Square Grouper Jupiter

SG1

“Seas the day.”

(Storyteller Travel)

Summertime is conference season for everyone working in Higher Education Career Services.  We have multiple organizations that provide fantastic opportunities to network with colleagues.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), Southern Association of Colleges and Employers (SoACE) and Florida Association of Colleges and Employers (Florida ACE) are three of the organizations I have membership or participate in professional development.  My current role aligns more with NACE these days, but I stay up to date with SoACE and Florida ACE.  I have a lot of my tree branches who are extremely active with the regional and state associations.  I am proud to say one of my tree branches is the current President of SoACE.  I have others coming up through the ranks so happy to watch them grow daily.

The Florida ACE annual conference was held in Jupiter, Florida this year and several of my friends and tree branches attended.  I was not an official attendee for this conference since I was just returning from the NACE conference in Portland.  I received several texts and emails from my folks in attendance that they wanted me to come down for the conference to say hello.

Decided to drive down to Jupiter for the last day of the conference which was a Friday.  My current school is closed on Fridays during the summer so got up with the intent to catch the last portions of the conference and get a chance to catch up with my folks.  Jupiter is about a 50-minute drive south from Fort Pierce so made my way down.

Arrived at the conference location and located the Florida ACE group on the second floor.  They were wrapping up the conference with awards and door prizes, so I hung back to avoid disrupting the conference, but my friends spotted me towards the back of the room.  Got a few smiles and waves but this did not distract from the conference.

I was able to see and catch up with friends once the conference ended.  It was great catching up with people I have not seen in a while.  Some of this is because of COVID and some was because I moved down to Fort Pierce.  Either way, this was a fantastic opportunity to see some great people and reconnect! 😊

The original Square Grouper is in Jupiter, and I had never visited this location before.  I am a regular at the Fort Pierce Square Grouper and wanted to check out the OG location for myself.  FYI, one of my friends refers to the Jupiter location as the OG (Original Gangster) location so decided to join in on the fun. 

Google maps got me to the Square Grouper in about 10 minutes from the conference hotel which was down the street.

Made my way into the OG location to see how/if it was different from the Fort Pierce location.

 The bar setups were very similar, and the food menu was the exact same—not surprising.  The difference I saw was what was beyond/behind Square Grouper.  The Fort Pierce location sits on the Fort Pierce inlet and is great for watching boats on the water.  The Jupiter location has a dock directly behind it with boats sitting.  Not a horrible look but the views are almost night and day for me.  Love the freedom and great pictures I get at the Fort Pierce location. 

I’m sure the Jupiter location has a group of regulars who love their views, but I would not trade the Fort Pierce view, vibe and feel for anything.  Plus, the Fort Pierce Square Grouper is 15 minutes from where I live as opposed to having to drive 50 minutes to Jupiter.  FYI—the Jupiter location seems to get better live music options since it is closer to south Florida and the Miami music scene. 

https://squaregrouper.net/events/month/?venue=jupiter-inlet

Happy I made the stop in Jupiter to see what the OG Square Grouper has to offer.  Need to explore more in the Jupiter area since the beach is so nice down there.

Irie!

“Life takes you down many paths, but my favorite ones lead to the beach”.(Good Housekeeping)

Inspiration Man—Florida Association of Colleges and Employers (FloridaACE) Keynote

Keynote

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity.  The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”.

(Winston Churchill)

To keynote or not? 

This was a question I faced back in October 2021 when one of my friends asked me to consider being the keynote speaker for a virtual Drive-In conference.

The Florida Association of Colleges and Employers (FloridaACE) members come from college/university Career Services and employers who maintain active on-campus recruiting programs.

I have been a member of FloridaACE for over 10 years and have made some great contacts throughout the state of Florida. 

Fun fact, I was selected as the keynote for the inaugural Drive-In Conference back in 2016.  I gave my keynote address at the University of Central Florida in the building I used to work in prior to moving to FSU.  Who says you can’t come home again? 😊

The Drive-In Conference is designed to be shorter than a regular conference—a day and a half instead of a full week.  The concept of the Drive-in Conference is to make it accessible to a large population of attendees who can physically drive to the location and not need hotel accommodations.

COVID-19 made the concept of virtual conferences come to life and this Drive-In Conference was switched to a virtual format.

I love to spread the Inspiration Man message to any group that will sit and listen.  I hesitated to accept this request because it was via Zoom, and I did not know how my message would translate on a virtual platform.  I love in-person audiences and feed off the crowd when I present.  A virtual keynote was a challenge to me but one I am happy I accepted—things went well from start to finish.

The 2021 FloridaACE Virtual Drive-In Conference was titled: Gulf-to-Coast Connections.

I reached out to my friend to get a better understanding of the conference title and how significant it was to attendees.  Turns out the term gulf was picked so people in western Florida would not feel left out.  I decided to focus on the conference in terms of how people on both coasts (Gulf and Atlantic) could connect to build Authentic Connections.  Yes, I put authentic in most things I do these days. 😊

Happy to report I accepted the Keynote invitation and was able to move the crowd on a virtual platform.

I researched the term Authentic Connections to build my knowledge base as I worked to create a presentation to inspire others.  There is a ton of research available, and my new task was to filter this data in a way to build the presentation.

The key to any form of connection is RELATIONSHIPS.  My goal during the keynote was to highlight to the attendees how technology (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, LinkedIn, etc.) allow us to reach a larger audience than before.  There was always a mindset to catch-up with colleagues during the annual in-person conference or workshop.  This was an effective way to connect back in the day, but COVID created new options/ways to connect.

We can reach out to potential mentors and colleagues by utilizing the technology we have.  My keynote centered on how FloridaACE members could leverage technology and build authentic connections.

Authentic Connections should be genuine, direct, and focused.  My point for the group was to highlight relationships can be built virtually, in-person or a combination of both platforms.  You must want to make a connection for it to happen.  Networking with an intentional mindset helps build connections too.

I would have been remiss if I did not talk about some of the challenges we face when attempting to make new connections:

  • COVID-19
  • No in-person events
  • Zoom fatigue
  • Multiple platform (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, LinkedIn, etc.)

Simply figuring out how and when to connect with others has been a challenge even for me. 

Some folks prefer a phone call, others are all about Zoom and then you have a set who want in-person connections because they want to feel normal again.  I shared with my audience it is okay to identify a preferred platform and stick with that.  I prefer Microsoft Teams now when connecting with anyone not on-campus with me.  The key to this I have found is to state the preference up-front and then provide a Microsoft Teams calendar invite to eliminate confusion on how/when we will connect. 

The concept of recalibrate was addressed to ensure attendees understand they must adjust thought processes in today’s world.  We are not going back to pre-COVID networking so finding authentic connections should be prioritized for them to happen.  Following up after making a request is an outstanding way to continue to build the connections needed to make a difference in the world.

Being a keynote speaker during a virtual conference was a new experience for me but I was able to make several authentic connections during and after the event.  Will see how many attendees follow-up with me and leverage the wisdom I dropped on them.

How do you make/ensure authentic connections in your world?  Thanks!

“Speakers who talk about what life has taught them never fail to keep the attention of their listeners”.

(Dale Carnegie)

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