Notes from GBS Learning Week

Posted: - Modified: | conference, connecting, weekly

I just got back from the GBS Learning Week conference held at White Oaks (Niagara-on-the-Lake), and I wanted to write down my notes before plunging back into e-mail and the daily routine. Here’s a brain-dump just so that I get everything out there. I’ll refine some points into blog posts later.

Ideas for improving networking at conferences:

  • People should get the attendee list beforehand. This would be even cooler if we could help people set up networking sessions. The Technical Leadership Exchange conference had some meeting places set up beforehand, but the 4,000+ attendee list was a bit overwhelming. If the attendee list could be mashed up against your contact list and some kind of social recommendation system, then it might be more manageable. Calendar, too?

Main tent, second time: (~200 people)

  • The value of keeping it fresh
  • Adding humor: illustrating generational change through VCR joke. “It used to be that you could tell if you were on the wrong side of the generation gap if your VCR said 12:00. Now, it’s if you know what a VCR is.”
  • Relaxing and connecting with the audience
  • Video
  • Slides: images are very flexible. I didn’t change my slides, I just changed my content and delivery.
  • People liked my presenter remote because it provided good feedback when advancing slides, it had intuitive controls, it had fantastic range, and it had a slim, dark profile.

Web 2.0 tools, third and fourth times: (~15 + 10)

  • I took responsibility for follow-up
  • I used the talk as an opportunity to collect data
  • I changed it from a list of ten things to a multiple-choice quiz to help people think about how they were currently doing things
  • I could really use two easels next time
  • Maybe I might have a webcam watching the audience, to aid with counting and improvement?

Main tent, first time: (~ 200)

  • Not having text means being able to drop in even better statistics and references on the fly
  • Speaker notes are terrific
  • River metaphor frequently cited afterwards
  • Good joke about half-empty, half-full room

Web 2.0 tools, first and second times: (~ 30 + 15)

  • Back to back sessions are hard
  • People liked my energy
  • Second session was a bit tougher than the first – people may be tired, too
  • Need time in between sessions to mingle and recharge
  • Still good, though!

Sowing Seeds: A Technology Evangelist’s Guide to Grassroots Adoption (~20)

  • Remote presentation early in the morning – doubly-tough!
  • Liked the webcam part – Sametime Unyte has added this, but it’s not available for IBM early adopter accounts yet
  • I need to work on this. Who am I being that people’s eyes are not lighting up?


  • My notebook of business ideas turned out to be useful
  • Random sources of ideas: phone book, StumbleUpon, HalfBakery, good questions
  • One of my strengths that I should build on


  • Bernie Michalik told me about two funny IBM ads: “Websphere isn’t for dummies” and “Should’ve called IBM Global Services here.” I can’t find the originals, though. =(
  • Between my own presentations and some client-related work, I didn’t get to attend many presentations. I’m glad I got to see Jean-Francois Barsoum’s presentation, though. He was funny! Particularly clever things I want to steal: roadrunner running across the screen, and a good illustration of the impact of government policies: the Haiti/Dominican Republic border showing the effects of deforestation. I may also find an excuse to use a fake Powerpoint end screen. Also, during the Open Space thing, he used his cellphone to record people summarizing the points, and he played it back during the wrap-up. Terrific idea – showed diversity of input while getting the points across. He recorded a video and put it up on YouTube, actually.
  • Ruth McLenaghan recommended the book “I Can See You Naked”.
  • Met a number of recent hires (same cohort), like Nancy Gabor and Sameer Gupta).
  • Promised to follow up with people through e-mail, will need to get some kind of mailing thing going
  • Difference between culture (how things get done around here) and climate (how we feel)
  • 5y half ValuesJam gone, good way to illustrate
  • Interest in rotational assignments
  • Utilization versus skill development
  • Blue Consulting?
  • Interest in employee engagement, future leadership development
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