I’m always surprised when a conference surprises me. When you go to them a lot—and especially when you’re wearing your marketing hat—you begin to wonder just which one it is you’re at this time. So whenever there are some standouts, whether in the sessions, the Expo Hall or the new connections made, it makes an impression.
At the Training Conference in San Diego last week, there was the usual the cornucopia of exhibits, learning sessions, concessions and assorted activities to take part in. You have to get strategic about it if you want to check off your list and fit everything in. I knew there would be sessions I’d want to attend from a personal learning point of view as well as other activities that would help expand my horizons and spark my thinking from a business and marketing perspective.
Top of my list were the sessions our CEO Ann was speaking at—the Future Forum: Reworking Learning at Work panel discussion and her breakout session, My Way or the Highway: Engaging Learners in the Age of Personalization and Overloaded Brains. I would be pulling double-duty to support Ann and any attendees with anything needed during the sessions, and also to learn from our resident thought leader. After an inspiring 3-part keynote from Temple Grandin, Anant Agarwal and the indomitable Ken Blanchard, I set off to explore the Expo area and get lunch.
At lunch, my colleague and I sat with fellow attendees, who were highly encouraged and energized by the conference, and had an engaging discussion about one of today’s hottest topics of conversation among training professionals: Millennials in the workplace. From our HBDI® research on generational thinking preferences, we know that Millennials don’t think much differently than previous generations did when they were the same age, but of course any difference can affect the way people connect and learn best.
Our group had plenty of food for thought to digest along with our lunches as we talked about our experiences creating learning that meets the needs of different generations and how those generational differences impact the environment. Trends like decreasing attention spans and the demand for more interactive and “just-in-time” training seem like Millennial-driven issues, but these days, don’t we all have higher expectations of learning and development (and less time and attention for it)?
I invited my lunch companions to Ann’s session because she was going to address that very topic. Ann’s known for her high-energy style that gets people thinking (and laughing), so I wasn’t surprised that her “My Way or the Highway” session was a hit. After all, if anyone’s going to walk the talk of Whole Brain® Thinking and Learning in their delivery, it’s going to be Ann. She got high praise in the evaluations for the interactivity of her session (she even hid a worksheet under each table!) and her generous take-aways.
During the session, she laid out different ways learning professionals can engage today’s diverse learners, who have plenty of high expectations and just as many distractions in the whirlwind of today’s work environment. If you’re curious about what Ann presented and would like to access the resources that she referenced during her session, be sure to check out the resource kit we put together.
From my conversations with fellow attendees to the learnings from Ann’s sessions, including the power-packed Future Forum panel exploring some of the incredible innovations in learning that are already happening, I kept thinking back to Temple Grandin’s words: “The world needs all kinds of minds.”
With her quirky style and inspiring message, both of which are products of her very unique mind, Temple delivered a keynote that got my mind working throughout the dizzying pace of the conference.
It reminded me that one of the best reasons to go to these conferences is that you never know what—or who—will spark and challenge your thinking. It’s a rare opportunity to share ideas with peers in the industry, broaden your perspective and ask each other the tough questions: What are you hearing in the marketplace? Are you seeing participant expectations change? What’s cool on the product development front? Any potential partnership opportunities? What’s working and what’s not?
You might say it’s a great opportunity for a powerful meeting of the minds!
Didn't make it to Training 2017? You don't have to miss out. Click below to get the resource kit from Ann Herrmann-Nehdi's session, Engaging Learners in the Age of Personalization and Overloaded Brains.