A Bountiful Harvest

In the fall of 2017, we were hours away from hosting Waggl Harvest in Napa Valley…then the wildfires broke out and we had to postpone the leader retreat until everything was safe.  It felt like planning a huge wedding and finding out the couple just eloped. All the planning had been done, the caterer was ready, the entertainment was booked, the speakers were excited — then no party.

For us, it was a bummer. For thousands of residents and businesses in the area, the wildfires were a catastrophic disaster.

Take 2: We couldn’t wait to reschedule Harvest and gather HR and business leaders from top organizations to ignite real conversations about Employee Voice and how to make an impact.

We chose an iconic Napa Valley venue, Charles Krug Winery, located in beautiful St. Helena, California. Having a second chance to plan the 1st Annual event, we poured more energy into creating the right environment for the experience we envisioned. LL Cool J has a song called “Don’t call it a Comeback,” which I reworded to become my mantra for my role on the Harvest planning team, “Don’t call it a Conference.”  We, the Wagglers, wanted this to be wildly different than the myriad of conferences, webcasts, podcasts, webinars and workshops out there.

I’m excited to share that Harvest not only happened on Sept. 26-27, 2018, it was “a happening.” Participants share:


“For me Waggl Harvest was way more than I expected. It was a vastly diverse community assembled with a shared purpose to unlock greatness in people and organizations. The format allowed for the consistent delivery of new ideas followed by open forums for attendees to discuss, debate and challenge one another- all in the most glorious location in Napa Valley, CA. This in no way felt like a company trying to blow its horn – rather it felt like a passionate group of people wanting like-minded people across the world to come and help professionals and organizations improve and unlock the magic from within. I’m hoping I get invited back next year, as this was a unique and special event.”

Harvest keynote speaker, Steve Cadigan


“I often leave events like these feeling energized but stumped in how I apply my experiences back in the office. I left Harvest 2018 feeling empowered, connected to powerful leaders and a notebook overflowing with next steps and ideas to implement. The beautiful venue made it easy to disconnect for a few days and truly bring my full self to this exchange of best practices and collective wisdom while meeting pretty amazing people! Thank you Waggl-ers for putting on a fantastic event and I am looking forward to Harvest 2019.”

-Meredith Rubin, Organizational Effectiveness Consultant, Delta Dental


“The Harvest conference reaffirmed the strategic importance of having a listening strategy, and the insights shared were highly valuable for setting that strategy and in carrying it out effectively. Plus, it was extremely energizing to talk with others who are also listening “change agents” to share best practices and ideas to keep this movement growing!”

-Valerie Beeman, Sr. Dir. Employee Experience, Stanford University


“The first annual Waggl Harvest provided a trifecta of personal and professional benefits: quality networking opportunities with fellow HR and Talent Management colleagues, inspirational speakers with powerful and actionable messages and a comfortable and welcoming space to take it all in.  Thank you for the ideas, support and encouragement with developing our own “listening strategy”.”

-MJ Macdonald, AVP, Learning & Development, ivari



crowdatharvestguests at Harvest

What made Harvest unique?

Top notch speakers who put passion into everything they shared and generously answered questions during the program and at breaks – These are all people who ‘walk the talk’:

+The setting: beautiful oak-tree surrounded winery built in 1881, delicious farm-to-fork California cuisine, award-winning wine, live music and an actual Harvest Moon!



The real spark, however, came from the people in the audience who came eager to soak up the stories and insights. They seemed to be a blend of excited, relaxed, fun, curious, grateful, and most importantly, open to diving into some serious HR topics. This was a safe space where people shared best practices (and some missteps) to help and encourage each other to make their workplaces better.

Waggl Co-founder & CEO, Michael Papay, kicked off the program by setting the intentions that we would “Recharge, Connect, Be Inspired, and Gain Actionable Insights.”  Later, he launched a live Waggl pulse to the crowd (ok, slight commercial, we used our own platform to gather insights in real time to inspire a focused conversation…that’s what Waggl does!)

He asked for the insights from Harvest that they’re excited convert into action.  Here are the top-ranked responses:

  • Stop talking about engagement and just engage! Shift the mindset from surveys and tools to a platform that invites dialogue and respond with action!
  • Work to enable my leaders to develop a trust-based organization so that our employees have a safe space to bring their authentic selves to the table
  • Leveraging Waggl for other initiatives besides engagement like brainstorming

This post serves as a ‘Thank You’ for everyone who came to Harvest with a bold willingness to make their workplaces better. As the planning team reflects on this year’s successful event for a moment (ok, that’s enough), we are struck with the opportunity to make the next gathering even more meaningful.  

I hope you’ll join us under the next Harvest Moon.


Kim James

Head of Events, Harvest Planning Team, Waggler4Life

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