SHRM 2010 Conference, The Blog Outtakes 1: Marcus Buckingham

As one of SHRM’s Blog Squad at their recent annual conference, I had a chance to see and hear some great things. Not all that I wrote, however, got into the official blog. So like others on my blog team, I am giving you a chance to see what went on and share my impressions. It was a great conference with some fine speeches and interesting sessions with Al Gore, Marcus Buckingham, the head of Google’s People Strategy and many others. I focused on the keynotes and anything which was workplace morale or engagement-oriented. I also spent an incredibly touching day listening to material on hiring and supporting our returning vets.  Marcus Buckingham spoke on the last day and I did a “Prequel” for him, to introduce some of his ideas to those who had not read his books (which included myself until a month ago).  Here is what I said after he spoke:


Marcus Buckingham-The Sequel

By David Bowles, @SHRM10 Blog Squad

Buckingham signs for almost 2 hours at SHRM’s Book Store

Let’s see if I can explain this to you: I had high expectations for this presentation, very high. As high as the blackened ceiling in the giant room where the presentation took place. Sure I had seen MB before on video and thought he was good. But this exceeded my expectations so much that they blew through the ceiling and threatened to penetrate earth’s atmosphere. I don’t use such hyperbole too much, but trust me, its true. I have seen hundreds of presentations and made hundreds myself as a consultant but I cannot remember when, if ever, I saw something so good. Its hard to put my finger on it, was it the disarming English humo(u)r, which he warned us about and then promised to raise his hand each time we should laugh at a joke? Was it the self deprecation, laughing gently at himself? Was it his hilarious comedy routine about his and his wife’s visit to their son’s Kindergarten, and the lessons about strengths and weaknesses which that gave us? Was it the way he went through a fact- based presentation with no notes and yet made it seem like an amusement park ride, not a serious topic like “Leadership”, which in fact it was. Was it his mastery of these facts and his use of stories and examples (like Rosa the super-housekeeper at an LAX Hampton Inn)? All of the above.

Afterwards, to show you that this man is more than a great speaker, he signed books from about 10.15 to noon. At 11 when I checked up on him and took some pictures, the line was still huge. As he eventually walked away he was graciously willing to briefly meet, and he said something to me which I won’t forget, after I told him how much I loved the presentation: “I was just out there entertaining myself, really”.

That’s the way it should be done. Thanks Marcus, in my view you were the star of the 2010 SHRM show, a high bar indeed.

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