SHRM 2010 Conference, The Blog Outtakes, 2: Al Gore

This is the third in a series of blog posts which were written for SHRM’s 2010 annual conference in San Diego, as part of my membership in the Blog Squad. This one did not appear on the official blog but I had fun writing it and wanted to share it with you. Al Gore was really good, tailored his message well to the assembled HR folks, was funny (his trademark “Hi I’m Al Gore and I used to be the next President of the United States” was expected but still cracked up the 8000+ people in attendance). He wove HR and climate change together in an interesting way, which was not shrill, but with a steady fact-based approach. He was more optimistic than I expected, given the calamity in the Gulf, perhaps even because of that. Here is what I said:

Monday General Session: Al Gore

By David Bowles @SHRM10 Blog Squad

I couldn’t help it. I had closed my eyes and was ready to hear that voice, the voice of Darrell Hammond, doing Al Gore on SNL and saying “lock box”. I felt that Darrell did it even better than Al, it was the slight exaggeration which made it so funny and played into Al’s reputation at the time of the Bush-Gore contest, 2000, for being a bit…how can I say? dull? A reputation which he slammed today at the San Diego Convention Center as he told funny stories and covered hugely divergent content with almost no notes.

I waited and waited to hear the Al version, but it didn’t happen. There was no lock box, Al didn’t talk about social security at all (which was what he was going to put into the aforementioned box). He had plenty of material without that.

Its hard to believe the achievements of this man. His introduction started with the Nobel prize of course, then the Oscar but then the unexpected (because I refuse to watch all the self-congratulatory shows) Emmy and a Grammy….who knew he could sing so well? I know he didn’t sing, but just the thought of it was almost as good as my “lock box” (actually it was for a “spoken word” album). Of course he was VP too, keeping the home fires burning while Bill Clinton was off doing what he did best…I mean of course balancing budgets, creating jobs and generally making us all more prosperous (those days seem far away right now but somehow this SHRM event has rekindled my natural optimism significantly). We haven’t even covered being on the Board of Apple at a time of its most extraordinary success, being also an adviser to Google, and the inventor of the Internet in his spare time (just kidding… I am sure he never said that). Think about it, what else would you want to do in life?

It seems what he wants to do is run his TV Channel, Current TV (which has won the Emmy) and keep spreading the word that we have to do something about climate change. I have seen his movie, and the data are familiar, but we received an update on the ice melting, the weather becoming more and more violent (the “1000 year” flood in Nashville, Gore’s home town, only recently, was a good example….how many thousand year events can one have before people realize, its real?)

What impressed me though was his in depth knowledge of business practices, especially those which are impacted by HR. He covered a whole range of them and reached out to the SHRM membership by doing so. We didn’t get the usual “climate only” approach, but instead he wove business sustainability into the climate situation. Imagine, he said, thousands upon thousands of jobs making windmills and solar panels, here in the US; no more wars to protect our oil supply, balance of payments issues greatly reduced. Imagine all this. His vision received a warm response.

But I never heard the words “lock box”, so I’m off to YouTube to get my Darrell/Al fix.

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