The Art of Leadership in Calgary Engages, Entertains, Educates and Bemuses

by Stephen King | Culture

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I spent Tuesday at The Art of Leadership conference at the Jack Singer Hall in Calgary. An excellent day with great speakers and good networking. Kudos to TechVibes for being a sponsor.

I've always been a strong proponent of personal development … as I say, "I'm never as good as the person I will become" … but I was reflecting that I've been very focused on technical and business skills as of late, so it was great to step back and hear the latest in leadership development. Since, after all, the way we accomplish great things is with great relationships with great people with great strategies and great tactical execution; all of which has great leadership at the core.

Not to mention that I typically attend only technology related events in town, so it's always good to stretch my wings a bit. Interestingly, the 1,500 ('ish) person audience lacked the familiar faces I see at technology events. And, while I'm not privy to the guest list, my hypothesis is that the audience was chock full of oil / gas industry, municipal government managers and HR departments.

This, in itself, is not surprising, considering the general makeup of the Calgary business community. But, this is where the bemusing part comes in. I'll explain in a moment.

There morning consisted of a very entertaining trio of speakers:

1) Patrick Lencioni, author of "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" kicked off the day with an entertaining look at team accountability "The prime source of accountability is not the leaders. It's the peers."

2) Robin Sharma, "The Leader Who Had No Title" was a string of leadership sound bites; well received by the crowd and yours truly … "Leadership is your #1 competitive advantage. Victims resist fear. Leaders know that we are paid to be frightened. Victims resist change. Leaders create change. Leadership is what you do when no one is watching. Victims are busy. Leaders deliver. Leaders don't need to have titles. Change the old leadership model, "Command and Control"  to "Connect and Collaborate". Only the mediocre are always at their best. Ideation without execution is delusion. "It took me 30 years to do this well in 30 seconds." Set a new standard for yourself. Best ways to get a good sleep … treat your work as world-class craft. Work is just work if you just see it as work. Get rid of your addiction to distraction. Technology is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master. The business of business is people. People will forget what you say. People will forget what you do. But, people will never forget how you make them feel. The greatest risk is in not taking risks. Ask for the big order.  Monuments don't erected to honour critics. Adults are nothing but deteriorated children … we lose our authenticity. ETC…! Great talk … Robin was also in town at a signing at Chapters for his new book, "The Secret Letters of the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari"

3) Susan Scott, "Fierce Conversations". Her message was clear and concise. Go figure! We fail by have a single failed, one missing conversation at a time. How do we land that client? One single good, one successful conversation at a time. We're standing on the board of life. Look down at the square you are on. We got here one conversation at a time. One failed. One successful. One missing conversation at a time.

Best joke she told: 

"Bankrupt millionaire in a pub, drawing his sorrows. Bartender asks "How did you lose all your money?" The guy replies, "Gradually. Then, suddenly."

SOOOoooooo … you might be thinking "where does the word "Bemuse" from the title of this post come in?"

On the one hand, we had LinkedId with a professional photographer there "taking pictures you can post on LinkedIn so your profile looks more professional" … which suggests this is not a sophisticated online community and social technology crowd. 

On the other hand, Leonard Brody delivered an EXCEPTIONAL talk on the state of technology, social networks, and connectivity. Leading to our collective accelerated evolution due to having adopted a dominant second personality: we spend about 2/3rds of our day as a virtual online person and the rest as a "real" person (both who interact and behave differently). Interesting thoughts. 

I liked the notion that governmental structures are vastly outdated, for example, "representative government in Canada is based that 52,000 people in a riding need to elect someone to vote on their behalf on matters important to governing the nation. This is no longer the case with technology."  It did make me pause to reflect on the global movement of Occupy Wall Street is just that … it is ground zero of a youth revolution, much like the 1960's, but on a global scale, enabled and connected by technology but driven by the same anti-establishment mentality.

Leonard summarized it nicely "The next 365 days is going to be like a blender."

The "Bemuse" part of story. Maybe it's just me, but considering the dichotomy of the target audience and Leonard's message, I think many attendees had a … realization that the … cheese has … been moved in a significant and puzzling way. And it was just kind of sinking in how big of a evolutionary gap there is between boomers, gen x, and gen y (the first generation that was born in the digital world). 

The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth.

Unfortunately, I had to leave about half way through Stephen Shapiro (promoting his new innovative innovation book "Best Practices Are Stupid") and in fact, missed General Rick Hillier, who I'm sure was excellent. If you were there, feel free to leave a comment.

Good job to event organizers, The Art Of Productions, for mixing up the content so well.

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Stephen King

Stephen King

I'm President of, a "Strategic B2B Technology Commercialization" executive consulting firm based in Calgary, AB offering CMO4HIRE services to technology companies.I've got a great deal of passion to help make my clients and our local tech scene hyper-successful on a global basis. I am a co-founder of the A100, on the Board of Advisors for Startup Calgary, blog for... more

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