Every year the AlphaGraphics (AG) corporate office holds a Conference where owners and their teams come together to network, train, and figure out how to continue to grow and be successful together, using the power of the network. Below is an interview with Rich Cichoski, Manager and Sarah Meehan, Business Development Manager, both of whom attended this year’s conference in Nashville, Tennessee.
Interviewer: What did you learn and how was the quality of the training at this year’s conference?
Rich: This year’s training and schedule were very effective and engaging. Utilizing experts from both within the network and in the industry, there was a rich balance of information specific to our business and outside training on how to be successful in our industry. Getting an outside of the jar view has always been such a positive training experience for me!
The significant takeaways were how to aggressively offer our clients more signage services, mobile marketing, and how to better manage our own business information.
My favorite point was from a motivational speaker, Scott Hunter. He summarized that everyday you get to choose your attitude. If you choose to be positive, basically the world is yours. If you decide to make no choice at all, unfortunately, your attitude will default to negative, and that there is NO neutral decision. I love that thought and it is very eye opening!
Sarah: While I have had many dinner conversations and reports and inquiries about my parents’ center over the years, last year I took on the exciting opportunity to actually work alongside my parents and their seasoned team. To kick off my start, I joined the team in Orlando at the 2012 conference and soon thereafter started my career at AlphaGraphics Pittsburgh. Aside from hobbling around with a broken toe, I enjoyed Orlando but admittedly came more prepared to divide and conqueror at the Nashville conference and, oh boy, it well exceeded my expectations. The synergy between the owners, teams and staff from different regions was energetic – earnestly a group of impressive entrepreneurs with a strong creative flare!
In regards to the training, it seemed really relevant to the topics we are focusing on as growth opportunities, including even more in-depth focus groups spinning off to meet in the near-term. The training that stood out was mobile marketing and large format, but the high-level class that was also exciting was about the road to success and a reminder to focus on business planning and always finding that balance to not let the urgent crowd out the important which is truly an art, especially in a business where our value is high attention to detail and urgency!
What to do first?! I totally concur with Rich as well about the daily reminder when you wake up you have so much choice in the attitude you want that day. Staying positive, thinking of the long-term and choosing to drive your own life with the hands on the steering wheel versus the rearview mirror.
Interviewer: What was your favorite part of the conference?
Rich: Hands down the best part was the people. Connecting with old friends and making new ones has been my favorite part of the annual conference since my first one eight years ago. I have had the pleasure to get to know, both personally and professionally, some of the brightest minds in our industry between both owners and their teams. We have surely helped each other and forged lasting friendships along the way. I love my AG family!
Sarah: Hmmm, I had a top three?! My most favorite part of the conference was getting off-site and spending time with my parents and Rich, our manager, outside of the office and without (well almost without) the daily. Second most favorite thing was reconnecting with some of our AGI favorites, and also some gold center owners really taking me under their wing and making time to meet. My parents invited me into the gold circle lunch and meeting, and the other owners and their families welcomed me with open arms. It is truly a remarkable franchise from what my parents and our management have created to the other owners and entrepreneurs. I left feeling further inspired in regards to the entrepreneurial spirit and motivation.
Interviewer: And how was the town of Nashville?
Rich: Nashville was fantastic and I already want to go back! I enjoy live music, but have never been too in to country music. I have always loved the oldies, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Waylon. One day in Nashville and there is no way you won’t fall in love with and want to dance to the AMAZING talent that flows from every nook and cranny from Broadway to the Grand Ole Opry! Great culture draws both residents and tourists alike attracting them to wonderful BBQ eateries and southern couture. Truly, Nashville has it all!
Sarah: Earlier this year I went to New Orleans on a father / daughter trip, hoping the outcome would be a fantastic experience visiting one of our great cities of music. Visiting the city of country blew this experience out of the water!! It was such a fun dose of getting back into a southern culture where it became quickly evident there wasn’t a drought of talent, nor chicken fried chicken. We hit up some southern grub, lots of collard veggies, country music from coffee house to honkey tonk, and then topped off the week with the Grand Ole Opry! I realized that country is truly such a tight knit sub-culture, supporting their budding artists to their senior legends. It now makes sense when you hear about Nashville’s resistance when a country star goes top 40, and how many still make sure to not ever snub the Ole Opry Stage and drop in annually. I cannot wait to go back!