We’re going on an ADVENTure

As many of you will know, the wonderful Kate Griffiths-Lambeth has, for the last five years, curated a series of Advent Blogs each year on a given theme.

This year Kate announced it would be her last one curating the series, and asked for someone to take over from her.

I had some advance warning of this, having chatted to Kate at the CIPD Conference over some alcohol in the evening, and I mused on my way back to my hotel whether I ought to volunteer.

I mentioned to my wife the following day that Kate was stepping down, and without me even broaching the subject she said I ought to take it over.

So when, for the fourth year running, I wrote my Advent Blog for Kate and submitted it to her, I offered to take it over, but I did think that there would be a great many volunteers and I didn’t really think I’d be taken up on my offer.

But, as things transpired, Kate asked me some weeks later if I still wished to take over the series and of course I was happy to accept.

So, here we are.

Kate has just posted the final of this year’s Advent series and, as in previous years, the popularity of the series and volume of posts has seen it extend into January.

The series has, as always, been a joy to read and take part in, and Kate’s contribution to this must not be understated.

I’ve inherited a wonderful series, in tremendous shape, and I do feel honoured and privileged to be given the chance to do so.

Kate is a hard act to follow and whilst I can’t hope to emulate and duplicate what she has done entirely, I do intend to preserve the spirit of the series and the core principles she has followed in the last five years.

This is a series that isn’t broken, so there’s no need to fix it.

That said, I’m not Kate (and few are, if you know what I mean) and I’ll no doubt have elements of my own that will creep in over time, but I hope to keep as much of the tradition as I can.

Watch out for some announcements in the autumn, but I hope that many of the regular contributors to the series will feel able to carry on contributing, and that they’ll be joined by some new voices, and that all who read the blogs will enjoy them as immensely as I have with recent series.

Kate will, happily, return as a contributor, but her curation will be missed.

If I can do half as good a job as she has, I’ll be happy.

And I hope you will too.

Till next time…


Ps in other news, the New Year hasn’t got off to a great start on a personal level, and in fact on some levels quite distressing. One hopes that, after just one day, things can only get better…

#cipdACE summary blog

A couple of weeks ago I attended #cipdACE and was part of the Blogsquad again. Here’s my reflective summary of the entire experience.

I enjoyed it immensely. It’s always one of the highlights of my professional year and this year was no exception.

The conference itself had a great programme with a wide variety of sessions as usual, but I felt it was of higher quality this year. I found it hard to choose which sessions to go to and the only solution I can think of for this is to get some sessions repeated, even if this means going back to three days.

I blogged and tweeted from many sessions and the links to those are below. However my main takeaways were from the sessions by Rachel Botsman, John Amaechi and Lenny Henry, unsurprisingly as these were the big hitters on the programme.

From Rachel’s session I have been reflecting on trust quite a lot and in particular how being more open and transparent doesn’t necessarily build more trust. On reflection I now agree with this and can see lots of examples of this in my personal and professional life. It will have an impact on how I coach in particular.

I’ve learnt more about trust in my first year running a business than in the previous 42 years of my life. It’s strange how individuals behave towards third party suppliers in a way they wouldn’t dream of doing to a fellow employee, and how that behaviour has shaped the way I now deal with companies.

From John’s session I particularly liked his points about the influence we have in HR or in business. Never doubt that we can change things. As someone once said, you can change the world, one conversation at a time. I like that idea.

And Lenny’s session was awesome, highlighting the role of HR in holding our organisations to account for their inclusivity and diversity, with some intensely personal examples.

The Exhibition was about the same quality as last year but did seem larger, and that’s a good thing. The suppliers were varied and whilst the free gifts are nowhere near the standard of previous years, and seem to be dwindling further year on year, there were sufficient variety of interesting suppliers to talk to.

I’ll repeat what I say every year though. Most suppliers are not plugged into the back channel on social media and this loses them valuable publicity. Many did not know their Twitter handle and lots mistook BLOGSQUAD on my badge to be my company name and claimed to have met others who worked for this company.

A good example of this was @HR_Gem at the Perkbox stand. She asked for one of their unicorns and they refused as they weren’t free gifts. She said if she could get 100 retweets would they give her one and they said yes, no doubt thinking she was mad. About an hour later she had them and collected her unicorn. I tried the same tactic the following day and was told at first that I was making it up about Gem and her unicorn as no one on the stand knew about it. Eventually one person said that someone on the stand had mentioned this yesterday and they thought they’d now get into trouble for it, and so were now not repeating it or grasping the very obvious publicity that should have come from it.

Engage with social media, suppliers. We can bring people to your stand and get you free publicity.

I can think of a dozen ways I’d have been exploiting that if I were Perkbox.

Sadly there were other examples too.

As usual, the fringe and social activities provided as much value if not more, and this is again because the conference programme is so packed with good stuff it leaves little time for networking and catching up with people. My solution here is to consider a three day conference again and spread things out more in the programme but it would also allow fringe activities to spread over an extra day. At one point in the Wednesday evening there were four things I wanted to get to, all at the same time, and I managed two.

But the conversations you have inbetween the conference sessions and at the coffee stands in the exhibition, and in the bar in the evening, are often what makes the whole experience worthwhile. The more of that that can be fitted in, the better it is.

My own social media coverage was enjoyable and I put out a good output- six blogs at the event plus this one makes seven, hundreds of tweets, plus a dozen or so LinkedIn and Instagram posts. And not to mention the pre event promo videos I did on YouTube, which many seemed to have liked. I really enjoyed being part of the Blogsquad for the fourth year running.

Overall, this was a better event than the previous year but there’s still ways to make it even better.

And one day, I might get on the main stage myself, who knows?

Till next time…


Ps in other news, eldest son has passed his driving theory test and youngest son is now sitting up unaided. I have it all going on as a father…