So, What Did We Learn Today?

The Atlanta version of our family reunion has come and gone, and a slew of posts will be shared over the next week.  So I’m getting mine in now to beat the rush.

First, the obligatory (but totally deserved) gushing.

This weekend was epic.  Ben, Crystal, Steve and Trish deserve ever last accolade that comes their way for putting on a superb event.  Monster, Pinstripe, Ceridian, Acquire, SHRM and PeopleMatter also deserve high praise for being active sponsors (meaning not just sending money, but making the event more vibrant and fulfilling with their involvement).  Finally, the attendees, who make the show so important to attend.  To me, this show is less about “content” or “tracks” and more about targeted conversation.  Most of the session leaders were just facilitating the discussion, not lecturing on a topic.  And for that, we thank you.

It was interesting, though, how many times we felt the need to talk about “what we learned.”  I know that often we are sent to events by our day jobs, and are asked to return with new ideas, actions to solve problems, and best practices to make the world a better place.  So many of the sessions ended with a “what have we learned today” wrap-up, including the end of day gathering.

But that’s not how it usually works.

“Traditional” conferences are often marketing, sales, high level overviews, or just reminders about basic premises that we already knew, but apparently needed to hear again.  When was the last time you were really blown away by a conference presentation.  And yes, it happens.  And we talk about those sessions at length.  Which is a pretty good indication that is a remarkable event.  In reality, for the money we spend, it should be the norm.

An “un-conference”, though, is expected to be different.  Is it supposed to be more sharing of ideas, conversation, and networking.  So while there is a definite level of very thoughtful conversation, it’s not a lot of “new ideas” as much as “think more earnestly about what you do every day.”  And in my mind, that’s a very good thing.

So I went in with very low expectations around “learning.”  I went to network, to meet people with whom I’ve had great virtual discussions, to get a look into the mind of some of the very smart people in this space, and to reconnect with the friends who live far away, but whom I treasure so deeply.

Mission accomplished.

But what’s the long term impact?

I’d happily pay the price of admission for the things above.  But I brought back more.

I brought back inspiration.  A desire to spend more time writing, not to mention a slew of ideas.  Posts.  E-books.  New outlets.  Long term plans.  Short term goals.  And a validation that, despite my insistence, there are a few people who, even if it by accident, do stop by and read a post or two.  And for them, there is value in the material.  And I’m all about adding value.

So between the bacon, the trading cards, the sessions, the cupcakes (with bacon), the trip to Flip (more on that to come), the case studies, the pop culture, the freak flags, the cigars, and the sheer joy of spending a couple of days with 150 class A people and the kind of HR professionals I want to be with…yeah.  Totally worth it.

This year is special.  A second HRevolution is coming.  October 2nd.  Vegas, baby.  A top notch lead in to HR Technology 2011.  Five solid months to burn through the motivations and ideas I packed in my suitcase before heading out to the desert on another pilgrimage.




  1. Dwane, thanks for leading an outstanding session on not being creepy. Where else would you find an HR session like that? Nowhere my man. Between that and Big Love, I’d say it was a success. Here’s to Vegas in the fall!

  2. Thanks to you for inviting me and building the kind of gathering where we can share those thoughts. I love that we didn’t come close to covering all of our content.

    Vegas, Baby.

  3. We are going to work on stuff together. You are too smart for me not to take advantage of you!

    Was awesome meeting you and can’t wait to generate some ideas together. You. Rock.

  4. I totally agree Dwane, the inspiration to push it further – and the reaffirmation that you are doing something really valuable is an important take away. And something that most events don’t overtly foster. Excited to see what your inspiration leads to.

  5. You’re the man Dwane. One of the highlights of the weekend was finally connecting with you in person. I know we’ll stay connected, and I’m looking forward to it!


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