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My Leadercast Experience

May 15, 2011

Last Friday I went to Chick-fil-A Leadercast.  Unfortunately, I didn’t actually go to Atlanta to experience the event in person (I think that would have been really cool).  I went to a webcast of the event at a local church.

As promised, I said I would share some of my thoughts from the event.  I had noted that my attending the webcast was a big step for me in that in the past I would usually say I want to go and then do nothing about it.  This year, I plopped down the $150 for two tickets and took the leap.

And man was it a leap.  At least it felt that way for the first hour of the event.  Thanks to poor preparation on Leadercast’s part, our site essentially missed the entire first hour of speakers.  John Maxwell went first, and while I’ve heard him speak a lot, I was still interested hearing him.  My wife was especially disappointed that we missed Maxwell speak.

The second speaker was Seth Godin.  The video feed got fixed just in time to watch Godin speak for five seconds and freeze, speak for five seconds and freeze, and speak for five seconds and freeze.  We’ve all experienced the agony of watching an online video that has streaming issues.  Watching Godin speak was worse than not seeing Maxwell at all.  Even so, I seemed to get some good notes from Godin. I especially liked his line that said, “Artists start conversations worth having.”

The video problems seemed to subside for the rest of the day except for the climax of Erin Gruwell’s speech.  The most important part?  I don’t know.  I didn’t see it. As for the rest of her speech, it was powerful and inspiring. So much so that I didn’t take a single note. I just sat there and absorbed her story. You should check out her work at Freedom Writers.

The rest of the day was fairly profitable.  Mack Brown, the head football coach at the University of Texas, chatted with John Maxwell.  While he was speaking, I felt like he was saying a lot of nothing.  Then suddenly, he started listing off several leadership principles that filled my notebook.  I think my favorite was – don’t be the 40 year old who talks about what you did at age 19… Do more stuff.  It reminded me of Al Bundy who always reminisced about being the high school football star (I think that’s what he did considering I never watched the show).  Brown was relating this to the fact that his football team won the national championship and he told his players that they need to keep doing more things and that the championship should not be the pinnacle for them.  Good advice.

Sir Ken Robinson is one of my favorite speakers.  I really want to get his book The Element.  Just watch his 2006 TED video and you’ll know why he’s one of my favorites.  That said, his presentation was a bit disjointed.   It’s just that he never seemed to get through his outline.  That wasn’t too big a problem for me because he was entertaining and he was “preaching to the choir.”  My highlighted quote from Robinson – “Imagination is the source of every form of human innovation.”  Ultimately, we as humans are all creative, but as Robinson sees it, our schools are killing our creativity.  And that is not just creativity in an artistic sense but a scientific, mathematical, and literary sense.  For me the big “What if” is – what if our educational system supported a creative culture.  Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!

I probably gleaned the most from Suzy Welch’s presentation.  There were a lot of good point which may just be worthy of a separate blog post.  In the mean time, the most influential thing she said for me went something like this – We are not who we used to be nor who we are yet to become.  She followed that with, “Get on the road to who you are going to become.”  To aid in getting on that road, Welch offered three value questions, which I will share in the next post.  Or I guess you could buy her book.  I’m sure she’d like that.

One of my biggest takeaways was the fact that most of these speakers are experts in one area and that is what they speak about.  I can’t say that I’d ever heard any of the speak live before, but I had heard most of them speak.  I had read their books or watched their TED videos.  And what they said at Leadercast was pretty much what I’d heard them say before.  The speakers I’d never heard speak before, well, those were the ones who gave me the most.

So the question is, would I go to this event or another like it in the future?  Maybe.  I would be more likely to attend one with speakers I’d never heard before.  Or go to it if I were truly there, “live.”  I could have done this in my pjs at home (not that I really wear pjs).  And would I recommend it to others?  Maybe… with the preceding disclaimer.

Did you go to Chick-fil-A Leadercast?  If you did, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  If you didn’t you’re still welcome to share your thoughts.  I okay with that.

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