Catalyst Atlanta 2013 Recap

I returned from the Catalyst Atlanta Conference over the weekend. I can’t believe it’s done already.

My time there was a whirlwind. I was able to attend the Catalyst Lab sessions on Wednesday and then attend two days worth of great leadership content.

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This year the theme of the conference was KNOWN.




How are you known?

Image via Catalyst

These three items were the core of the conference. What are we known as. What are we known by. What are we known for.

When you combine these three pieces, you are known. And known well.

What I Learned At Catalyst

You may be wondering what I learned during my time at Catalyst. Honestly, it was a lot. Almost to the point of overwhelm.

In an effort to catch all of my thoughts and share them with you, I live blogged the event and created new posts for each speaker. You can see the notes by clicking on the names below.

Andy Stanley (Opener) -Andy opened the conference, as usual. In this session, Andy shared how our appetite for being known can be our downfall. A fantastic message for up-and-coming leaders to grasp onto.

Malcolm Gladwell – Malcolm was one of the speakers I was most looking forward to hearing. He didn’t disappoint. In his session, Malcolm Gladwell shared from his new book David and Goliath. Many times we are incorrectly known. Our stories are twisted. This was a not to be missed talk.

Jason Russell – Jason stepped into the spotlight with his Kony2012 video. Eventually this led to a breakdown that was national news. Jason stripes down (No, not literally) and shared how he thinks leaders need to be more vulnerable so the same issues don’t happen with you.

John Piper – This speech took more of a preaching tone to it than a leadership talk. Even with this, it was a great talk. John shares how our identity is rooted in God and we are His image.

Angela Ahrendts – My wife was a bit surprised and taken aback that Angela was at the conference. She’s the CEO of Burberry, a fashion company. While I didn’t know who she was before the conference, I left with a great respect of the woman. She’s helped turn the company around and see extreme business growth.

LeCrae Moore – Here was another speaker I was really excited to hear. He’s been breaking barriers for years and hearing his story was amazing.

Reggie Joiner – Reggie is a Godsend for leaders working with youth. He’s the founder of Orange and provides great resources to train young people. This session focused on how we can leave a legacy.

Priscilla Shirer – Sometimes we don’t know who we are. We also don’t know who’s trying to help us and that what they’re doing is to help us.

Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze – It was very interesting to see Dave Ramsey and his daughter on the same stage. Dave and Rachel switched back and forth during the talk. Everything flowed smoothly and was packed with information.

Si Robertson – Si was one of the surprise guests Catalyst likes to bring out. You could feel the excitement in the room when they announced him. I’m sorry Duck Dynasty fans, this was probably my least favorite speaker of the event. Maybe I just don’t get the Duck Dynasty craze. Even though he didn’t impress, I did get a piece of leadership gold out of his session. Hint: It’s what makes the show so successful and what the networks overlook.

Cory Booker – Scheduling conflicts arose and Cory couldn’t make it to the event live. Due to this, he agreed to a video interview that was shown during Catalyst. Cory laid out three keys to being a successful leader. You can find them in my notes by clicking on Cory’s name.

Jud Wilhite – Jud shared with us that our callings are not always pleasant. We will face insurmountable odds and obstacles that will try to prevent us from becoming who we are. Don’t let them.

Andy Stanley (Closing) – And we closed the Catalyst Conference with Andy Stanley. Three questions to ask yourself and your organization to make it the best you can: What are we doing? Why are we doing it? And Where do I fit in? Answer these to make your organization run smoother than ever.

What else happened at Catalyst?

The Catalyst Conference isn’t just about the leadership speakers. Not by a long shot.

Catalyst helped impact the community by asking the attendees to bring in items that would help the less fortunate. Looking at the bins as we left, it seems they did exactly that.

Each morning there was also a pre-show. This included live bands, camel rides (Yes, you heard me right. CAMELS), hot air balloon rides, and more. It’s all about the experience.

They also had live music during the event, comedians Trip and Tyler, and a conference center loaded with exhibitors.

Would I recommend the Catalyst Conference?

Without a doubt. Through the Catalyst Conference, I’ve learned so much and grown as a leader.

The gang puts together a top-notch experience every leader should experience.

Not only that, you’re interacting with 15,000 other leaders who have come to the event. There’s so much opportunity to grow and network it’s ridiculous.

What if you missed the conference?

Never worry. You may not be able to get the live experience but you can get a taste of what Catalyst has to offer.

Catalyst offers the Experience Kit which allows you to bring the conference to your home. You’ll get videos of the talks, audio downloads, books, and a crazy amount of resources.

I like it so much, I purchase the kit even though I already attended the event.

Get in the know

If you’re interested in attending Catalyst Atlanta next year or one of their other conferences, get in the know. Go to their website and sign up for updates.

Question: Have you been to a Catalyst Conference before? If so, how was your experience? If not, what do you think the Catalyst Conference could do for your leadership? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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