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Bonus Focus - Lighting “Afar” in Nashville – LTEN 2017 Recap

By Steve Woodruff

Well, that was fun.

Didn’t I tell you Nashville was a pretty awesome city? And, judging from the smiles on many faces during last week’s LTEN Conference, I think we all had a good time.

In fact, I’ll be selfish here and put in my vote that we do this conference every year in Music City!

As David Fortanbary put it in his brief tutorial on southern-speak, hopefully we all got “afar” (a fire) lit under us to fuel the rest of this year’s training activities.

The venue, Gaylord Opryland (more a self-contained city than a hotel!), was quite a source of amazement, and I heard regular references to people “getting their steps in” each day without really trying. Not that the exercise was going to reduce any waistlines, because the eating in Nashville – well, if you were there, you know.

There was music, of course – lots of it. And, there was the largest attendance in LTEN history. So all the ingredients were in place for a fantastic conference experience.

This year, we had three inspirational keynotes – each of them moving in their own way. Melissa Stockwell (Army veteran, Paralympian and unabashed patriot) told her story about overcoming disability – actually, pushing forward to exceptional victories – after losing a leg to an IED attack in Iraq.

Filmmaker and funnyman Eric Saperston gave a fascinating account of his shoestring voyage across the U.S. in an old VW bus, interviewing successful people and sharing lessons along the way. My favorite quote from him, about his schooling achievements: “I was in the half of the class that made the top half possible.” :>)

Personally, I was most fascinated by the thought-provoking message of Frank Barrett, who shared vital life lessons that can be extracted from the world of jazz music. As someone who tends to stick to the sheet music, his perspective on learning to improvise, and allow our competency to rise to the surface in a free-flowing environment, was refreshing and challenging.

This year, I want to far fewer workshop sessions than usual – much of my time was spent in one-on-one interactions with both clients and vendor/partners. But I thoroughly enjoyed what the group from Merck (Jennifer Iannetta, Carla Buono, Tyrus Barker, Alina Tudor) presented about their evolving trainer on-boarding program – a topic that is a deep concern of my own. (In fact, it’s such a concern that I released this video just before the conference. Take 90 seconds and let’s see if we can eliminate Training Project Malpractice!)

There were a number of sessions on global training, a topic of growing concern that I’m glad is being addressed:

On the last day of the conference the popular 15-minute LTEN talks were a great way to wrap up the speaking portion, with excellent and provocative addresses by Will Thalheimer, Rob Toomey, Mark Hood and Angela Justice, who heads up Learning at Biogen.

What about the networking and social events? Excellent, of course. Plenty of good southern food and drink. And lots of time to mingle, including extended times in the exhibit area (aka Learning Village). There was a great collection of vendor partners in the exhibit hall and, by and large, the feedback I was getting throughout the conference was positive regarding the foot traffic, and the quality of the interactions.

The conference mobile app was well-utilized once again this year, and Mary Myers of Bayer (current President of LTEN) was ever present in the social stream, even when trying to catch dollar bills at the Red Nucleus booth:

Congratulations to all those individuals and teams that won LTEN Excellence awards – there was a record-setting number of entries and, here on the LTEN website, is the list of winners and a couple of great pictures.

This was my 21st LTEN conference, and one of my favorite aspects is the face-to-face renewal of ties with so many quality professionals who have been in the industry for years. I love brainstorming (and joking around) with the many deeply-experienced vendors who work so hard to provide quality training for our clients. And getting to introduce people to each other is one of my favorite activities throughout the year, but especially at the conference.

Let’s see, what else? Well, the LTEN staff did a marvelous job orchestrating the event once again. The Best Hugs award definitely goes to Miki White, because – well, she gives awesome hugs (and we hug a lot here in Nashville…). Some of the attendees had the opportunity to go downtown and experience Predator madness, as hockey’s Stanley Cup playoffs were occurring alongside our conference dates. I saw plenty of uploaded pictures of people enjoying Nashville’s lively spread of honky-tonks and restaurants, and I heard more than a few amazed expressions about how friendly everybody is around here.

So, I hope all y’all come back soon. Next year we’re in Phoenix again, but let’s not wait so long to do this again here in Music City!

P.S. LTEN has posted a nice 4-minute video summary of the conference on YouTube– don’t miss it!

Steve Woodruff is president of Impactiviti. Email Steve at stevew@impactiviti.com.This article came from his blog, available at https://impactiviti.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/lighting-afar-in-nashville-lten-2017-re-cap/,

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