The ICSC Blog

July 2, 2014

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Retailers That Make Summer Pop

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Early summer days in New York are bustling as ever. The season is new and everyone is abuzz, enjoying the warm weather outside. For those in the retail industry, this time of the year is perfect for exploring new marketing techniques and launching campaigns that take advantage of the cheerful attitude associated with the summer months. For this reason, it is not surprising that many retailers have realized the value in setting up temporary store locations know as pop-ups.

The Kellogg’s Recharge Bar pop-up shop opened on June 24, 2014, drawing passersby in for the rest of the week with free customizable bowls of cereal. What kept people in the bar after they finished their breakfast were all the interactive, high-tech activities like photo booth karaoke and an app that makes customers look like the star of the cereal boxes. Customers who took to Twitter and Facebook telling their followers about the Recharge Bar won t-shirts if they used the hashtag #CerealAndMilk. Performers like The Roots and dancer Derek Hough were also there to add to the excitement and keep people enthusiastic about the Kellogg’s pop-up.

The pop-up shop concept seems to be successful for food retailers, often opening for short amounts of time and finding plenty of success. UrbanSpace coordinated Madison Square Eats during the month of May and Broadway Bites, which will be open until August 1st. These pop-up markets feature over 25 different retailers with foods from all over the world and tastes for every palate. Stand-alone pop-up shops are successful as well; Cracker Jack had a one-day pop-up location in Herald Square on June 26, and Talenti opened a pop-up shop for its gelato in Bryant Park on June 18. Other pop-up restaurants in the city this summer include Mission Chinese, Eureka, Van Leeuwen ice cream, and more.

Clothing/shoe retailers Everlane, Transience, BucketFeet, Le Moynat have also been popping up around the city and will remain in business for various durations through this summer. The only downside to these fun shops is that you might miss them if you aren’t paying attention! One of the best ways to find pop-up shops in New York is to keep your eyes peeled while walking around the city. Be sure to look for pop ups in your neighborhood this summer.

June 27, 2014

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The ICSC Foundation Diversity Reception at RECon

David LaRue, Gina Love, Charmaine Brown, & Mary Anne Gilmartin

David LaRue, Gina Love, Charmaine Brown, & Mary Anne Gilmartin

This year’s Diversity Reception was a great success at RECon! There were over 300 people who enjoyed the reception with drinks and hors d’oeuvre while mingling with new and old contacts that could share their experiences and views regarding diversity in the real estate and retail communities.  You can find pictures of the event here:

All sponsorships and donations went to the new diversity scholarships that the ICSC Foundation created.  The Love Scholarship for Diversity and the Retail Real Estate Diversity Scholarship. Both are being established to provide tuition assistance to deserving students.  Check back later this fall for more details.

June 25, 2014

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Check Out Retailer Doughnuttery

It is no question that doughnuts are a classic American dessert. While you can find full sized doughnuts almost anywhere, mini doughnuts are becoming an increasingly popular new trend. Miniature, handmade, artisan-crafted doughnuts are exactly what you will find at Doughnuttery, located in the Chelsea Market.

Though the doughnuts are miniscule in size, they are not doughnut holes, but rather a shrunken down micro version of the classic doughnuts Americans have known and loved for years. Doughnuttery specializes in this craft, making all its doughnuts fresh and decorating them on site with over 26 sugars and 5 dipping sauces. Classic flavors like vanilla glazed, powdered sugar and cinnamon sugar are sure to please, while those looking to try something less traditional will be satisfied with quirky flavors like PB&J, Mistletoe (gingerbread, cranberry, sage), and Cheesy Poof (cheddar cheese, corn, jalapeno).

Doughnuttery recently popped up in Madison Square Eats, and is planning to expand soon. While owner Evan Feldman appreciates that Doughnuttery thrives in a nontraditional retail market environment, he is open to exploring all kinds of locations for Doughnuttery’s next locations. The good news is that doughnut machines are efficient and portable, perhaps occupying less space than the pastel-colored sugar jars lining the shelves and counters. This simplifies Doughnuttery’s space criteria, leaving plenty of options open for expansion in the future.

Doughnuttery can be found in the Chelsea Market, or online at its official website.

June 24, 2014

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Using Effective Communication to Help Retain Tenants


By: Daniel Wagstaff,

Last week we sat down with Daniel Wagstaff, a communications industry executive, for a short Q&A session about the importance of effective communication in the landlord-tenant relationship that Shopping Center operators and property managers know so well. His answers provide some insight into what operators and managers are currently doing to strengthen their tenant communication strategy.

ICSC:   To get this discussion started, lets talk for a minute about technology. How have communications changed with today’s technological advances?

Daniel: Immensely. As recently as twenty years ago before the explosion of the internet, communications were much slower. We had to seek out information and if we were using some sort of “technological” communications device we had to be within reach of an electrical outlet. Now being connected 100% of the time is standard and we all expect information to come to us. How we communicate has changed, but no matter the medium, the components to communicating effectively have stayed the same.

ICSC:   How so?

Daniel: There are four parts to effective communication that are timeless. First, you need something of value to say (not just anything, but something valuable). Second, the information needs to be timely (finding out on Tuesday that the mall closed early on Monday is useless information). Third, you need to make sure you have a reliable way of sending information (this is the “how” that had drastically changed in modern times). Lastly, you need to listen. Effective communication has to be two-way.

ICSC:   Okay, that seems pretty straight forward. Are Shopping Centers out there today doing a good job at communicating effectively to their tenants?

Daniel: That’s a great question. Working directly with many owners and operators I get to see a wide range of situations.  The good news is that everyone is talking about this hot topic and that is leading to huge improvements. Today’s communication technology can be, and is being leveraged to help improve or strengthen communication plans, emergency action plans and also help Shopping Centers improve tangible and intangible business goals.  As more centers are jumping on board with these initiatives it will only be good for the industry as a whole.

ICSC:   What kind of technology are you talking about and what are the business goals that can be improved?

Daniel: The market currently provides a variety of Mass Notification Systems that are wonderful communication tools, many of which provide multi-channel messaging. They are web based and very user-friendly. These systems can help Shopping Centers increase operational efficiency, drive revenue and mitigate risk and they can increase tenant satisfaction and peace of mind. And a happy customer is a paying customer.

ICSC:   I think a mall tenant would definitely agree to that last statement! So, what are some ways that effective communications can help Shopping Centers to retain tenants?

Daniel: Being transparent is the best way to attract and retain tenants while increasing satisfaction. Let them know what they can expect from you. Tenants already assume that you will keep them informed in a timely manner and you need to live up to that expectation. Effective communication is not a one-way street. Tenants will also be more satisfied if you show them you want to listen. Collecting feedback—say, for example by distributing a satisfaction survey—shows your tenants you are interested in what they have to say and is a great way to increase lease renewals through satisfaction. Mass Notification Systems can help you accomplish both.

ICSC:   It sounds like Mass Notification Systems can add a lot of value. What are some best practices if a Shopping Center does decided to use a Mass Notification System?

Daniel: I am glad you asked that because there are countless ways to use a Mass Notification System to your advantage. First, a Mass Notification System’s reporting feature will become your friend. You can evaluate delivery rates and if messages are not getting through you can take the appropriate action like updating your contact list—which is another fundamental best practice. Next, offering a way for tenants to self-register is an easy way to enable them to update their contact information and preferences while reducing your administrative load. Also, be sure you identify and train multiple administrators on your chosen system in case of an absence or change in shifts. And lastly, plan ahead by creating message templates to save time during any critical situation. In an emergency, stay calm, evaluate the situation and use mass communication to your advantage—you don’t want to alarm tenants or create a panic, so pre-planned messages will be key.

ICSC:   Those are some great tips for Mass Notification System users. Before we end our chat today, do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Daniel: It’s about using communication technology to your advantage. Don’t use something simply because it’s trendy or new—use it to create synergy, use it to be more effective, use it to improve. A Mass Notification System, for example, should save you time not be a burden. Once you have decided to implement a system all it takes is a little prior planning to make sure you’re using it in the most effective way. Ultimately, whether a Shopping Center uses a Mass Notification System or another method, achieving effective communication is always going to be a great way to build a strong tenant-landlord relationship. My last thought is this: small changes in the way you communicate today can help you yield large increases in satisfaction, peace of mind and comfort for your current and future tenants.

ICSC:   Daniel, thank you for sitting down with us today to discuss tenant communications in the retail industry. We hope you’ll come back again to chat with us!

Daniel: It’s my pleasure and I certainly would love to come back another time for another discussion! Thank you!

June 23, 2014

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Professionalism & Success: Executive Women at ICSC share Wisdom with Summer Interns


By: Sara Marron

This week at ICSC, eight fresh faces mixed with some of the top female executives for a casual luncheon to discuss professionalism in the corporate world and tips for building a successful career. All of the interns for the summer 2014 were invited, and we agreed it was informative, and inspiring. I work in the Publishing Department with Patricia Montagni, Director of Publications, on professional books dealing with the industry’s major disciplines such as leasing, marketing, management, retailing, development, and design, and I’ve been learning from the moment I stepped off the elevator onto the forty-first floor.

Corporate settings are shifting from the male dominated, suit-and-tie wearing environments that exclude women from powerful positions. Instead, the board room was filled with confident women; college students sitting next to senior managers. We discussed LinkedIn and the “new resume” over pizza and cookies.  After a round of introductions, the executive women took a hold of the room, conducting and educating us with vivacity and zeal.

Janet Cortazzi, Staff Vice President of Human Resources and Office Services, emphatically urged the interns to mind their etiquette during the interview process. Post-interview thank you notes were debated around the table: do you send digitally, or via snail-mail? Some women agreed that the sentiment of the handwritten note is unique and sets a candidate apart, while others firmly stated that the immediacy of the email must be the prime concern. Cortazzi’s years in Human Resources have provided her laughable stories about the one-liner thank you notes and job inquiries that are simply dismissed.

Sarah Ritchie, Manager of Leadership Development, organized the luncheon in order to introduce the next generation of female businesswomen to the accomplished, poised, and powerful mentors that hold executive positions at ICSC. Ashley Smith, Strategic Initiatives Manager, has an impressive resume and a smooth, calm demeanor that extends to those around her. She admitted that after college and in her first entry level job, she still didn’t have a clear idea about what she wanted to do. Encouraging us to make connections, network, follow-up, and stay in touch with the professionals we meet was her advice for moving forward in the business world.

Leslie M. Fox added a similar sentiment to Smith’s advice about pursing a career path. Fox is the Director of Legislative Outreach and is responsible for developing awareness for policy relating to retail real estate through grassroots campaigns. In response to a question raised by Veronica Polanco, a Communications and Business major at Cornell University, about the disparate gap between male and female salary in the workplace, Fox said that, when she was young, she had the energy and the drive to put in “a 100 hour work week, no big deal.” After working a few entry level jobs, she said that the key to success and happiness in the workplace is not making a ton of money, but finding a job that you feel is the right fit for you socially, financially, and with your career goals. Balance is key, otherwise the money and the hours will quickly upset the quality of your work and attitude.

Sarah Malcom, Director of New Media, made another important contribution to the discussion. She pointed out from her experience at Macy’s that the workplace is all about perception: you are what people see. Stand up and take the big projects that no one wants. Offer to do the work when the company is in trouble, even when there seems to be no benefit to you; management will notice, and if they don’t, keep a list! Your projects list will come in handy at your yearly review. Montagni added that those who ask for more work and complete things efficiently are the ones most-likely to move up within the company.

Going into any interview, it’s important to keep yourself organized. There are three points to consider that can help you market the ‘you’ that will win over the HR department and convince them that you are passionate about the job, and perfect for it.

  1. Career Objective
  2. Your skill set (3 points)
  3. Personal Appeal

Have a clear, yet flexible or open-minded career-objective. Your skill set should be naturally woven into the conversation with the interviewer. But if you have a bad interviewer, Cortazzi pointed out, you may have to get them back on track by leading the conversation. Keep yourself organized and clear headed with your objective in mind. The personal appeal simply means: Let your personality come through. Rhonda Payne, Staff Vice President, Education Certification, said likability is crucial because no one wants to work with someone they dislike. The reverse is true as well. If you have a terrible interview experience, the company may not be a good fit for you.

The ICSC Ladies Luncheon was a huge success for all involved. A miniature NextGen event in itself, the time allowed for a positive exchange of ideas and experience.

New to the city, our interns this year are coming from homes and schools in a variety of states such as: New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan, and Arizona. The Summer 2014 Female Interns are: Gabby Groh, University of Michigan; Alexandra Bolhack; Vanderbilt University; Nicole Costa, Elon University; Elizabeth Hunziker, University of Gettysburg; Jessica Nossek, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Sara Marron, St. John’s University;  Veronica Polonca, Cornell University; Sara Sherwood, University of Philadelphia.

June 18, 2014

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Learn More About Expanding Retailer Toasted


This week’s featured retailer of the week is Toasted: Crafted Grilled Cheese & Burgers. Located in Winter Park, Florida, Toasted is a fast casual restaurant that has set itself apart from the crowd thanks to its “clever, not cheesy” concept. Specializing in grilled cheese sandwiches and burgers, Toasted has amassed a loyal following since its opening in February 2013 and has become the cornerstone for crafted sandwiches in Central Florida.

Owner Jeffery Yarmuth attributes Toasted’s success to its specialized approach to a classic American sandwich. “Everyone can relate to grilled cheese. It is a nostalgic food embedded in the hearts of Americans across generations,” he says.

Southern ComfortFor a specialized restaurant like Toasted, simplicity is key to creating an impressive menu. With only two entrée categories, chefs can focus on preparing sandwiches and burgers with a wide variety of ingredients and flavors that satisfy all different preferences. Grilled cheese “purists” can find classics like “The 101,” (grilled cheese and tomato), while those with a more adventurous palate might prefer the “Fig & Goat” sandwich or the “Southern Comfort” burger.

While many customers are drawn to the familiarity and comfort of the grilled cheese themed restaurant, what keeps them coming back is Toasted’s dedication to consciousness that goes beyond its exclusive use of local ingredients. Toasted’s Vegan and Gluten-Free menu options enable customers with dietary restrictions to enjoy previously off-limit foods like cheese and bread. Furthermore, all ingredients are made on-site, including Toasted’s vegan cheese. This level of attention to quality reflects the emphasis on the customer’s experience that lies at the heart of the restaurant.

SONY DSCIn addition to its unique decorations like the “Periodic Table of Cheese,” 3-D “Cheese Wall,” and cheese-grater light fixtures, Toasted has utilized social media and technology to create a convenient, user-friendly experience for its customers. Patrons can connect through Toasted’s official website, as well as its Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. The restaurant’s presence on social media has made it easy to engage frequently with its customers. “We enjoy communicating with them about their interests, not just about grilled cheeses,” Yarmuth says. The next step for Toasted in its efforts to retain a technological edge? Creating a custom app that will feature both “ordering and loyalty program capabilities,” which will further enhance the aspect of convenience for its loyal followers.

Yarmuth says they are eager to expand elsewhere in the Central Florida area and beyond, and would be open to the possibility of a new store in a mall location, provided it would be able to accommodate the store’s space criteria (1700 – 2200 square feet). Furthermore, Yarmuth explains that he likes that the store is aligned with adjacencies like Whole Foods, who not only appreciates the same care for quality food, but also attracts food-minded customers to the area throughout the day. To learn more about Toasted, check out their website.

June 6, 2014

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Albert Sussman International Community Support Award winner


The ICSC Foundation recently named the most #MindfulMall for 2014. Congratulations to the Albert Sussman International Community Support Award winner, Arabian Centres, who launched the “Fighting Breast Cancer” campaign across all twelve of their shopping centers in Saudi Arabia. The goal was to raise awareness of the importance of early detection, to provide education, support women who are currently fighting the disease, and provide access to early screening centers.

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Saudi Arabia, but it remains a taboo. Arabian Centres wished to end the lethal taboo.  They set up areas for women to undergo exanimations right in the middle of the shopping centers—a bold move to benefit their customers.

The campaign partnered with the Zahra Breast Cancer Association who will receive a total $15,000 USD from the ICSC Foundation. Arabian Centres was honored at RECon for their outstanding campaign.

To give your shopping center a chance to win the 2015 Albert Sussman Community Support Award, apply for one of the regional competitions. The Canadian Community Support Award application is now open!  Applications close on June 20 so don’t waste a minute. The Middle East and Asia Pacific regional competitions will open later this month.

June 4, 2014

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Understanding Today’s Mass Notification Systems: Why You Need One


By: Daniel Wagstaff,

The odds are that your head of security can’t nail Detroit Rock City on Guitar Hero. And the odds are even greater that your Shopping Center will never experience a terrorist takeover. But it still begs the question, what if Paul Blart (you remember Paul from 2009’s comedy Mall Cop) had a Mass Notification System? Or even better still, what if Paul Blart was signed up to receive notifications from the Shopping Center where he worked? Perhaps all of the ensuing comedy in the movie could have been avoided. Certainly this would have made movie critics happy!

Over the past decade, the communications industry has exploded with new technology that can help businesses communicate effectively. Obviously, not all Shopping Centers have the luxury of a security officer as light on his feet and as adept at fighting crime as Paul Blart, but Shopping Centers can equip themselves with Mass Notification Systems to help improve overall communication plans, increase awareness during an emergency and improve business goals.

If you select the right one, a Mass Notification System (let’s call them MNSs from here on out) can be fabulously easy to use. If you know how to get on the internet and how to click a mouse you pretty much already know how to use one. MNSs are already used in higher education, healthcare and transportation and by local governments. They provide numerous benefits and are a perfect fit for Shopping Centers that have a multi-tenant workforce.

For all of us, the ability to communicate quickly is critical—especially during an emergency. People expect to be notified when important info is available these days. I don’t know about you, but my smartphone alerts me about breaking news, sports scores, movie times… anything I want it to actually. Incorporating widely used platforms—like smartphones—into your Shopping Center’s communication strategy is a no brainer in today’s environment. Utilizing a MNS is the perfect way to do so.

Just like you, I know that often it seems like there is never enough time in the day. And when something doesn’t go as planned or an urgent situation develops your tenant’s satisfaction and peace of mind will decline when they feel uninformed.

Let me say that again. Your tenant’s satisfaction and peace of mind will decline. Satisfaction and peace of mind are some of those intangible benefits of a MNS. Have you ever left your smartphone at home for the day? How did you feel? I know I can’t stand it. I feel disconnected and like I am missing out on everything. Well, a MNS can help reassure your tenants that they won’t miss out on anything.

Not to be so doom and gloomy, but do you know the most likely emergencies that could occur at your Shopping Center? Where are you vulnerable? What would you do if something happened right now? Planning is the key to either avoiding these situations or being prepared to react effectively. A key component in managing a crisis is to ensure effective communication. In my opinion, a MNS should be an integral part of your emergency action plan’s communication efforts when a crisis occurs.

Safety aside, how do you pump out day-to-day communications to your tenants? How you communicate even routine information can impact your tenant satisfaction and overall reputation. Once again, tenants want to be kept informed.  It is inevitable that things won’t always go as planned, just ask Paul Blart, but what helps you stand apart is how you react when things do go wrong.

You get it. A MNS can help you communicate effectively both during an emergency and on a day-to-day basis. So, how can it make your life easier as a landlord or property manager?  MNSs can help your Shopping Center increase its operational efficiency, drive revenue and mitigate risk. Whoa! Tell you more? Okay. Self-registration portals reduce administrative load, increasing tenant satisfaction and peace of mind, which can help encourage lease renewals. Additionally sending messages via multiple channels reduces safety risks by increasing the readership of messages that contain critical information. Just a few examples of how MNSs are good for business.

Just like any product out there, knowing which one is right for you and your Shopping Center depends on a variety of factors like budget constraints and your communication priorities. Take a minute to think about your Shopping Center’s specific priorities. Write them down. Discuss them with colleagues.

It shouldn’t take you too long to develop a usage plan for a MNS because they are so relevant in today’s digital and information era. I just scraped the surface on why I think a Mass Notification System is an ideal communication tool for Shopping Centers. The great thing about MNSs is they can be used in countless ways to keep communications flowing and keep your tenants happy.

June 3, 2014

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Industry Snapshot – June 3

The ICSC Industry Snapshot is a bi-weekly report presented as an info-graphic; produced by ICSC’s Communications department. This dashboard presents an overview of key industry metrics in an easy to follow and visually pleasing format, so that the user can quickly navigate it and take away a high-level view of industry performance. Furthermore, the dashboard is presented in a mobile format so that the user can easily access it on their smartphone or tablet. Each installment of the snapshot features; U.S Shopping Center sales, Weekly U.S. Chain Store Sales, Shopping Center NOI by Area, the latest ICSC Shopping Center Executive Survey, CMBS Delinquency Rates, U.S. Chain-Store Sales by Segment, U.S. Shopping Center NOI by Type, U.S. Shopping Center Jobs, and other Shopping Center Facts.

June 3, 2014

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Q&A With MOCIAL Speaker Erik Qualman

Tell us about yourself….
Called a Digital Dale Carnegie, Erik Qualman is the author of Socialnomics. Socialnomics made Amazon’s #1 Best Selling List for the US, Japan, UK, Canada, Portugal, Italy, China, Korea and Germany. His book Digital Leader helped him be voted the 2nd “Most Likeable Author in the World” behind Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. What Happens in Vegas Stays on YouTube is his 2014 release and it is already being adopted by the top universities and global brands.

Qualman has performed in 42 countries with: Coach, Chase, Sony PlayStation, National Restaurant Association, IBM, Facebook, SCG Thailand,ADP, Starbucks, M&M/Mars, National Retail Federation, Cartier, Bertelsmann, Raytheon, Chrysler, Small Business League, Montblanc, Dairy & Deli Association,TEDx, Polo, UGG, Nokia, Google,AutoTrader and others. Qualman gave the commencement address at the McCombs Business School (University of Texas).

He has had the fortune to share the stage with: Al Gore, Julie Andrews, Magic Johnson, Malcolm Gladwell, Bill O’Reilly, Jeff Bezos, Howard Schultz, Brett Favre,Tony Hawk, Sarah Palin, Jose Socrates, Alan Mulally, and many others of note.

He is listed as a Top 50 MBA Professor and is no stranger to the executive suite, having served as the Head of Marketing at Travelzoo (TZOO); today he sits on several company boards.Yet, he may be best known for writing and producing the world’s most watched social media video. His work has been highlighted on 60 Minutes, The New York Times, WSJ, Mashable, USA Today, ABC News, Financial Times,
Forbes, Fortune, CBS News, and The Huffington Post. He also achieved the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest continuous podcast.

Socialnomics was a finalist for the “Book of the Year” and, is ranked as a Top 10 Blog (PC Magazine). Fast Company lists Professor Qualman as a Top 100 Digital Influencer. He made Forbes Top 50 Power Influencers list. Qualman was Academic All-Big Ten in basketball at Michigan State University and been honored as the Michigan State University Alum of the Year.Qualman has an MBA from the McCombs School of Business.A proud husband and father, he lives with his wife and two daughters in Boston. With society’s increasing dependence on technology, what changes in marketing strategies has it made in last few years. Today the consumer is the most informed consumer in the history of the world. Word of Mouth is now on Digital Steroids and it will determine the success or failure of your business. Marketers role is more important than ever before.

What have been the benefits of incorporating digital marketing and mobile apps into your corporation?
We don’t have a choice on whether we do this the choice is how well we do it.

In what ways has the digital age revitalized your industry?
I no longer have to physically be in a specific location to do my job.

How important is consumer engagement? How do you bring attention to your brand through you social media channels/mobile apps?
Make a product that is worth talking about and consumers and clients will engage and be your best marketers and sales team.

What do you hope participants will gain by attending your MOCIAL session?
That success is a choice in this digital age but only if you know the new rules. I teach the new rules of Digital Leadership.

Is the increasing number of online shoppers a concern to you
If we don’t change out business model it’s a concern. On the other hand with change there are also huge opportunities if you look at the problem from an angle of opportunity.


For more information about MOCIAL check out the event website.