SHRM11 – Day Minus 5 – Michael J. Fox – Rant or Rave?

When it was announced last year that Al Gore was going to be one of the keynote speakers at the 2010 SHRM Annual Conference, the HR web exploded with a firestorm of  negative comments on his selection, and a whole rash of people claimed they weren’t going to attend because of his persona and his politics. I even chimed in on the issue, although my blog post argued against avoiding an entire conference because of one speaker.

So I was a tad surprised when no one seemed to care this year that the speaker chosen to close the conference and send 15 or 20 thousand attendees forward to impact the HR field was Michael J. Fox. Seriously?

Don’t get me wrong – I loved the guy as Marty McFly in the Back To the Future movie franchise, and I applaud him for starting a foundation to address Parkinson’s disease after he was diagnosed with the illness. But in this day and age, when jobs remain scarce and HR is increasingly addressing its corporate relevancy, do we really need to hear a semi-retired actor talk about Parkinson’s disease?

SHRM says Michael J. Fox will “close the 2011 conference with his incredible story; he will talk about his struggle, his outlook on life and how to remain positive, even in difficult times.”

I would rather have a dynamic leader – or several of them – talk about how HR can help create jobs and give  workers a better career experience.  The Dallas Mavericks Cheerleaders Dancers shaking their pom pons didn’t help that team win an NBA championship, organizational excellence did.

I’ll be flying home Wednesday morning and missing his speech, and I can’t say I’m too unhappy about that.


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3 thoughts on “SHRM11 – Day Minus 5 – Michael J. Fox – Rant or Rave?”

  1. Good post Joan. The uproar over Huffington speaking this year reminded me of the HUGE uproar over Gore last year. Like you, I stepped in on the “let him speak” side and was blasted for it by many people on SHRM Connect and a couple of groups on LinkedIn, both of which I stopped using because of the acid remarks and small mindedness.

    Like you, I don’t go for keynotes, I go for education and networking. If one decides to attend or not attend because of a specific keynote, both on the national and state conference level, are missing quite a bit.

    I look forward to reading your stream coming from LV. Have fun.

  2. Thanks, John. I missed the Huffington controversy, so it could not have been nearly as large as the Gore outburst. Huffington, Branson, and Hsieh all are successful entrepreneurs who built nationally recognized business brands, so I don’t care what their politics are – they’re legit. Michael J. Fox, if I take my tongue out of my cheek, really doesn’t seem to have anything to offer, unless he is a “drag out the puppies and kittens” response to controversial speakers. Who cares about the speakers (or the entertainment, for that matter). Give me content and networks, and I have gotten value.

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