#SHRM17 Upon Arrival

\We flew from Minneapolis to New Orleans with a three hour layover in Atlanta. I would have preferred to have a conversation/fan girl moment with Jimmy Carter, but for whatever reason, he’s never at my gate waiting for me in all of the times I’ve had a layover in Atlanta.

But almost just as awesome, the #SHRM17 Twitter feed started blowing up and it was as ah-maz-ing. I legit started geeking out. Some dude (actually Matt behind True Faith HR) tweeted about having Chick-Fil-A at the Atlanta airport and HOLY CRAP, I was right by there. Next thing I know, I’m in line at the Southwest gate saying hello to Matt, which turned into saying hello to a handful of other SHRM-goers.

Someone sat next to me on the plane and asked how I knew Matt and I paused momentarily before I just decided to own my answer: TWITTER. I’ve met people from the internet before (e.g. my wife, my best friend, way too many people that have recognized me as “Wendy from the internet”), but it was a whole different opening of a door that I didn’t know was even there.

We landed, got our luggage and checked into our conference at the airport (!!!) before heading to our adorable hotel (the Dauphine Orleans) just a block off Bourbon Street. Unpacked, settled in and headed off to find dinner. Both Killer PoBoys locations were less than two blocks from our hotel, so that seemed like fate. And, yes, they were killer.

We went back to our hotel rooms with tentative plans to stay in for the night and catch up on a few work things. I lasted until about 7 before I went into full on #SHRM17 Stalker Mode. There were people out and about all over the place, so I hit the French Quarter on my own determined to find another HR/SHRM person somewhere.

I saw Kate post about being at a bar only a few blocks from my hotel room, so that’s where I headed. And I walked past the bar because, NOPE – couldn’t muster up the intestinal fortitude to go in. I KNOW, RIGHT? I sat down on a bench and texted my co-worker who was back in her room finishing up some homework to see if she wanted to join. She was game, so we were off. I totally needed a wingman to meet HR people. Best thing I convinced myself to do the entire conference.

Pat O’Brien’s kept the hurricanes flowing and so did the HR twitter people. A couple of folks I’d followed on Twitter for a long time ended up joining us, along with their spouses. And then randomly enough, the lady I sat next to on the plane showed up because, wouldn’t you know it, she’s there for the SHRM conference, too. I mean, there were over 15,000 of us. I guess I shouldn’t have been that surprised. She recognized me. I did not recognize her and I still can’t remember her name, but her husband and I definitely talked about whatever PGA golf tournament had just happened.

Day 1 in New Orleans and I was pretty jazzed (oh man, no terrible New Orleans pun intended, I swear) to have put names to faces, actually talked to other conference attendees and realized not all HR folks are like the “standard” HR folks. The conference hadn’t even started and I was already feeling the energy.

#SHRM17 Bound

I’ve been looking forward to this for months – it’s my first Annual SHRM Conference. I went to the SHRM Talent Management Conferencr in 2016 and it was incredible. Since then, I’ve moved into a leadership role within HR and have been seeking all the knowledge I possibly can to level up. (Sorry – the dudes next to me on our Southwest flight are playing Pokémon Go, so that phrase felt right. 

My conference last year was eye opening in a lot of ways, some in incredible ways (so many great takeaways!!!) and some, not so much. The biggest thing I regretted from the whole conference was just not putting myself out there to meet other HR people and not realizing the value of an HR network. It’s shocking to a lot of people because I am not a natural networker.  Not without a couple of drinks anyway. I’m a fan of cider, by the way. 

Enter Twitter. Despite my penchant for drunk tweeting when it first rolled out, it’s been an immeasurable tool in learning how HR works outside the confines of my office, which is all I really know. Outside perspective in genius, you guys. And Twitter has ultimately put me in touch with so many of these folks that share the same passion as I do for the entire Human Resources field. I’m really hoping to finally connect with some of them over the course of the next few days. 

I’ve got my eye on a couple things to take care of over through Wednesday:

  • Learn all the things. Or at least some of the things! 
  • Implement some of the some of the things when I get back to work on Thursday. Or, you know, maybe Friday. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself…
  • Meet some of these people I feel like I’ve gained so much knowledge from for the last year!
  • Meet some new people, too. I hear 10 a day is a good goal from one of my favorite HR bloggers, Steve Browne
  • Have fun. 

I never in my life thought I’d wind up in HR. I didn’t even know what HR was until I walked into an HR office and got fired for being absolutely terrible at sales. I would imagine there are thousands of people headed to New Orleans right now that might be in that same boat. Probably without the firing part, but hey, it’s all part of my story, right?

More from this conference to come and I’m hoping this outlet gives me a chance to do more reflecting of the things I learn. 140 characters on Twitter just isn’t enough sometime.  

This is an HR Blog.

I gotta be honest. I tried to tell my wife that I was using this empty domain I have had for years as an HR blog and I couldn’t even say the words out loud. She tells me I spend a lot of time with my work, more than makes sense to her. I can’t fault her for that, because I do. I’ve finally been able to articulate that it’s not that I’m working when I’m nose deep in “HR stuff”, because it’s… for fun. Whaaaaat.

I technically started in HR in April of 2008, at a staffing agency. I’d been unemployed for six months after a four year stint selling educational software right around the same time the public school system as a whole lost a ton of grants and funding. Nothing quite like calling up some middle school social studies teacher and trying to convince her to spend what little grant money she does have on some software that didn’t quite make sense that long ago. I got fired from that job. By HR. That was in 2007 and my first experience with anything at all that was officially related to Human Resources.

When I had an interview at the aforementioned staffing agency, I was… probably desperate. I interviewed first with HR person there. I typed fast and I was able to communicate clearly, so I got moved along in the process and eventually got hired after interviewing with the CEO, who talked to me about horoscopes for 30 minutes. (I’m a Pisces, in case you’re curious, and she sent me home with a post-it-note full of horoscope websites.) I got hired as a “Staffing Consultant” and stayed there for two days shy of five years. And took a selfie in the bathroom with my flip phone during my first month there and it had amazing resolution (not at all):

I learned a lot about HR things there. Some were good, some were bad. All helped me figure out my future in the field before I even realized that was the trajectory of my career. I moved on from there to a credit union, on the other side of the Twin Cities that added at least a half hour to my commute twice a day in an industry where I was pretty clueless about to a department that didn’t have anybody that could focus on recruiting. It’s funny the little things that impress you when you’ve been there for two days, and even funnier that they’re still some of the things that impress me about being there four years later where I’ve moved from Specialist/Recruiter to Generalist/Recruiter to Assistant HR Manager.

I continue to learn things where I work now that are amazing. HR continues to be an area that fascinates me daily and I’m thankful that the human side is so important to my current organization. I don’t think I could be somewhere it wasn’t. I love HR. I love to learn about HR. And I love to share what I know about HR.

I’ve been a blogger since before it was cool. We’re talking the 90s here, man. I haven’t been consistent, but when is life consistent? I tried to workout combining my personal blog and something where I focused mainly HR, but couldn’t quite get there in my head. I’ve been able to intertwine my social media accounts as one in the same, but this is different. And this is new and who knows what will happen from this point. I like writing and I generally enjoy writing about myself way too much than the average person, so who know how this will all turn out.

In the meantime, I’m gonna have some fun with this whole writing about HR and getting the millions of thoughts out my head to a place where someone else might, if nothing else, pause at a different perspective the might not have thought about in the past.