, Mayer was featured in Vogue, and a particular photo of her laid out on a chaise lounge in a form-fitting dress and stilettos has provoked the angry people that care about such things. Apparently none more so than some guy named Steve Cody who writes for Inc.

Cody’s Inc article starts by comparing Mayer to Martha Stewart (convicted criminal) and Paula Deen (now largely assumed to be a racist) and just goes downhill from there. In rapid succession he mocks her choice to wear expensive clothes, her ‘faux geekiness’ (but also her valley girl speak), calls her a micromanager, and overall is so unconsciously chauvinistic that I want to start a fund to send him to therapy to address whatever underlying issues he’s clearly suffering from. Read more

My Interview with The HR Fieldguide

I consider it a great honour to be featured this week at The HR Fieldguide, as part of Erik Smetana’s ongoing ‘9 Questions’ interview series. If you’re not fortunate enough to already be familiar with The HR Fieldguide I recommend that you add it to your ‘must-read’ list immediately. Erik produces a consistently great mix of musings, deep HR thoughts, and HR thought leader interviews…it’s a truly terrific HR blog. You can check out my interview here.