In late October, I had a breakthrough case of COVID. Despite being fully vaccinated and being careful with my mask wearing, the virus managed to enter, replicate, and infect me. I’ve already shared my experience with some others but wanted to write and preserve this for others who may want to know what those who have tested positive have gone through.

To jump to the end, I am doing fine and have not had any on-going issues.

To begin, my exposure likely came from work where I serve as one of the primary people conducting rapid tests for our employees and students who are concerned they may be positive. While I have a pretty good idea of the occasion that led to my infection, those details are not important to my story. I just wanted to share that despite my precautions, I was more likely than many others to be exposed.

On a Tuesday evening, I started feeling a bit congested in my sinus passages. This is not unusual for me, especially in the fall when ragweed is out and triggering my allergies. Thought nothing of it and went about my night without worry.

Wednesday morning started with a runny nose. Knowing that was a symptom of the Delta variant, I conducted a rapid test on myself when I got into the office and it was negative. Figuring I had a cold at that point, I went through my day, but still was a bit more careful. To be clear, I am a regular mask wearer at work, even when I am not in our school buildings where it is required. That evening, my wife and I went to dinner and celebrated my daughter’s senior night for marching band. That event was outside and kept moving at a nice clip so there was no one within the close contact definition of being within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes.

One line good/Two lines bad

Thursday morning started as normal. I woke up and started getting ready. The first “oh shit” moment occurred when I sprayed my usual spritz of cologne and could not smell it. I then sprayed another directly into my hand and again, could not smell it. I finished getting dressed and went downstairs and got a rapid test from my briefcase (remember, I’ve been testing people at work!) and administered it. By the time I turned around to throw away the packaging and then back around to the test, the bright pink line indicating a positive result was already showing. That led to my second “oh shit” moment. I donned a mask and went back upstairs to let my wife know of the positive test result.

After gathering a few items, I relocated to our basement. I feel very fortunate that we have a finished basement complete with a bedroom, a full bathroom, my home office, a leather couch, and a TV. I was set except for food! At this point, I continued to have some congestion (not bad) and a runny nose. There have been worse colds going through my body! I spent the morning letting my coworkers know. A few would be considered close contacts, soI made sure they would monitor for possible symptoms and get tested when recommended to do so. I’m thankful that none of them tested positive.

Friday continued much the same way and I worked remotely all day. Still a bit congested, the flow from my nose had ceased. At the recommendation of my aunt (a registered nurse) I had reached out to my primary care physician to ask about getting Regeneron, an infusion of monoclonal antibodies. I met some of the criteria (thanks to a BMI higher than it should be) and late that afternoon they provided guidance on who to contact to set an appointment. While I still felt fine, I did follow-through and contacted the office. This was at about 4:00 Friday and their next appointment was Monday at 11:00am. I took the appointment and continued on with my day in the basement. Pizza was delivered to the top step and I watched some quality TV!

Saturday morning arrived and now more congestion was present in both my head and in my chest. I also felt more fatigued than normal, but again, I was in my basement. I, sadly, missed my daughter’s band contest that day, and really just felt more lousy as the day progressed. The congestion was worse and I was running a fever by the afternoon. Unfortunately, I was also missing out on visiting my son who had come home for the weekend to see the band. I’m glad he came so that my wife had company at the band contest.

Speaking of my wife, she was definitely a close contact. She had her initial two vaccines in March and had gotten a booster (or a 3rd dose) in late August as she is immunocompromised. She tested numerous times after my positive test and thankfully remained clear! This was my biggest worry while in the basement and I remain so so thankful that I did not pass it to her.

Saturday night was a low point. I slept fitfully with bouts of being cold (thanks fever) and then getting hot under the blankets. At one point, I had gotten up to go to the bathroom. I ended up laying on the floor just exhausted and unable to even get back to the bedroom. A couple of towels made a pillow and blanket while I dosed on the floor. I finally captured enough energy to get back to the bed and slept solidly for several hours. My high fever (at least as I measured it) was that night at 101.9 F. This was no longer just like a mild cold.

Low key would be my description for Sunday. My fever continued to ebb and flow through the day (as I took acetaminophen) and my congestion actually eased somewhat. While I had been skeptical about the Regeneron, I found myself on that Sunday looking forward to receiving it hoping it would make me feel better.

By Monday morning, I felt that my head congestion was gone but my chest congestion remained. My fever was still present, but lower than over the weekend. I was looking forward to getting out of the basement for more than getting food from the kitchen when I went to my appointment. I left at 10:50 for the 5 minute drive to the doctor’s officer where the Regeneron was being administered. I completed the on-line check in and after a 20 minute wait in my car, was told to go in.

The infusion was quick (25 minutes or so) and I watched the medicine drip through the tube into the top of my right hand. Once done, I was sent on my way and I took the long way home!

Monday afternoon (about 3 hours after the infusion) was quite the ride. I felt awful! Tired, shaking, cold. Like the side effects of the 2nd vaccine dose to another magnitude. While my mind knew that this meant good things, I wasn’t feeling it at the moment and just shivered under my blankets while on the couch. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt worse. Finally, at about 9 that night, the shivering stopped, the fever broke, and I started sweating profusely. I went to bed hoping that I could sleep. Thankfully, I did.

Tuesday morning, I woke up and felt great. No congestion, no fever, no fatigue. Once I showered (eww, sweat) I felt human again. While I continued to sweat despite doing nothing, all of my other symptoms (except the loss of smell) were gone! I joined a meeting remotely that afternoon (as I had been able to do the previous week) and ate a good meal that evening. I even did some laundry so that I could keep things fresh in the basement!

The rest of my basement isolation passed slowly. My symptoms remained non existent and remote work was supplemented with time to read and some extra sleep. For me, getting to Saturday meant freedom and the chance to see my daughter’s final marching band contest at the state finals in Detroit. Saturday morning arrived, I conducted a rapid test on myself to confirm that I was clear from spreading to others, and went up to rejoin my family and civilization as a whole.

My sense of smell was already beginning to return. I was getting what I would call hints of smell. Within a week, I had regained most of the sense. In a weird twist, I never lost my sense of taste. That was a bit freaky being able to taste my food, but not smell it.

So, I am fine now. I’m thankful to have been fully vaccinated as experiencing COVID that way was bad enough. I cannot imagine the suffering that may have befallen me if I had not primed my immune system. The Regeneron (monoclonal antibodies) certainly gave my system a boost and drove the remaining virus away. Thank you science!

I look forward to getting a booster (I have to wait 90 days from the date of my infusion) so that I can hopefully be prepared to fight off future variants (like Omnicron) and I hope that the preliminary studies suggesting hybrid or super immunity after a breakthrough infection prove to be accurate. Only time will tell. Science is imperfect and is always evolving. Unfortunately, so is the virus.

Posted on by Bradley Galin | 1 Comment

Create a present focused on the future

The pandemic of 2020 has provided ample opportunity for those of us who need time to think and process to do just that. It’s been a time where the chance to do good work in the moment cannot be lost and has given me the time to think more deeply about such lofty things. Indeed, the pauses are essential and this pause has been one forced upon so many, unfortunately with tragic results for way too many.

As hope for a vaccine begins to become more real and a glimpse of what could be a return to something more normal, we have the chance to not only return to what we had before, but to improve on what we do and how we do it. In short, we need to create a present that is less focused on the here and now, and build an existence where the future is just as important as the present.

So much of the resistance happening now to everything designed to keep us safe is rooted in the need for instant gratification that dominates society right now. If we can think about the possibilities the future holds, it makes it much easier to make needed sacrifices now.

Of course, that’s easy for someone like me to say. I’m fortunate to be stable in all areas of life right now. It’s not as easy for those struggling to make ends meet or even to survive from day-to-day. This pause in our normal life has only exasperated the chasm between the haves and the have-nots in our society. This is not good for anyone. We have done an admirable job in privatizing the benefits of our hard work while getting the risk more spread out. This is leading to greater inequities, which do not move us toward any type of sustainable future.

There is a direct impact to the work that HR does in all of this. The demand for a skilled workforce is increasing even faster than the supply of workers with college degrees. This results in rising wage inequality by education levels, and companies facing a skills gap.

So, my challenge to you for 2021 is as follows. What is one thing you can do through your work that creates a present that is focused on the future? 

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As snow softly falls this evening here in southwest Michigan, I find myself looking forward to 2020 and the possibilities that still await us upon the dawn of the new year. While I am not one for making resolutions, I have over the last few years done the one word exercise to attempt to help steer and define the year that is to be for me.

For 2020, I have settled on “read”. Up until a few years ago, I was what many would call an avid reader. Starting in childhood, including reading 22 Hardy Boys’ books during a 21 day stay on Cape Cod, I was rarely found without a book nearby. However, that has changed in the last few years and I have found myself missing the joys of a good book in favor of time in front of a screen. I want to make that change in 2020.

So, my word is “Read” and I am taking a few steps to help myself do better in this realm. Today, I bought 6 books of various genre and have them ready to go for the new year. If I devote 30 minutes a day toward reading that is not on a computer or smartphone, at a minimum I will have 183 hours done before the end of 2020.

While my external presence remains more limited than in years past, I will be at WorkHuman Live in San Antonio this May and at least one other event which is yet to be determined. Other known excursions will include a #StateLineCrew meetup with some of the great HR pros of Illinois and Wisconsin and a family vacation (minus one ): ) to Mallorca.

As always, the future is unknown but I remain positive about the possibilities that we all can embrace in the days, weeks, months, and yes, years ahead.

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Radical Mutuality

The first time I read the term “radical mutuality” I became giddy.

I was reading a piece my boss shared with our team, A Nation of Weavers, written by David Brooks of the New York Times when that term entered my lexicon. Its meaning, while not specifically defined, connected with me on a level that few other terms have in a long time. In the article, they write about experiences that they had while researching hyper-individualism. My favorite quote from one of the people they interviewed stated “We don’t do things for people, we don’t do things to people, we do things with people.”

What many don’t realize about me is that I am science-oriented person by nature. I majored in biology, not business or HR, in college and while I think I’ve done pretty well in my chosen field, I still have a love for science, specifically, the life sciences.

This term, “radical mutuality” resonates with me because it reminds me of the symbiotic nature of so many relationships that we need to have as humans. This goes beyond our mere need to be needed, but instead suggests that there is a very real connection that happens whether we intend for it too or not. It’s these interconnected elements that can lead to our ultimate success in life.

In one of my previous positions, we debated whether we should be striving to build up people’s independence without ensuring that there was an interdependence that was just as strong. Thankfully, we landed in a place where we emphasized connection with the larger community rather than a singular focus on an individual’s own ability (or disability).

One of the challenges many of us right now in an economy that has low jobless rates is finding the talent we need in our organizations. I suggest that the concept of radical mutuality can help us in attracting and retaining valuable talent. Building interdependence and treating people the right way can make an organization stand out. Pair that with a valuable mission and vision, you can achieve great things with the great people you are certain to attract.

Do even better. Figure out how you can help push this radical mutuality not just in your own organizations, but in the larger world as well.



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Good teams

For the 1st time in my nearly six years as the HR Director in our local school district, I have the opportunity to hire someone onto my own team. This is prompted by the retirement of one of my team … Continue reading

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This is a post that has been lingering in both my mind and on my hard drive for while. While there is certainly some love spoken about, pain and emptiness are part of this story too.

I believe the reason will become clear as you continue. However, I feel compelled to warn you, this is not a post that will either be fully complimentary or one that simply throws rocks through windows. As Perry Timms so eloquently stated in a post he recently wrote, “Stones thrown rarely comfort anyone.” That includes this writer as I put on paper what I am thinking.

However, I’ve reached a point where my silence and frustration is not doing me any good. While I value relationships beyond all else, I write this knowing that some relationships I have may be irrevocably damaged depending on the priorities of those reading it. That may be a price to be paid and that realization is ever present and acknowledged.

Since starting my journey in human resources back around the turn of the century, I’ve been a member of the Society for Human Resource Management or SHRM. This is an organization that I credit for giving me both professional and personal satisfaction over many years. In fact, it’s not a stretch or an exaggeration to say that the majority of my friends have come because of my involvement with SHRM on either a local, state, or national level. Some of these friends date back to some of my earliest days being part of the organization while others are new as of last year’s annual conference in Chicago.  As a past recipient of a SHRM Foundation scholarship, I credit them with providing the kick I needed to start grad school and obtain my MBA.

An active volunteer on many levels, I certainly admit guilt to “drinking the Kool-Aid” and encouraging people to join and get involved. These volunteer opportunities have opened doors to me that I never would have imagined possible. It’s even conceivable that my volunteer roles have brought me farther along professionally than have some of my paid roles over the years. On the professional development side, I was one of the first to get my SHRM-SCP certification and openly steered others toward it. As a member of the SHRM Foundation’s Leadership Circle, I’ve made an on-going commitment to give back to an organization that provided so much to me.

And, yes, I freely admit to owning more than one item of SHRM clothing (including socks)!

So, having said that, why is this so hard. Because, I’ve stepped away from this organization I credit for providing me so much. It’s a matter of feeling like the organization no longer can credibly represent me and my feelings while opening embracing narcissism in leadership and seemingly ignoring or looking away from the ethics that have guided it for so long.

As of last August 31st, I have been a lapsed member. Despite dozens of messages laced with numerous incentives (a tote bag, hot chocolate, a free month of membership, etc. ) asking me to renew, I have not. This hurts to my core but not as much as my renewal would hurt and conflict with my own sense of right and wrong. While there is no “one thing” that was a final straw or trigger point, there have been a series of events that prompted me to internally reflect and reach this hard decision. Listening to people I know and care about express their concerns and having the benefit of knowing people who have been affected by changes in the organization makes one pause to see if I’m part of the problem or part of the solution. Sadly, this is still a piece I cannot answer with certainty. However, being part of the organization was not helping and my voice inside SHRM, despite being valued by some, is only one voice in a much larger chorus.

To be clear, while actions are being taken which are, in my view, not aligned with the integrity of the organization, there must also be the realization that not everything an organization does is going to be agreeable to its members.  A few examples where I believe the integrity is lacking include:

  • The current leader’s alignment with the Trump administration.
  • Some elements of reorganization that were (reportedly) not handled in a manner that a good HR person would handle it.
  • The blacklisting of a longtime member because they dared to question the current leadership of the organization.

Each of these points deserves some explanation. First, while I expect SHRM and any business oriented organization to have a politically rightward lean, the cozying up to an administration that is so blatant in its disregard to groups of people based on who they are removes the ability for the organization to legitimately state that it can stand up for elements in its own code of ethics. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Respect the uniqueness and intrinsic worth of every individual.
  • Treat people with dignity, respect and compassion to foster a trusting work environment free of harassment, intimidation, and unlawful discrimination.
  • Assure an environment of inclusiveness and a commitment to diversity in the organizations we serve.

Before you think I am thoughtless political extremist with only progressive views, I am not. In 2016, I voted in the Republican primary here in Michigan and am more comfortable talking to my Republican Congressional Representative, Fred Upton, than I am to either of our state’s two Democratic Senators.

The second point is one that is only conjecture and based on indirect information received and my own observations as an experienced human resource professional. I am a firm believer that a leader has the need to have their own people advising and guiding them. However, how you treat existing people when a change is made provides great insight into the character of the leader. While departures, both voluntary and involuntary do generally rise with the change at the top of an organization, the manner in which they are handled are important. Again, relationships matter and I always want to see people treated with dignity and respect. When you tout yourself as the world’s leading authority on HR, you damn well better have HR practices that match that mantra.

The third point is admittedly a point of personal hurt.  Yes, I am that member. While I do understand membership has its privileges, being ostracized in a manner that makes it appear that leadership in an organization is making personal attacks is, to me, an unmistakable sign that being challenged is threatening and that voices of dissent have no role. Professional responsibility requires us to adhere to the highest standards of ethical and professional behavior.

It’s this final point that has sealed it for me and prompted me to publish. Until substantive changes occur with the leadership of SHRM, I cannot in good conscience be part of the organization. As stated in the beginning, this hurts me to my core. I have grown as a professional because of SHRM. I am a better person because of SHRM. My life is a richer one because of SHRM.  Sadly, this growth, betterment, and richness is no longer worth the price. I will certainly miss some opportunities but at the end of the day, it is my own sense of dedication that will shift unless SHRM chooses to make some changes of its own.

I consider myself fortunate that I have a strong network of talented HR professionals that I can access as needed and that knowledge sharing among my colleagues is something that can happen without SHRM resources being available. No matter what organization I am involved with, I will always strive to share knowledge, provide support, and help advance the profession I love. Thank you friends, you are the best! It is all of you who deserve a letter devoted to love and dedication!




Posted on by Bradley Galin | 9 Comments

10 Percent

In my world, so far, 2019 hasn’t been a year worth savoring or celebrating. The combination of crappy winter weather (otherwise known as living in SW Michigan!), the sudden death of a valued colleague because of the winter weather, and … Continue reading

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Inspiration can be anywhere

Inspiration can be defined as the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. It’s said that Salvador Dali found inspiration for his famous painting The Persistence of Memory by seeing melting Camembert … Continue reading

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The last 3 weeks have been nice ones in the Galin household. While the holidays with its expected hustle and bustle added joy, it was especially nice having my oldest home again after he completed his 1st semester at college.

More than once while he was home, my wife and I remarked about the changes we noticed. While we expected there to be changes, we weren’t certain how they would manifest and what would be different versus the same for this first extended time at home. I can confirm they were positive! I know for me, I am confident that the path ahead for him will be bright, even if it doesn’t exactly follow the path he anticipates. While, like any parent, I hope beyond all hopes that what he wants to do is where he ends up, I know from personal experience that the path ahead is uncertain.

Even as I look at the 19 year old growing before me, I am forced to recognize that my own path ahead is still an unwritten future. This doesn’t bother me in the least and, after some time away, I’ve allowed that same calmness to work for my son as well. I’ve been fortunate that my path has led me to where it has so far. The faith that I have in that for me must be true for my children as well.

The path ahead leads where it is meant to lead

So, as he pulled out of the driveway this afternoon to head back for the Spring semester, my optimism for him matches the optimism I have for my own path too.  I must simply remind myself that every journey has obstacles yet these do not automatically prevent us from moving forward and in some cases provide just the spark needed to accomplish great things. So, the path ahead leads where it is meant to lead. Enjoy the journey and know that growth can come from every step forward we take.

Posted on by Bradley Galin | 1 Comment


Writing fits the bill quite nicely!

While I am not one to propose New Years’ Resolutions, I have for the last few years used the One Word approach each January to have a focus for the year. This has worked well for me and for 2019 I have decided to make it a bit more formal and action oriented.

The title of this post is my word for 2019. I’m pairing this with a commitment to myself to write something each day. Even when not for public consumption or toward a bigger goal, I intend to write at least little each day. Writing is something I enjoy (thanks to my HS AP English teacher Mr. Gilmer!) and I have gotten away from writing over the last couple of years.

I know some of you take the same approach as I by picking a word over resolutions. Please share so that we may support one another as the year unfolds.

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