Be Like Betty

January 11, 2022
Inside HR
Engagement & Retention
Read time: 3 mins

Betty White

We lost a ray of sunshine and positivity on the last day of 2021: Betty White passed away just days shy of her 100th birthday. Didn’t we all think she would be with us forever? She will—in the characters of Sue Ann Nivens from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rose Nylund of The Golden Girls, Grandma Annie dancing around the fire in The Proposal, and in any number of her other characters.

Over the years she granted a number of interviews that allowed insight into her belief system, which made her respected and beloved across multiple generations in a challenging industry. In reading about her career and her positive life philosophy, it occurred to me that Betty would have made a great HR professional had she not found her passion in acting.

Think of the core values associated with HR and compare them with these quotes from Betty:

Character & Integrity

"You don’t luck into integrity. You work at it."

"I know unless I’m true to myself I couldn’t be happy. Too much emphasis is placed today on externals and too little on character."


"It’s your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly and don’t take yourself so seriously, pretty soon, you can find the humor in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a lifesaver."

"A lot of people think this is a goody-two-shoes talking. But we do have a tendency to complain rather than celebrating who we are. I learned at my mother’s knee it’s better to appreciate what’s happening ... I think we kind of talk ourselves into the negative sometimes."

"I’m a big cockeyed optimist. I try to accentuate the positive as opposed to the negative."

Human/Employee Relations

"When I pontificate, it sounds so, you know, ‘Oh, well, she’s preaching.’ I’m not preaching, but I think maybe I learned it from my animal friends. Kindness and consideration of somebody besides yourself—I think that keeps you feeling young. I really do."

"Anger tears me up inside. My own ... or anyone else’s."

"I just make it my business to get along with people so I can have fun. It’s that simple."


"If one has no sense of humor, one is in trouble."

"My mother also taught me that if you lie to anybody on the planet, don’t lie to that person reflected in the mirror. Always be able to meet your own eyes and know that you’re telling the truth."

As we continue to navigate 2022 and the challenges it will certainly present, remember to be like Betty—perhaps a bit of a cock-eyed optimist—but likely with a smile on your face, and a twinkle in your eye!