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Reflections on Talent Summit 2019

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Almost two weeks have passed since Talent Summit, yet the excitement from the event is still very much alive. I met with Talent Summit Founder, Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig to ask him to share some of his key takeaways and highlights from Talent Summit 2019.

 

Kate Costello – “Have the Heart of a Lion Even When You Feel Like a Mouse”

After being asked for his top five takeaways, without even a moment to reflect, Robert started with “Kate Costello’s speech was a particularly significant take away”. Kate, who is only 16, spoke at Talent Summit to present the Dermot Costello Outstanding Leadership Award in honour of her father to the Irish women’s hockey team who reached the World Cup finals for the first time ever last summer.

In her speech Kate told the story of a mouse who wanted to look bigger and stronger than those he feared so they would fear him. He asked a wizard to change him from a mouse to a cat, then a cat to a dog and then a dog to a lion. After some time, the wizard said, “with the heart of a mouse there is nothing I can do for you”. It’s a powerful statement to those in leadership. Being a leader means being brave in your actions to lead and guide others. You need to be courageousness to lead beyond the odds, have the heart of a lion even if sometimes we feel like a mouse.

Robert reflected on the parallel message in Kate’s story of how we can leave a lasting impression on those close to us, shaping and activating change beyond what we expect and, in many cases, never even knowing we’ve impacted on a person.  “The fact that Kate stood on the stage, eloquently recounting a story her father once told her, shows the personal impact we can have on those around us, can be truly transformative, beyond what we intend it to be. The irony here is that Kate not only showed the “heart of a lion” as she presented the award to her own heroes, but she herself was demonstrating outstanding leadership through her actions. My takeaway from this is that we inspire and activate those around us, every day in most cases without even realising it.”

“Last year, I recalled how spending time with Dermot, was often like a life lesson, as you would come away with a different twist on whatever topic we discussed. It’s clear that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree… Thanks for that lesson Kate!” 

 

Robert Gibbs, Chief Human Capital Officer, NASA – The Power of Positive Intent

The NASA transformation story shows very clearly how purpose is our defining competitive advantage. Robert reflected on Robert Gibbs keynote which explained how NASA’s raison d'être boils down to the flourishment of human kind which allows them to operate on the fringe of what is commercially viable, giving them the ultimate competitive advantage. “Robert Gibbs also reminded us that change is a ‘contact sport’, it’s personal, constant and unpredictable, requiring continuous communication and feedback”.

When Robert later spoke on a panel with Niamh O’Beirne, Partner, EY and Barry Rudden, Director, Sigmar Recruitment, what surfaced in the conversation was the power of presuming positive intent. Belief goes a long way and sometimes to get the best out of people you need to believe in them.

 

Margaret Heffernan – Leading Change Is Human

During Margaret Heffernan’s keynote she emphasized how building social capital takes time, focus and energy and if the ingredients are right, can bind human capital to achieve beyond measure. The strength of the social capital creates the foundation for companies to succeed, the components of which are uniquely human; kindness, helpfulness, warmth and candour.

Robert went on to say “The thing that struck me is how the ubiquity of loyalty, friendship and comradery in the workplace create a shared commitment to success, something we may struggle to replicate in the gig economy. In short being trusting and trustworthy is the basis of creating a just culture”.

 

Ian McClean – Every Conversation Matters

Given that Talent Summit is a humanic conference, Ian argued that conversation is where the rubber hits the road in expressing our humanity. It reminds us that how we make people feel in our presence is the true measure of our engagement.

Robert added “every conversation can either create a gap or close a gap in our daily connectivity and we need to be mindful of the residue that every conversation leaves”.

 

 

Monica Lewinsky - The Importance of Being an Upstander

Robert quoted a Mexican proverb when introducing Monica, which in mays ways captured the spirit of her story; “they tried to bury us, but they didn’t realise we were seeds”.

Monica Lewinsky’s story, in many ways reflects this juxtaposition of humanity and technology. As the internet catapulted her into the limelight bringing the uninvited attention of the world upon her, it was the compassion of those around her, coupled with personal resilience that brought her back from the brink. Reflecting the theme of this year’s Talent Summit, it’s the human element that has enabled Monica to lead change through her social activism and create a global anti-cyberbullying revolution.

Monica has turned personal trauma into grace and raised a profusion of lessons we can apply in our personal lives, working worlds and within our family units. My main takeaway from spending time with Monica is that each of us can make a difference by showing compassion through our actions, by being an "up-stander". Monica spoke about this in the context of societal change, but the glaringly obvious parallel in our working world, is that as some resist change and others passively act as bystanders, we truly need to firmly stand “for” the purpose behind the change we hope to achieve.”

Mirroring Margaret’s Heffernan’s comment on workplace loneliness and Kate’s story of the need for the heart of a lion, when we sometimes feel like a mouse, Monica harpooned the message of individual impact home when she said, “there is power in small numbers when there is consistency over time.”

We need to create a narrative steeped in empathy to be truly compassionate in all aspects of our lives.

Our purpose at Talent Summit is to create better working lives as the world of work augments and being more compassionate is really what it all boils down to! "Tanx" for sharing such a powerful message Monica.”

…..and tanx to all who supported, spoke, attended and participated at Talent Summit 2019. See you next year!

Posted by Clare Reynolds on 12 March 2019

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