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    Attending HR Tech? Here are my Top 10 Tips - #HRTechConf

    It's now less than one week until what is in my completely biased view as the Conference Co-Chair the best annual event for HR professionals, the HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas. If you are coming out to the event next week, and I hope lots of readers are, I wanted to serve up my slightly better informed view than most list of the Top 10 Tips for getting the most out of your HR Tech Conference experience.

    So here goes, (in no particular order, save this is how they came to me in a semi-coherent state late last night).

    1. Take advantage of the Conference's 'Welcome' day activities on Tuesday, October 7

    For the first time ever at HR Tech, we will have a pre-conference educational session (no extra charge for full conference attendees), a 'Welcome' keynote from author, speaker, and all-around smart-as-heck person Rahaf Harfoush, and an Opening Reception (with drinks and appetizers) in the Expo Hall, (which will too be Open and with the Exhibitors ready and eager to meet you. 

    2. Don't go overboard on Tuesday night

    HR Tech is closer to a marathon than a sprint. I suppose it is more like a 10K or maybe even a half marathon. Either way, you jump out of the starting line all full of energy and adrenalin and excitement, but after a couple of miles of running at a pace you know you are not ready to sustain you are definitely going to hit the wall. And it might get ugly. In fact, seeing as it is Vegas, it almost certainly will get ugly. My point is you want to build slowly. And most of the really big, fun, over the top night time social events are on Wednesday the 8th and Thursday the 9th anyway. So have fun on Tuesday night, just remember you are not as young as you used to be. Leave something in the tank for the middle and end of the race.

    3. Plan your days, but be flexible, and leave some time to explore

    This year we have a record number of tracks and concurrent sessions. In most of the concurrent session time slots, there are as many as 10 sessions running at the same time. So you are going to want to spend some time in advance thinking about which sessions you'd like to attend, and even make a backup selection (or two) just in case we have to play nice with the Fire Marshal and cap off attendance in a session. But leave some room in your day to linger a little longer in the Expo Hall or take in one of the demo sessions that will be running on Wednesday or Thursday. Or even just to have some time to chat with some of the new friends you have made, (more on that to come). My point is this, it is a Conference, not a synchronized swimming contest - you don't have to know every step you are going to take in advance. 

    4. Don't travel (all the time) in the same pack

    If you are attending the Conference with some of your co-workers, (which is great), make sure to not spend all of your time traveling in tandem. Split up and cover some different sessions, make sure to engage with other folks during general sessions and meals, and maybe even (horror), hit some different parties after hours. You want to make sure you are not just seeing and interpreting things through the same lens that you use back in the office, sometimes breaking away from your co-workers, even for a little while, can help you to do this.

    5. Say 'Hi' to me, or rather, anyone that you really want to meet and connect with

    Of course I want to meet as many people as I can, but you do too. And chances are you might want to meet and chat with one of our amazing speakers or one of our industry experts that will be leading Expert Discussions throughout the event. So make sure you do! All of these execs and leaders are extremely approachable and generous with their time and their insight. So if there is someone, anyone, you want to meet, then don't let a long line of people stop you from doing just that. One of the best aspects of the HR Tech community is how much everyone wants to help, especially HR leaders that are interested in how HR technology can help them and their organizations move forward. 

    6. Take a rest somewhere in the middle of the run

    Ok, much like I am ready to take a breather half way into this post, (at about the 800 word mark and counting), at some point during HR Tech you will want/need to take a little time to recharge. This could mean ducking out a little early from one of the parties, taking a power nap back up in your room after the last session of the day and before heading out for the evening, or it could be as simple as passing on that third dessert from the buffet. All I am saying is you probably can't go full speed all day and night in Las Vegas for too long and come out feeling good on the other side. Find a spot to get some rest, maybe hit the spa or the pool, (it will be pretty hot), and get ready for the last part of the run.

    7. It is ok to talk to the vendors in the Expo Hall. Even ones you have never heard about.

    I know for attendees the overwhelming tendency of Expo visit time is spent walking from place to place, checking out the vendors you are familiar with and/or interested in learning more about, and maybe entering a contest or two. And while you can easily spend hours talking with vendors and people you know, or maybe are currently using in your organization, I really recommend spending some Expo time checking out and actually learning about at least a few vendors that you have never heard about before. Now I don't want to name specific names, (because there are just too many and I will get in trouble as I would have to leave some out), but you know who you don't know, (if that makes sense), and I can assure you there are dozens of amazing solutions just waiting to be discovered. If you are not sure who to check out, send out a Tweet on the #HRTechConf hashtag and just ask. Not using Twitter? Well that is a problem we will have to solve another day.

    8. The General Sessions are big and crowded and long. Go to them anyway.

    Yes the General Session rooms are massive. And crowded. And by the time you get there lots of the good seats are taken. But you still should attend them anyway. We have a fantastic panel on Thursday morning on the Workforce of the Future led by CNN's David Gergen and we have not one but two 'Awesome New Technology' showcases: one for more established providers on Thursday afternoon and one for Startups on Friday morning. You want to learn and be challenged in the Workforce 2020 session and you definitely want to be blown away by the latest and greatest innovations in HR technology in the 'Awesome New' sessions. These General Sessions bring the entire community together and you simply have to be a part of that.

    9. Don't skip Friday.

    Assuming you made your travel plans accordingly and are still going to be in Las Vegas next Friday morning, you want to make sure you drag your tired, sorry self out of bed to make it down for the last half day of the Conference. We have the previously mentioned 'Awesome New Startups' session, a set of great concurrent sessions, (including speakers from Facebook, Goldman Sachs, and CVS), and then what will be a fantastic closing keynote from the hardest working man in technology, Ray Wang. You can do it. It is only a half day and you can sleep on the plane.

    10. And this is the most important one - Connect with as many people as you can.

    This is kind of a boring tip since everyone who gives advice about these kinds of things always includes something like this. But just because everyone tells you to do this, doesn't mean it is bad advice. The truth is the most enduring value anyone (even me) gets from HR Tech or any large event comes from the people you meet, the relationships you build, and the connections you forge. Your next customer, next vendor partner, next boss, next employee, or maybe your next new best friend just might be at HR Tech next week too. But you have to take some initiative to connect. And for some folks, (again me too), that is not always the easiest or most natural thing to do. But you should try anyone. Even if you set a simple goal of connecting with even one or two new people each day at the Conference it will be worth the effort. And if you are finding that to be too hard, then find me and say 'Hi'.

    Ok, that is it, I am out. I also want to thank regular blog readers who might have gotten a little tired of all the HR Tech Conference content on the blog lately.  Next week there will be nothing new here (probably) while I am at the event, but I will get us back to the regularly scheduled nonsense after that.

    Have a great weekend!


    The App that will make me switch to Android

    I am super busy with last minute prep for next week's HR Technology Conference, but I had to take 10 minutes to call out a piece I spotted on TechCrunch about a new app called 'Offtime'. The App, currently available only for Android devices, provides a more sophisticated way for smart phone users to manage the incessant stream of phone notifications into more thoughtful groupings to better manage their work time, down time, and the times in between.

    The Offtime app is built to allow you to unplug without missing any important or urgent matters. It lets you create an approved list of contacts who are allowed to break through your downtime, e.g., family members, important customers, your boss; but otherwise shuts down your phone's apps, incoming calls, texts, and emails. The app can also be configured to auto-respond to incoming messages when you are taking some unplugged time, while compiling for you an activity log of the things that you missed while taking a break from staring at your phone.

    I think this just might be the coolest idea ever.

    Many of us have spent the last several years diligently building up enormous lists of friends, followers, and contacts in various social networks and messaging apps. But now lots of people are starting to feel the backlash from such massive networks and active presence on these platforms.

    Namely, we are almost never not being pinged, nudged, mentioned, liked, or otherwise being notified about something.

    And that can get kind of exhausting. But doing a simple 'full shutdown' doesn't usually work either. We still need to be reached by our family or by one or two close friends or work colleagues no matter what. The problem is that it has been kind of hard in various apps and networks to make a more selective list of who you want to be able to contact you at any given time. It usually is an all or nothing prospect.

    The Offline App seems to have found a way to help folks manage this scenario by allowing a more discrete way to take control of that endless series of beeps and pop up notifications and actually allow you to get some real work done, (or take some downtime), without the full panic of not being contactable by anyone consuming your thoughts.

    I still have an iPhone, so I can't try out Offline as yet (they say they are working on an iOS version), but if this reeally works as advertised, it might be the App that sends me over to Android once and for all.

    If you have tried the Offline App, I would love to hear about your experiences. 


    Some HR Technology Conference Updates - #HRTechConf

    Because you are not ever going to get enough HR Technology Conference news and updates in the next two weeks, here are a few items that I wanted to call to your attention, whether or not you are able to attend the Conference next week from October 7 - 10. (Aside, there is still time to attend! Use discount registration code 'HHH14' to receive $550 off the on site rate, grab a cheap room in Las Vegas on Hotwire, and jump on a Southwest flight and you are all set!).www.hrtechconference.com

    First off, a couple of weeks back the Conference announced the first-ever slate of 'Awesome New Startups for HR' that will be presenting and demonstrating their innovative solutions at the Conference next Friday, October 10. My latest column for Human Resource Executive features more information about these technologies that if you are coming to the Conference or not, you definitely want to learn more about.  

    Next, in addition to the 'Awesome New Startups' session, the Conference will showcase the latest innovations from six more established HR technology solutions providers, (Ultimate Software, Cornerstone OnDemand, Workday, Castlight Health, Dice, and HireVue), in our 'Awesome New Technologies for HR' session on Thursday, October 9. 

    And, the editors of Human Resource Executive just released the names of their choices for the coveted 'Top Products of 2014' who will receive their awards at a luncheon at the HR Technology Conference on Wednesday October 8. 

    I have appeared on just about every HR/workplace related podcast in the last couple of months to promote the Conference, but of course my favorite one, and really the only one you need to listen to, is mine and Co-host Trish McFarlane's own HR Happy Hour Show, where we previewed the upcoming event. Listen to the replay here, or just grab it from iTunes or your favorite podcast app - just search for 'HR Happy Hour'.

    Oh, and one last thing - we have had a few updates and changes to the HR Technology Conference program since it was originally published. So if you are still debating whether or not to make the trip out to what promises to be sunny and warm Las Vegas, please do check out all the program details here and in-depth descriptions of the sessions here.

    So, who will I see out at HR Tech next week?


    How come you're not freaking out?

    So I am about one week away from the start of the HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas, (October 7 - 10, 2014 use discount code 'HHH14' for $550 off the on site rate), (ok the commercial is over), and if there is one question that I have been asked more than any other in the run up to the event it is this:

    How come you're not freaking out?

    It is kind of a weird question, I think, to ask someone that is facing some kind of important deadline, deliverable, or an event of some kind for which there has been significant, lengthy, or substantial planning.

    And for the record, I feel like I am not, in fact, freaking out about the upcoming Conference. 

    But so many folks have have asked me that question in the last few weeks, that every so often I get to wondering myself - maybe I should be freaking out? Is there something that I have missed or forgotten? Is there some giant shoe that is about to drop that I should be losing sleep over?

    And I think the answers to those questions are probably all 'Yes'. There is likely something that has been missed, with an event of this size and complexity and with the literally hundreds of people involved. There is bound to be some kind of mini-drama next week at the event with a speaker who falls ill or a session that does not come together as perfectly as expected. Something will go wrong, it is just how it is, the world is an imperfect place. Stuff happens and sometimes it can't be avoided.

    But what can be avoided is the question in the first place, the little or subtle way in which we make folks begin to second-guess themselves with the 'How come you're not freaking out?' line. Because when you hear that often enough the question turns around into more of a statement - 'You should be freaking out. If I were you I would be freaking out. Something must be wrong with you to not be freaking out.' 

    That kind of thing.

    So here is my advice, or really my request. Stop asking people why they are not freaking out. 

    Because maybe they are freaking out and just trying to hide it from you. Maybe they could use some actual help, instead of just another person reminding them of the pressure they are under. Or maybe they do feel as if they have everything together but with each additional person wondering why or how they are not cracking under the strain that self-doubt (and then panic) might actually start to set in.

    Ok, I am out. I am busy with a week to go until the show. But I am not freaking out about it.

    Just don't ask me again though.


    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 191 - HR Technology Conference Preview

    HR Happy Hour 191 - HR Technology Conference 2014 Preview

    Recorded Thursday September 25, 2014

    Hosts: Steve Boese, Trish McFarlane

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, hosts Steve Boese and Trish McFarlane gave their preview of the upcoming HR Technology Conference that is set for October 7 - 10, 2014 in Las Vegas.

    Steve and Trish will  be co-moderating a panel of CHROs at the Conference, (we are not officially calling this session a live HR Happy Hour, but just between us, that is what it really will be!), and Trish will also be leading an Expert Discussion session focusing on HR technology implementations. 

    In addition to previewing these sessions, on the show, Steve and Trish also previewed some of the other highlights of the upcoming Conference - the keynotes, the sold-out Expo Hall, some of the concurrent sessions that attendees don't want to miss, and even a little bit about the fun and social events that are surrounding the show.

    You can listen to the show on the show page here, or using the embedded widget player below:

    Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlane on BlogTalkRadio


    Listeners of the HR Happy Hour Show can still make their plans to attend the HR Technology Conference at a discounted rate - register with code 'HHH14' (case sensitive), to receive $550 off the full, on-site Conference registration rate.

    Trish and Steve hope to see and meet lots of HR Happy Hour Show listeners out at HR Tech - be sure to say Hello if you see us there!