The Golden Ticket

The Golden Ticket

By Andrew Barrett

The golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a rare, highly sought after prize, which gave its owner an exclusive look into the world of Willy Wonka. The golden ticket holders went on an amazing adventure beyond their wildest dreams.

Do you feel like you have a rare prize holding your conference ticket? And an amazing adventure is in store? Is just showing up EVER the answer?

If conferences are one form of professional development, they generally aren’t the most effective. Ask anyone at a conference what they learned, and they’ll recite a few things which are more accurately described as being memorised rather than learned. Ask them a few months down the track, how did their learning improve their performance?

(Then wait for the awkward silence.)

That is what happens for most people (believe me, I know because I ask these questions, a lot).

So what’s missing?

Let’s try another model on for size, this one is called 702010. It’s based on the premise that most of what we learn, we learn from other people, and from experience. Formal education or ‘knowledge transfer’ contributes only a small amount to our learning, and in turn our performance improvement.

Think about your most impactful life lesson. Mine is ‘measure twice, cut once’, learned from my dad (social) whilst learning carpentry from him (experiential). I know you will have a similar lesson, with a similar pattern.

Same applies to work – how much of what you learned at university a) you can remember, and b) contributes to your performance every day? I’d wager that most of what makes you effective has come from a great boss or mentor, great team members, and trying/failing/succeeding/improving.

I’m sorry to say your regular ticket isn’t likely to give you much lasting value. Now we know what we know about learning and performance, here are my top tips to help you turn your regular conference ticket into a golden ticket:

  • Make a plan BEFORE the conference to approach a speaker who sounds interesting, and see what you can learn from them in the coffee break
  • Do not sit next to people you know. Or work with. Ever. Find strangers and learn from them. And they will learn from you.
  • Plan three stories to tell. First, how you got into health and safety. Second, your biggest life lesson. Third, why you are at the conference (and yes you can brag about having a golden ticket). Listen to other people’s stories.
  • Write down three things for every conference presentation you hear: WHAT (you learned), SO WHAT (how is it relevant/helpful), and NOW WHAT (will I do take action on to improve my/my teams/my organisations performance?)
  • Back at work, share your notes with your team, manager, or customers. Ask them what they think you should take action on.
  • And finally look at your notes every month. Put it in your calendar. Review it with your team.

A friend of mine (let’s call him Barry) told me a story about one of Australia’s leading conferences he attended a few years ago. With a ticket price and a lineup that matched the prestige, I was curious – where did he get the most value? “It’s the networking” he said matter of factly. “We all enjoyed the presentations, but the breaks – that’s why most people were there, for the people in the room”.

See why Barry and his colleagues were so keen to catch up in the breaks at their conference? They figured it out – they knew how to MAKE their own golden ticket. Better learning, better performance.

See you at the conference.

(Maybe come and say hi?)

CLICK HERE to buy your ticket to the NSW Regional Safety Conference & Expo and get the chance to meet Andrew yourself.