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Posted on Sep 15, 2013

Disappointed, and Disconnected

Disappointed, and Disconnected


By Bob McInnis, Provocateur, Coach/Consultant

I have been attending conferences, workshops, symposiums and forums for 25 years and I always arrive with high expectations. Whether it was a national summit or a local event, whether I travelled across the province or around the world, whether it was an association membership only meeting or a 5000 delegate research and policy symposium, I was always disappointed. I blamed organizers for choosing panelists; I derided speakers for playing it too safe, I questioned other delegate’s credentials and passion. I got to the point that I didn’t want to waste my time travelling and attending another boring session. 

It dawned on me, while flying to Ottawa a few years ago, that there was one consistent element in all those conferences – me. How could it be me? How was I contributing to my own disappointment? What was I doing that lead to my own dissatisfaction? What wasn’t I doing?  A five hour flight, with an unexpected stop in Winnipeg, gave me enough time to figure out that I was the problem (or at least part of the problem). I was complaining about the discussion while doing nothing to stir up the status quo. I was expecting panelists to inspire me but holding tightly to my confirmation bias. I was judgemental about other delegate’s motives but unwilling to allow them to influence my perspective. Somewhere over Ontario, I committed – never again. I began opening my mind, asking difficult questions, pushing the envelope and sometimes being a jerk. I have learned to temper my fierce discussion with respect and curiosity that seems to act as a catalyst that is generative. My expectations started being fulfilled. I set higher expectations and they were met too. I don’t know if my inquisitiveness, openness and provocation improve the outcomes for other attendees but I am leaving inspired and challenged. 

SEWF 2013 is hoping and planning for your experience, in Calgary, to be everything that you want it to be. The organizers have lined up experts and outliers, designed space and process, selected themes and scheduling all to make the forum a remarkable event for you. Now it is your responsibility to ensure that you are ready, willing, and excited to do your part. I offer the traditional advice of pre-reading, scheduling lunches and breaks with people you want to meet, getting enough sleep before leaving home, leaving some time for introspection and remembering to pack comfortable shoes but I also invite you to join us in an online activity. 

Over the next two weeks, we will be probing, playing, prompting, and provoking together through 60 minute interviews, twitter chats, and Google hangouts (See schedule below). I can’t promise that you will be blown away by some new content but I hope that your perspective might shift so the context is different. Maybe if a hundred of us arrive having pushed our own envelopes, we can help SEWF 2013 be as remarkable as the organizers have planned. 

The Social Media Campaign is as follows ( All conversations start at 5PM MST and end at 6PM MST)

  • Sept 16 Twitter poll - respond in 140 characters to the question “What gets you out of bed every day?", using the hashtag #sewf.
  • Sept 23 Twitter poll - respond in 140 characters to the question "How do you sleep at night, knowing what you know?”, using the hashtag #sewf.
  • Sept 25 Google Hangout with some SEWF’ers allowing for rapid fire questions on the key topic “Developing Social Impact Career Opportunities for Youth”.
  • Sept  27 Facebook Chat involving a surprise mystery announcement SEWF has in the works.   
  • Sept 30 Twitter poll - respond in 140 characters to the question " What action do you commit to taking at SEWF2013?", using the hashtag #sewf.
  • Oct 2,3,4 daily prompts, pitches, places via Twitter.

 We hope you will join us.  

The feature picture is courtesy of Compfight / A Flickr Search Tool.

More About Bob McInnis

Bob McInnis

Bob McInnis

Bob McInnis is a father and grandfather who has worked to improve the lives of kids in Calgary for the past ten years. As Executive Director of Brown Bagging for Calgary's Kids, he built a strong community network (5000 volunteers a year) that provided more than 3  million nutritious meals to kids who would otherwise go without. He believes in the ability of individuals and community to solve persistent issues that they face together. He has worked in community since 1968 for very large and very small organizations and movements. In his current role as Provocateur with Remarkable People, he gets to help people and organizations use their strengths to strengthen others. Bob is an activist and contrarian who has been known to slay sacred cows and challenge the status quo. He has been an engaged citizen with dozens of community organizations including Children without Poverty, Calgary Reads, Servants Anonymous, and Friends Church. Bob was the recipient of the First Calgary “Community Vision Award” and the Today’s Parent “For Kids' Sake Innovator Award” in 2008. His most recent degree is in Non-profit Management from Mount Royal University.