Category: Personal

It’s Been 4 Months

It’s been four months since I’ve hit the publish button here. There are at least half a dozen posts sitting in draft status and approximately 45,338 ideas floating around in my head. Not an exaggeration.

In those last four months, a lot has happened. A lot, a lot. You get bullet points, because despite what some may choose to believe it hasn’t all been shared via social media and isn’t always covered in rainbow tinted glitter. But it’s real life and I’m all about real life.

  • I dove head first into a grassroots groundswell of activism led by an amazing group of intelligent and passionate women driven towards change in our community. I’ve never felt so empowered. I also announced my intent to run for West St. Paul City Council. (You can watch the video clip here and visit my campaign site here.) I didn’t know one of the perks of being a local politician would be getting to know so many amazing people and building true friendships with them.
  • I didn’t get to go to #SHRM18. It was ultimately my decision, but looking back, definitely one I regret even though it seemed like the right choice at the time.
  • We went to Des Moines to see Hamilton. It was life changing and I don’t care how cliche that sounds. I want to see it over and over.
  • My wife got pneumonia and was out of work for three weeks. The whole family passed around mystery viruses for a good week during that time.
  • My grandma was given a month to live. We drove to Missouri to see her while she was still well enough to see us and we could still talk. It was a beautiful visit. She died less than a week after we got back. We went back for her funeral. She was 92, but when you lose one of the most amazing pillars of your life, it doesn’t matter how old she is. I think of her daily and I always will.
  • Won my primary election. In a big way. On to the general election in November!
  • Accepted a job offer. It was easy to accept. I had a really positive feeling about it during the whole interview process and can’t wait to start in a few weeks.

And that’s my last four months in a nutshell. Is it all HR related? Nope. But it’s human related and that’s what matters to me.

My Five Year Woriversary

Five years (and one day) ago, I walked into the doors of a medium-sized credit union as the newest person of their HR team. And, oooh, boy. What. A. Ride.

I wasn’t looking for work when I applied to work where I’m at right now. I had s job. It paid the bills. I was good at it. It was comfortable. And part of that job was finding people to do customer service people for the call centers of that medium-sized credit union.

They were so obsessive about what they wanted in candidates and it was killing me. The candidates needed to really get what it meant to go above and beyond with customers and how to really get to know them, but it was totally cool if they didn’t have any experience.

The whole role, I kept hearing about the “culture” at this credit union and I had no idea what that meant because where I was working didn’t know what that really meant either. And whether it was fate or luck or pure randomness, one night I got an Indeed alert that they’d posted a job in their HR department. I thought about it for 12 seconds, updates my severely neglected resume, and applied.

I got a call on my birthday to schedule a phone interview and that whole culture thing started making itself incredibly evident during the entire interview process and I REALLY WANTED TO WORK THERE!

And here I am five years later.

I’ve learned a lot. My leader asked last Friday about some of my best moments here. At the very top of the list was being on stage in front of the entire (now large-sized) company when someone from my team got to announce that we were rolling out a six week paid parental leave. And it’s also anytime a leader calls me ready to offer a job to someone I’ve told them they’re gonna love or another leader wants to tell me that they’ve been working with one of their employees on something and they can see it start to click. Those are the best. Those are my jam. Those are why I <3 HR so much.

This company, the people I work with and the people that lead me have been incredible guides for the past five years in my growth every day, both professionally and personally. I feel like I got a pretty good deal with this job!

Here’s to five more!

This is 40.

I actually don’t care that it’s 40. It could be 372 and the only thing I’d care about was the fact that I was catching up to Methuselah as the oldest person EVER, if we’re pretending that story is exactly accurate.

My birthday was this past weekend. I’ve always been super nerdy about knowing who I share a birthday with for some reason. Probably in case we ever ran into each other on March 18th and wanted to have celebratory beers. Seems logical to me. This year, I looked again to see if there was anyone super exciting to add to my bday bud list and actually realized these folks have some great reminders for me.

Lady Gaga: “Don’t you ever let a soul in the world tell you that you can’t be exactly who you are.” And “You have to be unique, and different, and shine in your own way.”

Queen Latifah: “You almost have to step outside yourself and look at you as if you were someone else you really care about and really want to protect. Would you let someone take advantage of that person? Would you let someone use that person you really care about? Or would you speak up for them? If it was someone else you care about, you’d say something. I know you would.” (from her book Put on Your Crown.)

Grover Cleveland: “A cause worth fighting for is worth fighting for to the end.” and his supposed last words of “I have tried so hard to do the right.” (Not gonna lie. I don’t even think about Grover Cleveland and Googled the crap out of this one, but the guy had some quotes that really hit home!)

Kat Cole: I’ll wait right now while you do your research on who she is and then follow her on Twitter. While you’re doing that, I’m going to try to decide which of her ONE MILLION awesome quotes I want to leave you with.

These are two of my favorites: “Focus on things that are small enough to change, but big enough to matter” and “Have empathy, gratitude and respect for every position in the company”. There’s one more quote that has been stuck in my head almost every day since I listened to her speak for the second time at the 2017 SHRM Conference, but it’s actually a quote from her mom: “Don’t forget where you came from, but don’t you dare let it solely define you.”

Here’s to 40 and here’s to being 100% authentic to myself, not giving up the fight for what’s right for myself and those around me and continuing to learn more and move forward every single day.

What else can I get for you?

First things first, here’s your formal introduction to Ellis Berry. Born on January 3rd at 2:49pm. He weighed 9 lbs 14 oz and 21 inches long at birth. I can confidently say we’re all in love over here.

We experienced a lot of really amazing care from everyone during our hospital stay – nurses, doctors, acupuncturists, nursing assistants, room cleaning folks, you name it. It’s been exactly what we’ve needed to get through these last few emotion-filled days.

What I’ve noticed is that we were constantly asked, “What else can I get for you?” by these folks. And they mean it. It’s not a yes or no question, because we’re all “fine” and don’t need any other help because we don’t want to put anybody out or be a burden or all those other things we tell ourselves because we don’t want to ask for help. And it’s because these people who work at this hospital are working in a culture where they really want to help.

It’s pushed me to realize there is zero reason why I shouldn’t do that every day as an HR professional and as a leader. Think about the millions of applicable ways you can fit that question into your world.

Here are a couple from mine:

  • Employee has a question about X benefit. You answer exactly what they ask. But benefits are tricky sometimes. You ask them what other questions they have about it. You just opened a door that will all you to make them confident on something that impacts their lives. With one extra question.
  • As a leader, you try to meet with your employees regularly, right? Maybe it tends to be just a bunch of status or project updates or maybe it’s a difficult conversation for one or both of you. Before that meeting is over, what if you said, “What else do you need from me?” after every single meeting? (To be fair, I’m stealing this example from a couple of incredible leaders I’ve had.) That builds a partnership and a piece of support that encourages your employee to feel comfortable asking you for help.

In both examples, you will build trust. You’ll be able to better help the next person. You can begin to identify areas of improvement in what you, your team or your company does. You’ll be able to keep open lines of communication and foster so much more collaboration.

As long as you’re genuine and authentic in asking, I don’t know how you could possibly go wrong with asking just one more question.

2017 in Review

I’ve been reflecting so much on the past year. I’m usually in the camp that moves forward at 12:01am on January 1 because, hey, that stuff is in the past. This year was different for all sorts of reasons, some personal and others professional. There were amazing things, many amazing things.

There were some not great, heartbreaking, absolutely crushing things. I breezed my way through some things. I limped through others. And there were even some that I pretended didn’t even happen because it was easier that way. Or maybe I clicked the like button on Facebook when someone I knew was leading a march for justice of any kind or I clicked on the sad face when someone was assaulted or murdered because of their color or gender or beliefs. That’s not me. And if it is, I want and need to change that.

2017 had some things that definitely fell into the Giant Thumbs Up category.

  1. I stood up in front of 500+ of our employees during our annual meeting and got to see the reaction on their faces when we announced two amazing new benefits: six weeks of paid parental leave and a paid day off on your birthday. I have a fear of public speaking. For real. But I liked it a lot. Challenge accepted and won. I’m ready for more.
  2. We finally, on our last attempt at creating a human that would have been mostly covered by insurance, managed to conceive our soon-to-be baby boy. There were strings upon strings of follies that we ran into during this round of insemination, so it wasn’t too shocking that it worked. I’ve decided that Science + Prayer = Miracle. I can’t wait to meet him.
  3. I went to #SHRM17 and because more involved in social media surrounding HR life. It’s been slow going for me to find relationships with people in my field for many years. I managed to find this crew of folks that know and understand what a day in the life of my job often is has been phenomenal when it comes to expanding my knowledge in HR. I still have infinitely more to learn about this world and it’s easier to do it when you surround yourself with others you connect with and believe in.
  4. I read more. After I graduated with my BA in 2016, I vowed to read more and I did. True crime may very well still be my favorite, but I’m also a sucker for a good memoir, the occasional self help book and a sprinkling of chick lit. YES, I ADMITTED TO THAT. You can find something in everything you read that will open your eyes to someone else’s world.

2018 will undoubtedly come with its own mountain of challenges. One is scheduled to be here on January 3rd and will be a challenge for 18 more years. The rest, I’m as ready as I can be for them, whatever that might look like. I’m with each of you in any way you need it.

Happy New Year, friends. Let’s take ’18 and own it.

Sneak peak of Challenge J Berry:

Less creepy alien picture coming soon.

Embracing Twodolla

For years, I’ve had the internal debate on my twitter handle. It’s @twodolla. Pretty professional, yeah? To be completely fair, when I first started using Twitter, it was when you had to text in what you wanted to tweet to 40404 and you had to manually count those 140 characters. And when I start using Twitter, it was usually happening at the bar after shots and 2-for-1s. Now that I think about it, Twitter was just kinda for nerds back when it rolled out. It definitely wasn’t used by, oh, HR people or CEOs or those kind of folks. And, let me tell you, I was pretty good at it. Some real riveting content.

 

Backing up 10 more years before Twitter even started and blogging was just barely a thing is when twodolla came to be. You can read that story here. The whole thing stemmed from my days of working in a pizza delivery restaurant, where my buddy Kevin and I used to blast this song and dance around like fools anytime we worked together. (You’re welcome for this.)

 

And it stuck.

I tried dual tweeting for a while. Locking one down to private mode and using it for personal stuff and then having one with my whole name in it and using it for professional stuff, but that’s hard to do, man. You logout from one when you go to a conference you’re pretty sure your “normal” friends would have no interest in, tweet all about HR-related stuff that you’re completely geeked about. And then you forget to logout of your professional one and start tweeting to those people about your crush on a bartender and things get real weird, real fast. (I’m also kinda lazy, so this could just be me.)

I posted somewhere – probably Facebook or Twitter, but I don’t remember exactly where – not too long ago about trying to come to a decision on what I should do about my Twitter handle as I got more and more involved in tweeting about professional stuff. I contemplated using my name, but the same person that uses @wendyberry also owns wendyberry.com.au, which means I get a LOT of her email, including credit card invoices, random family holiday pictures, etc. Maybe that means she would be willing to give it up considering she hasn’t tweeted since 2011, but I have better things to do.

In the midst of my social media whining about this silly sort of drama, someone I really admire when it comes the whole grownup business lady world, Nancy Lyons, set me straight. I’m paraphrasing because I don’t where I’d originally posted it, but it was something like this: Knock it off. It’s part of your story and that’s what makes you you. (Sorry for completely botching whatever you said whenever you said it, Nancy…)

So here I am. If you search for “two dolla”, the first thing that shows up in Google is an awesome definition in the Urban Dictionary. The second is a scene from the movie Better Off Dead, the third is the Wikipedia entry for a two dollar bill and the fourth is my original personal blog. I’d say I’ve hit the big time, you guys, so why give up who I am now just because I’m almost all grown up, right?

It’s kind of like work life balance. It doesn’t exist. It’s just life balance. Well, sometimes there isn’t a black and white when it comes to personal and professional. If there was, I don’t think I’d like myself very much as a “professional”. I mean, look at me now – I’m blogging about my work life on a Saturday night while my son is singing a song that apparently has a line in it that goes “Where is Daddy? Where is Daddy?”