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HR Capitalist Review of #SHRM12 (2012 SHRM Annual Conference in Atlanta)

I know, I know. Don't most people wait to write a review once a show like SHRM12 is complete?

Yes.  But I already know what I want to say.  I'll update the post once I'm at the show this week with any changes of heart.

Here's the Review: 2461-1-shrm-2012-annual-conference

Big Wins for SHRM12 in Atlanta

Couple of things here, pretty clear ways that SHRM is getting better at the annual event than they used to be...much better:

-Big Names that people actually want to see.  Malcolm Gladwell.  Jerry Seinfeld.  Need I say more?  Pretty good rockstars to build a show around.  In the not too distant past, it feels like Seinfeld wouldn't have been an option based on some of the themes in his show - master of his own domain, etc.  SHRM's starting to connect in this area.  Gladwell is a great choice for the pure innovation/thinking differently angle.  Condeleza Rice?  Not bad, but that just mainly shows that SHRM has a lot of cash.

-SHRM finally gets social.  SHRM has loosened up a lot at the show and is actually encouraging social interaction, which is a function of @shrmsocialmediaguy, Curtis Midkiff, getting traction and support in the organization.  What choice did they have?  None, actually, but it's good to see social traction around the show.

-Some personality in the lead up materials to the show.  Just me, or did anyone else notice that the lead up materials to SHRM12 looked less like a non-profit and more like a organization attempting to build buzz and market?

-ATL.  Our company, Kineitx, is based out of the ATL, so clearly I'm going to think this was a great choice.  Except for the heat.  It's been mild all summer, and it looks like the heat decided to show up.  You're welcome.

Stuff That Still Needs Work

-Sexiness of the sessions.  You've got Gladwell and Seinfeld.  Time to let the hair down a bit on the concurrent content tracks.  No question there's a lot of sessions to choose from, but it's hard to really get excited about the marketing of the sessions, even if they are truly great.  Give me a video pitch, an opportunity to interact with the person presenting, something.  It looks like a librarian wrote them, people.

-Connecting with people attending sessions - would love a tool that allows me to see who's attending what sessions, similar to an evite type of thing.  Just another way the org can join 2012.  Here's your big idea for 2013, SHRM - create profiles of 30 different types of attendees, then have them put together a "playlist" of the sessions they're going to attend - then allow people to select that playlist to get their intial agenda, then modify it and even show the number of people who have intially elected a playlist before they modified it.  Boom - I just solved your concurrent session problem.  You're welcome.

Things That Are Broken

-OK, you've still got the SHRM Members for Transparency group out there, and they sent an email last week saying they got bounced from the space they arranged for their Sunday press conference by SHRM, who told the hotel they weren't authorized, etc.  So the little guys looking to hold the bigger org accountable had to scamble to find space.  Is that true, SHRM?  If so, it's weak.  You need more people (not less) who care enough to spend time, money and energy trying to disrupt the status quo.  #shame.  But hey, you're the boss, right?  Just send one of the administrative bouncers over there to break their collective legs.  

THE OVERALL REVIEW GRADE** - B.  I used to be "C-".  You're doing well.  Don't get too cocky about crushing dissent, though.  That'll cause you to go down even if you keep the production values high.

**How I'll Know You've Really Arrived: At about 50 different prominent spots at the show, you allow a twitter feed to roll allowing registered attendees (no one that's outside the show and no vendors) to say what ever they want to say.  No editing.  At that point, I'll know that you really get a lot of things that you traditionally haven't about transparency and authenticity.  Curtis Midkiff can help you figure that out if you let him, but remember - that suggestion transcends the use of social - it means you're creating an event that's more focused on the thoughts of the user than it is about your organizational level of control. 

Since you're an association, that would make sense.  Have a great show and welcome to Atlanta, SHRM...



Love the quote, "you're creating an event that's more focused on the thoughts of the user than it is about your organizational level of control" #SHRM12

Wish I was there. My goal is next year!


I've definitely had the same feelings about the SHRM Conference 2012, but I think that the sessions have gotten sexier. The sexiest sessions to attend at SHRM 2012 has grown over time and I think that this year will be a great one. It also take a little bit of connecting beforehand to find out who will be at the conference. I like to use to get together a list of everyone who will be there such as the SHRM Conference Blogger List.


I wasn't there, unfortunately, so I have no idea beyond the couple articles I've read what the speakers discussed. However, I do find it odd that the brilliant and accomplished Condaleezza Rice, who rose from the deeply segregated South to become the country's first female African-American Secretary of State and first female National Security Advisor, is essentially dismissed in your post as a kind of token speaker, mainly booked so SHRM could flash their cash, while Seinfeld, a successful comedian, is lauded as a "rockstar people want to see." Hmm, and you don't think he was expensive? Given that this is a conference for HR professionals whose job it is to promote excellence and diversity at organizations worldwide, your perspective seems a bit twisted to me. I was even more disappointed I wasn't attending the conference when I heard she was speaking. Jerry Seinfeld, not so much. He's very funny, but I can turn on cable and see his bit any day of the week.


Hi Iamnpk -

Gotta start with this - you project the word token on this, that's not what I said - at all. Not fair.

My comments on the speakers is really based on giving the mob what it wants - connection to what's going on in pop culture - Seinfeld represents that, as does Gladwell. Eddie Murphy would be a connection to that pop culture vein and also the generation they're trying to connect with as well.

Condeleza? More people are connected to pop culture than politics - that's the point. I'm a Republican from Birmingham (birthplace of Rice), so I'm a fan. But when it comes to what really generates buzz, always go with pop culture - it's what the mob wants - whether the pop culture is white, black or green.

PS - I'm betting C Rice did a bigger fee than Seinfeld.




I wasn't trying to imply that your comment was racist in nature. Just want to clear that up. I got the impression that you were dismissing her as someone SHRM booked to impress rather than for content and purpose of message. Perhaps that is true, but my view is simply, even if that were the case, her presence makes more sense to me than Seinfeld. I do get your points regarding getting rears in the seats and the "sexiness" factor, although I'm not sure I want the "mob" dictating the agenda at a professional conference. Rather see big names of forward-thinkers and thought leaders, but I fully concede I might be in the minority. Great ideas about being able to see attendees and uncensored Twitter feeds, though, and totally agree on the SHRM Members for Transparency section. But I love controversy if it forces people to thoughtfully re-evaluate the status quo.

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