graphic for The 2018 Index of Predictive Tools in HRTech: The Emergence of Intelligent Software


Top 100 v1.72 Laurie Ruettimann

On November 11, 2010, in HRExaminer, Movers/Shakers, by John Sumser

Top 100 Influencer Laurie Ruettimann v1.72

Moxie is a key element of creating results in an organization. Ruettimann has loads of Moxie.

It would be very easy to dismiss Laurie Ruettimann as a lightweight or vacuous. (I was going to use the word flaky but that means undependable and Laurie is never that). The personality behind Punk Rock HR and the current author of Cynical Girl, Ruettimann takes a very 21st Century social media orientation to her work as an HR pundit. Articles about her cats and pet peeves are integrated tightly with common sense answers to HR conundrums.

The outer superficiality is like the ‘spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down’. Claiming Penelope Trunk as her inspiration, Ruettimann delivers Mary Poppins in the same way that the Brazen Careerist channels Helen Gurly Brown. Ruettimann is busy in the midst of an experiment to see how educational approaches can be adapted to make great HR palatable.

Leadership styles are changing. The model of HR credibility, rooted in trying to pass as a member of the dark-suited-pasty-white executive team is dying. Emerging in its place is a looser, more intimate leader who fails publicly, is easier to get to know and comes with the quirks and foibles that make real people who they are. Laurie is at the leading edge of this shift. Occasionally awkward looking, new and better approaches often have difficult births. Part of Ruettimann’s influence comes from her willingness to go first, to be at the edge of this new and improved style.

More than a few very serious old timers treat Ruettimann’s method and content with disdain. In the drive to build credibility for HR, much of the sense of humor required for effective leadership has given way to a dour focus on ROI. When HR is busy being the hatchet-man (I mean person), it’s easy to lose sight of the basics of the human part of this thing. Cheerful even when bitter (it’s that magical nanny thing), Ruettimann has little toloerance for ogres.

21st Century communications channels are not the same as they were in the industrial era. In a time of intense quantification, influence might be best understood as a function of audience size (yep, it matters). Ruettimann’s deep influence on the industry (whether you like the style or not) comes from the size of her audience and her willingness to hit the road to build it. Influence doesn’t come from great ideas or virtuous behavior (it would be a wonderful world if it did). Instead, people follow the people they can see. Without an audience, good ideas are useless. With an audience, anything is possible.

Laurie is using the skills she learned in her formal HR career to build a communications channel. Smart enough to know that she has a lot to learn, she builds with charisma and common sense. If you stop to think about it, who has a bigger platform? Lots of people are listening. SHRM solicits her strategic advice.

After moving into HR straight out of college, Laurie found she was great at hiring. “I know how to deconstruct a narrative,” she says. “That’s how you find the connection between a person and a job.” She rose quickly into Recruiting leadership slots and branched out into the rest of HR.

In 2007, following one more move, she started blogging. A decade in HR served as the foundation for her writing. She quickly developed the style she is still known for three and a half years later.

“It’s all about connecting people, all about the conversations. The current crop of blogging advice is pretty awful. It’s focused on the process, not the things you need to do.”

We spoke about the things driving HR’s evolution.

“HR is being pulled apart. Part of the problem is that HR simply hasn’t delivered. The other element involves the fact that technology eliminates HR’s traditional role as coordinator of administrivia. That said, much of HRTechnology is lost on me. It’s technology for the sake of technology. HR is not about Tech; it’s the relationships, the management of behavior and the generation of results.”

Moxie is a key element of creating results in an organization. Ruettimann is at the very beginnings of what will be an extraordinary career. By brashly putting herself out in front, she’s built an opportunity to make some interesting things happen. If you want to understand how influence works, watch the way Laurie uses hers in the next couple of years.

graphic for The 2018 Index of Predictive Tools in HRTech: The Emergence of Intelligent Software

  • Starr

    When I think of Laurie, I think of the word “authentic.” Authenticity is important in blogging an social media (as her following demonstrates) – but it’s also the single most important characteristic for leadership in the new workplace (dominated by Generation X and Y employees for the first time – 51% of employees are under the age of 44, the traditional cut-off for Generation X). It’s ironic that I would define Laurie by labeling her – that would be counter to the counter culture, even if the label is meant to describe it. But I’ll stick to my guns on this one. Listen up everyone – if you can’t be authentic like Laurie, you can’t lead these new generations of people. Laurie gets that (intuitively) and also understands how HR and business need to change to leverage the strengths of our modern workforce and become more competitive globally (read some of her recent blog posts). Congratulations to Laurie! Question authority. Long live dissent.

  • John (& Bret) — thanks for the inclusion on the list. I used to have a real job [as a staffing specialist, staffing manager, corporate recruiter, HR generalist, HR manager, national staffing manager, regional HR manager, HR advisor, and interim HR director] that was very lonely. I never knew anyone in my profession who shared my ideals. I had a CIO tell me that I was wasting my time in Human Resources and I should go be a mom, a weathergirl, or a consultant.

    Now I look at the HR industry (and one that has exploded in connectivity thanks to social media) and think, “Crap, I would be one hell of a HR professional had I met these great people when I was a practitioner.”

    So it’s my goal to a) improve the profession and b) encourage smart people to stick it out.

    And if you’ll indulge me with one more point…

    I wrote Punk Rock HR for a reason. I know what I believe is right. I know that my influence is strong. And I don’t give a shit if someone publicly embraces me in a public manner because I’m 100% sure that they’ll embrace my ideas, my recommendations, and my philosophy when it’s all said and done.

    Arrogant AND sweet. Just like Mary Poppins!

  • Anne Messenger

    Smart, edgy, immensely refreshing.

  • Amassey77

    I ♥ Laurie. She made me believe that there were other smart, funny, and REASONABLE HR peeps out there that I could identify with. She has a great voice, and I just wish she worked in my HR department.

  • Laurie has influenced many in the HR world and how it is perceived by other non-HR leaders. She challenges us to get our own opinions and genuinely cares for her audience.

    I’m honored to be her friend.

  • It’s well deserved recognition for Laurie to be included in this group!

    Not only does she have a large audience, but by being brave and authentic enough to share her opinions and also educated enough to back them up with thoughtful commentary, she makes others think and define their own beliefs – and have a point of view.

    I know many of the online voices that have risen in the HR/Recruiting world over the last few years have been encouraged by Laurie – both by her personally and because they’ve been challenged or motivated by her writing. And even though not everyone has as strong of a voice or as effective a writing style as she does, they’re still interacting and participating – which is good for the profession.

    I think it’s also important to note that there is no bigger Fan and supporter in this space than Laurie. It’s great to have a big audience and the ears of influential people, but even better when someone is humble enough and cares enough to introduce and connect those people to others who have yet to be noticed, but are deserving. Laurie does that more often than people know, because she rarely takes credit.

  • Maureen Sharib

    Laurie’s wonderful to watch (and pretty to boot)!

  • Pingback: The HRExaminer v1.41 | HR Examiner with John Sumser()

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