First Impression From an NSCA BLC First Timer

Hear from an NSCA Business and Leadership Conference rookie about the speakers, lessons and vibe of the 2015 event.

Josh Srago

The first experience I had with the NSCA Business & Leadership Conference was through social media in 2014.

The streams in my Twitter feeds were flowing wild and fast for a few days and I was seeing all these pull quotes as I went about my work. Even if I had been using all my focus to watch these intently, there isn’t a chance that I would have been prepared for my first day at this event.

Being from the west coast, I was happy to get out to Tampa, Fla., a little early so that I could adjust the body clock and get settled before the intense schedule of expert speakers began lofting ideas at me, my personal perceptions, my psyche and even over my head.

The night before the controlled chaos I was chatting with industry leaders from all over the United States and Canada at a First Time Attendee Orientation. The anticipation of what was to come over the course of the next few days was palpable as NSCA Board Members took the time to welcome us all to the show.

At the end of this welcoming session, Chuck Wilson, executive director at NSCA, took the time to say a few words to the group about what they were bound to face.

“This is going to take you out of your daily comfort zone, but the goal is to help you become better leaders,” he explained, punctuating that sentiment by saying, “You could have the greatest technology in the world, but if you don’t have the back office to support it, it will not matter.”

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Those statements put some questions into my mind as to what I had signed up for when I was lucky enough to be one of the 23 recipients of the Randy Vaughan Founder’s Award that helped to fund my attendance to the show.

As a member of the AV community I have attended several InfoComm trade shows, regional manufacturer training sessions, distributor product events, and even the CI Summit. Each of these shows use technology as a unifying factor to bring the attendees together. But that was not what we were in for when it came to the BLC.

Wilson hit the nail on the head when he stated that this show was going to remove us from our comfort zones. Before we had reached our first lunch break, our keynote speaker, Liz Wiseman, and our following speaker, Edgar Papke, felt like they had cut open the collective skull of the group.

They didn’t tell us we were running our businesses in the wrong way. They didn’t tell us that they had a better way to do things and that if we all did exactly as they said we would find success. Instead they forced us to turn the magnifying glass on ourselves and examine how we operate, what motivates us, and how we can create a team based, unified company culture.

Wiseman spoke to the group about being a multiplier in the workplace. To be someone that not only contributed their own ideas in the world, but brought out the best ideas in the team around them.

The part of that presentation that I will never forget was the concept of being an accidental diminisher. She described a diminisher as someone whose behavior would inhibit that kind of teamwork and communal work. The question of accidental diminisher brought a tension into the room as each person was forced to ask, ‘How might I, with the best of intentions, be shutting down people, their ideas, or their abilities?’

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Each of the six types of accidental diminshers caused a cursory side glance with co-workers or friends, tweets with concern over how current business leaders had actually taken away from their employees when offering help, or even just simple head drops with the realization of “yes, I’ve done that.”

Papke followed this session by addressing the topic of personal and company alignment. We are all people with motivations that have been built over the course of our lives from our experiences. To be most successful we have to look at whether we are working in a way that is conducive to helping us perform best in a culture with which we are each most aligned.

Once it’s determined what drives you, the next step is to explore the brand intentions. With six options available, Papke referenced Curly from City Slickers by stating that this was where you would find the one thing that drives you.

Is it the Community, providing some product or service to be a part of the group? Is it Customization where you work with the customer to define what they want to receive?

Perhaps Preeminence is your motivator — the desire to be “the best.” There’s also the option of Low Price, though be wary of SBTC — Slightly Better Than Cheap. Cost is still a motivator and must be considered. Next was Physical Well-Being where your brand intention is that you are good for the customer.

The last option was Personal Actualization — something that allows you to realize more about who you are as a person.

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The things you wish your brand to be will help define the type of leadership that guides your company. Will it be collaborative, driven by the experts, or will the management turn to the collective whole and allow that to guide the direction of the company?

If you personally, or as a part of an organization, are not in line with the way leadership is handled in your company it will make it much more difficult to find the success you are seeking.

The sessions weren’t an attack of how we could each run a better company. They weren’t about how we can more efficiently and effectively run our businesses with new technology or procedures. They both put the focus on us as people who operate in conjunction with others.

While personal success can often be what we, as individuals, desire, when we are able to band together with others and create an environment that puts people together and aligns them into the same company culture, there can be unimagined potential for achievement.

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