Meet the 2017 ABI conference keynote speakers

March 10, 2017 | Industry leaders flying under the radar Emily Schettler, Iowa Association of Business and Industry,

Robert Richman, an expert culture strategist who helped harness the winning employee culture at Zappos, will headline the list of keynote speakers at the 2017 Taking Care of Business Conference.

Richman was the co-creator of Zappos Insights, an innovative program focused on educating companies on the secrets behind Zappos’ amazing employee culture. He has gone on to teach culture in person at companies like Google, Toyota and Eli Lilly and has pioneered a number of innovative techniques to build culture, such as bringing improv comedy into the workplace.

“We all know in our own businesses that culture really does define whether or not we win or lose,” said Lori Schaefer-Weaton, ABI chair and president of Agri-Industrial Plastics during an event announcing the speakers in Dubuque. “It’s a huge part of what we drive as leaders, and I’m really excited for the insight that Mr. Richman will be able to provide.”

The second keynote speech will come from Tommy Spaulding, who has been teaching heart-led leadership and the art of developing successful, authentic and lasting relationships that build businesses and brand loyalty for more than 20 years. Spaulding’s message on heart-led leadership ties directly into an emphasis of this year’s conference on giving back.

Spaulding is the founder and president of Spaulding Companies, a leadership development, speaking, training and executive coaching firm in Denver, Colo. His books, “It’s Not Just Who You Know: Transform Your Life (and Your Organization) by Turning Colleagues and Contacts into Lasting, Genuine Relationships” and “The Heart-Led Leader” have both been national best-sellers.

Dr. Bill Withers will provide an Iowa and ABI connection as our third general session speaker. Withers is a professor and leadership fellow at Wartburg College in Waverly. In addition, he was instrumental in the development of the ABI Foundation’s Leadership Iowa University program and has spoken to numerous ABI Foundation program participants.

Withers has more than two decades of management and leadership experience in both business and education, and his research has been presented multiple times at the International Conference on Business in Honolulu.

When Schaefer-Weaton heard Withers speak in 2016, she knew he needed to take part in the ABI conference.

“He moved me and my team, and I think he’s going to do a great job of tying the components of this conference together and help bring us back to our Iowa roots,” she said.