I've been to so many conferences during my career but CareerBuilder's Empower conference had the best recipe for a great one. From taking our seats at 8:30am on day one to the band's final note on day two (explanations later!), the content was nothing but inspirational. Here's what I think made this out to be one of the best conferences ever!
1. Get off to a flying start and aim high!
That's the advice my mother gave me whenever I would talk about the future, and it's definitely the motto of the amazing gymnasts who opened #CBEmpower15. The young adults somersaulted and flipped through the aisles showing precision, dexterity, agility and passion... Words to definitely start the day by, even if I can't do the moves!
2. Own your space, even if you have to invent the label
CaGility - this is CareerBuilder's word. This combination of candour and agility are the values Matt Ferguson, CEO explains the business lives by. The combination means that the business is always generating ideas and then moving forward developing and delivering them. It's simple but effective and I'm starting to feel that my interest is peeked. (I want to learn more...)
3. Show your humanity
What's become obvious of recent years is that big business needs to be human - not just say they are, in order to continue to be successful in a shrinking and more informed world. The background of the business and the building blocks for the future need to be delivered clearly, candidly and with personality. Competitions such as Ideas From Anywhere are inspired and show that everyone within CareerBuilder is an equal in terms of taking this business forward. (I'm now invested, I want to hear more...)
4. Show off your connections!
Name dropping isn't something that I would suggest as a way to win friends or influence people but this business is seriously connected! CareerBuilder is a company with a conscious and because they really do care, the business works with some amazing organisations to make the lives of young people - the jobseekers of the future, truly better. Video clips shown on screen include interviews with Warren Beaty, Pam and Bill Gates, as well as a personal message from President Clinton, illustrating exactly how everyone in CareerBuilder makes a difference. (Now I'm inspired.)
5. Show your wares, don't sell them
As with any commercial enterprise, CareerBuilder has a number of products, solutions and elements on offer. Geographically, the business operates in 60 global markets, has 3000 plus employees and over 50 products or services to offer clients. But we weren't overwhelmed with stats and USPs, it was the client success stories that delivered both an insightful and practical application of how the business works. It was amazing to hear from organisations, like PepsiCo and Wynn hotels, as they delivered their case studies, best practices and important lessons learned. (Now I have something to take away.)
6. Show the bigger picture
Looking inwardly is one way to help prospective clients to align themselves with you, but to ensure that they always have you top of mind, you need to give them a perspective that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Of the 1000 people in the room, I don't think I was the only one touched by Dr. Condoleezza Rice's address. The former United States Secretary of State for the President Bush Administration delivered an astute, from the heart perspective of the world of work, not just in the U.S. but globally. Addressing critical issues such as growth, immigration and education, Dr. Rice projected the need for action, understanding and collaboration between people, businesses and governments to create a better and brighter future for us all. (I wanted to invite her to dinner!)
7. End on a high note!
The conference conclusion? Why the Zac Brown Band in Lincoln Park Zoo of course! Although I'd never heard of the band before Empower, I am now a great fan. The real music entertainment, easy atmosphere, great food and drinks enabled the entire conference to kick back, reflect, relax and network some more on the final night. The perfect conclusion to a great event.
The theme of the event was to empower, and for me it certainly did. I also think it's achieved much more. I was educated, informed and inspired by what I saw and heard. I've made new connections, reconnected with colleagues and I've been reminded of what motivates me - the people I work with. Mostly, I'm excited by what can be achieved if we all work together. (I want to do it all over again!)
What do you think makes a successful conference?