A challenge for many multi-day conference organizers is how to keep attendees until the end. When bestselling author Daniel Pink took the Convening Leaders 2023 Main Stage on Jan. 11 to present the closing session, “Restore Motivation, Battle Burnout, and Jumpstart 2023,” I felt like the best had been saved for last.
If you weren’t in that room at the Greater Columbus Convention Center or watching him online, you’re in luck — he’s distilled his takeaways at danpink.com/PCMA, and I’m adding some of my thoughts about his advice.
Pink started off by sharing some comically conflicting headlines about the future of work from major news outlets published just days before his presentation to illustrate the point that no one knows what’s going on. We’re in the midst of “The Great Sorting” — we have to figure things out for ourselves, he said. This is a time for experimenting. In the past, he said, we had to know in order to act; now we have to act in order to know. He offered five ways to help us find our footing.
1. Create a 2023 “To-Don’t” list. Identify three to five things in your life that divert you from your important goals and write them down — and then don’t do them. My take: Be prepared to build a case for your boss if any of these things have been part of your job but no longer serve your organization’s goals.
2. At the end of each day, list three ways you’ve made progress. This will counter a sense of frustration that you didn’t move the needle on anything. As someone who gets satisfaction out of crossing things off my to-do list, I like the prospect of documenting that I’m still chipping away at my list even if I can’t yet draw that line through an item.
3. Have fewer conversations about “how” and more about “why.” I think going right from concept to execution is in organizers’ DNA, but putting a pin in the “how” to first ask what we’re hoping to accomplish will not only benefit our audience but enhance our performance by giving us a better sense of purpose.
4. Schedule a 15-minute walk break every other afternoon. We’ve been hoodwinked by the Puritans into thinking it’s morally virtuous to power through the workday, Pink said. For the most restorative breaks, he recommended keeping five things in mind: Doing something beats doing nothing; moving beats stationary; social beats solo (walk with someone you like); outside beats inside (note to wimpy self this winter: the cold won’t kill you); and fully detached beats semi-detached (don’t take your phone).
5. Take the shot. The most effective question for making decisions about whether to play it safe or take a risk? Imagine you’re advising a friend. Pink did exhaustive research for his most-recent book, The Power of Regret, and found what haunts people most often over time is not the actions that they took but what they didn’t do. Except, of course, if it’s on your “To-Don’t” list.
Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.