The adrenaline rush of ASTD ICE 2014 is slowing dropping back to realistic levels, tweets leveling off, and people starting to talk about things that don’t include words like “evaluations”, “performance support”, “expo demonstration” or “adult learning”. We are now back to reality and it’s time to address the even bigger question of: “Now what”?
When discussing the “Now what?” with others, the responses inevitably fall into three categories:
1) Back to grind stone, the long fall back to the workplace.
2) My head is full, and I don’t know where to start.
3) Discuss what I learned with my boss (which may or may not happen depending on the managers time and interest)
I hope that at least you fall into #2 or #3. At least then, you are still thinking about the rich conversations, the great dinners, and wonderful people. The task at hand now is to create momentum. In taking action on the “Now what?” I would suggest you evaluate your own performance at the conference – say what? Yep, take a look at the goal you set prior to attending, did you stick to it? Did it change? How did you adjust? What were your takeaways and AHA moments? What is your plan for all those books, business cards, flyers, and notes you dutifully took in the sessions?
My goals this year were very different than previous years as typically I had a corporate sponsor and therefore I would be looking for learning ideas that fit within the needs of my business. This year was all about developing me. My goals were simple, hug old friends, reinforce contacts, make new connections and generate some ideas for Learning Rebels and its next stage. As with most people, I left with a swimming head. I made some solid new contacts, left with a couple of ideas for Learning Rebels that are very doable and shared lots of frosty adult beverages with old friends. But as with anything, the big question is “Now what?”
I have my action plan ready to go, I know who I need to contact and why. I know what I need to research, and I know that I overindulged at the bookstore, so I need to make time to go through materials that in the moment felt important. Having my list ready, I proceeded full steam ahead and got another puppy and he has been thusly christened as Oliver. I know it feels like I’m going off topic, but stay with me. The purpose for getting Jack a little brother was that I felt he needed a buddy, someone to chase birds with, and someone with whom to share his secret hiding places. You know, someone with shared interests. It can be lonely being a small dog in a big house when your Mom does nothing but work all day. See where I’m going here? We all need that buddy, that friend, that person with whom to vent about the little things (and big things) that pop up. So we don’t feel lonely in the big house of ASTD. The most important thing I accomplished at ICE was connecting with old friends and making new ones. I feel rejuvenated and recharged and in general ready to tackle the world again. I look at my puppies and they charge each other. My goal is keep up the connections and stay charged. Which as we all know, is easier said than done.
Regarding other aspects of the conference?
1) I won’t get into the rebranding – if you want to read more about ASTD becoming ATD – Association for Talent Development, I suggest you read this well-crafted and clear minded post by David Kelly – What’s In A Name, Plenty. I couldn’t have said it better. So I won’t.
2) I am taking the time to sort through my twitterfeed there is a lot of good stuff out there under the #ASTD2014 tag, and I’ll share them via the Learning Rebels FB page. Here. Not to mention a number of great pictures.
3) Sort the collection of business cards I acquired, find those people on LinkedIn & twitter and connect. This is a critical step to building your network and keeping connections alive.
Lastly, I wanted to share with you perspectives from some of the different people I know and respect, all of whom had different goals for the conference. I thought it would be interesting to read about how they were going to approach coming off of the high of being in a buzzing, highly charged atmosphere such as ASTD ICE 2014 and discover what their “What now?” looks like. Stand by as each day this week, I’ll post a different point of view. First up:
Valerie Noll. You can find Valerie on twitter @imagiRaven. I hope you can feel her excitement. Being around Valerie is like being in a bubble of positivity. You can’t help but have a positive outlook and mindset after you have shared a few minutes with her. I find her story below to be a great example of how, in a flash, the best laid plans can change – for the better. When you are at a conference such as this, keep your eyes opened and listen to your gut.
Here is her story.
I saved for a year to attend ASTD ICE in 2014. That is how important it was to me to attend. And it was worth every single cent.
My original goals were professional development, connecting with friends, and meeting new people. As an Instructional Designer, I hoped to gain new ideas to apply in my work, as well as determine a course to grow my eLearning skills and portfolio. I’m also exploring curation and coaching, so I planned to attend sessions on those topics (that is if I couldn’t find a learning design session I wanted to attend). I’ve never been sure “what I want to be when I grow up.” Well into my 40’s, it seems I should make up my mind, so that was in the back of my mind as I prepared for the conference.
By Sunday evening, my goals were starting to shift. I arrived at the Ole Dominion Brewhouse in time to watch the running of the Kentucky Derby. From that moment on, I found myself in the right place at the right time for the rest of the conference.
“Everyone get a penny out.” Ken Steiger knows how to get the conversation started. Soon there were a handful of coins on the table for those of us who didn’t have change. I took a shiny penny. “Now, look at the year. You have to tell us something that happened to you that year.” I looked down – 2014. Um, the most important thing that has happened to me this year didn’t happen to me, it happened to my husband – he got a new job. I went to ICE? That’s kind of lame for this exercise…. Around the table, people talked about their years, and I listened politely, but kept searching for what I would say. Then Maureen Orey, who presented “The 5 keys to Building Career Resilience” on Monday, started talking about 2004. Her description of the transformation she experienced that year resonated deep within me. And I knew in that moment, that 2014 is that for me – transformational.
My goals for the conference completed their shift on Monday when I met Elaine Biech (http://ebbassociates.com/). In less than 5 minutes, she completely changed my perspective. First, she recognized that I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and reassured me that it is okay not to have an answer. Secondly, she told me how to START writing a book.
On Tuesday, looking at the conference app, I realized that the sessions I had planned to attend were no longer what I wanted. Instead, I found sessions focused on coaching and leadership. And Wednesday, as I sat in Sharon Wingron’s (http://www.developpeople.com/) session “Transforming from a Learning Professional to a Learning Leader,” I had an epiphany. My ICE experience coalesced into a vision, and I knew right then that I would be going to ATD ICE next year in Orlando. Provided my proposal is accepted, I will be presenting a breakout session based on that vision. And I’ve STARTED writing a book. Stay tuned!
Keep your eyes open tomorrow for C. Michael Ferraro’s story:
C. Michael Ferraro, President, Training Solutions, Inc. Public Policy Advisor, ATD. (http://www.trainingsolutions.com/Michael-Ferraro.asp)
Want to share your “Now What?” perspective? Connect with me via twitter @stipton or drop me a note on the Learning Rebel FB page. Would love to feature you!
3 thoughts on “In the Afterglow – ASTD ICE 2014. Now What?”
I specifically like your reference to evaluating your conference performance. Otherwise, every conference becomes a repeat. What was your goal going in? Did you achieve it? Did you miss but achieve unforeseen goals? What will be your goal at the next event (and can you justify the next event)?
Thanks JD. I think it is important to take the time to reflect on events such as ICE. This conference is a big commitment in time and money and we owe it to ourselves (and our businesses if they footed the bill), to evaluate our goals. Was this money and time well spent? You mention unforeseen goals – very true. “You don’t know what you don’t know”; setting a goal for a conference is important and something I always advocate but keep those eyes open for serendipitous moments too. That’s how you meet great people and then who knows what direction you may end up going. Hope to see you in Orlando!
Valerie taught me the importance of reflection. Thank you.