A Lot Has Changed Since Then

As I procrastinated a bit this past Saturday morning (instead of doing the cleaning I had originally planned to do) I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and then saw a notification to check my memories from “this day”.  The first memory that came up was my post from last year; the day I learned Lynda Rodriguez, my good friend and mentor, had passed.  As I read through my post and looked at our pictures together, I couldn’t help but remember that morning.  I had woken up a bit exhausted that Thursday morning because I had come back from #SHRM19 in Las Vegas the day before.  I started getting ready when I had this weird feeling that I should check my email. When I did, I saw where Nate Shannon, our GOSHRM president, had told us the terrible news.  I remember automatically calling my friend Joan. I don’t remember what I told her and I can’t remember what she said to me; all I remember was crying.  I knew this day was coming; things hadn’t been looking good with her health, but nothing could prepare me for that type of devastation.

As I was coming back from memory lane, my boyfriend Samir could tell something was on my mind.  I showed him the post from a year ago.  He kissed my forehead and said “Wow, it’s been a year already.  A lot has changed since then.  Are you okay?”

Indeed, a lot has changed since then.  I stopped blogging because I couldn’t get inspiration, and every time I found myself a bit inspired, I felt like I was betraying her by not writing about her.  But I couldn’t write about her, it was too painful.  So, I kind of ignored our blog page (for over a year) and tried to focus on other things.

One thing I did take from Lynda’s passing was that life was too short and you just don’t know when your time will come.  I think this pushed me to move out of my comfort zone.

I started applying for jobs because I had finally accepted I wasn’t happy where I was anymore and it was a long process.  There were times where I didn’t get any responses from my applications, and there were other times where I did get a response, but the recruiter would then ghost me. Then there were the interviews I went to, but still didn’t end up getting the job.  I didn’t let these things stop me though.  When I had no clue what I was doing I would make up conversations with Lynda in my head and followed what I thought would be her advice. So the day that Heather Deyrieux, HR Florida President, called me about the Social Media chair position on the HR Florida Council, I decided to talk it over with my family, my job, and also in my mind with Lynda.  As you probably know, I said yes and started my new responsibility in January. This role has been a great and challenging experience and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

At some point in February, talks about COVID-19 were intensifying, and soon after, it reached us in Florida.  After a few weeks of it hitting Orlando, my employer at the time decided to lay off a bunch of people, myself included. I thought it was the end of the world, until I realized it wasn’t.  As I had mentioned, I wasn’t happy there anymore. I was craving change and had been craving change for months at this point.  Additionally, the job was affecting me emotionally, even though I tried to not let it affect me.  After a few days of shock, I started feeling relieved. Don’t get me wrong, I was freaked out because I was without a job in a time where everyone was losing their jobs, but I was also emotionally relieved.   I had no idea how stressed my job had made me feel and how stuck I was.  This pushed me to apply to MANY jobs.  It didn’t matter if I was overqualified for it, I still tried because I knew that at some point unemployment benefits were going to expire and I would then have to depend solely on my savings. 

A month before my state unemployment benefits ended (two months before federal benefits ended), Amanda referred me for a job in an airline company.  I wasn’t too sure about it because of the current climate but I had nothing to lose so I went for it. I contacted the HR Manager and he told me he was going to start interviewing in early June and said he would be in contact with me later.

I didn’t think much of it; I was interviewing for other jobs as well and I honestly thought he was going to forget about me in June, but to my surprise, he called me June 1st to set up an interview.  The interview was a few days later and I thought it had gone well.  I learned that this airline focused mostly on cargo flights and charter flights, so they were doing very well despite the pandemic. A few days after that interview I got a job offer for another place I was interviewing at.  I wasn’t too excited about that offer, but I accepted it because I was afraid of my benefits expiring and being jobless. I was getting ready for a start date of 6/16 which was a Tuesday and was looking forward to being back at the workforce.

Monday afternoon on the day before I was supposed to start the new job, a few hours before the end of business day, Jonathan Fantauzzi, the HR Manager at the airline, called me to offer me the job and he wanted me to start as soon as Thursday if at all possible.  This job was it! I was finally going to have the job title I wanted, with an excellent commute, good pay, and benefits, and most of all I was going to work with an HR team! No more department of one for me! I accepted and the rest is history :D.

A few days after I started my new job, I was talking to Jonathan about HR Florida, GOSHRM, Disrupt HR; basically, we were talking about networking events and conferences in general.  After a while he said, “wait you must’ve known Lynda Rodriguez, she was my neighbor and she helped me prep for the SHRM-CP exam”.  As he said that, my eyes watered; he continued talking about her and the impact she had on his life.  While I listened, I couldn’t help but smile and see this as a sign.  Lynda had been supporting me all along and that brought me to where I was in that specific moment.  I do not think that was a coincidence.

A lot has changed since Lynda’s passing.  It still is sad to think about her not being here with us, but it is also nice to think about her.  She was a very positive influence in my life, and I know she would’ve been cheering me on and pushing me to be my best despite any obstacles I might face along the way.  I don’t know if the writing bug will hit me again any time soon, but I am glad it hit me this time so I could tell you this story.

Inspire. Connect. Encourage.

Guess who’s back… back again… The HR Panda’s back… tell a friend.

Last week Jenni Stone challenged me to post an album a day for 10 days; an album that influenced my musical taste. As I write this, I have completed six days of the challenge. However, my first post was a no brainer, I had to choose Eminem’s “The Eminem Show.” This CD was released in my seventh grade year, I was about 12. As you probably know Eminem probably isn’t the best music for a 12 year old to be listening to, but I was hooked! And because I was 12 and naive, I thought the “Parental Advisory Sticker” meant that it was edited. It was the first CD I had ever asked for with this sticker, so my mom didn’t know either. We both learned pretty quickly. I don’t remember now why she allowed me to keep it, but she did, and I listened to it on repeat. Maybe that is why I struggled with other challenges in my teenage years. I didn’t realize it then, but Eminem has a weird affect on me. I love his music, but I now know that if I listen to his music on repeat, I start getting angry, moody, and depressed. So although I absolutely love Eminem and would do anything to see him live, I know my limits with his music now.

So back to the album challenge. I’ve been posting a lot more on Facebook recently than I normally would; I have a lot more time on my hands, like most of us do. A lot of my posts are silly stuff, the majority is Disney related. It’s been exactly 1 month since I was last at Disney, but I feel like it’s been a year. It’s also been a little over a month since I spoke at DisruptHR Daytona. This was the first DisruptHR event for the city of Daytona and it was hosted by my very good friend Sommer Sherrod. I just have to give Sommer so many kudos because she is an incredible person and she knows how to throw a party. (Please connect with her on LinkedIn if you aren’t connect with her already.) She also knows how to make people do things they don’t really want to do. The one and only Ricky Baez was dressed in a muumuu, Luke Messer from Paylocity was dressed as a Strong Man, and I was set to speak first. We all were champions even though it was far from our comfort levels.

Image may contain: 13 people, including Amanda Brunson, people standing and indoor

The fact that I was even there to speak was a miracle because for several months leading up to the event, Sommer kept asking me to speak. It wasn’t until the beginning of January that I finally gave in and signed up. For those of you that know me, I really need to have something that I’m passionate about before I’m willing to get up in front of 75-150 people and talk for 5 rehearsed minutes. But as I was finishing my drive back to Florida from West Virginia from Christmas break, I started thinking about a lot of different things. In fact, my exact text to Sommer was:

“So it’s a lot and I need to figure out how to tie it all together but these are the ideas that inspired it. (1) Erich K.’s post about who will inspire you in 2020. (2) How I’m blessed to be part of such a remarkable circle of HR people. (3) People that attend DisruptHR are wanting to be involved in HR and be better HR people so this would be how disrupters can use their positive attitudes to be an influencer/mentor. (4) There are more young HR pros entering the workforce daily and they want mentors. And how there aren’t enough mentors to be had. (5) How there are just bad HR people. And we need to spread positive vibes to others that experience bad HR peeps. It’s going to be called something like Inspirational HR or something with inspiration in it.”

It wasn’t a very structured thought, but it was a beginning to the most amazing presentation I feel like I have ever given. It was humbling, heartfelt, and honest. I shared my practice video with my leader at work, and she had to call me to tell me how proud she was of me and that she wanted to share it with the entire HR team at our company; no pressure or anything. After the video came out, I watched it and I was so proud of myself. There are a lot of words that describe the type of person I am, but I think right now, confident feels right. My final presentation of “Inspire. Connect. Encourage” is exactly what HR professionals need right now. We are living in unprecedented times and we don’t know what is going to happen next. But we all need to stand together, inspire our colleagues to do the best they can with what they have to offer, connect with your friends and your family more now than ever, and encourage each other to stay positive through the tough times. Take pride in yourself, support your peers, be a friend to someone that could really use a shoulder to cry on, and just be an authentic human being. #CallieStrong


I don’t know when I’ll be back with my next blog post. This one kind of came out of nowhere. I was thinking about how I wanted to share my video again in case someone missed it the first time. Then I started thinking about how it’s been so long since I’ve written a blog, but wasn’t sure if this was the right time to write one, but then I thought about how silly that is because any time is a good time to write. It’s better than sitting in front of the TV doing nothing for an hour. I’ve been doing way too much of that and not spending hardly any time on the computer; I have been needing a break from the extracurricular computer stuff. But I felt like I needed to share with you. And while this blog might be all over the place, my intentions are from the heart.

So as I wrap this up, let me leave you with this. While you are staying at home over the next three weeks to a year, take time out of each day to check-in with a handful of people. Reach out to different people each day. Reach out to the people that would normally do the reaching out. Reach out to the people you haven’t talked to in months. Just reach out and let them know you care. They may need your kind words and you don’t even know it. Inspire. Connect. Engage. It’s as easy as 1 – 2 – 3.

Maya Angelou Quote: “The area where we are the greatest is the area in which we inspire, encourage and connect with another human being.”

Hum dei dei la la, la la la la la. La la la la la, la la la la. Hum dei dei la la, la la la la la. La la la la la, la la la la. Kids!

Eminem - Without Me (Official Video) - YouTube

Appreciate Today

Can you believe it is the middle of October? Where has time gone? I feel like I was just at HR Florida, but that was almost two months ago. But a lot has happened in two months. I’ve had a lot of blog ideas run through my head in two months. But life has found a way to keep me from having time to write; which is sad because I love to write. But as I wrap up my weekend, I decided to spend an hour writing instead of watching television. Please know, this is a longer blog than normal and it is rather emotional, but if you can stick through it, know that it would mean a great deal to me.


Just over a month ago, the world lost an incredible person. I know, the world loses incredible people every day. But on September 12, 2019, in a little town in Wisconsin, my friend, mentor, and role model, lost her life to stage four stomach cancer. I haven’t been able to talk about it or write about up until now; and I’m still not sure I can, but I’m going to try, for Callie. Just like the rest of us that knew Callie, we were all devastated to find out about her diagnosis back in July. But we were all confident that she’d be able to fight it and would come out on top. Sadly, just a couple short months later, she lost her battle.

A lot of people didn’t know this, but I thought the world of Callie. She and I had only known each other for about a year and a half, but I feel like I knew her for a lifetime. She and I met through the SHRM Young Professional Advisory Council (YPAC.) It was a dream of mine since I found out about the YPAC to be able to serve on it. My first year was also Callie’s first year leading the group. I knew right away that she was someone I wanted to be friends with. In fact, not only did I want to be her friend, I wanted to be just like her. I admired everything about Callie; her drive, determination, and authenticity. I even told her at SHRM18, that I wanted to be her when I grew up. She was in a career at age 30 that I had dreamed about but thought I was too young to be in. When I asked her how she did it, she said she just jumped. I’ve been trying to live in that mentality ever since.

Image may contain: 7 people, including Amanda Brunson, people smiling, people standing
#SHRM19 with Callie and YPAC Members 

Then during our second year on the YPAC, Callie devoted time out of her busy schedule to have one-on-one calls with the YPAC members to talk about anything and everything. It didn’t have to be about the YPAC; it could be about work, home, animals, school, anything! She was always so selfless.  Callie made time for us and I don’t know about the

Image may contain: 2 people, including Amanda Brunson, people smiling, people standing
Callie & I at #SHRM19

rest of the group, but I appreciated her so much for that. In fact, there’s a lot that I appreciated Callie for. Callie believed in me. She saw something in me and gave me so many opportunities to grow and shine. She recommended me to be a SHRM blogger, she gave me an opportunity to lead a networking session for students at SHRM National. She chose me to be the step challenge team captain too. At the end of last year, I told Callie I still wanted to continue with the YPAC even though I had a lot on my plate. However I wasn’t sure I could take on any leadership responsibilities, mostly because I didn’t want to let her down if I couldn’t fulfill my duties. But as the year went on, I found myself raising my hand on initiatives if she asked because I wanted to help her. I felt it was the least I could do for her with everything she did for me. I loved her dearly and I miss her like crazy. But one thing that is driving me crazy, I don’t remember if I told her how much I appreciated her.

When Callie’s family announced when her Celebration of Life would be, I knew in my heart that I needed to be there. It might sound crazy; traveling from Florida to Wisconsin to attend, but it was where I needed to be. I had someone looking out for me though,

Me and Mary Williams 

because typically I would never have enough extra money laying around to make that type of last-minute trip happen. But because of some planning for other expenses that I found out I didn’t actually need, I was able to allocate those funds to my trip. I was able to afford a flight into Milwaukee, about an hour and a half away from the services. Hotels in Milwaukee were also reasonable; but to add a rental car on top of that, I just couldn’t do it. But through the power of networking and blogging, I found out a great friend, Mary Williams, would be driving through Milwaukee to get to the services and she was kind enough to pick me up. I was able to make it after all. Thank you, Mary. ❤

At the services, I visited with Andrew, a fellow YPAC member. He and I had a conversation about how short life is and how we just don’t show our appreciation to people the way that we should. We realize that we take time for granted and think that we can just say thank you tomorrow. But what if someone doesn’t have a tomorrow? We have absolutely no way of knowing when a person’s life is going to come to an end. And I hate to sound so cryptic, it’s definitely not something I like to think about. But it is true. We need to stop taking life and time for granted, and we need to make sure that the people that we care about know that we care and that we appreciate them.

Image result for your mission if you choose to accept it funny

So, as I wrap this up, I want to challenge each and every one of you to pick a day of the week (i.e. Wednesday.) Each Wednesday, I want you to reach out to someone in your life that you appreciate and tell them! It doesn’t need to be for the whole world to see; just send them a text, pick up the phone and call them, or send them a written note. If you want to do it more often, great! My goal has been to reach out to someone daily. It has been incredible. And do you want to know the most unbelievable part about it? Almost every time I have reached out to someone, they have thanked me because they really needed to hear that on that particular day. I didn’t know that before I reached out, but knowing that I could make even a small difference in their life, even if just for a moment, it made my heart happy.

So, make your heart happy, along with someone else’s! Call, text, write to your friends, family, colleagues, mentors, role models, etc. and let them know today and as often as you can that they are appreciated and that you care. It will only take a few minutes out of your day, but it could brighten someone else’s entire day. And never again will you have to worry that you didn’t get a chance to tell them what they meant to you before it was too late.

Callie, I miss you and I appreciate you. I’m glad you aren’t suffering anymore. #CallieStrong


#HRFL19 What a Fun Time

Between getting back to work and hurricane Dorian I have been sitting on this blog post I started writing hours after the #HRFL19 conference was over.  I had such a great time at the conference! I got to hang out with my out of state HR buddies Jon Thurmond, Wendy Dailey, Jazmine Wilkes, and Anne Tomkinson, had a fair share of Disney meals, walked my first 5k since 2012, I caught up with my favorite Florida HR peers, which include my GOSHRM family.  I think I went to more sessions this year than the last but I cut back time in the Expo Hall (can you tell I’m an introvert?). As usual, there is so much to do and see so it was impossible to do it all.

As we mentioned in a previous post, Amanda and I were chosen to be part of the #HRFL19 Social Media Team, which meant we had to not only help promote the event but we also were active using our social media during the event.  I was on my phone a lot during the conference and got to engage with other attendees via my social media platforms (mostly Twitter). Another fun thing I participated in while on the social media team was a recording of the HR Social Hour Half Hour podcast with Jon and Wendy for my 3rd time.  It felt great to come back and have a great conversation with them, Amanda, and Jazmine.

My favorite sessions were Jason Treu’s Secrets to Maximizing Employee and Team Performance; Derreck Kayongo’s General Session; Anne Tomkinson’s Improving Employee Engagement and Retention Through Your Managers; and Frances Rios’s Defrost: Warm up your Organizational Thermostat and heat Up profits.  I was super excited about meeting Jason Treu in person and thought it was so nice of him to find us in the overflow room and spoke to us in person as we did an interactive activity.

If you ask me what was my favorite thing in all the HR Florida Conference I do have to say it was the VIP experience.  When you upgrade to VIP there are so many perks that come with it like extra drink tickets that can be used for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, which was REALLY nice when a bottle of water costs a fortune inside the hotel.  You also get access to pre-conference sessions.  Also, you get really good and exclusive seating in all the keynote sessions, and by really good I mean front and center. VIP’s get a very nice lounge that included refreshments; it was a nice place to hide from the crowds from time to time without having to walk out of the conference center.  Now, if you know me at all you know that anything food-related will make me excited. The VIP lunch was so delicious, instead of the predictable boxed lunches, VIPs enjoyed hot food. Monday lunch included salad, potatoes green beans and chicken with an assortment of desserts to choose from.

Tuesday lunch was even better since HR Florida decided to celebrate “Taco Tuesday” with build your own tacos!

I definitely am considering doing VIP next year! HR Florida knows how to throw a good conference. Even without being VIP or part of the Social Media Team I know I would’ve had a marvelous time learning and catching up with my HR friends.  It goes without saying that I will be back for #HRFL20. Hope to see you there as well!

Here’s Several Pictures with some of my favorite people at the HR Florida Conference!

Preparing for #HRFL19

I seriously can’t believe how fast August flew by! We are seriously just less than a handful of days left until #HRFL19! My goal leading up to the conference was to provide daily tips, tricks, and info regarding the conference via Social media. I started off pretty strong, but as time went on and other responsibilities became more adamant, I found I wasn’t able to post as much as I wanted. However, I wanted to take an opportunity to throw one more quick blog out there about preparing and packing for #HRFL19!

So, as you are throwing your suitcase together today or tomorrow, please consider using these tips below so you will be ready for a great conference experience.

Image result for packing suitcase meme

Things to Bring

  1. Comfortable Shoes – It might not be as big of a venue as SHRM, but it’s still a lot of walking! Wear comfortable shoes so you have a comfortable experience.
  2. Portable Phone Charger – It’s great to be social during conferences! Post about the sessions you are attending because it’s a great way to look back later and remind yourself about the key takeaways. But being social means draining your phone battery, so take a backup!
  3. Lightweight jacket or sweater – I know it’s Florida in August, but with 2,000 conference attendees, the hotel will keep the A/C cranked down low! The rooms may be chilly, so bring something to cover up with just in case!
  4. Email Confirmation/Barcode – If you want to have a seamless registration experience, bring your email confirmation/barcode sent from Tina Kuga Gaarrell with the subject line: “2019 HR Florida State Conference & Expo – Know Before You Go!” so there are no questions that you are meant to be there! If you didn’t get it and you are registered for the conference, check your spam!
  5. Business Cards – You never know who you will meet at HR Florida, so make sure to bring those business cards to connect with new people! You may also need them for exhibitor prizes!


Image result for tips


  1. Download the App – Whether you are using an Android or Apple, you can download the HRFL2019 app! The app has session info, where to find exhibitors, maps of the conference space, activities and event schedule, social media platforms, a chat feature, and more! Want to utilize the chat and ask question areas? Log in using your registration email as your user name is your and the password: hrfl.
  2. Upgrade to the VIP All Access Pass – New this year is the VIP All Access Pass. If you hate standing in line, love being pampered, drinking (free) coffee, want a hot buffet lunch, and/or want reserved seating or general sessions, consider upgrading to the VIP All Access Pass! VIP is only $199 more and it includes all of the perks listed above! I don’t know about you, but the hot buffet lunch and free coffee makes it totally worth it to me! 😉
  3. Participate in Evening Fun! HR Florida knows how to host a great conference! Not only are there great speakers, sessions and exhibitors, but they know how to throw a good party! Check out the Annual 5K on Sunday, the Lip Sync Battle on Monday, the comedians on Tuesday, and the Glow party following the comedians! It’s going to be SHRMAPALOOZA!

Image result for extra extra


  1. Thank Volunteers and Conference Team Members– The conference team members have spent the past year working to make sure #HRFL19 is a success! They’ve listened to your comments and concerns from #HRFL18, and they’ve made some adjustments. They are all volunteers that are giving their time and energy to giving us a great time, so make sure to thank them!                                                        Additionally, thank the volunteers! They’ll be all around during the conference in volunteer shirts directing us to the right places, checking us in for lunch, introducing speakers, greeting us into general sessions, stuffing our bags, and so much more! They are giving up their precious conference time to help make your experience a little bit better, so make sure to say thanks to them too!
  2. Follow the Social Media Team – The social media team consists of 5 very awesome HR peeps (Lorena Pabon, Wendy Dailey, Jon Thurmond, Jazmine Wilkes, and me) that are heavily active on social media, blogs, and podcasts! Want to know what’s going on during the conference? Follow all of them to stay up to date! Or… #NotAtHRFL19? It’s a great way to see all of the fun! Click here to find out how to follow of us!
  3. Support the SHRM Foundation – The local SHRM chapters throughout the state of Florida have donated a raffle item for the conference. There will be a table in the expo hall where you can buy raffle tickets to try and win these items! Sometimes they even have silent auction items. Stop by this table, buy your raffle tickets, support a great cause, and hope to win! Drawings will occur on Tuesday from 3:45 PM – 4:30 PM in the Expo Hall!


I know this is a lot of info to take in right before the start of an awesome conference, but make sure you check it all out! This is my 5th year in attendance and I feel like I learn something new each year. Make sure to follow me on social media by following TheHRPanda no matter what platform you use. Connect with me, connect with your fellow HR pros, and have a great conference! I look forward to seeing you all there!

LinkedIn Twitter Instagram Blog

Image result for see you real soon mickey

The Countdown to #HRFL19 is On!

Lorena and Amanda have been asked to join the 2019 HR Florida Conference and Expo Social Media Team this year alongside HR colleagues and friends, Wendy Dailey, Jon Thurmond, and Jazmine Wilkes! We are both honored to be a part of this incredible journey and we want to share with all of you everything that the HR Florida conference has to offer and why YOU should attend!

First the basics:

What: The 2019 HR Florida Conference and Expo

When: August 25 – 28, 2019

WhereGaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center

Who: HR Professionals from Florida and beyond

Why: The HR Florida conference offers a unique experience that allows HR Professionals from the state of Florida and beyond an opportunity to create connections, learn innovative HR techniques that can change how you work, and celebrate with friends and colleagues!

Now… a word from your favorite “The Future of HR” blog writers…


I’ve got to be completely honest with you all, I’m not sure where July came from! These last few weeks have been so hectic; between packing, moving, unpacking and traveling to Las Vegas for #SHRM19. It was a blur, that’s for sure! And while I would love to sit here and reflect on everything that has happened, I am finding myself excited for the next thing coming soon! As I write this, we are only 53 days away from the largest HR conference in the state of Florida, #HRFL19! And I am so excited to be a part of the Social Media Team with my friends! I love seeing Jon and Wendy at the SHRM conference every year, and to find out I get to see them two times in 2019 was fantastic. I of course am excited to see Jazmine again, since it’s been a little over a year! We all keep up on social media though. 😊 Hence, why we are on the Social Media Team. 😉

Anyway, I admit, I haven’t done as much promoting as I would have liked, but I had a lot of responsibilities for the SHRM conference, so I haven’t had much free time. However, now that we’re less than two months away, I can’t wait to share with all of you the things I am most looking forward to. SO! Make sure you are following me on Twitter and LinkedIn because I’m going to be highlighting one thing per day until the day leading up to the conference of things that I am looking forward to; whether it’s a session, a speaker, an event, a person, etc., I am committing myself to that! In the meantime, sign up for the conference! You wouldn’t want to experience the FOMO that comes from not being there. #NotAtHRFL19 ☹ #HRFL19 😊



Hey everyone !  I’m so excited to be part of the HR Florida Conference Social Media Team.  Let me start by telling you that HR Florida is a blast.  I personally love local conferences more than national ones because they are easier to navigate and everything is so close.  This is the second year the conference is being hosted at the Gaylord Palms and let me tell you, you are in for a treat.  I am especially looking forward to working with my friends Wendy, Jon, Amanda, and Jazmine.  I will be tweeting about the sessions I will be going to and the activities going, on so be sure to follow me at @lpabonhr and don’t forget to follow #HRFL19, but before we get there I want to help you get ready for such an exciting event!

  • First of all, USE COMFORTABLE SHOES! I cannot say this enough, your feet will hurt if you don’t and that can definitely ruin the experience.
  • Plan day and night outfits, once the sessions are over we still have entertainment for the night and definitely do not want to miss out.
  • Unless you registered for VIP upgrade, lunch will be in boxes; if you are not into that make sure you bring snacks.
  • Very important, if you do not have a twitter account, create one. Trust me on this, part of the conference fun is tweeting and reading people’s tweets.  Also if you follow #HRFL19 or anyone on the social media team for that matter, you will be in the loop on what is going on.
  • Take time to visit the EXPO Hall, even if you aren’t looking for anything new this time around or if you aren’t the decision maker in your organization. The EXPO Hall always has fun stuff happening, plus it is a good place to catch up with attendees and network!
  • Even if you live in Orlando I highly recommend you stay at the hotel (Gaylord is full but there is an overflow hotel that offers shuttles to and from Gaylord Palms). Sessions start really early and evening activities can last till really late.
  • This last one is for all my introverts out there (aka: me). You are going to be around people for a few days so be sure you have charged yourself up for this event, don’t get me wrong it is a good time but in order to enjoy and survive it you have to be in a certain mindset.

I’m sure there’s a bunch of other things I forgot to tell you, but again follow me on twitter
@lpabonhr and I will be sure to get the information you need out there.



-Amanda & Lorena

I’m so busy!!! Update post

Hey everyone!
I have been a bit MIA these past few weeks.  I haven’t participated in Twitter chats in quite a while which makes me sad.  There is a lot going on right now which is great news though since I love being busy.  I really didn’t think about what to write this week so bear with me as I put my thoughts into words.
The reason I have been so busy lately is work, we have added a new provider to our practice, which means we needed to hire Medical Assistants and Front Desk Receptionists for her team.  That means I have been to a lot of career fairs, advisory boards, meetings with local schools, and A LOT of interviewing.  I do love this part of my job because it allows me to be out of the office and change scenery but when you have multiple events one after the other it gets exhausting especially since I am a Department of One, when I got back from those events my inbox was filled and I had to play catch up on the projects I was already working on.  In the middle of all of this, I had planned a trip and was taking 2 days off and it wasn’t a lot of time off, but since hiring consumed so much of my time I really was in a time crunch.  I wanted to cross all my t’s and dot all my i’s before I left.  So I decided it was time to delegate some tasks, as HR there isn’t a lot I can’t delegate without breaking confidentiality but there were a few things I was able to do:
1.    Asked supervisors to do their write-ups according to the organization’s standards and not send me an email with the issues for me to write them up for them.  That way I could just revise quickly and sign for approval.
2.    Additionally, I requested them to have easier conversations on their own w/o me as a witness.  (Sensitive subjects were still being handled with me).
3.    Initiated an employee referral program.  Employees recommended people they knew who had the skills and qualifications for the job, which saved me some time with candidate searching online.
4.    Finally, created a “celebration committee” for birthday, anniversary, and holiday celebration planning.  (This was actually a huge hit and employees were much more engaged than I ever imagined).
I still had a lot to do but these things definitely helped lighten my load.  The best thing about delegating was being able to leave for my trip without the stress of going back to candidate searching and coming back to a lot of unfinished work!
    As I mentioned I took 2 days off from work and went to Puerto Rico.  I hadn’t been to Puerto Rico in 3 years so I hadn’t seen anything after hurricane Maria.  The trip was for mother’s day weekend.  I went to visit my grandmothers with my parents and sister and it was fun and emotional all at once.  It was nice to be around family, see a few of my friends, and visit my favorite hangout places and of course my alma mater, but the impact this hurricane had on the island has been humongous.  It has been over a year and a half since this tragic event happened and you can still see the damage, I can’t even imagine what everyone went through and I can see why everyone was so desperate to leave afterward.
(Cute picture of me in University of Puerto Rico- Rio Piedras)
    Speaking of trips… I am headed to Las Vegas in a few weeks for #SHRM19! I am super excited about this trip since I have never been to Las Vegas. I know I will have lots of fun and learn a lot.  I have met so many people in the last two SHRM national conferences and I am excited to see some of them again this summer as well as meeting new faces!
So that’s about it for the updates.  Thanks for reading!

Health & Wellness Fairs 101

When I started my new role a couple months ago, one of the things that my manager told Image result for health fairme I’d be responsible for was coordinating a Health & Wellness Fair, happening in June. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I had no idea where to start. I received a lot of great advice from my connections and started to run with it. Even though the event hasn’t happened yet, I still wanted to write about my coordinating experience while providing advice on how to coordinate your own Health & Wellness Fair.

Get advice: One of the first things that my connections told me was to utilize my insurance broker because they would be able to help secure vendors and maybe participate themselves. However, I wanted to try a different direction. It’s a great piece of advice though, so don’t knock it just because I did.

Know what you have to work with:  Image result for not enough room funnyFind out what your budget is for your event. It sucks to start talking to possible vendors, get excited about what they have to offer, and then realize you have no budget. Get an understanding of the space you have available too. You wouldn’t want to overbook vendors because you don’t have enough space.

Brainstorm vendors: Once you know your budget and your space and what you want to accomplish at your fair, determine the types of vendors you want to participate. At first we thought we wanted people that could check blood pressures, do biometric screenings, give flu shots, etc. But I quickly learned, a lot of vendors charge for these things (and it’s not the right time of year for flu shots.) So, I began thinking outside of the box.

Utilize Connections: Once I started doing that, I utilized my connections to find the right people. I figured I would reach out to an HR rep at a local hospital that has sponsored our local SHRM chapter meetings before. She connected me with someone in my area that handles these types of events, and that person connected me with five other people from different healthcare related divisons. I also reached out to the health department that had sponsored our meetings in the past and confirmed them as well.

Additionally, a friend of mine knew that I was preparing to do this health fair and he met someone while networking that does this for a living, so he connected me with her. Unfortunately, we have a $0 budget and her services cost money. However, she connected me with someone she knew that had put on successful health fairs for the county that she works for. She connected me with another five vendors and gave me some additional out of the box ideas for vendors that she’s worked with.

I also reached out to my own chiropractor, dentist, eye clinic, and a retirement planning colleague. If you haven’t yet, start building your network! It will come in handy, I promise!!

Image result for networking meme

Reach Goals: My goal for this event was 15 vendors. We’re still about three weeks away from the event, but as of today, I have 16 confirmed vendors. Some of the services that will be available for our employees include chair massages, a blood drive, tongue and pulse consultations, joint screenings, plus they will be able to learn about many local organizations that can help them with health issues, continuing education, retirement planning, airport parking, and so much more. I even heard that some vendors will be bringing some swag and prizes, which I know will excite the employees!

The Day of: Once I am feeling confident that I have confirmed all of the vendors that will attend, I will create a vendor bingo card. All of the employees will get one and will be asked to have the vendors sign off that they attended their table. At the end of the day, I’ll have a drawing with a cool prize for the winner. Gotta have motivation for them to visit all of the tables!

Image result for vendor bingo

I know this is the first time I am experiencing this and there is probably a lot more that I could have done, however as a smallish company with only about 70 employees in the office, I think they should have a good experience.

If you have held a health & wellness before, I would love to learn more about your coordination efforts. This is a learning experience and I plan to take what I’ve learned this year to make next year’s health & wellness fair even better!

Image result for keep calm and be healthy

Unpopular Opinion: Resumes

So my post today is about how we, HR Practitioners and recruiters go about filtering resumes. I know my opinion is not very popular but bear with me here. According to various articles, hiring managers/recruiters/hr practitioners/whatever you want to call them take up to 6 seconds to decide if the candidate is qualified for a job. I find this to be absolutely ridiculous! Yes, there are certain resumes out there that you just know, but are we being too quick about scanning our candidate’s resume? Recently, I was participating in a thread that talked about how people name their resume files and a #HRPro said that they disqualify a candidates based on the name on their resume file, if it is too generic it must mean that the candidate really isn’t motivated or passionate about the job they’re applying for. That doesn’t even make sense to me, basically, this candidate’s resume wasn’t even looked at because their file name was FirstNameLastNameResume, who cares if they actually have the skills needed to perform this job am I right? No actually, you’re most definitely wrong. A file name is simply that, a name you put on a file and unless the file has the name of another organization or it is distasteful it really doesn’t matter what it is, what matters is what is inside that file.

There are a few things I want to unpack with my post. Firstly, we need to acknowledge that different jobs require different skills and although many jobs require good or even excellent written communication skills there are other jobs where that is completely irrelevant. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be disqualifying candidates because of how they spell things, but if someone has a strong customer service background, has excellent references, passed the skills assessment required for the job, should we be disqualifying them because they misspelled a word or because their resume is more than 2 pages? Think about it, they have the skills, they proved that by passing the pre-employment assessment, they are employable, which leads me to my second point…

…Is there really a skilled workers shortage? Don’t get me wrong, I know we have a very low unemployment rate which is great but there is still a 3-4% unemployment rate nationally. Could it be because these people don’t know how to write a resume? I know it is a candidate’s responsibility to create, build, and find resources to correct their resume, but what if we as employers help them a bit, and I don’t mean fix the resume for them, but actually pay more attention to those resumes. I work in a medical office and I am constantly looking for medical assistants or paramedical aestheticians who have worked with botox, fillers, hair restoration, etc. So it is natural for supervisors to send me resumes from people who have worked in dermatology offices, beauty salons, spas, and anything that has to do with hair or skin care, but a few weeks ago one of the supervisors put a resume in the “not qualified pile” (they literally looked at the resume for a few seconds) and when I went to grab it I saw that the candidate worked at an ophthalmologist’s office in which they had to administer fillers and botox injections! The only reason I saw this is because I actually was looking at the resume, not just scanning it. The best part of this story, we actually hired her and she is better at injecting botox than most of the other medical assistants and aestheticians in our team.  And to think we almost missed her because she was working in an ophthalmologist office.

Finally, let’s stop relying on our Applicant Tracking Systems so much! I mean they’re great! I can organize candidates and see what stage of the hiring process their in, but let’s be real, while Applicant Tracking Systems are great at certain functionalities there’s other stuff that can be improved and instead of waiting for someone to improve the system for us why don’t we proactively try to help our candidates get through the ATS. I do not think it is fair that if there aren’t certain keywords in a resume, the resume gets lost in translation and the candidate risks that their resume will never be seen. I love technology, but sometimes it makes us lazy, myself included. Which is why I actually go one by one and check the resumes submitted in my ATS and I have found some of the best candidates by doing just that. Let’s help people find their dream jobs, let’s not make it so hard on them.


Never Stop Learning

For those of you that know me or have read my previous blogs, you know that a lot of my writing inspiration comes from real life experience. Which is good news for you because as we grow, we’re always learning new things and going through life lessons every step along the way. Which means I still have a lot to learn, which I’ll in turn pass along to you through writing.

Image result for life is learning

As a lot of you also know, I am heavily involved with A LOT. I’m on the board of directors for the Greater Orlando SHRM, I am on the SHRM Young Professionals Advisory Council, I blog for this blog and for SHRM, and I say yes to almost anything else that comes up (#SHRM19 blogging, #HRFL19 social media team, DisruptHR talker, etc.) It’s not that I say yes because I feel like I have to be involved in everything, but I really enjoy what I do. But eventually, being busy all the time catches up to you.

After my diabetes diagnosis last year, I decided it was time to cut back. At the time, I had just joined the HR Florida conference committee, so I decided to remove myself from that as a start. However, I had already committed myself to another year with GOSHRM and the SHRM YPAC. Because I felt like I could continue to manage those commitments with everything else, I decided to give both at least one more year. I kept saying to myself, just wait until 2020; 2020 will be your year to just take a break from it all.

So with that said, I recently had a chat with a colleague about my future in our local SHRM organization. I let him know that after this year, I was going to take a much needed break from the board. Though he was sad to hear it, he wasn’t shocked; he knows how much I’m involved with. He and I chatted about how it takes some people a long time to realize the importance of taking time for themselves and it really got me thinking.

Image result for disney thinking

I think a lot of people in my generation feel the need to work constantly; to impress whoever they are trying to impress. I used to think that we felt the need to always be connected because we feel like it is the expectations of our leaders, but I think that we are the ones that show our leaders that we can be available all of the time, so they just end up expecting it. We answer their emails in the evening, on weekends, and when we’re on PTO. We do work when we should be relaxing and doing something fun. On top of that, we take on extra commitments because we think it’ll help us move up in the world quicker. That’s not an admission of why I do it though. I started getting involved with extracurriculars because I had just moved to Florida and I didn’t know anyone. I wanted to grow a network of professionals in my desired industry in my local community. Getting involved is a great way to start, so that’s what I did. Then I realized how much I loved what I was doing. I was helping young HR professionals get ahead. So I continued to get involved in more so I could continue to grow my network; and I started meeting people in my state, then around the country, and I have even met some international friends. It wasn’t that I continued to stay involved because it was getting me ahead in life (even though it really was), I was staying involved because of the connections I was making.

I’m just going to take a quick break here by saying this isn’t where I envisioned this blog going, but sometimes when you get on a kick you just go with it.

Image result for panda with its paw out

But anyway, what I really wanted to say was… take time in life to get to know yourself, like your true self. Listen to your mind and don’t ignore anything that your body and mind tell you. No one knows you better than yourself, so when it’s time for you to slow down, you will know it; you will feel it. Don’t wait until someone tells you to stop because either you get a negative health diagnosis or because your kids are telling you they don’t ever see you because you’re spending too much time doing other things. Do what you do (or stop doing what you do) for yourself and no one else. It’ll help you feel like you’re making the right decision because you’ll know that you decided to do or not do something for you.

I hope my rant makes sense, especially since I went off in a couple different directions… but the reason I kept it as is, is because it’s all applicable and relatable. And even though I write because I want to teach and share experiences with others, I also write for me. I want to be able to look back in a year from now, or maybe ten years from now, or whenever I need to be reminded of life’s little lessons, and I want to know that everything I’ve done has led me to where I am at that very moment and life is good because it is all about learning and teaching. Life is good, ya’ll. And that’s all that matters.

Image result for life is good cat