Each Friday on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.
I have attended several conferences that have "Alternative Conference Formats" as part of their agendas. The attempt to break out of the "same-old / same-old" mode often brings about great opportunities for conference attendees to find education, inspiration and unparalleled networking.
The National Speakers Association Annual Convention "Learning Lounge" is a great example of a "Conference Inside a Conference". At the 2014 event in San Diego the Learning Lounge will be organized by two of my friends: Mike Dilbeck and Jessica Pettitt.
The NSA Learning Lounge has a special place in my heart. I organized the first attempt at this unique program in 2012. Sarah Michel and Holly Duckworth took the lounge to a higher level in 2013 (they deserve recognition in the world of "Cool Things My Friends Do", too... as they did a great job). And now 2014 is positioned to be spectacular.
The interesting thing about the Learning Lounge is that few of the attendees carved out time to attend the sessions in the lounge. Most instead chose the traditional breakout sessions (which are fantastic).... but almost everyone who spent time in the Learning Lounge in 2012 and 2013 raved that it was a highlight of their convention experience. Makes me wish more attendees understood the value of the slightly different style of programming.
What I learned from my involvement with this effort is that people claim to crave something "new", but when faced with a choice they go with the known choice (attending an alternative format learning environment or go to a familiar / regular lecture?) ---- But I also know from other experiences in the meetings industry that GREAT things take time to catch on. People want to wait and see how it goes. Will it be back next year? Well, the Learning Lounge will be back at the NSA Convention in 2014 and I predict that Mike and Jess will weave together something wonderful.
Thanks to Jessica Pettitt and Mike Dilbeck for taking on this monumental undertaking.... I know it will be cool (because they are both so cool).
There is something good about people volunteer to give back to their industry. The amazing professional speakers who donate their time, money and energy to making the National Speakers Association thrive are special to me. I appreciate the honor to be part of this industry and have learned so much from those who are "the givers" in this business.
I am often saddened and shocked by people who turn their noses up at their trade associations and look down on those who participate (many people mock their competitors who are dedicated to these groups). Everyone should be active in their trade associations, regardless of their industry. There is something unspoken - but cool - about those who choose to serve the greater good of the businesses that allows them to flourish.
If your industry association is not spectacular, then get involved and make it better. Business associations and trade groups across the world are in need of people who can raise the bar and contribute to their own success. Be the solution!
Have A Great Day