Why is Steve Browne So Geeked?

I am pleased to share my latest post to the SHRM blog.

Why is Steve Browne so geeked?

I had the pleasure of interviewing my friend, Steve Browne. Actually, we just talked. All quotes are Steve’s.

I wanted to learn more about the man who will be speaking on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 at 2:15 p.m. His topic: “MEGA SESSION HR on Purpose! Five Ways to Own, Lead and Integrate HR Throughout Your Organization.”

I started by asking Steve, when he was a child, what he wanted to be when he grew up. His answer: President of the United States.

If ever there were a year he should have run! Missed opportunity, my friend. Okay, I’ll stop there!

We then jumped ahead and talked about his interests in college. He told me that he had started with chemical engineering.

Because he did not excel in chemical engineering as he had hoped he would, he switched to interpersonal communications. And, the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, Steve is the Executive Director of Human Resources for LaRosa’s, Inc., a regional pizzeria restaurant chain in the Greater Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio area. It has 16 locations and Steve has over 1,200 team members.

With unbelievable grass roots support, Steve joined the SHRM Board of Directors in January 2016. I think it is fair to say that he is probably the only SHRM Board member who is associated with tie dye.

What about the tie dye? Its roots go back to his “laid back days” at Ohio University where it was “everywhere.”

But it also speaks to who Steve is today. “It’s colorful. That’s how I see life.”

“I hope it makes me accessible. I am not a conformist. I worry about companies that say be yourself, so long as it falls within the company norm.”

Steve also discussed the creativity that goes into tie die. Without a segue, he then said: “If I don’t have creativity around me, I will die.”

That helps explain his favorite movie: Monty Python and the Holy Grail. “It was wildly creative…a bit irreverent…also poignant.” And, he then said again, “wildly creative.”

The person Steve admires most? His mom.

He talked about Lincoln and Ghandi. And then said, “that’s the kind of person my mother is.”

“Fame is fleeting. I’d rather know someone who is authentic their entire lives.”

Steve’s comments made me think: how many authentic people do I really know? And, then, a little deeper: when I am not fully authentic?

We eventually go the $64,000 question: why is Steve so geeked?

Steve laughed in a light-hearted way. But then responded more seriously.

“I find joy in everything around me. I am fascinated by people….authentic people.”

“I just felt that ‘geeked’ was the word. No other word came to me.”

If you know Steve, you can feel his positive vibes. They resonate on social media so follow him at: @sbrownehr.

I mentioned to Steve how I believe many in HR find it hard to stay positive when there are so many workplace battles. His answer demonstrates the wisdom in geekdom.

“You have to remember that people will disappoint you. When people disappoint me, I work with them. When I disappoint them, I hope they give me the grace to work with me.

Steve continued about the importance of HR treating “people as people.” “We can’t have huge programs on engagement but not say hello.”

“People want to be recognized, seen, visible, thanked.”

Steve nailed a critical issue. In my observation, at times, we focus so much on engagement at a lofty perspective, that we lose site of the employees’ existential need for us simply to acknowledge, in a genuine way, that they exist.

“HR is a lot more simple than we make it. People are passionate and they need to unlock.”

“We, in HR, have to unlock ourselves first so that others can too…..be their authentic selves.”

And, how does this tie into what Steve wants his legacy to be as a SHRM Board member? From our conversation, I discerned three (3) themes.

First, he wants to encourage HR to stop “separating itself.” Rather, he hopes HR will see itself, as it is, “as part of the business.”

Second, he emphasized that HR needs to look at what is good not only for the employer but also for the employees. “We need to be there for the employees, too.” Yes, we do.

Finally, Steve said that he does not want people to join SHRM solely because they think it is the “right thing to do.” He hopes people will join SHRM because of all that it offers, which he described as “incredible.”

Yes, Steve wants to see SHRM flourish. My take on his words: because it captures our hearts and our minds.

Steve did mine.

You can follow me, too, at @Jonathan__HR__Law.