Did you attend Argentum 2019? Vice President of Business Development for Argentum Brad Williams recaps the annual conference and reveals the results of a big study in this week’s episode.
Watch this episode here.
Lucas: Welcome to Bridge the Gap Podcast, the senior living podcast with Josh and Lucas. We are at the Argentum conference, San Antonio, getting our heads filled with a ton of thought leadership. We’ve got one of Argentum’s very own. We’ve got Brad Williams. He’s the Vice President of Business Development. Welcome, Brad.
Brad: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Josh: So awesome to have you with us. We’ve had the awesome opportunity, Lucas, to be here all week with these guys and we were just laughing a little bit. There’s been so much content, so much networking and education, fun. You name it, it’s happened here. So we’re all just a little mushy as we describe it right now with the just information overload. So thank you, Brad, for taking time with us here wrapping up the Argentum conference.
Brad: Mushy and happy right now.
Lucas: Exactly. Well I would say a huge success and we really do appreciate your hospitality. I think our listeners are going to be very grateful for the type of content that Bridge the Gap has been able to curate while we’re here from huge keynote speakers that you guys have brought in. You guys are doing amazing job. You can always know that when you go to the Argentum conference, there is going to be major thought leaders from both inside the business and outside of the business. Talk to us about that philosophy.
Brad: Yeah, I think when we think about the event we try to look at it from a micro-macro perspective and the macro being the keynotes, some of our main stage presentations, our CEO panels that we do. The outside the industry is probably the keynotes a lot of times and that CEO panels being more of the industry leadership type of approach but both being kind of being on that macro level.
And then when you look at the micro, it’s the breakout sessions, it’s the concurrent sessions whatever terminology you want to put to it, where you go a little bit deeper in certain areas, covering things that are important and the challenges within the industry. So there’s that and then of course, you know Josh was able to do one of our moderated discussions that we have. So we have a lot of these interactive peer-to-peer as well.
Lucas: Was is a Hive session?
Brad: We call it the Hive because it is the physical location. Yeah, our Hive sessions within there. So those are great and it’s a little less about the bigger macro thing. It’s more really about getting a few peers together and talking through some of your challenges and affirming that you’re both, you know, experiencing the same things and have the same challenges and of course sharing ideas and solutions.
Lucas: And such a unique thing that you did, Josh. We were there and we participated and you got to moderate an entire group of people that you didn’t know, didn’t know who was going to come and he was going to be there or what they’re going to say. What was that like?
Josh: I’m not sure what you would call what I did but I had fun and we had actually, you know I didn’t really know what to expect, didn’t know if it’s going to be a big crowd small crowd standing room only around this Hive? So I didn’t, I wasn’t at the other Hives at that time, but I know we had a great time. One of the great things about the one that I was facilitating is I had peers there but I also had like stakeholders they were not direct peers, but they were service providers, they were architects, they were technology companies. So our topic was emerging senior living companies and the different perspectives were just fascinating added to a lot of discussion. I was really encouraged that it was not a one-way conversation. I was a little worried about that but they, you know Brad, they were very engaged and so the Hive concept, that’s relatively new right?
Brad: Yeah, I think it’s kind of a playoff of we’ve had executive round tables for a number of years and it’s one of my favorite executive-level sort of opportunities and this was a way to sort of bring that same concept, you know for the greater, you know, attendee base, and just, you know, bring people together and let the sparks fly. You know, we don’t want it to be too structured. We want lay the topic out there and see what happens and to bring different sectors or bring different, I guess, job functions together and see where it goes. So it’s good to hear that. I hope to hear that more. You know, I wish I could go all these Hives because it’s interesting to me when you just walk in, you have a subject, you put a question or two on the table what happens from there? And I found that usually a question or two is all you need and it goes to the direction that the people in the room you want to take it.
Josh: Well, you know, I’ve been attending Argentum, formerly known by a different name years ago, and-
Brad: -you can say it. ALFA..
Josh: ALFA. Yes, I don’t want to go backwards on any of our branding.
Brad: It’s okay.
Josh: I’ve been attending for years and as I’ve worked my way through the industry in a lot of different positions, it’s always very relevant content and I love to see it evolve. So, as our businesses are evolving, as our industry is evolving, one of the cool things I’ve liked to see about Argentum is the intentionality to stay relevant in the way you’re communicating, the way you’re presenting the conference.
I was just commenting even to Lucas, we had a blast just entering the conference doors on the first day with a little swag because you had like upbeat music playing. You had the radio with the Fox Cast going right out there. So that was cool. So talk to us a little bit about framing this. How are you guys planning for the future and the intentionality that goes into these conferences?
Brad: I appreciate the question. I’m glad you noticed. So, you know, when you look at an event or a conference, people come for many reasons. We know there’s an education and the networking are two critical things and then, of course, the experience is kind of what we’re trying to wrap around it.
For me, it’s you know, we wanted a DJ in the in the lobby and we went out to our friends at Fox and they love the idea. They said we we we would love to be part of that experience and they kind of took it and ran with it and did an awesome job and that’s great for us. But it just sort of sets that tone right from when you walk in the door. You know, what’s that vibe?
You know, you just look at anywhere you go. If you walk in any retail store and if you walk in an Apple store, if you walk in wherever, there’s a certain vibe. There’s a certain, you know, thing you want to do there and it’s part of, I think, our changing culture as an organization and what we want to bring to the conference, you know. We want to have a personality too.
And that’s just one thing and there was all that, you know, you guys doing your podcast right there in our main lobby. That was great. I heard great things all week.
Brad: We had some friends at one day doing a lot of video testimonials. We had Sherpa doing a cafe and serving coffee. We had a number groups just really raise their hand and said, yeah we’re in. We kind of get that, look that’s what companies want as well- it’s their brand, it’s their name. So to put that experience together with them is always very beneficial for us. So it’s a very important element and we’re just really trying to elevate that part of it.
Josh: So Argentum 19, just a couple hours (and) it’ll be in the books. A lot of education still going on. But for our listeners that may hear this a few months from now and recording and listening to other recorded episodes, give us a little forecast. What can you tease us for Argentum 2020? Which, that sounds cool, right?
Brad: Yeah, Argentum 2020. I like that.
Josh: It will be in Tampa, right?
Brad: It will be in Tampa. Great city. I love Tampa.
Lucas: I love Tampa.
Brad: As far as a venue, it’s there at the convention center, which is a great venue. And, once again, one of the experience things, it’s the stuff that meeting geeks think about but it’s laid out in a really good way that just makes it easy for us and for the attendee to navigate. But we’re excited.
What will really happen, we have a new, believe or not. We’ve always had advice from our industry but we formalize that with a conference committee. Randy Richardson from Via’s is our chair this year. He’s brought together the committee members. They’re very passionate and really involved and it’s exciting. They’re really coming to us with some good ideas. But really, when we’re able to get them involved, just once again, we’re an association. We’re not out there every day working in the businesses that they have to manage and run and operate and dealing with the residents and trying to create those great experiences. So to have them as that sounding board and really move the conference where it needs to go, it’s critical.
So we actually will meet with them in May, late May, the whole conference committee team and start to sort of craft that. I think what you’ll see is the keynotes always appreciate it. We’ll still have sort of the, we call them keynotes, main stages, terminologies all over but we’ll have probably another four of those really big speakers that we bring in with that outside perspective.
And then the concurrents are always very popular. I think we’ll look at the highs and how do we do them? You know, just where’s the best fit? There’s always little tweaks. So I think we have the model and the formula right, it’s just enhancements and tweaks within there to really, you know, create that experience again.
But the Expo, that’s, you know, we’re already drawing that. So during today’s event, we added I think it was about 80 to 90 of the exhibitors renew their booths. So the floors actually already taking shape.
Josh: That’s great.
Brad: You have to kind of almost think about that 14 months out. So we’ve actually drawn into little places on the Expo where we will create experiences, you know, once again just to work people around the Expo, you know, once again, I’m a meeting geek, expo geek. You look at a grocery store when you walk him where to put the milk? Well, we want to put something good back here because you know, we want people to be able to get through the floor and see and discover the vendors and all the industry suppliers.
My philosophy is there is great education we can bring to the table, but if we can get those attendees to really recognize and see the industry suppliers out on the floor and the knowledge they have and go out and ask the right questions. I mean, there’s an education right there.
You go and you talk to five industry suppliers about their expertise, you’re walking away with some good ideas and some solutions you might want to consider. We hope you’ll consider.
Josh: Yeah. Well, it’s been awesome for us. We look forward to 2020 and we appreciate the collaboration and the hospitality that Argentum’s had to the podcast. I know our listeners appreciate that. What an awesome valuable content you guys have helped us create that spreads things to the masses. A lot of people that made me have never been to Argentum, hopefully it’ll spark them to want to attend in Tampa in 2020.
Brad: Yeah, absolutely. And for us, it’s the things we’re working on. So really the conference is going, we’re driven by our membership and they point us in the direction where the need is and so things we’re working on throughout the years really what is eventually showcased at the conference. So, you know, it’s always going to be a lot about workforce. You know, we’re all talking about it. You’ll see a lot of that education, you’ll see a lot of with memory care. Once again, the emergency preparedness resident safety is kind of are all-encompassing sort of terminology for that medication management is critical to us, fall prevention. Just you know, you go down the line and it’s the things as an association we’re really focused on making sure that we as an industry, that we know kind of what the industry position is right now and where do we need to be? And we feel like we’ve got to be the group that’s kind of leading that line and going, hey, we need to be right here. This is where we all need to be to make sure we just keep our industry sort of secure and then moving in the right direction. Keep it professionalized through a lot of our efforts.
Lucas: That’s excellent.
Josh: Well, and you know, we haven’t even talked about, we’ll do it another episode, because I know we’re all a little fried by this point of the day and the sessions, but I can’t wait to hear more about the quality standards and initiatives the Argentum leadership is attacking for our industry, the certifications and standardization of some things that’s such a- I heard a lot of that on the floor. So I think a lot of people are excited to be part of that and to see what comes out of that. That’s something that our industry definitely needs so maybe a follow-up episode with you guys?
Brad: Can I give you the one, the big announcement today? So we did announce, now I can’t and I don’t want to give you the numbers because I’ll just be vague. But senior living impact, we went out and had a study on what’s the economic impact, you know, direct and indirect and corporate social responsibility and charitable, you know impact on our on a statewide level as well as a national level. In those results, we have some preliminary results, and it’s basic quarter of a trillion dollars impact and that’s ahead of a hotel in hotel industry, auto manufacturing. So the point is we’ve got this data that we now got to go out and we’ve got to be the narrative, we as the industry, and we got to go out and make sure that our local businesses, our local regulators, everyone knows, hey look, this is the industry in this is what we do in this is what we bring. We’ve got to go ahead and shake that narrative, talk about it.
So that’s an exciting one for me this week, and that was just released this morning, but there’s there’s more on the website I won’t get too detailed.
Josh: Well, that’s super exciting and excellent for us. You know, we’re passionate and in love with our industry. We believe that there’s so many great stories to tell, such a great narrative. So, you know, our listeners are out their passionate about it as well. You’re obviously at the Argentum team passionate about it. So it’s awesome to see this collaboration taking place and exciting times ahead for senior living.
Lucas: Yeah a great energy, even though we may be a little bit tired from these days of activities, we should be, but the energy has been incredible. San Antonio has treated us very well. And I really look forward to coming back and participating 2020 in Tampa. It’s going to be a great event.
So, Brad, thank you for your time. Thank you for your hospitality and your support of Bridge the Gap.
Brad: Thank you guys. Thank you for your support and really telling the story of senior living. We do appreciate that.
Josh: Well, great job. Kudos to your team. Please pass the word. Great conference for 2019 Argentum.
Lucas: You got it. Major success is in the books. You can follow us at BTGvoice.com for all of our conference and industry events. And we’ll make sure to post about Argentum 2020 so you can read more about that. All the links and we’ll have a link to Brad on his LinkedIn page so you can connect with him if you have any questions. And thanks for listening to another great episode of Bridge the Gap.