Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

January 20 2015

5 Unforgettable Quotes From Convening Leaders

By David McMillin

Convening Leaders attendees took home plenty of business cards from their networking efforts and plenty of continuing education credits from their badge swipes, but they also returned home with key takeaways and quotes to inspire new ideas for their organizations, their attendees and their own career directions. Here’s a look at five of our favorite quotes we heard in Chicago.

1) “If you prohibit failure, you kill innovation.”

Dan Pallotta, Founder and Chief Humanity Officer, Advertising for Humanity

There’s one key ingredient to every organization’s growth: the ability to experiment. Of course, experiments don’t always end with successful results. Dan Pallotta highlighted that this fear of failure is playing a troubling role in hindering the potential of non-profit organizations.

“Non-profit organizations are terrified of attempting new initiatives for fear that failing will hurt their reputations,” Pallotta said in his keynote address at Wednesday’s closing session.

Associations and non-profits must be willing to think more like for-profit companies and recognize that failing is the first step on the road to success.

SEE ALSO: The Serious Problem That’s Getting In The Way Of Non-Profits

2) “There’s a common desire to want a seat at the table. We thought, ‘why don’t we just get rid of the table?’”

Charles Adler, Co-founder, Kickstarter

I’ve heard the same question at loads of educational sessions for meeting planners: how can you reshape your role to earn a seat at the coveted table of executives in the organization? When Charles Adler helped get crowdfunding site Kickstarter off the ground, he and his co-founders didn’t want their team members to focus on that table. To create a culture of mutual respect where everyone’s ideas felt equally valued, Adler and his fellow founders aimed to eliminate the age-old success ladder.

“As an organization, we prided ourselves on minimizing hierarchy,” Adler said. “Our role as leaders was to empower the voices of the many who were working with us.”

SEE ALSO: How To Redefine The Role Of A Meeting Planner

3) “You either rewire yourself or you get rewired out of existence.”

Terry Jones, Founder of Travelocity and Chairman of Wayblazer

Terry Jones kicked off his presentation at Convening Leaders with a job that is nearly extinct: the travel agent. Jones was a member of the cast of entrepreneurial online innovators that started Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz and other online travel sites and helped reshape travel booking. Because traditional travel agents failed to spot the realities, 18,000 of them are now gone.

“You have to be watching everywhere in order to ride the wave of innovation,” Jones said. “Success today demands that we keep up with technology.”

SEE ALSO: The Two Key Factors That Will Fuel Innovation In Your Organization

4) “Nobody shares mediocre.”

Scott Stratten, President, Un-Marketing

Wondering why your conference’s social media efforts aren’t breaking the Internet? Because you’re failing to tap into your attendee’s feelings.

“People spread emotion,” Stratten told attendees in his packed appearance at Convening Leaders. “We don’t share a middle ground. Instead, we share something really funny or really sad or something that makes us really angry.”

As your meeting marketing team develops the next campaign, avoid promoting your conference and think of ways to give your audience the tools that it will help tell the story for you.

“Branding and marketing is the message that the consumer thinks you are,” Stratten said. “It’s not what you say.”

SEE ALSO: Why Your Attendees Aren’t Connecting With You On Social Media

5) “Anyone who looks at their association as one will likely not be here in a few years.”

Abe Eshkanazi, CEO, APICS

All associations are looking for ways to stay relevant and attract a new generation of members and conference attendees, and there is one very important step at the beginning of the process: give yourself a new name and a new mindset. Association may no longer be the right title.

“We’re a business. We’re not an association,” Eshkanazi said in a panel discussion. “We’re tax-exempt, but we’re not a non-profit. There’s a very big difference.”


What were some of your favorite takeaways from Convening Leaders? Go to Catalyst to let your colleagues know about some of the most inspiring notes you scribbled down during your time in Chicago.

Missed Convening Leaders? No worries, our 2015 Convening Leaders Rewind is available for purchase here. RSVP for our free rebroadcast on February 10th here.

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