I know that we can set and start goals at any point in time, but there’s something very exciting about doing it at the beginning of the New Year. Especially this year, when 2020 was a dumpster fire on many fronts. But setting and starting goals is hard. We often set too many and don’t prioritize them correctly. Ideally, we need unfiltered practical advice on how to be our best selves.
That’s why I’m delighted to tell you about the book “Betting on You: How to Put Yourself First and (Finally) Take Control of Your Career” by Laurie Ruettimann. She describes herself as a speaker, author, podcaster, and badass. I know her as the kind person who welcomed me into the HR blogging community and was willing to share her expertise. And I’m thrilled she agreed to this interview.
Laurie, before we start talking about your book, I’d like to check in with you. Are you and your family safe and well? How are you doing with everything going on right now?
[Ruettimann] Thanks for asking. Life is boring, which is perfect. My brother was diagnosed with colon cancer back in January 2020, but he is in remission. My family are wearing masks, washing our hands, and doing our part to make sure this pandemic comes to an end. Can’t come soon enough.
I know that I speak for everyone in saying it’s good to hear your brother is in remission. But to shift our conversation, there’s nothing boring about launching a book. LOL! To start our conversation, I want to talk about the title – Betting On You. It mentions “How to put yourself first”. I think a lot of people struggle with this because they feel putting yourself first translates into being self-absorbed. What would you say to those people?
[Ruettimann] The mind is a tricky thing. If you’re worried about being too self-absorbed, the irony is that you are thinking about yourself. Might as well focus on self-improvement and being of service. That’s what this book is all about.
One of the chapters I enjoyed was titled “Always be learning”. If there’s one skill that you’d recommend people focus on, what would it be? Why?
[Ruettimann] It’s trendy to tell people to develop curiosity, but I think that’s garbage. Curiosity is an attitude, not a skill. I think people need to learn better communication skills. The ability to write, think, and communicate complex ideas to multiple audiences pays off at every level in a career.
I also liked the chapter that mentioned premortems. Can you briefly tell readers what a premortem is and how they might use one to further their career?
[Ruettimann] I’m obsessed with the premortem. It’s an old stoic exercise to help you mitigate risk. You begin by thinking of something that will fail. Then set a timer for 60 seconds and write down all the ways it will fail. When the timer is up, you have a list of things to fix before you start your endeavor.
For example, if you’re worried that you’ll fail a test or blow a job interview, test that idea out. Set a timer, write down all the mistakes you will make, and then explore the list. Are those fears realistic? Will you screw up? If so, tackle those glitches before you begin. You will improve your chance of success by over 30%.
I’m the kind of person who occasionally likes to go back into books I’ve read and re-read a chapter or passage. It could be because I’m looking for inspiration or maybe a kick in the pants to do something. Is there one section of Betting On You that you would suggest bookmarking for regular reference?
[Ruettimann] I keep going back to Chapter 8 where I discuss quitting your job. There’s a line in the book from my friend, Jennifer McClure, who is a noted speaker and business coach. She said, “Everybody good gets fired once.”
I must quote that line once a week. If you’re a talented individual with big ideas, you’re bound to irritate someone during your career. Truly great people will analyze what happened, learn from it, and kick butt in their next job.
Last question. What’s one business trend you’re seeing that professionals need to pay attention to (it can be related to the book or not)?
[Ruettimann] Companies are trying to solve for burnout with wasteful and hokey programs and initiatives. Burnout is a sign of mistrust. Employees who trust their leaders aren’t afraid to take time off, step away from the laptop, or take care of their wellbeing. There’s no formal program that fixes broken relationships between workers and managers. If your workforce is exhausted, it’s time to call in an external expert—a human resources consultant or even an organizational psychologist—to do a root cause analysis and speak truth to power.
A huge thanks to Laurie for sharing her knowledge and giving us a little sneak peek into her new book, which is available on Amazon. Also be sure to check out her podcast – The Punk Rock HR Show – where Laurie chats with professionals from all walks of life about work.
My big takeaway from Laurie’s book “Betting on You” is that the key to success lies in being yourself. Sometimes that means doing the unpopular thing. Sometimes it means you’re going to fail first and succeed later. “Betting on You” is the book you want to have on your bookshelf or on the corner of your desk to remind yourself that you’re not alone. We all need that encouragement.13