Perhaps it is a childhood fear, but I do not talk to strangers when there is no available exit in sight. This is especially true on airplanes because most conversation starters want to share their disgust with flying. Sorry folks. I like flying and I don’t care about your problems with it.
Nevertheless, on this recent flight, we waxed endlessly on the topics of workplace management, employee engagement, culture, assessment, the effects of leisure, neuroscience, and the book, “Flow”
From this conversation, came two memorable quotes from my companion.
“No offense, but you don’t talk like other HR folks.”
How could I take offense from that? I was proud that this gentleman with forty years in HR experiences put me in a category of exception. I made the point of saying I was on my way to meet up with similar folks in Chicago (#TNL) and I often travel to converge with my similarly natured clan.
The other quote was:
“I picked up on what you said before and I am OK with your alternative lifestyle.”
Knowing he was intending to be kind about my homosexuality in lieu of his heterosexuality, and because we’d already shared some laughs, I replied, “It’s not an alternative to me. And just so you know, I’m OK with yours too.”
Why I Am On Planes
In 2011, I traveled six times to points West and South from Philadelphia to converge with my HR clan at conferences. Three of those occasions were to attend an 'unconference' style conference, such as, Talent Net Live in Chicago last Monday.
I don’t enjoy everything about the 'unconference' style. However, I do like the organic nature of them. There is greater sensibility that knowledge is relative and relatedness is a key to learning. Plus, it keeps a keen eye on the nature of all of the participants.
People invest time in their conversations before, during and after an 'unconference'. As a result, some great relationships develop over the years.
Thinking of the warning words of John Jorgensen regarding echo chambers, I realize there is that risk. However, there is greater chance that the messages of empowerment streaming through these settings have a different impact. Instead of ‘unconference’ redundancy, we all return home and put into action ideas of improvement professionally and personally. We return to the next convergence brighter and challenging each other to go to the next levels of development.
Talent Net Live Challenges
Talent Net Live for me was about those challenges. Here is the highpoints of those challenges:
Me, given my first opportunity to present to experts in recruiting and HR, worked for weeks to ensure content and delivery were the best I could give.
Me, challenging said experts in my session to keep it simple, forget about internal engagement, and be smart about what you can control.
John Sumser posing the challenging notions of thinking locally in a global market.
Matt Charney challenging us to view social media outlets as a means to enhance your diversity and inclusion efforts.
Elizabeth Lalli-Rees challenging us to walk the fine lines between compliance, flexibility and realistic work/play balances* when developing social media policies.
Dan Arkind challenging us to operate the selection process more methodically and strategic.
Jason Seiden with Craig Fisher challenging us to revise LinkedIn profiles in the simplest of ways to maximize the ability to truly connect on LinkedIn.
And Jason Seiden, alone, enlightening us to notions of profersonal. Reminding us all when we view life as the opposite of work, we’re associating work with death. This is why I’m now calling it *work/play balance.
It is this notion that work is not death that lead me to think, perhaps I do have an alternative lifestyle.
- Because I assume most people view work as death, and I don’t, that’s an alternative lifestyle.
- Because I think most HR people don’t utilize enough of their inherent power to influence change, and I do, that’s an alternative lifestyle.
- Because I think most HR folks are content with their local network, but I am not and I travel frequently to be with my HR clan, that too is an alternative lifestyle.
Nevertheless, the great thing about alternative lifestyles is every once in awhile someone acknowledges it. Either they acknowledge you are not like everybody else, or they note their OK with your difference.
What's great is when you do not see it as an alternative lifestyle. You simply see it as your life.