SHRM Speaker Q&A: Steve Gilliland #SHRM14

This week we’re featuring our favorite SHRM speakers so those in attendance can learn a little more about who they are and their session through a Q&A session. Today we’re featuring Steve Gilliland. From his website,

A member of the Speaker hall of Fame, Steve Gilliland is one of the most in-demand and to-rated speakers in the world. Recognized by his peers as a master storyteller and brilliant comedian, he can be heard daily alongside Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Cosby on SiriusXM Radio’s Laugh USA and Blue Collar Radio. With an appeal that transcends barriers of age, culture and occupation–plus an interactive and entertaining style–Steve shows audiences how to open doors to success in their careers, their relationships and their lives. He speaks to move than 250,000 people a year and has shared the platform with numerous dignitaries. Over two million people have heard him speak with his audiences crossing over 29 different industries.

Getting to Know Steve Gilliland

What do you love about HR?

The impact it has on an organization. HR has an important and unique influence on organizational performance. HR contributes to the development of and the accomplishment of the organization-wide business plan and objectives.

In your session “Enjoy the Ride™ you’re going to be talking to leaders about holding on and reigniting your passion in an unforgiving workplace. We all know the HR department is understaffed and under appreciated, what’s the #1 piece of advice for professionals who are constantly being burnt out by an unforgiving workload?

Never give up. At a moment when everything appears hopeless, you have two options. Option number one is to hold a pity party and to get angry. Option number two is to remember that our optimism produces endurance. Endurance produces strength. When you know that there is a detailed plan and purpose for your life you are going to endure the difficulties, and you are going to have hope in hopeless situations. Optimism is a decision and is a statement of faith. Faith believes in things when common sense tells you not to.

How does someone take the first step in their professional development journey?

We all have a propensity to improve our circumstances, but before we recognize who we are and become willing to improve ourselves, we will remain bound. A lot of people seek to acquire wealth but aren’t willing to make great personal sacrifices. It is no different than the person who struggles financially and is extremely anxious about their surroundings, yet all the time they shirk their work, and justify trying to deceive their employer on the ground of the insufficiency of their wages. While aiming at a good life, people continually frustrate their accomplishments by encouraging thoughts and desires that cannot possibly harmonize with that end. Until you have the courage to recognize who you are, and the willingness to develop areas of your life that need changed, you will never take the first step. Law, not confusion, is the dominating principle in the world, justice, not injustice, is the soul and substance of life, and righteousness, not corruption, is the molding and moving force in the spiritual realm of our world. The initial step to your professional development journey is to discover who you are and being willing to improve. During that process you will find that as you alter your thoughts toward things, and other people, things and other people will alter toward you.

You talk a lot about personal and leadership development. How do employees get leadership on board with contributing to personal development i.e. attending conferences like the SHRM Annual Conference?

Regrettably you can’t change people, you can only influence them. Additionally, you can’t manipulate organizational culture. Change depends on results and your ability to successfully alter people’s opinions and actions. Leaders get excited when they understand the impact of learning on the confidence and motivation of their employees. Leadership buy-in comes with getting leaders involved in learning. Assign them roles in learning activities and show them where and how they can contribute.  When their participation and appreciation increase, so does their contribution to personal development.

What’s your best tip for the SHRM Annual Conference?

Be open to all possibilities and broaden your perspective. A buzz phrase of the late 80’s was “think big picture.” A long-range outlook is one of the most valuable gifts we can have. Some believe that perspective can only come with age and experience. Both help; however, anyone can have perspective or not have it. Perspective is gained by rising above the day-to-day and seeing a bigger representation of the circumstances while still contributing in what is going on at the moment. The opportunities that take in life’s tests are sometimes never realized because although we have access to knowledge we never seek out. There is nothing wrong with not having a greater perspective; however, when you have an option to gain one you are foolish not to.

The Annual SHRM Conference & Exposition rewards you with various viewpoints. Maybe what is worse yet is having a perspective and listening to another person’s outlook with no intention of even considering it. Why even ask for it? Instead of learning, growing, and expanding their vision from a different perspective, they turn a deaf ear to the ideas and stay the course with their own narrow minded view. SHRM will increase your perspective if you sanction it.

For more information about Steve and his speaking engagements, visit his website at


Title: Enjoy the Ride™
Time: 06/23/2014 10:45 – 12:00 PM
Room: Valencia AB
Track: Personal & Leadership Development
HRCI Credits? 1.25 HR Credit
Audience: Mid-level

Title: Emerge™: Learn, Grow, Lead
Time: 06/24/2014 10:45 – 12:00 PM
Room: W320 Chapin Theater
Track: Personal & Leadership Development
HRCI Credits? 1.25 Business Credit
Audience: Mid-level

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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