Well, so far, my pivot hasn’t worked out as planned, but then why should I be surprised? First, I came down with the head/chest cold from hell. With three major conferences in a row, the attendant hugging of a zillion colleagues, hours spent breathing everyone’s germs in flights, and changes in diet/time zones/etc., this was probably inevitable. I did take every precaution, including various immune system-boosting supplements, but I still got nailed. I even gave a milder case to Ron, which we both failed to shake in time to spend two days travel just to get to Cape Town. We had planned to drive to Miami, fly overnight to Munich, layover there until evening, then fly overnight to Cape Town, so a schlep and a half that just wouldn’t be survivable with my head and sinuses exploding and a hacking cough. Our doctor decided the matter when he laid the facts before me, and on Wednesday we canceled our dream trip to Africa which was supposed to have started today. Total bummer. And you might recall that Wednesday was also notable for America’s having elected Drumpf to be President. We did just what you’d expect — slathered Naomi in Vicks VapoRub, had a good cry, and went back to bed in hopes we’d awake later to the news that the whole election had been a bad dream. But more on that in another post. I just wanted to let you know that, instead of going in search of major mammals, we’ll be….(to be continued as soon as we have a clue ]
In which she bids farewell to the HR technology industry:
Every time I’ve thought about retirement, a real and complete retirement from a half century of focus on all things related to HR technology, this song starts running around in my head. Some days, especially in this last year, this song competes for attention with my always present tinnitus, but mostly it’s just there, calling me home. And now it’s going to be the musical score behind a post I’ve also been writing in my head for the last year even though I didn’t know I was writing it — until now.
It’s coming up on fifty years of my trying to save HR professionals from themselves and from bad HR technology. I’ve been doing this, with lots of frustration but also considerable joy, for the sake not only of those HR professionals but, more importantly, for all of their stakeholders, which means just about everyone who has ever worked, is working now, and or may work at some time in the future, whether for remuneration or with the selfless zeal of the volunteer, and whether as an employee, as a non-employee worker or, most recently, as a non-human worker. So yes, nearly everyone.
Little wonder then that, after all these years of first helping and then fussing at HR leaders to lead more effectively, nudging (some night say harassing) HR tech vendors to do tech a lot better, and at every flavor of consultant/advisor/influencer/analyst and talking head to play their parts with integrity and real expertise, I’m ready for a complete change. And just like those wonderful dolphins in the clip above, although I’ve tried my best, progress has at times been glacial. But, like in so many other aspects of American life (I think this may be true way beyond the USA, but I don’t feel qualified to judge), the best of what’s available in both HR leaders and HR technology is really pretty great, but the rest aren’t keeping up.
My decision to retire (or let’s just call this a massive pivot!) completely from HR technology has been a difficult one because I truly love my work along with the social connections which that work has provided. HR tech globally has been a supportive and collaborative community, a place where business relationships take root and bloom. Some of those relationships become friendships, and I am so grateful for all the colleagues who have become friends, including some who have become my closest friends. I’m particularly appreciative of all my much younger colleagues who have helped me as I’ve retrained and retrained and retrained myself so as to stay reasonably competent over nearly a half century — and as my mobility issues have advanced. And I’d like to add a special shout-out to those vendors which are delivering products which embrace the object modeling and architectural preferences I’ve advocated since before many of my younger colleagues were born.
You know that I’ve been reducing my HR technology-related workload for several years now, and I’m so glad that I’ve been able to proceed in this way. Now I’m ready to end this phase altogether. But it’s less about going away from my HR tech career but more about pivoting toward my philanthropic, travel, boating, family/friends, theater, writing, painting, and many personal interests. I’ve had an incredible run and am very grateful for all I’ve learned and been able to contribute along the way. Now I’m ready to spend my time differently. As you can imagine, I have very mixed feelings about this change, but it’s time. So much of my social interaction has involved folks I’ve met through my HR tech career; I’ll hope that some of those relationships will survive this latest pivot (aka “retirement”).
I have always been clear that, when I was no longer willing or able to put in the time and effort needed to stay at the top of my HR tech game, to do my very best work, it would be time to stop, and that’s where I’m at. The many hours that I have spent tracking the industry, keeping up with technology and with the vendors and products in my space, scolding the scoundrels and committing truth (at least IMO), and interacting widely across our industry so that I could have my finger on the pulse, are hours that I now want to spend visiting with and supporting family and friends, working with several regional non-profits, traveling the world (while I still can), finally having time to go boating with Ron, writing and sketching and remodeling our home and reading. And did I mention spending much more time with Ron?
In addition to the song above, Pete Seeger recorded a song in the early 60’s (one which I sang often in my Philly folk club days) also has been running around in my head for the last many months while I’ve been coming to this decision. It’s almost verbatim from Ecclesiastes, and some of you may remember it:
> To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
> A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
> A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
> A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
> A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
> A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
> A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
> A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
> A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
For me, it’s time to reap what has been planted, to use the money we’ve saved and put the time I’ll now free up to other purposes. And, although I don’t like to discuss it, it just takes more time every day/week/month to keep Naomi functioning physically as the effects of aging on a flawed muscular/skeletal design have advanced. Since I want to be as mobile and fit as possible as long as possible, I need to devote more time just to taking care of myself — and you will too as you age.
I do intend to continue writing my blog about what happens next, and I hope that some of you will want to join me as I venture into uncharted territory. I may do some speaking about the issues women face in advancing their careers, especially women in technology, a subject that’s both important and close to my heart. The reality is that all of you are getting older and, while I may be the first in our circle to hang up my spurs, there are many others coming up right behind me. All by way of saying that I hope to blaze a trail on aging that others can follow while having the best possible time at every step. Next up are 3+ weeks in Africa, our first trip there, and we’re just hoping not to be eaten. That will give everyone, including Ron and me, time to get used to the idea of this pivot, and it will help me to draw a line under the last fifty years during which I put career, really the professional development to support my career, ahead of nearly everything else. But I know you won’t be surprised if, from time to time, I tweet something snarky or full of praise about the people, vendors, products, etc. in our industry. HR tech guru or whatever signing off; just plain Naomi, senior citizen, signing on.