Influence, HR, and Costco


The topic du jour at HR and recruiting conferences?


Hm. I wish it were something else because influence is amorphous, vague, and kind of boring. When I stumbled onto the discussion of influence during a party during my last conference, I backed my truck up and left the conversation.

As a former Human Resources professional, I try to teach HR leaders that influence is about being relevant and being current. Work is political. Work is about money. Demonstrate “good HR practices” by knowing something about politics and money — and you’re on the path to being more influential than a doorstop.

I could talk about this for hours — so I won’t. But if you are a Human Resources geek who is immersed in the world of HR, you are missing out. Go hang out with people outside of your regular crew. It’s good for you.

But there is a flip side to this discussion. I know that spending too much time with my clients and not enough time in the world of HR was detrimental to my career. I missed out on making important connections and establishing better relationships during my late 20s because I dismissed my HR colleagues as irrelevant.

I was wrong.

Many of them weren’t irrelevant. They were influential in a different way — and I was too naive to notice.

Now that I’m a little older and a little more self-deprecating, I’ve come to realize that the most influential people in my life are the people who aren’t trying to be influential. They’re getting stuff done, they have a good track record of being right, and they are nice human beings.

And I’ve learned that influence is both obvious and subtle. One of the most influential people in my life happens to be in Human Resources, and he told me I needed a membership to Costco. I was skeptical because I don’t really need 100 rolls of paper towels. But I was so wrong. I do.

I also need 25o packets of saline rinse. With a bucket of pink icing. And bulk cotton underwear. Plus a box of ramen noodles and some TV Ears.

And I need a pony (and to stop wearing that ugly purple hoodie from 2005 when it’s chilly).

Anyway, I dropped $50 on a Costco membership because an influential member of my HR posse told me that he loves his Costco membership. And once I posted my love of Costco on Facebook, another influential person told me that she shops at Costco because she likes their labor policies. Still another told me that he buys restaurant gift cards at Costco out of his own pocket and gives them to members of his staff as a quick “thank you” for working so hard and doing more with less.

Influence comes in weird ways, and if my love of a large retailer doesn’t stem from the right kind of influence — HR/marketplace/economic/new media — I don’t know what does.

PS — We might buy a ginormous TV we don’t need. Thanks, influencers.

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