WOW! Just got back from the People Report Conference in Dallas and my jaw is still firmly planted on the ground. I’m searching for the adjective to describe the event. Not sure I will ever find it. Scintillating, Fascinating, Awe-Inspiring, Outta This World, Off the Charts, Molecule Rearranging, Inspirational, Motivational, Mind-Boggling, Flabbergasting? String em together - MAYBE. Any one by itself – NOT WORTHY. I promise you I’m not easily impressed.

With 30 years in the restaurant business, I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt and more. I’ve heard speakers from Pat Riley to Norman Schwarzkopf to Zig Ziglar all legendary in their own right. I’ve been through some pretty challenging out of the box training sessions that have helped mold my way of thinking; helped me develop as business person and more importantly as a human. With that said this past week’s People Report Conference could’ve have been the top learning, growing, inspiring experience of them all!

This was my 3rd People Report hosted event. I have walked away from each one feeling like I learned a ton. More importantly I always come away with a feeling of hope and a renewed energy to go out and pursue my dream. Last week’s conference was no exception.

Joni Doolin is the CEO of People Report. Wally Doolin is the CEO of Black Box Intelligence. I’d explain what they do however you will be better served by going to their websites. Both have been passionate advocates for the hospitality industry for more years than they (or I) would like to admit. These two, together have made an enormous positive impact on the industry. There are lots of people who have been integral to our industry but there’s something different about Joni and Wally.

I suppose anyone can put on an annual conference, bring in a bunch of heavyweight speakers and it and it ends up being a worthwhile experience for attendees. I’m not talking about a worthwhile experience here. I’m talking about having my molecules rearranged. I’m talking about life changing stuff. I’m talking about walking away with a different buzz than I’ve ever had in my career. That says a lot coming from a guy who has had a few buzzes in his day.

The two and a half day event is meticulously organized and flawlessly executed. The information shared by industry leaders is captivating, always relevant and presented in a way that inspires the attendees. While this is no small task, this can be said about other conferences. Again there is something different about the People Report Conference.

Is it the fact that each PR conference starts off with a significant community event? Are you serious? Do you mean there’s no golf tournament, bar crawl or time at the spa? That’s what I mean. On Tuesday, I’d say about 80% of the attendees boarded busses at 7:30am and made the 45 minute trek to the North Dallas Food Bank. Until my association with the People Report I never truly understood the issue of hunger in America. The numbers are mind-boggling and it’s not just people who are destitute. Every day more and more people who look like you and me are unable to afford food to feed themselves and their families. Saying the situation is scary is a gross understatement. Shocking is more like it.

I’ve learned not to underestimate the impact of people working together for a common cause. The obvious outcome of the food bank is to feed as many hungry people as possible. The net of our efforts – more than 25,000 meals sorted and packed in less than 3 hours. When I participate in these types of activities I always wonder who gets more out of it – the receiver or the giver. At a minimum, I’m convinced it’s a dead heat.

Helping hungry people is the primary benefit of this event. There is a secondary benefit however that isn’t quite as obvious. There’s something about a bunch of CEO’s, VP’s Managers, Entrepreneurs, people from all over the country each with a different story, a different background some well off, some struggling to make ends meet. There’s something about this group of humans, all dressed in t-shirts, sneakers and jeans providing the manual labor necessary to feed the hungry. All of a sudden there are no titles. There’s no intimidation. No fear. It’s just a bunch of everyday people giving their time and energy to help those who are less fortunate. Beyond the shadow of a doubt this sets the stage for the next day and a half of the conference.

So is it the community event what separates the People Report Conferences from all the others? It’s certainly an integral part of it. But here’s what I really think it is. It’s something that for some reason seems to take a back seat when it comes to business. It’s something that emanates from the organizers of this conference. It’s something that cannot be measured or quantified. You certainly won’t find it as a line item on your P&L! It’s LOVE. That’s it. That’s the vibe, the energy, the feeling that is different.

Joni, Wally and their team put it out there. They sign up speakers who put it out there including the likes of Tommy Spaulding, Kevin Hall, Alan Khazei to name a few. As for the attendees… If you believe in love you attend. If you approach relationships with the desire to give without wondering, “What’s in it for me?” you attend. If you shun superficial relationships and you relish, deep meaningful relationships you attend. Now I get it. LOVE is the difference.

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  • Patrick, thanks for the comment. Not sure about a video but I did purchase a copy of his book. It's Not Just Who You Know. Can't wait to start reading it. His story blew me away.
  • Wow, that sounds amazing!! Thank you for sharing. I will definitely check out Joni and Wally's sites. Is there a video or text of Tommy Spaulding's story?
  • Sarah - thanks for the comment. I still haven't come down from my People Report high. I think it was Tommy Spaulding's story that put me over the edge. I really enjoyed spending time with you as well. You are a very special person. Susan and I think the world of you! Joni and Wally and the PR/BBI teams are truly amazing. I swear I won't ever miss one of these. Stay in touch Sarah. You ROCK!
  • Couldn't have put it better myself. I too return from each People Report conference with a renewed sense of passion and motivation for my personal and professional life. Joni, Wally, and their team can pull this off because of the values you talk about. Love, giving back, positivity, making a difference, no fear...It's partly because of their time and experience in the industry but mostly because they LOVE people. I truly believe you wont find a group of people that have the same passion for making this industry better, both the PR team and the folks that attend (like you!). Love that I got spend time with you last week in Dallas and can't wait till June's Summer Camp!
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