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  • Writer's picturePaul LaLonde

Comma Splices, LSD, and Being an Influencer: The Writing Journey of a #SHRM19Blogger

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” — Ernest Hemingway

person holding white paper and typewriter

My love of writing grew from Mr. Kuhn’s College Compensation class my senior year in high school. The class was meant to prepare students for college level writing. To say Mr. Kuhn was eccentric is an understatement.  He would always flail his hands about like Popeye’s Olive Oil in trouble when trying to make his point.

He had a slight lisp that he purposefully played up when he got fired up. “NO! This isn’t how you use a comma!!! Repeat with me, ‘duh duh duh, COMMA SPLICE, duh duh duh!!!'” (He’d chop his hand like Bruce Lee when he yelled “comma splice” to make his point more pronounced.)

Also, he lived in Chicago and commuted to the suburbs every day to teach always telling us, “I’m on LSD twice a day! Yes, I’m a little nuts!” At the time, I didn’t know LSD meant Lake Shore Drive, so I naively thought we were being taught by a drug addict! But that’s besides the point!

The best papers were always marked with a red “FIRST CLASS” stamp on top to showcase how awesome the writing was. My inner competition meter kicked in – I SOOOO wanted a red First Class stamp!!!

My first paper I got a B minus, which didn’t enthrall me. I followed up that B minus with a C plus and a C minus. I felt frustrated, so I went to Mr. Kuhn and asked how I could get better. He was goofy, yes, but he cared about his students. He wanted them to get better — otherwise, why was here there!? After some coaching, it finally clicked with me.

My next paper was a B plus, followed by an A minus. Still not First Class, so I kicked my style into high gear! The final two papers were an A and an A plus/plus — both First Class papers!

I felt so on top of the world for something so relatively minor. That’s the power of an influencer, and Mr. Kuhn was an influencer.

Fast forward 17 years to last week. I was asked to join the #SHRM19Blogger team. I was completely floored to be considered for such an amazing program!

According to a post about the #SHRM18Blogger team:

These highly talented HR professionals are not only “social influencers” who can reach a huge global audience, they are people with a passion for learning, sharing and networking.  HR practitioners, consultants, educators and business owners, the #SHRM18 bloggers will be heavily engaged with attendees from start to finish, while virtually connecting millions of HR professionals from around the world.

Not unironically, or maybe a little bit so, this blogging journey of mine began at #SHRM18 in Chicago when I randomly met several amazing #SHRM18Bloggers, many of whom I have stayed in contact with and consider friends.

I was very inspired by their work as bloggers and as people. Their work pushed me to finally break down my own self-imposed barriers and begin sharing my own writing. Again, this is the power of true influencers, and the #SHRM18Blogger team was full of influencers.

I’ve never considered myself to be a “social influencer” or just a regular influencer. I’m just Paul. All I want to do is share stories and make connections. If doing so means something to at least one other person, then that works for me.

Writing is something I am very passionate about and coupling that with my passion for human resource theory, practice, philosophy, and management has been an incredible journey so far. I wouldn’t have been able to start if it weren’t for an eccentric high school teacher who taught me the importance of knowing that a common splice is bad and LSD is bad, too, mkay.

Thank you to SHRM for allowing me this opportunity. Thank you to the #SHRM18Blogger team for inspiring me last year. Thank you to the #SHRM19Blogger team for doing what you do! I cannot wait to meet you in Las Vegas!

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