Why I Write & Speak Outside of Work

A few weeks ago I spoke at Disrupt HR Detroit about how to make work suck less. It was 5 minutes, 20 slides and a little nerve wracking but I left exhilarated – I challenged myself, met new people and learned a lot.

Did my company pay me to go there? No

Did I work on my slides at work? No.

Was I paid by DisruptHR to speak there? No.

So, why would I spend my precious free time essentially working pro-bono?

  1. Staying current in my profession. You don’t need me to tell you how quickly everything is changing – technology, people, places, etc. Working at one place is great but its very easy to become stale, to become silo’d into one way of thinking. The only way I know to fight back against that is to actively engage with people in-person and virtually.

That is why I’m still a big fan of social media and blogging but they have limitations – there is nothing better than connecting in person.

  1. I love what I do and I want to learn as much as I can. I’m a serious nerd when it comes to any topic related to organizations and people. By connecting with people across multiple functions and fields I get exposure to bleeding edge ideas that take me out of my silo.
  2. I’m a better professional because I write and speak regularly. DisruptHR was a 5 minute speech…do you know how hard it is to take a concept and distill it down to 5 minutes? You know you wish some of your employees had the ability to present on a topic in 5 minutes.

Of course there are days when I want nothing to do with organizations, people, leadership, HR or really anything business related.

THAT’s when I binge watch some Ozark, Silicon Valley or Great British Bake Off…we all need time to vegetate!

When your brain isn’t hurting from work

I encourage you take some small steps to engage with people outside of your company, you don’t have to go to cheesy networking events, instead you could:

  • Power up LI or Twitter and follow some people in your industry. Target following or connecting with people at companies you admire (I follow Mary Barra – not my industry or “HR” but someone I admire greatly).
  • Join an industry or professional association and attend one or two events. Yes, there will be some duds but you only find the good stuff with some experimenting.
  • Listen to a podcast or read/ listen to a book. This is an easy way to get exposure to new ideas in your field/profession and takes very little effort – lots of libraries offer e-book lending services so you may not even have to leave your home for this one.

I realize that some of you reading this may be thinking that you have no time or desire to do anything related to work and I understand that. Again, social media/podcasts/books are a great resource for those with little time.



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