What I Learned at ILSHRM12 – The Keynotes

Well, the first thing I learned at the Illinois State SHRM Conference (ILSHRM12) is how hard it is to blog from events. I don’t know if it was just poor planning on my part or if somewhere along the line I decided it was more important to spend time with my HR friends or if I’m just not “built” for it at all — but I wasn’t able to do it. My mind needed more time to process the experience so I could share something meaningful about it and understand what it all meant for me.

I was able to attend 3 of the 4 keynote sessions at ILSHRM12. My transportation to the airport arrived early so I left before the final session with Libby Sartain kicked off. Booo!

Day 1 featured author and speaker Simon T Bailey in the morning and Talent Anarchy‘s Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt in the afternoon. What I loved most was the connecting thread between the two sessions about the importance of living on purpose and living with authenticity. I don’t think it was planned or even intentional — but it resonated and inspired, nonetheless.

Both sessions pointed out the need to feel passion and love for the work we do. Without passion, our lives become mediocre and our existence doesn’t make the world as great as it could be. We have to accept and embrace that we weren’t put here to just go with the flow and be normal. We each have a purpose. We each have brilliance within waiting to be identified, harnessed and unleashed. When we understand who we are, what we’re meant to do and why then we can develop the awareness, integrity and daring necessary fly our “Freak Flag” proudly and create those magical “Vuja De” moments.

  • This got me to thinking about my own work in HR. Am I flying my Freak Flag and gaining Vuja De moments? I confess that balancing and reconciling my daily “9-to-5” work with “The Buzz” feels like living in parallel universes sometimes — and I am not sure which, if any, is real. However, I know my passion for writing and teaching and sharing the great things about the HR profession still burns. It is very real. So I continue to work to carve my niche and speak my truth … and I believe the rest will all reveal and make sense in due time.

The Day 2 morning keynote from Cy Wakeman was an absolute treat and highlight for me! Her approach to handling “drama” in the workplace was so simple, refreshing and spot-on! We spend too much time at work allowing drama to reign instead of holding people accountable for the results based on performance. In some cases, we let people work for years with little to no accountability for their workplace actions — and that is where problems really start to fester! We end up ignoring and minimalizing the efforts of our most productive, cooperative employees — while letting our workplaces be held hostage by the emotionally expensive. Enough! It is time to ditch the drama! We have to create cultures where employees are so engaged and accountable for their work that they have no time for foolishness. We have to teach them to seek ways to help, not hinder.

  • This was so eye-opening for me. Over the years, I’ve worked with quite a cast of characters who brought their share of drama to the workplace (Read about some of them here). It is great blog fodder — but it definitely grates and wears thin on me as a professional. It is hard to lead and think strategically when you keep getting sucked into the vortex of drama. And I know so many other leaders and managers are suffering through the same frustrations. Until that session, I could never quite put my finger on the best way to combat it. Now I know.


Because when you’re accountable for your actions, reactions and pro-actions, there is no time for drama and foolishness. You’re too busy getting stuff done to even pay attention to it. And, when it happens, you’re annoyed by it and want to squash it as quickly as possible so you can get back to accomplishing the things you’re accountable for.

Which brings me back to Day 1. During his session, Simon T Bailey had us partner up with someone sitting nearby and talk about our goals and heart’s desires. My partner was fellow blogger and HR pro, Nicole Ochenduski (Read more by and about Nicole). She was so great and kind to me! We are both kinda quiet people — but together we jumped right in and conquered the scene. It was really great was to swap “trench HR” stories with her because we work in similar industries with similar challenges. What was even more great was to hear our goals and heart’s desires are similar, too. And thanks to ILSHRM12, we are responsible to help, support and advise each other to make sure we’re staying on top of things.

We all want and need people in our lives to help, support, give advice and make us get our butts in gear when we’re slacking. Life’s journey isn’t easy. But it’s better with help. Don’t be afraid to share your dreams. Trust other’s help you make them come true. Thanks to ILSHRM12 and the Keynote speaks, I can add another person to the list.

Tomorrow, lessons from the sessions.






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