skucon 2019, "The Burning Man of Expos"


There were hugs. And high-fives. Lots of laughter. Even cartwheels. There was wine and Albert Camus. Larry Cohen. A musical performance. And irreverent Brits. One attendee, Chris Wachowiak with Ronin, said "skucon is the burning man of expos."  

But mostly, there was the passion of the tribe.

A community of over 300 like-minded, progressive pros, gathered to laugh, learn, and share in a broad vision that extended even beyond business.“This industry touches every part of life,” wrote Joe Sommer with Whitestone Works, in a list of his “20 take-aways from skucon.”  The day kicked-off with Larry Cohen of Axis Promotions, who started his business from his kitchen table and grew from $1 to over $50 million in annual revenue. Sincere, humble, and raw, Larry cautioned everyone to be careful how you define success, “how you define success and failure is critical to winning, psychologically and monetarily.” “Recognize that we are in an industry, with so many opportunities,” continued Larry, "we can minimize rejection if we’re smart and strategic”. Ever the pragmatist and the dreamer, Larry cautioned, “never believe your own bullshit.” A new feature introduced at skucon this year were 10-minute segments called “skucon stories.” Gillian Hammond with BrandFuel, Inc., Kevin Mullaney with Brandito, Steve Rone with SnugzUSA, and Britney Godsey with Gold Bond, Inc., dazzled, delighted, and shocked the audience with their stories from the trenches.  Pierre Martichoux with Chameleon Like, led an insightful conversation "Inside the Mind of the Creative Agency Entrepreneur" and explored what it meant to be a true agency to your customers. Panelists included Kat Magner with Canary Marketing, Lee Fine with juice marketing, and Yvonne Lyngass Zeeman with Monarch and Company, and the topics ranged from creative consultation, partnerships, to the true DNA of a promotional agency.  Eric Granata with Robyn took us on a journey through advances in tech frontiers as it relates to promo including the internet of things, virtual reality, 3D printing, AI, and more. Highlighting the phases of the tech landscape, from the trough of disillusionment, the slope of enlightenment, and the plateau of productivity, one the industry's smartest technologists made old technologies new and encouraged us all to continue to keep striving, learning, risking, and playing in the tech sandbox.  Jay Busselle and Charity Gibson and the entire promochat team brought the water cooler conversation from Twitter into a live experience with a rapid-fire round of questions answered from the audience. Taking the online experience offline, and IRL, helped introduce the audience to the virtual conversation they can participate in every Wednesday on Twitter through PromoKitchen. All the way from the UK, brits Andy Thorne and Sarah Penn from Outstanding Branding shared how to "Dream Beyond Borders and Build a Global Brand." With offices in Amsterdam, London, and New York, "Team OB" shared the ups and downs of building a brand that transcends countries, injecting the atmosphere with a huge dose of irreverent humor, presenting to a North American audience the potential of growing big and thinking beyond borders.  Luke Freeman took the audience on a roller coaster ride through risks and failures, inspiring the audience to try and try again. From his experience on The Apprentice to Shark Tank, Billion Dollar Buyer and more, Luke shared the key to thriving amid the woes and wins and mostly, how to fail forward until you finally succeed. One attendee wrote, "For me, it is always interesting to hear from people who have been in the industry far longer than I have. It creates inspiration and motivation to keep pushing forward...I think the impact of Skucon is to take a step back and remember I am not the only one in this position and that the end result is far greater than the stresses and hiccups on the way."  And to close the day, Ryan Moor from Ryonet and Allmade challenged conventional wisdom and charged attendees with the mandate to think outside the box and create your own niche. The former punk rocker and screen printing entrepreneur inspired attendees with his work with Allmade, who partners with the Global Orphan Project to produce great quality, environmentally friendly shirts while also fighting generational poverty in Haiti. "Be true to your core, serve first, be worth following, creative experiences, and mostly," said Ryan, "go big and don't stop." Ever the performer, Ryan closed his talk with an inspiring song and capped a perfect day of creative insight and sharing. One attendee stated that skucon was filled with "fearless kind of people...all the commonsku events put me among some of the best and brightest in the industry and I love learning from them."  What most might not know is that behind the scenes, the commonsku team works feverishly to put on the kind of conference we would want to attend ourselves and most importantly, to make the center stage of the event the "the skummunity" itself.

Our heartfelt thanks to the entire skummunity, our friends and our tribe!

For more photos, check out our facebook album.Miss out on skucon? Catch the fever at commonsku sessions in LA, Chicago, Dallas, New York and also, a soon to be announced, exciting location for skucamp, 2019.-the commonsku event team