Build Business 2015 – A Look Back

By Barry Sutherland

The happenings of August 19-21, 2015 in Los Angeles represented 18 months of planning and preparations finally coming to fruition. If you were not in attendance, then you missed out on the opportunity to “go beyond” with the rest of the 2015 SMPS Build Business attendees.

The premise behind the theme of “go beyond” was to challenge ourselves and our firms to push the limits. Beyond your dreams. Beyond merely embracing change. Beyond getting out of your comfort zone. It’s about upping your game, and living-and doing business-like you mean it.

The festivities began on Wednesday, August 19, with the Chapter Leadership Forum, First Timer’s Orientation, where we welcomed KC chapter newbies Amy Schieber, Nicole Lane, and Lauren Kepler, and the Welcome Reception. These initial networking opportunities primed the attendees for the educational programs and firstnote and endnote speakers that we lined up for Thursday and Friday.

Thursday, August 20, jumped out to solid footing aided by the presence of firstnote speaker, Tim Sanders, an internet pioneer, best-selling author and former chief solutions officer for Yahoo!. Tim spoke to us about branding, mentoring, networking, collaboration, dealstorming, and so much more. Tim set the foundation for the rest of the programs that day, which was closed out with the MAX (Marketing. Act. eXchange.) sessions. In these sessions, attendees heard from four presenters (industry legends, newbies, and some outsiders) that told their story in a compelling way in only 18 minutes, tying it to business concepts. The response was overwhelming from all four tracks of MAX, so much so, that they’re likely to be featured next year and years to come.

Thursday and Friday both saw a lineup of general session speakers that aimed to compel the attendees to start having their firms be marketing-led. So many A/E/C firms are operations or design-led, the conference committee thought it was time that we turned that concept on its head. From financials to corporate communications, higher education panels to a marketing legends panel, there was something for everyone.

After starting Friday, August 19, with the aforementioned general sessions, the day and the conference was closed out in an inspiring, challenging way by Chris Bashinelli, aka “Scooter Man”. An actor and host of Bridge the Gap, a national TV series on PBS, Chris invited us to “go beyond” our typical way of thinking and to imagine our communities as a stoop, much like the one Chris grew up on in Brooklyn. He also asked us to start imagining our lives in other people’s shoes – truly imagining what it would be like and painted the pictures of those he’s encountered in his world travels.

Mixed throughout the entire conference was a myriad of networking opportunities, one of the most beneficial aspects of membership in SMPS. Having attended for six straight years, Build Business is always an exciting event to see the national connections I’ve built through the years and make new ones. I’m already looking forward to next year in Philly, when I get to see them all again.

From my vantage point as the co-chair of the conference, everything went as planned and the entire committee was pleased with the outcome. Judging from the initial feedback we have received, the attendees were equally as pleased, meaning we satisfied our goal of putting on the best conference possible for the membership.

If you would like to learn more about this conference, be sure to ask one of the attendees from the KC chapter: Amy Schieber, Nicole Lane, Robin Broder, Lynn DiPlacito, Emily Fors, Lauren Kepler, Katie McKenzie, Katie O’Donovan or myself.

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