SHRM, Hockey and Helping

We are within a week of SHRM12, the biggest event for most HR practitioners each year. Whether they make it to Atlanta this year or not, thousands will be watching the stream from the media team for the highlights of great keynoters like Tom Brokaw, Condoleezza Rice and Malcolm Gladwell. On top of that, a ton of great content is expected from concurrent sessions and a legion of exhibitors are waiting to tell us about their products and services in the Expo hall. What could be better?

How about seeing all that and making a difference at the same time?

HR tends to draw those that give of themselves.  Whether it is being the friendly shoulder in the workplace, the trusted confidant of the manager who isn’t sure of themselves, the voice of reason that speaks for all of the employees in a company, or the one wiling to slog through pages of legal briefs to keep executives out of jail, we are givers.  And when the chance came to help out those in Atlanta who really need it, we couldn’t pass it up.  So the crew found a way to make something out of a lazy Sunday afternoon, and are proud to have the chance to do something special.

This year will see a new event added to the schedule, hopefully one that will be repeated in the future. On Sunday afternoon, after we visit the Expo Hall Grand Opening,  Atlanta will be the host of the first #SHRM12Street Hockey game. (OK, we won’t be in the street, but you get the idea.).

Several #SHRM12 bloggers will meet in what is sure to be an entertaining event. But we’ve taken the opportunity to do more than just make a spectacle of ourselves and each other.

With the support of Dovetail Software, we are playing to raise awareness and money for the Atlanta Mission, which provides emergency shelter, residential discipleship, job attainment, and transitional housing to more than 950 homeless men, women and children daily. Our hope is that we can gather a crowd and donations to help make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.

Dovetail has already committed $500 to get the ball rolling. In addition, CEO Stephen Lynn has offered to match the next $500 as well. We’d love to blow past that number, but will need help getting there.

So please drop by on Sunday. Take pictures.  Take video.  Watch us flail about, or grab a stick and join in. And please drop a little in the till to help out others.  Jingling is fine, folding is better.  Everyone is welcome to be part of making a difference!  Please sign up here to let us know if you can make it!


Thoughts on HR Florida 2011


I write this on Wednesday afternoon from Orlando airport, heading home from my first HR Florida conference.  There will be something tomorrow for you that will be a little fun (I hope), but for now, here are my takeaways from the show…


I only caught Tony Hsieh and Dan Pink, and they were very different.  Tony had interesting stories from the CEO chair, talking about building a culture and letting people create their own destiny inside your company.  Dan talked motivation, what it means, what it doesn’t mean, and how to pursue it.  Both were interesting, and I took a few things away from the speakers (not the content, though I learned from that too):

  • Despite the accolade heaped on him, Tony Hsieh is not, in my humble opinion, a natural “people person.”  In the videos and the short personal interaction I had with him, he was reserved, quiet, and a little uncomfortable.  He performed fine as a speaker, to be sure, but seemed less comfortable with one on one communications.  That’s not meant as a slight, though.  I think it’s amazing he’s built a company famous for culture when he seems to introverted.  Maybe I read him wrong.  But I don’t think so.
  • Dan Pink is a really interesting speaker, and brought up some research I’ve read before.  But I really liked that he focused on low or no cost actions everyone can take right away.  Really good stuff in there, including, a site that sends automated daily emails to help record you progress on, well, anything.  Check it out.

Concurrent Sessions

I will admit that I often attend sessions based on who is leading them, not the topic.  I managed to catch Jennifer McClure, Kris Dunn and William Tincup this time around.  We had some fun, shared some laughs, and learned a bit, which is fun.  But I generally attend to watch style, interaction, and overall presentation methods.  I learned something from each of them, and I hope it makes me a better presenter.


A huge state conference put together completely by volunteers?  You bet there is some passion in that house.  Sponsors had it, too.  The feeling across the board was upbeat, even when fixing problems.  I enjoyed interacting with them, and made sure to thank them for their work.  They deserved at least that much.


If there is ever a time to see how deep the connections run in social media, it is a state conference.  When the “SoMe” people get together, we check on each other, then check on those that aren’t present.  Through our network, we keep track of who is in town, who is not, who is well, who is happy, and who needs a boost.  Then we reach out to that last group and see what we can do to help.

I loved this week.  And having come on the heels of IL SHRM, it makes for a rich full couple of weeks.  I consider myself lucky to have been part of them, and am already looking forward to the next round.

Chicago: My Kind of Town

I love Chicago.  Between the museums, the water, the people and Topolobampo (one of my very favorite eateries ever), it is a city that I always look forward to leaving, just so I can look forward to coming back.

This year, I’m heading to the area (Oakbrook, specifically) for the 12th Annual Illinois HR Conference & Exposition August 21-23.  And while I will be presenting, I’ve heard me speak enough that I no longer consider myself to be part of my target audience.  But there is an incredible lineup at this event, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t share a little about the company I will be keeping.

I have had the pleasure of meeting many of the speakers and session leaders, and I can attest that they are all scintillating people.  But while I look forward to seeing them again and sharing witty banter and basking in their brilliance, I am drawn more to topics than the speakers.  Specifically, there are two sessions that I am really pleased to not be scheduled against.  Because honestly, if I were, I might skip my own session to listen to these.

Keynote: HR Wake Up CallChina Gorman
China’s strong belief that HR professionals are stronger and more effective business leaders than they are given credit for is based on 30 years as a business leader in the talent management sector. She’ll shine a light on the business savvy and expertise the audience currently possesses and builds a foundation for acting with greater leadership confidence.

That’s the conference marketing talking.  Here’s my take.

China is one of the sharpest sticks on the tree.  I’m willing to take leadership from her whenever I can.  But what I am really looking forward to here is that I know China to be a positive and driven leader, so I don’t expect to hear a lot of “HR is broken!” nonsense from her.  What I expect to hear are the ways HR has evolved, and how that makes our profession uniquely qualified to do some really great things.  It’s not about what’s wrong.  It’s about all the things that are very, very right.  And aside from that, any time I get to listen to China, it’s a win.  You’ll leave supercharged.

Concurrent Session: Uncharted Territory: Exploring the Dilemmas of Social Media – William Tincup

This is one of my favorite topics of conversation, and there are few people that can bring it like William.  I wrote a piece recently about the new layers of relationships with vendors and consultants, and have been fascinated with how slowly businesses catch up to changes in our environment.  With social media driving many of those changes, it demands that we stop and think about what it means to us, how we address it, and how we ensure we get the most out of these tools without putting ourselves, or our businesses, in harm’s way.  I expect this will be a great session for those who like to flex their critical thinking muscles from time to time, and I fully anticipate leaving with some answers, but also some really great questions.

While I am excited to see these two topics brought to life, it by no means should imply the other sessions are somehow lacking.  You can click here to see the entire list of keynote and concurrent sessions.  There’s not a bad seat in the house.

I am thrilled to be a small part of this amazing lineup, and giddy about getting to attend the sessions being offered.  If you are anywhere nearby, makes sure this is on your to-do list.  And if you make it, I hope you’ll stop in and say hello!


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