ATD ICE 2018 – Keynote Recap: Connie Podesta

Keynote: Connie Podesta

I was super excited to attend Connie Podesta’s session, Life would be easy, if it weren’t for other people, because it seemed very relatable. Decoding the mystery of human behaviour seems like a unicorn of an event, but if she has advice, I’ll take it!

Connie Podesta begins her session by asking us how many of us would live our best lives if it weren’t for other people. ALL OF US.

She gives us two choices “I have an UNBELIEVABLE PowerPoint presentation”, with workbooks, and group work, or “vote for choice two before you hear it”…no really, choice two is to do none of that.

If you’re married, have kids, have bosses, have co-workers…selling is your ability to get people onboard. Today, Connie is going to show us how to get people onboard with all of these individuals!

Connie explains that women have created the term ‘executive coach’ to ensure men would come to the sessions…that’s why we don’t call ourselves therapists (to men). I know a lot of men who are comfortable going to therapists, but I think the term ‘executive coach’ seems a lot more appealing to many. Who knows?

  • Connie: Would you rather hug an old lady, or kick a dog?
  • Person: Kick an old lady

That sounds accurate.

She hauls a woman up who is under 39, and she explains how the under 39s are those who are full of themselves and don’t wear watches, the 50+ folk have sore shoulders, are the glue that sticks everything together, and are the happiest generation…because they don’t care, and the 40-49 group are those who are angrier than all of the other generations.

She explains that the 39s and under are a generation who get rewards for showing up. She recommends all of the 39s and under get a watch…why? Because we apparently blow off 42.5 hours a year checking on the time.

There’s an activity: choose your shape: circle, square, triangle, squiggle – what resonates most with you?

  • Squares: Detailed, left-brained, specific, make lists, dependable, reliable (don’t ask them “does this make my butt look big?”), hardest woking individuals in the industry…according to them; no one knows what they do, because they’re territorial, are not the best team players
  • Triangles: A little bit temperamental and it’s unpredictable, don’t like negative feedback, perfectionists, argue unsatisfactory grades, are OCD, are the best multi-taskers in the room (triangle secret: they don’t finish anything – they have the lowest attention span in the room, will go to squares to finish their projects), are driven out of their mind by circles
    • Squares and triangles just want their brains to stop.
  • Circles: Married to squares, never finish stories, -hits head on microphone-, oblivious there is a speaker present, easily distracted, party people (first time I’ve heard that), social people (ONLY time I’ve heard that), love telling stories, have made people endure your stories, the stories are so far from accuracy, are the motivators of the world, make all other shapes disgusted at 7am (do not talk to triangles before 10 or they’ll slap you), and are the peacemakers of the world – other shapes DO NOT UNDERSTAND YOU – you hate hassles, confrontations, and want everyone to get along; you want everyone to be happy and to learn from you, you get your feelings hurt 34897294239 times per day, and you have a hard time saying “NO!”; the circle motto is “I’ll do it.”
    • Inside the brain of circles: they honestly believe from the depths of their soul that they were put on the Earth for a reason, for a destiny, to fix or rescue
      • I’m a circle and this is 500% accurate.
  • Squiggles: Are the idea people, half of the ideas are non-sense, have authority issues stemming from childhood
  • The Unidentifiers: No fun, grumpy, don’t feel the need to participate, are closet-squares, because those are the only people who wouldn’t stand

How do you find out what shape people are? Ask “How are you today?” Squares and triangles won’t say anything. Circles will think you genuinely want to know. Why do we have kids that we think aren’t ours? Because at 6 months, they look around and think “I don’t want to be like anyone else in the family.”

She hauls up another poor participant, Ed – A Square. She’s trying to teach us how to close a deal with a square. To illustrate this, she uses Ed. She asks “My office or your office?” and he says “My office.” If you call a meeting, it should be in the other individual’s office, because you’ll have a 60% increase in chances to close a deal if you go to them.

Now, let’s close a deal with a triangle. Close deals in their office because it’s all about power.

Circles and Squiggles: If you are not early for the meeting (1 minute early, or late), triangles and squares are DONE with you. Also – no one wants to be as close to you as you want to be to them. You spend a lifetime sending squares and triangles into a corner with your closeness and your small-talk. GET OUT OF HERE!

Overall: This session was a hilarious end session to a great week at ATD2018. I love Connie and her incredibly accurate account of individuals (or myself at the very least).


  1. Christine Davlin says

    Thank you for this recap. There is a part of Connie’s keynote that really struck a chord with me (and several of my colleagues) about Change. She shared a story about how children’s lives drastically change when they enter their pre-school and school years. I would like to recall how she told that story. Is anyone aware of where she may have this story in print or video?

    Thank you!

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