Come Tell Me a Tale (#WorkHuman '17 Day 1)

We all carry a story,

and the stories we carry...they burn

When you seek to become your whole self

and speak your story

Watch how the world

might quiet itself around you

might lay down its spears

put down its boisterous books

and listen to what you have to say.

- Slam Poet Anis Mojgani - Opening performance at WorkHuman 2017

Not many business conferences begin their event with a reading by an award-winning slam poet.

Then again, WorkHuman 2017 doesn’t bill itself as a typical business conference. (Read my earlier piece on WorkHuman’s own story and trajectory.)

Flanked by images of a star-studded sky, Anis kicked things off today with a mesmerizing invocation to bring our whole self to work. “Your Whole Self” is one of 5 conference tracks this year, alongside “The Crowdsourced Enterprise”, “The Organization of the Future”, “The ROI of Social Recognition” and “The Human Visionaries”.

Each track felt like its own parallel universe. Yet there was a curious synergy and underlying desire to help organizations care more about their employees, their stories and the unique contributions they could make.

Lessons were learned, and stories were being shared in a multitude of forms in the 5 tracks:

- Large companies including LinkedIn shared data-rich results from an employee recognition program.

- Memorable brands like The Motley Fool shared models and frameworks they’d used to retain employees and make full use of their additional work bandwidth and innate passions.

- Mindfulness remained a core, and popular, storyline. One of last year’s most highly-rated speakers returned to lead the room through the science, practice and multi-CEO-endorsement of mindfulness, selflessness and compassion at work.

Today’s keynote speakers were:

- Susan Cain, champion of introverts with her bestselling book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking”, who shared ideas for how to rethink personality, creativity and leadership.

- Chaz Bono, transgender son of Cher and Sonny Bono, who responded matter-of-factly to the notion of being human at work with, “What other way is there?”

Conference attendees include HR managers who specialize in diversity and inclusion (D&I). Diverse voices like Susan’s and Chaz’s bring the idea and practice of inclusion to life, and help D&I strategies become more than just abstract ideas on a planning document.

The central hallway is dubbed WorkHuman Central, a gathering spot for refreshments and lightning TED-style talks. I’ll explore this interactive area more tomorrow. We’re told there’s a gratitude bar for us to give thanks to fellow attendees - a lovely touch to invite reflection and build community amid the swirl of talks.

The WorkHuman 2017 story continues tomorrow.

[Disclosure: Globoforce, host and sponsor of the WorkHuman conference, grants me a free pass to attend and cover the event as an influencer. Unless otherwise sourced or quoted, thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are my own.]


I’ll be sharing highlights from each day of WorkHuman 2017 here on HuffPost, and longer post-event reflections on my magazine I hope you’ll join me on this journey as it unfolds between May 30 and June 1.

Want to lend your voice to something you care about, but don’t know how best to harness that desire? Join my free 5-day writing experience ‘Write with Inner Power’ and learn how to craft your impact and express your truth.

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