Annual Conference Recap: Day 2

By Alex Batty, MHI Marketing Communications Coordinator |@mhi_alex

Day 2 y’all.  I’m a teensy bit tired (read that as a lot), but it’s that good tired from getting some cool stuff done.

There was so much going on today that I didn’t get a chance to check everything out, but here’s a smattering of what I caught.

First I snuck into the exploring sustainability session with Bill Best from REI. He said that while they are about sustainability, they still have to have good business practices. You don’t have to go out and chain yourself to a tree to be sustainable, you can still run a regular business.

REI believes in recreating the use experience in store, and they replicated that in their digital store. When someone buys a pair of hiking boots, they suggest some great hikes near them.

If we don’t understand the why of driving sustainability, of course the corporate ROI will overpower it. It’s about the why.

Their philosophy? Sometimes the bottom line isn’t the bottom line. Running a profitable business is a mission critical goal, but wringing every cent possible from everything they do at the cost of the environment is bad business.

Customers choose sustainability. There’s your ROI.

The plenary keynote was with David Roberts, and he said something interesting that kind of contradicted (but not really) some of what has been said about Millennials in the last couple days. There’s been a lot of talk about mentoring, which is a good idea, but he says that it should also be a reverse mentorship: those who have gone before can learn from the Millennials. Ask them what tech, what apps they’re using and why. They’ve got a good grip on where the future is going. You can even ask about Snapchat.

He also predicted that peer-to-peer transactions are going to replace much of the infrastructure we now know. Guess it’s time to finally figure out what blockchain is. (I already took a stab at it here.)

The final bit that was impactful? He interviewed a lot of people at end of life, and the most common thing he heard was that they wished they had the courage to live the life you want to live and not what other people expect of you.

The lunch keynote was Susan O’Malley. And boy oh boy it was AWESOME. She’s great. The keynote was about leadership and creating a culture in which to succeed. She also spoke a lot to the customer service experience.

My favorite quote? Quite tongue in cheek she said, “The five most friendly customer service words ever spoken to me were, “Hey hey hey, back off!” For her, it worked, but only because of a particular combination of factors. Don’t try that at home kids.



In the afternoon I managed to pop into Dave Mattson’s talk about management blind spots.

Mattson listed quite a few blind spots that management tends to have and then proceeded to pull them apart. And then tell you how to fix them. One for example is no common sales language. Marketing, accounting, HR, etc. have a common language. For example, in the marketing world (my world) we can talk SEO and content marketing and Adwords and we all know what’s going on. But sales doesn’t have anything standardized. So make something. This is going to streamline your sales guys. It also can create efficiencies when the CRM reflects your process (the one that works best), rather than your process being driven by the CRM.

And then he kept doing that. And it was awesome.

The What’s Keeping Supply Chain Professionals up at Night panel, moderated by Scott Sopher, was made up of Charlie Torok from Shoe Carnival, Judi Griffin of Burkhart Dental Supply, and Bill Best from REI, and set out to discuss what keeps the brass of supply chain lying awake.

A lot of what keeps them up? The future. How do you innovate? Once you’ve innovated, how do you keep going, leave a legacy?

They said that they really rely on our partners to challenge them. They’ll challenge them right back, but it really is a collaborative process to be innovative.

They are also looking for the right product to fit their need. Like most of us, they too can get sucked in the by the shiny. So they go to trade shows looking for concrete information, asking “What does this actually do?” Instead of going to their project managers and saying, “I think we need AS/RS or… drones,” they ask what’s the problem. When they get the answer (metaphorically), “our shoe is loose” they go to the show looking for a lace to tie the shoe. Not new pants.

I scored by sneaking back into Susan O’Malley’s afternoon session about creating meaningful customer interaction. She led an entertaining discussion about worst customer experiences, and then led into using actual examples to illustrate points about meaningful customer service. Through storytelling, she hammered home points about why customer experience is important to the overall company and gave ways to improve the customer experience.

As my father often says, “What a day I’ve had today!”

See y’all tomorrow.