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Outdoor Industry embraces “change” theme at Rendezvous event in Asheville

Outdoor leaders learn to consider 'ideas that might get you fired'


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Last week, 19 speakers and nearly 300 industry leaders gathered in Asheville, N.C. to be educated on the latest growth opportunities in the outdoor industry. OIA Rendezvous is the annual leadership forum where executives from outdoor companies strategize on the future of the industry.

This year, change was in the air.

On Day 1, Lisa Bodell of Futurethink challenged the audience “think of ideas that will get you fired.” She presented a series of ridiculous business campaigns and asked the audience to wave hands if they thought the scenario was true. The exercise was meant to encourage out-of-the-box thinking since those are the ideas that help organizations change and survive.

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The following morning, Mike Lipkin, president of Environics/Lipkin, talked about the new rules of business known as VUCA — volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Because everything is changing so quickly, the easiest way to predict the future is to be the one creating it. According to Lipkin, the most powerful indicator of customer behavior is social values, which are five times more powerful than demographic data when predicting consumer behavior.

During breakout sessions, speakers like Robyn Castellani, president of Castle and Spark, talked about the importance of creating an enemy in your company story, while Christopher Wilshire of Egg Strategy broke down the seven segments of outdoor customers.

At lunch, Mark Levelle from eBay recapped the four forces that will disrupt the e-commerce landscape, including mobile, local, social and global data. Later that afternoon, Dean Savoca, president of Savoca Performance Group, reminded attendees that great leaders are remembered for their emotional intelligence, not technical competence.

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In the final keynote, Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for NPD group, delivered a data-packed presentation encouraging the industry to rethink sales calendars and stop slashing prices before the season ends. The audience cheered him on enthusiastically when he reminded businesses that Boomers still control the vast majority of spending power — at least for the next 12 years.

–Yoon Kim