2020 Skillsoft Conference Recap

By Janis Krohe and Bob Leneway

The annual Skillsoft Perspectives conference entitled, “Unleash Your Greatness” was set to be held May 12–14, 2020 at the Hilton Bonnet Creek in Orlando, Florida when the coronavirus pandemic changed everything. The annual ARPCT conference, traditionally held in tandem at the Skillsoft Perspectives conference, was likewise affected. On March 12, 2020, Skillsoft announced that Perspectives 2020 would be fully digital, global, live 24 hour event full of keynote speakers, head-to-head live debates, and customer stories—and everyone would have free access.

The event kicked off on May 12th from Sydney, Australia with several keynote speakers, followed by events in New Delhi, London, and Boston. Of special interest to ARPCT members was the presentation by Special Olympics International highlighting how individuals with intellectual disabilities can be valuable team members in an inclusive workforce.

Brief recap of presentations by two keynotes speakers:

Tara Westover, author of New York Times bestseller Educated: A Memoir, was part of the North American Perspectives conference. The Q&A session discussed her experiences as she struggled growing up without a formal education. She was born to survivalists in the Idaho mountains and did not set foot in a classroom until she was 17 years old. Tara educated herself enough in mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University and later to Harvard and Cambridge.

Westover’s session gave the audience a unique perspective from one who had been secluded, but had the faith to reach out to experience new things. She reflected on the many new things she learned while in college, such as the experiences of civil rights leaders that she described as “a very powerful and disturbing moment” for her in terms of what she thought the world was like and what it was actually like. For her, the “desire to learn is the most important thing” and it is important to teach individuals not only to develop skills, but how to learn. She candidly shared her views on numerous topics and what it means to be educated.

The Skillsoft Perspectives event culiminated with a keynote by Wall Street Journal’s best-selling author of Fanocracy, David Meerman Scott. In his keynote, he discussed his belief that people are hungry for true human connection and not just superficial online communications. He shared several tips on how to turn your customers into fans and grow your business: first and foremost by showing kindness and generousity. Scott gave several examples of how sharing your passions is infectious and builds personal connections leading to growth in business. Organizations win by developing “Fanocracy”—the mindset that relationships with customers are more important than the products they sell to them. Learning to think of your customers as fans will help to you to “unleash your greatness.”

Check out these keynotes and others with your free access to Skillsoft Perspectives 2020 at https://www2.skillsoft.com/perspectives/ and we hope you consider attending the 2021 Skillsoft Perspectives and ARPCT conference. – Janis Krohe

I found this year’s Skillsoft Perspectives virtual conference to be relevant, interesting, and well presented with a sense of actually being at a live conference.

Two keynotes were especially relevant in this time of challenge.

Shawn Achor, Harvard Professor and New York Times best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage and Big Potential explained that our society’s most commonly held formulas for success are broken. Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we’ll be happy.

We think, “If I can just find that great job, or win that next promotion, lose those ten pounds, or (fill in the blank), then happiness will follow,” but his extensive research and other recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that this formula is completely backward. Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work.

This isn’t just an empty mantra as this discovery has been born from rigorous research in psychology and neuroscience, management studies, and the bottom lines of organizations around the world. He further talked about how we can reprogram our brains to become more positive in order to gain a competitive edge at work and create more success, happiness and reward in our lives. Five steps that we can take every day to reprogram our brains for happiness include:

  1. Bring gratitude to mind: Write down three NEW things that you are grateful for each day.
  2. Journal: About a positive experience you’ve had recently for two minutes once a day.
  3. Exercise: Engage in 15 minutes of mindful cardio activity.
  4. Meditate: Watch your breath go in and out for two minutes a day, and
  5. Engage in a random, conscious act of kindness: Write a two-minute positive email thanking a friend or colleague, or compliment someone you admire on social media.

Do these steps for 21 days, and you will begin to see a lasting shift in your mindset towards more positivity.

Dr. Achor has traveled to more than 50 countries and has worked with over a third of the Fortune 100 companies on how to create interconnected happiness and success. His TED talk, The happy secret to better work, is one of the most popular with over 20 million views and his PBS special The Happiness Advantage has been seen by millions.

Dr. Heidi Grant, a social psychologist and researcher, explores the mindsets needed to ensure growth. In her talk, Dr. Grant focused on the “Get Better” mindset in which learning is key. In this mindset, we welcome risk and are less afraid of failure—both are critical to personal and professional success and resilience. She said we should avoid a “Be Good” mindset where we are constantly attempting to prove our superiority to the world. Instead, we should embrace a “Get Better” mindset where we consistently perceive ourselves as having more to learn.

She also discussed identifying your mindset as well as understanding how your mindset can influence persistence, creativity, and engagement. Dr. Grant concluded that you can create a “Get Better” mindset culture on your team and in your organization.

I missed not being able to network and share these wonderful presentations with other ARPCT members in person and hope next year we will be together. – Bob Leneway