My #SHRM19 Experience: Highlights and Takeaways

Since I returned from Las Vegas, I have been reminiscing about my experience at the SHRM 2019 Annual Conference & Exposition (#SHRM19). I thought it would be worth sharing in a blog post.

From June 23rd to 26th, 2019, the city of Las Vegas was buzzing with so many HR people. With a total of 25,000 attendees (including vendors, press, staff, and volunteers), SHRM recorded its highest conference attendance ever. Also noteworthy is the fact that there were 1534 international delegates from 96 countries. The national flags displayed at the Las Vegas Convention Center recognized international attendees and emphasized SHRM’s global presence.

At #SHRM19, the robust educational tracks and general sessions kept us informed and prepared to create better workplaces. The speakers discussed a broad range of workplace issues, and this proved the growth that the HR profession has gone through as well as the commitment that HR professionals and business leaders have to the profession. On a personal level, #SHRM19 presented me with a tremendous opportunity to interact with people, have fun, and most importantly, learn!

I’ll like to highlight a few things that stood out to me during #SHRM19.

#1 Opening General Session featuring Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart – Emmy Award-Winning TV Show Host, Entrepreneur, Bestselling Author

Main Point: EMPLOYEE RETENTION

  • When hiring people, it is important to understand what the candidate is like, and what their hopes and aspirations are. You want to ensure that you are hiring people who feel good about working at your company, and can see opportunities for their growth and development. This helps attract and retain talent.
  • Retirement is a waste of talent. Many companies need to encourage the retention of older workers and focus on what employees can contribute, regardless of their age or level of experience.
#2 General Session featuring Dr. Brené Brown
Dr. Brené Brown – Author and Researcher, University of Houston

Main Point: COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP

  • We need brave leaders to help humanize the workplace. Many of today’s leaders do not know how to have tough conversations. On the subject of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), it is not the responsibility of excluded people to spark difficult conversations. Brave leaders must be comfortable having these types of difficult conversations.
  • Courageous leaders are those who are vulnerable. Vulnerability entails putting yourself out there and showing up when things are tough. In the workplace, vulnerability means being empathetic, innovative, accountable, resilient, and ethical. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable also means that you must be open to having tough conversations, and able to receive feedback about your actions.
#3 General Session featuring Vineet Nayar
Vineet Nayar – Founder and Chairman, Sampark Foundation

Main Point: INNOVATION

  • According to Vineet Nayar, “An organization should run by ideas, not hierarchy. The best idea must win, not the best person.” This statement sparked an “Aha!” moment for me. It made me realize that we need more workplace cultures that encourage and recognize innovative ideas. We need to create spaces for people with ideas to come forward, regardless of their ranks within a company’s hierarchy. I think this is important because such workplace cultures make employees feel invested in their companies’ outcomes and will make them strive toward transformative ideas.
#4 Closing General Session featuring Blake Mycoskie
Blake Mycoskie – Founder and Chief Shoe Giver, TOMS

Main Points: LEADING WITH PURPOSE; MENTAL HEALTH  

  • Blake Mycoskie built a successful company by making purpose the center of his business model. TOMS was founded on the idea of giving shoes to children in need. While traveling through Argentina, Mycoskie met children facing hardships and in need of shoes. Through its One for One model, TOMS donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold. Mycoskie shared that TOMS has given over 99 million shoes to date to children all over the world. Regarding the impact of giving on his business, Mycoskie stated that “when you put giving at the center of your business, something beyond just making money, your customers become your biggest marketers.”
  • Mycoskie also shared his struggle with mild depression. As someone who has written about mental well-being in the past, I was in total agreement when he stated that “you cannot take care of others until you take care of yourself.” In 2020, Mycoskie and his team of researchers will be fully launching the “Madefor” project. Madefor is a toolkit designed for learning new habits which can help us achieve everything we are truly made for!
#5 Grand Opening of the SHRM Exposition Hall

Another major highlight was the grand opening reception at the exposition hall. Besides the excellent selection of products and services exhibited, it was spectacular to watch thousands of attendees enter the hall to visit all 650 exhibitors. Watch the countdown and the grand opening in my video above.

#6 Tuesday Night Entertainment featuring Lionel Richie

I grew up listening to Lionel Richie’s songs because there were a bunch of them on my father’s cassette tapes.😁 So, it was a big deal for me to see Lionel Richie perform live! On that Tuesday evening, I made sure I arrived quite early and waited at the front of the line so that I could get a good seat. That effort paid off! I believe that Lionel Richie was the perfect choice because his songs cut across the different generations represented in the hall. He sang songs from his time with the Commodores (I obviously didn’t know any, lol) to his solo songs like “Dancing on the Ceiling,” “Stuck on You,” “Hello,” and “All Night Long.” Check out my video of Lionel Richie performing “You Are.”

#7 GENUINE INTERACTIONS WITH NEW AND EXISTING fRIENDS

I couldn’t have had a better #SHRM19 experience without my awesome friends, fellow #SHRM19Bloggers, with me. It’s incredible how much can happen in one year. Through intentional networking on social media, I have been able to connect with a brilliant community of HR professionals and influencers from different parts of the world. #SHRM19 presented a perfect opportunity for us to be in one place. We took so many pictures, had great conversations, and spent quality time together over meals and drinks. Besides the #SHRM19 bloggers, it was also great to reconnect with my #SHRM18 friends and even make new ones. Our genuine interactions made the conference a whole lot of fun!

Check out collages of my favorite pictures from #SHRM19!

Now, let the countdown to #SHRM20 in San Diego begin!

2 thoughts on “My #SHRM19 Experience: Highlights and Takeaways

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