Authenticity and New Experiences: Reflections from #ELGL19

Posted on May 19, 2019

ELGL Letters at Baseball

Morning Buzz by Christian M. Williams Twitter: @MyPublicTweeter

After a power packed week of learning and engaging at #ELGL19, I thought it appropriate to share a few takeaways for this #MorningBuzz. The point of conferences is not only to attend sessions and hear about new innovations, but to engage with new people; engaging on both a professional and even a personal level.

As I arrived at the conference hotel, the first person I saw was ELGL’s very own Emily Edmonds. You would think, since I am on the ELGL Board, I would have met her already; I had never met her in person. Despite this fact, it felt like it wasn’t our first introduction. I caught myself, many times at the conference saying, “I met you on twitter” or, “I follow you.” It was nice to put so many (twitter) handles to faces. If you have ever talked to me at length about social media, you would know I am generally not a fan. However, I feel as though our organization brings organic and relevant conversations to social media. I have found many of the interactions with fellow members, on twitter, to be authentic, thought provoking and engaging. I wish the rest of the internet was this real!

Beyond meeting real internet friends, I took many things Tim Gomez, wrote about in his, “It’s a Small World After All”, column to heart. I too am an introvert, despite my best efforts to pretend I am not (and also partake in light karaoke). Gomez said, “It’s always nerve-racking putting yourself out there to new people and faces. Fears of rejection or being rebuffed are rampant, and not without merit.” With Tim’s words in mind, my goal this year was to sit at tables where I didn’t recognize people. While this experience was actually somewhat terrifying, I found it beneficial. You end up expanding your thinking and hearing views that are contrary to your own; I believe this is a healthy and beneficial process. Experiences like these make me wish the real world worked in this fashion. Society, social constructs, perceived divisions and political correctness does not always afford for us to easily engage with different people, hear their diverse viewpoints and challenge your own thinking (I am sure this point can be debated). Challenging yourself either helps reinforce your current beliefs or makes you reconsider them. I will also add that most conversations I had were extremely respectful, even when there was great disagreement; I am not sure if this is the nature of an ELGL conference, or the nature of in-person conversations.

Innovation Session
Innovation Session Tables

Aside from challenging my introvert tendencies, I was able to reconnect with old friends. It was exciting to celebrate member wins! Congrats Zach Navin on your new position! Congrats team Scottsdale on your Clarity Award win! The list goes on!

I am also excited for ELGL’s new Innovation Wiki! At the Tuesday Innovation Summit, one of my takeaways was information sharing is key; I was not alone in this thinking which was refreshing. We all need help with projects from time to time. We all want to see what ideas have worked or could be improved upon. Currently, when I face a problem or have a question, I reach out to some of my government friends in the form of SnapChat groups. A Wiki seems like a much more effective way of information gathering and sharing (it also will last more than 10 seconds or 24 hours). I am very excited to hear more about this new endeavor!

As I reflect on #ELGL19 and compare it to other conferences, the word authentic comes to mind. Not that other conferences aren’t authentic, but it is so much easier to find authenticity in people, through the work they do and the conversations we have at an ELGL conference. This week, it has been the authenticity of our members and our relationships that have brought me joy, leaning and growth! Can’t wait to see you on the Oregon Trail!

I would love to hear your conference thoughts?! Send me a tweet at @mypublictweeter

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