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Speaking Engagements

UPCOMING
HR Tech, Las Vegas, 10/8-10/2014
HR Tech Europe, Amsterdam, 10/23-24/2014

PAST BUT AVAILABLE FOR REPLAY
Workday Predict and Prepare Webinar, 12/10/2013
CXOTalk: Naomi Bloom, Nenshad Bardoliwalla, and Michael Krigsman, 3/15/2013
Drive Thru HR, 12/17/12
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #110, 8/12
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Business Value," 5/3/12 Audio/Whitepaper
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Predict and Prepare," 12/7/11
HR Happy Hour - Episode 118 - 'Work and the Future of Work', 9/23/11
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #87, 9/11
Keynote, Connections Ultimate Partner Forum, 3/9-12/11
"Convergence in Bloom" Webcast and accompanying white paper, sponsored by ADP, 9/21/10
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #63, 9/10
Keynote for Workforce Management's first ever virtual HR technology conference, 6/8/10
Knowledge Infusion Webinar, 6/3/10
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Predict and Prepare," 12/8/09
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Preparing to Lead the Recovery," 11/19/09 Audio/Powerpoint
"Enterprise unplugged: Riffing on failure and performance," a Michael Krigsman podcast 11/9/09
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #39, 10/09
Workday SOR Webinar, 8/25/09
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #15, 10/08

PAST BUT NO REPLAY AVAILABLE
Keynote, HR Tech Europe, Amsterdam, 10/25-26/12
Master Panel, HR Technology, Chicago, 10/9/012
Keynote, Workforce Magazine HR Tech Week, 6/6/12
Webcast Sponsored by Workday: "Building a Solid Business Case for HR Technology Change," 5/31/12
Keynote, Saba Global Summit, Miami, 3/19-22/12
Workday Rising, Las Vegas, 10/24-27/11
HR Technology, Las Vegas 10/3-5/11
HR Florida, Orlando 8/29-31/11
Boussias Communications HR Effectiveness Forum, Athens, Greece 6/16-17/11
HR Demo Show, Las Vegas 5/24-26/11
Workday Rising, 10/11/10
HRO Summit, 10/22/09
HR Technology, Keynote and Panel, 10/2/09

Adventures of Bloom & Wallace

a work in progress

Reprise: Choices, Compromises, Serendipity and Sh#t

The Compass Rose Of Life

Reflecting on what might make a great list of 2013 predictions — beyond those I’ll be discussing next week on my first videocast – I realized that I’d either be repeating a list of hot topics with which you’re already familiar or showing my ignorance (it’s getting worse not better with the explosion of relevant knowledge).  So, instead of predictions, I thought I’d offer some advice that will be useful no matter what’s happening in our industry.  And to do that I’m updating an old post that deserves another hearing.  My thanks to a Twitter follower, Holly MacDonald, for reminding me of this post.

Life doesn’t just happen.  Well actually it does, but there are a zillion opportunities for you to chart and then steer your own course through it by how you react to the opportunities and challenges that life offers.  Our lives are a rich tapestry of the choices we make (shall I marry Ron Wallace or one of the other fine contenders?), the compromises we’re willing and able to sustain (if I marry Ron Wallace, we’re not going to be rich but I’ll be a lot happier than with the Prince behind door #2, besides which I’m quite capable of earning a good living), the serendipity to which we’re are subject if we’ll only seize the moment (how lucky I was to have been born into a family/religion/cultural community that valued education and rewarded academic accomplishment or here I am at the University of Pennsylvania, a really top school, even if I’m working my way through and unable to participate as fully in campus life as some of my more affluent classmates), and the shit that happens (what do you mean I’ve got arthritis and fibromyalgia when I’m clearly in my prime? what do you mean my husband has cancer and I need both shoulders repaired?).    

Choices, compromises, serendipity and shit — these are indeed the four winds blowing every life around.  And yet the course is unique, totally our own, that each one of us chooses or which is force upon us.

In real life, some people, just by the accident of their birth, really do get more shit than anyone deserves and are given very limited choices.   But for those of us born into reasonable circumstances and with a reasonable amount of intelligence (or at least the potential for acquiring same) and good health, therefore for most readers of this blog, what we accomplish in life has a lot to do with:

  1. the choices we make from the smorgasbord of possibilities that our lives present,
  2. the compromises, really sacrifices, we’re willing and able to make in support of those choices,
  3. the effectiveness of our responses to the serendipitous opportunities that our lives present, and
  4. our ability to handle the inevitable shit, and I don’t simply mean here the fall-out from our bad choices, poor compromises or ineffective seizing of the opportunities but rather the really bad stuff that’s not in any way our fault.

Are you wondering what got me started on this topic?  The simple answer is aging.  As each year ends and a new one begins, it’s impossible not to notice that the years in front are increasingly outnumbered by the years behind.  And it’s a wise person who takes stock of what they’d like to do/see/experience/learn/etc. during those years in front and how and with whom they would like to spend their precious time.  

But the very Naomi-specific answer is that I’m a methodical, list-making, over-analyzing, searcher after mental models and taxonomies. I’ve approached every important part of my life with as much careful research and preparation as I could muster at the time, working hard to understand my real choices (often more than I realized at first glance), just what was lurking under the surface of various compromises that would come back to haunt me later, how truly serendipitous an opportunity might be versus arriving as a result of long-standing effort and deliberate seed-planting, and (after the usual railing at the G-ds when misfortunate strikes) accepting/working with/overcoming life’s shit with the best grace I could muster.   And now, with my 67th birthday in the rearview mirror, and Bill Kutik’s announced retirement from the HR Tech Conference that he created, it seems like as good a time as ever to do a little extra reflection, analysis, list-making and rededication.

Is there any possible connection between all of this and what’s happening — or should happen — in my professional neighborhood, at the corner of HRM and IT?  Absolutely!  The compass rose of life can be applied to every aspect of life, from developing HRM strategies to selecting and implementing HR technology to deciding whom to hire.  Charting the best possible course through each of these situations requires making the best possible choices, accepting and then making work appropriate compromises, seizing the opportunities that present themselves, and dealing with the inevitable shit. Charting that course takes considerable knowledge (yes, that’s where the heavy lifting begins), ongoing discipline (more heavy lifting), real insight into deciding what’s important and why (oops, sounds like deep fact-finding, analysis and introspection), a willingness to take action and then commit yourself when the inevitable shit hits the fan, to doing the right thing and making your choices and compromises (assuming they were sufficiently wise) succeed.  A heavy load indeed, for one’s professional and personal life, but there’s really no other good option. Steer your own course wisely or be at the mercy of those who would steer it for you.

And to my close and valued friend Bill Kutik, may you have fair winds and following seas in all that you continue to do.  This post’s for you.

5 comments to Reprise: Choices, Compromises, Serendipity and Sh#t

  • [...] Bloom offers lessons on a life well-lived in her essay: Choices, Compromises, Serendipity and Shit.  It’s a piece that’s relevant no matter what field you’re in or what choices [...]

  • Shane Granger

    Naomi,

    Fair comment (as always).

    Shane

  • Shane Granger

    Naomi,

    You know I’m a big fan but…

    its been several decades of discussion and no seat at the table. Labour is less valuable a commodity in 2012 than it was in 1972. HR is still the backseat ERP module as modules become less integrated and less connected in a much more mobile world.

    Where does HR stand in all this. The true pathfinders of the faith are now nearing (or) at retirement and the second the third tranches are mere shadows of the first crew (in economics terms I’d almost state they are just rent seekers). In sheer bloody language HR is a price taker, not a price maker.

    Frank as that comment, sentiment aside, I’ll make a much harsher comment. Is HR in its current state because of its past choices, the compromises of its earliest leaders and a lot of other sh#t.

    Sorry, I don’t believe in coincidence or serendipity.

    • Naomi Bloom

      A major reason I’ve focused these last 25+ years on automating really well the HRM domain, on embedding as much intelligence as possible into what we used to call self service but which is now the only service, and on cultivating and supporting the many HR leaders who really are terrific, is to do my part to advance the practice of HRM — not the health and welfare of the HR department. I have always made a complete distinction between the domain and the department in order to free the former from the latter, and that’s still an important distinction. But with all that said, you need to up your optimism pill dosage and not hold me or any of our colleagues responsibility for all the failings of HR departments and their leaders. Rather, please rejoin the effort to make needed improvements. And you can take encouragement, as I do, from getting to know the really great HR leaders, many of them young enough to be my children (which puts them in their mid-40′s, so well along in their careers), who are now leading the charge with real strategic planning that’s focused on driving business results, with their adoption of much better technology, and with their commitment to less is more. Now I’ll expect you to cheer me up when I’m having one of those days when I want to shout “a pox on all their houses.”

  • Bill Kutik

    Thanks, Naomi, for this and all the good advice along the way. Hope you and MV Smarty Pants are in a snug anchorage.

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