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Return on Intelligence

Q: How do you choose the events that you attend?

Time, cost, interest – it can be a big dilemma in our fast-paced lives. There are many possibilities to network, listen to speakers, learn from workshops and experience growth through attending events, summits and conferences. And of course the conflicting dilemma is the same: time.

I’m lucky to receive invitations to many events throughout the year. Now, while I would love to attend them all, like most busy people I have to pick-and-choose. But every event, seminar, conference, workshop, on-line course, webinars, podcast are critical to continuous learning and will help you if you’re truly on a path of development. And in my opinion, we’re all on a path of development whether you consciously aware of it or not!

Why go? Well, when you attend events (such as speakers and summits) and listen receptively, you can experience a big pay-off. I don’t mean financially (necessarily) but you could learn something new, make new contacts or put yourself outside of your comfort zone. Instead of asking the question of “why go?” Maybe you should ask yourself “If I don’t go what would I be doing?” If the answer is something significant happening in life (e.g.: family events etc.) or you have capped out on your budgeted event schedule time for the year, then OK, you have an excuse. But if you just don’t think you’ll get something out of it, you should reconsider. It just may be your opportunity for professional growth. So maybe you need to sign up, show up and pay attention!

Who should attend? If you’re a person who is starting to feel a little stifled or stale or if you’re feeling that the growth curve in your personal and professional development is a little flat. For myself, at minimum I attend one webinar per month. The great part is that most of these are free, one hour in length and can be completed anywhere with wifi access!

What are my expectations? Go to the event with an open-mind. I like to approach each event trusting I’ll at least get a valuable nugget from the experience. And sometimes this comes from something not even on the agenda but via the people you meet. I’d ask that you to keep in mind that these events, whether it’s one hour, eight hours or a few days, are developed to activate thought and ideas and not necessarily the complete answer to business issues. So if you believe that a seminar exists which will solve all your problems, I hate to tell you but you’ll be disappointed. It doesn’t and won’t happen. We’re all different creatures with unique personalities, and we need different advice and guidance. Take what you can learn and build on it to suit your needs.

How do I measure ROI? Stop thinking in terms of the traditional business context: “Return on investment ” (ROI) Growth, whether personal or professional, has a long-lasting residual creep effect. You hear something, you take notes, you refer to your notes later, you place your learning’s into practice and then you start to see small rewards. Much later you look back and recognize your leadership, process, management style and/or practices in life have improved and are now providing a better result. And that result may not be directly related to the bottom line. Not even a top notch CA could run that math. So how about redefining ROI? Let’s describe it as “return on intelligence”. Our growth from any event, conference seminar or the like is directly related to our growth in intelligence. We learn, grow and become smarter as we continue our journey in life.

I recently attended the Goodlife Fitness Health and Wellness Leadership Summit (if they have it again next year, let me suggest you put this on your event list!) It was a tremendous event, full of incredible leaders, movers & shakers running the gamut of industry. I had the privilege of speaking at the VIP luncheon. I spent all day at the event and found it to be extremely enlightening. The day featured some tremendous speakers. Most notable John Herdman, Head Coach, Canadian Senior Women’s National Soccer Team. I’m sure we all recall the bronze medal game and the emotion that was felt coast to coast in Canada as a result of the team’s tremendous win. Johns absolute key message is PASSION! Do everything in life with passion. The closing speaker was Yvonne Camus, Competitor on Discovery Channel’s – The Eco Challenge. You may not know the story but this Canadian team accomplished the incredible feat of finishing the race when many (including Mark Burnett, race founder) counted them completely out. As a matter of fact the prediction was they were not supposed to finish at all! Although the event is spectacular, courageous and probably not something many of us have any aspiration to add to our bucket list, the message was huge! For me it was really a message of perseverance, drive, determination and commitment; that you can accomplish anything with these disciplines in place.

MAJOR hats off to the folks at Goodlife Fitness for delivering a rewarding day with plenty of Return on Intelligence (and deep thanks to Joseph Khoja for inviting me)!

Finally, I guess my point is to get involved. It doesn’t have to be the week-long conference in some far off city that you have to spend thousands of dollars to attend (because let’s be honest, not everyone can afford that.) There are plenty of clubs, associations, committees, courses, member and non member groups who are putting on daily, weekly, monthly and yearly learning opportunities right outside your door! In fact, I have the absolute honour of speaking at a local event here in Calgary on June 12 for the Brighter Business Empower group. Take advantage of these affordable events when they arise – you’ll be surprised with the valuable information and networking that comes out of them. A huge Return on Intelligence!

I was born not knowing and have had only a little time to change that here and there. Richard Feynman (1918 – 1988), Letter to Armando Garcia J, December 11, 1985.

© 2013-2014 R. Todd Millar. All rights reserved.

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