Having spent a couple of days at Disneyworld before the last couple of days at HR Florida, I’m struck by the radical differences in tone, service quality, and flat happiness level between the two events. You may be surprised to learn that HR Florida is the clear winner over Disney, by a long shot. I’m still trying to figure out the formula for the magic, and I definitely don’t have it down. But talking to and watching the HR Florida leadership team in action, here’s what I’ve seen so far.

  • When I lost my computer cord briefly yesterday, two volunteers cheerfully went ’round to find it. At hour ten of their conference day. They literally were happy to help, and not in a corporate, consumer drone, way. Just happy to be of service. With 1699 other people like me to take care of here, they just focused on taking care of one person at a time.
  • There’s a 75% return rate on volunteers. Volunteers who work their butts off, 12 hour days and no reward, for no tangible or financial return on their investment.
  • The volunteers cheerfully rise to the high level of accountability and excellence that many professional event management firms have a hard time getting from their staff.  Apparently, clear processes and an enthusiastic volunteer team win out over a permanent staff of less enthused professionals.
  • These people never stop thinking about how they can do things better and different next year. These conversations are happening in the halls, at dinner, and after every keynote. And it’s not whining – the right people are talking about what they’ll take responsibility for doing better a year from now.
  • A little bit of silliness and rule-breaking can really help move things along.

Teams Matter. Tone Matters. And Relationships Matter.  I think the word I’m looking for, honestly, is heart. This isn’t some corporate deal where people MUST perform day in, and day out. This is what they truly care about. And they truly care about each other. Out of that caring comes a level of discretionary effort, buzz, and enthusiasm that Disney couldn’t possibly buy. And seeing it in action is more inspiring than any of the excellent presentations we’ve seen so far.