In the Afterglow of ASTD ICE 2014 – Now What? Part 4: Tom Spiglanin

If you are curious about our “What Now?” series, you can catch up here with part one. 


TomToday our story continues with Tom Spiglanin who works in the L&D division of an aerospace company and has his Ph.D. in Chemical Physics (yes, another big brain!).  When writing C. Michael Ferraro’s story I categorized him as a “people connector”.  When describing Tom, I would say that he is a “people gatherer”.  Everywhere that Tom goes, he gathers people to go with him. He is the organizer, the one who will make sure you aren’t left out and in my opinion this is because, despite the size of his brain, his heart is even bigger.  To know Tom is to know that you have someone to depend on when you need information or help on a project and if you want to see the cutest little girl ever, be sure to check out the Facebook page dedicated to his daughter Ari (

Tom is the one, I would say, is the most dedicated to attending the most sessions possible. He is curious about his field and goes out of his way to introduce himself to the speakers.  Even managing to gather up Charles Jennings, of the 70-20-10 theory of adult learning, while walking through the conference hallway.  I owe Tom a big “thank you”, for in turn, gathering me up and introducing me to Charles, a person I’ve long admired.  But that’s just who Tom is – the people gatherer. You can find Tom on twitter @tomspiglanin

Here is his story. 

Heading to Washington, D.C. last week to attend the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) International Conference and Exposition, I was struck by what a difference the year had made. I had attended the previous conference in Dallas, but so much had changed in my work since then. It was almost like a different conference I was heading toward in 2014 than the one I attended in 2013. Ironically, change was also the theme of this year’s conference, and the underlying reason for that became clear Tuesday evening. More on that below when I wrap this post.

This year my focus was to discover how to be a more effective change agent in my organization, to continue guiding my instructor/experts in new directions, to use better methods, and to create more effective training. I was also looking for ways to influence organizational decision-making, specifically how to accept non-course options and embrace informal learning.

learning mode chartI wasn’t disappointed. Sunday I attended, “The Best Training is No Training,” by Marc Rosenberg. What struck me most profoundly was the similarity between his presentation and a simple chart Clark Quinn uses to show how experts value informal learning opportunities over formal, but that the opposite is true for inexperienced employees. In a nutshell: don’t invest in training experts in their fields of expertise, instead look for informal and more social opportunities.

I also joined two independent sessions on virtual facilitation, one by Cindy Huggett and the other by Michael Wilkinson. Both were chock full of useful tips and successful approaches that would work effectively in my organization where we increasingly use teleconference and videoconference technologies to connect a geographically dispersed workforce.

Brain at workThe science of learning track was new to this conference, and I thoroughly enjoyed David Rock talking about coaching with the brain in mind. David challenged us to think back to what we were doing during moments of insight. Basically, when we “visually” saw something we hadn’t really seen before. It seems such moments are biologically necessary for coaching. I’m sure there are implications for training as well and plan to read David’s book, “The Brain at Work.”

A personal highlight was Coline Son Lee presenting Project Paramedic. Coline was the project paramedic and offered great tools and resources for resuscitating projects that get off track. I can use virtually all of these immediately in my job.

show your work bookBut the more things change, the more they stay the same. This conference offered two significant opportunities I couldn’t pass up. One was attending Jane Bozarth’s, “Show Your Work,” her first such session following the launch of her book with the same title. She highlights not just personal benefits from showing work, but also benefits to organizations, how to show your work, and specific applications to learning and development.

The other opportunity was to hear Charles Jennings discuss effective implementation of the 70:20:10 framework. If you’re unfamiliar with this, visit I’ve followed Charles’ work for years, and believe in it. Still there was something profound hearing his insights about what works, and what doesn’t that I intend to bring back to my workplace.

They say the only constant in our lives is change. It’s been true for me personally and professionally, and apparently also true for ASTD. Tuesday evening, president Tony Bingham, after discussing the history of the organization beginning in 1943 as the American Society of Training Directors, announced a new name for the organization: The Association for Talent Development. New signage and branding appeared overnight, catching most people by surprise (notably Dan Steer, who blogged a question about whether he could get a refund on the ASTD tee shirt he purchased the day before). Nonetheless, the renaming and rebranding makes sense. We are not about training, per se, nor are we exclusively American. Those of us in this diverse profession work collaboratively to develop talent across geographical and political boundaries more today than ever before.

Tom_Jane_JulieAll in all, the experience in Washington, D.C. was superb. The overall highlight was best summed up by my friend Tricia Ransom who, in response to Julie Dirksen’s question, “What is the best thing you’ve seen so far at the conference?” responded, “Friends!” Well said, Tricia.

Watch This Space

Watch this space! Our story will conclude on Monday with the thoughts of Tricia Ransom.   In the meantime be sure to read the stories from Valerie Noll, C. Michael Ferarro, and Donna Phillips


Shannon Tipton

Shannon Tipton

As Owner of Learning Rebels, Shannon Tipton is a skilled learning strategist, content developer and International speaker. Shannon has over 20 years of leadership experience developing successful learning strategies and infrastructures for training departments within organizations in North America, Europe and Korea.

Shannon works with people and organizations to develop learning solutions that brings actual business results. Recognized as bringing real-world expertise into the learning field, Shannon integrates technologies and social learning tools to strengthen workplace alignment, enhance collaboration and increase learning connectivity.

As author of “Disruptive Learning” Shannon frequently speaking at conferences across North America and Europe and ranks as one of the top 100 L&D influencers on Twitter (@stipton).

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