Crappy Swag and Other Happenings

Couple of exciting things happened recently that I wanted to share:

First, I was honored by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) with their media award.  This is really cool.  When I think of media, I think of television/radio/newspaper.  To be recognized as a blogger in the media category, well…I think it’s very forward thinking by NAWBO.  Thank you sincerely!

We all know American Express and small business owners are probably familiar with their OPEN program.  Well, I published a guest post last week on “7 Essential HR Resources for Your Small Business” for American Express OPEN Forum.  Very exciting.  And, if that wasn’t thrilling enough, the post was republished on Mashable.

The Leadership Development Carnival is up!  Many thanks to Dan McCarthy at Great Leadership blog for hosting this month.  My post on the “7 Types of Power in the Workplace” made the list.  I’m scheduled to host next month’s Carnival, so get those posts about leadership and management ready.  If you aren’t on the list to get notifications about the Leadership Carnival, contact Dan directly via dmccart3 at rochester dot rr dot com.

And, I’ve firmed up my plans to attend SourceCon and ERE Expo 2010 Spring in San Diego.  I had the opportunity to attend ERE’s Fall event last year and it was outstanding.  So I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones at this year’s conference.  I’m also looking forward to attending ERE’s Charity Poker Tournament which benefits the ERE Foundation.  I’m not a big poker player so Bob Tarver has been giving me pointers on the side.  (Thanks Bob!)  Not only is Bob a great poker tutor, he’s a super smart HR pro who is looking for his next opportunity.  Go check out his interview with the fabulous Franny Oxford over at Do The Work blog.

One more thing about ERE.  I know some people hate conference swag.  And, with good reason.  Sometimes conference swag can be really crappy.  Me?  I’ve tried to turn swag into a personal scavenger hunt and set swag goals for myself.  So I need your help.  What’s your favorite kind of conference swag?  And don’t go asking for MacBooks or Tumi luggage – just not gonna happen.  Think of things you’ve picked up at conferences and really liked.  Drop your swag wish list in the comments below.  I’ll use your list as my personal scavenger hunt during the conference.  And I’ll send lots of blog and Twitter luv to exhibitors who are giving away stuff on the list!

And to incentivize you, let’s have a little contest.  The nice people at Simon and Schuster just sent me this book from Robin Sharma called “The Leader Who Had No Title”.  Leave me a comment either here or on the HR Bartender Facebook page with your fave swag by Friday, March 12.  I’ll raffle the book off before I head out to San Diego.

Look forward to seeing what you come up with.  Cheers!


  1. Shennee says

    Hi Sharlyn-
    Sounds like you will be very busy with your travels. My favorite Swag if available would be a snuggie!

  2. John Jorgensen says

    I am not a swag gatherer at conferences so I don’t have a lot to choose from but hands down the best I ever got was last year at SHRM when BNA was passing out free cans of Cafe du Monde coffee. It may have been the only time I thought about hitting the same booth twice for swag.

  3. says

    The best swag is for the kids. I combined a conference with a family trip. My 4-year old son had the best time walking booth to booth on the last day, filling a bag full of swag. The rubber ducks, balls, candy, flashing lights and trinkets are much more appealing to kids than any office use.

  4. says

    I guess I’m boring. The only swag that I find useful is cloth grocery bags. The stores charge at least a $1 for them so the more I can get for free the better!

  5. Glen says

    I like T-Shirts as conference swag. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. They don’t lose their usefulness as quickly as the other swag and they’re like a reminder of places you’ve gone.

    About 10 years ago we made T-shirts to bring to the 20 schools we were going to recruit at. One school held a minority engineering job fair but the minority engineering society scheduled it two weeks after the main campus job fair and forgot to advertise it. Nobody showed up! Picture 50 tech company recuiters standing around exchanging swag so they wouldn’t have to ship the stuff home.

  6. says

    @I’mJustAGoyle – So true! A good pen is gold at a conference. I’m also a fan of yellow highlighters and Sharpies. Thanks for the comment.

  7. says

    I’m a container junkie, so, yeah,Tumi would’ve been awesome! My favorite swag was a “boxed lunch” a vendor served us in an old-fashioned metal lunch box. You know, the kind with the domed lid and metal clasp to hold it shut? It was a great take-away and I use it to hold small items when I do train-the-trainer workshops.

  8. says

    @Glen – For some reason I don’t think of t-shirts as conference swag. But I wear one everyday when I work out…so I need to pay more attention! Thanks for the comment.

    @Jennifer – I’ve never seen a boxed lunch served that way. Very creative. My best box lunch was served in an eco-friendly grocery bag (like @Agent Friday mentioned). Thanks for sharing!

  9. Nancy Newell says

    First, let me say congratulations on all of the well-deserved accolades and adventures coming your way! Nicely done!

    IMHO, OC Tanner has some of the best conference swag out there. Last year in NOLA, I got a really nice medium size cloth bag, a NYT best-seller, and “cool” HR pins, pens and goodies – some for me that say “HR Rocks”, and some for others that tout their good deeds and accomplishments. I can never get enough thumb drives. And I’m also a sucker for the t-shirt. White, XL please! =]

  10. John Jorgensen says

    I agree with Nancy, thumb drives as swag are a major snag. Forgot about them.

  11. says

    I always enjoy picking up the carabiners, highlighters and sharpies. And nothing says “great swag” like thumbdrives. The carabiners I use when I hike, and one can never have enough.

    haven’t been a many conferences in the last two years, so I have no idea what the “big thing” is…

    Congrats on your award, its well deserved!

  12. says

    Thanks Nancy! I agree O.C. Tanner does a great job in the swag department. Considering they are a recognition company, that speaks well for their abilities. :-)

    Looks like thumbdrives are the mother lode of swag. Thanks John!

    I’m not a hiker, so if I get a carabiner, it goes to Tammy. Thanks for commenting!

  13. says

    My favorite swag? Stress balls.

    Love them. They help me think – and I can never have to many of them buried in my desk drawer.

    (And my apologies to the folks on the other side of the wall – as a throw the stress ball against it daily.)

  14. says

    First, congrats on the award. That’s awesome.

    I’ve seen it all as far as conference swag too. I’ve got enough swag to keep any kid at the office entertained for hours. When I pick up stuff for myself, I am looking for very nice pens and thumbdrives. A heavy, substantial and nice writing pen is the only pen worth picking up unless you are desperate. I’ve got 15 thumbdrives playing Where’s Waldo in my office and I’ve run half a dozen through the washing machine.

  15. says

    @Sean – Thanks for the comment. I have no hand – eye coordination so I’ll leave the stress ball tossing to you experts!

    @Lance – I’m a sucker for a nice pen too. Hopefully, ERE is going to meet my swag goal of at least one thumbdrive. Thanks for commenting.

  16. says

    Two things always get my attention at conferences, cool pens and odd things. By odd things I mean desk puzzles or eye glass cleaner or odd shaped post-its. The SHRM-Wow and a pen that punches people got me at the SHRM conference last year.

    I have thumb drives running out of my ears and stress balls usually get me in trouble for throwing them around so I tend to stray from those :)

    Safe Travels!

  17. Lesa says

    A few years ago at an ASTD conference I got a great stainless steel insulated coffee mug. It still keeps coffee hot and it has never leaked or spilled coffee while I was drinking, not something I can say about most of the insulated coffee mugs I’ve received. At a different industry conference far removed from HR or training, I got a metal ice cream scoop that I still use. I like the practical stuff! And chocolate, although maybe not practical, is also good swag.