From the moment I touched down at Nadi airport and was welcomed by a trio of Fijian ukulele players, I knew this wasn’t going to be your average conference.
The 2017 RCSA International Conference kicked off on Wednesday night with the Welcome Cocktail reception – and the “cocktail” of the night… kava. Lead by the aptly dubbed “Chief Van Stokrom”, we were all invited to join in and experience a local kava ceremony. The theme this year – The Power of Community - rang true as we were reminded by our hosts that “it is only mine, if I share it”. A good discussion point as enjoyed a barmy night under the palm trees, sharing a beer or two with friends from the industry, both old and new.
Day one of formalities was opened by the thought-provoking genius and authenticity of Dr. Jason Fox, who warned the crowd that default thinking will lead us to the “inevitable Kraken of doom’ which feeds upon the nectar of impending irrelevance”. While I’ve never before heard it articulated with the use of majestic sea-creatures, the message was clear – doing what we have always done won’t lead to meaningful progress.
And this was a message reiterated by a number of presenters over the next two days. From the rise of the gig economy to raising your recruitment business from the ashes. From building strategic leadership to building a gold-medal winning rugby team. From a war about bacon, to a spontaneous dance with the Duchess of Cornwell. Very few stones were left unturned, as we enjoyed both education and inspiration from world class speakers and RCSA members alike.
But perhaps my greatest learning came from outside the conference room. On Thursday morning, we were fortunate enough to spend a couple of hours with students from the local Fijian Sabeto school.
These days, my normal world has become filled with meetings, emails, video conferences, brunch decision fatigue, excitement about the latest i-Whatever, and an impatient countdown to the final season of Game of Thrones. I think I’d actually forgotten how to enjoy the simple things in life.
Fortunately I was reminded by a truly beautiful community of school kids, as delegates joined them in a range of games and activities to break up day two of the conference.