Who Would You Pay To Listen To?

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

Anyone who has put together a conference will know that as soon as you mention the words “speaking opportunity” hundreds of hands go up in the air but we also all know, if we are brutally honest, that not many of those selected to speak are often much good.

We had many plaudits in 2011 for our work with conferences (especially of course the Strategy Institute’s Digital Signage Investor Conference in NYC in October) and so we thought to ask (what all conference organisers should ask) “if it were your money, who exactly would you PAY to listen to?” and who exactly would make up an ‘Industry Conference Dream Team‘?

So grab a coffee, sit back and read through what we think is the ultimate who’s who of conference speaking…

  • Manolo Almagro Manolo has been quiet recently with his longer than expected sojourn in Asia but he’s back now in Chicago working for one of the top agencies. Manolo can talk equally as well about technology and media and unlike many North Americans (sorry guys) can talk knowledgeably about the rest of the world as well (all based on experience)
  • Guy Cheston There’s two ways to get Retail Theatre perfect and that’s either (a) go spend a day at Harrods in London and copy what they do and / or (b) listen to Guy speak about how they got it right the first time, then improved it and then improved it again. What Guy does not know about putting signage into, and more importantly getting brands to buy-in to, a retail experience (and literally pay for the privilege) is not worth knowing
  • Ajay Chowdhury Ajay is a seasoned veteran of the dotcom era as well as our own industry and as he rightly points out in all his speeches, he’s been on both sides of the fence – having been a VC and having raised money from VCs. He’s probably the most honest speaker we have ever heard with regard M&A and is surely one of the most successful in the industry at raising capital (there’s no pump and dump here you know). Very smart man, quietly confident and easy to listen to
  • Louis Giacalone Lou is surely one of the founding fathers of digital signage. Never have we met a more passionate advocate of what software solutions can do for an industry. You would have thought that creating not one but two successful businesses he would be resting on his laurels and singing the same old song but not Lou. Lou is the closest thing this industry has to a visionary and a futurist. He’s wonderful to listen to whether he’s taking the stage or sitting across you at the dinner table. Lou has always got fully involved with the industry and its associations for the greater good, without seeking self promotion
  • Bill Gerba Bill was the guy we looked up to when we started in the industry (okay so physically we would have had to stand in a hole in the ground and Bill stand on a box) and he is the original CEO blogger. Unlike many software vendor CEOs he talks credibly about all aspects of the industry – especially in his case ‘content’. His 101 on content should be required listening to all (including many a content company) but it’s the way he also selflessly promotes the industry and best practice over anything his business does which we really love
  • Denys Lavigne We would not be exaggerating if we said that Denys was quite simply one of the world’s experts on content. Okay so let’s forgive him that in nightclubs (the lucky b’stard) he is often mistaken for that guy in House. Here’s a seasoned professional who has successfully come from print and totally understood not just content, but context, interactivity and how the whole can work seamlessly together with technology. If Denys is speaking at a conference then it’s worth the entrance fee on its own to go listen
  • Garry McGuire Garry beats a couple of other (all VERY good) network CEOs to be included in our ultimate speaker line up by the mere fact that relatively speaking he is so new to our industry. To his credit not only has he adapted fast to dooh, dpb, dpooh or whatever DPAA members want to call it this week but he has also been giving back constantly to the industry the lessons that he personally (and RMG Networks) has learnt. He presents in a friendly, unintimidating style
  • Bob Rushby Bob co-invented MicroTiles whilst he was at Christie in Kitchener but unlike many inventors (okay so we don’t know that many personally) here is a charming, intelligent visionary with a realistic business sense who sees beyond displays to a future world of pixels everywhere. He’s an engineer who is also able to easily describe using both the spoken word and in print what display technology can and does mean in a wider context
  • Rob Winston Rob is the one man that I would personally fly on expenses anywhere in the world to present at a conference I was putting together. A seasoned media veteran with a love of the media industry. Great speaking skills, fun and a bon viveur to boot he outputs knowledge on how a network should behave to be on a media plan like no other person we have ever met. Quite simply a superstar of the research world and we are surprised (okay if Arbitron allowed it) why this man is not on the board of dozens of networks across the globe?

3 Responses to “Who Would You Pay To Listen To?”

  1. Keith Kelsen Says:

    I would add to that list:

    Bryan Mezaros
    Paul Flanigan
    Pat Hellberg
    Michael Chase

  2. Judie Stillman Says:

    I agree with Keith’s list and would add Laura Davis-Taylor.

  3. Wendy Bosley Says:

    Ditto Keith and Judie’s list -and add Steve Nesbit, Adrian J. Cotterill, Dave Haynes, Dave Nixon and Jeff Grantz. Priceless, it is now a party.

    But Adrian, in the theme of your trade mark wit, and your brand’ishing flavorful flair – I would have expected the premise of this article from you to be: “Who would we pay to stop talking” …….

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