Productivity Tips and Tools

My 5 Must Have Items to Pack for Conferences #SHRM18

If you’re heading to this year’s annual SHRM conference you’re probably packing or have just finished packing your bags.

Generally, when traveling, I try to travel light — and if I forget something, if I’m in the US, I can generally do without it or replace it easily. But I try not to have that attitude completely when going to a conference because there are several items I know I’m gonna want to have (and I generally leave them in my carry-on so that I have them with me whenever I travel).

1. A Sweater (or something for layers)

No matter what time of year the conference is, I almost always find that the event center is too cool for my taste — so I always try to dress in layers. My general go to is a denim shirt — it goes with EVERYTHING and I can dress it up or down (but let’s be serious, I work in tech and I’m ALL about comfort — so I’m dressing it down, but still look kinda put together).  I’ve also used a large scarf which I wear as a scarf or can use as a wrap (a trick I picked up from my 30 day wardrobe challenge days). Whether its a yoga hoodie or pull over, you’ll appreciate having the option to cover up if you want to. I have experimented with all types and prefer ones that I can throw over my shoulders, waist, or even into a bag -so light weight and easy to roll up .

2. A Water Bottle

Its easy to get dehydrated at conferences — so I always bring one with me. I can generally find water pretty easily — and this way I don’t have to worry about wasting a cup or recycling a bottle. I actually don’t use a water bottle anymore but opt for a cup with a lid so that I can use it for other beverages. Its easy to throw in my bag or backpack bottle hold. Most places are pretty good about providing filtered water. This is a habit that I got when I went back to work after my maternity leave and I was struggling to stay hydrated – I’m not sure why, but if I have my reusable cup or water bottle with me — I just take in more water. And trust me, you’re gonna want to stay hydrated while at the conference!
3. Portable Blender

Okay — I bet you’re giving me some serious side eye here — A portable blender — seriously?!?!? I find that I’m not always eating my best at conferences or events — so if I have my blender with me I can at least throw together a quick smoothie or protein drink. Most hotels have fruit to use, or I pack a protein or veggie powder — I try to get one in the AM and take one with me to go. I use my reusable insulated cup — or sometimes I have a blender bottle that I’ll use and put the protein powder in there to make during the day. The small blender is super small and I think it was like $15 at Target  — it packs easily and doesn’t take much to clean or just pack the blender bottle. Even though its small, if I’m challenged for space (or gasp, forget it — it is the one item that I take out to wash and use at my office) I’ll pick up some protein bars.  Its not hard to find food, but not always the healthiest so I try to plan ahead a bit. Plus conference days tend to be long – so good to have an option.
4. Power Bank

This goes without saying right? Most conferences are getting better with providing power stations for attendees — but why not plan ahead for it.  They are super small and way affordable now. I leave this in my travel bag and then charge it in the airport or at the hotel and its ready to go with you to the conference!
5. Clippie, headband, and/or hat

.. because who wants to mess with their hair? Not this girl — especially since I’ve started my natural hair journey and went back to curly hair! Uuugghhh — and dealing with all those bottles of products and styling tools. No thank you if I can get around it. Ironically these are the items I almost ALWAYS forget! I try to keep a couple clippies or headbands in my bag and its easy to throw a cap in there too . The expo hall could be a place to find a cap –but its a chance that I’d rather not take. I did get a tip from a fellow HR Blogger that she gets a blow out right before her conference and with care, she can make it last for 3 or 4 days — so I’m gonna give that a try this year!

So what’s in your bag or suitcase — what are your conference must have?

Making the HR Connection, yours,


An Alternative to the Standing Desk – Meet Cubii #Kickstarter

I am IN LOVE with Kickstarter — its not just the the scientist (aka the geek in HR) in me who loves all the creative inventions — the innovation really fuels and inspires me — and then there are the times I come across something that I’ve just gotta have.

This is my next gotta have — the Cubii! The Cubii comes to us from the folks at I almost missed it — but thanks to TechCrunch, I came across this cool product!

I went to a standing desk earlier this year — well a “makeshift” desk. I’ve been documenting my experiences (trying different options and waiting to blog about it) over the last few months and as much as I love it, I still kinda hate it. It does take a while to get use to the standing and the days that I wear my high heels I either hate myself or I’m walking around barefoot — fortunately, I work at a place where no one even questions that or gives a second look.

What I like about the idea of the Cubii gives you another alternative to the standing desk. I’m really tempted to buy it to try it out and use it in addition to one of my set ups. Finding ways to combat “the sitting disease” is on my list of things to combat (its at the forefront of my mind and writings)– and I know its on many others’ lists as well by the number of publications and studies on it — plus my sessions at #IHRIM14 and #SHRM14 really continue to shine the light on employee wellness, particularly for those who are working sitting at desks all day.

What do you think (of this alternative and the whole standing desk things in general? Would something like this work in your office place or at your desk?

If I give in to my kickstarter temptation and try it out, I’ll let ya know!


Making the HR Connection, yours

Infographic: How Employees Are Wasting Time

I came across this infographic on time wasters of employees and wanted to share– and be sure to take a look at the graphic — its about inefficiencies — not about employees goofing off. I’m not crazy about the title of the graphic, but I have to admit, it is what grabbed my attention. Do you have these in your office?

Rypple, the creator of the infographic, proposes “cloud based unified communication” systems as the answer — what do you think — does that solve all the problems or are there other possible solutions? Does it depend on the size of the organization? Geography? Industry?

I’d venture to say “yes” — but I’m almost always in the camp of “there is no one right solution for everyone, but there is a right solution for you.” Its usually never as simple as the infographic makes it, IMHO. However, what I do agree with, it finding ways to help make employees as efficient as possible. There are certainly things in the HR space – both programmatic and tech that can help with this. Ultimately, HR should be what “HR people” do — and employees should not have to worry about it. They should be able to focus on the tasks at hand that help to contribute back to the bottom line and customer service. We should always be mindful of how to remove those barriers. Some of the points in the graphic are not generally things owned by HR — however, if it impacts the employee, a large piece of me is inclined to say that we should get involved to help move those barriers out of the way — we may not be able to directly solve it, but we can get things going, bring the right people together, and help make the case for change.

Making the HR connection, yours

Still Don’t Know What Heartbleed is all About? Here is a Resource for You.

Still not sure what Heartbleed is and what you need to do about it — check out this great infographic from Symantec for more information and resources:

There is a lot of information out there — my best piece of advice — change passwords (regularly) and carefully monitor your accounts and sites.

What about you — how has Heartbleed impacted you and/or your employees/workplace?

Making the HR Connections (and changing passwords — uugghh!),  yours,





Wanna Sell to HR people… Don’t be a Bug a Boo

I’ve been going through some “old school” pop in my Spotify (shout out to all my #HRMusicShare peeps) playlist and Destiny Child’s Bug A Boo has been on my mind— because I feel like I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic, its a catchy song. This time of year an HR person can get pretty popular 🙂 — your phone, LinkedIn, and email may start blowing up from people wanting to sell something to you.

It can make you want to hide a little bit… but don’t sweat it.  Let me walk though some realizations that I had several years ago and a list of some of my “suggestions.”

When it comes to sales, you probably totally get that one has to make sales and cold calls. You get that you attend conferences, webinars, meetings and that by filling out the forms or putting my business card in a large fish bowl, you’re likely going to get a sales call about services that you might be interested in. I bt you also get the concept of  warm leads and follow up. You get sales — you buy stuff (or sell things) all the time.

However, what many of us don’t get is some of the aggressive tactics that some organizations take.

In general, for me,  I like to know what is out in the industry and in the market — so I’m generally pretty happy to do a demo and see what one has to offer. After all, I may not be looking for something now, but maybe in the future — or I may know of a colleague who is looking (… hmmm, this concept is sounding a lot like good networking practices in general).

In all likelihood I may actually be interested in the product or service, but the timing is all wrong. It doesn’t mean “not interested ever” but “not right now.”

Things like calling several times a day, asking to connect only to follow up immediately with a sales lead, asking me lots of leading and probing questions — well it kinda puts me in an awkward position and… could make you want to run and hide.

You know, I sold Mary Kay for a while (long story), but I used to get slammed all the time from the people in my unit that I wasn’t aggressive enough with closing the sale or massing a huge stack of “leads”… but its not how I like to sell things and its not how I like to be sold to. My style is more it to establish a rapport and then throw in, oh by the way, I sell Mary Kay, and then continue on. Its a plant. I generally wouldn’t sell anything that day, but I’d get follow up at a later time and generally had great repeat customers.  It was stress-free — they knew I had product that they were interested in and when they followed up, I knew that they had a genuine interest in learning more (and for me, that was where some of the real work came in).  My way, was just trying to meet and talk to people, put a bug in your ear, and then see who might be really interested. Some people would (and did) say that I was lazy .. but I thought it to be strategic. But then again, what do I know about selling anything… pink Cadillac never I had. Maybe I was doing it wrong. I’m just a girl in HR.  😉

My point, people should be running towards you and not away from you and you should be working with them at THEIR pace. It should be sincere and genuine. Not pushy or forced. We all  get quotas…. and commissions…  but I think you’ve also got to get people and how to be effective so that you’re spending time in the right place.

Okay.. .so enough about what we get and don’t get… here are some of my suggestions:

  • Do send a quick follow up email after a meeting, webinar, event, etc and say a bit about yourself, HOW WE MET (important) and some of your services – strike while the iron is hot.
  • If sending a LinkedIn connection be transparent about WHY you want to connect, especially if we don’t know each other. If we met at an event for sure throw that in there — helps make a human connection. If we don’t know each other, the first message shouldn’t be about what you want to sell me. Don’t use “connections” for that, that is more appropriate for the inmails or offers feature of LinkedIn.
  • Call once, but that’s it (maybe twice). I may be in meetings, out of the office, in training, busy, or not interested. All valid reasons. I’ll find you if I want to know more.
  • Do follow up with other information that I may find helpful, but don’t spam me and sign me up for all your email lists so that I’m getting one a day (or multiple) — that’s just going to annoy me and send all your stuff to the junk folder.  Back to my example, I might send out a quarterly letter of helpful skin care tips (often not even calling out my products) — just a reminder that I’m helpful and “still there.”
  • D0 ask for a good time to follow up or when might this be a more relevant time to talk.
  • Don’t take it personally, sometimes the answer is “no” .. that’s okay.
  • Take a hint… if not getting a response, its likely not the right time or the right contact, or it could be your style/approach– consider backing off a bit or trying to re-engage if you’ve started on the wrong foot
  • Show sincere interest in me as a person- its not just about selling me something, its about starting a relationship.
  • Don’t be pushy, rude, aggressive — meet people at where they are in the process. There is no wrong place to be.
  • Don’t try to call my colleagues and ask them to send a message to me or get them to call you back — in the ballpark of being too pushy and aggressive.
  • Be memorable, but for the right reasons.

Remember, people talk and share — so even if the answer is “no” or “not now” from me, if I have a good experience, I’m likely to pass you on — and even more likely to tell colleagues to of a bad experience if you’ve been to pushy.

So these are some of my thoughts and suggestions.. what are yours?

Making the HR connection, yours,

Still don’t know what a “bug a boo” is… check it out for yourself, consider it a bit of “its not news, its a distraction” treat for you.  Be forewarned, its a *catchy* song (and great to work out to).

The Girl In HR’s Cool Reads for the Week – Sunday 9/29/2013

Don’t blink or you may have missed it!

Here are a couple of cool articles that I read (and some even inspired me) over the week:

Quick Summary –> Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law on Monday that requires websites to both remove content and provide notice of the removal when a requested by a minor (under age 18). This includes social media sites.

Making the HR Connection –> Its important to stay up to date on the trends and interpretations around social media and its use. Social media is an extension of YOU —  and what people think or say about you online is just as important as what you say and how you portray yourself online. This law impacts teens — could you ever see something being available to everyone. Should there be an option?

  • This next one is more under the header of “The Girl in HR Tries” — THE SKIMM. theSkimm is the daily newsletter that simplifies the headlines for the educated professional who knows enough to know she needs more. We do the reading for you and explain it with fresh editorial content, breaking down what you need to know to start the conversation. I read theSkimm most every day, but was really liked their summary for this past week — especially their summary of the Congress and the impending shut down (Sept 27). Lots of stuff going on from a political, economical, and HR perspective (benefit design has never been SO exciting, but seriously make up your minds, I’m trying to roll out open enrollment options for folks people!!!)  Check out their summary and and consider signing up for the skimm — or at least checking out their archives from time to time.

Works hard for the money?

THE STORY: Congress has still not passed a budget. The government will still shut down on Oct. 1st if it does not reach an agreement. Still. No. Deal.

STOP EXAGGERATING, IT CAN’T JUST SHUT DOWN. Yes, it can. If you’re a federal worker, you may have time off but don’t bother going to a national park or landmark. Because they’ll be closed. And don’t plan on a fancy lunch, because you may not have a paycheck for a while.

LAY IT ON ME. The Senate is expected to vote on a spending bill that the GOP-controlled House passed last week. That bill would keep the government running after Tuesday, while also defunding Obamacare. The Democrat run Senate is expected to send a tweaked version back to the House. It will not have the part about defunding Obamacare. This is not a coincidence; Obamacare rolls out October 1st.

What cool things were you reading this past week?