There are moments of transcendence. You've felt it before. When a singer hits that certain note that makes your heart squeeze. Or a wide receiver catches the most impossible pass and makes it look like ballet. Or a speaker crafts a speech with such skill that it moves you to tears. These are encounters with virtuosity. I had such an encounter last month.
I had the pleasure of being invited to a unique and wonderful conference. It was the International Accordion Convention. Players, old and young, from all over the world--Norway, Germany, Belarus--came to trade best practices, perform and learn. But one gentleman stood out. He was demonstrating various styles of music on his instrument. When we came in, he was talking to the audience about the tango. He played a very straight-forward tango and played it well, but he stopped in the middle, and said, "This is a very straight tango. No, you have to play the tango like you want a woman to dance with you, but you cannot speak to her. All you have is your instrument." Suddenly, he clutched his accordion and began to play the most exhilarating, hair-raising tango I've ever heard. It was loud. It was gentle. It was passionate. It was…perfection. I could imagine him holding the woman in his arms as he played.
This gentleman dedicated his life to playing his instrument. Out of him flowed virtuosity.
Talent development is a wide open field that invites us to explore and flourish. It's a treat when one encounters an expert in our industry. Last week, I attended Learning Solutions in Orlando and traded conversations with many such experts, virtuosos in their field. Julie Dirksen and Clark Quinn, who have devoted themselves to rigorous research, helping us understand how to design for how people learn. Joe Ganci, Ron Price and Kevin Thorn, who can make an eLearning development tool sing. Megan Torrance, who's doing amazing work with xAPI. Chatbot guru, Vince Han. Each of them offers a glimpse into the incredibly fulfilling work of diving deeply into focused research and practice. They display the rare and wonderful attributes of virtuosity.
On the plane back to Dallas, I thought of ATD Dallas members who have this same drive. I thought of the board members I serve with. Matt Hirst (Past-President), who is a masterful speaker. Laurie Lumston (Director), who understands and practices leadership from a people-first position. I thought of Todd Strosnider (Director) who sees the future with such clarity and effortlessly brings the right people into the room to make it happen. Ann Zoob (EBM of Programs), an exceptional facilitator and natural networker. Lisa Bevington (EBM of Professional Development), who marries change management and psychology to yield amazing results. Amanda Ballard's (EBM of MarCom) uncanny ability to craft a compelling message that says exactly what needs to be said. Bart Castle (EBM of Membership), who can frame concepts masterfully in down-to-earth ways that make everyone in the room feel completely at ease. And I thought of Kim Valliere (Board Admin), a gifted instructional designer and manager of work. I thought of Steff Allison (Chair of SWLS), and her deep knowledge of project management that keeps our Southwest Learning Summit the premier regional conference that it is, and our other VPs, that volunteer their expertise to ATD Dallas and keep us sharp. Our volunteers and members represent some of the most talented TD professionals on the planet. I am blessed to work with and learn from such skilled virtuosos that make ATD Dallas the talent development capital of the world. The purpose of our group is to:
Empower people to change their organizations for good.
If you haven't fully tapped into that, I invite you to start now. Learn from fellow experts, deepen your skills and volunteer your own to a vibrant and growing community of talent development virtuosos. The next transcendent moment is yours.
One way to ramp up your virtuosity is through Degreed. Follow the steps outlined above and get ready for an amazing experience. Access courses through Harvard MentorManager. Search easily for TED Talks, edX content, Business Insider and and HR.com--for free! And, of course, interact with ATD Dallas members and continue the learning started at our live events, with additional content and conversations tailored just for you.
Another way is to volunteer, like my friend and colleague, Deanna does. Complete a volunteer form and join a group of professional friends who are just as committed and excited to make a difference through their own expertise.
Finally, don't miss out on all of our upcoming events in April and June. Special Interest Groups, Career Development and our Community-wide event at Parkland Hospital. I had the fortune of interviewing Mary Anderek, interim CLO at Parkland Academy, who will be sharing their simple approach to building trust with business areas on April 23. She's delightful and I feel confident that you will walk away with some solid ideas for building trust at your own organizations.
Thanks to every volunteer and member in our organization, we are offering Access, Recognition and Expertise. Take some time this month for cultivating your own virtuosity with ATD Dallas.
ATD Dallas President
April 1, 2019