What I Learned At DisruptHR Vancouver – At The Event, And At The After-Party

What I Learned At DisruptHR Vancouver - May 2016

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by DisruptHR Vancouver speaker (and official Disruptor) Rob Catalano, Co-Founder at WorkTango – a platform that enables managers to have better conversations with employees to create alignment, improve accountability, and develop high performing teams. Rob is passionate about helping companies succeed – by leveraging technology to make employees successful. This makes him pretty cool in our book.


I attended my first DisruptHR event this week [March 31, 2016]. If you’re not familiar with DisruptHR – definitely check it out. With the plethora of events and conferences out there, we all struggle to choose where to spend our valuable time, but this is a disruptive conference (ugh, sorry, I had to) that’s gaining quite a following. I’m not sure how the other regional events are, but I enjoyed and learned a lot from my Vancouver experience.

What I Loved

What I love about it is that it’s easily accessible. One evening. Super affordable. No planes or worrying about leaving the city. Also, it gives you what you want from most events: to be educated, entertained and engaged. You’ll check all three of those boxes off through a round of over ten quick 5-minute talks of how we should be disrupting HR. It’s quick, engaging, and fun. You’ll also get to network with like-minded disruptors and speakers that don’t exit stage-left to their car waiting to immediately take them away.

What I Learned

I learned some amazing things listening to the ten speakers. It was WAY better than hearing someone drone on for an hour. I loved them all, but a few stood out personally to me. I usually like taking a ‘Top 5’ out of these experiences, and here was mine that I want to bring to my personal life, and to the WorkTango family:

Lorie Corcurera from Spark Creations taught me to #chooselove in the workplace. Why do we need a ‘work’ self and a ‘personal’ self? Just be yourself.

Tess Sloane from lululemon athletica showed me how collaboration can often create bigger things than competition, and how partnering with a competitor when recruiting talent supported a larger vision of bringing great talent to their market.

Rise’s People & Culture leader Rocky Ozaki reminded me that today’s HR includes pragmatic problem solvers doing dope shit – even if you don’t have HR designation letters beside your name.

I loved how Jean-­Pierre LeBlanc, co-founder of Saje Natural Wellness built a culture by focusing on what makes staff passionate and putting them on the right seat of the bus. How? Using Enneagrams! Look it up – awesome.

Matt Corker reminded me to ‘go rogue responsibly’ – something that I know worked in previous companies. He reinforced courage and taking action instead of talking about it.

Being a big people and culture guy, I was also reminded of how important people are to a great company. The event was in the Rise (formerly Paysavvy) office which was cool, fun, and showed off their culture. Very reminiscent of the early Achievers days where we created similar environments to engage with the community, and our current and future customers.

Hats off to the LearnKit team for creating the event and the Rise team for hosting. Every interaction with the staff was just awesome. Passionate, driven people that made you want to be a part of their community.

You can see my talk here:

Managers Are Tools | Rob Catalano | DisruptHR Talks from DisruptHR on Vimeo.

What Happened At The After-Party

Then we went to the bar…

Let’s just say the staff at the bar was the complete opposite of what I had experienced mere minutes earlier. Not engaging. Disinterested. No passion. It was pretty disheartening after being so geeked-out excited from the conference. But there was a silver lining in all of it…

It amplified to me the importance of people and culture. WorkTango is going through a wave of hiring and it made me vow to do whatever I can to hire right, and build a great company by focusing on great people first. I want our community to be surrounded by great people that ooze passion.

Also, thanks to Angie Coates for the advice and motivation to slay my goals! It gave me a whole level of excitement to set some new goals for myself – first one being attending more of these conferences – or even starting up a similar one on my own. ?

(This post originally appeared on the WorkTango blog, and is reprinted with permission.)

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