Owner Summit 2019 Agenda

Get ready for two full days of presentations, interactive sessions and networking. Make that three days if you sign up for the workshops! We’re finalizing the agenda, but here is a general idea of how the days will unfold.

Scroll to view the full agenda or view by day:
Sunday, Feb. 10: Workshops
Monday, Feb. 11: Summit Day 1
Tuesday, Feb. 12: Summit Day 2

Sunday, February 10: Workshops

Join us Sunday, February 10, 9:30 AM–5:30 PM (TBD) for three workshops. Please note, you’ll need a Summit + Workshop Combo ticket or Workshop Day ticket to access the workshops.

Workshop: Studio Operations & Forecasting: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

“You won’t be in control of your business until you can accurately predict it.” One of Rob Harr’s early mentors and business advisors must have said that a thousand times during their time together—and it’s true. Join Rob for a deep dive into studio operations and forecasting. Take a guided tour through the good, the bad and the ugly, and uncover actionable strategies to help you take control of your business.

Get an inside look at how you can put forecasting at the heart of your business to improve project planning, cash flow, hiring, sales and more. Discover a relatively simple weekly cadence to implement (that doesn’t lose sight of your people), and dig into metrics to determine what you should track and what’s just noise. Before long, you’ll actually be in charge of your business.

Workshop: What Is Your Role as an Owner & How Should You Run Your Business?

Did you start out as a designer or developer with the innate entrepreneurial gift to start a business, and now you look around to find you are the “CEO” of an agency? What does that title mean? What is your job description?

How do you run your business with clarity, consistency and accountability, shaking off imposter syndrome to be the leader your team needs?

Do you have a simple, yet effective framework in which to operate your agency? Through this workshop, Traci and Tom Barrett will:

  • Inspire you to go from being a good leader to a great leader

  • Help you find your own personal “why” as an owner to lead with confidence

  • Give you tips and techniques for creating a healthy and successful team

  • Teach you the six components necessary for running your business:

    • Vision: Getting everyone 100% on the same page about where the business is heading, and how to get there

    • People: You can’t achieve a great vision without great people

    • Data: Determine the right set of objective predictive lead measures to run your business on

    • Issues: Continually identify, discuss and solve the most critical issues facing your business

    • Process: Scale your business by documenting core processes

    • Traction: Create a healthy culture of discipline and accountability where everyone is focused on their most important priorities

Workshop: Financial Metrics: Get a Grip, Grow Your Business & Improve Profitability

Jody Grunden will teach you the importance of diving deep into the financial side of your business.

What is forecasting and why do you need to do it? What are the key metrics driving that forecast? Learn why you should use a forecast as a guide for every business decision you make, i.e., expansion, acquisition, buyout and retirement.

What if you could pull a lever to improve your company’s performance? You can! Discover how to use those metrics as levers to lead your company to higher profitability.

How do you determine and measure your pipeline? Your pipeline metric (what you currently have under contract and what you have “in the works”) should not be forgotten as it can have a drastic impact on your revenue forecasting.

In addition, you’ll learn how and where to compare your metrics with those of others in the industry. Discover where you fall short and where your company has the most room for improvement.

Monday, February 11: Summit Day 1

8:45–9:00 AM
Welcome Day 1

9:00–9:45 AM
Keynote: Different Drummers

Owner Summit helps you realize you’re not alone. You learn firsthand what others shops are doing so you don’t have to wonder if you’re an outlier. But the real seed for success comes in cultivating what you do differently from everyone else, not the same.

In this session, SuperFriendly founder Dan Mall will share some tips for identifying your shop’s unique advantages to help you establish a distinct and differentiated positioning, build a marketing approach and identify areas of growth for your team.

10:00–10:45 AM
Presentation: Zen & the Art of the Side Hustle

Do you ever feel like you’ve lost touch with your creativity? Do you feel like you need to sell your company before starting something new?

Becky shares her experience as an owner over the past 12 years and how she’s incorporated new ventures into her life without selling her digital agency. She’ll share the benefits of starting side hustles as an owner, how it’s impacted her company for the better and made her a happier person.

Through Becky’s stories, you’ll learn tips to reignite your creative spark when you feel like you’ve lost it. You’ll hear another owner’s perspective on time management and tips to find more time for your creativity when it feels like there is never enough.

11:00 AM–12:00 PM
Camp Session

12:00–1:30 PM (Optional)
Legal Lunch: Gabe Levine & Josh Barrett

Bring your legal questions to lunch. Gabe and Josh will share their knowledge and insights on the legal side of running a digital agency.

1:30–2:30 PM
Presentation: How to Leverage Your Expertise to Grow Your Business, Not Just Your Ego

We’ve all heard the advice that building a “personal brand” and engaging in “thought leadership” can grow your business. Being on TV and having your name in the newspaper is a great thing to show off on LinkedIn, but how will it actually make you more money? The answer is more difficult than you’d think.

Drawing from the experience of raising her profile in the media, Avery Swartz will speak candidly on how she quieted her fears and loosened the grip of imposter syndrome. She’ll help you to understand what you can realistically expect of PR. You’ll get tips on how to successfully pitch the media, what to do when the phone rings and how to get invited back on air. Avery will explain how to leverage your expertise, go beyond 15 minutes of fame and actually move the needle on your business.

2:45–4:00 PM
Special Session: Look...Either Market or Don't, I Don't Care

The biggest challenge facing digital firms is the ubiquitous squeeze of commoditization. Too many firms are finding themselves competing on price and speed, and that's a one-way ticket to business hell. There are some firms, though, that clearly have risen above this downward spiral. Those firms aren't hired because they're the cheapest, fastest or geographically closest option. They're hired because they are the experts.

The bridge between business hell and your ideal reality is marketing. We're not talking about promotional content about your firm's latest award, client launch or office party. We're talking about real marketing, which is solely based on the deep expertise you have cultivated as a firm over years of helping a specific group of people solve a specific set of problems. This expertise is hard earned and won, never bought, and when a client sees it, it is unmistakable.

Join Mark as he walks us through exactly how you can take control of the future of your firm by becoming the expert you're meant to be.

4:15–5:15 PM
Keynote: Mastering the Value Conversation

“The value conversation is where value-based pricing theory goes to die.”

Pricing your expertise based on the value you create for your clients instead of on the cost of your labor is an ideal that few firms are able to put into practice. The main reason for this, according to Win Without Pitching founder and Pricing Creativity author Blair Enns, is simply that we in the agency business are not very good conversationalists.

In this provocative and highly interactive session, Blair will walk us through some exercises that not only prove his assertion that our failure to value price is rooted in our client conversations, he will show us how to develop those missing skills. Blairtopia beckons.


5:15–5:30 PM
Thank You / Announcements

Tuesday, February 12: Summit Day 2

8:55–9:00 AM
Welcome Day 2

9:00–9:45 AM
Keynote: My Greatest Mentor, Life

In 1985, at the age of 16, Kianosh was thrust into a life experience that has brought him to where he is today. He migrated from Iran to the United States in a manner not too dissimilar from the current-day Syrian migration path.

Kianosh has looked back on his experience several times since then. What he did not know is how much the lessons that he learned through his experience have guided him in his decisions in his business, his family and his life.

In this presentation, Kianosh will recount the details of his experience and share how it has helped him in his decision-making process.

In this session, you’ll learn:

  • How planning for a migration is not that uncommon from running a complex project

  • Trust being an important asset in the success of a project

  • Be ready with a plan B

  • Know the limitations of your team

10:00–10:45 AM
Presentation: Robert Sfeir

Talk description coming soon.

11:00 AM–12:00 PM
Presentation: A Proven Six-Step Framework for Sales & Marketing Messaging

It’s tough creating repeat sales or marketing messages that are engaging, and meet the three C’s of effective messaging. Is the message clear, compelling and concise?

Sales and marketing professionals are constantly in communication with prospects (email, phone, in-person, social media, video conferencing), but do you have a plan, a system that creates a clear, compelling and concise message, every time?

This session offers a framework for effective sales and marketing messages based on both science and psychology...with a few free giveaways!

12:00–1:30 PM (Optional)
Lunch Session: Blair Enns & Dan Mall

In this AMA, you’ll get two of the best brains in the business to answer your questions on running a digital agency.


1:30–2:45 PM
Camp Session


3:00–4:15 PM
Lightning Talks

Lightning Talk: Mining Old Gold

Are you maximizing the relationships you’ve developed throughout your agency’s lifetime? Are you thoughtfully engaged with past clients? Are you reliably front-of-mind for past prospects? Are you manufacturing leads and referrals intentionally?

Or are you still relying on organic inbound leads and referrals...? Good work is the best business development, BUT HOPE IS NOT A PLAN.

Let’s discuss a strategy for mining opportunities from your existing network, the people who know and trust you. Where the sales dynamic is tipped in your favor. Your Old Gold.

In this session you’ll learn:

  • Why networks grow in value, and then diminish over time (and knowing is half the battle)

  • The three critical attributes of a referral and lead generation-focused network

  • The three key elements of successful business development

  • How to spend a limited, but powerful amount of time engaging with past clients, near-miss prospects and the rest of your agency’s network

Lightning Talk: Running an Agency Through Tragedy

Owning an agency has enough challenges on its own. But running a shop through a disaster is something totally different. Carla will tell the true story of how The Scenery caught on fire and how the owners and team managed through it.

It can all change in an instant, so thinking on your feet, moving forward and energizing yourself are all critical. You’ll hear lessons on how to sustain client relationships, keep employees engaged and productive and keep revenue high.

Lightning Talk: Remembering Your ‘Why’: How to Persevere When the Universe Isn’t Playing Fair

As business owners, our journeys are mostly very different from one another. But one thing we’re pretty much guaranteed to have in common is tough times. Whether you’re dealing with a lack of funding, the loss of a large client, a bad business deal, tough economy, failing health, family crisis, etc., you’re not alone. Chances are one or more of us has been through similar situations—sometimes more than once, oftentimes simultaneously.

It’s been said that as entrepreneurs and business owners we’ll want to quit and close up shop at least once. More realistically, though, you’ve probably wanted to quit at least a couple dozen times already.

So, then the question becomes, how do we persevere? How do we not quit, especially during those times when it seems everything is stacked against us?

If there’s one thing Reuben and Sherri have repeatedly faced throughout their 17-year business journey, it’s hardship. During this talk they’ll share some of those experiences with you, letting you in on how they continue to use their ‘Why’ to help them face some of the toughest challenges the universe could throw at them— and how you can too!

4:30–5:30 PM
Keynote: An Owner’s Guide to Burnout: How Not to Get Fried

Do you ever feel exhausted? Really exhausted? Have you felt like nothing is moving forward, no matter how hard you work? Perhaps a creeping cynicism or sense of dismissive withdrawal from your team or your clients...

You’ve heard of burnout, perhaps you’ve experienced it. The vast majority of owners encounter burnout at some point during their agency careers. Despite being common, burnout is much more serious than a self-help fad. Burnout is linked to significant changes in brain chemistry and structure that can have significant implications for productivity, creativity, interpersonal interactions and overall physical and mental health. Burnout is much worse than most of us realize. Thankfully, 40 years of research have helped to clarify the major drivers of burnout. In this keynote presentation, Dr. Walling will focus on how you can recognize and prevent burnout before it wreaks havoc on your business and personal health.

In this session, you’ll learn:

  • How to identify the common features of burnout

  • Why agency owners are particularly vulnerable to burnout

  • How burnout changes the chemistry and structure of the brain

  • Which seven factors cause burnout in professionals

  • Simple strategies to prevent burnout in yourself and your team


5:30-5:45 PM
Closing / Thank You

Thank You to Our Wonderful Partner:


Interested in sponsoring Owner Summit 2019? Let's connect.