Our ATD ICE 2018: It’s a Wrap Series continues with Pt 3 & Kate Pinto
(Jump down to the bottom to enter the May, ATD ICE 2018 “Wish You Were There” giveaway)
Usually, I open each series up with a bit of commentary about the topic chosen by the writer. In this case, there is nothing I can add. Kate did a brilliant job of wrapping up her conference experience. I felt inspired reading it and went back over my notes to “feel in the moment” once again. For those of you who went, and those of you who didn’t – I feel sure Kate’s post will inspire you to keep learning. Enjoy!
Unemployed and It Feels So Right
This was the best first week of unemployment, ever!
If you’re considering leaving your job, I recommend timing it around a conference like this. Have you ever read an article or seen a video about a person who survived an unimaginable tragedy of some sort, and it sparked a fire within to follow their dream? I realized I don’t want to wait for tragedy. It is time to pursue my own happiness because life is too darn short.
My journey to ATD 2018 ICE began about a year ago.
There I was, thriving in my position and up for a promotion against another gal in my department. My colleagues and I knew I was a shoe-in! I was not. I did not get the job, and I was crushed. Admittedly, I did not take the news as well as I should have, but I learned a LOT about myself and my values in the process.
One thing I learned: I cannot let another person or organization snuff out my passion. I knew I needed ICE to get me back on the right track. So, when it came time to propose my “Top 5 Desired Professional Development Events for 2018” – ICE was at the top of the list. However, I was not allowed to attend. Again, I was crushed. Long story short, I became a statistic. I didn’t leave my job, I left my management. I bought my own ticket to ICE and parted ways with my employer the day before heading to San Diego (thankfully on a different flight than the previously mentioned manager).
Once I decided to attend ICE, I knew I needed a plan. If you have learned anything from my Twitter feed, my plans typically start with a mind map. I needed a purpose for attending, so I could narrow down my sessions. Kind of ironic having now attended because “purpose and values” were such big themes and fitting, since OBAMA was a keynote! It’s funny how suddenly so many worlds can collide to create a supernova of inspiration and motivation.
First and foremost, I needed to network and work on my career development. Being freshly unemployed I needed to meet as many people as possible.
Sounds easy enough, but my pendulum swings far between introvert and extrovert. When I am on, I am really ON. I thrive in front of a class but put me in a party full of strangers and I clam up. I bought a ticket to the Networking Night because I knew it would push me far beyond my comfort zone.
Second, I have an idea for a company and for this (and for my career in general), I needed to educate myself on micro-learning, social learning, and the various advancements in those areas. What are the components? What makes them effective and what are the challenges? Who are good people to follow on Twitter and LinkedIn to get inspiration? I identified several sessions to help answer these questions and more.
Lastly, I want to set my company up for success and start on the right foot. From establishing a learning and growth culture from the onset, to what strong leadership looks like in the types of businesses that fit my niche. How can I grow as a company owner and leader to make sure I do not have to play catch up later? One thing I learned, adaptability is necessary because our industry, like many others, is moving at rocket speed.
Let’s talk keynotes!
I would be lying to say that Barack Obama wasn’t one of my top reasons for attending.
I have admired him for a long time but have become much more politically engaged in the last couple of years and more appreciative of him as a President and a man. I was fortunate to see Michelle speak last year, so this would be the icing on the cake. He was everything I dreamed of and more! I honestly don’t think I need to recap his speech (other than in my mind map below). We were all there to see him for our own personal reasons, and his words resonated with us in different ways. His “cautious optimism” gave me hope and helped me see the forest beyond the brushfire.
Now, this may be controversial, and I may pick up some flack, but I found Marcus Buckingham to be more inspirational (professionally speaking) than Mr. Obama. He spoke with such passion and energy that it filled that giant event center. You could feel the energy bouncing off the walls and I left feeling ready to tackle my new adventure and enjoy the ride. His words resonated with me so deeply because I had just left a manager who had asked me to bring them the 5 things I hate about my job and 5 solutions to make it better. He validated my decision to leave without knowing me.
On to the sessions
I was nervous not having a traditional “business purpose” for attending. You know what I mean. Where you sit down with your boss to talk about the vision for the company and how the Learning and Development Department can support that vision. Then you analyze the current state of the department and pick sessions and vendors based on your needs. Then sprinkle in a few sessions for your own personal interests and growth. You know the drill.
I later realized I was my own “business purposes” and I was immensely successful. I only attended one session which left me feeling slightly disappointed, but I still walked away more knowledgeable than when I entered the room and that’s what really matters.
I met two of my L&D idols, Britt Andreatta and Rick Lozano. Rick even knew my Twitter handle! Poor Britt probably thought I was a stalker by the end of the conference between appearing at nearly every session, the book signing, and blowing up her Twitter mentions.
Side note, if you aren’t on Twitter you are really missing out! For all the bad ways to use Twitter, there are brilliant ones as well. I started following everyone in L&D and it’s been very worthwhile! People post great resources and have insightful discussions and apparently people loved my mind map photo! It was neat to help and inspire people using that medium.
The Network Night was a blast! I chatted with friendly folks in the lines, handed out a couple of business cards, and ended up finding someone I knew. Maureen Orey introduced me to her group of friends and colleagues, and we ended up shutting the boat down! It was great fun and a great event.
It was fascinating to see so many people from around the globe in one place with a common thread. We are all there to help people DO better. We want everyone to be their best, not just at work. If we can get people to be their best at work, they will be their best outside of it. I spoke with people from every corner of the world, from Bahrain to New Zealand, from Virginia to Iowa – all there to help people do better. That was breathtaking and inspiring.
I knew I would feel energized by all the people, but I didn’t expect it to hit me to my core. I had connected with many people on Twitter, but the real value was the conversations with people from around the world. I felt the themes of value, purpose, strength, and leadership were curated for me at exactly the right time.
I only have 2 regrets.
First, I failed to devise a plan for the Expo. I didn’t realize the Expo would be my biggest challenge. I let my anxiety and fear prevent me from exploring. In hindsight, I should have done some reconnaissance and educate myself on current technology trends. The initial mass of people storming the expo entrance was overwhelming and I was ill-prepared, even though I knew better. I ended up sitting on a patio and reflecting on Obama’s speech instead. A worthwhile use of time and energy, but my anxious feelings impaired my ability to explore.
My other regret is not figuring out how best to take advantage of the career center. I found it’s sparseness confusing and there wasn’t really much information on how the people there could be helpful. I guess I should’ve prepared a list of questions and done research on how best to utilize this resource.
In reviewing my notes and mind maps, I realize I accomplished my conference goals and beyond. I learned a lot about the industry and the hard-working people within it
One last theme I want to mention is the fast-approaching AI revolution. I have a picture in my head of Octavia Spencer, as Dorothy Vaughn, picking up a coding book in Hidden Figures! We can’t fear technological advancement, we must adapt to work with it. I have already asked the Twitterverse for help with resources and am pumped to start exploring this emerging topic. Normally I would be terrified of a technological advancement of that scope, but to hear so many speakers I admire embrace it with a positive tone really helped shift my mindset.
I may have had plenty of words to describe my experience, but I don’t have the words to express the feeling I have about the week. I am overflowing with gratitude and happiness. I am in awe of every person I met, and every speaker I heard. Unemployed and it feels so right!
To commemorate my experience I had the speakers, and even some authors at the book signing, sign an anniversary postcard. Now I have a great memento to anchor this life-changing experience. Hopefully one day I can sign your postcard!