I have been on the seminar speaker circuit for over a decade and that’s normal if you have spent couple of decades in the industry and love to speak! I do prepare for each of my speaker slots and even for a panel discussion I do carry good old styled chit with points written on it. This is just to ensure that I do not go off on a tangent – my idea of respect to my audience! While attending seminars as part of audience, I go with minimal expectations. Net-net seminars do not invoke lot of emotions and may be true for anyone who has spent some time on the circuit.
Couple of days back, my daughter came to me with a huge excitement. She is 18 and was attending her first serious, big seminar on archeology – field in which she wants to pursue her career. She came with the seminar kit bag and asked me if I had some time. When we sat together, she enthusiastically walked me through the session-wise agenda and said, “So much is happening out here but lot of it is in the parallel sessions! I don’t know how to choose what to attend!” then we sat for some time, discussed it and she decided her agenda. As she went off, the simple interaction touched a deep cord somewhere! There are always younger people like her who must be coming with so much expectations and full of innocence! While theoretically I always knew it, it struck me deep when I experienced my own daughter’s emotions. I prayed secretly and hoped that speakers addressing her took their speaking slots seriously – all of you who have attend seminars know what I mean! I for myself made a resolve of always talking at least to couple of youngsters in my profession before my next speaker slot!!
I do not want to deliberate further on effectiveness of seminars or ethics of organizers and speakers. The point that struck me was intensity of my emotions. Just like seminar speakers, many of us start doing certain tasks out of sheer experience. We even do them well and efficiently. The question is do we pour our hearts into it? Does experience and expertise make us a bit callous? Do we forget that whatever is routine for us is critical for someone? If we realize that, would we go beyond efficiency and touch excellence?
How do you really do it? When I thought about it, I remembered an interview in a business magazine I had read long back. It was interview of Chairman of one of the leadings MNCs – known for its HR practices and leadership development. He was asked about the secret behind his company always being on the forefront of HR practices. His answer was simple and beautiful. He said, “I always walk around and many a times meet some people on the shop-floor who are roughly my age. While I am worried about the next Billion for the company, there is this person who is worried about saving enough for his future. Whenever any policy comes for my review, I visualize these people. That’s my self-governance model”.
Every leader needs to take an occasional pause to reflect on choices. She or he needs to think about actual people who will get impacted by those choices – as much as possible personalize the problem. As you move higher up in the corporate ladder, it is important for you to maintain your touchpoints transcending levels. This prevents you from putting people in generic buckets and helps you treat them as real people!
I am sure every seminar speaker, irrespective of her or his experience and expertise will prepare very differently if she or he takes a moment and visualizes a young person sitting in the corner of the seminar hall with pen and paper in the hand and eyes lit with hope!!