Notes from NOLA
Kim Plyler’s view on IABC international conference
Overview: If you’ve never been to an IABC International conference you should really plan on attending at least one. My experiences at this year’s New Orleans conference were life changing. I learned how to manage energy and stress. I gained a better understanding for the accounting side of our business. I learned new ways to communicate with my CEO and most important I gained great relationships with friends here in the US and new friends from Nigeria, Poland and Trinidad.
I think having the conference in New Orleans was perfect on so many levels. It afforded us the opportunity to see the devastation of Katrina first hand and learn from those who lived through it. It also allowed us to reach out and help those in need.
I had the distinct pleasure of flying into New Orleans from Newark, NJ. On my flight I sat in the middle of a family. Next to me was Mia, a five-year old little girl with cute ponytails. Next to her was her mother, Lahisa. On the other side of the isle were her two sisters and brother. As we approached the New Orleans’ airport, I asked Lahisa about some of the sites we were seeing. She explained the 24 mile bridge and the inlets and why they call New Orleans the “Big Easy”. She then burst into tears, so did the rest of her family. It was then I learned that this was their first time “coming home” since the hurricane. Her husband had stayed behind to protect the house and dog and they got out and stayed with a cousin in NJ. Unfortunately her husband and the dog did not survive. As their story unfolded several rows of people on the plane began to cry. It was a truly human moment that set the tone for renewal. At the time I didn’t understand just how much renewal was about to occur.
I’ve weaved these notes to include both a story of my experience and notes from some of the sessions. I hope some of this will be valuable to you. I tried to break out the notes day by day but, the renewal experiences are the thread that runs through the entire conference.
Day #1 Sunday
Session: Firing on All Cylinders: Managing your energy to optimize your performance
Speaker: Tony Schwartz founder and president of The Energy Project NY.
Renewal Moment: As Tony spoke and explained his studies of tennis professionals and others who continually perform at high levels, I realized that there must be a key to sustaining that level of performance and eliminating not only my own burn out times but also that of the marketing & PR team that I manage. Here’s what I learned from Tony.
• Energy goes across four dimensions of a person. It is physical, it is emotional, mental and spiritual.
• I learned how to incorporate ritual behaviors to help make a lasting change in my life and allow me to relax and recover after a goal is completed. It’s critical to long range sustainability to always take the time to relax, celebrate recover then move on. Oh yeah, and my biggest thing was learning how to “let Go”
• I learned the basic tools needed to help my organization, or at least the team I manage, support the optimal energy management practice. I’ve been back a week and I can tell you I’ve already seen results.
Important Point: Fitness is the speed of recovery. Taking the time to renew your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy is critical to sustaining success.
Four Ideas for Life
1. Show up and be engaged
2. Bring Enthusiasm
3. Be honest and compassionate
4. Don’t get attached to outcomes (Learn to LET GO!)
Tony’s Book – The Power of Full Engagement by Tony Schwartz
Monday Day #2
Session: Dramatic Results: One Step at a Time – Ned Lundquist, Esta De Fossard Maryland, William Ryerson Vermont and Negussie Teffera Ethiopia
Renewal Moment: This entire session was filled with renewal moments. The story that stood out the most was one told by Esta. This group of people formed away to use soap operas, telenovas and other broadcasting programming to change the way third world countries deal with social issues such as AIDS.
Esta’s story was gripping. She told us how one year she traveled to Africa to help educate tribal mothers on reversing the diarrhea epidemic. She and her group took the time to help save hundreds of children from dying. The following year she went back to the same tribal area and one woman came running through the crowd crying and waving her hands. She fell to her knees in front of Esta and praised her. This woman’s son was still alive one year later thanks to Esta and her team.
At this point in the session I had to excuse myself and go find some tissues. Bottom line is the power of communication DOES SAVE LIVES. I was so proud to be an IABC communicator at that point. I wanted to present Esta and her crew with some type of award for their efforts. We sometimes loose sight of those in need especially when we get wrapped up in our day to day work. We can make a difference and sometimes all it takes is just one voice to BE HEARD!
Tuesday Day #3
Session: Is the CEO’s Brand Bigger than the Company Brand? – Darren Briggs UK, The Company Agency – Microsoft-Nike-PepsiCo and Vodafone.
Renewal Moment: Listening to this session made me realize that although my Pres/CEO and I have a great working relationship, there are areas of communication where he and I could improve. Here are some interesting points that I hope might trigger thoughts on improving your relationship with your CEO.
Communications Professional says: “Measurement”
CEO wants: “Insights what are the people thinking and saying”
Communication Professional says: Social Media, Blogs, Wikies
CEO wants: Face to Face interaction
Communication Professional says: Front Line Management
CEO wants: Connection with senior leadership team
Communication Professional says: Strategic Communication
CEO Wants: Communicate the Strategy
Communications Professional says: Engagement
CEO says: Commitment
The bottom line is that your CEO does create and live the company brand.
Overall I had an exiting time, learned a lot, made new friends from around the world, re-c0onnected with old friends and had a renewed sense of well being for my career choice and my current job!
I truly hope each of you reading this will make time to attend an IABC international conference. It will change your life.