The Positive Business Conference, Day 1

This year, I have the great opportunity to attend the Positive Business Conference, hosted by the Ross Michigan School of Business. The conference focuses on the potential positive impact that business can have on society, and how we, as leaders, can help drive that change. Obviously, this is a message very near and dear to the hearts of us at WeSpire!

Last year, WeSpire founder and CEO, Susan Hunt Stevens, attended the Positive Business Conference and raved about how great of an experience it was. I was so excited to have the opportunity to attend this year, and Day 1 has been even better than expected.

One of the first speakers was Bruce Pfau, a senior partner at KPMG in Human Capital Strategy and Culture Transformation. He spoke of KPMG’s amazing cultural transformation as they began to emphasize each employee’s greater purpose at the firm. Rather than just recognizing people for their daily responsibilities, they worked to elevate people’s work and engage people in reflecting on their larger purpose at the organization. The HR team provided training to leaders and managers around how to talk about purpose – something that didn’t initially come naturally to a bunch of accountants!

In the end, they experienced business-wide transformation. Their ranking on “best places to work” rose dramatically, employee engagement rose, turnover dropped and pride in their business was higher than ever.

I also had the chance to attend a workshop session about leading with emotions – both positive and negative. Led by a professor at the Ross Michigan School of Business, we talked about how in American business culture, there’s this idea that you’re supposed to check your emotions at the door when coming to work. However, it’s a completely impossible expectation. As emotional beings, we need to embrace and lean into the emotions that we feel at work. These emotions can inform, motivate and influence us, and those around us. We were encouraged to be mindful and take a pause when we feel, or see in others, a rush of emotion, especially in the workplace. Take the time to interpret it, understand what it’s telling us and try to make a positive decision from it.

Day 1 isn’t even over yet, and I’m already feeling inspired and encouraged by the speakers and fellow attendees here at the conference. We’ll be talking a lot more about what we’ve learned at this conference. Stay tuned!