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June 26, 2012

Destination HR: Stellar Keynotes and Exploring Atlanta

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: 6:30 am

Even though I write the blog primarily from my desk at my official office, I’m sure that I’ve blogged in my pajamas at least once.  What I can say with confidence is not only have I never blogged in my pajamas in Atlanta, but I have never blogged in my pajamas in Atlanta while attending the 2012 Annual SHRM Conference!  I arrived yesterday morning, and rode the MARTA train 30-40 minutes to my hotel.  Along the way, I got to know a couple of HR pros who had come from further away than I had to take part in this once annual event.


As a first-time attendee, I’m sure that my thoughts echo what so many have said before me: until I walked into the Georgia World Congress Center, I had absolutely no idea just how awestruck I would be.  At the opening general session, 13,000 others and I were privileged to hear Dr. Condoleezza Rice unquestionably exemplify the “Be…” theme of this year’s conference.  My absolute favorites of her many inspiring words: “What seems impossible seems inevitable in retrospect.”  Rice recounted her childhood growing up in Alabama before the Civil Rights legislation.

“Her parents convinced that little girl that she could still grow up to be president and eventually she became secretary of state.  So I remain optimistic about our future, and I believe that it will be led by the most generous and most compassionate nation on earth, the United States of America.”

As much as I enjoyed hearing Dr. Rice (and quite frankly, wished she would have continued long after she stopped), there was much more to come.  I was also looking forward to the grand opening of the exhibit hall.  Again, no matter how many times I’ve been told I would be overwhelmed, that word doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling when I walked in.  Of course, I ran into a couple of friendly faces:

Paul and Mike at Booth 1345

After an evening of dinner and networking with some new HR buddies, Michele and I headed back to our hotel to begin the long task of winding down.  My traveling companion got the best side of the bed, but in all fairness, he called it.

Leo (My daughter sent him along to keep me company)

On Monday, the first full day of the conference, we underestimated the time it would take to get to the GWCC, and we made it just in time for the general session, featuring author Malcolm Gladwell.  He talked about generational paradigms, and how the work of Dr. Martin Luther King exemplified hierarchical leadership.  His leadership style defined his generation, and generations to follow.  When speakers start talking about Millenials, I generally tune out.  But Gladwell’s comparison of Dr. King’s leadership with what Millenials identify with, I listened.  Millenials – as you can see from the recent Occupy movements – believe in a much more flat, networked, organization.  But Gladwell cautioned HR pros to impress upon Millenials that as effective as networked organization can be, it is impossible to succeed without a hierarchy.

After lunch, I spent some time in the Hive, SHRM’s social media hub, and got a preview of a session I planned to attend in the afternoon.  We visited the Candy Bar for a much-needed sugar rush, then added our Twitter handles to the board.

@JustSayLiv (That's me!)

We wrapped up a busy conference day with some great company, our friend Laura Conover (Conover Consulting).  While we were searching out a place to eat, Paul (VP Sales and Marketing) and Mike Dougal (Director of HR Consulting) passed the time with a friendly game of bocce ball.

Paul and Mike (I'm not sure who won, because I have no idea how to play!)

I am brimming with excitement to see what Tuesday brings at the SHRM 2012 conference.  It’s going to be another busy day, with the general session featuring author Jim Collins, final day in the exhibit hall, a time-out for a trip to World of Coke, and Jerry Seinfeld.

Good night from Atlanta!


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