Learn, Don’t Churn! 30-Day Challenge

Laurie Ruettiman, Author, speaker, and “failed HR lady”
Feb 9, 2022

Author, speaker, and “failed HR lady” Laurie Ruettimann reveals how you can embrace a lifestyle of learning and discover joy at work.

If you’re feeling burnt out at work, don’t jump ship just yet.

Author, speaker, and “failed HR lady” Laurie Ruettimann warns quitting may not be the solution to your work woes. 

Laurie joins the show to share her journey from miserable employee to vibrant leader and reveals how you can embrace a lifestyle of learning. Listen to hear her simple recommendations for discovering joy at work.

On this episode, you’ll hear:

  • [03:45 – 06:00] How to debunk the “arrival fallacy”
  • [06:30 – 08:30] Why your personal life matters to your work life
  • [09:00 – 12:45] How to embrace a lifestyle of learning
  • [13:00 – 15:30] Laurie’s 30-day learning challenge
  • [16:00 – 19:00] What to consider when re-assessing your career

After you listen: 

POPS Star Bio

Laurie calls herself a “failed HR lady” turned big sister and coach. She’s a self-professed work nerd, podcaster, writer, and sought-after speaker who builds bridges between HR and modern leaders.

Laurie’s passion for people and business comes from her family, but not in the way you may expect. Her family hated work, so Laurie set out to figure out why and how she could fix it.


Didi: On this episode of pivot a pops show by Zenefits. 

Laurie: We need you. We need you to be focused on your people and I’m here today to tell you, you can do it.

Didi: It’s the people on podcast from Zenefits, the only show dedicated to small businesses, sharing stories of pivotal people love I’m your host Didi D’Errico on this show. We typically focus on unconventional thinking and tips for small business leaders like. The things that you can use to find, engage, and hopefully keep the employees in your organization.

But in this episode, we’re flipping the script to focus on you, the people leader, and why you need to prioritize yourself when you want to grow and serve your people better. Be honest. How often do you consider a harm maybe even fantasize about turning in your two week notice to search for something new. To help us dig into this topic.

Laurie Ruettimann joins me to discuss the premise of her new book betting on you and why the answer is not jumping ship at the first opportunity. 

Laurie: I was working in human resources, laying people off, exhausted, having terrible work-life balance, ignoring my family, not taking care of myself, eating pretzels, and drink and Pepsi for dinner at the airport.

And wondering why everybody seemed to be having. And it turns out nobody was really happier. And I learned that happiness starts with me. So I had this moment of just like a self epiphany where I thought I needed to turn this around and I need to do something different. Otherwise I would get a new job and it would be a new job with the same old problems.

Didi: Laurie is a sought after speaker writer, entrepreneur podcaster, and self-proclaimed HR geek with unique insights into the world of people operations. So let’s dive in, starting with Laurie’s perspective on the people, not just the data behind the great quit 

Laurie: people have been quitting jobs since the beginning of time when they were allowed to quit jobs.

Right? So it’s not as if this moment of time is unique in that regard. I think the volume is a little bit different, but nobody. Has a lifetime employment anymore. You know, my father-in-law worked at the phone company for dozens of years and retired and he was the last of his kind, truly 

And so I think about that now. And I think about how even I felt in corporate America 15 years ago, The great recession. When I was working in human resources, laying people off exhausted, having terrible work-life balance, ignoring my family, not taking care of myself, eating pretzels, and drinking Pepsi for dinner at the airport and wondering why everybody seemed to be happy.

And it turns out nobody was really happier. And I learned that happiness starts with me. So I had this moment of just like a self epiphany where I thought I needed to turn this around and I need to do something different. Otherwise I would get a new job and it would be a new job with the same old problems.

So I really wanted to fight this notion in my own life of arrival, fallacy that I’m going to get a job or a title, and everything’s going to be different, right? It’s same, same year, same me. Like nothing would be different. So I went on a personal journey where I tried to lean into this idea of self-leadership, where I was individually accountable for my.

I also looked at my wellbeing. I focused on my continuous learning and I tried to learn how to take some risks. And within about a year of going on that journey, using my EAP, talking to counselors and advisors, it was at that point when I felt like it was okay to leave my job, but I didn’t see. And I think that story of my own life and my own journey sets me up for the coaching work that I do today, because I truly believe, and I work with my clients to tell them this, you fix work by fixing yourself first.

There’s no cavalry coming. There’s no HR union, it’s you and you alone. And especially when you’re a leader and a manager. So instead of jumping ship, trying to chase that dollar, chase, that title. Why don’t you take a couple of days, maybe 30 days, maybe a year, whatever you need really figure out what’s wrong and try to get so 

Didi: quitting.

Isn’t the answer, you know, the interesting thing in fixing our span, it’s so much easier to point to somebody else, right? So it’s so much easier to point to the bad boss or the bad hours or the wrong expectations. So let’s talk a little bit about that. Maybe the first place in, in figuring out what’s broken with you is how you define yourself.

You have a really interesting notion in your book where you talk about. Don’t define yourself or introduce yourself by what your job is, but by what you do. So can you talk a little bit about that? 

Laurie: I talk about the purpose and intent behind introducing yourself with a human statement, not a career statement, not a work statement, not your LinkedIn title, right.

But who you are and what you’d like to do. So if I weren’t on. Podcasts like I am today. If I were just at a cocktail hour, like we used to do pre pandemic or at a networking event, I would challenge myself to say hi, I’m Lori. Ruderman, you know, I’m a, I’m a wife, I’m a volunteer. I’m an auntie. I like to go on vacation.

I have these different hobbies. I would talk about that. And eventually I would get to the fun part, which is to say I’m a failed HR lady, which always, always makes people chuckle. But the point is to really make sure that you identify yourself. Big bold, interesting life because that’s the beauty of work.

If you’re living an interesting life, you can take all of those good experiences as a leader and bring them back to work and teach people not only how to Excel at work, but how to Excel in their entire journey around life. But it takes practice. It takes a belief. And the idea that you deserve to live a big bold life, and that that’s work DD.

That’s worked through therapy through introspection, through counseling, through talking to like-minded individuals. It’s the work of a lifetime, but so often it’s easy to put that aside and talk about how we hate our leadership team. As it getting a new CEO is going to fix everything. Like what does a new CEO ever fixed anything in the history of humankind?

So. I believe in being your own CEO and it’s not just me. It’s Nelson Mandela. It’s Barack Obama as Martin Luther king. All of these amazing individuals in history seize the moment and leaned into individual accountable. So I like 

Didi: the concept of your Brookley talk about always be learning. So your accountability to yourself is about learning.

And maybe that gap in between what’s broken in you, or what’s not optimized in you. What’s between that and your big, bold, beautiful life. And we’re learning comes in. Maybe help us connect the dots. 

Laurie: Well, I mean, it’s not just Lori Ruderman and a random opinion on learning. Although my family always thinks it is.

I mean, I truly study this and, you know, Harvard business school and Stanford and university of Michigan have all done amazing research on people who learn and when you’re learning. You’re growing. And when you’re growing, you’re thriving, when you are learning, you are on fire and you are unstoppable. And this is an important message for both workers and leaders.

Because so often we talk about worker disengagement, but leader disengagement is high, if not higher than employee dissatisfaction. So you’ve got all these leaders walking around sad and the antidote or. One answer to that potentially through research is learning and all learning is worthwhile. They have found out at these business schools that you don’t have to just learn about your job in order to be happier, to be more engaged, to act more ethically, you can just learn something new.

If you don’t know why the sky is blue. Maybe go Google that like that, let that be your thing for today. Or if you’re curious about the world and you’ve got like a DSLR camera, which I have right over here, and I don’t know how to use it, take the next month and learn how to use that camera. All learning is worthwhile.

And I think once we start to get curious about the world that translates back into the world of. That 

Didi: learning is, is, is hugely important. And, and we’ve had more conversations on the show lately from, from business leaders who are realizing that when they start to tap into their, people’s not only professional aspirations, but their personal aspirations, that confluence is really powerful for them as leaders.

So same thing applies back to your point on, on looking at the data of the leaders are the ones that are maybe hurting the most right now. It’s like, how are you applying that to yourself? How are you listening to yourself? 

Laurie: For sure. And, you know, I really think about what happens in an organization. The goodness of an organization happens with that frontline leader, that manager in the trenches, right.

Really being a translator between the employee and the executive leadership team or an executive leader. His or herself is in that trenches, right? Him or herself is in the trenches, really trying to figure out what’s happening with the business. And if that person’s not learning and growing, how can they be of service not only to themselves, but to their customers, to their employees.

So this idea of learning, isn’t just about one moment in time being happier, being okay with your job. It’s really a choice around a lifestyle. And for me, the most. I kind of clicked and I thought I need to learn more. I need to be curious about the world. I started podcasting. I started reading more. I started just asking better questions and I think being a better partner, a better friend and a better member of my community.

So again, we always default to this conversation about the world of work, but I’d like to think of things a little bit bigger because you’re living this really great or interesting life. Chances are you’re going to be doing okay. So let’s 

Didi: talk about making it actionable. The people who are listening to this podcast have somewhere in their world of work.

They have responsibility for people. And boy, that sounds good. Learning sounds good. I want to do something fun. I want to start a podcast or whatever, and then you look at your calendar and you go, okay. I have got all this other stuff. So let’s talk a little bit about kind of, how do you, how do you help shift the gear to you and maybe some practical advice of how to make, how to infuse that aspiration for learning and be living a bigger, bolder life into something that you can actually make happen with what you’ve already piled on your.

Laurie: Well D D the good news is anybody listening to this podcast is already learning. Like it’s not a heavy lift, right? So that’s the good news. The bad news is we’re all adults and we have busy calendars and time-blocking is a challenge. So I have a little exercise that I do where I tell people to learn one new thing in the next 30 days.

And it could be learning how to smoke. A brisket is one executive client of mine did, or learning how to ice skate, or simply going back and looking at your life. Performance discussion and the notes from that, and trying to find one thing that, you know, you could do better and then going on a learning journey the next 30 days, and really trying to figure out how do I fix this, or how do I get better at this?

And just keeping a quick journal. It doesn’t have to be anything Hetty. It doesn’t have to be bedazzled like in, you know, middles, Google document, but what’s interesting. What surprises you just write your notes down every day or every other day. And for 30 days, take those notes. Write down. What surprised you, what you enjoyed?

What was really hard? I worked with a woman in human resources who always said I’m bad at math. And so I challenged her to take a finance for non-financial professionals course. And her initial notes were like, oh my God, I’m so dumb. This is so hard. And eventually she started to get it. I see in the notes.

Oh my instructors helpful. My class is great. I met somebody. Who’s interesting. You could see the evolution over the 30 day period. And so I would offer that to your audience in the next 30 days, learn one thing that’s new. It doesn’t have to be math, which is insane. Like people learning journal. And if you’d like send it to me at hello at let’s fix work.com and I’m happy just to reflect on it with you.

I love that kind of stuff. Again. I’m a bit of a nerd around the world. I 

Didi: love that. So one last question for you, Lori is people are grabbing out their notebooks and they’re thinking about that 30 days right now, you might have an idea in your mind that your job isn’t just the best job for you and that you really want to quit.

What do you want to look at in your 30 day journal to make you think about maybe before you start it, and then after, after you finish it to really do a better assessment of, of what you’re doing with your. 

Laurie: I write about this in my book and the final chapter on how do you really explore? What do you need and what your job gives you?

Because I think at some level, all of us, you know, we want affirmation. We want our egos to be stroked, right? We want to be leaders, but we also. What our student loans paid and we want to provide for our children, or we want to pay our mortgage or we’re saving for a car vacation, whatever it is. So it’s important to really do an inventory.

And I teach this in my book of what do you need on a daily basis to live? And what does your job give you? And when you start to look at that, maybe you can understand some of the sacrifices and you may feel a little bit better about your situation, but again, in the 30 days, Laura that that’s looking at your finances, looking at, you know, what you could do if you didn’t have this job even, but really honing in on what do you need and what are you getting from this job?

And then the second step of that is to explore what do you truly want? And a lot of people are like, well, I want a new boss. I want a new job. And no, no, you want to be a little bit happier. You want to wake up in the morning without existential dread. You don’t want to feel like you’re in a time loop and what do you need so that you can have that?

Well, you probably need good. Maybe you need financial advice. Maybe you need to reinvest money differently, move it from savings to checking. I don’t know what you need, but by doing these exercises in the book, you can explore how to make that change. But again, nobody in this world ever benefits. As an employee or a manager from saying, take this job and shove it.

So although the temptation is great to resign and resign on the spot right now, because there are opportunities everywhere. It’s a terrible strategy that you will absolutely regret 

Didi: I’m Deedee. And this was pivot a pop show by Xenophon. If you want to hear more unconventional thinking like Lori’s on how to build up the people behind your small business.

Check out zenefits.com backslash pups dash podcast, where you’ll find bonus resources, profiles, and Ethan, a link to order Laurie’s book as well as ours people operations. Also, if you have questions you want us to answer on our show, check out the link in our show notes below and we’ll get it covered.

Previous Episodes

Q&A: Why should I re-recruit our staff?

Danny Speros, Director of People Ops, Zenefits
Feb 1, 2022
A record number of people resigned from their jobs in 2021 and over half of the workforce is considering changing jobs in the next year. With over 10 million open jobs, it’s safe to say most of your employees are being recruited by someone else. Danny Speros, VP of People Operations at Zenefits, explains this...

Q&A: Has the pandemic permanently changed small business?

Jean Spencer, Senior Manager of Integrated Campaigns at Zenefits.
Mar 25, 2021
The pandemic has changed the way businesses operate in countless ways, but how much of these changes will persist post-pandemic?  In this episode of POPS!, Zenefits Sr. Manager of Integrated Campaigns Jean Spencer breaks down the top three ways the pandemic has permanently changed work and how HR leaders should respond to each. Do you...

Q&A: How do I recognize and prevent sexual harassment, even when it’s remote?

Danny Speros, Director of People Ops, Zenefits
Mar 11, 2021
The line between what’s appropriate and what’s not can easily become blurred when working remotely. Sadly, just because our jobs are more remote, that doesn't remove the potential for harassment.

About The People Ops Podcast

Every week, we share the decisions, struggles, and successes for keeping up with an evolving workforce and a changing workplace. No matter if you’ve been in HR or are just getting started, this combination of transformational stories with actionable ideas, as well as context on hot issues, keeps you up-to-date while answering the questions you didn’t even know you had.

Oh, and you know what they say about all work and no play? We tossed in a little levity to keep it real. Lessons, answers, and humor: everywhere you listen to podcasts.

Best-in-class remote teams will use best-in-class technology.

Zenefits mobile HR platform makes it easier to communicate with staff, onboarding new hires, pay employees, and manage any HR task from any home office.