In January 2014, I was looking for opportunities to help myself grow professionally in the IT space. As an IT Director and manager of helpdesks, it’s important that I keep up with the latest and greatest in trends and technologies. Through savvy Google searching, I came across the HDI Conference 2014 webpage. I had never heard of HDI but after quick inspection of their website, I labeled HDI as “yet another certification company.” The conference looked interesting enough that I bought into it. I also wanted to use this as an opportunity for networking, so I subscribed to the Executive Connections portion of the conference. A week later, I found myself putting together my schedule and trying to figure out which sessions I wanted to attend.
As the conference approached, I received lots of fliers in the mail and general emails about various vendors that would be there. I started to frame the conference as any other typical technology conference: a platform for sales. I started feeling as though perhaps I should look elsewhere. However, I was already pot committed so I decided to move forward with it.
The end of March arrived and I found myself in sunny Orlando, Florida. Through a clerical error in my travel itinerary, I found myself with extra free time. No complaint here. I took in the sunshine, the local flavor, and even met a few cool locals. However, I had no idea what was about to hit me like a truck.
His name: Gregg Gregory. An incredible individual who happened to sit right next to me at the pool. I had no clue who this person was, except a very pleasant individual to talk with. We started talking and continued for about 4 or 5 hours, enough time to get a nice sunburn on my back and neck. Gregg would end up being my guide through the conference and introduced me to a slew of people. I also learned quite a lot from him about nothing IT related. What I learned from him were soft skills in management that will last me a lifetime. But this was just one guy, and the conference hadn’t even started yet, I’m sure the sales pitches would start soon enough.
The night before the One Day workshops were to begin, I found myself sitting on the steps in the Gaylord Palms taking in the energy of the environment and drinking a six dollar Grande coffee. As I was sitting there, Kerri Hanna found me and said that if I was bored I could listen in on the Florida Regional HDI meeting. I didn’t want to impose, but was kind of a captive audience. Again, in my head I’m thinking sales pitches. Enter: Eddie Vidal, the speaker for the hour long meeting. He presented his “5 Roads to Employee Engagement” and highlighted some incredible management skills that I could immediately take home and put to use. Two people, two days, talking about leadership skills. Where’s the sales pitch? I decided the sales pitch would come when the conference actually started. Kerri asked me what I was doing the following day during the one day workshops, which I hadn’t signed up for. She was convincing.
The following day I sat in the Creative Leadership workshop by Rob Cordova. My head swirled from the amount of information and learning that I received. My view of HDI was quickly shifting and started sensing that the core value of HDI was to build better leaders. However, the conference had yet to start.
I could sit here and write thoroughly about the events that transpired during the conference. How I learned some Vertical Lessons from Manley Fienberg or found out how Teams Rock with Gregg Gregory. I sat in almost 10 different sessions and keynotes. All of them inspiring and focused on how to manage a great help desk. I’d venture that 30%-40% of the conference focused on the helpdesk specifically and the rest of the majority focused on the soft skills needed to just be a great leader. And I met some amazing people, such as Marie DiRuzza, the President of the New England HDI Chapter.
There were no sales pitches (unless you stepped into the Expo, where I expected to find those). There were no pushy offers to get me to become a member. Just great people doing great work at being great leaders. It didn’t matter who you worked for, large or small. Everyone was there to build everyone else up. I became a fan that week and I look forward to growing with HDI and participating in the local chapter.
For anyone in the Service Management industry portion of IT, I highly recommend you check out HDI and get your team involved. It’s an incredible organization with a mission to create better helpdesks, leaders, and people.