Five Industry Speakers, New Learning Formats Inspired 2018 ASAE Great Ideas Conference Attendees

March 15, 2018

WASHINGTON—From March 11-13, close to 600 association executives and industry partners convened in Colorado Springs for ASAE’s 2018 Great Ideas Conference at The Broadmoor. ASAE had five 25-minute Main Stage speakers, hosted by Choose Chicago, and introduced new design features including: Learning Circles, Braindates, and an offsite Leadership Intensive. ASAE had a total of 593 in attendance.

“Great Ideas aims to create, inspire and support innovators in the association community through case studies, competency building, peer-to-peer and group learning,” said ASAE President & CEO John H. Graham IV, FASAE, CAE. “All the Main Stage speakers focused on customization, innovation, brand management, and building the right mindset, which are essential elements required to expand one’s association.”

On March 11, ASAE had two Main Stage speakers Fredi Lajvardi, nationally recognized STEM educator, and Kelly McDonald, Marketing and Consumer Trends Expert. Lajvardi talked about how he transformed a group of high school students into a national champion robotics team. He emphasized the importance of ingenuity in overcoming disadvantages. McDonald emphasized the interrelationship between diversity of thought and capacity to innovate. 

For Monday’s Main Stage session, there were three industry experts: William Espey, brand voice lead of Chipotle; Natalie Fikes, leadership coach and best-selling author; and
Smiley Poswolsky, workplace expert and best-selling author.

Espey discussed how shared values create connections and cultural connections bring customers together forming long-term relationships. Fikes inspired attendees to have a MacGyver mindset, activate employees and members to be their best, and have the courage to make the big asks in work and life. Poswolsky asked attendees to set aside generational stereotypes and focus on four things in order to create meaningful experiences: purpose, value, renewal, and focus.

Braindates, an online matchmaking platform powered by E-180, gave attendees the opportunity to engage in informal peer learning with one-on-one and group meetings around different topics. It was hosted by Visit Fort Worth and Geico. 

Held offsite at the Ivywild School home of Bristol Brewing, the Leadership Intensive was led by Mike Bristol, CEO of Bristol Brewing and Mike Wagle, CEO of Mammoth Digital. Together they discussed how small changes can make a difference.

Learning Circles convened cohorts of 4-6 peers several times throughout the conference, each study group was facilitated by a seasoned association professional. They created individual learning plans, shared observations, and developed a map on how to act upon the ideas learned during the conference. 

ASAE also held two Executive Leadership Workshops before the conference and a Women’s Executive Forum, and ASAE Foundation Pour, hosted by the Broadmoor, on Monday night. 

ASAE thanks the following Alliance Partners for their continued support of the association community:

Strategic Partners
Atlanta CVB
Business Events Canada
Choose Chicago
Experience Columbus 
Community Brands
Visit San Jose

Corporate Partners
Visit Baltimore
DelCor Technology Solutions
Visit Dallas 
Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB 
Visit Fort Worth
Louisville CVB 
Mexico Tourism Board 
Naylor Association Solutions
Visit Omaha 
Visit Salt Lake

Event Partners
Advanced Solutions International
The Broadmoor 
Dubai Association Centre
Higher Logic
Hong Kong Tourism Board 
Johnson Lambert LLP and Vault Consulting 
Korea Tourism Organization 

MEDIA CONTACT: Sabrina Kidwai, APR, CAE, 202-326-9505.

About ASAE 
ASAE is a membership organization of 39,000 association executives and industry partners representing 7,400 organizations. Its members manage leading trade associations, individual membership societies and voluntary organizations across the United States and in nearly 50 countries around the world. With support of the ASAE Foundation, a separate nonprofit entity, ASAE is the premier source of learning, knowledge and future-oriented research for the association and nonprofit profession, and provides resources, education, ideas and advocacy to enhance the power and performance of the association and nonprofit community. For more information about ASAE, visit