A Love Letter to ATD for Hosting ICE 2015!

loveWe would like to begin by saying, thank you ATD 2015 for reminding we why we do what we do. ATD Conference organizers really know how the bring it!

We thank you because after a long, cold, and dark winter and an overwhelming demand of client mandates we were feeling unmotivated and questioning if our efforts as leading industry contributors are being heard or was it all for not? After the last few days meeting friends, peers, and followers it is all for something.

This post is to share our feelings with you because we don’t think we are alone in our self-reflection. After speaking to some other colleagues (also leading industry contributors) we were not the only ones feeling this way…and it seems ATD 2015 was the medicine to cure our melancholy.

We can’t speak to the reasons others in our PLN felt this way but we can tell you why we did. Confession time…we are both born entrepreneurs. And when you’re an entrepreneur isolation can often feel like being a caged animal. That is because entrepreneurs are instinctively idea-driven, socially interactive individuals. Working for ourselves and building a business it is in our nature to continually seek new mandates, innovations, concepts, and especially motivations to keep us moving forward.

This is why a conference, like ATD 2015 (and many others), is an energizing boost helps us to refocus and re-motivate our efforts. Every conference we have the privilege to attend and to speak at gives us this energy. But we can all agree that ATD ICE is the MOTHER of all conferences in the L&D space! The beauty of ATD ICE is that the energy is not limited to the physical conference location…it bleeds out to many well thought out social networking events (real events where social actually means meeting people in person).

The day of our arrival our first stop was at our friend’s, the Learning Rebel herself, Shannon Tipton’s (twitter: ) tweet-up at B.B. King Orlando hosted by Red Feather Network founders Michele Lawson and Kelly Phillips (tweet: ). I had also the opportunity to catch up with dear friend Sardek Love (aka: Dr. Love) who one day we’ll share the same stage together (tweet: ). Seriously, you can’t beat meeting new friends in a blues bar and it was a great start to the ATD 2015 week.

Once this event wrapped up, the Learning Rebel group merged with Transperfect’s (tweet: ) awesome party at Cuba Libre (tweet: . This further amped our energy with enough mojitos, Coronas, food, music and dancing to last for hours. They may have heard it a lot but we will say it again, thank you Transperfect team for exceeding expectations and a generous evening.

networkingFor a conference of this size there are opportunities everywhere you turn. Tuesday morning was our first day at ATD 2015. We had to meet up for coffee with friend Dawn Mahoney (tweet: ) where she and again Red Feather Networking host a “Coffee with Dawn”…next time Dawn, you should do a “Coffee at Dawn with Dawn”. Once again, great conversations with new friends.

Shortly after this wonderful meeting with friends we made our way to the speaker’s room to get our registration badges. What good fortune to get a chance to meet with my colleagues and the Community Manager, Learning Technologies at ATD, Justin Brusino (tweet: ), ATD Event Manager Melissa Goodwin and ATD Manager for Conference Education Bridget Dunn (whom both I sincerely thank for including me in this great conference).

The spark of excitement that started the night before began growing into a flame when we entered the exposition hall. Whether you are a potential buyer or simply browsing to see what’s new, you had to be dead not to feel the energy in that massive hall. From the smallest vendors to the industry-leading vendors with elaborate showcases was simply idea eye-candy.

At the expo we met with more friends including Gordon Johnson (tweet: ) and the Expertus team (tweet: ), leading tech leaning thinker and friend Brent Schlenker (tweet: ) (always enjoy chatting with Brent any chance we get), Phil Jones and Mike Murrell with Training Magazine (tweet: ), reconnecting with Linda David at ATD Certification (tweet: , and meeting up with Sue Kaiden (tweet: ) at the ATD Career center.

You didn’t need to worry if you didn’t know how to or who to network with at ATD 2015. ATD’s great networking night is the solution. This year ATD sectioned off the part of Universal Orlando (tweet:  for attendees. The extensive choice of food and drink was icing for the real event, the park rides…our favorites being The Mummy and Transformers 3D. But it was about people too. We had a chance to meet another friend Andrea May (tweet: ) from Dashe and Thomson on The Mummy ride and of course the awesome David Kelly (tweet:  ) VP of program development for The eLearning Guild at Harry Potter of all places!

To this point this was our ATD 2015 appetizer and the main course was up, our concurrent conference session, “Building Strategic Linkages: To Map and Measure Your Learning Strategy” (W308) (http://bit.ly/1ee47nw) Wednesday afternoon. ATD placed our session in a huge auditorium. It appears that ATD selected our session as part of the Global Forum and it would be translated into 5 other languages. We are flattered and honored but talk about pressure!

Even though this was the last session of the conference we received a large turnout and believe we did not disappoint. According to Axonify (tweet: ) in their recent blog post, “My favorite was a presentation by performance strategist and author, Ajay M. Pangarkar” (http://bit.ly/1elLSfV).

Get-EnergizedThe only way you would not feel energized from ATD 2015 is it you were literally dead! It energized us and brought new perspective to what we do and why we do it. Not all of you reading this will agree with this blog post probably because you are not entrepreneurially driven…that’s not meant to be insulting but simply a reflection of how we leverage our conference attendance and participation.

Naturally, many find attending a conference of this magnitude a massive challenge and too often overwhelming. That is what ATD ICE is about…it is about being BIG and AUDACIOUS! But at the same time it is about learning new concepts, meeting new friends, developing existing relationships, and challenging existing paradigms and deconstructing existing preconceptions.

When you decide to attend the next leading workplace learning conference, or take the opportunity to attend ATD ICE 2016, think about what you can expect. Yes, you are there to develop your skills. But it is also a significant opportunity to truly be a part of the learning community as well as being a source to help it grow and learn. It is your opportunity to give back to the community that has given so much to you…and to be part of grander solutions rather than miring in insignificant problems.

Please join us in making the workplace learning environment one that we can all be proud of and help to add value to people and organizations.

Watch for our upcoming post about the upcoming conferences that I will have the privilege to speak at and/or attend.

And…thank you for reading our post…and be sure to look up all of the people and resources mentioned in this post! They are great people with a lot of great knowledge they want to share with you.

Please share your thoughts and experiences with us below! What did you do? Who did you meet? What did you enjoy the most?

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  1. #1 by LearnKotch on May 29, 2015 - 12:59 am

    Superbly written and with all the passion I expected. One day I wil join you at an ICE event and hopefully on the stage together. In the meantinme keep sharing – I jut slove your work and we have heaps in common.

  2. #2 by Ajay M. Pangarkar CTDP, CPA, CMA on May 29, 2015 - 1:37 am

    Con, you are too generous with your praise. Your kind words from a person of oyur reputation means so much and it is appreciated. I am glad you enjoyed the post. And we will be on stage together soon…on one or other side of the pond 🙂

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