What do you do when Ashley Judd, Salma Hayek, Simon Sinek, Brene Brown, Adam Grant, Ronan Farrow, Tarana Burke, and Amal Clooney are all together in one place and you are invited?

By Robin H. Everhart

Attend! And that’s exactly what I did. Last month, I attended WorkHuman 2018. But before I tell you about this experience, let me set the stage.

I have been to my fair share of conferences. That is nothing to brag about, it is simply something that many people in the business arena can state based on having to obtain continuing education credits, additional expertise, etc. Some of those conferences have been great and some have been subpar. I think it is safe to say that you will hear a residual groan from many when the mention of having to attend another conference comes up. We are busy, we have deadlines, is the time away going to be worth it?, etc., etc., etc. To be frank, I had no intention of attending this conference, nor did I know anything about it. But, I did know Steve Pemberton.

Steve was the former Global Diversity Officer for Walgreens. During his time at Walgreens, we spent a small period of time benchmarking on our D&I programs. I respected his views and expertise. We also had an opportunity to share the stage for a more in-depth “fireside chat” around D&I. It was during this time that I learned more about Steve’s personal story and my respect continued to grow. So, when I was notified that Steve had transitioned to Globoforce and had extended an invitation for me to attend this conference, I took the time to look into it further. And then I saw the guest speakers. And then I said YES! Now, while the line up looked exceptional and I was super excited to hear from Brene, Simon, et al, I also realized that hundreds, if not thousands, of other industry leaders would want to hear them as well. And when that thought crossed my mind, I no longer wanted to attend. With my being an introvert (I know, it’s hard to believe), the idea of so many people I didn’t know mulling around a convention center trying to learn something or be part of these amazing people seemed daunting, and I didn’t understand how it could truly be impactful at that size. But, I had already committed and now challenged myself to step outside of my comfort zone. After all, that’s what I teach and preach to others on a daily basis. So, I chose to be courageous and attend, all by myself, without knowing anyone other than the person who extended the invite (whom I wouldn’t see personally because he had the wonderful job of rubbing elbows with the famous people while I watched from afar. ;). Fast forward to the conference…

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Robin is SVP & chief diversity officer at Cintas Corporation.