Keynote Speaker - Ken Schmidt

Brand Visionary and Former Communications Strategist for Harley-Davidson Motor Company Sponsored by Agent Review One   of   the   most   in-demand   speakers   and   communications   consultants in    America,    Ken    Schmidt    has    lived    a    life    that    most    can    only    dream about.   He   has   toured   the   world   on   two   wheels,   met   with   presidents   and royalty,   partied   with   movie   and   music   legends,   and   appeared   numerous times   on   network   news.   As   the   former   director   of   communications   for Harley-Davidson   Motor   Company,   he   played   an   active   role   in   one   of   the most   celebrated   turnarounds   in   corporate   history   -   and   got   paid   to   ride motorcycles. The   longtime   motorcycle   enthusiast’s   formal   association   with   Harley- Davidson   began   in   1985.   As   a   specialist   in   corporate   positioning   and media   relations,   he   was   asked   to   work   with   the   then-struggling   Harley- Davidson   to   help   restore   the   company’s   image   and   create   demand   for its   motorcycles.   Within   a   few   short   years,   Harley-Davidson   became   one of   the   most   visible   and   frequently   reported-on   companies   in   the   world, while sales of its motorcycles rocketed upward. In   1990,   Schmidt   became   director   of   Harley-Davidson’s   corporate   and   financial   communications,   and   served   as   its   primary spokesperson   to   the   media   and   the   financial   communities.   He   appeared   numerous   times   on   network   news   programs   and was   frequently   called   upon   by   business   media   to   share   his   insights   on   non-traditional   communications   and   customer relations. Speaking engagements around the world soon followed. In   1997,   Schmidt   left   Harley-Davidson   to   take   an   ownership   position   with   a   highly   successful   Chicago-based   marketing   firm, VSA   Partners.   In   addition   to   Harley-Davidson,   VSA   serves   many   other   of   the   world’s   best-known   brands,   including   General Motors,   Coca-Cola,   IBM,   and   Campbell's   Soup.   In   July   1999,   he   sold   his   portion   of   VSA   to   start   his   own   business,   Ken   Schmidt Company, and slow down the pace of his life. Now,   Schmidt   is   a   frequent   speaker   to   business   groups   and   academic   communities   throughout   the   world.   Few   speakers generate   more   positive   word-of-mouth   and   referrals.   “I   love   to   startle   people   by   exposing   them   to   proven   ideas   and concepts   they’ve   never   imagined,”   he   said.   “Whether   I’m   talking   about   how   perfectly   average   people   can   do   extraordinary things   -   which   is   now   an   everyday   occurrence   at   Harley-Davidson   -   or   how   to   build   an   entirely   new   corporate   culture, rekindle   relationships   with   customers,   or   reach   out   to   new   ones   in   completely   untraditional   ways,   I’m   teaching   people   to throw conventional approaches out the window. I see opening hearts and minds as my life’s work.” Today,   Schmidt   shares   his   expertise   with   many   of   America’s   leading   brands,   but   happily   states   that   he   is   “semi-retired,” which   allows   him   to   pursue   his   other   passions.   He   calls   working   with   the   grandson   of   one   of   Harley-Davidson’s   founders   to create   the   book,   100   Years   of   Harley-Davidson,   one   of   the   greatest   highs   in   his   lifetime.   After   all   he   has   accomplished,   his philosophy   of   life   and   business   hasn’t   changed:   “Never   do   what’s   expected,   make   yourself   as   noticeably   different   as   possible, and have a lot more fun than you’re supposed to.” This year’s Keynote is Sponsored by: