Association Insights: Conference Reminds Owners "The Difference is YOU"

Leadership can be lonely work, especially when you are running your own company. While you may draw on others for information and advice, you alone have the ultimate responsibility for your company’s future and your own—you alone are accountable for making decisions that can lead to success or failure.

While every company leader feels the weight of this responsibility, perhaps none feels it more deeply than the owner of a small printing company in a tough economic environment and highly competitive marketplace, where each decision can be a “make or break” choice for the business and its employees. That’s why so many small business owners in our industry decide to attend our NAPL/NAQP Owners Conference each year.

As the only industry event specifically organized to meet the needs of small businesses in the graphic communications industry and those who run them, every session of the Owners Conference is tailored to help owners or general managers of quick, small commercial, or digital printing companies (25 employees or fewer) sharpen their leadership skills.

The theme of this year’s program is “The Difference is YOU”: you, the owner; you, the leader; you, the decision maker. It will give owners an exceptional opportunity to learn how to use their individual decision making power and leadership strengths to help their companies reach their fullest potential.

To be held in Chicago, September 8-10, immediately preceding Graph Expo 2011, the Owners Conference features keynote addresses, panels, and presentations that identify how leaders make a difference, look at the fundamentals of good leadership and the effectiveness of varying leadership styles, and offer real-world tips and techniques leaders can use to make a positive difference in their organizations.

And, as at every Owners Conference, the event will serve not only to provide information and insights for company leaders but to put them in contact with their industry counterparts; helping to take some of the loneliness out of leadership by discussing shared problems and concerns and exploring solutions that have worked for others.

New Confidence

“When our small business owners get together, they soon find that they are not alone in facing tough industry problems,” notes NAPL chairman Keith Kemp, president, Xerographic Digital Printing in Orlando, FL. “They draw on the experience and friendship of their peers; finding new solutions, gaining new confidence, and taking home new ideas and plans for moving their businesses forward.”

One of the most popular conference sessions, the annual Ideas Exchange, is built to get the most from this interaction. Mike Stevens of Marketing Ideas for will moderate a highly active interchange of new solutions and approaches that have worked for some companies and can have successful applications in many others.

Also certain to be a full-house event is the annual address by NAPL senior vice president and chief economist Andrew Paparozzi, this year covering “What’s Happening and What’s Ahead for Quick and Small Commercial Printers?”

“We’ll be reporting on answers to questions about whether business is picking up for quick and small commercial printers, whether their sales are growing, and what the latest trends are in owner’s compensation, hiring, and sales per employee,” said Paparozzi.

The review of current conditions “will be followed by a look at what’s expected in 2012. The session will conclude with big picture questions,” he explains, “such as what quick and small commercial printers see as their greatest opportunities and their greatest challenges.”

Intriguing Sessions

Two unusual and intriguing presentations will help owners take a close look at how their leadership abilities impact their businesses. The conference’s opening session, “Know Your Kolbe, Know Yourself,” will give attendees a chance to harness the leadership power they possess by learning how to use their inner strengths to get the best results from those who work for and with them.

A Kolbe profile measures the way someone gets things done naturally; whether they force themselves to do things in a way that goes against their grain, or whether they use their natural energy to achieve results harmoniously.

Presenter Ross Slater of Metris Group Inc. will help attendees learn how to use their strengths for greater focus and productivity, attain maximum leverage from their time, build a better team, better understand how to work successfully with their customers, and even improve their family life, all based on doing what they do best.

Following the general meeting, Slater will lead an interactive breakout session where attendees can deepen their understanding of Kolbe profiles by experiencing a predictive demonstration of native talents in action, i.e.: using their natural impulses/resolve to achieve their goals.

According to Kolbe practitioners, once a leader has mastered this approach, he will find it easier to hire the right people, build a more productive team, and manage more effectively.

Another highlight of this year’s conference is “Zap the Gap,” a fascinating presentation by Larry Johnson and Meagan Johnson of the Johnson Training Group. This Baby Boomer father and Gen-X daughter will share their distinctive perspectives on how members of their respective generations approach the business/work world; demonstrating how each understands, communicates, motivates, and manages different generations in the workplace.

For owners struggling to maintain productivity and minimize disruption with staffs comprising dissimilar age groups and attitudes, this session will undoubtedly provide numerous real world takeaways. PN