My Thoughts on Catalyst Conference 2011

Unfortunately and quite sadly I am not attending Catalyst this year.  Life has been crazy lately and I have family visiting from out of town, so it just made sense to skip the conference this time.  However, that does not mean I haven’t been thinking about what I’m going to miss.

Since this post doesn’t closely relate to my normal subjects I should offer an explanation of what Catalyst  Conference is and maybe a dictionary reference to the word catalyst for anyone who only thinks of the chemistry definition.  As people/leaders a catalyst is a high energy status quo challenging game changing person or event.  The conference is geared toward encouraging young leaders to be the next generation game changers.

The problem I see for true young catalysts though is not their willingness to question the status quo and try new things.  The problem they face is older or more senior level leaders ahead of them being unwilling to listen and give new ideas a shot.  I believe one of the reasons for this is young leaders aren’t proving themselves valuable enough to challenge the status quo.

Catalyst conference is geared toward church world, which I understand pretty thoroughly from being a pastors kid growing up in church and to this day very involved in my local church, but I tend to think of the principles taught as they would apply in business world as well. Based on my experience in corporate world I know first-hand what it is like to be considered the young punk full of crazy ideas nobody wants to try…until I’ve proven myself.

For any catalyst out there who wants their ideas to be heard here are a few suggestions for how to prove yourself that I’ve learned along the way.

  • Work harder than anyone else. Smarter? Yes, that too. But just because someone finds a way to be more productive personally doesn’t prove anything about their value to the team. Work smarter to be personally productive and use the spare time gained to go above and beyond.  It certianly helps, no matter how efficient someone is,  to show demonstrate a work ethic that starts earlier than anyone else and finishes later than anyone else.  Even when we think no one is watching, someone is noticing.
  • Become the best within the status quo.  Whatever the process is there is always a way to become the best at it.  Anytime I’ve become great at something just the way it is I’ve had no problem getting support to do it differently because everyone trusts that if I’m already good at it the way it is then I’m not going to make a permanent change that would make me not as good at it.
  • Get Results! Do work that affects the bottom line either through increased sales or decreased cost, and prove it by measuring (this is the has-been wanna-be engineer in me coming out).

No matter what there is always the chance that people will despise change.  The key to determining when to be a catalyst is balancing how valuable we are vs how replacable we are.

On another note, here’s what I’m going to miss most by missing Catalyst this year.

  • These speakers: (not because I don’t like some of the others, these are just the ones I know I like)
    • Jon Acuff
    • Dave Ramsey
    • Andy Stanley
    • Mark Driscoll
    • Michael Hyatt
  • The fun and funny stuff.  There is non stop fun and humor between every speaker, and during the speaking too every now and then.
  • The free stuff.  The event comes with lots of great resources and the sponsors are very generous, all making the experience a bit more excellent.
  • The learning and encouragement.  I’ve never left a Catalyst sorry that I went.  There is always something new or refreshing to take away and apply to my life.
I’m regretting I won’t be there now.  This might need to be one of those things that gets on my calendar for next year NOW and becomes off limits to any other scheduling.

Speak Your Mind