Who's that Girl?


Setting The Tone: When The Right Keynote Makes A Difference

Originally posted: April 25, 2012 on TrishMcFarlane.com

We’ve all been to conferences where you walk away from an opening keynote session wondering what the connection is.  I’ve seen magicians and jugglers.  I’ve heard various celebrities and politicians.  While they are often entertaining, it’s challenging to find the business connection and why their discussion is relevant to the workplace or the theme of the event.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of listening to a keynote that stood out from the rest.  I attended the TALX Client Forum in St. Louis.  The event was kicked off by TALX President Dann Adams.  Dann was at ease in front of the large crowd.  He opened with humor and proceeded to describe why the theme Explore & Discover is relevant to some of the exciting changes going on at TALX.  As part of Equifax, TALX is using transparency around access to credit combined with their wealth of data around unemployment claims, I-9’s and employment verification to change the way HR professionals use analytics.

TALX launched Elements, workforce information solutions that allow HR professionals and executives to see data in a way that lets them drill down to where the problems lie.  It includes visual representation of the data which is helpful because people learn 17 times faster from interpreting pictures rather than just raw data.  Dann’s conversational style captured the room as he was able to easily describe how this journey has been one of exploring new strategic approaches and allowed them to discover new ways to work with clients to communicate people-related data.

With that, Dann transitioned to Susan Ershler, a twenty year veteran of sales in the telecommunications industry with ten of those years spent directing teams in Fortune 500 sales situations, Sue has her “business chops”.  She is also an accomplished mountain climber and was part of the first couple to climb all seven summits in the world.

Sue captivated the audience with her passion about climbing and she easily transitioned stories of her experiences to relevant examples of how those same lessons learned apply directly to our roles in the business world.  The connections she made around leading and guiding others, being a strong leader and mentor in times of trouble, and how to handle the feeling of failure when you or your team fall short of a goal even though you may have surpassed all prior performance were impactful.  I could relate to many of her stories and found myself inspired to either keep pushing myself.

My biggest take away was around visioning.  Sue explained how she found success in business, in climbing, and in her relationship with her husband by envisioning herself as a success.  She saw herself breaking all company sales records, she saw herself at the top of the summit and she saw herself having a happy, fulfilled marriage even though she and her husband experienced obstacles as many couples do.

Key messages from Sue:

  • Surround yourself with people who won’t let you quit
  • Push through the pain, pain is temporary
  • Teams outperform individuals every time
  • Project your future and focus on the vision- vision drives activity

I hope that future keynotes I hear are as relevant and inspirational.  Thank you to Dann Adams and the entire team at TALX for giving me clarity on how to motivate my team and remain focused on my vision in my organization.

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