Widgets Magazine

An AV Executive Conference 2016 Recap

For the fourth year, InfoComm has gathered a group of executives for two and a half days to work on their business. The event is called the AV Executive Conference (AVEC).
Landing in Miami on Wednesday, the air was warm but not overbearingly hot. AVEC was held in Key Biscayne, FL so there was a nice 30 minute ride through the Miami docks, along the waterfront and finally to the hotel.
At registration the InfoComm staff explained the name badge system. You had two stickers on your badge. These were used to connect you to other random attendees during networking sessions. It is designed to get you out of a normal rotation and maybe connect with other people you had never had a chance to meet. There were also fun badge flags like you would find at the InfoComm Show. I chose “Runs With Scissors.”
The Wednesday evening dinner was a communal meal on the beach, not stuffed in some conference room somewhere, with long tables that seated ten on each side.  It reminded me of family style dinning or restaurants throughout Europe that encourage you to mingle with your fellow patrons. After dinner a game room/bar was created in one of the conference rooms. Foosball, ping pong, and other games were available.
Thursday was the real meat of the program. Speakers entertained and inspired us from 9 am until 5 in the afternoon. The first was one of the founders of Life is Good; a company dedicated to optimism. Encouraging us all to use our super powers like gratitude, love, and playfulness. He was a great kick off.
Next was Ian Altman. Altman is a speaker, writer, and consultant. His book, Same Side Selling, was the basis of his talk. You can read my review of the book here. Ian’s thesis is that sales people should stop trying to sell and start aiming to help their clients. He equates their issues with a puzzle. You sit on the same side of the table with the client trying to help them solve their puzzle. You have pieces and they have pieces. Sometimes your pieces won’t fit with theirs (what you do doesn’t solve their problem). Finding that out sooner actually helps you both. If you are able, you then recommend a few companies that might be able to.
The afternoon was a mix of panel discussions with Altman, Joe Pine, and Gary Adamson talking about experience economy and break out groups. The attendees then were distributed into working teams to solve a problem. They called it Homework and it has been a part of AVEC since the beginning. You work alongside competitors and peers sharing your experiences and expertise.
Friday, InfoComm CEO, Dave Labuskes, gave a great speech outlining the strategic vision for InfoComm’s next three years. InfoComm is not taking a hard line but a definitive one on AV being a part of IT. He says we are not a part of IT but a separate, though tangential, industry. They need us for the wonder and magic we create. When I first heard this pitched I objected, but the more I think about it, he has an excellent point. We use IT’s infrastructure, their standards, and work flow more and more. There are marked differences in how we come up with solutions and systems. AV brings the wow factor.
The event wrapped up with Ken Schmidt from Harley Davidson talking about creating disciples. When you connect with your clients, your customers, on an emotional level they’ll tattoo your logo on the back of their head. That’s a disciple. How you get there involves mining for what that client needs to be successful, fulfilled, or otherwise empowered.
This was my third time attending AVEC. Each year they tend to get better in marked and subtle ways. Kicking off the event with a motivational message set the tone for the entire few days. The sessions were well done and overall the attendees are taking away substantive steps they can put into practice this week. If you have not gone to one, considering next year’s should certainly be on your list.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Have a great week.

About Author

Tim Albright is the founder of AVNation and is the driving force behind the AVNation network. He carries the InfoComm CTS, a B.S. from Greenville College and is pursuing an M.S. in Mass Communications from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. When not steering the AVNation ship, Tim has spent his career designing systems for churches both large and small, Fortune 500 companies, and education facilities.

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