Month: June 2017

#SHRM17 Recap from the Peanut Gallery, 2018 Events, and a Little Me Time Squeezed in Too!


I did 2 presentations, as well as blogged this yr., at #SHRM17 in New Orleans. I pushed myself harder than any other year at “the biggest HR conference in the world!”. But I also had some me time, including 18 holes of golf at a local course on Monday. No, I didn’t break 100 and the remainder of my group did (83,85 and 89 to my lagging 104), you also know there is always a silver lining. We played the back tees (longest distance) in 96-degree heat and I par’ d the 4th hole with rental clubs…. Life is sometimes about singular moments and a par on a 430-yd. hole with water down the whole right side isn’t shabby….and I did 26,000 steps on Monday, setting my own record for this year. I bet all of you had some pretty big fitbit #s too!!!

Now down to business. First, I must give Kudos to the SHRM blogging team or should I say the Blog Squad. What an incredible group of high energy, passionate and focused individuals. The SHRM team lead by Mary and Andrew were incredible. I know many of you have heard this repeatedly….TS (you know the acronym) I must say it one more time. I also made some new friends and now have a couple of mentors. One of the best parts of the conference is exactly this. I also made a couple of new friends outside of the blogging community too.

There is so much to see and report on at the conference and we only touch on a small cross section of it. Sure, we heard angles on keynotes and a few interesting folks.We touched on a few existing and emerging issues in the space. The tweets and social media reach this yr. was significantly larger than any conference in SHRM history. Yes, HR folks are now in the main-stream on using social media. This year’s conference proved it and maybe that’s the biggest story of all. However, there were entire sub-topics that we missed unintentionally. SHRM ran numerous training sessions for accreditation in tandem with the conference. The international attendance continues to grow each year and had large contingents and their own events too. There were sub sections of SHRM like HRPS doing conference days within the main conference. There are board meetings or gatherings of HR branches going on before the conference too…I saw the folks from the SHRM Foundation throughout the event. Think of it as the ultimate of all HR folks being “in session”.

Next year I hope we expand the coverage to the outer fringes of the conference. I would personally like to report on these fringes as you may have already figured out. I also want to have a few sit downs with the board and hear first-hand what the agenda for our society looks like and challenge it with important questions. Unfiltered and unbiased, our version of the NO-SPIN ZONE (not to be confused with the FOX television version – OMG). The second ask may be better suited to a couple of our more seasoned bloggers, but as I always seem to do, I will certainly insert myself in the mix.

There was also significant business going on removed from the conference floors with vendors beyond the traditional smorgasbord of Monday night events, or vendor parties…. what was hot and what was not? Business was happening in every corner of the convention, hotel bars, restaurants, “the Quarter”, and even on a local golf course. Come on do you think I was just playing for the hell of it. Inquiring minds would like to know (I am an HR guy and some things just stay confidential).

Who were the HOT newcomers on the vendor floor? I saw two companies playing to the corporate hotel space this yr., competing for the same customers…where were the law firms and major consulting firms this yr.? I was invited to one that had a party and wasn’t even exhibiting. Have they abandoned this conference for good? Is the new model to court and maintain business away from the main conference??? Whats new for next yr.? Is the Smart Stage going Main Stage as I have suggested?

These are all unanswered questions and opportunities for coverage in the future. And how about having blog squad coverage on a smaller level at some of the smaller SHRM conferences? I have an interest in politics, others are interested in diversity, almost all of us are Talent folks? The opportunities are only limited by time and budget.

I can’t wait for 2018!

We have come a long way from the days of the SHRM daily recap newspaper…welcome to the new world of news! Live, raw and in the moment….


Time for the Smart Stage to take Center Stage at #SHRM17


Steve Browne, Jennifer Payne, Jason Lauritsen, Trish McFarlane, and a host of others. Names those in the Talent and on-line space are more then familiar with. Doing 18 minute Twitter sized presentations. Minimal slides and time, however maximum impact.

It’s time for SHRM to move the small and friendly venue to a broader audience. One attendee spent the entire day at the stage with the knowledge that she could  listen to 3 times the speakers into the same amount of time. The Smart stage time has come into its own, all grown up, proven speakers, and  great topics in bite sized chunks…Oh and video tape it for the masses too….

Agree with me, tweet #shrm17 and tell them to move it to the main stage…It’s the Smart thing to do!

SHRM at an Inflection Point – Day 1 at #SHRM17


I am reporting back from the opening session at #SHRM17. I was a little taken back that the opening presentation from SHRM leadership felt like ground hogs day from last yrs. opening. All the same introductions and highlights. The Foundation, HRPS, and volunteers. Lots of talk about agility and being business leaders. A few quick victories….

I would say it was a tale of two cities being played out on stage. Hank has done a very good job of quieting the critics the past few yrs. about his choice as CEO and the Direction of the organization. The organization has grown and improved their financials. The board has responded to the critics too. Betty, Brian, and now Coretha are all solid leaders for the board. Steve and David add insider street cred to the mix. For the first time I am not hearing much controversy from the peanut gallery.

But the world is changing at an ever accelerating rate and HR just does not seem to be able to keep pace. It’s the Elephant in the room and we all know it.

Kat Cole, todays featured speaker hit it out of the park, while at the same time rattling many in the audience with her brutally honest discussion of leadership in the new world of business. I am hoping the board and the executive team are taking notes. Our Society needs to be invigorated.

So what does the SHRM organization need to truly do differently to keep pace. Waiting six months for a new CEO does nothing to help the situation of playing catchup.

The new CEO has a tough agenda as Hank has set the stage for expected Success and change in the future. Can SHRM National leadership get back in touch at the local level with its constituents needs? And what about all the money spent on branding and commercials on CNN? Would we be better to have that money go directly into local grass-roots activities and programs?

I don’t pretend to have answers, but I am curious as many of you are.

2018 will be a year of challenge, transition, and high expectations for SHRM.

Hank, thank you for turning a critic into a believer. Johnny you have a big agenda and we hope you have learned from your previous tour of duty. Don’t forget the Mission to Serve us and Listen….


Dressing for Success or at least to Speak at #SHRM17


Decisions Decisions. What to wear on Stage for 600 folks on Monday or 200 on Tuesday with the video cameras rolling. I used to be a fashionista 20 yrs ago when I worked at Macy’s and Century 21 stores early in my career. A deep employee discount and access to one of a kind bargains will do that.

Lately it is the opposite. Working from my home office and a smattering of video conferences make it easy to wear sweats, shorts or what ever I feel like. I have even gone as far as  wearing a nice shirt and tie with shorts on video calls…just keep the camera aimed chin high…

But now it’s conference season and the #SHRM17 conference in New Orleans is as big as they get in the HR world…So I have a pocketful of new business cards and an extra large suite case all set for this 4 day trip. Its also hot and Muggy in June in NOLA so I figure at least 2 outfits a day.

But back to my main point, what to wear? I have gone from ultra formal to jeans and a jacket with everything in between….this yr. I will probably go with a summer sport jkt. and something nice for Monday and a little more daring for Tuesday on the Smart stage.

I even did a couple of new head shots for my various websites…it was time for an update…

Anyway I never though I would be talking fashion on my blog, but HEY why not….

see you in New Orleans, Oh bring your favorite team’s hat to Money Ball on Monday and some caffeine too (its at 7am)….

Prepping #SHRM17 in New Orleans


It’s less then 2 weeks till I walk on stage in New Orleans at #SHRM17. Most of the work is done. All the logistics (flights, hotel, transfers), some of the events are scheduled too. I am hoping to get 18 holes in on a local course Monday if weather permits. The one thing left is practicing my presentations.

I have taken a different tact this year in prepping for the conference having spent 2 days with the team at OWN THE ROOM grooving my presentation skills. As an aside they are really good! One might think with over 2 dozen major conference presentations the past decade and another 30 plus local presentations I don’t need much work on this. But that is the furthest from the truth. I am becoming a student of presenters and their nuances that make a difference between good and memorable.

I have had 2 presentations over the yrs. that hit the memorable level. The first was accepting the SHRM National Human Capital Leader of the Year award in Tampa 10 yrs ago. It was the largest crowd I have ever presented to (over 1300 folks), maybe the shortest presentation (8 minutes), and the most meaningful professionally. I was raw but every word was genuine. It was a B- for pure presentation but an A+ for passion.

The other memorable presentation was 6 yrs. ago at SHRM national in Atlanta when my computer dropped dead 20 minutes into my presentation in front of a room of 600. I had to wing it for the next 40 minutes and ended up receiving the highest audience scores of any presentation I have ever done. The lesson here was know your material so well that you can do it blind with no back up on the screen.

In between all the other presentations ranged from decent to really good, but short of memorable for the audience or myself.

This yr. in New Orleans I want to leave an impression on the audience. I think of the two presentations I am doing, the Dark Side of HR on the Smart Stage Tuesday has the better chance of accomplishing this. The content is controversial and it should definitely resonate with the audience….

I also have experimented with my opening and will use video to walk on stage, it is a calculated risk but ‘no risk, no reward‘, so I am going for it.

The Money Ball presentation is in much more of a conventional “Mark presentation” format, just new material for me. I am sure I will nail it ( I am confident) , just not sure to what extent a 7am audience is going to take from it…let you know in a couple of weeks….

I am looking forward to seeing many of you there. Oh I also think they are video taping the Dark Side presentation, so I will make sure to post it when available too!