Former ISPA Keynotes are Inspiring Us Through the Pandemic
by Ryan O'Gara

As many of us were mostly confined to our homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, we were put into situations we never thought were possible. Our trips and events were canceled or postponed, and the days have been running together for months. Above all, we miss that feeling of being connected to one another.

One of those events that brings us together is the ISPA Conference & Expo, where we gather every year to learn, grow and be inspired. We were supposed to be doing just that this very month in National Harbor, Maryland, but 2020 had other plans.

Through it all, we’ve searched for any inspiration we could find. These four former Conference keynotes have been delivering worthwhile content to keep us feeling encouraged and energized. Here is one resource from each that can help fill the Conference-shaped void we're facing this fall.

Brené Brown
Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Foundation—Brené Brown Endowed Chair at The Graduate College of Social Work. Brené is also a visiting professor in manage-ment at The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business. She is a five-time New York Times best-selling author, and her TED talk—The Power of Vulnerability—is one of the top ?ve most viewed TED talks in the world with over 45 million views. She spoke at Conference in 2016.

Resource You Should Utilize
Brown launched a podcast called “Unlocking Us” at the start of the pandemic to guide listeners through all of the things they are feeling. She has had on a wide variety
of guests like grief expert David Kessler, actresses Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, author Glennon Doyle and many more. She also has solo episodes on comparative suffering, accountability and anxiety.

Season 1 was all about FFTs (F’ing First Times), like our first time in a pandemic, our first time teaching online, our first time learning online and our first time learning how to work with toddlers crawling up our backs while we’re on Zoom. It covered how hard it is to be in a situation like this for the first time and dealing with the fear, awkwardness and vulnerability rather than shutting down.

The recently launched Season 2 is called “Day Two” and aims to break through the dullness of our current situation, as Brown explains in the opening episode. “And now you’re kind of in this dense fog where you don’t have the possibility of day one or running toward the finish line of day three. It’s like hitting the wall.”

And Don’t Forget to Check Out…
Brown’s 10th Anniversary Edition of The Gifts of Imperfection, which was a New York Times best seller and sold over two million copies, is available now.


Marcus Buckingham
Marcus Buckingham is a global re-searcher and thought leader focused on unlocking strengths, increasing performance and pioneering the future of how people work. He is the author of two of the best-selling business books of all time, has two of Harvard Business Review’s most circulated, industry-changing cover articles, and his strengths assessments have been taken by over 10 million people worldwide. He spoke at Conference in 2010 and 2019.

Resource You Should Utilize
In response to the COVID-19 global health crisis, Marcus Buckingham has partnered with ADP and Harvard Business Publishing to create “The Gift of Stand-Out.” Buckingham says, “My hope for you as we face these
trying times together is that you can discover the best, most beautiful version of you.”

In 2011, Buckingham created the StandOut strengths assessment, and it has been completed by more than 750,000 people. He developed this from two decades of research expertise. He published “Standout 2.0” this spring.

On Buckingham’s website, you can take the Standout strengths assessment and get a 14-page report describing your greatest sources of strength and contribution. He has a bevy of resources available when you’re done that will help you understand the results of the assessment, including items for teams and relationships.

And Don’t Forget to Check Out…
Buckingham updates his blog and YouTube channel with new content regularly. His most recent post is titled “Strong Action” and discusses his views on racism and practical solutions that we can act on.


Daymond John
Daymond John is a self-made multimillionaire with over $6 billion to date in global product sales and a starring role on ABC’s business reality TV show, Shark Tank As “The People’s Shark.” John is an industry leader, best-selling author and groundbreaking entrepre-neurial expert, and he has evolved into a sought-after business and motivational speaker. John spoke at Conference in 2018.

Resource You Should Utilize
While it is easy to solely focus on COVID-19 and lose track of the essential business fundamentals, consuming John’s content is an easy way to get back in that mindset and apply his lessons through the rest of the pandemic and afterward.

As always, John has a wealth of free information available for business owners, sales pros and entrepreneurs. He put together a list of his most valuable free resources that can help young entrepreneurs with big dreams—people just like he used to be.

John has nine programs available that you can start right away, on topics like business needs for success, target markets, product validation, goal setting, speaking, marketing and sales pitches. These online virtual trainings offer insights from John and other industry professionals.

And Don’t Forget to Check Out…
John regularly posts on his various social media channels about things that apply to all entrepreneurs and business professionals.


Simon Sinek
Sinek is the author of multiple best-selling books including Start With Why (global best seller), Leaders Eat Last (New York Times and Wall Street Journal best seller), Together is Better (New York Times and Wall Street Journal best seller), Find Your Why and The Infinite Game. He may be best known for popularizing the concept of WHY in his first TED Talk in 2009. It rose to become the third most watched on, with over 40 million views and subtitled in 47 languages. He spoke at Conference in 2016.

Resource You Should Utilize
Sinek is offering live online classes called “Inspire U”, as he has pulled together workshops designed to help anyone feel inspired, safe and ful?lled. On his website, Sinek says, “Alone is hard. Together is better.”

Sinek’s newest classes include “5 Self-Awareness Skills to Help You Succeed,” “Build Trusting Teams” and “The Infinite Game Class.” He also hasclasses available on adversity, managing emotions,landing a job you love, building relationships, building a strong culture and more.

And Don’t Forget to Check Out…
Sinek’s podcast “A Bit of Optimism” debuted in June and features a wide variety of guests. He talks about leadership, entrepreneurship, courage, service and much more in weekly episodes.