I’ve just returned from a speaking gig in Guatemala – it was a fantastic experience.
I was the main keynote speaker at the 20th. annual conference of AGRH, the association of HR managers in Guatemala. In addition to the keynote I also spoke at a shorter VIP event and had a whole bunch of meetings with business people and interviews with various media.
I had a great time, but here are my top 5 things about my trip:
1: A conference about happiness at work – in Guatemala(!)
Here I am in stage for my presentation. Notice the Danish flag in the background with all the Latin American flags:
The conference was a day and a half and the theme for the whole event was happiness at work or Felicidad Laboral as you can see in the logo above. As far as we know, this was only the second conference about workplace happiness in the world – and ours was the first. That’s pretty good for a Latin American country, to focus not only on having jobs but on creating happy workplaces. The conference was opened with a speech by the Guatemalan Minister of Labor, who also spoke on the importance of having a job you like.
2: The fantastic people of Guatemala
Every single person I met at the conference and in Guatemala in general was friendly, open, curious and happy. Here I am with the conference arrangers at the closing party:
3: I was a rock star for 4 days :o)
All the other speakers were from the region (Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras) so I was the main international speaker. That meant that everyone wanted to talk to me, have their picture taken with me or even get autographs. I could get used to that :o)
Here’s a poster for the event:
Notice the part below my name that says “Experto Mundial #1”. I’m having a T-shirt made with those words on it :o)
4: The Guatemala Sink hole
I was fortunate enough to get a private tour of Guatemala City and when my guide asked me what I would like to see besides the usual sights, I immediately mentioned the Guatemala sink hole. I’m apparently the first tourist ever to ask to see that, so he didn’t even know exactly where it was. But we asked around and finally found it. It’s a bizarre sight to see a big round hole in the middle of a street in the middle of a big city.
5: Guatamala gets it
The 250 HR managers in attendance loved my presentation and I sold a lot of signed copies of my first book in its Spanish translation. But the best thing wa to talk to the participants afterwards and get the clear impression that they are committed to creating happy workplaces.
One of the other presentations at the conference was an survey done by PriceWaterhouseCoopers of HR managers in Guatemala, and according to their report, 95% agree that happiness is good for business results and 75% already have initiatives to create happiness or will soon begin.
All in all it was a fantastic trip, and we’re proud to be able to add Guatemala to the list of countries we’ve worked in. Here’s the complete list: Germany, England, Ireland, USA, Sweden, Turkey, Denmark, Ireland, France, Poland, Holland, Estonia, Slovenia, India, Croatia, Bahamas, Switzerland and Guatemala.