10 Things I Learned at the April Texas State Council Meeting

shrm tsc nametagOn Friday, I attended my first Texas State Council (TSC) meeting of the year. It was the council’s annual leadership meeting in which all chapters are encouraged to bring as many board members as possible (not just the President, and President Elect). It was also my first TSC Meeting as past president of the San Antonio HR Management Association (SAHRMA), and as co-director of technology for the TSC (hence the snazzy name tag pic).

There was a lot of info to take in and share with our colleagues, and it was great to catch up with old friends. At every meeting, there are valuable lessons learned, and great stories shared – too many to include in any one summary. Below are some of the takeaways I’ve been thinking about in the few days that have passed since the meeting: 

1. It’s a lot easier than you would think to burn a hole in your pants.

The first thing I did in Austin was burn a hole in my pants with an iron that apparently had a setting equal to the surface temperature of the sun. Haste makes waste. Always check the settings on the hotel iron before attempting to iron anything! Lesson learned.

2. I could have listened to Libby Sartain all day.

The TSC meeting opened with “Good Morning TSC”, hosted by the “Governor of HR in Texas” (State Director), Debi Dault. She moderated a question and answer session with Libby Sartain, former head of HR for Yahoo! and Southwest Airlines, and all around big time HR player.

At one point in the morning, I was bugging Debi with questions about the mini presentation I had to give later in the day, when she gave me an impromptu introduction to Libby. She was extraordinarily polite, in the kind of way you don’t expect from people who you typically only “hear” about.

She carried that same level of accessibility in to the question and answer session, where she really opened up about her career, the history of human resources, and the state of the profession today.

What struck me the most was how familiar her experience was, in terms of how she “fell” in to HR. It’s the kind of story you hear told over and over at mixers. People follow inadvertent paths in to, through and upward through HR, and if you’re like Libby, it means you end up having great stories to tell, and doing amazing things for the profession. Great stuff!

3. The AHRMA Stepping Stones program for volunteer leaders is AMAZING!

Over the last few years I had heard a lot about the Austin Human Resource Management Association’s (AHRMA) Stepping Stones program. It won a Pinnacle Award in 2009, and it’s been the best program around for developing volunteer leaders and a solid succession plan ever since. On Friday, we got to experience it firsthand. And while we only got to partake in only 2 quickie sessions of an extensive 9 session program, I feel like everyone gained practical skills and knowledge that will make them better volunteer leaders.

4. In the above said Stepping Stone session, I learned that I am strongest in “Dominance” (D) and “Conscientiousness” (C) in the DISC Assessment.

This was a real eye opener. There’s nothing quite like sitting in a room with your peers (most of whom you’ve worked with on a chapter board with) and working your way through the attributes that make up our “styles” and the way we work. I saw instant applications in terms of how my approach differs from the people I work closely with, and how we compliment one another.

This session was 3 hours long, but honestly, it went by in a flash. The content was rich, and had such meaningful application that it easily ranks as one of the best sessions I’ve attended in my conference career. I, and I’m certain many of my peers, will be reaping the benefits of this session for years to come.

5. There are a lot more people in the TSC and on the local SHRM Chapter boards using twitter than anytime I can remember.

Towards the end of the day, Shannon Elrod (co director of technology) and I had the opportunity to talk to the group about what we’re working on in regards to technology for the TSC. Through a simple show of hands it was obvious that at least two-thirds of those attending are using twitter. A year ago, that number would have been less than one quarter. The TSC has come a long way, but we still have to figure out how to enable everyone to make the most of these technologies to benefit local chapters and their members!

6. There are STILL a lot more SHRM at large members than there are local chapter members in the state of Texas.

We could probably copy and paste this one in to every update for a while, but it’s still a shocking thing to learn just how many SHRM at large members are out there! For as long as I’ve been involved, I haven’t been one to think that it’s all SHRM’s fault. I think that even with access to all the lists we want, we (as chapters) have a lot to do in terms of creating environments that draw SHRM at large members in to our organizations based on the merits and quality of our associations, not the persistence of our marketing. This is a big topic, one I’ll likely dedicate a whole section to soon.

7. There are great people, doing great things all over the place.

This too could be copied and pasted in to every TSC summary. I almost hate to admit it, but when you’ve been in volunteer leadership roles for a handful of years, it’s easy to forget just how much hard work, and heart volunteers invest in their local chapters. Each year, the TSC’s leadership meeting serves as a refreshing reminder that everywhere you go, across the state and nation, people are doing amazing things for their profession and community. If being part of this amazing volunteer family doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will!

8. It’s impossible to network too much at these meetings.

From the moment I checked in to the hotel until the meeting officially ended (and even a little after), I could not sit still! Everywhere I turned there was a familiar face, someone with an idea to share, a new leader to meet, an old friend to catch up with, or a new perspective to take in!

I’m thankful that the TSC scheduled a ton of networking time into the program at this meeting. I think it really helped everyone make meaningful connections, and in turn, I think we’re all better for it. More and more, we’re seeing a transition where the TSC is all about the local chapters and meeting their needs. In this case, they recognized the need for connections between volunteer leader peers, and it really paid off!

9. People love, love, love, certificates and shirts.

Jeff Freitag, SAHRMA President, nailed it with the white polos for the SAHRMA board. Everyone kept talking about the shirts, and how they wanted some of their own. Nothing says “together” like shirts for the team, and it showed. I’m hoping we’re not the only ones wearing chapter polos for the June meeting in San Antonio!

The TSC handed out certificates to recognize the chapters that had increased their SHRM membership for 2012. It’s a small token of gratitude, but it goes a long way towards getting people fired up about the work they do, and the goals they have set for 2013. Chapter after chapter was celebrating receiving their certificate, taking pictures, and looking forward to doing it again this year. Never underestimate the power of a simple award!

10. The toll roads in/around Austin and from San Antonio to Austin are fantastic.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you’ve ever spent time on IH-35 on the way to, and through Austin I’m willing to bet you will do ANYTHING to avoid the traffic and insanity that comes along with it. I took the toll road to and from the conference, and I have absolutely no regrets. In fact, it was such an effortless drive that I never felt like I had to hit the max speed limit of 85 mph. I kept it at a solid 70-75 mph the whole way and got there stress free! My days of navigating IH-35 in the Austin area are over, and they should be for you too.


Did you attend the meeting? What did you come away with?

Want more info on the Texas State Council or San Antonio HR Management Association and what we do? Contact me, or comment below and I’ll be happy to help!

2 thoughts

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s