It was toward the end of August and I headed down to Florida to attend HR Florida 2012.   At the time of my departure Issac was rolling around south of Florida and no one really could say for sure where it was going to go.  So after a couple conversation with Mike Vandervort I became ok with the hurricane thing and the fact that it was only a “Cat 1″ (that’s how the Floridians talk).

Now as it was suggested to me it probably won’t hit here and it’s only small.  As best I could tell the hurricane threat only kept one person from attending.  That was Mitch Joel. He was scheduled to be the opening keynote speaker. He did not attend.  I tweeted about this, and then he responded to me on twitter.  While he wanted folks to think it was out of his control, HR Florida folks told me  that he had already been paid and chose not to attend.  My opinion is that, he exhibited exceptionally bad form by not attending – and then engaging the tweet stream, during his keynote slot.

Nonetheless, it turned out to be just fine, in fact the opening keynote was awesome. Jim Knight who is from the Orlando area, is an aspiring young speaker. He stepped in and really did a great job. Jim had been a trainer with Hard Rock Cafe for many years. He drew on many of his experiences with HRC.  The ironic thing about this is, is this. I would bet that this presentation at HR Florida will be a great thing for Jim.  This may lead him to other SHRM engagements. I wish him well. He stepped in and stepped up.

Regarding the breakouts, I will speak to them in another post.  I would like to move on to day2, and the second keynote.  Personally I was very much looking forward to hearing Soledad O’Brien.  Well not too long after the session

Carol McDaniel on the big screen

opened our emcee Carol McDaniel started likening today (Tuesday) to Monday, and then I thought oh S#!t, she ain’t coming either.  At this point I felt really bad for the HR Florida board. They,  like those of us in Illinois work hard all year to pull off  these events, and then the circumstances of the day/week tear apart your best laid plans.

Well the HR Florida team went right to work when they got the bad news. They needed to find another speaker.  I don’t know how they did what they did, or decided how to pick the speaker that they did, but Chris Gardner stepped in for them and he too just killed it.  Chris is the person behind the book and the movie The Pursuit of Happyness. If you saw the movie or read the book, you know what a compelling story this is.  Well the guy who lived this, is even more compelling.  Chris’ presentation was phenomenal.  He was so good he didn’t even use power point and got a standing ovation.

Now unfortunately I had to go home on the afternoon of day two and I did not get to hang around to hear the day 3 keynote John Foley. He was the only keynote orginally booked who made it to speak. If the tweet stream is any indication of how his presentation went, I would give him an “A+”.

As I said, I had to head home on Tuesday. Funny thing so did Chris Gardner.

The HR Czar & Chris Gardner talking social media at MCO.

But even more curious was the fact that I saw Chris in the airport.  I wondered up to him, introduced myself and chatted with him.   I told how well his presentation was received.  I asked, “did ya see the twitter stream?”   Chris told me he wasn’t on twitter.  I sat down with him and showed him what the twitter chatter looked like during his presentation.   He remarked, “All this was going on while I was there?”

He was please to see all of the kind remarks, and hinted that as a speaker he probably needed to delve more into Twitter and Facebook.  I agreed with him. Soon, he had to head off to his plane.  I agreed to follow up with him and see if I could engage him on twitter. I also told him I hoped to cross paths again with him.

Now wrapping up my post on the HR Florida keynotes, I have to really give it to HR Florida (in a good way).  They got handed lemons and they made lemonade – nice recovery gang!