It’s never simple, is it?

With our President using the political football of health insurance reform as a lever to move the electorate, more misinformation is flying around our collective consciousness.   Like it or not, we are in the front lines of this war.

I think we all thought things would be settling down a little by now.  We thought that large employers would have to pay attention to as the ACA was launched, as the main focus was on getting the un-insured to get coverage.

Now that the ACA is threatened, the populace has finally started to read it.  And realize some basic things – for example, that the ACA and Obamacare are one and the same.  And that Ethics and Integrity are a handy thing for a government to have, and that it gets very painful, very quickly when they don’t have them.

Lessons are being learned…


I’m not sarcastic, just trying to be honest…


I got a text message.  My world changed. Clare Coxey had died.

I was shaken.  Clare was one of the guidepost people.  A gentleman thought leader, impeccably dressed, impeccable wit, and the kind of person I wanted to grow up to be.  I needed closure, needed a few more moments of Clare’s presence.

You can read his official obituary here.

It wasn’t what I wanted. I re-read it, looking for a glimpse of the wit, intellect and humor that made coffee with Clare the meeting you didn’t want to miss.  Mind you, it was a good Obituary, but it was a 2 dimensional description of a 4 dimensional being.

I found what I wanted in photographs of him, and I want to share some.  I want to put this post on the web so that a “Clare Coxey” search turns up more than just an obit.  Consider this a small attempt at sharing what it was like to be in the presence of greatness.

The first is the most subtle, but is my favorite.

I took a photo of Clare’s hands.

Claire portrait -

He was dreaming up a new idea.  He was sketching a process model that could change the world.

On closer study, you spot the details.  The pen, the paper, the drawing that would summarize a global concept in a few simple strokes of a pen.  These are the hands of an artist.  The next thing you notice is the wedding ring – Nelda was always with him.  Then, you notice the perfectly creased French cuffs, the perfect touch of perfect tailoring.

I’m glad I took this, over a lunch of salad at Hoaglin’s a few short years ago.

Clare was expert in constant re-invention of everything around him.  I met him in probably the fourth or fifth iteration of himself.  He was a retired executive who had climbed the mountain in several service businesses, who lived surrounded by art and genteel pleasures.  He then re-invented himself to be the highest ranking non-lawyer at one of the largest law firms in town.  He tackled a new culture with vigor.  He pruned, re-planted and fertilized the law firm, then moved on when the new garden was planted.

I know he loved gardening – I took a photo of his gardening shoes, outside the back step.

Clare's gardening shoes

I did these as a watercolor.

Then, I found a few photos that showed what it really was like to have a brainstorming cup of coffee with Clare.

First, a monochrome shot of Clare on a rainy day.

Clare monochrome

Here was Clare, on his way and thinking as he walked.  Even in bad weather, he was put together.

Then, the action really happened with Clare when you got face to face.  Here are some action photos that capture the true creativity and humanity that was Clare.

Clare working - Clare in coffeeshop -

Thank you, Clare.  You are truly missed.

You wrote a wonderful life, between the lines.

There is a wonderful Steve Goodman Song –

Between the Lines

The day you’re born they sign a piece of paper
That will certify the date of your birth
And the day you die they sign another
Just to prove you’ve gone back to the earth
And between those two pieces of paper
There is the truth that is so hard to find
And the story of your life is written ‘, but
You must read in between the lines

I’ll always remember,  Clare.  Enjoy the photos…

I attend a lot of conferences, from a lot of different walks of life. The human resources conferences are unusual in that they start early, and the early sessions are packed. We are already up and running here and it’s just after 7 o’clock. The flood of attendees is huge.


This is a view of the bus stop at our hotel, with the convention center in the background.p

The one thing in short supply at this conference is a men’s room. Or more accurately a men’s room that I’m allowed to use.

Leaving a big session I find the closest restroom. Arg. The men’s room signs are taped over with a women’s room sign.


I keep hiking. 100 yards later, the same result. I try another floor. Same result. I go around the corner. Finally.

I guess I should just treat this as a learning exercise, about what it’s like to be a stranger in a strange land.


CFO in the house

SHRM Prez Hank Jackson takes the stage at SHRM14 opening, reminding me that he is really smart and dedicated.

Presenters need to engage the audience. A carefully scripted presentation is just that. Hank is GREAT one on one – write some of that spontaneity into the script next year, please…

And let Ellen do the selfies from stage.


1 Wear fashionable (not comfortable) shoes

2. Bring a 5 pound laptop

3. Forget your charger

4. Expect to see anyone you know

5. Think a tattoo is a good idea.


Wow. A brave representative of the new Certification team is about an hour into an explanation and defense of the new certification at #SHRM14
Process. Overall theme – we had to move on, we know what we’re doing, and the new isse is comptence, not knowledge. “More situational judgement questions”

One member of the audience took the Q&A microphone and praised the effort. Several more then asked neutral procedural questions, including our own Mark Records.




Then the Blowback began. Voices charged with emotion questioned the implications of politics, of money influence, of giving partial credit for the old test if it is so wrong, and of aligning with Walmart as one of the developmental organizations in testing the new certification. 10 times the room erupted in applause of support, then calmed down.

The overall feel is one of confusion tinged with anger at a forced change

First task – get checked in at #shrm14. The speaker instructions say “go to room 309”. I ask the guards, and they point me ahead. The last one, as i get close, looked a little puzzled but led me to the door, then blocked my entry.


It’s a Women’s bathroom.

Re-reading my instructions, i head to Room 309A. Note to self. Details appear to be important.


Well, 2014 appears to be a different kind of animal. Over time, the SHRM annual conference has become a bit of a predictable right of passage. That ends now. With the announcement this month of the significant change in certification, everybody seems to be a little bit on edge. People want answers, and the communication so far has been a bit jumbled.

It’s Sunday morning. In a few hours, the stage opens and the play begins. At the moment, all of the actors are in the shadows waiting to step forward and explained it all to us. I can’t wait!



Today, the clouds parted and sanity returned.

I was driving and the news noted that a Republican House Member was introducing a bill that would move the 30 hour threshold for part-time people to get health coverage up to 40 hours. A rational move! From a member of the party opposed to anything that had “Obama” in the label.

If we are truly moving to repair, not replace, then we have turned a significant corner. We need to adjust this law, and make the bad parts better. And, remember, we need to have a law with flexibility. One size does not fit all.

Each of us has luggage, a beverage, and a smart phone...but we are different.

Each of us has luggage, a beverage, and a smart phone…but we are different.