5K, 10K, Half, Marathon-Find Your Race and Run it!

running race

It’s time for a confession. Before we start talking about running 5K, 10K half marathon races and marathons, you need to know something about me.

I was never in good shape as a kid. I was not the track star, volleyball and basketball player that my brother and sister, and many of my friends were in high school. I was uncoordinated, lazy, and preferred to spend my Sunday curled up on the couch with a good book, or nestled in the crook of the walnut tree branches, daydreaming, instead of riding my bike or running around the neighborhood, or hanging upside-down from the monkey bars at the park. Was I chubby? Yes. Not by today’s standards, but certainly not one of those skinny, ropy kids without an ounce of fat on them.

Fast-forward to college. I was still super insecure about athletics, or even about working out. I started doing more physical activity, and even got laughed at by a particularly sadistic boyfriend when I went for a run with some other friends. So the voice in my head always told me that I couldn’t do it.

When I moved to Boulder in 1991, I had some friends who were runners who came with me. They forced me to run if I wanted to hang out with them. At first I was mortified by my lack of fitness, and my slow pace. But bit by bit, I got better. Then I clerked for a local firm in the summer after my first year of law school, and those lawyers huffed and puffed their way through a daily lunchtime run. Some of them went further, on seven-mile trail runs, and they peer-pressured me into joining them. They were old, so I could keep up, right?

It was really tough. I think they slowed down a little at first so I could do it. But it made me confident enough to run my first half, with a good friend, the following summer. I have been running races, including halfs and marathons, ever since.

Today, my goal is to make it to the next age group and shave some minutes off my time so I can place in one of the smaller half marathons. Because right now those women in their 40s are killin’ it (and me)! Of course, I do race in Boulder and Denver, and there are people who run for a living here, and I’ve learned that I am not willing to work as hard at my training as I need to in order to reach my peak performance. But more than anything, the most important truth I have discovered during all of this running, is that 95% of it is in your head. That’s right. The voice in your head that says you can’t do it is what’s stopping you, and nothing else. If you go slow enough, you can run one mile, then two, then a 5K, then a 10K and beyond. Just don’t stop!

My favorite race calendar is Running in the USA.  You can find local calendars that will tell you about the most popular races, and all of them have little gems that may not be included in the bigger calendars. But Running in the USA is the one that has the most coverage, and the biggest variety of races all over your state or the U.S.

So check out Running in the USA, choose your race, get together some friends, and start running. You will feel like a superstar!

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Photo credit: GoToVan via Foter.com / CC BY



5 Ways People are Behaving Badly on Social Media for Business

social media 2

I don’t get annoyed when folks make faux pas on social media. I make mistakes all the time, and I think we all could do more to be patient with one another so we can all learn together. But if we’re honest, I think we can all come up with some really counter-productive behaviors on social media that don’t reflect well on our reputations and that are just plain ineffective.

Here are the top five in my mind:

  1. The backhanded reference to physical attractiveness on LinkedIn: You know those posts, where (usually) a woman posts an attractive photo and admonishes men to stop propositioning her on LinkedIn, or posts two profile photos and invites people to comment on which one they like better? This is effective for post-views, but your reputation will take a hit. It may be that these posts are harmless efforts to connect on a more personal level, or to push past the usual boundaries and break through the mountains of information people are posting every day, and provoke an emotional response. But for me, they feel manipulative and inappropriate, whether posted by a man or a woman.
  2. Sending a direct message on Twitter or LinkedIn message requesting something the minute you connect with someone:  I ignore these. It doesn’t matter to me at all if people try to impose on me without any relationship capital being built first. I let my silence be my answer. But other people may be turned off enough to break contact, and that’s not what these awkward sellers want or need. I am super generous with my true contacts, so be sure you create some genuine connections with people before you go in for the “ask.”
  3. Asking to be friends with everyone you’ve ever heard of on Facebook: I don’t really use Facebook much-it’s kind of reserved for keeping up with adorable photos of friends’ kids and hiding political rants. I don’t even visit it more than once a week or so. If I see a friend request (which only contains a photo and a name) from someone I don’t recognize (and a very distant business acquaintance is likely to be in that category) I delete it. It’s nothing personal. I just don’t recognize you. I am amazed by the number of requests I get on Facebook from people I have never heard of and don’t have any interest in sharing my personal life with. So unless you see that someone has 1,500 friends and is really active, my opinion is that you should save the interaction for other platforms. You may disagree, but I think Snapchat and Instagram are better choices, because the channels are usually wide open for public consumption anyway.
  4. Tweeting or posting only about your own business: Remember the 80/20 rule: create content that is useful and appealing for your audience at least 80% of the time. Don’t give your followers a reason to mute or unfollow you on Twitter or hide your updates on LinkedIn. My time is really important to me, as I’m sure your followers’ and connections’ is too. Don’t waste it-you will only annoy the people you are trying to attract, and not only miss your goal of trying to market your brand, but create ill will instead. When you’ve built value and trust, you can update your interested audience and they will be glad to hear what you have to say.
  5. Sharing extremely controversial material. I’m a big fan of speaking your truth and being authentic online. But at the same time, if you are marketing yourself and your product to your audience, think about what your customers connect with, and try to avoid irking them with topics that are likely to divide people, like religion, politics and scandal. The caveat is that if you are in an industry or have a personal message that is relevant to one of these subject areas, you may find that in order to be authentic, you need to dive in. By all means, do so, but realize that you may drive some of your audience away.

If you watch these five pitfalls, you will be on the right track. Which bad behaviors that you’ve noticed did I miss?

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Photo credit: Alan O’Rourke via Foter.com / CC BY

10 Issues to Address Today to Comply With DOL’s Overtime Rule Change


Unless you’ve been living under an HR rock for the past couple of months, you probably have heard about the more than doubling of the salary minimum for the white collar exemption from overtime, which will soon be increased to $47,476. I have a client who is fully engaged in the stages of grief over these new overtime rule changes just finalized by the Department of Labor (DOL). At first she was in shock (why haven’t I heard of this before?) denial (Congress will block it) and now she’s angry (where are we supposed to get the money to pay for this?!?).

She knows her organization is going to have to come up with a game plan, so I shared with her these 10 most critical issues HR managers need to consider in order to successfully implement the new rules. Some companies will easily get over this hump, and some will struggle, but we are all going to have to come to terms with these changes, because it looks like on December 1, 2016, they are going into effect. That doesn’t leave any of us much time to plan, so I recommend we all get started on addressing these 10 issues:

  1. Identifying who is actually over the new salary limit for the so-called “white-collar exemption” from overtime is not as clear-cut as it seems. Up to 10% of the salary amount can consist of non-discretionary bonuses. If a bonus is delivered based on predetermined factors like the company’s performance, then this amount can count for up to 10% of the annual salary amount for determining which employees fit the white-collar exemption. In contrast, if a bonus is not based on pre-announced parameters, but is paid by the employer spontaneously after the fact, then it wouldn’t meet this category.
  2. Dealing with the situation where a commissioned sales employee falls somewhat short of the limit due to natural fluctuations in earnings. The DOL gives employers the opportunity to make a “catch-up” payment of up to 10% of the base salary amount to the employee at the end of a calendar quarter in order to bring the employee within exempt status for that quarter. The employer has one pay period in which to make the catch-up payment, and if it is not made, then the employee is entitled to overtime pay for the quarter in which she didn’t meet the exemption.
  3. Deciding whether to raise pay of employees to enable them to qualify for the exemption or reclassify them as non-exempt. It’s relatively simple to do this when you’re looking at single employees, and you can consider their productivity, the type of work they do, and the value they bring to the organization. However, you won’t want to raise salary levels to make one person exempt, while designating another employee non-exempt in the same or a similar role. You also need to consider whether new hires into that role should be paid a higher rate and included in the exempt category. Making the right decision requires a review of not only how your organization looks today, but how it’s likely to grow, and the succession planning and talent acquisition strategies you have for the future. This, all before you even look at the budget you have in place (or not).
  4. Delivering the news to employees who are being reclassified. If you are raising the rate of pay for your employees, this one seems simple. But when communicating a pay increase, use it as an opportunity to set expectations, express appreciation and confidence, and capture the goodwill that it generates. If, on the other hand, you must tell your team members they are losing exempt status, some of them may be offended, especially if they view the change as a demotion. Carefully and completely explain the situation, including any benefits, such as recaptured time. Finally, if you must tell employees that not only are they being reclassified as non-exempt, but their hourly rate of pay will be reduced to reflect the actual hours they were working while exempt, get ready for some backlash. Be transparent; don’t sugar-coat the message, but do explain the “why” behind it. The company may not have any ability to pay additional compensation in the form of wages, but maybe there are other benefits or opportunities you can highlight to employees. Encourage them through the transition, and remain open to hearing their thoughts on how it’s going, if you’d like to retain your staff.
  5. Monitoring hours for newly classified non-exempt employees. Ask your soon-to-be reclassified employees to do a “dry run” of tracking their hours each week prior to the implementation date. Low-tech solutions like timecards or spreadsheets can be used for the testing period, but if your organization is of a certain size, you may find it’s more cost-effective to use technology to handle the increase in timekeeping duties. Either way, plan for the HR operations staff time needed to process payroll in an environment where additional hours must be tracked. Documentation is everything, so ensure that all non-exempt employees are accurately tracking, recording, and submitting their time.
  6. Troubleshooting use of smart phones and other devices by non-exempt employees. According to a 2013 Harvard Business Review article, “60% of those who carry smartphones for work are connected to their jobs 13.5 or more hours a day on weekdays and about five hours on weekends, for a total of about 72 hours.” Remember that whether non-exempt team members have permission to work or not, if they do work, they must be compensated for it under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Newly non-exempt employees who have been used to receiving praise for going above and beyond as salaried exempt employees now must be coached not to work smart within the 40 hour workweeks they are allotted, unless overtime is approved. You will need to consider whether it makes sense to continue to allow smartphone use for work among your non-exempt team members.
  7. Communicating changes to workers that may remove flexibility. Although the DOL is correct that flexibility within a work day or a workweek for non-exempt workers is preserved, in that employees may take off two hours early for an appointment but later work from home for two hours, there will be impacts to some flexibly-scheduled employees, especially those who are working schedules that allow them to flex hours as long as they add up to 80 hours per pay period. The FLSA requires time and a half be paid for each hour in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.  So these arrangements suddenly become much more expensive for employers to allow. And don’t forget state law when considering flexibility, because California, for example, has its own rules.
  8. Swallowing the increased costs that come with paying for work the organization was previously getting within the lower salary level.  As mentioned above, it is possible to make this transition at no cost, by determining how many hours your currently exempt employees between today’s salary limit of $23,660 and the new limit of $47,476 are actually working, and divide their current salary by that number of hours to get their new hourly wage when they are converted to non-exempt status. As an example, if I am currently exempt, with a salary of $40,000 per year, and I divide that amount by 52 to get the weekly wage, and then divide again by the 40 hours in a workweek, I get an hourly wage of $19.23. But if I have actually been consistently working 54 hours per week, and my employer instead uses that as my workweek in the calculation, then that hourly wage goes down to $14.25. Caution: in today’s current tight labor market, this is a tough sell, and turnover is expensive (see this EREmedia.com piece for more specifics), so this “cost-free” option may end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars per employee.
  9. Supporting salaried workers making over the new limit, as extra work gets pushed on them in the effort to avoid additional labor costs. If you’re unable to convert newly non-exempt employees to an adjusted hourly wage, as descried above, you may instead decide to directly convert the salary to an hourly wage when you reclassify your employees, and simply shift the work to those who are currently being paid above the new salary limit for the white collar exemption. This shift in work will certainly affect the outlook of those employees, which could also hurt engagement and retention. The ideal solution will depend on your budget (if any), a thorough analysis of the work activities in the roles, and a candid discussion of the value of the work being performed and its impact on the organization’s bottom line.
  10. Finding systems and technology to help the organization track time in an efficient and compliant manner. Kronos, ADP and Insperity all have offerings, and if you outsource payroll, you should check with your vendor right away to initiate a review of your data feed and processes, so there are no surprises when suddenly a large group of employees are reclassified. If your organization does not currently have a timekeeping and attendance system in place, toptenreviews.com has a lot of information about several different options, features and cost of systems.

Address these 10 challenges head-on, and you will be more than ready when the rule change goes into effect.

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Photo credit: mikecogh via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Digging Dogs – Skunked Edition


If you follow me on Twitter @KellyinBoulder you may know that my dog got sprayed by a skunk again. I awoke to the acrid scent of spray coming in through the window and ran to check the back door to make sure the pooch hadn’t gotten out. No such luck-I turned on the light and discovered the dog, ears down in despair, his face covered with bits of leaves, smelling like a gasoline spill.

Those who have been close up and personal with skunk spray will know what I mean: it is a completely different experience from the whiff you might get when you pass one of the little waddly white and black things at 500 yards. “Ewww! Skunk!” the kids squeal. No, really. This stuff burns your eyes and takes over your sinuses so it’s beyond stink into totally toxic territory.

Okay, you may not have known this, but if your dog gets sprayed by a skunk, you shouldn’t go buy out the entire stock of tomato juice at your local grocery store. Yes, tomato juice is the old-fashioned home remedy for removing skunk stink. But according to the Humane Society of the United States, this is the mixture you should use for de-skunking your pet:

You will need:

  1. 1 quart bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  2. ¼ cup baking soda
  3. 1 tsp liquid dishwashing soap
  4. Dog shampoo
  5. Rubber gloves
  6. Access to a garden hose

Mix first three ingredients together in a bucket. If you’re not sure how much you will need, we allocate 6 bottles of peroxide per application to our 90 lb, very furry dog. You may need less. If you apply it at 3 am in the dark in the backyard, or your dog has been through this before and knows what’s coming, you will need more in case you miss your dog when you pour it.

DO NOT WET DOWN OR SHAMPOO YOUR DOG FIRST. This will just spread the oily skunk spray so it saturates the rest of your dog, making removal of that stink just next to impossible. AND DON’T TOUCH YOUR DOG WITH YOUR BARE HANDS. You will carry that stink around for a while. And even though you don’t smell it anymore, everyone else will.

Put on the gloves and apply the peroxide mixture to your dog’s fur. Once your pet is thoroughly wet, massage it in so her hair gets saturated. Pay special attention to her head and face, as usually this is where your curious pooch has gotten the brunt of the spray. And be careful with the mixture because the soap will sting her eyes.

Let the mixture stand for about 10 minutes (too much longer and you may give your dog a bleach job). Rinse, and then lather up with regular dog shampoo. Rinse again and towel your friend dry. Let him sleep it off in your garage or in a kennel in a place where he won’t have access to rub his fur all over the walls of your house and track the remaining smell on your carpet.

In our experience, this special wash needs to be repeated 3-4 times before the smell fades. You can also use special skunk wash that’s made for dogs. But they don’t carry that at the grocery store at 3 am.

Happy de-skunking!

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Photo credit: julierohloff via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Harnessing the Power of Connection: 5 Ways

Barrel of Monkeys

It’s easy in today’s world to focus only on what we have going on in the moment-head down, working hard, spending time online and frittering our minutes away just in time for the next day to begin, when we start it all over again. Sometimes I ask myself, “What for?”

Luckily, the same things I need to practice to enjoy a happy and fulfilled life also help me connect with other people in meaningful ways. These connections help me make and strengthen friendships and business relationships, which enrich all areas of my life. Here are my favorite five ways to harness the power of connection:

  1. Give. Giving to others in your community and in your profession is a fantastic way to connect. I have volunteered for a couple of opportunities with my local SHRM chapter in Boulder, Colorado (BAHRA) recently and have been delighted at how it connects me with others and is an instant foundation for building relationships. It’s fun, feeds enthusiasm for my career and giving back to my community, and according to helpguide.org, volunteering benefits your skill development, health and well-being.
  2. Practice Presence. Bringing our whole, real selves to the things we do, including work, makes us happier and more confident. Amy Cuddy’s brilliant book, Presence, teaches us more than power poses—it helps us understand that practicing confidence creates confidence, and that believing in what we’re doing creates an energy that others respond to.
  3. Exhibit Authenticity. Online and in person, the same vision should inform our communications and interactions with others. Being authentic means speaking our own truths, but above all, listening for the connections we can find in the stories of others. According to research described in the Harvard Business Review, people who are authentic at work are happier, have lower stress, and have a stronger sense of community.
  4. Learn. Join with others to learn something new, and continuously strive to improve. Constant learning not only creates an organization that is more creative, full of energy and innovation, and more engaging, but it also creates those feelings in us as individuals. Even learning in small ways (for example, through the Society for Human Resource Management-SHRM’s Twitter-based #nextchat) can help us feel connected with one another and build trust by sharing our expertise, learning from others, and expressing our appreciation.
  5. Laugh. According to the Ithaca College HR blog, laughter not only increases our own well-being but it also attracts others to us, and laughing together creates an instant bond between individuals. I firmly believe that finding the humor in every moment possible, and not taking ourselves too seriously, is the best way to cope with the inevitable difficult situations no matter where they arise.

It’s not a coincidence that these five tips not only increase our ability to connect with other people, but also make for a happy, rewarding life! How do you connect?

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Photo credit: bunnyhero via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

5 Tips for Getting Ready for Puppy: Friday Facts


It’s time for a new puppy at our house! Our grandpa dog, the friend that keeps appearing in my posts, is 13. He’s a big guy, and we are enjoying every additional day of health and vitality he has at this point. Being that he is an absolute legend and totally irreplaceable, the best we can hope for is that he can cuddle our new puppy through his weaning and adjustment to a new home, and teach him all of the great tricks of getting along in our human world. In the best case scenario, the new puppy will be half the friend he has been to us, and he will have a furry companion in his old age.

Oh, who am I kidding? We will be in love with this puppy in two seconds flat, and we won’t even notice the chewed shoes and puddles on the floor.

Anyway, kind of like some parents I know who wait a long time in between having kids, we now are in a situation where lots of things have changed since the last time we had a puppy in the house. So today’s Friday Facts is focused on what the hell I need to do to get ready for this.

  1. Veterinarian Care: Cesar Milan recommends several great tips for keeping our puppy healthy, and one of the items on the list is spaying or neutering the pup at 4-6 months of age. Also critical is ensuring our puppy is vaccinated, dewormed, and kept free of fleas and ticks.
  2. Budgeting for Puppy Needs: Aside from puppy food and the vet care mentioned above, it’s recommended that we plan on at least a few hundred dollars per year in expenses. One of the things that surprised me about having a Goldendoodle is that he needs haircuts on a regular basis, and for a dog of his size, that can easily cost close to $100 with a tip for your groomer. And you absolutely can’t do it yourself; believe me, we tried, and even with a very patient dog, we got pretty hilarious results.
  3. Pet Insurance: Pet insurance 13 years ago didn’t cover much and was kind of expensive. It was hard to find value, and we didn’t consider it. Things have changed, and it may make sense for you if you think you might end up in a situation where you are at the emergency vet with your pet and you can’t pay for treatment your best friend needs. Check this out this video to find out if pet insurance is right for you.
  4. The Fun Part-Toys: My absolute favorite toy for adult dogs is the seek-a-treat kind of puzzle toy that gets them thinking and rewards learning. It’s a good fit for dogs that are really food motivated and love to train and seek approval. That’s our dog to a “T” and this toy is easily his favorite ever. But when it comes to puppies, teething and busy toys are better. Hard nylon toys with bumps are great for sore gums, as is a puppy-sized Kong filled with frozen peanut butter. Avoid squeaker toys and stuffed toys because aggressive chewers can easily end up with an intestinal blockage from swallowing dangerous items. Also, rawhide and bones are not for puppies.
  5. One New Feeding Solution: I had never seen these years ago, but I am sold on the benefits of this dog bowl for fast feeders that choke down their food. It is a fun way to slow that puppy down at mealtime.

Stay tuned for puppy pics in a couple of months! Enjoy your weekend.

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Photo courtesy of goldendoodlesofcolorado.com

Thanks for the Engagement-But We Don’t Need You Anymore

Bill of Rights

I read a fantastic article today from Rodd Wagner, author of Widgets: 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees as if They are Real People, and workhappier.com called “Thank You for Laying Me Off, Said Almost No One.”

Rodd brilliantly explores the major contradictions between the current engagement and retention push, where companies want truthful answers on engagement surveys, genuine and passionate commitment to the mission of the company, and “best friends” at work, but then when it comes time to “remix” (Marissa Mayer’s creepy term for layoffs) then the company responds: “Sorry, it’s just business.”

The quote below from Rodd’s piece is something I have seen personally at companies where I’ve worked:

One of the biggest contradictions of the current unwritten employment contract is that many companies simultaneously expect traditional corporate-family-for-life loyalty while reserving the option not to reciprocate it.

I have been vocal in HR against this hypocrisy—it doesn’t do any favors for true engagement to perpetuate an imbalance in the loyalty factor. I believe it’s possible to be real, transparent and trusting without overstepping the boundaries with employees.

Yes, we should celebrate when we’re in the zone, doing great work towards a mission we all believe in, and enjoying the relationships we have with one another. We should always be doing everything we can to support this feeling and energy at work.

But when it comes time for someone to move on, I am strongly against the natural tendency of some (unhealthy) organizations bashing those who jumped ship for a better-fit opportunity. When I hear inaccurate statements like “she wasn’t really committed,” or “these Millenials like to job-hop,” or even “he was just looking for more money” (who isn’t?) my response is always the following:

Did I miss something? I didn’t realize the company was promising to employ me as long as I continue to be totally engaged and committed and doing great work. I’m really happy to know that I can count on a job as long as I want one.

And everyone just laughs. 😉 Then the real conversation begins.

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Photo credit: tomblanton1957 via Foter.com / CC BY