CEDIA® Business Xchange: The View from the “Regulars,” Part 1

Ed Wenck
Mar 07, 2018

Photo ©Visit Phoenix

A number of CEDIA members have made the annual Business Xchange a “must-attend.” Here are some reasons why.

JJ Canon, one of the brains behind a Houston firm called Digital Delight, recalls a takeaway from the 2016 edition of the CEDIA Business Xchange:

“The tactic that stands out — and the one that we use the most — is the idea of ‘brown shorting.’”

Excuse me?

The story goes that once upon a time, Southwest Airlines had something of a personality test for potential pilots. If you applied to fly, you and a host of other applicants were handed a pair of khaki shorts. You were welcome to put them on — and if you didn’t, you didn’t make Southwest Airlines’ first cut.

The idea was about hiring for attitude. The fliers who were willing to dress down fit the Southwest profile were moved forward in the interview process.

The example, of course, was a setup at that particular Xchange for a larger conversation about hiring the right people: “Asking probing questions rather than leading questions,” as Canon sums up. “And learning how to not talk, to listen — I realized that in hopes of finding the right person, I was just leading them into what I wanted to hear.” The session at that year’s Xchange changed Canon’s interview style, and as a result, led him to make better hires for his firm.

Scott Minneman, COO of Redi Systems, Inc., had a similar five-star review for that presentation. “I totally revamped our hiring process here,” he recalls. “The people that we select to bring into our organization — that quality has gone up tremendously.”

“I felt like the Business Xchange was the best way to give him the best perspective on where the residential AV industry is coming from and where it’s heading."

Divide and Conquer

Minneman’s a regular at Business Xchange because the owner of Redi Systems, Sean Ruth, decided that it made sense to have two sets of ears and eyes in attendance. Plus, Minneman had a different background when he joined Ruth’s firm. Minneman was added to the mix when the company — based in the small community of Manhattan, Kansas — began adding IT services to its offerings. Minneman had that “managed service” background, according to Ruth, but needed an understanding of what CEDIA was all about: “I felt like the Business Xchange was the best way to give him the best perspective on where the residential AV industry is coming from and where it’s heading. From the experiences he’s had at Business Xchange, he’s really able to start connecting some dots.”

JJ Canon brings along a team member, too — Peter Friesen is Canon’s right-hand man, and Friesen’s attendance has multiple benefits, according to Canon: “For me, it helps me retain some of that information, because it's a lot to absorb in a very short time.
“But it also gets my main team member as fired up as I am. Because if I just go by myself, I'm the only one fired up — nobody else gets it. They don't understand the impact of that information that is dropped on us, the ideas, at Business Xchange.

“And so by bringing somebody that is high-ranking in my office with me, when we come back together as a team, it's just another voice that says ‘Now, we're going in this direction, and these are ideas that we were influenced by, and we think it's a direction that can benefit our business.’ That's why I find it so important to bring Peter along.”

This year’s CEDIA Business Xchange is slated for May 16-18 at the Camby in Phoenix, AZ, with a focus on “Design Thinking.” Find more details and register here.



CEDIA blog posts are intended to provide general information and should not be regarded as legal opinions or advice.

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