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Guest Post: The Worst Advice

One of the most redeeming things about the social mediasphere is that every now and then you come across someone who renews your faith in your profession; someone who sparks a bit of that hope you’ve been struggling to hold on to; someone who easily inspires us to keep in the game. Lars Schmidt (@ThisIsLars) is exactly one of those someones. He’s the Director of Talent Acquisition for National Public Radio (NPR) – one of America’s finest institutions. He’s shaking it up over there because that’s what he does. And the worst advice he shares with you today is better than the best you’ll get from anyone else on most days…

The year was 2010. I had just spent 7 years of my professional life in a variety of talent and recruiting roles with Ticketmaster in Los Angeles. I learned a lot, made great friends, and grew tremendously during that time – but it was time to go. I left Ticketmaster and prepared to relocate to the DC area. I was excited for the change and the opportunity to experience something new.

Just before I left, I met with an executive Recruiter at a Starbucks. We spent some time getting to know each other over lattes as the Santa Monica sun began to set. It was a decent conversation; at least it was right up until she left me with this nugget of wisdom. “The East Coast is very different from the West Coast. You might want to think about that; and, you know, be a little more ‘corporate’.”

I’m sure she meant well in imparting her wisdom, but she might as well have told me to adopt a ‘personnel-mindset’ if I wanted to succeed in HR. Was it my lack of a tie? Was it my choice of shoes? Did I unknowingly slip a ‘like’ into our conversation? The truth is: I didn’t care.

I may call friends ‘brother’ or ‘amigo’ a little too often. I may use too many exclamation points (yes, I’m aware!), I may use colorful language from time to time, I’ve been known to bro-hug strangers, my cup is usually half full (known to annoy). That’s part of who I am, and I’m cool with that. If you’re not and if that doesn’t fit your view of what an HR leader should be, then I’m not for you.

Your individuality is what makes you tick, what sets you apart, what defines you. To shed who you are for anything; a job, a partner, a friend, whatever – doesn’t work. Eventually the true you will come out. So why hide it to begin with? Who you are is your strength. That skin is yours. Embrace it. Own it. Live it, always. And when someone tells you to change that, find yourself a new place to be.

Now that is some advice to hold onto, brother.

Image Credit: Joanne Mattera

  • Ulli

    Right you are, my brother!

  • Melissa Fairman

    This is right on. Some of the worst advice I ever received? Stop smiling so much…it’s a sign of weakness to be so friendly. Needless to say I did not take it! :)

  • Rachael

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I have long since decided I will work my way. Yes I put smilies on my emails (tough), yes I put Happy (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) in every greeting (perhaps you would prefer ‘you suck’ instead?) and yes I have a standing desk (has caused much amusement and wonder) but that is who I am and it should not make any difference to whether you think I am a good or bad HR Rep… :)

  • Lars Schmidt

    Thanks Melissa. I’m glad you didn’t let that feedback stop your smiles. Smile away!

  • Lars Schmidt

    Thanks Ulli!

  • Lars Schmidt

    Thanks Rachael. You are who you are and we you change that your mojo is gone. Rock on!

  • Robin

    Thanks Lars!! I’ve been struggling at work with a micromanaging boss who thinks I should be someone I’m not and darn it – I know the someone I am is unequivocally competent! I needed your reminder this morning as I head out the door to work!!

  • hrfishbowl

    robin, your comment sums up in two sentences why it is i blog. i’m so glad lars has inspired…as i knew he would. spread the word! we can change the world of work one employee…one experience…at a time.