Starting Out – #SHRM17 – June 18 – Day One


There are a thousand stories in The Big Easy. This is just one…

…of the thousand.

To say it is “humid” in New Orleans is an understatement. It’s ridiculous.

Now, I’m from South Carolina, so I have a personal relationship with humidity. We are not strangers. But this level of humidity is something else. It is aggressive humidity. It’s not just moist… it is like walking though hot molasses. Chunks of hot molasses. Yet, this week, 15,000 plus HR Professionals and a handful of amateurs, will gladly(?) look that humidity in the eye and stare it down just so they can spend a few days talking shop at the largest gathering of HR people in the world. The Society of Human Resources National Conference (SHRM)

My job is to help document that assemblage.

Here’s what I’m documenting so far:

Tons of People

Until you see 15,000 people sitting in a conference hall looking at a speaker literally ½ a mile away on stage looking as big as the fingernail on your pinky, it is hard to imagine that many people in one space. And it may be even harder to imagine all of them are all interested in HR. But they are.

And did I mention it is Sunday – not a normal workday. These folks are dedicated. Humidity and a weekend day. Two things that typically shut down someone’s desire to work on their professional cred. Yet they persisted.

Oh yeah… did I also mention that it is Father’s Day. Yeah…add that to the mélange of factors that should have kept at least 10,000 of these folks home. ) There’s always 5,000 crazy ones no matter what the population. Right?)

To get 15,000 people to New Orleans in the summer, on a Sunday, on Father’s Day means you have dedicated and professional people. Hats off to all you HR folks. Enjoy the conference.

Great Speakers

I’m a half day into the conference and I’m already conflicted on who and what to see. So many great sessions on the agenda. Today is a light day and I had to miss three great sessions. The next few days won’t get easier as the number of speakers/sessions increase along with the quality. Every day I have to make 10 Sophie’s Choices. If I ever have to make the call to send my own HR staff – I will send as many as I can. There is simply too much to soak in to expect one person to handle it. Alas, today I had to pick a session and I made the call to jump into @JasonLauritsen’s talk on courage and fear – and not waiting around to make an impact. Jason was great… highly tweetable (the type of praise any speaker would want in this age of social media). A sampling of the tweets sent out during his talk:

  • Most of the fake news that holds you back is written in your own head.
  • The greater the fear the more courage is required.
  • Change does not come from a place of safety
  • Never ask permission from someone who can’t say yes
  • Choosing not to be engaged in politics at work is like laying a game without knowing the rules
  • Love that Jason included selling skills as needed by HR – everyone is in sales
  • Develop a posse – collection of messy relationships – both close and acquaintances 

And those are just the easy ones to type… so many more. Jason’s site is here:

Check him out.

FREE WiFi That works

I’ve been to a lot of conferences. And it is rarely is there “wi” – and even less likely there will be “fi”. At this conference, the WI-FI is all caps baby! I’ve not had one dropped packet as far as I know and the login is dead simple. Click it… read a welcome page from Paychex and away you go! And no charge! Love me some free wifi!

A Trip Home

My last name is Hebert. Or in New Orleans you pronounce it “A-Bear” – so, so much classier. In fact, in keeping with the history of the city both musically and food-wise… from now on I think I’ll post under the pen name – T-Bone Hébert.

Kinda like the sound of that.

So – read this next sentence or two whilst imagining me with a thick Cajun accent…

Laissez les bon temps rouler for all at the conference and from this wannabee-boogalee I leave you with this quote which sums up my short, albeit sweaty, time here so far:

“To all men whose Desire only is to be rich and to live a short life, but a merry one, I have no hesitation in recommending New Orleans.” – Henry Bradshaw Fearon, Sketches of America, 1919



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