The North American Leadership Conference’s second day continued where it’s first left off, with a lineup of insightful commentary from distinguished speakers and numerous opportunities for attendees to network and connect.

Tuesday Rundown

Tuesday’s schedule delivered a range of subjects and speakers that expanded attendees’ thinking on several business strategies and trends.

NALC’s second day began with an opening session from Mark Blyth, William R. Rhodes professor of international economics and professor of political science, and director of the William R. Rhodes Center for International Economics and Finance at Brown University. That lengthy job title was reflected in the level of detail and vision he shared on the “New Normal” of 2023, the forces and factors that are shaping the world today and into the coming years.

A focus on the details continued into Tuesday’s second session, presented by Scott Berinato, senior editor at the Harvard Business Review. Berinato spoke on telling stories with data and information design, and on how the way information is presented can change what it says and how it’s used and interpreted.

Berinato returned to the stage later in the day with PPAI Media Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Josh Ellis to share his insights on the importance of telling stories with data, and how these concepts apply to industry initiatives like PPAI 100.

Another morning speaker, Jessica Summers, strategic policy director at the Small Business Legislative Council, gave audience members an update on a range from of regulatory issues surrounding employment law, including the impending end of non-compete clauses.

After lunch, a panel discussion brought together Isaac Stone Fish, founder and CEO of Strategy Risks and one of Monday’s speakers; Jo-An Lantz, MAS, president and CEO of Geiger; Shelly Han, chief of staff and director of engagement at the Fair Labor Association; and Dawn Olds, MAS, senior vice president of corporate communications and DEI at HALO, and PPAI immediate past board chair, to examine strategic considerations of the global market, and meeting the needs of domestic and international trading partners.

Tuesday’s final session, and the final session of the 2023 NALC, was delivered by Chris Anderson, CEO of HPG and PPAI board member. He spoke on his experience with private equity and the lessons he’s learned that can be applied to any business.

The Attendee Experience

The industry professionals attending NALC came away impressed by what the event delivered.

“It’s been a great event,” says Suzanne Worwood, senior vice president, merchandising and supply chain, at distributor 4imprint. “Good content, interesting speakers, and it’s interesting to see PPAI 100 being unveiled.”

Scott Nussinow, executive vice president at industry service provider Artwork Services, concurs, saying, “I thought it was wonderful. After an absence of a long time, last year was great, and this year was an explosion over last year.”

NALC has historically been a premiere networking event for the promo industry, and 2023 was no exception. With shared breakfasts and lunches, dine-around groups and a schedule liberally peppered with networking breaks, attendees had numerous opportunities to connect with their peers.

“Networking was really good,” says Nussinow. “We’re all in a tightly confined space. It’s an opportunity to sit and meet with different people. I make it a point to try and move around to introduce myself and take myself out of my usual comfort zone.”

Worwood ranks the conference’s networking as a definite positive. She says, “It gives you a venue to catch up with people you maybe haven’t seen face-to-face in a while. And to meet some new folks that your paths wouldn’t typically have crossed.

“I definitely enjoyed the dine-arounds, I think that’s a good format to get us all talking to each other.”

NALC’s subject matter also resonated. The conference’s focus on data, supply chains and other issues met audience members’ needs.

“Being a supply chain person, Isaac’s session stood out; what’s coming on, and sharing and talking about what’s going on from a global basis,” says Worwood. “And maybe seeing some of the attendees who work less in that space, and hearing about it from folks we respect.”

Nussinow says, “Of course, Isaac yesterday scared the hell out of me. I got a chance to speak with him after the presentation, which was really enjoyable. And this morning Mark was almost like a point/counterpoint. An astonishing speaker and a great way to wake up.

“I think the takeaway was not either one individually, but an amalgam of them and others to create more of an informational experience.”

A Little Help From Our Friends

An event like NALC, at the level of NALC, would not be possible without the support of industry suppliers, at every level. Platinum sponsors for the event were 4imprint and Artwork Services. Attendee gifts were also provided by industry suppliers, including:

Food: Chocolate Almonds & Fancy Cashews, Maple Ridge Farms
Headwear: Premium Low Profile Trucker Cap, Outdoor Cap
Drinkware: Contigo Ashland Chill 2.0, ETS Express
Apparel: tentree Space Dye Zip Hoodie, PCNA
Bag: Haiden Kollection Bergen Pack, HPG
Journal: Two-Tone Journal with Leather Closure, Koozie Group
Pen: Souvenir Path Pen, Koozie Group