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Huffington: Getting enough sleep is key to success

Arianna Huffington

The Conference and Exposition

From May 4 to 7 over 10,500 people attended the American Society for Training and Development International Conference & Exposition at the Walter E Washington Convention Centre in Washington, DC. There were 92 countries represented with 2,500 attendees from outside the United States. This annual conference is the premier gathering for people in this field.

This year’s conference themes were Content, Community and Global Perspectives. There were nine content tracks: Career Development, Training Design & Delivery, Global Human Resource Development, Human Capital, Leadership Development, Learning Technologies, Learning Measurement & Analytics, Workforce Development for Non-Training Professionals and The Science of Learning.

There were three industry tracks: Government, higher education and sales enablement. The motivation for attending the conference is to keep up to date in the rapidly changing field of training and human resource development. Attendees learn the latest techniques and best practices. Presenters are selected for their ability to provide tools that can be used by training and development professionals to improve performance and increase productivity in their workplaces.

The large exposition, which is an integral part of the conference, had an impressive array of books, DVDs, training instruments, tests, learning games, etc. It also included presentations by many leaders in the field including Ken Blanchard who celebrated his 75th birthday at the conference.

A delegation consists of at least five people. There were international delegations from the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China (7), Colombia, Denmark (2), Germany, Guatemala, Hong Kong (2), India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan (4), Kuwait (2), Lichtenstein, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Pakistan, Republic of Korea (5), Russia, Saudi Arabia (4), Singapore, South Africa (2), Spain (2), Taiwan, Thailand (2), Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and Venezuela (2).

The five countries, excluding the United States, with the highest representation at this year’s conference and exposition were: Korea 256, Canada 250,

China 197, Japan 136 and Brazil 105.

There were only two registered attendees from Bermuda. This may be a reflection of our current economic situation as Bermuda has been represented better in the past. However, this is two more than last year!

The Opening Keynote Address

The opening keynote address was delivered by Arianna Huffington who is the chair, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group. She is also a nationally syndicated columnist and author of 13 books. She launched the The Huffington Post in May 2005. Arianna moved from Greece to England when she was 16 and graduated from the famous Cambridge University with an MA in Economics. She now lives in the United States.

In her address she said that society defines success in two narrow terms: money and power. Huffington spoke about the four pillars of success which she defined as: well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving.

Firstly, she emphasised the importance of taking care of ourselves to be effective at work. She said society dictates that the only way to succeed in present day society is to reduce sleep, skip meals and be constantly available. She spoke passionately about sleep deprivation. She shared her own experience. Whereas she used to get four or five hours sleep she now gets seven to eight.

A tired person makes more mistakes and some of these mistakes can be very costly. If we haven’t been getting enough sleep she suggests starting with little steps — for example, get 30 minutes more per night and increase it gradually from there. As an industrial/organisational psychologist I can really identify with this sentiment. One of the areas where I do a lot of work is productivity. Sufficient sleep, exercise and a good diet all play a major role in our productivity.

She then discussed the second pillar of success, wisdom. She said we need to reconnect to wisdom, creativity and the ability to manage change. She said that “technology has enslaved us.” She recommends that we turn off our iPhones and leave them outside our bedrooms. This helps us to resist the temptation to check them if we happen to wake up in the middle of the night or as soon as we wake up in the morning.

The third pillar she discussed was wonder. She said we have a serious “time famine.” She advised her audience to avoid multitasking and maintained that we can only concentrate fully on one task at a time. She maintained that what we’re really doing is “task switching” when we think we’re multitasking. She said that “Nothing kills creativity faster than burnout.” She also said that “You can complete a project by dropping it.” She advised her audience not to take on too much and to realise their limitations.

The final pillar Ms Huffington discussed was giving. She maintains that “Giving is the shortcut to happiness.” She said more people should be “Go-givers rather than go-getters.” She told her audience that our genes are wired for giving.

I found her an excellent speaker with a willingness to share her own personal experiences, both the good and the bad.

The Name Change

The American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) which is the world’s largest association dedicated to the training and development profession, changed its name to the Association for Talent Development i.e. from ASTD to ATD.

This change recognises the dynamic growth and influence the broader training and development profession has today and will in the future. The scope and global impact of the field has grown dramatically since the association was founded.

President and CEO Tony Bingham and the Board of Directors made the announcement on May 6, 2014, at a special session during the Conference.

ASTD was founded in 1943 as the American Society of Training Directors. Its purpose has always been to support the education and development of those responsible for training others. The name change reflects the fact that the field of training and development has grown and changed significantly over the past seven decades.

We now see the growing references in business to the term “talent development” that describes the breadth of work done by professionals who develop the talent in organisations: their knowledge, skills, and capabilities.

The association now recognises it’s global impact and has dropped American from its name. It will open its first overseas office in China later this year.

A website — www.astdnews.org – has been launched that features a recording of the new brand announcement, as well as other materials that explain the change.

Paul Loftus is an industrial/organisational psychologist, an intercultural consultant and a freelance journalist. He has been conducting both public and in-company management development seminars in Bermuda for over 20 years. Paul will also be covering the Society for Human Resource Management Conference in Orlando in June. He would like to hear from any Bermudians who will be attending the conference. He can be reached at (514) 282-9111 or ploftus@colba.net. His website is www.paulloftus.ca.