The very first conference I attended was in 2003. I had no idea what to expect or how to behave. I even went to Marks and Spencers and bought a suit jacket as I thought that would make me look more important than the job title I had at the time.
I remember walking into the hotel lobby, feeling a bit lost. The woman on the registration desk was chatting with her colleague. So I waited for them to finish. “The names are in alphabetical order,” she said without looking my way. I took my badge and the agenda off the table. These were the days before I had a smartphone to occupy me, and I wasn’t going to play snakes on my Nokia 8810 – because I was a professional in my smart suit jacket.
So I just stood there nervously reading the agenda avoiding eye contact. Everyone around me looked confident, laughing and joking with each other. I felt completely out of my depth. I chose the table at the back of the room and sat next to a lady who was furiously tapping on her Blackberry tutting away. I pulled out my new notebook and pen, wrote the date in nice writing and underlined it twice. I was ready. I was a professional.
More people joined the busy woman and me, but everyone seemed to know each other. No one looked over, bar one person who asked if I could shift over a bit as the light was in their eye. I tried to pluck up the courage to say my name, but my throat felt parched, so I just nodded and shifted across. The lights dimmed, and the conference started.
Each presenter seemed to be an almost carbon copy of the speaker before them: grey-ish suit, same accent and very similar “look how great we are” case studies.
I couldn’t relate to the folks on stage or the folks in the room, and I left feeling a bit miserable and exhausted.
You’d think that experience would have put me off going to anything like that again, but I’m a life-long learner, and in my 18-year career, I’ve probably attended more than 100 events. Some of the events were eerily similar in terms of style, topics, approach and speakers. The only difference was that I’d become more confident and familiar with how events worked. I had perfected the art of introducing myself, shuffling myself into conversations and grabbing a drink first thing so my throat wasn’t dry.
Fast forward 18 years, and I’m finally in the position to host my own event. An event about doing things differently and empowering others to do so. An event that will inspire communication, HR and operational leaders to work together to create a shift in their organisation. An event that enables and facilitates meaningful conversations
Learning from the myriad of events I’ve attended (and spoken at), I knew what I wanted and didn’t want. It was important to me that no one felt excluded or ignored and that the speakers were representative, dynamic and from a range of backgrounds. The venue had to be vibrant and bold, with plenty of space for the different ways people learn. For those who struggle with sensory overload, a quiet room, those who need to answer work stuff, an area where you can catch up – all while watching the talks on the online platform live or via on-demand.
Unleash Your Inner Rebel is bold and ambitious. We’re pushing boundaries and shifting our mindset about how we work, lead and communicate. We have incredible speakers and thought-provoking topics to help you be part of the change needed to help revolutionise the way we lead.
So if you’re ready to start a leadership revolution, click on this link and join us on June 14, in person or online – the choice is yours!