Back In the Saddle: SHRM17

Sometimes there is value in taking a break.  I don’t mean taking a break in the sense of relaxation, but in removing yourself from some activity or situation.  Sometimes it is intentional and sometimes it is beyond your control.  Either way, it offers the ability to gain new perspective on the value of what you’re missing.  I took a break from SHRM annual last year due to a client commitment.  Now, I’m back at SHRM’s annual exposition and conference and it feels good.

Attending so many times in the past, I see that I was taking it for granted.  I moved from being an awe-struck practitioner who gained valuable work insights, to speaking at the event.  It was certainly electrifying and valuable in a new way, but I moved past seeing the real value in the whole experience.  I became so focused on my own presentation, attending sessions just so I could blog or tweet, attending parties and receptions, and overbooking my schedule before the event even started.  This year is different.

I am attending now as what I will call a “floater by choice”.  I am lucky to speak on the Smart Stage and as a Take10 speaker, but plan to keep it casual and informative, not formal and over-prepared.  I am intentionally not booking meetings and planning all the sessions I will attend.  I am playing it by ear… taking it as it comes and following what seems interesting in the moment.  I hope to find that this new perspective will ultimately bring me new, unique experiences and learning here.  I will share all of that with you.

I’m back in the saddle, but it’s a different ride this time.  Stay tuned for what I see and hear on my unstructured journey and follow #SHRM17 on Twitter for all the latest on sessions, learning and fun at the event.  If you’re “back in the saddle” at SHRM17, find me and let’s meet or catch up.

*Thanks to Andrew Morton and Mary Kaylor for inviting me.  Go to for more information on becoming a member, registering for next year’s event, or purchasing this year’s sessions On Demand.



7 Key Steps to Take After Attending a Conference

12140182_10156221886095523_2086492483217665690_oThe 18th Annual HR Technology Conference wrapped last Wednesday and I’m already missing all the people I connected with.  I’m taking lots of steps to keep those relationships going and how I can help others.  Regardless if you attend a conference as part of a group, or if you’re there on your own, the importance is what you do with the information you learned and how you apply it all when you get back to the day-to-day grind.

7 Key Steps to Take When You Return from a Conference

  1. Go through all the business cards you collected and send out connection requests via LinkedIn.  Networking and making connections is one of the largest benefits of conference attendance.  I know we sometimes think business cards are an out-of-date item, but I personally came back with a huge handful and I make sure to follow up with each person in some way.  Definitely worth your time to reinforce those in-person connections and build relationships.
  2. Send a thank you note to any speaker you saw that made a difference in the way you think.  As a speaker at HR Tech and other conferences, I can tell you that people prepare for weeks or months to present.  Acknowledging their hard work is a nice way to make them feel appreciated for the time they spent with you.  Whether it’s a tweet, email or LinkedIn note, it means so much to the speaker.  Also, if you have any direct feedback for that person, share it.  We don’t always get the evaluations so hearing what we did well or what you’d like to see more/ less of is helpful for their next presentation.
  3. Write a summary for your boss on the value of attending.  Many employers do not understand the value of learning at a conference.  Make sure to spell it out.  This is key whether you are in a corporate position, you work for a solution provider or you’re there on your own.  I work for myself now, but I made sure to write a summary of the value so that I can compare it year-over-year as I decide which events to keep attending.
  4. Follow people who tweeted using the #HRTechConf hashtag.  Having a list of people in the HR space at your finger tips is invaluable. Be sure to solidify those connections on Twitter.
  5. Give feedback to HR Tech (LRP).  Hopefully you filled out session surveys or other conference surveys.  If not, tweet them or go to The HR Technology Conference group on LinkedIn and leave feedback.  They work hard each year to pull this together, so share what really worked well and any suggestions for improvement.
  6. Send thank you notes to any vendor or HR pro you met that you want to keep in touch with.  This is an extra step.  A personal note is certainly a way to stand out and make yourself memorable to that person.
  7. Share pictures.  Who know that HR pros could be so fun?  Use social networks to share your pictures.  Speakers love to have pictures of themselves presenting, share the fun ones from charitable events and of course, the real “social” nightlife.

So there you have it- ways to wrap up an event and continue the value.  What do you do when you return home from a conference?  Share your story in the comments.

It’s Here! HRevolution 2013 Tickets On Sale Now!

HRevolution Official Logo black

The HRevolution- sponsored by our premier partner, Sum Total– is coming to Las Vegas on October 6, 2013 and you’re invited!


HRevolution is an industry-changing conference in the US for the human resource industry.  It began as a single tweet on Twitter as a way to bring HR professionals, recruiters, CEOs, and other industry leaders together to discuss the current state of human resources and where the industry is headed.

HRevolution has produced five highly successful events and we are excited to bring HRevolution 6 to a whole new level by refining the focus of the event while expanding the reach to increasingly more high-level HR professionals.  The HRevolution team (Ben Eubanks, Steve Boese, Matt Stollak and Trish McFarlane) work hard all year to bring this great event to you!

Why HRevolution?

What is the ingredient that makes HRevolution different from all other events?  It’s YOU.

You will bring your knowledge, your questions, your fears, your ambition, ideas, and all those things that make you unique.  Then, instead of just sitting quietly in your chair as speakers feed information to you, YOU become part of the sessions.

We pull in some of the most talented thought leaders in the space to guide and challenge us.  You take an active role in the session.  It’s all about the dialog and networking.  If you go home having made some life-changing contacts, we’ll view the event as a success!

We’re  different in that we have generous sponsors who cover much of the cost typically paid by the attendees.  With the help of Sum Total and The HR Technology Conference, HRevolution comes to you at the lowest rate of ANY conference out there!

Tickets/ Registration

HR thought leaders and practitioners from around the globe will be converging for 24 hours+ of mind-bending, trend-setting discussions, yet space is limited, so sign up today HERE!!  Early bird pricing for the first 50 registrants will be $120.  General registration is $200.  Where else can you have access to top industry professionals for that low price?  Nowhere!

Partnering with The HR Technology Conference

This year’s event is co-located with our partner, The HR Technology Conference, the premier global tech event of the year.  With their partnership, you will not only have the opportunity to attend HRevolution on October 6th, you’ll also receive one of the largest discounts possible for The HR Technology Conference ($600 off the regular conference rate)!


You have access to use the room block for The HR Technology Conference at the following hotel:

Mandalay Bay
3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Phone: 877-632-9001
702-632-9000Rate: $199 single/double + tax
Discounted resort fee available: Only $10/day when you book in the HR Technology room block — that’s a savings of $15/day off the regular resort fee.

If you have interest in helping to support HRevolution in any capacity, check out the HRevolution site or email me at  We are looking for greeters, people to man the registration table, and people to help promote the event on social media sites.

Thanks to our partner The HR Technology Conference and premier sponsor, Sum Total, for your generous support.

Now….. go buy that ticket!

Writing, Travel and Tough Decisions

I haven’t been writing much, at least not much that I have shared publicly. Call it the summer slump, but between work, travel, conferences and an active schedule for my kids, writing worth sharing becomes harder to come by.

The great part of writing though, and why I love my blog, is that it is a way I can get some of the ideas out of my head and either into action or just out. My issue is that I tend to get too serious about the content from time to time and start convincing myself that I should only write about HR or leadership or innovation. The truth is that any good leader has many sides and interests and I SHOULD share that as well. I will do that more, starting today.

I spent some PTO time last week speaking at HR Florida. I attend my fair share of events and let me tell you, HR Florida is one of my top 2 favorites. I was fortunate to be a speaker in three sessions: Social Tools for a Global Organization (with my co-presenter, Steve Boese); Fifty Shades of Social (panel led by Mike VanDervort), and a panel on employee engagement led by John Hollon. I’ll be sharing information on those in upcoming posts as well as some great nuggets of information I learned at other sessions. The event is fantastic so if you’ve never been, start planning for next year’s HR Florida now. It will be well worth your time and money.

As the conference ended, my family flew to Orlando to join me for another 5 days of fun at Disney. This is where the tough decison part comes in. No, it wasn’t with the kids, it was a situation back home. I am the biggest dog lover and have three sweet furry friends who are part of our family; Daisy, Annie and Wyatt. Daisy is 13, Annie is 12 and Wyatt is our newest at 2 1/2 years old. They love when we travel because they go to the best puppy camp around. We enjoy watching them on video from our phone and seeing them play with all their other dog friends. I’m one of those dog owners that wants them treated SO well because they deserve it.

While spending the day at what is fondly known as the Happiest Place On Earth, we received some scary news. Wyatt’s back legs were suddenly paralyzed, so he was rushed to his vet. We left the Magic Kingdom and spent the next few hours waiting for information. As it turns out, he has IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease), a degenerative disc disease that is common in Dachshunds (he is a Dachshund/ Jack Russell mix). We learned that it is typically treatable with surgery and can have good results. Being an optimist, I prayed he would qualify for the surgery. My sister and dad picked him up from our vet and took him to a specialist in St. Louis who is well-known for performing this type of back surgery on dogs. Again, we waited for news.

After the specialists saw Wyatt, we were told that he was not only paralyzed, he had lost all feeling permantly and even surgery would not improve that. He was not a good candidate for surgery. My heart broke. My children were watching me, needing me to be strong and all I could do was cry and tell them I’m so sorry. I could hear Wyatt crying too as my sister held him near the phone. We agreed to have our sweet Wyatt put to sleep to take him out of his agonizing back pain. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make and my heart was breaking.

That’s how some situations play out. No training can specifically prepare you. After all, I’ve been through so many leadership training sessions where you’re supposed to learn how to think through tough situations and make game-changing decisions. There are checklists, graphs, ladders of inference, etc. In the end, when big moments come, you just take the information you have at hand, throw in what your heart and head tell you and make the call.

Sometimes I don’t like being the leader.

Sometimes the leader has to make a final call that is life and death.

Sometimes being the leader breaks your heart.

RIP Wyatt McFarlane. You were the best little addition to our family and your “spice” made every day we had with you better. We love you and will miss you forever.

The Evolving Role of HR and Recruiting

Waking up in Chicago at the start of TalentNet Live followed by Illinois SHRM, I am thinking about the messages I am about to deliver.  They are two very different sessions but each ties to the evolving role of HR and recruiting professionals.

As I’ve witnessed in my career, those who seem to get ahead and lead organizations and divisions, the real “on the ground” thought leaders, must take an active role as business leaders and not be solely defined by the HR or recruiting title.  It seems odd that in a relatively short amount of time, less than thirty years, the role of the leader in this industry has taken on such fast evolution.

Gone are the days where we only think of job boards and  compliance.  Gone too are the years where the focus was on the “soft” areas such as performance management and coaching.  Those are all still important areas, but from where I sit, I see leaders with a strong finance focus, those who understand the ebbs and flows of the business, those who help lead the marketing of the employer brand, and those technologically driven as the ones who are advancing.

What are you seeing from your seat?  What direction do you think HR and recruiting leaders are evolving into?

Monday Cornucopia: Reading for Your Week

As we enter into the summer heatwave here in the Midwest, I’m finding myself drawn to indoor activities, including writing.  Catch up on some of my posts written for SHRM (The Society for Human Resources Management).  I’ll be back here later in the week with more on leadership and what to do if you disagree with YOUR leader.

No Prescription for Your SHRM Experience–  What is the benefit of attending a conference if the sessions are not the major draw for you?  Find out in my latest post.

Change Your Paradigm: You Are Not the Dress Code Police–  Face it, managers want HR to be the bad guys when it comes to enforcing the company dress code.  But, what if you didn’t need a dress code.  Is this still relevant?  Does it really matter?  Weigh in on the topic here.

What To Do If the Session You Want Is Full–  We’ve all been to conferences or seminars where the session we want is full.  Here are some tips on what to do instead.

Be sure to check out the posts and leave any comments too!  Thanks



The 10 Conference Commandments

*Sharing from the dusty archives as conference season heats up…

I’ve been a speaker and attendee at more conferences than I can count.  One thing I’ve learned is that in order to get the most value out of your time and money is to set yourself up for success with a little pre-conference planning.

Here are 10 ways you can boost your conference experience as well as improve your networking:

1.  Study the Agenda.

When I began going to conferences, I rarely looked at all the session options.  Now, I study the agenda and have a loose plan that contains:

  • Sessions that will help me immediately at work
  • Sessions that challenge how I think
  • At least one that is unrelated to my current role
  • Time built in so that I can add a few “on the fly” when I’m there

Having room for spontaneity may lead to one of the best sessions you never would have planned on attending.

2. Connect with people on LinkedIn or follow new people on Twitter.

Start by looking up the speakers of the sessions you plan to attend.  If they are on LinkedIn, send a brief but personal message stating that you’re looking forward to their upcoming session.  Next, go on Twitter and search the conference name or, if you know it, the hashtag (i.e. #SHRM12, #ILSHRM, #HRevolution).  You will be able to follow people who are talking about the conference online before the event.  Reach out to a few of them and chat about what they are looking forward to at the conference, what sessions they are attending, etc.

3. Read blogs.

If there is a vendor hosted blog, blogs written by speakers, or other industry blogs covering the event, be sure to read them in the weeks immediately before the event.  It’s a good way to find tips that will help you have a better conference experience.

4. Meet the Speakers/ Session Leaders.

Plan to stay a few moments after the session to speak to the session leader.  Most work very hard to prepare and love to hear your feedback.  It’s also a good time to meet if you’ve previously connected on LinkedIn or Twitter. If they are not using social media, don’t forget to ask for their business card.  The biggest mistake I see professionals make today is not bringing any cards with them to conferences.  It’s still a leading way to connect after an event.

5. Arrange to meet at least 3 people in person that you connected with via LinkedIn or Twitter.

There have been many times I’ve been to an event where I did not know anyone.  It would have been easy to attend a few sessions and go back to my room, but I would never have some of the great business connections I do now if I had done that.  Even if you are shy, force yourself to be a little bit outgoing.  Using LinkedIn or Twitter to learn about someone first makes it much easier to meet them in person.  Take advantage of that.  By having a handful of people you know at least a little, your networking results should multiply as they are able to introduce you to their contacts.

6. Attend at least one session you think you may never use at work.

I used to focus only on sessions that I saw as beneficial to what I was trying to do at work.  Once I began branching out, I actually found that many of the issues and situations I learned about came in handy years later.  People tend to gravitate to what we already know so by taking this approach you are forcing yourself to open up to a different topic or way of approaching work situations.

7. Participate in arranged ice breakers or meet ups.

Anyone who has gone to a conference knows there are always the ice breakers or events that lean on the corny side.  Plaster a smile on your face and jump in with a good attitude.  I’ve found that by doing that and making sure I’m not just hanging around the people I already know, I’ve been able to meet some outstanding professionals I would have never been exposed to.

8. Take notes.

Whether you take notes in a journal or using your netbook, iPad or smartphone, find a way to document those ideas you may need to tuck away for future use.  I can’t tell you how many times I attend conferences and see professionals just sitting and listening or checking their email.  If you are going to take your valuable time and spend the funds to attend, make sure you at least have several takeaways.

9. Think of at least a handful of “to do’s” inspired by the event, then DO them and document the results.

I’ll raise my hand as “guilty” of coming back to work after an event and not doing anything productive that I learned at the event.  What a waste!  For the last three years, I write down ideas as I fly home and then over the next few months, I attempt to incorporate them into my daily job.  Sometimes something clicks and I have great results and sometimes it’s something that doesn’t stick.  Either way, I’m approaching my work with a creative and innovative spirit and using knowledge gained at the conference.

10: Have fun!  Get out an experience life in the town you’re visiting.

Grab some of your new found friends or some you’ve had for years and hit a restaurant that only locals typically haunt.  Take tons of pictures then share them on Flickr or FaceBook so you can keep the conversation going when you’re back home.  By interacting with business professionals in the more formal daytime setting and also getting to know them better in casual settings too, you’ll strengthen the networking results by forming a closer bond than if you were to just attend sessions and head back to your room to “work” each night.

Remember, there are many reasons professionals attend conferences.  The reason with the most benefit is networking.  By trying new ways to boost your networking skills and opportunities you will come home knowing you had a successful event!

If you’ll be at the upcoming SHRM Annual Conference in Atlanta, the IL SHRM Conference or HRevolution/ The HR Technology Conference in the fall, you can connect with me on Twitter (@TrishMcFarlane), through my blog or via email

I hope to meet you there!

What Is Your Talent Mindset? Pinstripe Talent Can Help You Focus

I recently had the opportunity to speak with leaders from Pinstripe Talent about something they are passionate about…. a talent mindset.  

As a Human Resource leader, one of the key roles I occupy is that of helping shape and set the way the organization approaches talent. It’s our company talent mindset.  The same goes for me personally as well as all the other leaders in the organization.  Since “talent” is not a commodity, recruiting and retaining talented, skilled employees is everyone’s job. In order to be successful, you have to have a talent mindset so that you understand what motivates people to stay and what makes them feel valued.

Pinstripe is sharing their ideas about talent and having a talent mindset.  I was fortunate to hear a presentation by Angela Hills, Executive Vice President from Pinstripe at Talent Net Live.  Angela then sat down to answer some of my questions about a talent mindset and I’ll be sharing those here with you in a two-part series.


What is one thing an individual can do to help a fellow leader identify his/her talent mindset?

Well, one thing? Ask the question. Tell people what your Talent Mindset is and ask others to share theirs. Ask your CEO or leadership how they approach talent. Ask them what they are most proud of when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. Ask them what motivates them and why they stay? Ask them what their top talent priorities are. Their answers will clue you in to which Talent
Mindset drives them, but it will also get Talent on their radar by talking about it. You’ll get them thinking and you might even influence them to focus on it more, just by getting them to talk about it!

What are a few of the benefits of knowing your talent mindset and potentially the talent mindset of your team or colleagues?

More than anything, I think it helps you to focus on what you do best.   Knowing your core approach to talent can help you realize why you’re so good at certain things and what others value most about it. It affirms the way you typically approach things. It can also highlight areas you may want to focus on (i.e. maybe you review the summary of another Talent Mindset and really wish you were more like that….), but more than anything, it will help you do more of what you do best.

Knowing the Talent Mindset of your entire team can be very useful. Staffing a project with a variety of Talent Mindsets ensures that you’re looking at an issue from multiple angles. It can also spur conversation and as noted above, I’m a firm believer that the more we talk about something, the more it is on our minds, and then the more it shapes our behavior. Talking more about talent should lead to colleagues focusing more on talent and that is good for business!

*Stay tuned for more discussion about Talent Mindset.   Thank you to Angela Hills, Pinstripe Talent and Talent Net Live for starting the discussion. In the meantime, do you have discussions with your leaders or team about their approach to talent?  Share with me in the comments.