It is a euphoric and sad feeling that rolls over me as I wake up the day after the TLDC18 conference. Over the last three days, I have personally been responsible for spilling 4 drinks, I have attended multiple sessions on current L&D subjects, made new contacts with people in my field that have similar struggles, took part in an almost world record twitter backchannel event, and cut off the heads of a two-headed wolf monster. Needless to say, TLDC18 was a roller coaster for me. Brent Schlenker and Luis Malbas gave our community exactly what it needed with a conference where we can attend a session that is relevant to our real-world plights and accomplishments. In that conference, I am also encouraged the have open conversations with my peers AND the presenter in the room during the session. It was a comfortable, yet serious atmosphere where everyone shared and helped each with the issues facing in the daily L&D grind. The conference was designed to bring those infamous hallway conversations to the forefront in semi-session form and it was a success. Not only that, but we still had time between sessions to have those hallway conversations so we could dig deep into the discussions started in the room. I met a colleague who is going through an extremely comparable situation that I am. He is also starting a new training department in a company where they have never had one. In a later conversation, I connected with another colleague who is also in the insurance industry and struggling with some other similar issues that I am struggling with in my position. We had time to breathe between sessions. Not just time to run up and talk to the presenter for 30 seconds and rush down the hall to the next session. We were exposed to story writing, video, neuroscience, leadership development, disruption in the workplace, employee engagement, and serious games, just to mention a few. All of those subjects were discussed in sessions, not just shown off to a stale crowd.
The Galvanize location also lent to the ease of conversation start-ups and the highest level of information sharing. It was inviting, laid back, and easy to navigate. I chose TLDC18 as one of my very few conferences I get to go to this year because of my belief in what Brent and Luis spoke about for the last six months. I was not let down. I also assisted in some of the behind the scenes functions as well, which included streaming some of the sessions on the TLDCast platform and taking some still shots between sessions. Yes, I said we streamed some of the sessions on a live platform for everyone to consume. How many conferences have you been to in the last 5 years where you could even take pictures, let alone video capture or stream live any session? We want to share with the community. We want the community to grow. We what the community to be….a community. When all the channels are open, there is nothing left to do but share ideas and concepts and tune those to work best for our customers who want to learn, whether that be students, employees, or actual customers. I can’t forget to give a huge shout to Mindspace for sponsoring the convention and the reception on Monday night. It was an amazing array of food and drinks that were not of typical convention choices.
I have spent the last two years of my professional career sucking up every opportunity to learn more about my profession and discuss it with the people that are inside that profession. When Brent started L&D Talk just about two years ago, I stepped up immediately. I reached out to him personally and offered to assist wherever I could. It formed an immediate bond that started us down the road to making our community better. Up until this week, we had not met anywhere other than virtually or on the phone. Along with Brent, I have made so many direct connections through L&D Talk, TLDChat, and now TLDCast. Again, most of the people I met were open and willing to share all their knowledge of their particular focus in the L&D world. Those connections were also virtual until this conference. I couldn’t have imagined how much closer we would all become over the last three days.
First and foremost, to my virtual partner, Dr. Cara North, thank you for extending your courtesy and help all steps of the way. Everything you did for me and for the conference much were appreciated. You are an amazingly caring person and a virtual wiz on social media.
Thank you, Joseph Suarez, for being that person that continually added the crucial point to a conversation when we just couldn’t get there.
To Sam Rogers: It sucks that we spent so much time making this conference accessible to all in our field and didn’t get to spend much time together. But, having said that, it was amazing to shake your hand, give you a hug, and finally thrive in our environment in the real world. Looking forward to a musical meeting next time!
Matt Pierce made the biggest saving role of the weekend with a place to stay in an emergency. Thank you for opening your door to me and opening our minds with a quick D&D skirmish. It is difficult to find people in the field that really know their stuff, but are willing to unwind in a unique way without fear.
Mike Simmons is a recent addition to my ‘friends in the field’ list, but I was not let down in the personal meeting. I respect your knowledge of the sales field and your tenacity in the L&D field. I also respect the fact that you look for feedback constantly. You preach that in your podcast, but you put it to work in real life every day.
Bethany Taylor was the best player a team could ever have. When we needed someone to come in and take the reins for a few moments, she was there. She also put me and person she was speaking with that is struggling with a very similar situation as myself at his current position together to share ideas. She did this based on my blog and that gave me hope that people are seeing what I am going through, connecting with what I am saying, and sharing.
Andy Hughes. There is a period after that name for a reason. No words can describe how strange it is that we can come from such a small town and be so passionate about what we do in the same field. Oh, and that selfie stick. Kudos for making it lively on the second day!
For lack of a crazy long blog, I want to point out a few people that I got to finally engage with in the real world: Margie Meacham, Toddi Norum, Katie Stroud (round 2), Lisa Goldstein, Josh Cavalier, Anna Leach, Kim Lindsey, and 15 other people I probably left off. I also met some new people that I am going to reach out to soon, so be on the lookout!
We had dinners where we shared stories, lunches where we talked shop, breaks where we praised speakers, and one D&D session the final evening. Yes, I did say Dungeons and Dragons. Matt Pierce suggested it as a post-dinner event and there were some resilient screams of “YES” that came out immediately. So, Matt Pierce DM’d a group that included Anna Leach, Andy Hughes, Bethany Taylor, Josh Cavalier, Joseph Suarez, Cara North, and myself. It was filled with story, trying new things, and failure and success. We all came together to defeat a horde of oncoming creatures and only came out with minor injuries and curses. It was a surreal end to an amazing convention that will affect my work and my memories for years. Thank you again to each one of you for an amazing three days and thank you Brent and Luis for taking the shot and hitting the center of the target!