CSTD 2014 – Keynotes


As I mentioned in my previous post, here are some quick notes – key points about my experience from this edition of CSTD 2014… Three days of keynotes and sessions, lots of people to see again and lots of new interesting people to connect with.

In this post I’ll start with a couple of keynotes. The sessions will be in a following post.

Keynotes that impressed me:

Daniel Pink: What Motivates Us?

Sadly, I wasn’t fully ready to take notes for that one, the caffeine not yet having reached my brain, getting lifted in a higher altitude by the loud rock music blasting in the room… It surprised me and I really liked it.  🙂

Anyway, great talk, energetic, and full of good points:

  • Talked about explicit versus implicit knowledge…
  • Value of reward versus penalty…
  • Dug into what motivates us, highlighted that money isn’t everything (bonuses/ponctual gain versus fairness in pay)…
  • Autonomy is highly valued – gave examples of giving some “free” time to employees to be creative (with some accountability of course) like Fedex/Ship it Days, 10% time, Genius Hour…
  • Providing a sense of purpose is better than just stating the “what’s in it for me”…
  • Do DIY performance reviews instead of classic authoritarian performance reviews to eliminate wasteful awkward interactions, and increase sense of ownership…

Lots of interesting stuff! Got to get his “Drive” book that many have recommended.

Welby Altidor: Creative Courage

Director of Creation, Cirque du Soleil. Cool! A Montrealer. Yeah!

Quick note: Though many people in the room I’m sure felt like this presentation was a bit too “out there”, as the Cirque du Soleil is totally different from our world, I found that the way Welby did his presentation was totally grounded. Sure his presentation was creative, good visuals and all, what do you expect from a guy from the CDS?  But why can’t we do it like that? It’s not rocket science, is it? We just need to give it a chance, and of course foster the creative juices within our organizations.  Sorry, ranting again…

Welby took is time, driving a compelling message: creativity and agility is [already] in our organization. We just don’t see it clearly [most of the time]. Work with others, draw from their energy. Collaboration is key: when we fail, we mostly fail at collaborating. Realize that problems don’t have an instruction manual. Be a collaborator, a bridge builder: maybe there are others who want the same.

  • Be dumb! …give yourself the freedom to ask stupid questions: you never know what it will trigger and lead to.
  • Don’t ask for permission: we have a role to break the status quo.
  • Be careful of the words we use: they may hinder people’s ability to perform.
  • Choreograph feedback: What do I want the feedback to accomplish? It’s not about controlling the session, it’s about the result we want.
  • Successors: work on giving more space to people around you to grow, even to succeed you.
  • Failure: during a project, put yourself in a state of failure, to create more moments to have feedback, earlier than later to allow to react and adjust.
  • Break rules, but not your principles: give a chance to those who have not done it before.
  • Very little power to control, but a lot to influence.
  • Need more empathy between groups within the same organization.
  • Creativity needs constraints.

Michael Bungay Stanier & Mark Bowden: Be a Presentation Genius

Well that was a great conference closure. These two guys were a riot! My friend and I even thought that we’d leave early to make our train, which in the end, prove harder than we thought: Michael and Guy were just too entertaining!

Basically it was about not only presentation skills but also presentation mindset: as a presenter, you are there FOR the audience, not the other way around. They made a bit of fun of presenters who opt for the traditional way: stiff, arms down, standing behind a podium, reading their notes in a monotone voice… But they also addressed that presenting in front of people is stressful, so “traditional” presenters cannot be stoned unilaterally. Right?  I for one have the jitters in spades when I need to step up. I’m all chatty and energetic one-on-one or with a few other people, but when the time to climb up the never-endif staircase, to stand up there blinded by the light, facing the stoic or sharpened stares all pointed in your direction, well, it can be quite nerve racking. Right?

So they practiced what they preached. They applied their tips and tricks to demonstrate and it can be done with great results. Of course they’re quite use to it. They certainly put on a show. But it all made sense, and quite frankly, when you think about it, it’s common sense.

They did their whole presentation around a series of four letters, one missing, for which we were asked towards the end to identify the words they represent. I’m not going to spill the beans in case you see them in action in the near future.

Quick note:  Mark was a cross between jack Black and Austin Powers…   Very entertaining.

They talked about all kinds of things….

Touch people, to make a connection: at the beginning, as people were coming in and sitting down, they were both walking around introducing themselves and shaking hands. It’s about connecting on a physical level.

Within a few minutes, they got all 700 or so attendees to stand up and do something together: simulate the sound of a coming and passing thunderstorm. (in sequence: rubbing your hands together for the wind, snapping your finder for the rain, slapping your thighs for the hail, stumping your feet for the thunder, then reversing to return to calm… pretty neat!).

Ask a lot of questions, even using questions from the audience to turn it back at them: “That’s a fantastic question: but before I answer this, what are your thoughts about it?” They even joked about it by saying they dont have to prepare because the audience gives the content of the presentation.

To get people involved together, take a few minutes and ask each participant to turn to someone and ask “what was the high point of your week…”, and they reverse the roles.

Body language

Hands down along side the body or in front of the navel is a defensive posture: you’re protecting your vital organs. Open hands on the side, are inviting, and exposing your vital organs: this means trust. If you’re all sitting at a table, push your chair a bit from the table, to expose your stomach area, which also allows using your hands as you talk.

Raise the other presenter’s rank. 

It shows you are not the king. You do not have all the answers.

…and other stuff I couldn’t hear because we did have to leave early.

So that’s it for the keynotes I liked. Next post about a few great sessions.


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