When I attended my first CAPRSA conference last year, I was a bit skeptical about what I'd gain from the conference. My resting state tends more towards the optimistic, but I can relate to Jon Goldberg's perspective here. With his permission, the text below is from a very eloquently crafted Facebook message he recently posted.
Jon Goldberg, Chief Reputation Architect at Reputation Architects, was one of the most genuinely engaging, insightful, and humorous people that shared their time with me last year. He's certainly one of the many reasons I am looking so forward to returning to the conference this year.
by Jon Goldberg
As anyone who knows me well will readily attest, skepticism is my resting state. So when a couple of longtime colleagues tried to coax me into joining something called “Counselors Academy” five years ago, right after Reputation Architects came into being, I found it easy to rationalize why putting clients aside for a few days to attend a conference with other PR firm leaders was almost certainly going to be a waste of time and money. I’ve never been much of a joiner, for one thing. I was a member of PRSA in my callow youth, but when I departed the warm bosom of Corporate America for stints with three big agencies I stopped renewing. I did without for more than 20 years and didn’t miss a thing.
Then, having left the rather more chilly bosom of a big holding company agency, things changed. I discovered that I really missed having a network of peers to turn to who were facing the same challenges I was. People I could trust enough to kick big ideas around with, or turn to for the occasional sanity check (and lord knows, my sanity is frequently in question). Who shared the joys and angst of entrepreneurship and would respond to my cranky rants about overdue receivables and managing millennials with a knowing nod and pearl of wisdom instead of “talk to the hand.”
So off I went to Asheville, NC, for my first Counselors Academy spring conference. I promised myself I would keep an open mind. If it turned out to be a bust, so be it. I just wouldn’t go back. Boy, was I in for a shock. I came. . .I saw. . . and I went home three days later with the dates for the 2010 meeting in Vegas already etched in my calendar. I tell people all the time that going to the conference is by far the most powerful investment I make in Reputation Architects each year bar none. This May in Key West will be my fifth time back. Call it Goldberg’s inviolable rite of spring. As rites of spring go, it’s way more inspirational, not to mention more fun, than washing windows or edging the gladiolus bed.
The sheer value of Counselors Academy lies in three things. First, there’s superb content focused on enabling us to lead better, more profitable businesses and help our people grow professionally. Second is unmatched access to a wealth of free legal, financial, HR and business advice from folks like PR legal maven Michael Lasky and agency management guru Darryl Salerno. And third is the people. I’ve never met a group of professionals so eager to embrace a new member and give up all their business secrets — and not just the clever strategies that worked for them that they like to preen about. They’ll just as quickly lay bare the things they royally screwed up along the way so that others can avoid making the same mistakes. My first year, longtime member Eric Morgenstern summed up the Counselors mindset in a way that really stuck with me. The odds of any of us in Counselors Academy competing directly with one another are slim to none, he said, so why not do everything we can to help all of us succeed. The cost of entry? Around a thousand bucks, give or take (sign up before April 5 and save $100). The chance to meet and develop relationships with 150 people who live by that mindset and run the most successful small and mid-sized agencies in the land? Priceless.
If you lead an agency or are a senior counselor in one, I urge you to join us May 4 to 6 in Key West and make Counselors Academy your new rite of spring. Your clients and gladiolus beds will be there when you get back. Trust me, you and they will be better off for it.
Jon Goldberg, Chief Reputation Architect, Reputation Architects