In 1976 we had a big bicentennial celebration at my elementary school complete with costume contest. The idea was to dress up as an historical character from revolutionary America. My mother, being the frugal, creative soul that she is, crafted a Ben Franklin costume form a blue bathrobe, and a few other items she found around the house, combined with a .50 cent plastic, half bald with glasses mask - with one of those elastic death strings strapping across the back.
I must have been in 2nd or 3rd grade and was pretty much game for anything. So I boldly entered the contest ...and won. Winning was cool. But, moreover, that whole year was cool.
(Not actually Craig in 1976)
America was celebrating 200 years of independence. It was like a year long 4th of July party all over the country between mid 1975 and mid 1976. There were parades, block parties, TV specials, commemorative coins, Paul Reveres, Ben Franklins, George Washingtons, and Uncle Sams on stilts every time you turned around.
The sense of pride and togetherness sticks with me today. Anyone old enough to remember the bicentennial knows exactly what I mean.
Yes, I am that old. Don't judge.
I felt a bit of that at the 2014 SHRM National Conference the week before independence day at a time when the hottest topic of conversation was the U.S. National Soccer team in the World Cup. SHRM National is a very American experience that celebrates diversity and welcomes vendors and attendees from around our country and around the world.
The characters at a SHRM National conference are many and varied. I sought them out. I hit the expo floor armed with my iPhone and interviewed speakers, bloggers, attendees, ...and mascots.
Yes, mascots. Conference booths often have them. And I often seek them out.
This year the configuration of the conference was the best I've seen. The aisles were nice and wide. And I found it easy to find everything, meet with people, and have good conversations.
There are so many great companies that service the HR space who exhibit at the SHRM conference. I'm always impressed with the innovation of their products and services, and how they are presented (especially when mascots are involved).
In the videos below I interview some great characters, including Gerr Crispin, Joe Gerstandt, Jason Lauitsen, Ike, the ICIMS masoct, Shae the Glassdoor Hero, A Monkey from the Employee Engagement Group, The Geico Gecko, and Kim Pope (a very observant attendee.)
Alas, I didn't find an Uncle Sam on Stilts. But I enjoyed SHRM National 2014 as you will see.
Author: Craig Fisher helps companies share their authentic brand and culture better online to connect with more of the right prospects.
Connect with Craig on Twitter @fishdogs or www.evolverco.com