Highlights from the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference 2013

Capt. Mark Kelly and BFS's Scott Kantor at the Multi-Unit Franchising ConferenceThe Multi-Unit Franchising Conference was a success yet again. There were outstanding speakers, terrific panel discussions and break-out sessions, not to mention networking with the absolute greatest people in the world.

At this year’s conference, there was something for everyone. As usual, the Advisory Board pulled out all the stops when it comes to programming. As attendees, not only did we learn more about the business of being a multi-unit franchise operator, but there was also plenty of inspiration and many life lessons all around.

Here are just a few of the highlights:

    • Capt. Mark Kelly, Keynote Speaker (pictured above), Commander of Space Shuttle Endeavour’s final mission, U.S. Navy Aviator, Author

Capt. Kelly was perhaps my favorite and not just because of the great picture I had taken with him! He was so engaging, a regular guy with a real sense of humility—despite his many accomplishments. And of course, there is his wife Gabby Gifford, the congresswoman who was tragically shot in the head little more than a year ago.

Capt. Kelly talked of his 39 combat missions as a fighter and about overcoming adversity, especially in the wake of     his family tragedy. He sounded a lot like any one of us when he described complaining about a painful elbow over breakfast one morning—and his wife’s raised-eyebrow response that quickly restored his perspective.

    • Peter Gruber, Keynote Speaker, Film Producer, Author, Sports Team Owner

Gruber talked about the importance of telling stories in business and connecting with others through stories. Sure social media serves a purpose, but if we limit ourselves to only 140 characters on Twitter, for example, are we losing the human touch and the ability to connect? At the end of the day, we need to be able to tell stories, talk to each other and engage.

    • Darrell Johnson, President and CEO of FRANdata

FRANdata studies and reports on the franchising industry, and Johnson is a frequent speaker at these conferences. For the past several years, the news that Johnson reported has not been good. But this year, for the first time, there were some slivers of optimism peeking through. Stay tuned for my upcoming post for all the news from Johnson and FRANdata.

    • David Akers, Six-time Pro Bowler and NFL Kicker

The theme of Akers’ inspirational message was “Change one life; you don’t have to change the entire world,” as he spoke about Franchising Cares.

Giving back is very important to the franchise industry. Akers reminded us that we are helping one at a time, whether we are helping veterans, others in need, or our customers in general.

And if the speakers weren’t enough, everyone in attendance was inspired and moved by Rocco Fiorentino, Jr. of The Little Rock Foundation for the Blind and Visually Impaired, who sang God Bless America.

But just as I’ve experienced in the past, some of the best inspiration and learning came from the multi-unit franchise operators themselves. It is truly one of the unique aspects of the franchise industry as a whole that competitors are able to come together to share their success stories, knowledge and experience with each other. I can’t speak for them, but to me, the message is that these are people who believe so wholeheartedly in the franchise industry, that they want everyone to succeed and are, in fact, rooting for each other’s successes.

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