CEDIA Business Xchange: Learning to Be You, Only Better - ResidentialSystems.com

CEDIA Business Xchange: Learning to Be You, Only Better

Conferences, in whatever format, provide an opportunity to take a step back from the day-to-day monotony of business, and focus on the future. The goal now is to take those lessons and turn them into actions, and we are better armed to move forward. I give CEDIA Business Xchange two thumbs up for a balance between education, conversation, and fun.
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Arriving back home after a management conference is a bit nerve-racking. How do you take these new skills and abilities and apply them to your day to day life?

I have attended conferences in the past for other jobs, but never a management conference, which is what CEDIA Business Xchange was. Creating a new “CEDIA Management Conference” after a five-year hiatus equated to a smaller crowd (less than a hundred attendees.) Being smaller, however, created an intimate group that allowed us to both dig in deeper and befriend those around us at the Hilton NASA in Houston.

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CEDIA Business Xchange kicked off with an opening night reception at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. DISH sponsored the event. 


Running a business is a scary thing, be it a multi-million dollar business (and they were there) to a few hundred thousand a year. One of those big company owners said to me, “Just because you eat at a great restaurant does not mean the kitchen isn’t chaotic.” We all have issues and problems that we need to solve. Where better to do this than amongst your peers that do the same thing as you do, but in different parts of the country (so they are not competitors.) CEDIA Business Xchange also was not EXPO, where there’s so much competing for your time and attention. Here you were able to sit down and peel back the layers, as well as have full conversations about specific business management challenges.

The days started early—7 a.m. breakfast followed with the conference portion beginning at 8 a.m. The room was filled with not only business owners, but consultants, reps, and manufacturers. Day one's workshop was led by the tag team of Michael Lorsch and Kristine Kern, business consultants from The Table Group presenting The Advantage Workshop, based on the book The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni. They taught us that we all need a smart company but it also has to be healthy to survive business growth. Sixty-six percent of people hate their bosses, according to the presenting team, and who wants to go further for someone they hate?

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Day one's workshop was led by the tag team of Michael Lorsch and Kristine Kern, business consultants presenting The Advantage Workshop, based on the book The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni.


A great team is what gets you to the next summit. Think you cannot create one with your team too big or too small? Southwest Airlines does it with more than 45,000 employees! They do this by leveraging the health of the company, and this is how they are succeeding when other airlines are failing. Not long ago, I flew on Valentines Day. Employees had turned the ticket counter to a “kissing booth,” and the gate was decorated with hearts. Now, there was no actual kissing going on, but it made the check in experience more human instead of just like herding cattle. On the flight, your first drink was on the house! Southwest created loyalty and the desire to come back to the airline again for the next flight. It is the Southwest team that makes the difference; they are empowered to make a difference. You can tell that they understand why there are there. It seems like a good place to work, and this shines through to the customer.

Day two’s workshop was presented by David Chow, who pointed out that it is not enough to solve issues for our clients. For us to be their contact during the long haul, we need to be their Trusted Advisor (this was the name of the day’s workshop, which is based on a book by David Maister). The one way to get a client not to trust you is to ask them to trust you. So how do you become a trusted advisor? Read the book or take the course! What it comes down to is the act of listening instead of selling, which for me is not an easy task. We get so excited to be able to solve a problem for a client (or a spouse, for that matter) that we want to jump right to a solution. If we take a breath and listen, however, you’ll usually find out a lot more important information. We may also find we are not right for a specific job. Telling your client, “No Mr. Smith we have not done that before, but I can promise to research it, and test it before we install in,” may be the way to win the job versus the typical, “Sure, we do that!”

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Day two’s workshop was presented by David Chow, who pointed out that it is not enough to solve issues for our clients.

Afternoons at the conference were filled with the “un-conference” portion of Xchange. There were sessions in sales and marketing, finance, and operations that were informal and even more interactive than the morning workshops. The afternoons were dedicated times for asking questions and participating in conversations.

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Afternoons at the conference were filled with the “un-conference” portion of Xchange. There were sessions in sales and marketing, finance, and operations that were informal and even more interactive than the morning workshops. The afternoons were dedicated times for asking questions and participating in conversations. 

Of course, a trip of this caliber would not be complete without the fun portions of the trip from an opening night reception at NASA, to a crawfish broil, to wooden roller coaster rides on the Kemah Boardwalk (with a few drinks along the way) on the closing night. One of our fellow attendees (Sean Ruth from Redi Systems in Manhattan, KS) even won an Apple Watch after completing a fun game/challenge designed to inspire interaction with the event's sponsors, Access Networks, ADI, Clare Controls, D-Tools, DISH, FutureReady Solutions, ihiji, and Triad.

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Of course, a trip of this caliber would not be complete without the fun portions of the trip, like wooden roller coaster rides on the Kemah Boardwalk on the closing night. That's the author, alongside her editor Jeremy Glowacki and behind fellow integrators Greg Olle (left) and Lewis Franke.

What I learned is to be me, only better. Conferences, in whatever format, provide an opportunity to take a step back from the day-to-day monotony of business, and focus on the future. The goal now is to take those lessons and turn them into actions, and we are better armed to move forward. I give CEDIA Business Xchange two thumbs up for a balance between education, conversation, and fun.

Heather L. Sidorowicz is the president of Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.

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