Tara Halpin, CEO of Steinhauser, Inc, is chair of the 2019 Converter Meeting, and she introduced the theme of the event, “Creating an Impression.” She said, “We create an impression every day. The products that come off our presses are literally impressions delivered to a moving web by a printing plate or print head. But what about the less tangible aspects of making an impression? What type of impression do we convey to the marketplace, and what is the impression that our own employees have for the companies we own, run or manage?”
Under the Creating an Impression theme, the meeting's presenters and thought leaders shared their insights with a focus on building company cultures that create lasting impressions – with prospects, customers, and employees alike.
“One of the greatest challenges we as converters have in today’s business climate is attracting and retaining employees,” Halpin said. “The success of our company culture isn’t dependent upon just one thing. We must constantly be proactive and intentional about creating an internal culture that inspires our employees’ desire to stay and attract prospective, top-notch younger generations.
“As the CEO and fourth generation owner of a converting company, I have witnessed firsthand how a company culture can directly help, or hinder, a company’s ongoing success in a increasingly competitive marketplace. I look forward to spending this time together, learning about new tools to ensure our cultures leave the impression of a thriving workplace," Talpin said.
Monday’s first keynote speaker was Chester Elton, a bestselling author who is also known as “the apostle of appreciation.” During his presentation, Elton revealed findings of some of the largest research studies ever conducted on company culture. He said, “People get you from good to great faster if you understand the principles of recognition. However, general praise has no impact. Specificity is critical because what you reward gets repeated. Leaders need to develop the habit of acknowledging people doing the right thing and recognizing it immediately."
According to Elton, disengagement in the workplace is at an all-time high and almost 87% of global employees claim they are somewhat disengaged or actively disengaged.
Using carrots – literally and metaphorically (he handed out stuffed, cartoonish carrots to active participants during his presentation) – he demonstrated his approach to management. “The carrots are the little things,” he said. “And this recognition approach works great in business. Let’s face it; in a world where being ‘fierce’ and ‘tough’ are often considered prized traits, kindness hardly seems in vogue. It’s a shame, because kindness can be very good for your business.”
Elton focused a great deal on developing a healthy company culture, and emphasized the importance of employees, underscoring the how critical they are to a business’s image and overall success. "The Customer Experience will never exceed the Employee Experience,” Elton said. “Who owns the culture? Everybody does – every employee. But it’s the leader that sets the tone.”
He added, “When it comes to company culture, when it’s loud, it’s healthy.” Other nuggets of wisdom he offered included:
- "It's not what we do and how we do it, but it's the WHY that's important."
- Great brands have great cultures, such as Apple, Amazon, and Disney, for example. Your brand and your culture are completely connected.
- Having highly engaged employees is critical to success. Disengaged employees can be detrimental.
- Great leaders understand generations.
Monday’s speaker agenda concluded with Claudia St. John, president of Affinity HR Group and author of Transforming teams – Tips for Improving Collaboration and Building
Trust. During her session, she organized what she referred to as Open Space Conversation Sessions. This hands-on, interactive workshop utilized a small-group format where peer-to-peer discussions took place on the most important label converting industry topics, as voted on by the Converter Meeting attendees prior to getting into the discussion groups.
Kicking off Tuesday’s presentations was Molly Fletcher, one of the first female agents in the high-stakes world of professional sports. Through stories and detailed accounts of her experiences with world-renowned athletes and sports broadcasters, Fletcher applied her experiences to the world of business and label company leaders.
Fletcher believes there are 10 essential practices to closing a deal. She said, “I negotiated deals in the high stakes, big-ego world of professional sports. After negotiating more than $500 million in contracts for my clients, I observed some of the best – and worst – negotiators. I learned the common mistakes to avoid when negotiating and what it takes to get the toughest deals done.”
From her experiences, Fletcher developed her Top Ten Best Practices for closing a deal. They are:
1. Negotiate in person
2. Timing is everything.
3. The ask isn't the end, it’s the start.
4. Awareness of body language
5. Practice a confident tone
6. Use curiosity to overcome disconnects
7. Dealing with difficult (or different) people
8. Embrace the pause
9. Getting to Yes.
10. Know when to walk away.
In explaining #6, dealing with difficult or different people, Fletcher said, “If you encounter someone who is difficult to negotiate with, ask yourself, ‘Are they difficult, or just wired differently than me?’ Consider whether they might just be coming from a different perspective. The four most common perspectives, she said, are: financial, logistical, strategic and relational.
Fletcher pointed out that if you can identify which of the aforementioned perspectives the person values most, you can adapt your communication style to close the gap.
Relating basketball coach and client Billy Donovan's story of turning down the Orlando Magic head coaching job to stay at the University of Florida, Fletcher reminded attendees of the importance of being relational as opposed to solely transactional. “There is a huge difference,” she said, “And it's all about making true connections.”
Fletcher also stressed the importance of overcoming adversity quickly. “The best golfers in the world – after bogeying a hole – will come back on the next one with a par or birdie.
She concluded, “As business people, we have tough days, moments, weeks and years. Our ability to send the right message and recover fast is so important. Most important of all, she added, “is being present for the relationships that matter most.”
Concluding the keynote portion of the event was Kevin Brown, author of The Hero Effect: Being Your Best When It Matters Most. In his book, he shares ideas, strategies and principles geared to inspire business leaders to show up every day and make a positive difference. At the heart of his message is the simple yet powerful philosophy for life that drives every thought and action and ultimately every result we achieve both personally and professionally.
According to Brown, The HERO Effect is: Heroes HELP people, with no strings attached. Heroes create EXCEPTIONAL experiences. Heroes take RESPONSIBILITY. Heroes see life through the lens of OPTIMISM. (Note the HERO acronym.)
“You will never achieve true success and fulfillment until you are willing to serve others with no strings attached,” Brown said.
The 2019 TLMI Converter Meeting also featured several activity options allowing for ample networking opportunities, including a golf tournament, hiking the falls of Dupont state forest, a tour of the famous Biltmore and visits to some of Asheville’s well-know craft breweries.
The meeting concludes Tuesday evening with the TLMI Awards Dinner and Reception, where winners of the annual Eugene Singer Awards will be announced. The Singer awards honor the best-managed TLMI converter members and are considered one of the most prestigious honors in the labels and packaging industry.
Supplier sponsors of the 2019 TLMI Converter Meeting, who are also the association’s 2019 Platinum sponsors, are Avery Dennison, Domino, HP, Nilpeter and RotoMetrics.