Everything I Know about HR, I Learned from I Love Lucy

Oh television – how I adore you! You’ve filled my life with such joy over the years.   The warm memories of childhood Saturday mornings spent watching cartoons while wearing pajamas and slurping on a bowl of Cap’n Crunch.  The glory that was the greatest show ever – LOST.  The soothing and mindless slumber to which you take me when I’m under the weather, wrapped in a quilt on the couch, and watching day-long Law & Order marathons.  And while I enjoy your flickering light as I escape down the viewing tunnel, there’s no denying you also have the power to impart lessons.


Even today, 60 years after its original run from October 1951 through May 1957, 40 million Americans still view at least one episode of “I Love Lucy” each year.   As an inspiration for an HR career, lovable, scatter-brained Lucy Ricardo may seem an odd choice to many.  But when I think about Lucy there are many reasons I view her as an inspiration and someone who brings a few simple truths to light in regards to how I approach my role as a human being and as an HR chick:

Lucy believed in her power as an Individual

1950’s America wasn’t exactly a time when feminists were busting stereotypes.  On the surface, our gal Lucy fit her era: while Ricky went to work, paid the bills, and made the family decisions, Lucy’s job was to make sure she had dinner on the table, took care of Little Ricky and didn’t overspend her ‘allowance.’   But deep down in her heart she was a bit of an anarchist – revolting against the pre-defined female role and rebelling against Ricky by promoting a bit of disorder and disruption. The ‘natural order’ of things (i.e. husband as undisputed patriarch) was a bit undesirable for her – and she worked to change it.

Lucy persevered

Obviously, a primary theme of the show was Lucy’s continuing quest to make it in “show business.”  She tried (oh how she tried) – and failed.  But every time she struggled or stumbled or fell flat on her face – she got up and tried again.

Want to meet the Queen but Ricky won’t help? Find a way to get it done!

Feel the urge to prove Ricky wrong when he thinks doing housework is easier than earning money outside the home? You go girl – and get a job at the candy factor! 

Want to land a gig as the Vitameatevegamin girl? Turn it into a fait accompli!

Lucy led and influenced those around her

Now some may argue that Lucy’s ability to corral Fred and Ethel into going along with her crazy plans was due to intimidation (”Ethel – I’ll tell Fred you bought that dress!”) or the sheep-like tendencies of the Mertzes. But I see, in Lucy, the ability to rally the spirits of those around her.  Lucy always had a vision, a goal and an end in sight and was able to get others to catch her enthusiasm.  Nice.


Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between Lucille Ball and the character she played.  Obviously, her real life husband Desi Arnaz played her TV husband and most every TV fan is aware that when Lucille became pregnant with Desi Arnaz, Jr., her pregnancy was written into the show, thus resulting in the birth of Little Ricky; the episode-airing of which was chosen to coincide with Lucille’s real-life delivery of Desi. Jr. on January 19, 1953.

One of the most interesting aspects of this TV/real-life story is the fact that Lucille and Desi were television pioneers – and Lucille became a role-model for business women everywhere. The couple formed Desilu Productions in 1950 in order to produce what would eventually become “I Love Lucy” and as a savvy business leader, Lucille assessed and approved projects by evaluating the likelihood of their long term success.  Did you know that when Desi resigned as president of Desilu in 1962, Lucille purchased his holdings, succeeded him as president, and thus became the first woman to head a major studio?   Now that’s a role model.

Lucille and Lucy – Perseverance. Belief in oneself.  Leadership.

I can get behind that.


Today’s post is from guest blogger Robin Schooling, SPHR.  Robin is a VPHR in Louisiana with way more years in HR than she sometimes cares to admit.  She’s an active SHRM volunteer leader, handles all social media for Louisiana SHRM, and regularly speaks to groups on a variety of HR topics.  She blogs at HR Schoolhouse and also contributes to the blogs We Know Next (SHRM) and Women of HR.  She’s an avid Saints fan and is hoping that this whole Drew Brees contract stuff gets settled real real soon.  You can follow her on Twitter.


Check out the other posts in this series:






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