My Kind of Town

In just over a month’s time I’ll be stepping onto the runway at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, Illinois SHRM 2013 is getting closer.

One of the most exciting things about conference going is catching up with friends. I can’t wait to say hi again to Dwane, Susan, Sabrina, Broc, Laurie, Nicole, Crystal and John all of whom I’ve been fortunate to meet before, and to have the chance to say hi to the likes of Paul, John, Kris, Andi and hopefully many others for the first time. I’m going to channel my great friend Steve Browne and try to meet as many people as I can, and more importantly, encourage others to do likewise.

I’m excited to be talking on the Monday morning about connections, and how HR can become better connected with colleagues and customers alike. Neil Morrison and I often talk about HR as the oil in the machine when we see each other, and I want to play with that idea, and explore aspects of creativity and vulnerability as powerful connection points too. I’m looking forward to listening to other speakers also, and to enjoying many good conversations.

I visited Chicago earlier this year for the first time, and it left a wonderful mark in my memory. I shared a lovely lunch with Susan, Sabrina and John, I walked along the frozen edge of Lake Michigan down Lakeshore Drive (from where I took the above photo), and I was bowled over by the Picasso exhibition that was running at the Art Institute, and the fabulous giant sculpture Picasso donated to the city which stands in the Daley Plaza. This picture below is of Francoise Gilot, who Picasso met in 1943. They had two kids together during their ten year relationship, and this lithograph, made in 1946 is for me a wonderful example of how a great artist can capture so much from a few simple lines.

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of the USA, I think I’ve visited seventeen states so far on my travels across the years, and from my experience they all have different things to offer. So I’m revisiting Chicago both with the expectation that I will again see at least part of what made my last trip such a powerful experience, and the hope of something new too. As I once watched Frank Sinatra say in a¬†video as he introduces ‘My Kind of Town’, ‘What a wonderful moment is it when you get to sing for a real live, right now, breathing type audience’. Illinois SHRM – live in Chicago – 19th and 20th August 2013. Bring it on.


Keeping it Conversational

Having just blogged again about how email is a poor substitute for conversation, I thought I should check myself and see how I’m measuring up.

Last week started with a shot of extra Joe Gerstandt via Skype quickly followed by an interview with Jo Dodds for Engage for Success radio. Tuesday was spent talking with clients about culture, effective communication and collaboration. On Wednesday I got to spend time talking with Meg Peppin and the author Jamie Notter on humanising work, before flying towards the weekend in conversation with Kev Wyke about business development, and more client stuff about making work better and communities. I also squeezed in phone conversations with Julia Briggs and Dorothy Matthew too, and a few very helpful mini chats with folk on Twitter. The week closed on a high after Susan Avello offered to have a Google Hangout with me as a sneak peek on my contribution to the upcoming Illinois SHRM conference in August.

My session in Illinois on connected leadership will be a series of building blocks. I’m pulling together a series of stories, approaches, ideas and exercises and I’m going to lay them out and encourage people to choose the direction of the talk on the fly. A lot of my work is about how good conversations sit at the heart of good work, and by way of example I want the nature of the session to be more conversational and participative.

Having checked my email sent folder I’ve not done as well as I would have liked, and a few people have had emails from me where I think a phone call would have been better. Sorry if you’ve been on the less conversational end of things this last week, I make mistakes and I learn from them too – I will do better next time.

And I guess another thing I need to check is – was all this conversation needed? Would our week have been more collaborative, more productive had we not picked up the phone as often as we did? I guess I should have closed each of the conversations I’ve been involved in with those questions, so I can’t speak for everyone but for me, those conversations weren’t just enjoyable – they were absolutely necessary. Thank you to everyone I spoke with for helping make a good week, great.