“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb
The restorative power of conferences is well known or should be. We go to conferences for many reasons – learning and development, the primary one, but these events can be so much more if one decides for them to be.
This past week, I took part in the Wisconsin State SHRM Conference. This was my second time attending the event, and it was phenomenal in every sense of the word. This was without a doubt in my mind the best HR conference I have been to in a long while – for many reasons.
New principles, new ideas, old friends and new friends, powerful presenters and speakers, books and vendor halls… I made memories that will last for a lifetime. It was incredibly well organized, and the Conference Committee, every single volunteer, and the entire WISHRM group should be lauded and celebrated. Truly, a fantastic effort.
WISHRM 2022 reminded me why I got into the people profession, and it helped give me refocused purpose. Here are my top takeaways and memories from WISHRM 2022.
1. My Community
There is a fantastic Vox article titled: Why community matters so much — and how to find yours. “A community can serve as a social safety net, but finding one and becoming a part of it is different from simply making friends,” the article’s tagline states, and I couldn’t agree more!
This event is a reminder that I have found a community in the human resources and people ops space. I have found friends, colleagues, and mentors. Though, I feel, I have found so much more. The #HRCommunity is special. Whether it’s the empathy that pulls people towards the profession, or the kindness, I have found an amazing bunch of folks to lean on and learn from. There can be bad apples in any profession or group, and many times there are, but this event cemented to me that the best of the best rise to the top and overshadow negative influences.
And SO MANY OTHERS who couldn’t be there in person but were there in spirit. It’s impossible to name everyone who has contributed to this wonderful community of friendship, respect, and perseverance.
2. Greg Hawks and the Rapids of Change
I had the pleasure of seeing Greg Hawks at Illinois State SHRM Conference in 2017. It was my first HR conference, and I was blow away. Greg, particularly, was inspiring, so seeing him again was something I was looking forward to, and he didn’t disappoint!
I noticed that a lot of his “Rapids of Change” keynote, whether intentionally or not, reminded me of the Stoicism I so value.
- #ILoveObstacles (The obstacle is the way…)
- Control what you can, navigate the rest (the Dichotomy of Control)
- Take time to build relationships and community (Sympatheia)
- Time isn’t our issue, it’s how we use it (Memento Mori)
- Own you “suckage” and use it to overcome insecurity (Ego is the enemy)
- Make a decision! It’s a gift. You’re in leadership! (The duty and privilege to do what is necessary)
- Terrain change – lean in, grab hold, and hang on! (Nothing is permanent, and everything is change)
- Misaligned values at an organization will lead to friction for the individual (The Cardinal Virtues)
I think it goes to show that if we study ancient wisdom, again whether knowingly or not, we have unlimited chances to address modern challenges/opportunities. What is happening, has happened before, and will happen again. We just need to make connections with the past to the present for a better future – and ACT accordingly!
3. Shawn Gulyas and the “Force” of Your Culture
The theme of this year’s conference was Star Wars inspired, so I was geeked – literally! A huge Star Wars fan and a culture nerd, I had to go to an event about the Force and organizational culture!
Shawn Gulyas was inspirational with his realistic approach to ELEVATING workplace culture. He was engaging, and I quickly connected with him on LinkedIn, so I could continue learning from him. There were so many key take aways form this session, but here are my favorite (which were admittedly hard to narrow down):
- Endurance – it doesn’t have to be pretty! Just move.
- The Three Minds – There is the cognitive mind (IQ), affective mind (EQ), and the conative mind, connecting IQ and EQ to behavior. Shawn asks, “how would you do it your way if there were no rules?”
- New Leadership Model for 2023 – What do you expect from people leaders? Set CLEAR expectations and then hold folks to them. (It’s not really “new” but for many folks, it might be!)
- “Batteries Included” – All reviews should be simple and easy for ownership. People own their performance, not managers! Managers are facilitators who provide feedback and resources and accountability.
- Gratitude – All meeting should have the following: BIG, RIG, FIG… Begin in gratitude, respond in gratitude, and finish in gratitude.
- The Eight
Also, Shawn had a cool lightsaber from Star Wars land in Disney. I told him about my Darth Vader model, and he said he needed the Yoda model. To each their own! 😊
4. Tina Marie Wohlfield and HR’s Value Chain
I have been in the nonprofit sector my entire career. Value chains are something I am aware of but unfamiliar with at large. I’ve never needed to know about them outside of theory in college. So, I was very curious to see Tina Marie’s presentation to see how I could (1) learn something new (or refamiliarize myself with value chains) and (2) figure out how to adapt this idea to the nonprofit sector.
Tina Marie DID NOT disappoint. She had one of my favorite slides of the event (see below). Porter’s Value Chain model was adapted by Tina Marie for HR. As an academic nerd, this floored me!
If Tina Marie’s model doesn’t clearly outline the integrated nature of HR at most organizations, then I’m not sure what can! This isn’t the end all be all, however. HR pros need to put value and metrics to this model – translated as dollars and cents. This is the language of most businesses, and yes, even nonprofit organizations. Without money, how can they achieve their mission?
HR is not a necessary evil that functions as a compliance arm only. HR is a DRIVER of value, expansion, culture, and innovation. It needs to be treated as such for any organization to succeed in the 21st century landscape.
5. Dima Ghawi and DEI+B
Dima Ghawi is an inspiring individual. She shared how she immigrated to America, got out of an abusive marriage, and received a chance opportunity at a bank, which helped launch her career. DEI+B is more than a catchphrase or trend for Dima. It is about all of us. Aside form her personal stories, the one thing that will stick with me the most is her story about bamboo.
She explained that bamboo grows roots for five years. It works to get completely grounded until it shoots up and up and up! Progress is slow. Change is resisted. Sometimes it doesn’t look like you’re making progress, but your roots are getting stable and deep. Just keep moving, and you will grow and blossom!
6. The Ripple Guy
WISHRM 2022 saved one of the best for last. I love when a conference can close on a really strong note! Paul Wesselmann is known as the Ripple Guy. He started a weekly email that sent a quote to those who signed up as a way to inspire people. What began as an organic way of bringing joy blossomed into a massive community. As Paul said, a tiny pebble can cause massive waves! Some of the key take aways from his session include:
- You are worth getting nervous for! You have value!
- Our jobs in this world isn’t necessarily to become someone or something different, but to find out who we already are and become them!
- There is no perfect version of yourself. Keep swimming, give yourself grace. Growth is not linear!
- There is no mental health. There is no physical health. There is only health.
- Find the greatness in your smallness!
- What is it time to let go of?
7. My First HR Conference Session
I’ve had the honor of speaking at conferences before – mostly on HR topics such as trends, best principles, etc. Until this week, I never spoke at an HR conference. (I did speak at Disrupt HR St. Louis, but that was for five minutes 😊).
WISHRM 2022 changed all that! I got to speak in front of a room of 100 HR professionals. I got to speak on my own life stories. I got to provide a different point of view to a room of eager listeners. It was awesome, validating, transformative! My story was about the power of social media for HR professionals. I got to share how social media changed me as a person for the better, opened doors I never knew existed, and provided me confidence in ways I never expected. I am so grateful and thankful for all my peeps who supported and encouraged me along the way. I won’t forget my first HR conference as a speaker, and I am excited to take on Illinois SHRM Conference in a week! Who knows what is next, and it doesn’t matter. I’m enjoying the ride now!
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