CompCon 2019 Recap — Comp + Coffee: Ep 40

And that’s a wrap on CompCon 2019!

Our second annual CompCon was such a blast — and a huge success!

500 people attended our two-day event. They enjoyed hearing from keynote speakers like David Goggins and Dr. BJ Fogg, networked at our CompCon after-party, and got an inside look into where Payfactors (and the comp industry) is going.

In this CompCon recap, we’ll discuss:

  • Some of the highlights from CompCon 2019, like our inspirational keynote speaker, David Goggins
  • The breakout sessions where CompCon attendees turned their motivation into meaningful change
  • The discussion of fair pay at CompCon and what this conversation means for compensation management

Already looking forward to CompCon 2020? Hey, us too!

Don’t worry, we’ll have some exciting announcements about next year’s conference coming very soon…

In the meantime, make sure to subscribe – and don’t forget to give us a 5-star rating!

For a full transcription of the episode, see below.

Shawn: And we’re live.

Kaite: Hey, Shawn.

Shawn: Hey, Kaite.

Kaite: What’s up?

Shawn: Not much.

Kaite: Where’s Bill?

Shawn: Well, we’re recording this the day before Halloween, it’s October 30th.

Kaite: Oh, so he’s getting his costume ready.

Shawn: I do believe that’s where he’s at today. True story, he’s a gummy bear this year.

Kaite: No.

Shawn: He’s a gummy bear. Yes, he’s a gummy bear.

Kaite: Is there a gummy bear song?

Shawn: Oh yeah. We’ll throw that in the links.

Kaite: Send it to me, please, because I’m unaware of this.

Shawn: He’s a gummy bear.

Jess: I thought he’d be a zebra.

Kaite: That was for CompCon. But that’s a good segue into who do we have in the room with us in place of Bill.

Shawn: Yeah, it’s just Jess Krason jumping in.

Kaite: Hi, Jess.

Shawn: Jess, the brains, the effort, the full force behind CompCon.

Jess: You give me too much credit but I’ll take it all. Thank you.

Shawn: What I appreciate about you is you’re humble.

Jess: I try. I really try.

Shawn: So yeah, we just came off CompCon.

Jess: It seems like ages ago, however.

Shawn: It was last week.

Jess: Still seems like ages.

Kaite: Lifetime ago.

Jess: Lifetime.

Shawn: San Francisco.

Jess: Beautiful weather, sunny skies. I think I got a sunburn at one point.

Kaite: You probably did, you’re a little fair-skinned.

Shawn: Months ago on this podcast I promised that it was going to be 70s and sunny and…

Kaite: Lo and behold.

Jess: Look at you.

Shawn: I was accurate.

Kaite: Krason fulfilled on that promise, she actually has it in with the weather gods.

Jess: Mother nature owed me a favor.

Kaite: Yeah.

Shawn: I don’t doubt that somehow.

Kaite: Right.

Jess: No. Okay.

Shawn: So nearly 500 people attended, we had to divide it into 2 days. We had keynote speakers on one day where it was all and we’ll go through them, it was all about changing the way that we think and how we can do that. And then the second day was a dive into where Payfactors is headed.

Jess: We had Goggins open the show. Great energy right off the bat, got the crowd very enthusiastic.

Shawn: So David Goggins, who was on this podcast, I think if you go probably four or five episodes back now, we had a great talk with him. He came in and shared his inspirational tale. His general message is that we can do more than we think we can, our minds just often get in the way. And for him, that manifests itself in a couple of ways. I mean there’s the overtly physical, which is that he’s an ultra-marathoner. Has been through Navy seal buds three different times.

Kaite: Literally had just come off running 200 miles in a weekend.

Shawn: More than 200 because he went off course.

Kaite: Right, he went off course. But for the weekend before CompCon, just casual 200 miles plus.

Shawn: Yes, in Utah. Yeah, shared that story, updated his talk with that story because of what happened there. And it was a really interesting talk, it can be applied to anything. We can always do more than we think we can, our mind just gets in the way. And he has a lot of messages about staying focused and using motivation to make sure that we continue to do better. And so it was an interesting way to start the day, I thought. It was a very energetic way to start the day, the man’s high energy.

Kaite: He’s definitely a high energy.

Jess: He definitely woke the crowd up and had them buzzing afterwards just to see what was next and what was coming and that was a good pal, BJ Fogg.

Shawn: Yeah, we paired those two together intentionally. If Goggins did his job and I would think he did, which was, “You can do more than you think you can do.” Dr. BJ Fogg from Stanford University was there to say, “Okay, you want to do more, here’s exactly how you do it.” Because most people aren’t going to go out and just go run 100 miles like Goggins did. He’s nuts, I’ll admit. But if you do decide that you want to run a marathon, you have to break that down into pieces. Likewise, if you decide that you want to be more productive at work, well, you need to have ideas on how to do that. If you want to be more focused, you need to know how to do that. You need to know how to set habits around key things that you want to do, and that’s what Dr. BJ Fogg is all about is setting habits.

One of the things I found most fascinating about his talk was actually the follow-up to it, we don’t want a conference that is just all these high-level keynote speeches that you’re like, “Oh man, that’s really cool. I want to do more. I don’t know how to do more and I’m just going to go back and keep doing what I do.” Which is, like, common in a lot of conference experience.

Kaite: Yeah, I feel like every conference you leave and that’s kind of what happens.

Shawn: You’re like, “Oh, wow.”

Kaite: Maybe you got one session where you’re like, “Oh, I can apply this one little thing but not the rest of it.”

Shawn: Right. It’s tough to figure out how to actually go back and implement that at your work. So one of the things we did with Dr. BJ Fogg was we worked with, he has coaches that are trained in habit behavior.

Kaite: The Tiny Habits method.

Shawn: The Tiny Habits method. Thank you.

Kaite: Trademarked.

Shawn: Yes, thank you for pointing that out. We surveyed people who were going to attend and we asked them, “Well, this can be applied to a lot of different things, what are the top areas you’d like to learn about? Where would you like to set better habits?” And from that they picked, dealing with difficult conversations, personal productivity, and the last one is something that they call pearl habits. And a pearl, if you think about it, it’s something beautiful that comes from something bad and that’s why they call it that. If something bad happens to you, how do you make it into something good?

And so, they had breakout sessions on each of those three topics and educated people that wanted to go to either of those topics on how to do that in their day, how to set habits around personal productivity, when dealing with difficult conversations, which is something that we’ve run into a lot in HR and compensation, how you can have those and be more thoughtful about them and when you do them? The pearl habits one was also fascinating, which is when bad things happen, how do you look for the good in them? How do you make sure that that’s a habit that you’re not just staring in the bad thoughts?

Jess: Well, also just walking around through the breakouts, it was nice to see how the crowd was interacting with each other and kind of grouping up, and like networking and noticing like, “Oh, we’re not the only ones alone having this problem.” So even through that, they were like, “Oh, I can actually implement this because you’ve gone through this.”

Shawn: Yeah. There was good feedback on that this year, which is there was a lot of moments of random interactivity that way. People were able to network and communicate with each other well, and we tried to provide a lot of spots for that to happen. And so, that was good feedback so far that we’ve received.

Kaite: I think the venue that we held it into just kind of naturally led to that. So the venue was a loft-style art gallery. So a lot of just, you know, open space, open-concept, so people naturally were mingling with each other, they weren’t really sectioned off. I think it really led to more conversation than we might have seen last year.

Shawn: Yeah. We kept the floor open.

Kaite: Yeah.

Jess: Also a bunch of food trucks, a bunch of lines.

Kaite: I was going to say the food trucks.

Jess: Who doesn’t like talking to the stranger behind them while they’re waiting for a nice taco?

Kaite: Who doesn’t like a food truck?

Shawn: The other interesting thing I thought too, while we’re talking about the venue, was one of the first things I noticed when everybody went upstairs that first day where the talks were being held, they looked at all the art on the walls and I saw a bunch of people taking pictures of it just because the sheer price alone. It was like a $15,000 painting hanging right there and people were taking pictures of it. You wouldn’t be able to, like, look at that and tell it was $15,000, I don’t know what made it worth that much, but that was the asking price on the wall. And I think people were kind of fascinated that that’s where we were holding this event.

Jess: It gave me confidence that I could become an artist and just one good handprint and we sold.

Kaite: One good handprint.

Shawn: Just paint a canvas gold.

Jess: Graffiti, maybe some dripped paint. It works.

Shawn: Some scrolled line.

Kaite: And then the second half of the day, everyone came back from lunch and we kicked off the afternoon with a session on communicating compensation with Jen Benz and Jason Adwin from Segal Benz Communications. And they are experts in communication, specifically within the HR industry. So, I think it was really interesting to hear from them.

Shawn: Yeah. Their job is to communicate with employees, help companies communicate well with their employees around different topics in HR. And they shared a lot of interesting data that they see, a lot of good examples of ways that people are communicating.

And then they held a panel, they hosted a panel where we had a representative from a company called Tokyo Marine, one from Glassdoor, and one from Republic Airways. They were able to spark a pretty interesting conversation between them and the audience around the different topics that people run into. It was interesting to learn, like, generally people run into the same issues, which is probably not a huge surprise. But I think, overall, there’s a lot of headway that we need to make on communicating Comp, and helping everybody in our organization understand that, everybody from execs to managers to everyday employees.

Kaite: And if you’re a regular listener of this podcast, then you know that we kind of talk about this. Probably comes up every episode, at least.

Shawn: Switch to the last speaker of the day and we had Stan Dunlap who is in charge of HR for Salesforce. You might’ve heard of him. Really good talk there too. He gave a general overview of how Salesforce approaches all things HR, compensation, benefits, everything that they look to do and communicate it, just generally their stance, and spent a lot of time on one of the things that they’re best known for recently, which is pay equity. Why they did it, how they did it, and what they look to continue to do to make sure that they’re paying fairly.

Kaite: I mean obviously just given what this topic wasn’t pay equity, people were loving that session. People absolutely loved hearing from Stan Dunlap and hearing, like, how he had done that.

Shawn: Yeah. Highly rated session, no doubt. Then that night we took everybody to Lamar.

Jess: Lamar.

Kaite: Just Lamar. Why are we all applying fake accents to it?

Shawn: I don’t know, because it seems like it should be French but really it was Spanish.

Kaite: It’s Peruvian.

Jess: The first time I said Lamar he thought it was a basketball player I was referring to.

Shawn: Yeah.

Kaite: Well, fair enough.

Shawn: There was no space in there, Krason just said it like Lamar and I’m like, “We’re going to Lamar. Cool.”

Kaite: Yeah, he’s having us over.

Shawn: So, I had to put a little [inaudible 00:10:23] on it to make sure that there is a gap in-between La-mar. And so great night, we were right on the San Francisco Bay.

Kaite: Such a beautiful view.

Shawn: Beautiful view of the Bay Bridge.

Jess: We had some nice trolley transportation back and forth, which was a very cool experience just to go through the city and see that and then open up to the Bay

Shawn: And another good networking night with empanadas.

Jess: Delicious empanadas.

Shawn: Who doesn’t like to talk when you have a nice empanada in your hand?

Kaite: People seem to have a great time.

Jess: Great cocktails, great view, great food, sign me up.

Kaite: You did technically sign yourself up because this was your brainchild, you know.

Shawn: Initiated the entire thing.

Kaite: Yeah. All of that, including the empanada bar it was you.

Shawn: Selected it, contracted it, put your name on the line, yeah, you signed your self up.

Kaite: So basically Krason is just, you know…

Shawn: Had nobody else shown up, it would have been just a very expensive night out for you.

Jess: Typical Tuesday, Monday night.

Shawn: Wow. You ball a lot harder than I would have expected. So, this year one of the things that we did, we held CompCon last year in Boston and we had a pretty traditional structure to it. I think we had three keynotes at the time, we had Patty McCord from Netflix, we had Jason Averbook from Leap HR, and we had Lilly Ledbetter as keynote speakers. And then we had the breakouts in-between kind of a traditional conference setting, traditional conference structure. What we wanted to do this year was say, “Okay, we think there’s a big movement happening in compensation and we’re starting to see this divide where there’s a lot of people that are stepping up, we’ll call them Comp strategists, but that are stepping up and saying, ‘Comp has a bigger effect on the business than typically we give it credit for.’ And they want to showcase that more, they want to talk about the results more, and they want to help evolve not only compensation but their careers as well and where they go with it.” And so, we catered to that more this year.

We held it in San Francisco very intentionally to help get where we see this rise happening, one of the areas where we see this rise happening, and have that talk more. And we came to the conference that this year we wanted to bring along people that think differently about compensation, that are frustrated by the mundane manual tasks that typically take up the majority of the days, that put them into reactive mode and prohibit them from really being a long-range thinker, a strategic, thoughtful business ally. Because that’s just what happens when you’re getting all these requests all day. And one of our speakers on the second day had a really interesting way to convey this. When you’re getting these constant inbound requests of, “I need this report. I need these jobs, price, can you just do this one quick thing for me?” There’s no way you can be thoughtful in what you’re doing. There’s no way you can really do long-range thinking. And that’s just like the normal day-to-day stuff.

Then we have the seasons at Comp, which is all the stuff that underlies a regular year for us, right? It’s benchmarking season, it’s survey-participation season, it’s time for a market pricing refresh. You could set your watch to what we have to do on a regular basis, much less all the inbound requests. So, again, really tough to think long-range unless we start to use technology to help us with that, not just as what we’ve used it for so far, which is basically a more robust Excel or a better data warehouse than we’ve had. If we can really use it to help conquer some of these more mundane efforts that we do, then we can really be Comp strategist.

And so, you’ve heard us talk about this before but we catered that first day to it. We talked about the speakers, we had David Goggins had to say, “You can do more than you think you can.” And BJ Fogg to say, “Here’s exactly how you do that.” Then we brought in, “How you communicate compensation.” And then it was all about…we picked a really interesting thought leader that’s well known for making big strides in this area and had him speak as well on what he runs into on a normal day and how he thinks about compensation and HR overall. So, that was the goal this year. We took a different tack, it wasn’t as many of the breakouts, it was more, “Let’s have thoughtful conversations around this and provide plenty of opportunity for individuals then to run into each other and speak on their own around topics of interest.” So, that was kind of more the goal this year and I think we succeeded in doing that.

So great first day and then we switched over to what we call client day, which is more of a dive into where Payfactors believes the compensation industry is going and what we’re doing to solve it, right? Here’s the future that we want to spell out and here’s all the things that we’re building to solve that. So, we’re going to break that down in upcoming webinars and probably additional podcasts as well where we dive into each of those topics. So, I don’t want to steal any thunder today but generally, it’s not going to be a surprise. You’ve heard us message this a lot. We believe that compensation is extremely strategic and can be way more proactive, and thoughtful, and communicative in what’s done if we rid ourselves of a lot of the manual processes that we typically have to do.

So we spelled out that vision and talked about the specific aspects under each of those. So, keep listening to the podcast and we’ll have more information on that coming up soon and be on the lookout for webinars from us on the same topics too. So overall good experience. San Francisco was great weather, it was beautiful, venue was cool, content was good. I mean, overall, it seemed like everybody had a really good experience and that’s reflected in what we’re hearing back so far too.

Kaite: Yeah. We’ll be sharing out some photos from the event soon, some other content.

Shawn: So that was CompCon 2019. Already looking forward to Jess losing sleep planning 2020. That’s one of the fun things about doing events is you don’t really take a break. You just keep rolling right into the next one.

Jess: You really don’t, you just got to keep it going. But no, we have some venues we’re going to be checking out this week lining up in various locations, but stay tuned to where we land. Hopefully, we can announce that within, like, the next month.

Shawn: So, yeah, stay tuned. Stay tuned for additional webinars and podcasts to come on some of the topics we covered. Stay tuned for announcements about CompCon 2020 and hope that you can join us. We’ll make it the biggest best CompCon yet. Stay tuned for more Jess on the podcast as long as Bill is working on his..

Kaite: Jess, I really enjoy having you on today, I feel like you’re really starting to nail the podcast.

Jess: You know, this is a real pleasure and I look forward to it every time I’m signed up for one.

Shawn: Signed up.

Kaite: Huh? I don’t quite believe you. And also signed up makes it seem like you’re forced into this. Do you feel forced into recording podcasts?

Jess: No, not at all.

Shawn: All right, so stay tuned for more stuff to come. Perhaps Bill’s back next week out of his gummy bear outfit, which I don’t know what he’s making it out of but I’m fascinated to see. Let’s take a quick guess, what color is Bill going to be? What gummy bear color?

Jess: I’m going to say it could be a red that fades into a green.

Kaite: An ombre kind of?

Jess: Yeah.

Kaite: All right. I had blue.

Shawn: I’m going yellow all day. Tessa?

Katie: Tessa?

Tessa: I’m going to go with green.

Shawn: The green gummy bear?

Tessa: [crosstalk 00:17:16] gummy bear.

Katie: Oh, okay.

Jess: That’s an iconic one.

Kaite: I didn’t know there was a comic gummy bear.

Tessa: [inaudible 00:17:28] and everything.

Shawn: That’s the gummy bear song. That’s the video. We’ll put a link to it. This is what happens when you have kids at home. So, stay tuned for more stuff to come, maybe Bill is back, maybe not, we’ll see what happens next week. All right. Thank you, everybody. We’ll see you soon.

Kaite: Over and out.

Jess: Goodbye, everyone.