Barstool Conversations and Best Buddies Dance Party

The barstool conversations (the idea for which i4cp CEO, Kevin Oakes, gave a tip of the hat to Elliott Masie) featured Kevin in casual conversation with thought leaders between sessions.

First to pull up a stool to the bar was Hank Jonas, Manager of Organization Effectiveness at Corning. Hank discussed an issue common to many large global organizations — the problem of connecting two possibly disparate cultures after a merger or acquisition.

When Corning wholly acquired its former subsidiary (Samsung-Corning), Hank requested information that would inform him about the Samsung culture. He received a 44-slide deck, using phrases such as "we cherish our employees" -- quite different from the Corning vernacular. Hank's challenge was to, as he said, "honor the strength of that culture," while still delivering on their goal of successful integration.

His solution has been to pilot small programs rather than make wholesale changes, to find similarities in the corporate cultures, and to acknowledge where the acquired organization's culture is something to learn from.

Next up was Steve Reynosa, of Citrix (creators of GoToMeeting), who explained Citrix's partnership with Stanford University's design school boot camp. This D-School was so effective for the C-Suite that eventually over 1,000 Citrix employees have attended.

Reynosa focuses on talking to customers, ideation, prototyping, and finally launching a product, and has become essential learning for top leadership, so much so that Citrix has the rare position of SVP of Customer Experience, a position which has become a wonderful glue binding many of Citrix departments together.

Last to the stage was Dave Quilleon, SVP Global Mission for Best Buddies International (also, in a strange coincidence, my class president at the University of South Florida. Don't ask when). Dave explained Best Buddies mission, and made clear to the crowd the need for sponsorships, or hiring someone with an intellectual or developmental disorder, or even just sponsoring a ride or walk team for fundraising.

He was joined onstage by Charles Calhoun, a Best Buddies Ambassador and employee of Silicon Valley Bank who talked about how much his job meant to him, and how important it was to be a leader, which is really a lesson for all of us. The standing ovation that Charles received was indicative of the power of his message. The standing attendees were then taught the Best Buddies cheer and dance, and although it was fun, I'm hoping there is no existing video...