Fine Time

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, May 10, 2010

So, you’re back from HREvolution. You’re fired up and driven. You’re feeling warm and fuzzy and ready to take action. You want to influence like Jason Seiden and Paul Hebert. You want to make work meaningful like Dan Debow and Jay Goldman. You want to break out of the echo chamber like Laurie Ruettimann and Lance Haun.

You really want to take action? Well, I am going to tell you the first thing you should do. It is subversive. It is brilliant in its deviousness. Shhh….are you ready? Don’t break out of the echo chamber, break INTO the echo chamber. And, how should you do that?




Get involved with SHRM.




That’s right! I said it. Get involved with SHRM. The Big Bad. The 800 lb. gorilla in the room. Godzilla. The Towering Inferno.

That’s crazy talk. You just left HREvolution, an “unconference” that, in many ways, is supposed to be the very antithesis of SHRM. However, there’s a method to my madness…

Now, More Than Ever

This afternoon, in my role as District Director on my SHRM State Council, I will be holding a Chapter Presidents Forum, with the 6 chapters in my region. What’s a major topic? Recruiting volunteer leaders. What was a major topic of discussion when I started as a SHRM chapter president 5 years? Recruiting volunteer leaders. What was a major topic of discussion when I first began getting involved with SHRM as a volunteer leader over 10 years ago? Recruiting volunteer leaders.

The demand is there, the supply is not.

Thought Leader Mark Stelzner implored the audience during the final session of HREvolution to “Speak, Publicly Speak!” However, without that advocate within that local SHRM chapter or state conference, who is going to give you that opportunity to voice your thoughts? You want to effect change? Be the one making the change.

*Serve on your local SHRM chapter board. Did you like the speakers and the conversation at HREvolution? Get on your chapter’s programming committee and have those very speakers come to your turf. Want to know who is speaking at my SHRM chapter’s monthly meeting in 9 days? Thought Leader Laurie Ruettimann.

*Serve on your SHRM state council. Grab a position on the SHRM state council and influence who will be speakers at your state leadership conference. Want to know who will be the keynote speaker closing out our state’s leadership conference in August? Thought Leader Mark Stelzner

*Serve on your SHRM state conference planning committee. Want to make your conference as exciting as HREvolution? Get involved in planning the conference and influence who will be the speakers. What to know who will be the keynote speaker closing out our State SHRM Conference in October? Thought Leader Kris Dunn.

*Talk to SHRM student chapters. This might take time as schools are ending their academic year. But, I don’t know one student chapter who wouldn’t want to have experienced thought leaders share their thoughts about what HR is really like.

China Gorman

A common topic of discussion at HREvolution was the departure of China Gorman from SHRM. To some, she was seen as “The Great SHRM Hope,” “a visible, energetic agent of change for SHRM, an actor on the stage that SHRM really hadn't had before.”

Nothing would carry out the legacy of China Gorman more than taking the energy and spirit of HREvolution by getting involved with SHRM and carrying out her vision.


Matt, this post is fantastic! I completely agree, and I really want to follow up with you on this.

Great seeing you again last weekend!


by Ben Eubanks on May 10, 2010 at 8:32 AM. #

Ben, thanks. Be glad to discuss it with you.

by Matthew Stollak on May 10, 2010 at 8:33 AM. #

Matt, you hit the nail on the head. If you are unhappy with SHRM, the best way to change it is from inside. I am taking a lot of what I heard and experienced this weekend will be applied to my work as a volunteer leader with SHRM. Great post.

Maybe we can talk about this on say, Tuesday night in San Diego.

by John Jorgensen on May 10, 2010 at 8:37 AM. #

Love the subversive attack! It was great to see you again, and let's hope that the HRevolution does not get trapped by the 'The Curse of More'.

by Steve Boese on May 10, 2010 at 8:39 AM. #

All good points. I may be renewing my SHRM membership after all.



by Jessica Miller-Merrell on May 10, 2010 at 11:57 AM. #

Abso-freaking-lutely! I take back everything I ever said about you! Well, only the less than positive stuff. Well, the stuff about Hall & Oates.

Thanks for saying so phenominally what I've been trying to say for 3 years! I can't say anything else. You're brilliant! And you put your money, your time and your commitment where your mouth is as a SHRM volunteer leader. Thanks, Matt. Really. Thanks.

by China Gorman on May 10, 2010 at 12:37 PM. #

Matt, you captured the essence of what I was trying to state during the closing session. We must get involved and become more inclusive and less exclusive for change to take hold. This is a must-read post for anyone is our profession. Thank you.

by Mark Stelzner on May 10, 2010 at 12:54 PM. #

Bruno, I'd argue that SHRM isn't an echo chamber. It's a vast, large, and dissociated chamber with lots of empty space. Local chapters, councils, meetings, silos, alliances, affiliations. Who the hell can keep track of everything? I known it's purposely decentralized to afford autonomy to smaller individuals, but it's also confusing as hell.

Good advice to tell smart HR professionals to get involved with local SHRM (sorta), but with limited time and resources, I'd personally rather spend my time fighting the battle at work and at home -- and maybe with SHRM National -- and not at the local level.

by Unknown on May 10, 2010 at 12:59 PM. #

Also, you don't hear an echo when you scream because the silence from local SHRM chapters is deafening. (To finish that really stupid metaphor I'm working.)

by Unknown on May 10, 2010 at 1:00 PM. #

As a SHRM affiliate Chapter President myself (SMA of Greater Chicago), I couldn't agree more Matt. I am only a short distance from you in Chicago and as mentioned would love to collaborate with you and your district. Thanks for being a big influencer.

by Chloe Rada on May 10, 2010 at 1:04 PM. #

I disagree with Laurie. You nailed it. We each need to re double our efforts to demonstrate steward leadership in our respective communities. SHRM, ASTD, The ODNetwork, HRNet, Social Media groups, whatever it is you do, just do it. Take the wisdom and share it. Servant leadership is not just good for our community, it's great job karma. When we lead the change, we are doing what Ghandi suggests, becoming the change we want to see in the world.

Take care Bruno. I enjoyed meeting you at the first HRevolution, and I regret we did not have a chance to chat much at this one. My hope is that we get to know each other better through social channels.


by HR Margo on May 10, 2010 at 1:16 PM. #

Matt - you know that I agree with you one-million-percent (as Randy likes to say on American Idol). Change from within has been my strategy as a SHRM chapter President and now State Council leader. The challenge then becomes how to make it meaningful and sustainable ... as the volunteer leaders change, the train may move onto a new track.

by Robin Schooling on May 10, 2010 at 1:38 PM. #

I wouldn't discount any route taken as long as it means you get off the internet to do it. :)

I agree with Laurie that it has to be prioritized. While I think the role you serve is aligned with your strengths and influence areas, I don't think I would be as effective in serving in that way. Whether it be through SHRM, ASTD, local business networks or whatever, be subversive and bring it to them.

by Lance on May 10, 2010 at 8:15 PM. #

I have been saying this for awhile. The essence of this is to be involved. In order to change anything you sometimes have to become part of the thing you criticize. So many people criticize associations and companies but fail to become active enough to help create the catalyst for change that is needed. Get involved and you get results that you seek.
Great meeting and hanging out with you in the Chi! Look forward to connecting more.

by on May 10, 2010 at 10:07 PM. #

I tend to side with Laurie on this one. It's not even that one can't keep track of all the disassociated chambers - those chambers don't communicate well with each other, either.

I've been trying to work with my local for a year now, and they just don't want to hear anything new or different or timely. How many times do you bang your head against that proverbial brick wall before you quit in pain or frustration?

As the saying goes, you don't quit your job, you quit your manager. Some locals are wonderful and I would work with them in a heartbeat, but mine makes me want to quit SHRM altogether sometimes.

by Joan Ginsberg on May 10, 2010 at 11:13 PM. #

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