ICF Mid West Conference Report on Keynote Speakers

By Dr. Damian Goldvarg

This year the ICF Midwest Region Coaches Conference took place in Pittsburgh, from June 20 to 23 with participants from all over the world. This is my fifth conference in the region and it is always great to meet and network with friendly colleagues. The program was excellent. There were three keynote speakers and I would like to share the highlights from each session.


The first keynote was done by Whitney Johnson. She talked about disruption and how important it is to create change in our lives and in the organizations we are part of. She provoked the audience by asking: How do you feel about disruption?


Some of the tips to be disruptive to enhance grow and change included:


  • Take risks
  • Play your strengths. Some questions you may ask yourself are: What makes you strong? What compliments did you dismiss? What is your genius?
  • Embrace constraints. Quit the right staff at the right time!
  • Battle entitlement
  • Step back to grow
  • Give failure its space. Give failure its due.
  • Be discovery-driven


The second keynote speaker was Jeanne Antolak and she talked about the Hero’s Journey (from Campbell) applied to Coaching. In the Journey, we start at home, a comfortable place to initiate an adventure. In our way, we find obstacles, challenges and a mentor to support us to jump obstacles to transform, grow, and reinvent ourselves.


The third speaker was Robert Keagan. The title of his session was: “Business as Unusual”, a new social contract at work. It was a very interesting session focused on the future of work and how coaches need to be prepared:


  • Pay attention to the messenger for the future. His message may seem weird!
  • Time lags between what we know and when we integrate what we know. Keagan gave examples of how some scientific discoveries took time to be accepted and implemented.
  • Growth at work. Before, development was focused on high potentials, in workshops, and at a special time, but in the 21 Century development is for everyone, collaborative, every day, and transferable.
  • Quit your second job. If you have a second job focused on looking good, managing perception, getting people to believe that you are better than you are.
  • Identify assumptions, opportunity to test potential limiting assumptions we are holding, You may live part of a fantasy world, engage and transcend assumptions.
  • Continuous feedback, supportive and challenging, There are care and candor (bring light to an org.). Many times people are not recognized.


During the conference, there were also many great workshops. Jeff Nally and I presented on Coaching Supervision and the session was very well accepted. The video will be available soon.