Human resources conferences learning opportunities

Michelle Smith

I recently enjoyed the opportunity to attend the Society for Human Resource Management conference in Atlanta. As an international organization, SHRM now includes chapters in India, China and other countries around the globe. More than 15,000 human resource professionals attended the conference. While the weather outside was muggy, the atmosphere inside was crisp and invigorating.

Day one availed me the opportunity to offer assistance and quickly connect with two other conference participants, one from California and the other from Washington, D.C. We became one another’s sounding boards and security guards all built into one.

We listened to such inspirational speakers as Jim Collins, author of “From Good to Great;” Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state; Malcolm Gladwell, author of “Blink;” and Tom Brokaw, the retired television news anchor. As I sat in the dim light of the auditorium shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other participants listening to the journeys and challenges of these speakers,  I found myself comparing and contrasting their many ideas to my own ideals and goals.

I grabbed two statements that have now become part of my daily thoughts and movements. The first is “go 20 miles every day.” Collins compared two expeditions to the South Pole. One team paid close attention to the weather conditions. When there were blizzards, the team might not move at all that day. When the weather cleared, the team worked extra hard and long to make up the distance that otherwise would have been covered on the bad-weather day. The other team went 20 miles every day regardless of weather conditions. The first team didn’t reach its destination, and all the members were lost just miles away from their goal. The second team reached its destination with all members intact in the estimated time frame. My note to myself was “Go 20 miles every day in the direction of your goal regardless of weather conditions!”

The second statement I now consider daily are these words: “The signature of mediocrity is not the inability to change, it’s chronic inconsistency.” Can you say “ouch?” Here’s my other note to myself: “Get rid of the chronic inconsistency. Mediocrity is not where I wish to be.”

These two statements are changing my life in ways I never would have expected. I still keep in touch with those new friends and have even bounced ideas off of them.  The SHRM conference was priceless.

The Western Colorado Human Resource Association, the local chapter of SHRM, has scheduled its fall conference for Oct. 17 at the Wine Country Inn in Palisade.

Speakers will include Shari Harley, author of the book “How to Say Anything to Anyone.” Harley holds a master’s degree in communication and taught leadership development at the University of Denver. Her engaging style makes it impossible to nod off during her programs. You’ll be laughing while you’re learning and walk away with tools and techniques to transform any relationship.

Sue Hansen is an author, consultant, speaker and trainer who helps people become better people. It’s her mission, her mantra and her passion.

Carlene Goldthwaite, a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources, is work force learning and organizational development specialist with Rocky Mountain Health Management Corporation — the management company of Rocky Mountain Health Plans in Grand Junction. Her goal is to help and inspire people to reach their goals. 

These are just a few of the speakers who will bring value and insight to those attending the WCHRA fall conference. To register for or obtain more information about the conference, visit