Every once in a while, you meet someone with whom you instantly connect. Someone who just "gets" you from day one. Sure, you may meet a lot of people, but not everyone is a kindred spirit, someone you feel you have known on a transcendent level for far longer.
I met John Jorgensen at SHRM17 (New Orleans), in the SHRM Bookstore (of course), and I knew instantly that we would be buddies. Maybe it was the grumpy exterior but twinkly eyes. Maybe it was the bear hug he gave me 10 minutes after we met. Maybe it was the deliberate way he stayed in contact with me throughout the conference that year. Whatever it was, from that day until now, hardly a day goes by when we don't have contact - even if it's just a wave on Facebook Messenger. Literally. Every. Day.
Today is John Jorgensen Day. And for right reasons. John has been instrumental in the HR community for... I don't know... since TRex and the Personnel Office. He's been around the block a time or two thousand. He's an avid SHRM volunteer, and was even referred to as the "Godfather of the modern HR movement." (I love Laurie's post because it demonstrates the impact knowing John can have on your professional career. I also love Mary Faulkner's post because it highlights some of the more personal aspects of John.)
Growing up, my grandfather (Pappy) referred to himself and his group of theologian pals as The Curmudgeons. Pappy was full of joy and laughter, always looking for an opportunity to play a joke on someone, and always a source of kindness and love for his community and those around him. Some of my earliest memories are of him whistling everywhere he went. When I was a wee lassie, I thought “curmudgeon” was a word he made up.
I eventually learned the definition of curmudgeon in maybe Middle School (I’m guessing). It confused me. Pappy was far from grumpy and surly. To me, “curmudgeon” has always been a term of affection.
As curmudgeony as he may appear on the surface, John is one of the most kind, tenderhearted and sincere people I’ve ever had the privilege to know.
Today, I won’t go into detail about John’s wealth of HR (and life) experience and wisdom. I won’t pontificate about his incredible intellect, love for knowledge, history and music. What I want you to know about John is he is an exceptional friend, and a remarkable human. We can talk about football (although he’s a college fan, I’m an NFL fan), puppies, yard work, insomnia and beer. We can argue about whether beans in chili redefine it as soup. We have supported one another in sadness and loss of loved ones. We have celebrated successes and coffee. Every once in a while, something will get him going. And I love being on the receiving end of those rants. He is genuine and marvelous.
John is the kind of guy I wish was my neighbor. Sincerely. I imagine scenes from Home Improvement in the back yard having conversations over the fence. He’s someone I have come to deeply appreciate and adore on so many levels. He has strong opinions, and is happy to share them with you. He’s a straight-shooter, and calls ‘em like he sees ‘em. Most importantly, John is a giver. A giver of his time, resources and insight.
Today, we celebrate John Jorgensen, for all he has done, and continues to do, for the HR profession and our community. And we celebrate John for being the kind of friend we admire, trust and respect. A lovely curmudgeon.
Happy John Jorgensen Day!