The SLA 2011 Conference in Philadelphia – The Virtual Conference Day 3

by Jane Macoustra, 2011 Virtually Present Candidate for Director

Hello. I'm back for the final time. During conference, we have had some amazing Virtual conversations – on topics related to the sessions we have been watching – and we have been able to chat away because nobody can hear us in the real world. We have chatted about the cartoons used by the session speakers and if they are copyrighted to use them; we discussed when we all passed our driving tests; asked about electronic feedback forms and electronic brochures (a la Hyram Smith's session) who the writers and authors are in our group; and what we all do/did as a second or even third career (Bruce Rosenstein). 

Today, we started the Virtual conference as we meant to end it: Virtual Dancing. If you saw the Closing General Session, you'll know what I mean. We – of the Virtual group – had a little surprise lined up! It seemed to be a good way to demonstrate how the Virtual Group has come together to enjoy our version of the conference. 

We have been tweeting and watching the tweets that have emenated from the conference-goers during and after the various sessions. There's a lot of (good/positive) intelligence out there on the ground about what people think of SLA 2011. 

I picked up on some points that flowed through the sessions that I saw (Wergeles/Drucker) that we need to be able to understand new analytical tools and transform data into intelligence. We also need to spend a lot more time thinking about our roles; turning thinking into a core competency and thinking about how we can continue to stay ahead in a world that is evolving so rapidly that we barely have time to take a deep breath as we try to keep up with so much new technology. 

Today we were treated to a session with Hyram Smith on the Power of Perceptions: Dealing With Change. Smith described the concept of the Belief Window and how it works. He used numerous examples of types of Beliefs to make his point to the delegates, describing good, better or harmful beliefs. Smith said that our prejudices are pre-judgements sitting on our Belief Windows. His message was that in order for change to happen we need to change some of our beliefs in the Belief Window. This session included some audience-participation exercises in groups, which the Virtual Group could not participate in. However, it was very good to be able to see the delegates when they got up to speak. I saw some of his message appear on Twitter, when he was describing 9/11: "Bad things happen to good people; pain is inevitable – misery is optional". It was a powerful message. 

The next speaker was Bruce Rosenstein who spoke on Creating Your Future the Peter Drucker Way, and he was talking about the framework that surrounds Drucker's work on the future. He said that we need to think about life and work and focus on the future and not the past; we should remain relevant, have parallel careers and acknowledge the value of continuing education. He pointed out that Drucker said that in his book on Asia that we all change over time and therefore we have a need to reinvent ourselves. Rosenstein showed an interview he did with Peter Drucker in 2005. 

The final message from this session that grabbed my attention, are Drucker's comments from the 2005 interview……."If you are single-minded and focussed on making money then you will make money………happy and contented people live in more than one world………… If you live singularly for money you are more likely to be alienated from your children…………if your goal is to make money, I pity you." These are more very powerful messages from the Master himself. 

The closing general session:  The speakers were extraordinary. The Board addressed the state of SLA from a perspective of their roles – looking at the last few years but also looking towards the future. Janice LaChance is an inspirational speaker and she covered the uncertainties in the workplace happening now and also in the future. When all the 2011 candidates for the 2012 Board positions were announced I could not stand up, because I was only Virtually there.  

When the Keynote speaker James Kane came on we – of the Virtual Group – were in bits. Fast as lightening, but a very smart delivery from a speaker, just floors me every time. As James Newman said to us, "Blink and you'll miss it". Kane is a behavioural scientist and he noted that exclusion is as powerful a tool as inclusion, and therefore our identity and the importance of connecting with those that you work with is part of our identity.

Finally, and I apologise if I am labouring the point here – but Virtual presence brought together a community. If you could view our chat you would would be able to see what came out of this community. We grew close through using the chat facility and looking at our personal profiles so that by the end of the conference, we felt that we knew each other and we felt in tune with each other. We hope you enjoyed the Virtual dancing as much as the real dancers, and as much as I enjoyed the Virtual conference. My thanks go to everyone involved in making it all happen.  

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