As a first-year Training Industry Conference and Expo (TICE) attendee, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I knew there would be plenty of opportunities to learn from training professionals, a variety of topic areas addressed and engaging keynote sessions. However, I never could have imagined the immense benefit that I, as the associate editor at Training Industry, Inc., gained by attending.

Having the opportunity to talk to learning leaders, training managers, human resources (HR) professionals and others involved in the business of learning opened my mind to new perspectives, ideas and challenges facing people in the industry. Here are some of the key takeaways I learned at this year’s conference.

Creative Companies Have a Competitive Edge

Whitney Mortimer, partner and chief marketing officer at IDEO, encouraged companies to “break the status quo” in her keynote, “Why Creativity? Why Now?” She reiterated that you don’t have to be the next Picasso to be creative: You simply have to embrace change and innovative ideas and challenge norms.

Whitney Mortimer during her keynote

Ultimately, Mortimer shared that creative companies are more valuable, agile and effective than those that are not. So, follow IDEO’s motto, “Don’t get ready. Get started,” and encourage your organization to embrace creativity to gain a competitive edge.

Leaders Must Live Their Strategic Plan for It to Succeed

“If there is a disconnect between what you say and what you do, people will follow what you do,” Susan Franzen, managing partner at PatternShifts, said during her featured session, “Expedite Exceptional Execution of Your Strategic Plan.” Leaders must actively live their strategic plan on a daily basis for it to be successful because, as Franzen noted, “Less than 10% of all organizations successfully execute their strategy, because they fail to communicate and live the strategy.”

Take a Breath: Applying Mindfulness Principles Can Help Improve Learner Retention

Mindfulness is a powerful tool for increasing learner engagement and, consequently, retention. In their session, “Using Mindfulness Principles to Increase Learner Retention,” Ellena Stotler and Gennifer Ramsay of BKD shared that, from journaling to quick meditations to deep breathing exercises, there are numerous ways to weave mindfulness principles into corporate training for increased retention.

Encourage your learners to take a breath. In doing so, they will be better able to absorb information and apply what they’ve learned.

Human Skills Don’t Have an Expiration Date

Data can’t bring about impactful change on its own. It needs human skills such as creativity, collaboration, empathy and critical thinking to ensure it’s ethical, Scott Hartley shared during his keynote, “Training Human Skills in an Age of Technology.” As such, Hartley said the humanities and social sciences are still “front and center” in the world of technology. As someone with a bachelor’s degree in English, this statement came as a relief: The demand for human skills isn’t going away anytime soon.

Scott Hartley during his keynote

When You Feel Lost, Remember Your Purpose.

In her session, “Stuck in the Middle With You: The Learning Professional’s Impact,” Loren Sanders said that she, like many training professionals, jumped into the learning and development (L&D) industry headfirst after being recognized as a high performer at her organization. After making the initial leap into the industry, she shared, it’s common to feel out of place, stuck or disengaged on the job. To fight these feelings, Sanders encouraged training professionals to “remember their impact,” noting, “You may not recognize the impact you have today, but over time, it grows.” After remembering your purpose within your organization, you will be reenergized and better able to contribute.

Overall, TICE 2019 was packed with actionable insights applicable to learning leaders across industries, backgrounds and skill levels. To everyone who attended or spoke at TICE 2019, I want to say thank you. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn from your professional development paths. Thank you for graciously sharing your challenges and fears. Thank you for contributing to TICE’s powerful community, and thank you for helping me share your stories.

TICE banner outside the Marriott Crabtree in Raleigh, NC