Featured Speakers

Independent Operators Symposium

Building a Relentlessly Optimistic Culture

Is it possible to create a world of work where responsibility and optimism are the prevailing sentiments of employees? Where people are treated as whole human beings? Where the interests of management, shareholders and employees are aligned? Today’s headlines are filled with countless stories of workplaces that are toxic and add no value to the experience of the people who work in them. It doesn’t have to be that way. Margo’s insights gleaned from her experience with three unique company cultures will provide ideas on how to put the humanity back into work.

Margo Downs

When Margo joined The Body Shop as a part-time sales associate, she was inspired by Anita Roddick’s authentic leadership and mission driven approach to business, Margo saw that culture was the foundation of business success and being an HR leader could be inspiring, meaningful and creative. Since then, Margo has led the development of innovative people strategies at three iconic brands – Stitch Fix, Lululemon and Starbucks. She’s seen scale, transition from private to public company and worked with leading innovators in the tech and consumer space.

And life has come full circle. She is currently sharing what she’s learned as a speaker and advisor with a commitment to developing people and organizations to achieve their full, unique potential.

Margo loves working with businesses who are up to big things when it comes to people, culture and innovative products.

Resilience in the Face of Uncertainty

The world is changing faster than ever imagined, leaders and teams have to dig deep within themselves to break through and find opportunity in uncertain times. Before becoming a #1 NYT best-selling author, playing basketball at the White House, having beers with Prince Harry, or living out his other dreams, Ben suffered from crippling depression.

After committing to a series of positive life changes, Ben had a shift in perspective that changed his outlook on life and opened himself up to endless possibility. From there he committed to following his buried dreams and helping others through acts of service. The rest is history and Ben’s life-changing message has opened up audiences around the world to cultures of service, gratitude and endless potential.

Ben Nemtin

Ben Nemtin is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of “What Do You Want to Do Before You Die?” and a star of MTV’s highest rated show ever on iTunes and Amazon called “The Buried Life.” As the cofounder of The Buried Life movement, Ben’s message of radical possibility has been featured on The Today SHow, The Oprah Wifnrey Show, CNN, FOX and NBC News. President Obama called Ben and The Buried Life “inspiration for a new generation” and Oprah declared their mission “truly inspiring.”

In his first year of university, Ben was unexpectedly hit with a depression that forced him to drop out. In an attempt to feel more alive, he created the world’s greatest bucket list with his three best friends. They borrowed a rickety old RV and crisscrossed North America, achieving the unthinkable. And most importantly, every time they accomplished a dream, they helped a complete stranger cross something off their bucket list. From playing basketball with President Obama to having a beer with PRince Harry, from reuniting a father and son after 17 years to surprising a young girl with a much-needed bionic arm — Ben’s bucket list quest has inspired millions to thrive personally and professionally.

Five Generations in the Workplace

For the first time in history, five distinct generations — Matures, Boomers, Xers, Millennials and iGen— are employed side by side in the workplace. With differing values and seemingly incompatible views on leadership, these generations have stirred up unprecedented conflict in the business world. Effective management of this generational divide is vital to longevity and success. In fact, it is the most important demand your company can make of its leaders.

In this engaging presentation, Cam Marston will teach how each generation developed its core values, how that manifests in the workplace today, and why they can all not only operate alongside each other, but do so with extraordinary success. This program will provide the generational insight, concrete examples and specific approaches to help frustrated managers build the individual connections needed to boost employee performance and retention.

As you will learn, the only common ground is the intensity with which each generation holds fast to its value systems. Understanding and respecting those generational biases are critical to bringing out the best in every employee.

Cam Marston

Expert on the Generations

Cam Marston is the leading expert on the impact of generational change and its impact on the workplace and marketplace. As an author, columnist, blogger, and lecturer, he imparts a clear understanding of how generational demographics are changing the landscape of business.  Marston and his firm, Generational Insights, have provided research and consultation on generational issues to hundreds of companies and professional groups, ranging from small businesses to multinational corporations, as well as major professional associations, for over 20 years.

Marston’s books, articles, columns, and blog describe and analyze the major generations of our time: Matures (born before 1946), Baby Boomers, (born 1946-64), Generation X (born 1965-79), Millennials (born 1980-2000), and iGen (born 2000+).  He explains how their generational workplace and marketplace preferences affect every aspect of business, including recruiting and retention, management and motivation, and sales and marketing. 

His first book, Motivating The “What’s In It For Me?” Workforce (2005), explores the characteristics and motivations that each generation brings to the workforce and suggests management tactics applicable to any business setting. His next book, Generational Insights (2010) is a guide to the best practices in managing generational issues. Generational Selling Tactics That Work (2011) is the first book-length study of generational approaches to sales and marketing. His two DVD training videos have been best sellers since introduced in 2005 and his short book The Gen-Savvy Financial Advisor (updated in 2017) is a must-read in the financial services industry. Marston also offers short, to the point, training micro-videos designed to be viewed on the go focusing on Sales & Service, Management & Retention, and Recruiting.

Marston’s half-day training program, “Leading Multi-Generational Teams,” features the Gen-Flex® process which teaches leaders how to be flexible in their generational workplace preferences to get the best performance out of their teams.  

In 2018 Marston launched a regional radio show (also available as a podcast) called What’s Working with Cam Marston that focuses on the trends that are shaping today’s workplace and workforce with expert guests offering insights and opinions on the trends. 

He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Tulane University and is a native and resident of Mobile, Alabama.