If you’ve been following gap intelligence’s blog for awhile now, you may have noticed a recurring topic that seems to pop up right around this time every year: gapCon. And for those of you who haven’t been perusing our musings over the last several years (shame on you!), you may be asking yourself “what’s a gapCon?” Well gapCon isn’t an object or a thing, it’s a state of mind. In all seriousness though, gapCon is an annual event (8 years and running thus far!) put on by gappers for gappers with the purpose of “promoting gapper growth through collaborative learning.” Internally here at gap, we consider gapCon the most valuable day of the year (and no, this is not an ode to the Andy Williams holiday classic), in the sense that we want every gapper to end the day having gained some knowledge, insights, or experiences that he or she would find valuable either personally or professionally.
And while we’re big on recapping gapCon here on the blog pages each year, one event that we hold a little closer to our collective vest is gap’s annual Kickoff Meeting, held at the beginning of each year. At the Kickoff, our leadership team reveals all the major goals, initiatives, and strategies gap intelligence will be working on and towards over the next 365 days and, quite frankly, a lot the material can be “for your eyes only”-type stuff that we just can’t go broadcasting on our blog. However, gapCon affords us a mid-year opportunity to revisit some of the themes discussed at the Kickoff and see what progress we’ve made, and at a time when it’s now okay to share some of those details with all you nice readers out there!
This year, a big announcement at the Kickoff was the reveal of a refreshed company purpose, or “why” as we here at gap like to call it. In a cultivation culture such as gap’s, everything we do is purpose driven, so it’s inherently important for our “why” to measure up. And while our previous “why” of being a values-led company still holds true (trust me, we absolutely are), it was more of a declaration of who we are than a purpose for what we do. So with that, our new “why” was unveiled… Do Great: For Each Other, Our Clients, and Our Community. Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
Welcome to the GREATEST Show on Earth!
So it was only natural for the 8th annual gapCon planning committee (of which I am a proud member) to piggyback on the “Do Great” theme for this year’s event, and put together an agenda focused on what we’re already doing and can continue to do that’s great for each other, our clients, and our community. Our goal was for the whole day to revolve around the concept of greatness, so for the second year in a row, we hosted gapCon at a great little local spot in the Pacific Beach neighborhood of San Diego, aptly named The Local Pacific Beach. They’ve got BOMB tacos, by the way. Gappers were greeted with a musical playlist featuring all the songs they voted on as the greatest ever in the weeks leading up to gapCon. We also encouraged gappers to come dressed in G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) attire, which was basically anything they felt represented greatness in any form. As expected there were lots of team jerseys, college gear, and band t-shirts, but our product development team opted to take the whole G.O.A.T. acronym quite literally instead:
…For Each Other
As mentioned, it was important for our agenda to include content that touched upon all three groups gap intelligence is focused on doing great for, starting with each other. So we kicked off gapCon with gap’s own Michael Bousquet presenting on an exciting new service platform we are looking to launch in the coming months. Now remember earlier in this blog when I was saying that some things discussed at the annual Kickoff event are a little more hush-hush? Well this is one of those things, but it’s also still in development so I can’t say a whole lot about it. More information is coming soon!
What Michael was able to present on, however, is how the new platform works and the progress that has been made so far throughout the development and testing process. Very exciting stuff! And while this new service offering will without question help us do great for our clients, it definitely showcases how we do great for each other as well given that one small, dedicated team has been working so hard on building and testing this system out so that the end product will undoubtedly be an awesome new arc of growth for all of gap intelligence! One thing that I can divulge is that up until this point, we’d internally been referring to the new platform as “Mr. Pickle” (don’t ask, I don’t know), but Michael closed-out his presentation by revealing what its new, official name will be moving forward to a rousing ovation. Again, I cannot disclose what that name is, but here’s a little hint… Just remember that gap’s got your back!!
Another way we flexed our do-great-for-each-other muscles was a little less conventional. Each day, gappers can do great for each other by helping to provide one another with the tools and resources to grow professionally. However, we realize that professional growth can oftentimes require people to step outside of their comfort zones, think on the fly, and fail in front of others, so what better way to put all three into practice than, wait for it… improv games! Throughout the day, gapCon committee members Dustin (who’s also a phenomenal MC, I might add) and Calvin led the rest of the group in a series of fun and interactive improv games. And although most people were initially reluctant to participate (there may or may not have been cash incentives involved), by the end of the day virtually everyone had taken part in at least one of the games. And I’m sure those who didn’t still got a kick out of seeing our CEO Gary and COO Chris get abducted by aliens.
…For Our Clients
Doing great for our clients is something that comes pretty naturally here at gap intelligence. We pride ourselves on our “white glove” service, and the personal relationships we create with our customers. They’re among the many things that set us apart from the other research firms out there. However, sometimes it’s nice to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth, and reaffirm the fact that the hard work we’re doing every day is indeed providing value and making a difference.
So for the “doing great for our clients” segment of this year’s gapCon, we flew one of our valued longtime clients out to sunny San Diego to sit with our own resident rainmaker Tom Young and engage in an interview-style conversation about his experiences with gap’s services and the benefits they provide. And although I’m withholding his name and company to protect his identity, I can say that “Client X” did not disappoint! He waxed poetic about how critical gap intelligence’s data is to his decision-making processes, and how the relationships he has formed at gap only reinforce his trust in our products and services.
Additionally, Client X was able to share a ton of really interesting insights and trends he is seeing in the market, which helped all of us gain more context and understanding of the use case scenarios when our data comes in super handy. He was also extremely engaging and downright funny, so that always helps! What I really appreciated about the Client X interview, however, was how it helped to “humanize” the client experience. I think the thought of working with high-level clients at billion dollar companies and knowing that our services are helping drive the decisions they make can oftentimes be a little intimidating, but at the end of the day they’re just people doing their jobs like us. And the testimonials Client X provided reminded us gappers that we’re doing an awesome job, so there’s really nothing to fear when it comes to doing great for our clients… We’re already doing it!
…For Our Community
Our final (and keynote) speaker for the day was Ron Wangerin, CFO & COO at a locally-based company called Classy. Classy is in the business of providing online fundraising platforms and tools for social impact organizations. Over the course of just 7 years, Classy has worked with over 4,000 charitable organizations to create online presences and management systems for their fundraising campaigns. So needless to say, we thought Ron would be the perfect person to pontificate to us about what it takes to do great for our community. Fun fact about Ron, he was also instrumental in us reaching our total fundraising goal of $60,000 at this year’s Drives for Rides charity golf tournament. What can I say? The man knows about giving.
One thing that was really cool about Ron as a presenter was that about a month before gapCon, he actually paid a visit to the gap intelligence offices just to learn more about us as an organization and work culture, and to personally observe our actions and surroundings. Then shortly thereafter, he and our CEO Gary also met up to have a face-to-face chat about gap’s history and such. Ron basically wanted to learn more about us as an organization so that he could tailor his presentation around what we’re doing right, and what we can continue to do in our efforts to serve the community.
Ron was able to provide us with some societal context on historical trends in community service, and outline the steps necessary to get involved not only for the sake of serving, but for doing so with purpose. He also illustrated why there is such a need for giving back and gave us examples of some outside organizations that are doing a great job at it. Then came the grand finale, one final slide in his deck that would tell us exactly what we need to do in order to do great for our community. And I think I speak for all of gap intelligence when I say how pleased I was to see the two words that appeared on that last slide: Be gappers! It was essentially Ron’s way of saying that by his observations, we are doing a fantastic job of giving back and to just keep it up! And coming from a man who knows a lot about giving, that was a big deal, and a great, warm-and-fuzzy way to wrap up the day.
So in short, I’d say that the 8th annual gapCon was a great success! The most valuable day of the year lived up to its billing, showing us all how our “why” of doing great for each other, our clients, and our community is something that we’re living and breathing every day. I want to give another special thank you to all of our awesome guest speakers, and a big shoutout to the gapCon committee for making this year’s event such an outstanding one. I’m looking forward to going at it again in 2019, when we’ll undoubtedly be doing fine at gapCon #9!
Do you have what it takes to be a gapper? Head over the careers section at gapintelligence.com to learn more about open positions. Find more info the bottom of our about page.