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A Week of Disruption & Opportunity at ASAE Annual Meeting

Mark DeVito

After two years of virtual conferences, the ASAE Annual Meeting was back this year in person, and wow, people were ready to meet! The Yes& booth was busy from morning until night; our session, led by speaker Chrissie Koeppen, Yes& Director of Digital Strategy, engaged content weary conference leaders with her perfect blend of creativity and expertise; and our incredible, well-oiled production machine did not miss a beat in creating the perfect main stage experience. One keynote speaker even called for a round of applause for the production team—when does that happen?

Whew, what a week! For me, the conference’s thematic approach proved both relevant and thought provoking: Disruption=Opportunity. Yes, we’ve heard this quite a bit over the years, but for many of us who are neck deep in the new economy and this pandemic world, this concept really does take on a new meaning. I was thrilled to have left the Annual Meeting with a new relationship with each of theseDisruption and Opportunitywith equal weight. Every session, every discussion was fueled by new possibilities and new ways to cross into the new yearnot unlike how we approach our work at Yes&.

What happens in our lives when we’re uprooted? What happens when what we’ve planned for our business doesn’t come to fruition? And what do you do when the disruption is unprecedented? These are the moments when true grit, resiliency, and most importantly, authentic innovation truly happens. Changing course, living in the moment, and building a way forward with intense passion takes over. Until recently, I didn’t realize that I was a “livin’ in the moment” kind of leader. I find that the hardest strategy to develop is one that you can’t predict.

In the end, what did we learn? We heard from one keynote speaker that showing up as the most authentic version of yourself provides incredible results. We heard that experimentation is the foundation for success, and that running more experiments at your company while celebrating failure is the key to true innovation.

Another keynote speaker told the story about how in 1975, he boldly approached Elton John at his home in LA (he was working at the party) and found a tiny window of opportunity that, in those five minutes, changed the entire course of his life. And we heard that disruption in our personal lives, while at times extraordinarily heartbreaking, can inspire us to move mountains.

How do we apply this to the work we do? The answer is… bravery. We need to stop listening to the voices in our heads. We need to not do what we think our clients simply want to hear, and instead, do what we know is right—and we will move mountains. We need to take the toughness of our character and put it to the test, using the not-so-perfect world that we live in and turning it into an obstacle courseone for which we can keep trying to get the best time.

This is what a good agency does, this is what you do when you love what you do, and this is our “&.” Thank you ASAE! We all needed that.

Yes& is the Washington, DC-based marketing agency that brings commercial, association, and government clients the unlimited power of “&” – using a full suite of branding, digital, event, marketing, public relations, and creative capabilities to deliver meaningful and measurable results.

Let’s talk about what the power of "&" can do for you.

Mark DeVito
Senior Vice President, Strategy

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