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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