I am not risk averse. I estimate and manage risk. I consider mitigation and what could go wrong. If you’ve ever stopped by my safety blog, you know this about me. I think through options and decide on a course of action.
Except when it came to HRevolution 2011: Atlanta. I have followed many of the people involved in this event for about two years now. I almost made the trip to Louisville for #1, and talked myself out of Chicago for #2. I followed the back-channels and read the post-event blogs and watched a few video clips. And I told myself that I might go the next time.
So when the incredible crew of Trish McFarlane, Crystal Peterson, Ben Eubanks and Steve Boese announced Atlanta for #3, I got on board immediately. Not only that, I wrote Trish and asked what I could do to help in advance, seeing as how I live here and all.
Trish suggested that maybe I could put some feelers out in the HR community here and we could lure some HR Pro or even a CEO from one of the big companies to come speak to the group, something to kick off the day.
Well, I’m not that connected locally, and I don’t usually manage up, so now I’m out of my comfort zone. But I offered to help.
Liz Gottung, the eventual keynoter and the CHRO at my workplace, likes to walk around and check in on people. She’s good that way. And late in December she sat down in my office and asked what I was working on beside the work I was doing for her at the time. I told her about a couple of projects and then said “Liz, have I ever told you about my virtual networking?” So I explained to her that I read a lot of HR blogs, and that I listen to some internet radio shows and this incredible group of people likes to gather in one place once in a while to share, argue, and innovate, and they would be in Atlanta in the spring.
Now, the risk manager in me would have let that sink in, and in a couple of weeks I might get back to her and ask if she or someone on her team might speak to them as part of the day. But nope, I went to risk #2.
“Liz, I’ve never met one of these people, but I know that they represent action in HR. They do things. They push limits, and I’d like to ask you to speak to them. Tell them a little about your journey, about our journey, and what you think the emerging demands are for HR professionals.”
“OK,” she said. “Get it on my calendar.”
Here’s where I start to wonder “What am I doing?”. Fear took hold.
- I’ve told someone I’ve never met that I’ll find her a speaker.
- I’ve asked my boss’s boss to give up a Saturday to share and to learn with people I don’t know.
- I have no idea if she will even connect with these people, meaning both she AND the attendees could be disappointed.
But here’s where faith comes in. Each of the people I have been following and reading in this space have shown themselves in the content of their blogs, their contibutions to rich discussion in HRHappyHour and DriveThruHR, and their routine contact and exchange in Twitter. And as I suspected, they were exactly as they show themselves to be online. Without exception.
Honest, genuine, true to everything they put out there. All-in.
And when Liz got up to speak, they welcomed her. They laughed with her. They challenged her. And they respected her. They respected everyone in the room. No showboating, no arrogance. Genuine. Human. Warmth.
And each and every session that I attended was a whole lot of learning packed into a short time. Well prepared and relavent, you could have randomly chosen which to go to and you would have had a great experience.
I learned a lot about influence on Saturday. I learned that my interest in this fabulous community of HR pros has enriched me and made me more capable. I learned that I have let so many of you influence me. With your ideas. With your comments. With your support. I learned the value of influencing up, and will continue to do that. No more fear. Time to make things happen.
We learn best when we learn from each other. And that learning is the basis of our ability to influence our organizations. And we all are influencers.
Y’all are amazing. Thanks for sharing your time, your intellect, and your heart.