NALC Opens With Compelling Topics, Captivating Speakers

PPAI’s North American Leadership Conference brought more than 135 industry leaders and business executives to Austin, Texas, this week to examine and discuss top-of-mind issues affecting the industry and learn from leading innovators in many critical areas of today’s businesses. The event also provided a variety of opportunities for leaders to network and exchange ideas.

A reception and dinner opened the conference Sunday evening at the Four Seasons Hotel with a welcome from Honorable Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin. He shared an insider’s look at the city, now the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the country, noting that Austin has moved from being the 42nd largest city in the country in the 1970s to now the 11th largest, with unemployment just above three percent and one of the lowest crime rates in the state. He also talked about the city’s unique culture.

“It’s a city whose welcome phrase—Keep Austin Weird—can be found on t-shirts and mugs, many of the products you make and sell,” Adler said. As a chuckle echoed through the room, he explained the phrase.

“This is a city that lets people be who they are. It’s just part of the culture. There is an opportunity and an expectation that people will take risks in this city. They try and may fail, but try again and become folk heroes.”

After dinner, the 2017 PPB Rising Stars were formally recognized (see full story here) and each of the 17 honorees in attendance was gifted with a logoed and personalized power bank donated by Hirsch Gift, Inc.

On Monday, the conference opened with a powerhouse of speakers including keynote speaker Roy Spence, partner at GSD&M Advertising and CEO of the Purpose Institute, who shared personal stories and remarkable insights based on 40 years of creating powerful campaigns for a variety of major brands (see full story here). Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., principal at Armada Corporate Intelligence, also gave a fascinating micro view of the economy and how it is affecting business. Seth Kahan, principal at Visionary Leadership, gave a persuasive talk relating to strategic foresight and the advantages it affords a business. He was followed by James Erben, principal at Erben Associates, LLC, who helped attendees think through their succession planning strategies and educated them on various types of exit plans for their businesses.

The day’s education wrapped up with an industry panel comprised of Catherine Graham, commonsku; Lee Strom, CAS, SanMar; Marc Simon, HALO Branded Solutions; and Cory Halliburton, JD, WKPZ, who discussed managing a brand through a crisis; an interactive session presented by Teri Hill, principal at T.H. Enterprises on understanding the strengths and managing the diversities of today’s multiple-generation workforce.

“The NALC provides attendees with a great forum to explore ideas, trends and topics that will be important to the future of their business and the industry, and to discuss the implications with other industry leaders,” says NALC Work Group co-leader David Nicholson, president of Leed’s. “Our goal is to provide engaging topics and speakers geared for the leaders of the industry. We hope attendees leave with new ideas that will help shape business strategy, leadership effectiveness and managing change.”

Debbie Abergel, NALC Work Group co-leader and senior vice president for Jack Nadel International, adds, “This is the place to hear speakers targeted to our industry, and network with equally passionate industry professionals. Our hope is that people will leave inspired and ready to tackle current and future issues.”

Under the leadership of Nicholson and Abergel, the NALC Work Group has been instrumental in designing the educational components of the conference, selecting speakers and planning the networking and social opportunities to ensure the conference not only met but exceeded the highest level of attendee expectations. NALC Work Group members include Larry Cohen; Marc Held; Jon Levine; Bill Petrie; Leslie Roark, CAS; Nate Robson; Nichole Stella and Ruth Verver, CAS.

This morning’s program kicked off with a presentation by Jonathan Perelman, ICM Partners, who captured listeners’ attention with his knowledge on creating sharable content based on his experience at two leading brands, Buzzfeed and Google. He spoke about how to create highly effective word-of-mouth marketing and then how to generate growth from those strategies.

Afterwards, attendees could choose between a pair of breakout discussions: James Erban on recruiting and retaining top executives or Seth Kahan on how to put strategic foresight to work in their organization.

The education program wraps up this afternoon with an in-depth look at the promotional products industry’s changing landscape with industry leaders Larry Cohen, president of Axis Promotions, Inc., and David Nicholson, Leed’s, and a look into how technology will influence and affect businesses over the next seven years with Byron Reese, principal at Gigaom, an Austin-based technology research and analysis firm.

Tonight, attendees will gather for networking and live music at Austin’s famed Maggie May’s, where they will be joined by registrants arriving in the city for the PPAI Technology Summit, which starts Wednesday and runs through Thursday afternoon.

Follow PPB Newslink’s next edition for more coverage of both events and reaction from organizers and attendees.

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