Apparently enough Twitter prodding will get me to write a blog post about something. In this case, it is a conference, even though a few blog posts by other people have already been written about the “Get-A-Life” Conference put on by the Total Practice Management Association.
That’s just the blog posts. Let’s not forget the continuing Twitter feed with #gal09.
Last time I talked about conferences was more political commentary than conference summary. Calling conferences “wasteful” because a sliver of the industry appeared to take advantage of tax payer money was unnecessary. It did more harm than good. And thankfully, I did not believe Obama’s characterization of conferences. I’ve been to a few, and got some new business out of the “Get-A-Life” Conference, in addition to a couple from ABA TechShow and the CMSExpo. For a fledgling consultant like myself, such leads from conferences are extremely beneficial.
OK. “Get-A-Life” Conference. Things they did right:
- Location: Hyatt Regency Chicago is not a bad place to hold a conference. Friendly staff, good food, nice rooms. Hard to go wrong.
- Wifi Internet access: Present. And it worked.
- Fast response to attendee needs: Lots of hardware for streaming seemed to imply plenty of surge protectors, but um, no. Not to fear. TotalPMA was closely monitoring the Twitter stream and came to the rescue.
- Events: The dinner after the 1st day was good, and how can you not enjoy a Cubs game from a rooftop?
- Topics: Useful, and interesting, for the most part. A week later, can still recall parts of a presentation comparing “law” and “business” thinking, or “practical” v “creative” thinking.
- Speakers: Good all around; fairly dynamic, didn’t just stand there and read off PowerPoint slides. Gerry Riskin comes readily to mind.
Things that need improvement:
- Breaks: Sitting from 9am-12noon or 12:30, then from 1 or 1:30 until 5 without even a 10 minute break, is mind numbing. There is no chance to absorb what the first speaker discussed before the next one starts. By the second day, sessions were all running together and people started leaving at the end.
- Diversity: The majority of lawyers in attendance were bankruptcy lawyers. Seems as if the first step into getting a life is to not practice bankruptcy law.
- Atmosphere: Felt a bit preachy at times, like I was at a religious revival. Such an atmosphere makes me skeptical, like there is a clear right and wrong way when, in fact, there is an awful lot of gray.
All in all, for a it being TotalPMA’s first conference, they did a good job. The true test though, as with any conference, is how “actionable” attending turns out to be. Many speakers stressed the “30 day” adoption, and encouraged attendees to go back and see what “actionable” items they can implement in 30 days so they can move closer towards getting a life. I’m curious to see:
- If any attendees tried to implement at least one “actionable” item (quite a few raised their hands when asked if they were going to re-evaluate their staff and hiring needs over the next 30 days)
- If any were successful and how they achieved that success
- If they weren’t successful, what challenges did they encounter
I’d be curious to see a report published that shows the real value of attending the “Get-A-Life” Conference, or any other conference. And especially in this economy where every company, large and small, is watching the bottom line. If there is not demonstratable value from sending employees to a conference, then the conference industry will move closer to Obama’s characterization as “wasteful.” That would not be good for anyone.