Sage Wisdom for an HR Pro Turning 40

Holland Dombeck McCue Dawn Hrdlica, Good HR, HR (& Life!) Advice

Today FOT favorite, Dawn Burke, turns the big 4-0! Congrats Dawn, you have arrived – HR pro, noted speaker, blogger extraordinaire, rock star – the embodiment of forty and fabulous. You give us 20-somethings, something to strive for. Now that you’re in the “40 club”, your colleagues would like to offer you up some sage advice for navigating 40 as the HR Professional that you are:

“Dawn, happy 40th.  You’re now part of a triple play from an EEOC perspective.  You’re female, over 40 and Hungarian.  If anyone says “boo” to you, you have more leverage than most, certainly more legal juice that a white Irish guy practicing HR.   Here’s my practical advice on turning 40 as an HR pro in a software company where the average age is 29.  When someone gets snarky and tries to have fun with your age, just pick out their weakness and say something like, “Yeah, well at least I’m not <___>”.  Wait a second, you’re HR, right? Never mind, congrads on not being an Irish male over 40.  Godspeed.


I’m a white chick and 42, you can be sure my advice is 2 fold…

“Say Anything” or in other words, cut to the chase because life is short and Jeez…you’re 40…..and for God’s sake…post your picture on LinkedIn.  You are now a protected class act 🙂

Happy Birthday!

Dawn…now that you’re 40, please remember how much you hated when people said, “You’ll understand when you’ve had as much experience as I have.”  Oh…and, keep in mind that tolerance decreases with age when you attend company happy hours.

Happy Birthday!



Dawn – Don’t listen to anyone who says “40 is the new 30”.  They are full of crap.  At 40 I got gray hair, wrinkles and cellulite; now… I also had a baby but I’m still blaming the age thing.  In terms of HR advice – keep drinking.  It’s good for your old heart.

Happy BDay!


Dawn – Happy 40th! – Here’s what you need to do now, being an old HR lady – go out and buy a sweater with a picture of a cat, or multiple cats.  Get a coffee mug with some cut saying about being a woman and something about your chocolate addiction.  Pull your hair back in a bun, and wear a scarf, even when it’s 89 and sunny out.  Oh, and Gaucho Pants get some of those to! And remember can you can blame every lame HR policy you ever create on FMLA, EEOC or FSLA and no one will ever question you.


Dawn, welcome to the 4-0.  It just gets better from here on out… You now will get the credibility that comes with the wisdom that comes with the experience that comes with…..   Ummmm….  Right, well, look at it this way:  you have lots of great stories with which to scare people straight, or whatever desired direction / shape, professionally speaking.  Happy Birthday!


My best advice to folks that “feel” old is…

If ever the skirts are too short, you’re too old

If ever the music is too loud, you’re too old

If ever it is too late, you’re too old

Old is a state of mind, not an age…

That said, fill out and send in your AARP membership card… why postpone success?


Congrats Dawn! Forty years of saying ‘Hrdlica. No, HERD-LICK-A. It’s spelled ‘H-R-D-L-I-C-A’ has to be commended.

I am glad to know that the Gen X leadership talent here at FOT continues to represent so strongly.

What time are we hitting the early bird Prime Rib special at SHRM?


Dear Dawn,

For your birthday I burned a CD of your favorite rap songs from 1992 when you were just 20 years old:

Sir Mix-A-Lot – “Baby Got Back”

Kris Kross – “Jump”

Weckx-N-Effect – “Rump Shaker”

A Tribe Called – “Scenario”

Happy birthday!  – Andy

Dear Dawn–

No advice to give…some of us are not 40 yet.  Save it for us, though, will ya?  We don’t need it right now – We’re good.

R. J.

Dear Dawn,

In an attempt to one-up Andy Porter, I’ve made you a mixed 8-track of songs from 1972, the year you were born. These songs should help you cope with turning the big FOUR-OH.

  • Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes’ “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” (Names-schmames. Just start calling everyone, “Hey you!”)
  • Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me” (Listen to this as you learn to walk with a cane or walker.)
  • Johnny Bash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” (You’ll need “readers” very soon to see the fine print.)
  • Jim Croce’s “Time In A Bottle” (You’re going to need it.)

Seriously though, happy birthday, beautiful HR lady! I hope it’s a great one! – Meredith

Happy birthday, Dawn! Kathy Rapp was right when she said 40 is not the new 30. 40 is 40 which you should just come to accept… because if 40 is the new 30, that means you’re creeping on MY TURF! Get off the lawn, lady! All kidding aside though, you go girl and make 40 look damn good. Happiest birthday to you and no doubt it will be kick ass.


Leave Dawn some love and wisdom in the comments below or send her your advice and praise, in 140 characters or less, via @dawnHRrocks.