Abe Lincoln, hostage negotiations and blockchain
It was another fantastic year at AFP’s annual conference in Orlando, Florida! Every day passed in a blur as we attended sessions, networked our little hearts out and tried to take maximum advantage of everything this excellent conference has to offer. This year, AFP expanded the conversation with a number of new additions to meet attendee needs. Here are my Top 5 Favorite Things from the 2016 conference in Orlando, including my key takeaways.
#5 - Having a historian as a keynote panelist
Doris Kearns Goodwin was part of the opening panel - please get her back AFP for her own session! Just her... I could listen to her draw parallels from history to current times for hours. She has this way of humanizing past leaders that makes events extremely memorable. I particularly loved the use of humor when describing two faced politicians. She drew a parallel to Abe Lincoln, who was asked about being two faced. To which he replied “If I had two faces, you think I’d wear this one?” That one made me laugh out loud.
#4 - Graphic illustrators
The addition of graphic illustrators to some of the conference sessions added a new dimension. They created a visual record of the event to capture the essence of the content. It was fascinating to watch these go up out in the hallways and made the conference content tangible in new ways, adding recap value even if you did not attend that particular session.
#3 - Excellent Finance and Treasury educational content
AFP is well known for its educational content. It’s an extremely competitive process and only a small percentage of abstracts are selected for presentation each year. Content runs the gamut from FP&A, Treasury Management, Payments to Corporate Finance sessions. While balancing the need to provide education at all levels of the finance organization, the content also mixes in the latest trends: Big Data, blockchain and evolution of FP&A were all hot topics this year.
#2 - Leadership and Career development sessions
A significant number of development sessions were also available with a wide range of content; sessions like rebooting after failure, turning problems employees around and how to master nonverbal communication.
My personal favorite was a session that focused on different types of communication depending upon whether you are communicating up, within your teams or communicating out. A great checklist of considerations was presented depending upon the type of communication. A key takeaway from this session - communicate better by understanding your own personality type. Great insights from Tanya Kuznetsova from X5 Retail group about leveraging your strengths as an individual to improve your communication.
#1 - New learning lounges and innovation series
The new innovation series were 30-minute sessions on specialized focused topics. The intention was to provide new ideas on how to solve common challenges. Topics ranged from measuring what matters to personal branding.
The learning lounges allowed for continuing discussions after conference sessions. Topics here included a wide range from leadership for the millennial workforce to handling business email compromise fraud. My personal favorite was negotiation secrets from a former FBI hostage negotiator. This session presented a few key takeaways:
1. Negotiations are about emotional intelligence. Understand the emotional side of the equation to become a better negotiator.
2. Popular themes out there today talk about getting to “yes.” But there are three types of yes: confirmation, commitment and counterfeit. Make sure you know which one you are getting as part of the negotiation.
And that’s a wrap - another fantastic show AFP! Thanks for such a huge variety of content - and the evolution of content, making this a must attend show for finance professionals. And we will see you all in San Diego in 2017!