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Getting Into the Game at the Louisiana Conference on HR

    Guest Blogger: Tim Kelly ( @zero98HR )

    Another year, another great Louisiana Conference on Human Resources put on by Louisiana SHRM!  This year’s theme was It’s How You Play The Game. I was immediately intrigued because the theme of the conference combined two of my passions, Sports and HR.

    The “game” kicked off with our favorite emcee, Whitney Breaux.  She warmed the crowd up before introducing legendary LSU baseball coach Skip Bertman (thanks Amy Cannon).  Skip gave an inspiring opening address.  He challenged the audience to do several things to achieve success: believe in yourself, have an attitude of excellence, and motivate yourself and others.  Often what separates those who are successful is that they always believed they could. Skip told us to not fear failure. Life, like baseball is full of failures.  See those failures as learning opportunities.  You will fail at some point, but fail forward.  Never let someone else tell you no and think that is the end of the road.

    The 2nd Quarter continued the sports and HR theme with another Louisiana sports legend, Deuce McAllister (also thanks Amy Cannon).  As a card carrying member of the Who Dat Nation, I was loving this.  Deuce was introduced to an enthusiastic crowd yelling Deuuuuuuce! It almost felt like the Superdome.

    McAllister’s speech played well off of Skip Bertman.  Deuce also spoke of not being afraid of failure, telling the crowd that if you don’t have failures, how can you recognize success.  Deuce reminded us that whether it’s in sports or in business, building the right team is critically important.  Finally, Deuce played a video by former college athlete Inky Johnson. My favorite takeaways from Inky’s message was that you need to find a purpose that is bigger than you because it can't always be about you. Without a purpose, quitting is easy, and quitting becomes a habit. You can watch the video here.

    Both Skip and Deuce hung around after their sessions for pictures and autographs with the crowds… There were long lines for both!  Of course, I could not pass up the photo op!

    Day two kicked off with Jess Palmer, Senior VP of Publication and Media for SHRM.  Jess gave a shout out to Louisiana SHRM for all of the innovative things LASHRM continues to do especially in 2015.  She congratulated Louisiana SHRM on earning the SHRM Excel Platinum Award.  Jess then went on to tell the crowd about how important talent will be to the future of business stating that talent will be more important than capital to a business’ success.  We are entering the Decade of Human Capital!

    In addition to the sports superstars, #LASHRM16 was packed with a roster of talented speakers and HR professionals, including NOLA SHRM’s president, Erin Thompson.  Erin delivered a great session on how to develop your managers into MVPs. One of the more powerful things I took away from her session was this, “ignoring your employees is even worse than giving them negative feedback.”  My other takeaway is that I’m bad at origami!

    Other sessions at the conference talked about what to do with workplace violence, how to build a business case, fostering inclusiveness, analytics, culture, negotiating skills, and many, many more relevant HR topics.  Two of my favorite sessions were Influence: How Today’s Professionals Can Change Minds Anytime, Anywhere by Steve Hughes and Getting to Know – Lessons that Built an HR Career by Kathleen Brenk.

    Steve Hughes' session on Influence was not only jam packed with useful tools and takeaways, but it was highly entertaining!  Steve gave tips on how to gain influence.  One of his tips, that I think we all forget sometimes, is that telling someone why you’re right and they’re wrong doesn’t work.  Attacking someone’s belief immediately makes them defensive.  Stop spending so much time trying to convince people and more time trying to understand and neutralize their resistance.  The other big takeaway was to listen and ask questions when trying to influence.  The most successful influencers typically only do 25% of the talking in a conversation.  

    Kathleen Brenk was another favorite.  The session of hers that I attended was fairly empty.  This was not a reflection of her.  She had already done one session, and was not scheduled to speak again.  There was a last minute speaker cancellation and Kathleen graciously agreed to present again, and I'm glad because it gave me the opportunity to attend.  Her session was very conversational.  She told the story of her career, and by the end of the session I gained some things to help me in my career.  One of the funnier and truer pieces of advice was to not hire HR people who say they want to help people.  HR isn’t about helping people, it’s about doing the right thing.  Many times, doing the right thing hurts.  Another nugget she gave was to always be present when dealing with someone.  They deserve your full attention.  I know I have been guilty of multi-tasking at my desk while someone’s in front of me in my office, and that is not right.

    Of Course, a Louisiana SHRM event would not be complete without people and networking, and #LASHRM16 had plenty of both.  #LASHRM16 gave me the opportunity to meet new people like Peter and George below and to interact in-person with friends from social media like Tiffany Keuhl our awesome conference Social Media Chair.

    The event kicked off with a pep rally in the HR Locker Room (expo hall) where attendees and vendors could schmooze over cocktails and hors d’oeuvre’s (drink & finger food).  My favorite event was the Half-Time show at Iberia Bank.  There was good music, great people, and of course, more drinks and finger food! Louisiana's reputation for a good party brought out the National SHRM heavy weights! (Below from right Edie Cummings - LASHRM State Council Director, Sherry Johnson - SHRM Field Services Driector, Andrew Morton - SHRM Director of Social Engagement, and Jess Palmer - SHRM VP of Publications & Media)

    Here in Louisiana we know how to host a good event.  We’re the best in the nation at it, and the Louisiana Conference on Human Resources (#LASHRM16), was no exception to this!  There was so much to take-in and absorb at #LASHRM16, but if I could leave you with one thing it would be this from Skip Bertman – No one can take your place.  They may be able to fill your position, but no one is created exactly like you.  You are special!