Before I get into the keynotes I attended, I just want to point out something I never saw or experienced at an IHRSA show before. IHRSA President and CEO Joe Moore got the audience to stand up and chant "We are IHRSA! We are IHRSA! We are IHRSA!" before Thursday's keynote. All of a sudden, I felt like I was in the middle of a campaign rally. I half expected Joe to go Howard Beale on us and encourage us to scream "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!" It's probably for the best that he didn't go there.
I did not get to hear Sally Hogshead, who spoke on Wednesday, nor Luke Williams, who spoke on Saturday, but I did attend the keynotes of Dan Heath and Gary Vaynerchuk. Both were extremely impressive.
Heath, the brother of former IHRSA keynote speaker Chip Heath, discussed how to make better choices in life and in work (as the title of his keynote suggested). Mainly, Heath talked about broadening your options to make a decision. He said the four "villains" of decision-making are narrow framing, confirmation bias, short-term emotion and overconfidence.
Heath also said we need to widen our options within a "WRAP" framework: Widen options, Reality testing, Attain distance before deciding and Prepare to be wrong.
"No one in life is going to tell you your baby is ugly," Heath said.
Heath told the story about the poor decision Quaker made in acquiring Snapple for $1.7 billion in the mid-1990s, only to sell it for $300 million two years later. Heath also gave a nice shout-out to our friend Christine Thalwitz and the folks at ACAC Fitness and Wellness Center for their ability to attract and convert doctor referrals into members, an example of breaking out from the narrow frame of decision-making.
"We need a process that we can trust," Heath said. "We will never be perfect. But we can be better."
I got a tip about the Vaynerchuk keynote from a former colleague who heard him speak in a sales meeting not long ago. Vaynerchuk is pretty unabashed in using bad language, I was told. I had to see how that would fly with the IHRSA crowd.
As it turns out, Vaynerchuk, by my count, uttered only a couple of s-bombs, one of which came out as "sh…crap."
"I was told not to cuss," Vaynerchuk said toward the end of his address, right after he warned attendees "the s---'s about to hit the fan" in terms of social media and communication.
Vaynerchuk was all about one-liners, but this was no comedy routine. It's almost as if his speech was made for Twitter, where he has more than one million followers. Sarah Kooperman and I (yes, we reprised our role of attending an IHRSA keynote session together) were busily typing down his best lines.
I also tried to post as many great quotes from Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) on Twitter as I could during the address. Referring to how much money he made as a 14-year-old entrepreneur in the baseball card business, he said, "If you've got $30,000 under your bed at 14 years old and you're not selling weed, you're doing a good job."
Other quotes from Gary Vee:
"This room (meaning health club operators) is marketing like it's 2005, not like it's 2014."
"Every single club is a media company first."
"Instagram is the new Facebook."
"We're living through the second industrial revolution."
When referring to the different ways we communicate with each other through social media, he said, "Communication in our society has been fundamentally disrupted." He later added, "We're living in the explosion of word-of-mouth." And one more good quote: "Innovation doesn't give a crap about you and me."
As I mentioned on Twitter, this keynote may have been the most important address at IHRSA that I've heard in my years coming to the show. Vaynerchuk ended his address by hoping club operators would go back to their clubs and start a new social media channel that would improve their business. And he hoped to hear from them when they did.
"I'm looking forward to that email," he said.