What I Wished I’d Learned at SHRM10

Tim Sackett Conferences, Don't Feed the Vendors, SHRM, Tim Sackett

Look I get it – I’ve had to train in large organizations – you are constantly challenged by teaching to the lowest knowledge level in the room. So, I understand the major hurdles that a large international organization like SHRM goes through in setting up content for their annual conference.  Put on top of that the demographics of their membership, of which I’m one, and they soon become that family restaurant down the street that no one admits they go to, but everyone seems to know the menu – the menu that has 5 pages and serves everything – all of which tastes like it came out of the fryer – even the spaghetti and prime rib and the wet burrito and the stir fry and the pancakes – you get the point.  So, when I was preparing to go to SHRM and deciding on what sessions to attend – my very first impression was “seems like I’ve been here and done this before”  – my next impression was “why does 90% of presenters have either consultant or speaker as their title?”  where have all the real HR Pros gone?

PA090767  So, here’s a quick list of what I wished I’d learned at SHRM 2010:

  • Clearly 2010 was the year of the iPad in the HR Vendor giveaway category – but no one could tell what the giveaway would be for 2011. With all those smart CEO’s of HR Vendors just waiting to speak to me – none had that answer – Hmm?
  • Career Builder and Monster – 2 huge parties – my budget is almost equal to both – both in the over $20K category for purchases. I got one invite – thank you Monster – even when I’ve blogged and publicly tweeted, etc. about how Career Builder had the better party each year at SHRM. I even broke down and asked for an invite – to no avail. What I wished I learned? – Who will get more of my money next year? Oh wait, I think I answered that. Before you think – “Tim, how can you be that shallow?” Ask yourself, why do they have the parties to begin with? To get my money right!?
  • I also wish I could learn why every piece of learning conveniently fits into 1 hour and 15 minutes, with a small commercial at the end. Unless you’re senior level – then it takes 2 hours. I just don’t understand the math.
  • Why is it SHRM can’t find actual working HR/Talent/OD Pros to present for the majority of these seminars? Do I really want to hear about recruiting best practices from a person who hasn’t recruited or even worked in a “personnel” department in 20-30 years?
  • How much free (crap) Swag can a middle aged female HR Pro gather in two days? Oh wait – I think I learned that one as well…
  • Who will be next year’s concert entertainment (since this year we had Hall & Oates – with much complaining from GenY and cool crowd – sorry, I’m not cool or GenY, I went to the concert and sang along to Sara, Smile…)? Being in Vegas, and being that SHRM’s core audience is 43 year old white females – I’m going with Journey or maybe REO Speedwagon or some other group whose last popular single was 20+ years ago.
  • What color and type of underwear did Punk Rock HR, Laurie Ruettimann wear to SHRM 2010 – Ah, yes – I knew this one as well – http://tweetphoto.com/28696565 TMI Laurie!
  • In defense of the haters about the lack of true HR Pros speaking at SHRM: HR/Recruiting Guru @GerryCrispin did corner me and ask “Well, why the hell didn’t you put in to speak, instead of some of these other people they have?” Great question from Gerry, in which I replied “You, know – you have to apply a year in advance.” In which he replied “so, you can’t think a year in advance!” In a nut shell – the essence of my career opportunity area – thanks for pointing it out Gerry!

Quick Idea: for all the HR Vendors on how to do the SHRM Expo better next year: 1. Get booth with some comfy chairs/couches and wifi access.  2. Get one of those big frozen margarita machines (it’s Vegas next year – so alcohol is welcome 24/7). 3. Let me come in, sit down, catch up on email and relax.  4. Come over and offer me a drink.  5. Sit down, introduce yourself and let’s talk.  The Expo has gotten so big – I think it can actually suck the life out of you if you stay in there too long.  Be an oasis of calm in a sea of crazy!