Gravity with a bit of HR Gravitas

I’ve traveled about a bit to conferences and I’ve had the pleasure of blogging from quite a few of them.  It’s a bit harder to do when it’s my own conference.  Not only was the Louisiana SHRM State Conference in my state, I worked on the conference committee as the Speaker Chair.  Running about and ‘working’ the conference meant it was a bit more challenging to sit still and participate in full sessions but I did manage to have the opportunity to do so; one of the blessings of being in charge of the speakers is I could float among the session rooms as opposed to pulling duty at the Registration Desk.  Therefore, in addition to watching all three fantastic keynote sessions, I managed to catch Paul Hebert, Bill Boorman, Craig Fisher and William Tincup and was wowed in every one.  Totally.

And I came away from New Orleans thinking of two things that matter:  gravity and gravitas.


As Joe Gerstandt and Jason Lauritsen, our opening keynote speakers, state in their fantastic book Social Gravity

“Gravity is one of the fundamental forces that shape the interactions of all matter in the universe.  It does not matter that you cannot see it, nor does it matter that it once did not have a name.  It doesn’t matter whether you agree with it or believe in it.  Gravity exists and it is at work on you and the things around you at all times.

Social Gravity is at work all around you.  The question is whether or not you work with it or against it.”


As human beings, but certainly as HR professionals, we arrive at many intersections, defined by Joe and Jason as the place “where things of substance crash into each other and sparks are thrown.”  And there is potential in those intersections.

We can arrive at those intersections, take advantage of the opportunities (and obstacles) in our way and make things happen…in our daily interactions and in our broader professional capacities.


What we do as HR professionals is meaningful…and important.  We have an impact on our organizations, our people and our communities.  We cannot ever discount the political, cultural and economic landscape in which we work and it’s critically important that we do stay aware of (and on top of) the global conditions, the changing workforce demographics, the impact of technology (whether “Cool Tools” or not) and the legislative landscape in which we operate with its accompanying-and-ever-changing demands.

HR is serious business.

But that doesn’t mean there can’t be a dash of irreverence, a sprinkling of joy, and an abundance of passion.

HR is also enjoyable.


The push-pull of many ‘traditional’ HR conferences is the way in which the attendees often participate with such seriousness and solemnity – such gravitas.  Yet they discount the power of Social Gravity and how that can assist them as they continue on their journey as HR professionals – opening themselves up to connections and applying that power to the meaningful work that they do – in Human Resources or in other areas of their lives where they have passion and interest.

I left the conference with a sense that many in attendance realized the powerful collision of these two forces – gravity and gravitas.

It was a good thing.


  1. Robin, you put on one helluva conference… congrats to you and the entire LASHRM team… well effin done.

  2. Caryn Sarvich says:

    Robin, it was a VERY good thing! Thanks for all you do to bring this conference and all of us together!

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