31 Days, 32 Revelations: Striving For Quality of Life

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Series Introduction

Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.

Day 17 of 31- Living Simply

A few years of ups and downs, twists and turns and a few failures will whip you into shape emotionally and personally. It is as if hurdles were strategically placed throughout my journey to provide new insights and perspectives. This has been my life the past few years. Even my horoscope speaks about this “period of renewal” I have been dragged through for the past four years. Allegedly, I am at the end of the cycle and moving into smoother waters now. Good, bad or indifferent, I have figured out that I want to live a simple and peaceful life.

I am convinced that the pace here in the US allows for one scenario for us working Joe’s and Jane’s- you work and work and work, pass go retirement and then you die. I know that sounds terrible, but the reality is we live and work in a country obsessed with work, material possessions and money. Don’t get me wrong I have an appreciation for all three. I just think there is more to life than racing around frenetically trying to be the fastest, the best, or appearing to be successful when all you’re really doing is killing yourself.

Before I started working for myself, my schedule was frenetic and unsustainable. My days went like this:

I was up at 5am. Had to bathe and dress three kids. Drop my two little ones to day care (on days when my husband was held over- my trips were in three because I had to get the oldest to morning care), deal with the daily HR headaches, breast-feed, pump additional milk so I kept enough for home and work, leave work at five pick up the youngest two, then race across town to get my oldest from after-care with sometimes a minute to spare before I was charged a late fee. I would get home have to do homework at 6:30pm- while finding out how school was and cooking dinner. After we read, said prayers and everyone was settled, I started my second job which was to continue building my current business- writing blog posts, creating scopes of work for potential clients, taking client calls and working until approximately 2am many days.

To be fair, I knew my first full year in business was going to be rough because I was working two full-time jobs. Ultimately, my intended rise up the ranks at the day job wasn’t worth it and neither was the paycheck. I have not only gone into business for myself, but I am altering my life for simpler joys these days. I meditate, I’m having fun, I’m more alert and attentive where my children are concerned and  I work how and when I want. In return for a simpler life, I made a lot of sacrifices. I never knew that was part of my journey when I left my day job. Apparently, I was due for a complete overhaul.

I am grateful to finally be living and not just existing. I used to feel like I barely had time to enjoy my home (that I pay quite a bit for). Now I’m enjoying it.  Life isn’t a complete bed of roses, but I am finding ways to make things simpler and less frenetic for myself -because I deserve a better me and so does my family. I guess I am striving for a better quality of life.

I know I’m not alone in having experienced this frenetic lifestyle that we all have grown accustomed to. To prove my point, check out the chart below from Social Progress Index to see how the U.S. is lagging on quality of life. Pay particular attention to “Health and Wellness” as well as “Tolerance and Inclusion” along with other indicators .


What kinds of things are you doing to make your life simpler? 


Czarina’s Lesson: Life should be an inner-body experience not an outer-body experience. Live-don’t just exist.

31 Days, 32 Revelations: Time

Image courtesy of Ink361.com

Image courtesy of Ink361.com


Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.

Day 1 of 31- Time

As a younger person, I have always had a sense of urgency about getting ahead and using time efficiently. I remember being exposed to my first time management class in the 5th grade. From then on, I always operated with the notion that there is a time and place for everything. When my friends were going to chill at a boy’s house in high school, I was hustling to take a bus to go to work. In college, when people I knew were partying and flunking out of school, I was focused on doubling up on classes and establishing my career. I generally always felt like time was fleeting and as such I needed to seize the moments, opportunities and momentum  available to me at the time.

Early in my career- when I started to encounter the inevitable flaws of the corporate world, I found myself not being able to stay with one company more than two years. When I encountered a bad boss or unfavorable surroundings, I started pounding the pavement to look for a new job. At the time of my job-hopping, I discussed some of my dislikes and difficulties with one of my grandfathers at the time. He seemed to feel I was somewhat haughty when it came to work. He saw my early career movements as a lack of commitment. I respected that opinion because his lens was that of someone who had worked hard to get to this country in the first place and only knew work as something you did to make a living. In his opinion, it wasn’t supposed to make you happy. He saw “work” as something you committed yourself to. My feeling back then as a 20-something was: commitment to something that didn’t benefit me was “wasting time”. I never feared commitment and don’t now. However, I fear spending my energy on activities, people, and situations that rob me of time I could use to propel my purpose.

What have I learned?

Time is a precious commodity. It is-in my opinion, more precious than money. Time is something you will never get back once it is gone. The best use of time is to act in the present. Personally, I recognize that my futurist approach to time robbed me of some moments both as an adolescent and a young adult that I probably should have spent having more spontaneous experiences and fun. Conversely, I don’t believe I would be where I am today if I didn’t have the sense of urgency to forge ahead professionally as I did in my 20’s.

As an entrepreneur, I continue to assess the value I assign to my time to ensure I am being adequately compensated both in money and in value. I am earnestly trying to shift my past 20-something mindset to one that honors the present moment. Spending time ruminating about the future robs you of the joys, lessons and  experiences of the present. As I celebrate another year of life in a few weeks, I am developing a balanced- approach to time. It involves slowing down and smelling the roses- while keeping my sense of urgency keen to capitalizing on the opportunities that come my way. That is time well spent.

Czarina’s Lesson: Live in the present. Plan for the future. Waste time on things that make you happy or help you fulfill your purpose.

How do you approach “time” in your business and life? 


Does Humility Have A Place In Business?

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Humility is defined as “the quality and/or state of not thinking you are better than anyone else.” When you have made it to the huge conference room and are seated with the suits and powerful figureheads in your organization- what changes? Does the title and other executive accoutrements give you a license to forget the plight of another human namely your employees?

Some of the best leaders in our history are remembered not mainly for their professional pursuits and contributions, but because of how they made people think and feel. For years, we have tried to get to the root of what makes for a successful leader. There’s the theory of emotional intelligence, there are 360 assessments, Myers-Briggs inventories- yet with all of this psychological insight- we still have the wrong people in leadership positions. Moreover, the poor underlings remain where they are to scribe the latest and greatest stories of poor leadership via water-cooler conversations, exit interviews, abrupt resignations etc.

How does humility help business leaders?

It allows your leaders to have compassion when an employee becomes terminally ill and needs flexibility due to failing health and ongoing treatment. Humility provides a different framework for viewing an employee that may be having the worse year of their life due to domestic issues. Additionally, it allows you to see your employees as fellow human beings that are deserving of fair treatment in all things pertaining to salary, upward mobility, development etc.- you know the kinds of things that draw people to your company in the first place.

More often than not, I continue to be approached by people that have never or rarely seen humility in their leadership.  What a shame! If you are bringing in business, laying out the new plans for company growth, all while seducing your investors with your witty charm- congratulations you have handily won over your investors, CEO and all the “beautiful people” at the top. The bigger question is how many chalk outlines lead to you? How many casualties have you caused on your road to leadership stardom?

If you have lost track, you may want to rethink your strategy as a leader. Here are some things I know to be true:

1) If you are a jerk and you show no interest in your employees, they will not be productive, they will not enjoy their work and they will use your time and theirs to find something better.

2) If you are a malicious jerk (the kind that goes after people for folly), your employees will not be productive, they will undermine any expectations you have of them. Additionally, they will likely leave and sue those beloved Brooks Brothers pants off of you.

3) If you are a leader and a passive-aggressive jerk, your employees will see right through you and everything I said in 1 and 2 will follow.

How is this helpful?

It’s helpful to know that you don’t have to be a jerk to be an effective leader. You need to know that showing compassion and humility will speak many more volumes to who you are and why you deserve that title where your employees are concerned. I hear the “but, Janine all the other leaders are like this- I can’t be the odd one out?” My answer: tough shit. No one said this leadership stuff was going to be easy. Sometimes you have to be willing to stand tall in your own truth as a person and as a leader. It may be possible that in you doing so, your counterparts will see the virtues of leading with humility and follow suit.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Just so you all know, I am dedicated to awakening  companies and leaders  to the importance of leading with integrity, intelligence and compassion. I’m also a sucker for companies doing it right. Let me know how you have been successful in ensuring your leaders lead with humility.

Mean Girls In Leadership

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia


There are extreme cases of  “leaning-in” and women asserting themselves in the workplace. In fact, the asserting is more like aggression and the leaning isn’t necessarily “in” but rather on the backs of other employees.

What am I talking about?

I am referring to mean girls in leadership. These are the women that have been given reign over a group of employees and are wielding this perceived power as though it is Thor’s mallet. They are nasty, condescending, backstabbing and will do anything to destroy other women and/or employees that pose a perceived threat. Some are blatant in their attempts to destroy others. In the most dangerous of instances, they will appear to be friendly, courteous and kind; but all the while they are undermining your every accomplishment with a smile.

True leaders don’t get intimidated by employees who know their craft and execute duly. Instead, they champion the strengths in those individuals and elevate their visibility because they know that their superb work is not only a reflection of the individual’s diligence but a testament to your ability to appreciate the strengths of your team.

In my career, I have had at least three lunatics for bosses that just-so-happen to be women. If I am to generalize their behaviors that allow me to categorize them as “lunatics” here is your description:

1) They all were overly friendly to the point that you thought at times you were speaking to one of your girlfriends.

2) They all randomly snapped leading them to micromanage work, lie to create performance issues that were non-existent, and pick fights like grade-school children would in the school yard.

3) Nothing was ever what it seemed with any of them. If you thought you were performing well, you were really doing terrible. Good equals bad and suddenly nothing regarding my employment under their tutelage made sense.

Everything in me despises this sort of toxicity in leadership. Someone is bound to try to challenge me on why I am singling out “women”. Here is your answer: yes, there are bad bosses everywhere and they all aren’t women. Happy? I’m not, because I think these mean girls are a distraction to the overall women’s movement toward total equality and recognition.

I also wonder why companies who see extreme turnover, loss of productivity, or low morale in various departments headed by leaders like this don’t put their foot down and remove the cancer. It’s not reasonable to be nice or to say that this person drives business. Isn’t it far more costly to the business if you have unproductive, disengaged employees?

Stop speaking about issues in leadership like the solution is not within your grasp. You have the ability to shape your employee ecosystem. You also have the ability to create a culture of integrity, respect and all other virtues that attract candidates, retain employees and woo customers.

I am sick of the mean girl game and I am tired of employers dialing-it-in because they don’t want to deal with leadership issues. Additionally, I am disappointed in HR for not being more vociferous and actionable about the negative impact these sorts of leaders have on the organization.

I share some tips on how you can deal with the mean girls of leadership in your organization at the end of the video. Check out my latest  “Ask Czarina” episode below.

“Ask Czarina”- Toxic Women in Leadership Edition



Why Are You In HR?



Perhaps I could end this post with the title alone because it’s a poignant question. If you work in HR or make money off of HR- have you asked yourself lately why you are here?

Most will say they work in HR because they “love to work with people” or they “like making a difference in organizations”. The funny thing is the more you work in HR you find that the relationship you have with your employees is a bit of a sordid tale and making a difference is a periodic win that graces you with its presence maybe every solar eclipse.

So again I ask..why are you in HR?

Do you know? I can tell you why I’m still here. I used to be one of those rose-colored glasses kinds of practitioners and then my first job out of school shattered my perception of the discipline. Every job thereafter wore down this notion of HR as an altruistic discipline. Suddenly, I had to find new meaning in the value I provided, because otherwise I was working for a check and behaving like a robot programmed to do something just because.

So here it is…

I am in HR because here in the U.S. we spend more time in our workplaces than we do with our own families. This is not by choice but out of necessity to do something viable that garners some remuneration to sustain ourselves and the people we love. Some of us are in love with what we do, but many of us our in total disdain of our work lives because the work and/or environment or both are dreadful. Having been that person who dreaded showing up to work in a discipline that is supposed to love working with people and allegedly holds the all-spark of organizational inspiration- I decided I would become the change.

I make a conscious decision to not just complain and write the obituary for Human Resources but to treat the employees with the care and kindness that was not shown to me. I insist upon implementing the initiatives and programs that I know will make a difference and a more desirable place for employees to spend 60-80% of their time. Ultimately, I have this crazy idea in my head that if I help organizations refocus on their talent and place them in top priority by providing meaningful and tailored work experiences along with fair and equitable compensation rewarding a job well done; there will be happier employees-which will lead to more productive workplaces and perhaps a happier society.

Too much big picture?

I don’t think so. You see the job is a means to an end. If we all won the lottery today we could call it quits and stop all of this ruminating about HR and what it’s not doing for us. What we do in HR and in business is always about the people. They drive your business more than you are willing to recognize. In HR, it is our call-to-action to see that they have the tools, resources and toxin-free head and workspace to get the job done. My obligation is a societal and human one. You treat people well and pay them their due sans the politics, games, bureaucracy, discrimination etc.; you will have a happier ecosystem of people roaming the earth. That means there is importance in every step of the HR process. From making sure qualified candidates get a shot at the jobs they apply for instead of allowing a system to tell you whether they are qualified or not to ensuring that you are never late on processing payroll- always be sure to do right by your employees.

I created my company to fix more than HR. I am vowing to fix a system that is broken and that sorely needs a human solution.

So I leave you with the initial question? Why are you in HR? The answer doesn’t have to be as elaborate as mine, but you may want to assess whether this is right for you. Especially, if you aren’t willing to be the change you want to see in HR.

Ready for a change? Contact us here.



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