Meeting planners know that one of the more common complaints on education session evaluation forms is that a session “wasn’t what I expected.” It’s highly unlikely that any of the attendees at the Financial & Insurance Conference Planners Education Forum, being held at The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, June 18–20, will have that complaint about the morning breakouts on day two of the conference.

That’s because the three presenters in those slots—stress expert Heidi Hanna, PhD; motivation expert Chester Elton; and futurist Jack Uldrich—each took 20 minutes to address the entire group, offering a taste of his or her content (and presentation style), before moving into breakout rooms where attendees could dive deeper with whichever of the three they chose.

The only problem? It was a tough choice!

Give Your Brain a Break
Hanna’s sampler focused on the need for adequate recovery for our brains and bodies so that when we are working (or working out) we are able to give 100 percent of our energy to the task. This pattern of being all on then all off follows the natural physical and mental oscillations that we are designed for, she said. Today, however, many people go through each day in a state of chronic (and contagious!) stress, never recovering and therefore never having full energy to bring to a task or a relationship. 

The solution is to create rituals that ensure you are managing your mental and physical energy. Try the 50-minute work hour, for example. Don’t think you can build in a 10-minute break? Take three minutes: Go outside for some fresh air, or walk up and down the stairs a few times to release some endorphins and let your brain relax.

Is Your Business Future-Proof?
In his 20 minutes, futurist Jack Uldrich zipped through 10 transformational trends. Guess what? They all had to do with technology. “Who still has the tragically outdated iPhone 4S?” Uldrich joked. That phone (only 18 months old) was the first to have Siri. Next up is a Siri that is a thousand times more powerful, and instead of you asking your phone what you want to know, your phone may tell you what you need to know. Uldrich showed a video clip of an inventor talking about nanosensors detecting a high level of abnormal cells in a person’s bloodstream and signaling this imminent danger with “a special heart-attack ring tone.”

Meanwhile the “Internet of things” continues apace, with 50 billion physical objects to be connected to the Internet by the end of the decade.

“How will the way you do business change in this hyperconnected world?” Uldrich asked. You’ll only figure it out with a good dose of humility, he said. The more accustomed we are to doing things a certain way, the more difficult it is to see future possibilities—or even changes that have already taken place. Help yourself by getting a “reverse mentor”—someone younger than you who sees the transformations more clearly.

The Guy With the Carrots
Third on the stage was Chester Elton, the speaker who tosses little plush carrots to audience members during his talks on motivation, employee engagement, and, most recently, corporate culture.

Culture, he told the FICP audience, is one of the last differentiators among companies. A high-performance corporate culture is one where employees are engaged, enabled, and energized.

There was plenty of buzz in the hallways about the advantage of being able to experience three different mainstage speakers in the time usually allotted to a single presenter. All three speakers were sponsored by Goodman Speakers Bureau Inc.