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How I Found a Way to Send My Team to CEDIA

For a few days of time, it can really boost morale and culture in the organization while investing in your employees. They appreciate it and are better at their work as a result.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting excited for this year’s CEDIA in San Diego. This year will feature the usual slate of product launches, world-class education, demos, and fantastic networking opportunities. We also decided to send more people from Livewire this year than we ever have in the past. Why? It’s simple: CEDIA is all about passion and enthusiasm. Both are contagious, and we want our best and brightest afflicted with both conditions.

Exhibit at CEDIA

We started last year by announcing a program where anyone winning our employee of the month award would be eligible to win a CEDIA trip. One of our rock star employees, Amanda, won and while she was there, she live-streamed her show experience for everyone back at the office. To say Team Livewire experienced a little envy was putting it mildly. When we announced that we would be adding two more trips to the drawing this year, the competitive juices started flowing immediately.

To become eligible for one of the three trips, you have to win employee of the month or a “living the values” award at our team meeting. Living the values is a peer process where employees praise one another publicly for living any of our core values (passion, excellence, enthusiasm, patience, tenacity, integrity, and curiosity) over the prior week. Each employee of the month winner gets two chances, while a living the values winner gets one chance. We call the drawing coupons “tickets” (as in “Who wants a ticket to San Diego?”)

We’ve seen a significant uptick in employee of the month survey participation and public praise in the run up to the drawing next week. It’s taken two years, but next year’s program should garner even more support and passion at the outset since we’ll have three employees coming back from San Diego raving about what a good time they had.

My own history with the CEDIA show followed a path fairly common to our industry. For years after joining CEDIA, I couldn’t justify the expense. Now I can’t imagine not attending (and not just because we now have a budget for CEDIA travel). After I started attending, I noticed some owners would fly most of their company staff to CEDIA. Once again, I asked myself how they could afford to. “It’s so expensive,” I thought. Now I’m wondering why I’m not sending more employees to CEDIA. For a few days of time, it can really boost morale and culture in the organization while investing in your employees. They appreciate it and are better at their work as a result.

If you’re like me, you might be wondering how to quantify the expense of sending your employees to CEDIA. It’s paid time, flights, hotels, expense reimbursements… the list goes on and on. There might also be a little voice in the back of your mind telling you to focus on short-term profit goals and that you couldn’t afford to take that much time off. That’s very true—if you don’t plan for it.

What if you took the time right now to set your sights on CEDIA 2018 and worked backwards from the outcome of bringing your staff with you? Imagine a bunch of enthusiastic ambassadors who will affect their coworkers and clients with their passion. They’ll be happier and more productive. Happy employees are good for the bottom line.

While we haven’t yet tackled CEDIA 2017, it sure feels better to have planned out our program one year in advance. Instead of questioning the time off and expense, we now look at it as scheduled and immovable in the schedule—as inconvenient or expensive as breakfast, lunch, or dinner are tomorrow. It’s all a state of mind, just like anything else.

One of the great benefits of running a small business is the world is as you create it around yourself (or let it get created around you). Break out of your routine and try something new. I’ve yet to hear anyone complain about investing in their workforce.

Are you in?

Stay frosty and see you in the field.

Disclaimer: I sit on the CEDIA board but wrote this completely on my own… straight from the heart.