The Employment Opportunities List

The Ultimate Source for HR Jobs and Blogs. Friends Helping Friends of Friends.

TEPHR, Interrupted

One of the most fun experiences on Twitter was the #TEPHR chat on October 24th. According to some of the statistics, more than 800 people participated with more than 1600 tweets. We were able to reach HR Pros across the globe, including a few in Europe who were tweeting in the wee hours of the morning. The #TEPHR experience worked and I hope it helped many of you to find new HR pros to follow, abroad and here at home in Canada.

That evening was particularly special for me because of the task I had ahead of me on Tuesday and Wednesday. Unfortunately, just days after #TEPHR began, my dear Uncle Russell died. I knew that I would have limited time, and to be frank, it isn’t appropriate, to be tweeting while paying your respects. Someone actually noticed my absence and asked if #TEPHR was over, which I found to be funny considering that the whole thing by then had pretty much taken on a life of its own.

I want to tell you all about my Uncle Russell. In a strange way he was a huge influence on me. Joe Walsh wrote a song called, Ordinary, Average Guy, and its lyrics would sum him up pretty well, only they don’t. Let me explain why.

Uncle Russell was unlike just about every other member of my family. He was an Army veteran, a lifetime union man, democrat, gardener, hat wearer and can collector. He was born in Kentucky and despite living in the Chicagoland area for nearly 60 years, he never lost an ounce of his Kentucky drawl. He had a priceless sense of humour. He once told me that he hoped my children would be born naked and without shoes. I suspect in the modern day workplace, he would have been an HR Professional’s worst nightmare. I often thought that he should’ve auditioned for the Blue Collar comedy troop.

What made him extraordinary though is that he had thousands of good friends. I mean it, thousands! People just gravitated toward him. I was thinking about this and I think now I understand why–he was blind. Oh he could see alright, but he seemed to be unable to tell the difference between a wealthy important person and someone in the margins. He was hell-bent on making people laugh. More important, actions speak louder than words, and he did nice things for people, all the time. Despite ongoing health problems most of his adult life, I never heard him complain about the aches and pains. He ran errands, he visited sick people and those in nursing homes, and he gave away vegetables every year. He used to entertain people who were grocery shopping at Jewel. At his funeral I must’ve have heard hundreds of stories from people who told us he had helped them in a time of need.

The funeral home told us his was the most highly-attended wake they could remember.

It doesn’t matter how successful you become, or your number of followers, or your Klout score. In the end, you are measured by the quality of your actions and your deeds. With Uncle Russell’s death I am reminded of how he, without even knowing it, has influenced me and an HR crowd.

The EO List and #TEPHR are pay-it-forward endeavours. In his memory, I ask you to do something nice for someone else.

That is all.



  1. Bonni, as always, wonderfully written and well said. What a great way to cherish the memories of your dear Uncle Russell. My condolences to you, and a big thank you to Uncle Russell for reminding us all to always pay it forward. And never have to promote doing it. 🙂

  2. Dear Bonni,

    This is an amazing history about inspiration in a role model. You are a very amazing person and you are always giving and doing a lot for others. I am sure that your uncle is happy to see his positive influence on you and through others..

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