#SHRM21 Speaker Spotlight – The Steve Browne Interrogation

If you work in human resources, are a SHRM member, or have attended a national or state SHRM event, there is a good chance that you will fall squarely into one of two categories:

1. You know Steve Browne.

2. You WILL know Steve Browne.

For those of you in the latter category, Steve Browne is the Chief People Officer with LaRosa’s, Inc. (a multi-state pizzeria chain in SW Ohio and SE Indiana), SHRM Board Member, former SHRM MAC Member, SHRM Foundation Leadership Circle Member, is active on the speaking circuit, facilitates a monthly HR Roundtable in Cincinnati, OH, manages a weekly internet forum, HR Net that reaches tens of thousands of HR professionals globally, and has a nationally recognized HR blog, “Everyday People”.  Oh, and in his “free time” Steve has managed to author two bestselling books, “HR On Purpose!!” and “HR Rising!!”

Besides his impressive resume, Steve is probably the most enthusiastic and positive advocate for the human resources profession that I have had the pleasure of knowing. What you see on stage is authentic Steve…he is the real deal! Steve’s energy is boundless, his passion for people is infectious, and you will leave his sessions laughing and inspired.

Those of you that are attending the 2021 SHRM Annual Conference & Expo either in-person in Las Vegas or virtually will have the opportunity to see Steve present not once, but twice as a Mega Session speaker. I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Steve and asked him a few questions about what he has been up to, what we can expect from his sessions, and finally a few fun questions to learn more the man who is “geeked for human resources”, Steve Browne.

Jeff: OK Steve, I did the math, and it will have been 815 days since you last took the Mega Session stage in Las Vegas at SHRM 19 until you do so again at SHRM 21. Besides some of the obvious world events that have occurred, what have you been up to since we last saw you present at SHRM 19?

Steve: I think the biggest thing is that I was named the Chief People Officer at my company, the first on to have that title bestowed upon them, and it was meaningful for two reasons. One, LaRosa’s has decided to intentionally be a ‘people-first” company. We have been…but the reason for me moving ahead was, they said the person that would be leading our people should be at the table. I didn’t ask for it, it was seen in me, which is humbling. My boss, who unfortunately passed away in December, got to tell me this, two weeks before he passed away. That means all the world to me, more than you know. So, that has resulted in me, along with the executive team, reshaping, reformatting, and resetting an entire organization.

Jeff: Your second book, “HR Rising!!” was published last year before what should have been SHRM 20 in San Diego. What inspired you to write a sequel to your highly successful book “HR On Purpose” which was released a few years earlier?

Steve:  I think the key to me was, in the first book it was about ownership and being proud of what we do as a profession, and I will continue to raise that banner, regardless, because I am tired of people apologizing for what we do. It’s interesting that during the pandemic people said, “oh, now HR is leading” and I’m like, doggone it, we were leading all of the time. What is ironic, “HR Rising!!” was written before the pandemic. What inspired me was Matt Davis from SHRM Publishing calling me as asking, “do you think you have another one?” I said, “I think I could, and I have some ideas that would be different and wanted to talk about how HR can lead from where they are versus having a title in order to lead…I wanted to show that HR can lead, genuinely lead.  

Jeff: You are on the schedule present not one, but two Mega Sessions at SHRM 21 in Las Vegas. For those that have not had the privilege to hear you in-person, can you describe what attendees can expect to hear and what do you hope they will take away with them from your presentation?

Steve: Props. Stories. Real world practical HR. What’s funny is, I’ve been doing this long enough that one of my favorite pieces of feedback ever from a SHRM conference was, “I really like your ideas, but I can’t apply them.” I said, “Why is that my responsibility?” What people should expect if they come to my session is they should be prepared to take away takeaways that they value, not that I am going to give them. It’s going to be a sharing time…I time to take different ways to look at things. It’s going to be a reframing of how we do HR, because I can’t see it in a traditional path, I just can’t. Reframing it in a way that makes it more tangible, and bottom shelf, and doable…I will be challenging to people, for them to step up because I know they can. To show they have value because I know they do. To enjoy what they do because I enjoy what I do. We’re in the same profession. So, I hope they have fun, I hope they laugh. I will laugh like crazy. There will be music, for sure. But the big thing is, I want people to leave my sessions feeling equipped and energized, and that’s what I hope will happen.

Jeff:  Let’s wrap things up with a few quick “lightning round” questions to help our readers learn more about Steve Browne the person.

  • What is your favorite musical event you attended live?U2 Live at Soldier Field (Chicago)
    • What is your morning beverage of choice?
      • Black coffee
    • What is your go-to karaoke song to perform?
      • Paradise By the Dashboard Light by Meat Loaf
    • What is your favorite travel destination?
      • England
    • If you could have “walk-up” music any time you entered a room, what would that song be?
      • Vertigo by U2 or Thunderstruck by AC/DC
    • How many llamas and lava lamps do really you own?
      • 10 llamas and 9 lava lamps

You can hear the full interview with Steve Browne on the HR Sushi Bar Podcast and see Steve live at the following #SHRM21 Mega Sessions:

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