“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”
― Søren Kierkegaard
There are many great speakers in our arena, and their voices are always sound and authentic. They bring a unique nuance that you do not often see at many conferences. They know their audience and bring knowledge that is rarely surpassed. Jenny DeVaughn is one of those speakers. Ok, so I am biased based on my first meeting DeVaughn at, funny enough, at SourceCon in Atlanta many years ago. She was, as she is now, one of the smartest and confident people I know. When I was asked by Shannon Pritchett if I would mind doing a write up on what she was going to speak about at SourceCon in Anaheim this year, I was giddy, to say the least. I have heard her speak many times and the chance to share with those who did not make this year’s show I am happy to share what you missed.
The Opening; Basic is a Bad Word
When DeVaughn takes the stage, she walks on with authority. Seeing her standing there you know right from the start that this is going to be something special when she begins to speak and this was going to be no disappointment. Basic is a bad word; it means boring or bland to DeVaughn. In other words, if everything is basically the same there is no greatness, it is just vanilla, white bread tasting without peanut butter and jelly bland. Ego is, in the right way a good thing with a little restraint. This is a powerful statement and at the table, I was sitting at many heads were bobble head nodding yes, oh, I was one of them.
You should want to be the type of person you want to be. You should strive to emulate the people you look up to, not like the people that would put you down or belittle you. As the once great phrase stated, if you lower yourself to their level they will always win, they have lived in that world far longer than you. Focusing on your strengths is what is important is to continue to grow. By learning from our weaknesses and mistakes is what makes us better in the long run.
Empowering Others Empowers us All
Now, more than ever, in this world, we need to be kinder to each other, share love, and embrace each other. Our community, our tribe, if you will is larger than you think and conventions like SourceCon or ERE. We should be welcoming of each other and embrace the fact that we matter in this world. That we are an important part of the process for companies to hire the people they need and without us they are going to struggle to find the talent they need without us. We are unique in our role as a sourcer, and we should stand proudly at what we have done and what we are going to do in the future.
Then came, what was to be one of the great moments of the conference, when DeVaughn stopped speaking and turned to the audience to ask for them to speak. To use their voice and tell their stories of what they have learned from the past and to share their stories. I sat in awe gazing from the front row over the seven hundred people in the audience, with well over 80 percent being this their first time at this event, begin to rise and share their stories. It was awe inspiring. I too wanted to stand but at this moment, at this time it was not about me, I talk enough about me in my blog posts. No, this was the new people’s time and DeVaughn’s time to shine and man did they ever.
Coming to a Close
DeVaughn’s close was impressive as she reiterated something I was told early on in my career when I was asked to take on a management role. The quote was, “If you come to me with a problem without a solution then you are only complaining.” So true, and sadly so. We need to become more proactive and less reactive to our community we need to lift each other up instead of trying to drag others down, and I saw over the two days of the conference this happening.
Pay it forward DeVaughn said and amen to that. Many in our community have been saying this for years, and we should continue you to do so. Like DeVaughn, I saw many new to our ranks sitting with the salty old-timers helping them with tools and sharing the knowledge they have gained over the years. If you are reading this and wondering, a man should be I travel out to the next SourceCon let me tell you I will be there, and great speakers like DeVaughn will be there. I hope to see you and if you do come say hello and let’s lift each other up. #truestory