Oh, the Places I Have Been!

The last few weeks have been pretty exciting for me, to say the least. My guess is if you’re reading this, you are connected with me on at least one form of social media, so you’ve probably seen all the exciting things I’ve announced in the last few weeks. I don’t normally use this blog space as a place to reflect on what is going on personally, but I felt like I wanted to share it this week. I also wanted to have something that I could look back on in the future and be like, wow! In no particular order, here are some of the things that have been going on recently.

 

  1. Left my old job: Not a lot that I can say about this, other than it was time to move on. New opportunities were waiting for me. I do miss my team there though.

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  1. Was offered a new job: On February 26th, I was offered an HR Generalist position with a company in downtown Orlando called Radixx. I knew from personal resources and through the interview process that I might have some challenges to face in this role, but I was ready to take them on! I started the role this past Monday, March 11th, and so far it’s been great! It’s been very busy, don’t get me wrong… like I said, challenges! But I successfully ran payroll for the team, made six offers to interns, researched a lot of stuff, and so much more (just in my first week.) Best part, I feel so appreciated! Not just by my direct supervisor, but the team that surrounds me. I also find it funny that I was able to just jump right in. Maybe it’s because I have more experience now than I did when I started my previous job, but it took about three months to feel like I was making a difference at my previous job. Here, it took about four hours. I don’t think I’ll have any time for watching Netflix at this job. 😉 We have an open floor plan anyway, so wouldn’t be able to get by with doing that with all of the people around me. 😃

 

  1. Took a week off: Before I was offered the new job at Radixx, I already knew my last day at my previous job would be March 1. So I started thinking about some things that I needed to get done. I had doctor appointments and presentations coming up. I just knew that I could use a break. So when I was offered the position, I said, ya know, could I start March 11? I could really just use a few days for myself. So that’s what I did.

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  • I had a few hours of PTO left from my old job, so I left after lunch on Friday the 1st, and went to Disney! I hadn’t really announced on social media about my career changes, so I used that as an opportunity to quietly mention it.
  • I got a haircut and spent time with a friend on Saturday; then I talked that friend into getting an annual pass to Disney so she could go with me on Sunday.
  • She and I joined a friend for a trip to Animal Kingdom on Sunday where we pretty much conquered the entire park!
  • Monday was a trip to the doctor.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday were lazy days at home with the cats.
  • Thursday was a GOSHRM board meeting & another doctor appointment.
  • Friday was a trip to Tampa with a friend to see Blake Shelton, Lauren Alaina, Trace Adkins, the Bellamy Brothers, and John Anderson. AMAZING concert, btw.
  • And Saturday and Sunday were more lazy days with the cats.

 

  1. Was nominated and selected to be a Rising HR Star in 2019. A couple months ago I was told that Jon Thurmond, a wonderful HR idol, had nominated me to be an HR rising star, an honor given by Sage People. I am humbled to Jon and Sage People felt that I deserved this, and I hope I can fulfill the criteria that Sage People set for us (i.e. to an inspiration, a role model, a future HR and People leader, etc.) To see the whole article, click the photo below.

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  1. Was asked to be a #SHRM19 blogger. Earlier I posted on social media that last year I stood outside the bloggers lounge looking in, just wishing that I was inside with everyone else. This year, I get to go inside because I get to be a #SHRM19 blogger! One of the things I love most about blogging is using my unique perspective to tell stories, and I love the SHRM conference, the speakers, the vendors, and the whole experience. So to be able to write about it just makes me giddy (my version of geeked)!

 

  1. Was asked to be on the Social Media team for #HRFL19. Just like with the SHRM conference, I love attending the annual HR Florida Conference, so I’ll have a similar opportunity to promote #HRFL19. Still waiting on some more details about it, but I’ll be happy to share once I know more!

 

  1. Speaking Opportunities. One of my goals for 2019 was to speak at more events to help with my fear of public speaking. Afterall, I feel like one of the only ways to do something is to step out of your comfort zone and just do it! So, at the end of January, I spoke to a handful of people at a Rollins SHRM meeting about the transition between being a student to a professional. On March 23, I return to Image result for disrupthr orlRollins to speak at their 2nd annual student HR conference and will be speaking on the importance of Team Building. Then on March 27, I’ll be making my debut appearance at DisruptHR Orlando. My presentation title is KISSES, HR. However, I can’t tell you what it’s about yet; it’s a secret. 😉

 

If you made it this far, I really appreciate you going through my journey with me. A lot of good happened within a short amount of time, and with all good things, there are sometimes some not so good things, but I don’t feel the need to share about those. Just know, everything happens for a reason, and I am excited to be on this journey of life! Thanks for letting me share, and I can’t wait to see what is next!

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Impostor Syndrome and How to Overcome it.

When I was in grad school I took a lot of classes that required me to write reports and include financial statements on them.  There was no way around it; I had to do research for hours at the Rollins College library and in Google Scholar, just for me to understand what was going on with these financial statements.  Finance and accounting weren’t my thing but if I wanted to get my Masters in Health Services Administration I needed to get my head in the game and get myself to understand financial reports in general.  My hard work paid off, I got As in all of my classes and I graduated with honors, but a part of me thought I didn’t deserve it, I felt like I was in the faking it phase of the “Fake it till you make it” phrase.  I remember talking to my best friend and boyfriend about this, they reassured I definitely wasn’t faking it, I was more than capable to pursue a career in both HR and healthcare.  But I wasn’t buying it.

A few weeks after graduating I found myself with a lot more time for myself and I had a long-ish commute to work so I started listening to podcasts, and I can’t recall which podcast I was listening to (I listen to way too many) but they introduced me to the concept of Impostor Syndrome and it definitely resonated with me.

For those who don’t know, Impostor Syndrome or Impostor phenomenon is a pervasive feeling of self-doubt, insecurity, or fraudulence despite often overwhelming evidence of the contrary.  This described me perfectly during my grad school days and followed me as I started my career.  I had an amazing GPA, I got great feedback from my professors and classmates and later on from my boss and coworkers, but still I had this uneasy feeling in my head that somehow someone was going to discover I wasn’t all that smart and that feeling scared me.  As I continued my research in impostor syndrome I learned that there were different types.

  • Type #1: I got lucky. This type of Impostor syndrome basically attributes every achievement to luck or the person just thinks they just work harder than the rest to achieve the same goal. The “I work hard” variation is very common for women and I can definitely relate.
  • Type #2:Oh, this old thing?  Let me explain this with more detail, in this case the person with the impostor syndrome can’t take a compliment.  For example if a person with this type of impostor syndrome got offered a job they would probably think something along the lines of “I must have been the only one who applied”, instead of just being proud of this achievement and conscious of the fact that they had the qualifications and interviewed well.
  • Type #3: I’m fake. Although I can relate to the 1sttype a bit, this 3rdtype is what resonated with me the most back when I was in grad school and starting my career.  A person with this type is in fear of being discovered and being revealed as a fake. It’s kind of like an “I don’t belong here” feeling.

At some point I got over this impostor syndrome (for the most part), but not everyone is that lucky to have a supportive group to remind them of how great they truly are, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible for those people to combat it.  After some research I found these common themes in combating impostor syndrome:

  1. Know that feeling like a fraud is normal, like really normal. I have talked to people of all ages, with different levels of success and most of them confessed of having felt it at times.
  2. Think of all the things you have accomplished, not to the point where you are arrogant, but don’t sell yourself short.
  3. Share these feelings with someone you trust. It doesn’t matter who, it can be a good friend, significant other, sibling, parent, mentee, mentor, etc.  Just make sure it is someone who believes in you, that way they can talk you out of the feeling.
  4. Speaking of mentor, look for one.
  5. Teach someone: whether it is a person just starting their career, a high school or college student trying to figure out what they want to do in life. Tell them what you went through and that you’ve been there.  Once you see they are struggling in many ways as you did when you were at that stage you will realize that everyone goes through similar struggles when they are trying to reach similar goals.
  6. There are moments when you won’t know what you’re doing and you just need to accept it, especially if you are learning something new. For example when you start a new job it is normal for it to take up to a year before you start feeling completely comfortable in it.
  7. Expect to fail at the beginning. You probably don’t remember this but you fell so many times as a baby before you were able to walk in your own two feet.  Same concept applies when you try anything new.
  8. Most importantly: Be humble.Once you conquer your impostor syndrome help others conquer it.  Also, keep it real guys; you know it took hard work for you to find yourself in a better place, don’t pretend it wasn’t a struggle to get there.

 

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HRPanda’s Motivational #HRMixTape2019

I love a good challenge just as much as the next person, so when I saw Steve Browne’s challenge to us to create a #HRMixTape blog, I just had to do it. As I thought about what songs I would want to include, I decided I wanted to include songs that motivate me. Believe it or not, HR can be challenging and there are some days I just want to crawl into bed and forget it all. But if I hear one of these songs, I feel energized and know I can take on the day.

Since these are all motivational songs to me, I wanted to also include the key motivator from each song. Some of these songs have similar messages to me, but overall each one has a specific message such as: having confidence, living my dreams, understanding that it’s okay to fail, being yourself, and loving yourself. There are all important for HR leaders to be successful, so I thought they would be great to share. Without further ado, my #HRMixTape2019 list.

Let’s get this party started!!

Unstoppable – Sia

Key Motivator: Have Confidence

As a Human Resources leader, it’s important to have confidence. We want our employees to believe in us and trust us, but how can they do that is you don’t believe in yourself. This song is great because as I sing along in the car at the top of my lungs, I am telling myself over and over again that I am unstoppable, I am invincible, I am powerful. By the time the song is over, I am pumped and ready for the day because I know that no matter what is thrown at me, I am strong and I am unstoppable.

 

The Climb – Miley Cyrus

Key Motivator: Live Your Dreams

If you ask me why I got into HR, my number one answer is always because I have a passion for helping others realize their dreams. I also have a passion for creating my own dreams. My favorite quote of all time is “If you can dream it, you can do it” by Walt Disney. I think that is why I love this song so much because it talks about sticking with your dreams no matter the struggles you face. To really be successful in your career sometimes you have to climb (figurative) mountains to get to where you want; sometimes you will get knocked down, but you’ve gotta get back up; and sometimes you’re going to have to lose to win something even better. But always stick with it and keep the faith. After all, it’s all about the climb.

 

Try Everything – Shakira

Key Motivator: Don’t be Afraid to Fail

The first time I heard this song was in the Disney movie, Zootopia. I just loved how Shakira created and sang such a powerful and impactful song that would be heard by kids and adults of all ages. Just like the first two songs, this song is so motivational because it’s about not giving up and not giving in. It’s about knowing that we can fail, but we’re going to try anyway.

My HR career started about 4 ½ years ago, and right after I graduated with my MHR, I knew that I wanted to find a company that I could showcase my talents in. But I was afraid of going into a company where I’d be the only HR person because I didn’t want to fail. However a great friend and colleague told me that I have tremendous resources outside of the workplace, and I shouldn’t be afraid. If I needed help, there would be so many people that I could reach out to. So I tried, and I got the job. Now, I know that my resources are endless and I’m not afraid to be alone anymore. You just have to try everything.

 

Follow Your Arrow – Kasey Musgraves

Key Motivator: Be Yourself

When you first hear this song, you may think that it’s just about stereotypes, but if you really pay attention you realize that it is really talking about how every single person is different. I have had great mentors in HR that have taught me that you can’t treat all employees the same. You need to understand that everyone is different, and everyone appreciates different things. I find it important to get to know all of my employees so I know how to communicate with each one of them, how to show them appreciation, and how to celebrate them. Showing them that you care about them individually instead of as one group will help them know they can be themselves and not feel like they need to fit into a certain “stereotype.” As Kasey says, “You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t, so might as well do whatever you want.”

 

Me Too – Meghan Trainor

Key Motivator: Love Yourself

I don’t know about you, but my responsibilities within HR can take a toll on me at times, and it’s hard to feel motivated to get up in the morning. How many of you have days where you just want to hit the snooze button and roll over to go back to sleep? Recently I’ve felt like that a lot, so hearing “Me Too” by Meghan Trainor is a great way to get pumped up and ready to take on the day. And no – it doesn’t have anything to do with the #MeToo movement; this actually came out before that. But like Unstoppable, it is about having confidence. It’s about knowing that you need to love yourself, and you don’t need anyone else to validate you.

 

Thank you for letting me share my favorite motivational songs with you. I hope if you need a pick-me-up before a tough day in the office, you’ll listen to one of these songs and feel like you can get through anything too!

Are You a Transformational or Transactional Leader?

When Lorena and I started our blog, our goals were pretty clear; we want to influence change, make a difference, and support others. Many times I will share my personal experiences to teach important life lessons. Sometimes I just feel like sharing what’s going on in my life. And sometimes I like to share knowledge; like today’s blog. There may be 86% of you that already know the difference between transformational and transactional leadership, and that’s okay; but I still feel like I want to give my perspective on the topic because there are 14% of you that may not know the difference. If you part of that 14%, I hope that by reading this, you will someday be confident in your response when you are faced with the question: “Are you a transformational or transactional leader?”
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Some of you may remember a couple weeks ago I posted a poll on Twitter asking if participants knew the difference between transformational and transactional leadership, without looking it up. I was impressed that out of 28 votes, 86% of people said yes. If you are reading this and you answered the poll with a no, don’t feel bad… I didn’t either. Of course, at some point in time while in school and/or studying for the SHRM-CP, I know I came across these terms and I knew them at that time. However, it’s not something I think about a lot, and so when I was asked if I was a transformational or transactional leader recently, I realized I couldn’t answer the question off of the top of my head.

Obviously, I wanted to say transformational, because it sounds like a cooler word; but I wouldn’t have been able to back my answer with more information. So instead of coming up with some BS answer like I sometimes try to do when I don’t know the answer, I was honest, and I said, “you know what, I cannot for the life of me remember the difference between the two.” I felt like being honest would be better than giving a wrong answer. The good news was that the person that asked me tried to help clarify it. They followed up with, “are you a check the box type person, do you like to evaluate processes and try to change everything, or are you a little of both.” Well – with that explanation, I was like: well, I am a little of both. I’m the type of person that believes that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But I also feel that as a young professional, I have a unique perspective that maybe older generations don’t see, so I sometimes like to try and improve things.

So after that, the conversation went on, and that was it about transformational and transactional leadership. But for me, it wasn’t really the end. It bothered me that I didn’t know the difference and that I couldn’t provide a real answer; because honestly, I didn’t feel that the explanation I received was totally accurate. As I reflected on the question, I told myself I will never again hesitate when it comes to this question because I was going to study it, learn it, and share it.

Transformational Leadership is where a leader identifies a needed change, creates a Transfvision to guide the change through inspiration and executes the change with the commitment of the members of the group. Transformational leaders set clear goals, have high expectations, encourage others, provide support and recognition, get people to look beyond their self-interest, and inspire people to reach for the improbable. To me, a transformational leader is someone that is encouraging transformation to their group members through motivation, inspiration, and support.

Transactional Leadership is where leaders use clear objectives and goals for their followers as well as the use of either punishment or rewards in order to encourage compliance with these goals. transaTransactional leaders are looking to get the job done, use directive behavior, and reward or punish their group members based on their performance as a motivation technique. When I think of transactional leadership, I think of a transaction taking place. It’s a distinct action that occurs and some type of deal/agreement is settled upon. It’s similar to transactional leadership because a leader is clearly defining what it will take for their group to succeed.

The good thing is that neither leadership style is better than the other. There are all types of people with different personality styles in the workforce, so having various leadership styles helps keep a steady balance. There are also many other types of leaderships styles as well, so you don’t even have to choose between one or the other.

Personally, of these two, I can honestly say for sure that I am a transformational leader. If you were to ask me why I chose HR, my answer is always because I have a passion for making a difference and creating dreams. I dream to inspire, encourage, motivate, and support others; rather than using punishment or rewards to motivate. I’m not saying that doing it that way is a bad thing, but it’s just not my cup of tea.

What is your leadership style?

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College Relations is amazing!!

Hey everyone, this is another “life update post” but it relates more to what is going on with me at GOSHRM.  It’s been almost two months since I was officially sworn into the College Relations Director role with Greater Orlando SHRM.  In only two months I have accomplished so many things including:

  • Facing my public speaking fear at the HR Florida Leadership Conference.
  • Making great connections with other College Relations Directors in our Florida chapters and have had several conference calls with them.
  • Virtually meeting the College Relations Director for one of the local SHRM chapters in Georgia and reconnecting with one from a local Texas chapter.
  • Going to a Rollins SHRM meeting and UCF SHRM meeting.
    • In Rollins I was officially asked to be on a panel for their student conference.
    • Two students contacted me after the Rollins SHRM meeting and asked me about the mentorship program through Greater Orlando SHRM
    • In UCF I reconnected with a student I knew from a while ago, she asked me to be her mentor!
  • I finally found a student in Valencia College who is willing to take the responsibility of finding the right advisor to start a SHRM student chapter.

This role is taking me to really exciting places.  In some ways it requires more of my time than Membership did but it requires my time differently.  With membership I did a lot behind the scenes in my computer, I learned so much from that computer but I am a more face-to-face kind of person.  Even though I have to be more aware of what’s going on in my email since I am supporting two chapters and one potential chapter I am so much happier working with college students and helping them grow into professionals.

I do miss membership sometimes.  To the point that I volunteered to help the new membership team on a big project they are going to be working on throughout the year.  One of the perks of membership was that I could work while I watched the many television shows I follow; with college relations I don’t have as much of an opportunity to do this.  Hey we can’t have it all.

I want to continue in the College Relations Director position for the full 3 years I am allowed to be in it or as long as my job and personal life allow me to do it.  This is the type of work that makes me feel I am giving back to the HR community in more ways that I ever imagined.  Thanks for reading.

Connecting All-Star Leaders

Each year in early January, the HR Florida team puts together a leadership conference to bring chapter leaders from all over the state together to help them be successful in the coming year. This was my fifth year in attendance; one would think that after five years, I wouldn’t need to continue going. I disagree though, because every year that I attend, I gain new knowledge, I meet new people, and I reconnect with old friends. This year was no exception.

‘Twas the Night Before the Conference…

This year, the conference was held at the Renaissance Orlando. They always recommend that we stay on site because it gives us an opportunity to get together the night before and make sure we’re up bright and early the next morning. This year, the district directors put together a social hour before dinner so that members in chapters within a district could network with each other. I think this was a fantastic idea because our neighboring chapters are the ones that we’re connecting with the most when it comes to attending each other’s monthly meetings. I did have to laugh though, because since GOSHRM seemed to dominate the get together. We’re a large group and we all live and work close by, so there’s no reason for us not to be there. It was just funny though when it was time for dinner, we all left and there were only a handful of people left. It didn’t stay that way for long though because we ended up back there after dinner, and the room was packed. Let’s just say, HR people know how to party.

Breakfast

51249910_288028608575549_9003564484047929344_nI gotta tell you, we are some dedicated HR people, because even though we know how to party, we know how to get up at 5:30 AM on a Saturday for conference registration and breakfast. Now I know what you’re thinking, is she really going to tell us what she had for breakfast? I mean I could, but that wasn’t what impressed me here. What impressed me was that HR Florida gets what is important. In the past, breakfast has always been open seating. But this year, they broke our tables up by the roles we are fulfilling within our chapter. At first I was disappointed because I wanted to sit and chat with my friends, but I realized that this was done on purpose, #HRonPurpose. After all, the theme of the conference was “Connecting All-Star Leaders.” They were connecting us with one another; not only that, they were connecting us with a group of people with similar interests. We had been given the opportunity to network and bounce our ideas off of each other. That right there is what HR is all about. Oh, and by the way, we had eggs, bacon, and potatoes for breakfast. 😉

Sessions

The day was filled with a keynote speaker, concurrent sessions on leadership topics, role specific sessions, and chapter size specific sessions. Our keynote was Shawn Rhodes and he was phenomenal. Without going back to look at the session tweets, I can tell you the one thing that really resonated with me was when he asked what would you do if you were told you had 15 minutes to live? To this day, I don’t know that I have an exact answer to that, but I do know I would hope I was with my parents in those last 15 minutes. Now, with going back to the session tweets, I actually found a quote that Shawn said that transitions me to my next point. He said, “solutions should never be kept secret.” Remember how I said we had sessions that were role specific? I think these sessions were the most beneficial because just like breakfast, we were in a room with all of the leaders from all over the state that had similar roles. We had an opportunity to share our best practices with each other so that we could all succeed. At first all I could think about was how competitive the Florida chapters are and how we may not want to give away our “secrets.” But instead, we came together, shared what works for us, and we all became greater and stronger because of that session. I can actually say that I’ve already implemented at least three ideas from that session, and they were a hit too!

Wrap Up

Now I feel like I would be in trouble if I didn’t mention one specific session I went to. The second concurrent session of that day that I attended was about SHRM and the VLRC. If you don’t know what that means, it is the Volunteer Leader Resource Center on the SHRM website. The session was led by Felix Massey and Laurie McIntosh, Field Service Directors for SHRM.50414441_498001070725742_393399432147632128_n Although I have used the VLRC a lot in my volunteering world, I figured I could still learn more; plus I figured networking with two of SHRM’s finest would be great too! I even got a picture with them and my friend Lorena to post of the SHRM YPAC’s Instagram! But besides getting my 15 minutes of fame by posting that picture, I learned a few things that applied to my role as Director of Communications and Marketing. Like for instance, SHRM has updated their logo so whenever I create promos for GOSHRM, I need to make sure I’m using the newest one. Also, I learned that when we are designing something using the GOSHRM and SHRM logos, they need to be the same size. I mean, that does make sense, but I don’t know if I was ever told that. I’m just super OCD and everything I do had to be the same size and line up and all of that jazz. But now that I know it’s a requirement, I ensure that I do it correctly.

I know that none of that really explains what the VLRC does, but it does prove my point that even though I’ve been attending these conferences for several years, there is still an opportunity to learn more. Now for a quick plug (that SHRM doesn’t pay me for saying) – if you are a SHRM volunteer, utilize the VLRC. You can have discussions with chapter leaders all over the world, connect with SHRM staff and other people in those core area roles via webinars, find tools to help you in your role, plus so much more. It is definitely worth checking out.

Wrap Up Take 2

I could go on and on about how successful the 2019 HR Florida Leadership Conference was, but I won’t because if I don’t stop soon, I am going to have a short story in my hands. I am really excited to hear about some of the changes HR Florida has planned for the future leadership conferences. I really hope that all of you out there in some type of chapter role have an opportunity to attend something at your state level that helps you to be successful in your volunteer roles. It is imperative to connect all-star leaders together so that we can all be successful in all that we do.

 

Facing my Public Speaking Fear

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to the HR Florida Leadership Conference for a second time.  During this conference HR Florida prepares us with the tools we need to fulfill our responsibilities in our leadership positions. As I had mentioned in a past post, I am now the College Relations Director for the Greater Orlando SHRM Chapter (GOSHRM) and I have been super excited in taking over this role.  During the conference, I had the opportunity to network with members from other chapters in Florida, went to different sessions that gave me some tools to excel in my role, and of course had some fun with my GOSHRM family.

What I didn’t expect was to receive an email from Bernie Currie, the College Relations Director from the HR Florida State Council, offering the opportunity to participate in a session as a panelist for College Relations.  I was very excited about the news and I prepped for the event.  It was hard to be prepared because I hadn’t met the other panelists in person and I couldn’t foresee what questions the audience would be asking me. Before this event, I had only participated in one other panel at Rollins College, but the event was very different. For Rollins, I was in a room with prospective students answering questions about the program I had graduated from and campus life in general.

Although I knew that the audience wouldn’t be too large I couldn’t help but get nervous.  In addition to being one of the “experts” on College Relations, I was also nervous about public speaking.  Some people I know may argue that I am good at talking to a group of people, this might seem true but it really isn’t.  I struggle with nerves before speaking in front of others and if I have to speak in English, which is usually the case, I also have to be aware of my accent.  It is much thicker when I’m nervous which can make it hard to understand to some.

Once the panel was over I regrouped with the panelists and heard good feedback from them and the audience (I honestly thought they were being nice).  I wasn’t able to talk to Bernie immediately since he was so busy afterward.  Later we met up and I told him I didn’t think I did so well.  He was surprised to hear that from me, he reassured that I did very well and gave me good feedback.  He did say I need to work on my poker face a bit because at the beginning I looked nervous. He reminded me that no matter where I go there is always going to be someone who knows more than me and someone who knows less than me, but that I shouldn’t focus on that.  What I should focus on is how we can all use our strengths to help each other and others when tackling problems.  As far as facing my public speaking fear, he said it will go away with practice, he did say to continue putting myself in these types of situations so I can learn how to tackle speaking in front of crowds. Finally, he said that my accent wasn’t an issue, not because people couldn’t notice it, but because accents should never be an issue as long as I am enunciating and pronouncing words as best as I can if anything my accent made me more personable.

Bring It On, 2019!

One thing that I’ve noticed over the years is that we always tend to give up on ourselves towards the end of the year. You start to see the social media posts in late summer/early fall where people will say, “maybe next year will be better.” Then when January gets here, we say “this will be our year;” it happens every year though. What I want to know is what exactly constitutes “my year?” A marriage? A baby? A new job? Something more devastating like a death of someone close to you that really makes you reevaluate life? And why is it that we blame our experiences for making the whole year bad, or good for that matter. But seldom do we hear, “this was my year!” Well, I can’t actually say 2018 was “my year” because again, I don’t know what is supposed to make that year mine, but I can say that a lot of great things happened in 2018. I came up with a handful of professional and personal experiences that I consider building blocks (or bricks as I’ll refer to them later) that shaped my 2018 and prepared me to face 2019 head on.  

I was accepted onto the SHRM Young Professional Advisory Council (YPAC) in December 2017 for a 2018 volunteer role. I was ecstatic because it was something I had dreamed about for several years. Little did I know that my role would lead me to so many things beyond my wildest imagination. 35549954_10156444150948523_5918989873380851712_oI started participating in Twitter chats like #nextchat and #HRSocialHour because I was going to be hosting #nextchat on behalf of the YPAC. I started connecting with professionals from the #HRTribe that I had never met, but I was excited to get to know. I had an opportunity to meet a lot these fantastic people when I attended #SHRM18 in Chicago, and it was like one big family. The connections I made there were invaluable. I was invited to record a podcast with the hosts of the HR Social Hour, Wendy and Jon. And later in the year, I was invited to be on an episode of HR Talk with Ricky Baez and JC Connors. My role on the YPAC also led me to becoming a regular SHRM Blog contributor and to co-hosting a weekly blog with my friend Lorena called “The Future of HR.” Who knew that one volunteer role would cause such a positive trickle-down effect.

Although my professional life revolves around a lot of volunteer work, it’s not my entire professional life. I do have a paid day job that I spend a lot of time at. In late 2018, my world there got turned upside down when I found out my company was being acquired and merged with three other companies. I had no idea what this would mean for my future at that company, but I was excited for the opportunities. There have been a lot of changes, and I’ve been pretty much non-stopped for the past four months, but I’m learning a lot. I feel pretty blessed to be a young HR pro experiencing what I’ve been through over the last couple of years.  

29214917_10156197032783523_975679860842168320_n.jpgOn a more personal level, I experienced a handful of things that made a huge impact on my year. While they don’t all feed back into one core experience, they all helped me prepare for what lies ahead. After losing my cat Roxi in November 2017, I didn’t think I’d be ready to adopt any more cats for a while. But I was introduced to two beautiful cats in December 2017 that I ended up adopting in January 2018. They are Zellie & Draco. Zellie was four years old and is the mother to Draco, who was not quite three months old at the time. I didn’t know it then, but they would become my everything. I got to take them on vacation with me in October. We took a 5-hour drive to Hilton Head where we met my parents for a wonderful week at the beach. My visits with my parents were a little different this year; different isn’t bad either. When I was home (West Virginia) for Christmas 2017, I basically said I was only coming home in the summer from now on. So, I took a trip home over the 4th of July weekend, and that was it. I spent that week with my parents in South Carolina and then they came down to Florida for a week right before Christmas. Let me tell you, it was a nice visit and we had a great time. But not being home / with my parents on Christmas, was so weird! As much as I dislike snow, I will most likely have many more Christmases in West Virginia; now I just gotta figure out how to get those kitties to go with me!

The last truly impactful thing that occurred in 2018 was when I found out about my Diabetes. It was hard to take in when I first found out. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I needed to do to be healthier. I decided to give up an amazing opportunity I had been given to be on the HR Florida Conference Committee; trust me – that was a very difficult decision for me. I am the type of person that says yes to everything and I tend to put others first. But the Diabetes was a wake-up call and I realized that 2019 was going to be about putting myself and my health first.

I’m truly excited to see what 2019 brings. My 2018 experiences continued laying the bricks on top of an already established foundation. They helped me prepare for what is next to come and gave me some things to look forward to. Recently Michelle Kohlhof, a member of the #HRTribe, wrote a blog on what her words to live by in 2019 would be and it opened the doors to a great conversation. It got me thinking and I decided my four words for 2019 are strength, connect, cherish, and presence.

  • Strength: because I want to become healthier and be around for a long time to come.
  • Connect: because I want to continue networking and growing my network.
  • Cherish: because we all deserve to be loved and cherish and I have a lot of love to share; especially with my newest non-biological nephew born on New Years Day.
  • Presence: because I need to make time for myself and be present in all that I do.

Bring it on, 2019!

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New Year New Goals

new year new youHappy New Year everyone! I am so happy to be back, I really missed writing but the month of December was a bit hectic with the Holiday stuff at work, GOSHRM, and of course my loved ones.  So we recently started a new year and as usual, we create goals for the year.  Some goals we give up way before we’re a few months in the year, especially when we realize they were harder than we thought. It has happened to me in the past. Last year was a bit different for me, I was able to achieve a health-related goal as well as a professional goal. This year I wanted to share a few professionals goals I have tried throughout the years, they might seem simple at first but they can be game changers if done right.

Read a Motivational Book, or two or three: 

I love reading but I don’t necessarily dedicate the sufficient time to read as much as I used to.  I usually blame Netflix and Hulu, but the reality is I am my own obstacle.  Which is why this year I am cutting down on the tv shows and making sure I can read a few books.  I love to read fiction but I have so many book recommendations from my HR friends that I have decided I will at least read 3 career-related books this year.

Learn a New Skill: 

I am not necessarily talking about an instrument class or a hobby per se, but talk to your work peers and see what they do that you want to learn.  Yes, you might be doing more work for the same amount of pay but this skill can be the boost for your promotion or a new job altogether.  Your job isn’t big on cross training? Then talk to peers and see what conference or workshop is worth paying for.   Remember the best way to invest in yourself is through learning; nobody can take away what you learned.

Constantly Update Your Resume:

Have you updated your resume since you got your current job?  Or maybe you already have your current job listed in your resume but you haven’t added any of your newer projects.  Make sure you make the time to periodically check your resume.  That way if an opportunity arises out of nowhere you don’t feel the stress to have to update that resume literally at the last minute.

Join a Professional Organization:

These are essential for learning and networking purposes.  I got my first job in HR through networking and keep my credentials up to date by going to monthly meetings.  If you’re already part of a professional organization find a way to participate more actively in it if that isn’t your thing push yourself to go to meetings at least once a quarter if possible.  Trust me you won’t regret it.

Volunteer:

This can be done through a professional organization, but if that isn’t your thing check out local colleges and churches. They tend to need volunteers for mock interviews, resume reviewing, or give classes on skills you can offer them. There are a lot of job seekers out there who need your help.

Do Good:

If none of these goals are things you care about or want to accomplish, at least try and do good in general.  Be kind to those coworkers who annoy you, they might be going through something which makes them act in certain ways.  Don’t engage in office gossip especially if it is at other people’s expense.  Whenever you can help lighten someone’s load, they will appreciate it so much.

Just remember that not all resolutions have to be a huge goal, sometimes just changing small things in your day-to-day can make your work more bearable and can prepare you for future opportunities.

What I Learned While Traveling in Ecuador

Those who know me know that I love traveling. Whether I do it locally, nationally or internationally.  I enjoy the romantic feeling of being in a place I have never visited before and taking it all in, breathing the air, looking at my surroundings, studying the people around me and what they are doing, and of course keeping my eye open for restaurants and food stands so I can also “taste” the culture.  This year I decided to make an extension to the Thanksgiving Holiday and take some time off to visit Ecuador, the country where my boyfriend is from, because of a wedding we were invited to.  I had the opportunity to visit three cities in Ecuador: Cuenca, Guayaquil, and Salinas.  Each one of these cities is very different from one another but the people’s hospitality and warmth was a common theme in each of them.cuenca

Cuenca is known as “La Ciudad de las Flores” or the city of the flowers.  You would see the prettiest and most colorful flowers around town.  The buildings downtown are a Spanish Colonial style that has been conserved since Spain invaded the country.  In Cuenca, people live a very relaxed and simple lifestyle.  A lot of residents are shop or restaurant owners; you do not see a lot of chain stores and the few you do see are Ecuadorian chains.  Another peculiarity I noticed is that a lot of Germans and Americans end up retiring in Cuenca, the cost of living is much lower than in their countries and they get to experience the small town feel that many retirees are craving to find.

guayaquil
Guayaquil, my boyfriend’s hometown, is the most populated city in Ecuador, even more populated than the capital of the country, Quito.  Guayaquil is a very fast paced city with crazy traffic, here people aren’t wandering around; they are walking with a destination in mind.  In this city, there are a lot of large shopping malls, corporate offices and a lot of national and international chain stores and restaurants. When you first get into Guayaquil, it isn’t as enchanting as seeing Cuenca, but once you get used to the busy pace and noise, you start appreciating the history and surroundings. The food in Guayaquil is amazing, especially if you like shellfish.  I had the best Ecuadorian shrimp ceviche at this hole in the wall place recommended by both locals and tourists.Salinas

I only spent one day in Salinas; this is a much smaller town near the shore.  Since it isn’t their summer yet there wasn’t a lot of tourists and the beaches weren’t busy. Salinas is also known for their seafood and in tourist season, it has an amazing nightlife.  In Salinas, we went to a lighthouse that is located at the most western part of the country (excluding the Galapagos islands).  Although I prefer my Caribbean beaches, it was refreshing to swim in the Pacific Ocean for the first time.

Visiting Ecuador was an experience I will never forget. I fell in love with the country, its people, food, and rich history.  While I was traveling, I thought about all the Ecuadorians who have immigrated to the United States and added flavor to our culture.  The United States has so many immigrants from literally all parts of the world, who bring in part of their country, customs, and culture. Sometimes we don’t understand the customs they bring with them, which can lead to misunderstandings and separation between the different cultures.  As an HR professional who is always advocating for diversity and inclusion at the workplace I learned that traveling gets us closer to that. Traveling can be expensive, but there are so many ways you can travel within this great country and still get the taste of other cultures besides the “American culture”.  Many major cities have smaller communities within where you can experience their culture.  Visit those communities, eat their food, talk to the locals, hear their stories and share yours.  In the end, it’ll make you a better HR professional and more importantly, a better person.