What was Hot and Not — Musings from #SHRM18

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For those who attended and those who wanted to (we hope you do next year!). Here is my quick recap of SHRM18.

First what and who was Hot:

Adam Grant, the keynoter on Tuesday and guest host with Sheryl Sandberg on Wednesday. He rocked it with great insights and humbling commentary…and he earned a new fan with yours truly.

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. our new CEO brought energy, insight and inspiration to the 20,000 attendees. And having a Grammy winning singer do a personal Happy Birthday on stage on Wednesday was “icing on the cake”.

The SHRM18 Store. Kudos to the SHRM staff for changing it up this year. It was accessible, well-stocked and well-staffed. It also had new releases from my friends Tim Sackett and Sharlyn Lauby, HR professionals with great insider insights and tools!

Early morning Mega Sessions. This year the 7:00am sessions were standing room only. The speakers were engaging and enlightening. I had more than 1,200 at my presentation on Monday and had close to 50 stay after to ask questions and look for advice. A speaker’s dream!

Wellness goes personal. Two of the biggest lines in the expo hall were for hand cream massages and facials. My puffy eyes disappeared with some eye cream…enough said on this.

Social media and the SHRM18 Blog Squad. With a blogging team as large as a college football roster, the social media reach blew away any previous conference with live tweeting, timely blog posts, podcasts, and Facebook live video casting. Can you say “Hashtag SHRM18?”  

Bus transportation to and from the hotel.  This year went off with very few hiccups. Waiting times at most hotels was almost non-existent, making for happy attendees arriving each day.

Dogs and a few exotic animals. Tuesday brought us therapy dogs and some interesting animals to the exhibit floor. Who doesn’t like to spend a few minutes with a happy pet?

Pentatonix, I have seen some great concerts at SHRM including Hall and Oates, and the rock band Train, but this was one of the best shows ever (as a rock and roller that’s saying something). And I almost forgot to mention the lip sync contest hosted by my man Trip Crosby before-hand was a hoot!

What was not (hot)?

The Convention Center.  The A/C was great at McCormick. With temps pushing 95 thru Monday morning, a cool expo floor was a perfect place to be.

Obnoxious marketing, was all but absent from this year’s vendor floor. It was all business at the booths (except for a rumored Darth Vader sighting – and no it was not me).

Late night parties. Chicago had plenty to offer, from art museums to Jazz clubs and deep-dish pizza. Of course, there was a smattering of cocktail receptions and dinners, with most winding down by 9:30 p.m.  Attendees were able to get a respectable night sleep (this certainly helped attendance at the early Mega Sessions, too). Let’s just say aspirin sales were down this year at the conference.

Swag, this year the giveaways were minimal and packable for the journey home. We all like a little conference swag and this year the vendors obliged.

What to look for next year:

Well I don’t have a crystal ball; however, I am betting on an even bigger crowd, great learning, and new friendships. Hope to see you in Las Vegas at SHRM19!

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