The skucamp Experience, New Orleans

12 min read

You arrive.

As you step out of your uber, meeting that sultry 80-degree air, you know in a second that you’re in another world, a place that’s a feast for the mind, eyes, ears, and mouth.

Home of the po’ boy sandwich, oysters Rockefeller, jambalaya, and beignets and chicory.

Home of the dripping blues and salty jazz of Harry Connick, Dr. John, and Allen Toussaint.

And home of the wayword words of Tennesse Williams, Anne Rice, and John Kennedy Toole.

Cajun. Creole. Zydeco. Soul.

A place where the dark and broody undercurrent meets the bright and brassy nightlife for a cultural gumbo that leaves you swingin’.

And when you arrive at the uniquely fashioned Ace Hotel in the warehouse district, it throws off a quintessential NOLA vibe and you see how the city got its name, “The Big Easy.”

New Orleans is the perfect match for skucamp as both celebrate creative cultures that make a distinct impression.

And just as each Ace Hotel is a unique experience that reflects the city’s culture, every skucamp has its own vibe. The Ace Hotel is a one-of-a-kind meeting space for a one-of-a-kind meeting. skucamp was designed to be the only business planning conference of its type in the industry, a conference that gives you the space, time, and resources to step away from working so hard in your business so that you can work on your business for the future.

As you walk into the velvety, art deco arms of The Ace, you check-in at skucamp central where a warm and inviting atmosphere is supercharged with friendly faces.

For those that have come before, you know that your first touch with skucamp always begins with the “lagniappe of swag.” (Lagniappe is n’awlins speak for that extra special something to sweeten the deal). And no other event in the business tailors the emotional experience into their swag quite like skucamp.

As you look around the room, you see a few friends you know, but many faces are new but they are all just like you: entrepreneurially minded with a fierce passion for growth, folks who are serious about success but also, pros who don’t take themselves too seriously. It’s the perfect etouffee of business and fun.

The workshops begin soon but don’t worry, no classes to choose from, no decisions to make, you won’t even have to look at the calendar. It has all been handled for you. Your only responsibility is to relax and open your mind.

Welcome to skucamp.

The first skucamp hosted in Palm Springs minted the idea: gather the most admired people we know, assemble them together under one roof (in an environment that fostered intimate sharing) with one non-negotiable:

Those leading the workshops would be, not only outside experts, but practitioners: exemplars who have made our profession the essence and elegance that it can be, whose lives and businesses are worth emulating, but also, those who are willing to share openly and honestly the secrets (and failures!) that led to their success.

And we had two other priorities:

  1. We wanted a holistic curriculum, one that wasn’t merely sales focused but one that peeked behind the curtain of many aspects of business success: ops, e-commerce, branding, communication, team building.
  2. We wanted to provide plenty of time for connecting. (After all, some of the best “teachers” at skucamp are your fellow practitioners, everyone has something to teach; everyone has something to learn).

Last year’s skucamp was a huge success thanks to the contributions of both speakers and attendees. This year’s skucamp is poised to be an experience that will supercede it.

Following is a brief overview of the workshops at skucamp:

Learn how to grow a colossally successful business with entrepreneur and author Mike Michaelowicz 

Just as almost every pumpkin farmer grows ordinary Halloween carving pumpkins, most entrepreneurs grow ordinary, unremarkable businesses. Yet by tweaking their approach in small ways, farmers can grow giant, prize-winning pumpkins that get all the attention and press coverage. In this session, Mike Michalowicz, author of the The Pumpkin Plan, (the book that Seth Godin said was for “the entrepreneur who was stuck at being a wandering generality instead of a meaningful specific”) will show you how to apply a few simple methods farmers use to grow colossal prize-winning pumpkins so that you can grow a colossally successful businesses and learn how to keep more of the cash in the process. You’ll learn how to plant the right seeds, weed out the losers, and nurture the winners.

Learn how to find revenue faster with consultant Caryn Kopp

Scaling business development efforts and consistently finding new sales revenue is the most difficult and frustrating part of business, bar none. For the last 19 years Caryn has owned an outsourced business development company whose Door Opener® Service not only gets doors opened for their clients at the highest levels in major corporations, but also guides clients on the fastest path to the closed sale. Caryn speaks from experience and provides practical, actionable information on what works (and what doesn’t) to accelerate sales results. Business leaders often report moments of clarity after attending Caryn’s seminars regarding blind spots in the sales process that have kept them from the success they deserve. When Business Development is done right, there is no limit to what can be accomplished. You will learn: What could be missing from your door opening efforts and what you can do about it and the #1 reason why sales which should close don’t close, and what you can do about it.

Learn how to live with and leverage adversity with start-up investor and turnaround CEO, Craig Morantz

Craig Morantz built one of the most vibrant and progressive promotional products supplier companies in the industry, sold it, then became the Vice President of Polyconcept, rapidly expanding their footprint across North America. From that time until now, Craig, a serial entrepreneur and investor, has won, lost, and won again, and most recently founded Vegan Labs, a B2C packaged goods service along with the vegan magazine, The Veginning. Through it all, he learned valuable lessons about how to transform the customer experience by focusing on the hard things while maintaining one’s equilibrium and thriving through the difficult seasons. In this closing keynote, Craig will talk about how to turn adversity into opportunity and how to build a successful company against all odds and despite all setbacks.

Learn how to simplify your sales process with Jake Malishkevich

The client isn’t actually the most important person at the sales table; it’s actually the people representing your company: your sales team. Your sales team needs just as simple a process to sell your product as your clients need to buy it. Many distributors overcomplicate, not only the customer journey but, the selling journey. It’s critical we understand the necessity of simplifying the process on both sides of the table. In this workshop, Jake will discuss how a commitment to keeping things simple will liberate your sales team and revolutionize your business, including how to find bottlenecks in your selling process; simplifying the ordering, production; and communication process; using commonsku to its full potential and why it’s so important for a good distributor sales rep to feel in complete control of the process and creating a roadmap of the client journey and mapping the sales process.

Learn how to build a company to last and a life to love with CFO, Rod Brown.

In this workshop, Rod Brown, the Chief Financial Officer of MadeToOrder, Inc, will walk through his story of how he built a $25 million dollar distributorship by deploying the creative use of equity to retain and motivate significant contributors to grow your company. In addition to sharing his story about his growth, Rod will cover several essential ingredients to strong financial growth, including the use of an incentive stock option plan to help recruit and retain; how to attract and retain solid teammates through financial incentives; the strength of good debt (and the failure of bad debt) to grow your company; good risk, bad risk and the critical differences.

Learn how to create inspirational merchandise for high-impact sales with Melissa McCauley:

Creative merchandising is one of the most important skills for a distributor or supplier to learn. Every choice of product and every choice of layout reflects an image of your brand and a message that you send to your customers and prospects. From color coordination to product styling, Melissa McCauley will walk you through the key creative concepts of merchandising, whether you are displaying for a tradeshow, a sales presentation, a catalog, or even for your social media. Learn how to study trends, forecast popular styles, and refashion your brand through inspirational merchandising.

Learn how to transform your website into a lead-gen machine with Ben Taylor:

If you’re like most distributors, you don’t have the knowledge, experience, or bandwidth to properly organize your website for optimal performance. In this workshop, Ben will cover the tools that the best digital agencies use to help you understand how to transform your website into a lead generation machine. You will walk away from this workshop with a roadmap for website renewal and an introductory lesson to the best tools in the digital business, including Screaming Frog, MOZ, Woorank, Raventools, Semrush, WebCEO, SpyFu, SEO Site Checkup, Seoptimizer, and Unbounce.

Learn how to convert customers into raving fans with Ruth Verver:

You believe in the power of promo, but are you actually using it to transform customers into raving fans? Doing so means higher margins, bigger orders, and stronger lifetime values, but how do you engage and excite your customers so that they become fanatical about your brand? In this workshop, Ruth will walk through examples of brands with the most loyal fans, highlighting experience over product/service and helping you understand how the promotional products are an experiential marketing tool when used with the right touch points. Come ready to this workshop with a list of your top 20 contacts that can make or break your business so that you can begin to create an action plan and an effective loyalty program for your VIPs and beyond.

Learn how to kick ass with content marketing with Bill Petrie and Kirby Hasseman:

Today, we are at the beginning of a land-grab for content marketing real estate and, it’s more important than ever to have a personal brand that both resonates and relates. In this session, the two most prolific practitioners of content marketing in the promotional products industry will share why it matters, how they do it, and how it has achieved tangible (and profitable) results. This session will also include a hands-on workshop so each skucamper will stumble out of New Orleans with a detailed map on how to get started including finding your unique content voice for your target audience; building a six-month content calendar, creating a personalized piece of content for immediate use.

Learn how to build a high-performance team with Catherine Graham:

To grow exponential sales, a successful promotional products distributorship relies on the architecture of an interdependent team, and assembling and empowering the right team requires a few key strategies. In this workshop, Catherine Graham, President and CEO of commonsku, will walk through the key factors to attracting, onboarding, developing, and retaining top talent including how to build, scale, and incentivize a sales team; how to mastering the hiring process through proper vetting, compelling job descriptions, and the interview; getting and keeping the right people on the bus by attracting and developing talent toward maximum potential; retaining and inspiring talent through shared goals.

Refresh and renew with yoga and mindfulness with Roni Wright:

Kick off your mornings of skucamp refreshed and renewed! Join Roni Wright for gentle, guided Yoga and Mindfulness practice. You will cultivate breath and body awareness as you move through Sun salutations, various postures based on the foundation of Ashtanga, and begin the journey of learning to be present. Notice that conversation going on in your head that’s difficult to turn it off? If you answered yes, you’re not alone! During this session, you will discover how to turn the noise into laser focus. Whether you’re simply curious or passionate about yoga and mindfulness, Roni will help stimulate your mind and body for a day of learning and discover how a few simple changes in your day can help unleash your full potential.

And wrap-up your skucon experience with a final session by Mark Graham and Bobby Lehew.

We want you to win and win big in 2019. In this final skucamp session, Mark and Bobby will wrap up the two days of workshops with an overview of the critical points that will help you craft a strong strategy for the future. You’ll take the last 45 minutes of the event to take one more moment to work on your business, shaping your most important priorities for the year ahead. You’ll learn about the trends, technology, innovation, and creative business models that are leading tomorrow, today, and you’ll walk away with an actionable to-do list from our speakers, plus, a clear outlook on how to thrive into the future.

It’s the last hour of skucamp.

As you process two days of concentrated, high-impact business lessons, you breathe a deep sigh of thanks that you cared enough about your business to take a few days away from it, to think and plan.  

During the Monday-dine around, you met a few new friends, colleagues who inspired you on your journey, and your mind is crackling with ideas. You realize that in the whirlwind of skucamp you’ve done what they say in n’awlins, you’ve not only expanded your outlook for a brighter future, you’ve also “passed a good time.”

You breathe in the sultry air and smile: Bring it on, 2019.

You can register to join us at skucamp by visiting skucamp.com.

 


commonsku is an effortless business management platform that empowers you to process more orders and handle more business. To learn more visit commonsku.com.


Also published on Medium.