SHRM’s Social Media Guy Dishes on #SHRM10

Despite the intense annoyance he must have felt after meeting me ;-), Curtis Midkiff, SHRM’s new Social Media Guy took the time to do a short email interview to talk about the event and what he sees for the days and weeks ahead. Whatever your thoughts on SHRM may be, this guy is doing some great things, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!

So, Curtis, we’ve seen you here before on the blog in the days ramping up to SHRM10 (meet Curtis Midkiff). Out of all of your predictions for the event, do you think it went as well as you hoped it would? What was the best/worst part?

I think that the overall engagement effort went as I hoped. Continue reading

What’s the Annual SHRM Conference like?

annual shrm conferenceLast week I had the opportunity to attend the Annual SHRM Conference in San Diego, California. It was a big surprise to be able to attend, and I gained some valuable insights that I can’t wait to try out at work. I was writing about my experience throughout the event, and if you’re interested, you can see everything on the SHRM10 page. Now, for those of you who haven’t attended, I’m going to talk about what the event is really like.

Bigger than you can imagine

Thousands (11,000, to be exact) of HR professionals all in one place. When the keynote sessions were going on, there were 12 giant screens set up all over the room so that everyone could see during the presentation. The conference center was probably half a mile long and took me more than ten minutes to walk from one end to the other at top speed. Just… Wow.

Expo floor is massive

I never realized there were so many vendors in our space. There were hundreds and  hundreds of booths dedicated to all kinds of things, from certification to payroll to background checks and more. And while I’ve heard stories about the mad rush to grab stuff, I still wasn’t prepared to see thousands of normal, everyday HR pros bounding down the aisles looking for something else to pick up and run with.

It’s a hit or miss with speakers

Nobody can ever quite tell how a speaker is going to perform. Some of them did amazingly well, and others just didn’t hit the spot for the crowd. I was very excited to see Steve Forbes speak, but it was mostly about finance and fiscal policy; that caused a lot of the HR pros in the crowd to do some uncomfortable shifting in their seats! I wasn’t really excited to see Marcus Buckingham speak, but his keynote was simply amazing. I’ve since started reading one of his books and can’t wait to put my hands on another.

Session content was a balance, too

Some of the sessions I went to were wonderful, and I took a lot of notes (and even wrote about some, too). Others didn’t turn out so well. I went to two or three sessions where the speaker read off of slides or just didn’t hit the topic the session was supposed to be about. That’s fine, when that happened I just left or started talking to someone in the crowd. I did my best not to waste any time during the event.

Connections-the name of the game

I’m not one of those people who networks for the heck of it. I try to have meaningful conversations with people I find interesting, and if anything sticks, then that’s fine with me. I had the opportunity to connect with some amazing people, including a former SHRM CEO, the former Chief Human Resources Officer at Yahoo, and more. It’s going to be amazing to see where all of this ends up!

The bottom line

If you are interested in going, it’s going to be a big expense. But if you can do it just once in your career, it might be enough to provide lasting value. Even if you’re not able to do it ever again (and who knows if I will be able to!?!), hitting it that first time is going to give you a lot of insights into our profession. And if you do decide to go, shoot me an email. I’d love to give you a few tips. :-)

Anyone else ever been? Have anything additional to say?

Lessons for a lifetime-My #SHRM10 Recap


All I can say about my experience at #SHRM10 is “wow.” I’m still trying to digest all of the lessons from the event, but I can already say that it was completely worth my time and sweat investment. There were 30% more attendees at SHRM10 than at SHRM09, and I think that was a part of the enthusiasm that buzzed around the event.

What did I learn?

I learned more about strategic planning, creating a better experience for job candidates, and serving others. I learned that being involved in the social world before the event helps you to make connections and build upon them once you arrive. I learned that the Monster and Smartbrief teams (and by default, me!) work their butts off to make the experience amazing for everyone.

Here are a few other lessons I’ve learned and a few that I’m still digesting.


If you’ve ever heard me or another socially-active person mention events, we probably mention connections as a benefit. While it seems somewhat vague, I’ll put it this way: I have a list of 30 people to follow up with who most people would salivate to connect with. Why do I, a little old HR guy from Huntsville, Alabama, get to reach out to them? I’m not completely sure, but I think it has something to do with my passion for the profession and my desire to see things improve. I can’t think of any other reason they’d be interested. :-)

Even if I had done nothing else during this event other than talk and meet people, it would have been completely worth the effort. How’s that for value?

The day job

It seemed almost like an afterthought, but I did get some great ideas to carry back with me to my day job. While I didn’t get to see all of the sessions I wanted (some of those suckers fill up fast!), I did experience a handful of solid, value-packed speakers who challenged my thinking. This list is going to be the frustrating one, probably. While I’d like to work on the 50 things we’re doing wrong, in reality I just can’t find the time to do all of them. But if I can make a few small changes (just a few, mind you), and it has a positive impact on my workplace and the overall organization, I think I might be okay with that for now.

Questioning my path

One thing I didn’t expect was questioning my career choices. I had multiple conversations with Eric Winegardner from Monster, Jennifer McClure from Unbridled Talent, and Gerry Crispin from CareerXroads. All three of them are superstars in their own right, and all of them encouraged me to continue growing and developing in my career.

One of the most profound statements I’ve ever heard from Eric (and it wasn’t this one) was this: move up, not out. So many amazing HR pros eventually take off and leave the profession instead of continually climbing to be Directors, VPs, and Chief HR Officers. We need more great people to ascend to those positions instead of leaving them to the people with seniority by default (even if they don’t have the skills or passion to be great at it).

Jennifer asked me what I wanted to do with my career. I didn’t have a quick answer to that, and she reminded me that as a recruiter, I needed to know what I wanted before it was offered. For example, if she called me to recruit for a position I seriously wanted, but I sounded unsure, then I’d probably be passed over completely for the job even though it was a good fit for me. I need to figure out what I want to do next so I can seize the opportunity when it comes along.

Projects and partners

While I’m active quite often, it’s never as fulfilling when I’m working alone. I love love love getting the opportunity to help someone else to finish a difficult task or build something new. It’s so much more exciting and fun to share things with other people.

  • Mike VanDervort shared a great idea that I can’t wait to assist him with.
  • I’m on the lookout for ideas I can share with Matt Charney, because he was so helpful throughout my conference experience.
  • Bryan Wempen and John Jorgenson (among others) are great local/state SHRM leaders, and I am seriously thinking about partnering with them to develop more resources to better serve their members.
  • Chuck Salvetti, the guy in charge of student and young professional stuff at SHRM, has asked if I would volunteer to help get the young professional group up and running smoothly. I’ just sent in my application, Chuck!

There are others, but I don’t want to let all of the cats out of the bag just yet.

Keep the flame burning

While I’m completely and totally on fire right now, it won’t last. I’m going to try to stave it off for as long as I possibly can, but the experience will fade from my mind and other stuff will clutter up my brain. How in the world can I keep it going? What if I don’t have an Uncle Andre hanging around to help keep me on the right track? If I could have learned one thing at SHRM, it would have been how to keep the spirit and enthusiasm all year long. Exploring that one could be a complete post in itself, but if you have your own suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

SHRM membership in my future?

I was prompted by some amazing people, including Gerry Crispin, Nancy Newell, Sue Meisinger, Tara Mauk Arthur, China Gorman, Nancy Slotnick (and more), to join SHRM. I still haven’t made the leap just yet, but I think it’s going to be sometime in the near future. To top it off, both Gerry and Sue offered me this deal: if I don’t get my money’s worth in value from SHRM membership, then they will pay me back out of their own pockets. It doesn’t get much simpler than that, huh?

What you missed if you weren’t there

If you haven’t seen it yet, there was some amazing content generated from the event. Below are some of the best resources I’ve seen so far (and a few of mine thrown in because I’m me :-)).

Quick Hits from Sunday at #SHRM10

This weekend has been a whirlwind of activity and the big stuff hasn’t even started just yet. As I’ve said before, I’m working as a part of the Monster Street Team to cover the event. Here’s the whole backstory. I have a few pieces of content in the works, and here are a few quick snippets I can share from my barely registering brain cells. :-)

  • I’m here to cover leadership, culture, and other related topics. You can keep the total rewards, legislative updates, etc. :-)
  • Matt, Lisa, Eric, Janet, and Kathy (all of them are Monsters) are just amazing. Seeing all of their hard work going into this event to make things amazing for the participants is just wild. Keep up the great work, people.
  • Neat survey stuff coming from the SHRM research lab hidden deep in an underground bunker somewhere in DC.
  • John Hollon hits the keynote by Steve Forbes with heavy criticism.
  • This thing is so incredibly huge for someone who’s never done it before. Who knew that HR was this big?
  • Corporate lactation was a big topic at the Sunday night Monster planning session. Yeah, you heard me right. Having two dudes running a lactation booth is wrong in so many ways.
  • There was a wild mob just before the keynote. Click for the video.
  • SHRM10 has 30% more participants than last year (11,000 total). I’m hoping that’s because they want to learn something and not just because it’s in California. ;-)
  • I met with my friend Terri Zaug from HRCP and it was fantastic. I’ve been working with them for almost a year and it was great to finally meet in person. If you’re looking at getting certified, hit them up and tell them I sent you.
  • I met another pal, Cori Curtis with Baudville, and I got a sweet bag with goodies that says, “I put the HR in HERO.” :-) I think you’ll enjoy some of their fun stuff that’s all about helping to make work more fun and encouraging for people, so drop by and get some goodies.
  • SHRM’s team is doing some great work. Keep it up, people!
  • During the press briefing (and all through the day yesterday) I kept hearing about the work that SHRM is doing with veterans. I think it’s great that they are making an effort to reintegrate our fighting men and women into the workforce.

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s all I can make out for now. Anyone else see or do anything great?

Why SHRM is not the Antichrist of HR

Today I don’t have to ramble at you (aren’t you thrilled?). My pal’s going to do it for me. My buddy Allen Robinson has given me permission to republish the post he’s written about his SHRM experiences. He says they’re not as bad as everyone makes them out to be. I’m not going to agree or disagree with his assessment, but I will shut up and let Allen do some talking. Here we go!

How many times have you heard that SHRM is more or less a waste of space, a dinosaur of an organization or just not meeting the needs of the HR community? I have been hearing this more and more lately.

learn leadMy view of SHRM apparently is different than the growing disdain among my fellow HR Professionals. As I was developing my knowledge of HR at the University of Michigan, I was given a great deal of support by SHRM either directly or indirectly. There in lies the key to why I feel that SHRM is still a relevant organization. Continue reading

Get more out of your SHRM chapter membership

get more shrm membership

How can SHRM chapters and members get more out of membership? Read on for a few ideas. This post is a part of the SHRM Chapter Leadership Guide.

HR Barbie, AKA Tamara in Ohio, asks the following:

I am so glad I found your site.  It is so important for the newly minted HR Professionals, like me.

It was extremely hard for me to transition into HR, and like you, I did not find an HR position until I began attending CSHRM meetings (Cleveland chapter).

My problem with SHRM in general, is that it is directed more towards the management side.  For professionals new to HR like myself, who only implements policy and is not a policy maker, it can be very off putting or in some cases a waste of time to attend.

I really want to join / attend on a more regular basis.  Perhaps in one of your next posts you can write about how we can make chapter SHRMs benefit all levels of HR.

I’ve heard from others like my buddy Tamara here, and I know it isn’t a local problem for her. I don\’t know if these chapters are expecting the national chapter\’s offerings to make up for their lack of value or what, but it seems pretty silly to me.

What can SHRM chapters do? Continue reading

SHRM Chapter Mentoring Program

SHRM chapter mentoring programToday is going to be exciting. I get to join the rest of my peers and kick off my SHRM chapter mentoring program (known as NASHRM Mentor University). Why is it exciting? Well, I get to spend some close, personal time with a wide range of HR professionals in all stages of their careers, and I get to do it for $50. While I debated the value of other high cost HR conferences, this thing sounds like it’s value-packed and dirt cheap. Check out the post below that I wrote forRocketHR after I found out about making the short list.

Want to get mentored? Well, you\’ll have to wait until next year. This year\’s participants in the NASHRM mentor project were announced last week, and I am thrilled to be on that exclusive list. The mastermind of this project, Rusty Brand, passed along this comment: Continue reading