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“You only need three guiding principles: show up, tell the truth and be on time.”
Brian Matt
Altitude, Inc.
Past Events
2011 APDF Exchange

APDF Annual Meeting + Exchange
Thursday, May 12 - Sunday, May 15
Hotel Vitale San Francisco



Exchange, APDF's premier annual event, delivers much more than a line-up of stellar speakers. Exchange is about transferring serious take-home value: productive and candid interaction among peers and colleagues, relevant real-life tools and immediately useful information.


As we climb out of the difficulties of the recent past, we are ready to re-examine how we run our firms, and to set our sights on efficiency and growth. Our line-up of prominent and engaging speakers includes:


Chris Miller + Ann Swanberg, LifePlays
We will add to the initial improv lessons shared at our New York Exchange with interactive exercises (Rubber Bicycle, Memory Lane and Montage...come and find out!) led by Chris Miller and Ann Swanberg. Chris and Ann have performed on stages throughout California, and have also worked with companies including Google, Genentech, Microsoft, Whole Foods and IDEO. Then, our APDF client and member panel (Jon Mann, Prarthana Panchal, Artefact, Portigal Consulting, Teague) will share real-world examples of how they have applied improv techniques to improve their brainstorming efforts.


Hazel Henderson, President, Ethical Markets
Dr. Hazel Henderson is a world-renowned futurist, evolutionary economist, worldwide syndicated columnist and consultant on sustainable development. Ethical Markets Media is an independent media company promoting the emergence of a sustainable, green, more ethical and just economy worldwide.


Alan Beaulieu, Principal, Institute for Trend Research
One of the country's most informed economists, Alan Beaulieu has been consulting since 1990  with companies throughout the U.S., Europe and Japan on how to forecast, plan and increase profits based on business cycle trend analysis. The Institute for Trend Research (ITR) is the oldest, privately-held, continuously operating economic research and consulting firm in the United States.


Phil Edwards, Edwards Management Group
Phil Edwards, President of Edwards Management Group, is an expert in the management procedures that are critical to success in a professional practice. He knows how to introduct improvements in a way that will maximize performance while retaining a firm's character and level of technical excellence. Along with Tate Lillies of Function Point Productivity Software, and APDF Members from Teague and Dossier Creative, we will review the completely updated APDF Financial Performance Survey.


Naomi Stanford, Organization Design Consultant
Dr. Naomi Stanford is an expert organization design, innovation and culture consultant with clients in commercial, government and non-profit sectors in the U.S. and Europe. She helps develop adaptive, open and successfully innovative organizations through alignment of the formal and informal, and hard and soft aspects of the enterprise. Naomi is also the author of Corporate Culture: Getting it Right.


Joe Hustein, Lecturer, Stanford University
Joe Hustein focuses on the interplay of law, business and intellectual property, and their effects on strategies in the design and commercialization of technology. He has more than three decades of experience as an engineer, industrial designer and business lawyer. Joe has been the general counsel of several Silicon Valley companies and is currently at SVTC Technologies, as R&D semiconductor fab headquartered in San Jose, CA.


Jaron Lanier, Scientist, Author, Musician, Artist
A Renaissance Man for the 21st Century, Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, visual artist and author who writes on numerous topics, including high-technology business, the social impact of technology, the philosophy of consciousness and information, Internet politics and the future of humanism. Jaron's recent book, You Are Not a Gadget, was described by the New York Times as "necessary reading for anyone interested in how the Web and the software we use every day are reshaping culture and the marketplace." Jaron was also recently named to the "Thinkers" category of the 2010 Time 100, the magazine's annual list of people who most affect our world.

Regional Leadership Forum-SEATTLE

APDF Regional Leadership Forum: SEATTLE
APDF Host:
Scott MacInnes + Sarah Matheny,
APDF Facilitator:
Martijn van Tilburg, Artefact
Friday, March 11, 2011

Join the APDF for a day that could change your business! 

The format for the APDF Regional Leadership Forum will include facilitated discussions in the morning and the afternoon. Attendees will start the day by sharing current topics and determining their own agenda for the day.

Webinar Series: An Economic Forecast

APDF Webinar:
An Economic Forecast
Jeff Dietrich
Institute for Trend Research

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


The National Bureau of Economic Research pronounced the Great Recession was officially over in June of 2009. Not many people felt good vibrations back then or even now some 19 months later. And, we seem to be trapped in an economic situation designed by committee that has just named new committees to fix the committee's problems.


Webinar Series: Exploring the Complexity of Family Business Dynamics

APDF Webinar:
Exploring the Complexity of Family Business Dynamics
Laura Greig and Wendy Sage-Hayward
Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Family business enterprises are unique and complex systems which can be consumed by conflict, confusion and indecision. Learn how you can determine the best course of action and implement plans for your firm that will ensure success for future generations.

Webinar Series: APDF Financial Performance Survey Tool Introduction

APDF Webinar:
APDF Financial Performance Survey
Chris Wilson,
Function Point
Phil Edwards, Edwards Management Group
Lisa Selvage, Teague
Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Get ready for the new APDF Financial Performance Survey launch!


APDF’s Financial Performance Survey provides specific benchmarks and goal setting parameters for design firm management not found in any other survey, including: Pricing Ratios, Salary Comparisons, Balance Sheet, and Profit and Loss statements. Each of these is a valuable benchmark against which you can gauge your business’s performance against the industry.

Webinar Series: Navigating Health Care Reform

APDF Webinar:
Navigating Health Care Reform
Jim Morrison
Morrison Insurance Services
Wednesday, January 26, 2011


On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) into law. The overall intended purpose of PPACA is to improve the U.S. health care system. But, how will it affect your firm?

APDF Royalty & Licensing Summit VII

Friday, January 7, 2011
TI (Treasure Island) Resort
Las Vegas

Dave Laituri, Sprout Creation
Steve Meister, Big Bang
Jeff Smith, LUNAR


In addition to discussions about royalty and licensing (R&L), this year’s summit will also delve into the launching of product manufacturing companies. Attendees will also be invited to share their R&L experiences as part of the program.

APDF Leadership Forum: Navigating the Blind Spots in Your Leadership

Thursday, December 9, 2010
Dr. Henry Cloud
Santa Monica, CA



As leaders, most of us struggle. We struggle with not just our own leadership skills and capacities, but with the performance and capabilities of our employees, and ultimately, our organizations. We face personal and interpersonal realities – with team members, clients, peers, suppliers, partners, spouses, children – that sometimes seem to sap all of our energies and leave us with a persistent feeling of underperformance and inefficiency.



At this forum, leadership coach and psychologist, Dr. Henry Cloud, will help us identify the blind spots that stand between us and our best leadership performance. He will guide us through an effective, interactive process of growth and development, as we gain from each others’ energy and knowledge.

Webinar Series: Industry Performance Benchmarks-APDF Members

Phil Edwards
Edwards Management Group

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


A firm's profitability is dependent on many factors, but the balance of the type of practice, pricing and staffing are the key components. Webinar will focus on:


In this webinar, Phil will share:

  • General Overview
  • Why Financial Benchmarks are Important
  • Key Financial Benchmarks
  • How to Best Use These Benchmarks
  • Current Industry Performance

Leadership Forum: You Do What?

Friday, September 24, 2010
Boston, MA
Presenter: Kory Kolligian, formerly with Continuum


Do you really understand what your clients' needs are? Does everyone in your firm speak their language? Is everyone in your firm communicating with one voice? What do your communication and marketing messages say? Do you connect meaningfully with clients and prospects, inspiring them to take action because the value you provide is aligned with their needs?


Together, with our distinguised panel of facilitators, we will formulate answers to many these, and other tough questions.

Webinar Series: How to Better Measure Project Health and Performance

Ben Griner
Founder, PerSyst Consulting
Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Considering taking your designers off of managing projects and moving to a project management methodology in your firm?
Already using account and project managers to maintain client relations and manage projects?


Whether your design team is managing projects or you are using an account management model, this APDF Webinar will be valuable to you! The focus of this webinar will be on evaluating various project management methodologies to improve your ability to better measure project health and performance.

Webinar Series: Seizing the Advantage-Recruiting in Today's Tough Environment

Lynn Hazan
Lynn Hazan & Associates
Tuesday, July 27, 2010


The Great Recession has changed the way we conduct business. Today, we are more cost sensitive, need to accomplish more with less and are focused on the short term vs. long term planning. We have fussy clients, less revenue, more headaches. Sound familiar?


Yet, there is still hope, excitement and engagement. How can your firm grow and prosper? How can you take advantage of an eager and talented workforce?  Create demand for your expertise? Learn how you can “carpe diem” and take advantage of these opportunities.

Webinar Series: The Value of Competitive Platforms

Rick Tirrell, Ph.D.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Rick Tirrell's newly released book, The Wisdom of Resilience Builders: How our best leaders create the world's most enduring enterprises, is a guide to every practitioner in the community of business leaders. Rick's work focuses on four areas: building strong competitive platforms, organization development, corporate culture and strategy. In this APDF Webinar, we will focus on the competitive platforms.

ON! Annual Meeting + Exchange

APDF Annual Meeting + Exchange
Celebrating 25 Years!
Thursday, May 13 - Sunday, May 16, 2010
The Hudson New York


OFF or ON? It seems like such an innocent question. And, simple. Guessing yields a 50/50 chance of getting it "right." But what IS right? What are the consequences of getting it wrong?


A hallmark of the APDF, our 25th Annual Meeting + Exchange promises to deliver a group of trusted friends and professional colleagues, combined with a powerful collection of tools, learning platforms and relevant information. Our goal is to help you take a look at your firm and your leadership skills from an ON! perspective.


ON Stage
Since we are in New York, we're going to kick-off Exchange with an improvisational session, led by leadership experts Ariel Group, to help you develop increased spontaneity and flexibility, and generate excitement towards change, taking risks and achieving new results.


ON Outlook
Economist Tim Duy, Department of Economics of the University of Oregon and Director of the Oregon Economic Forum, will share his forecast for future economic trends as they relate to design and industry.


ON Leadership
Design Leader Panel

Moderator: Linda Tischler, Senior Writer, Fast Company

John Barratt, Teague
Dave Cronin, Cooper
Michael Jager, JDK
Jerry Kathman, LPK
Paula Scher, Pentagram
Tucker Viemeister, Rockwell Group


ON Approach
Renowned graphic designer, Stefan Sagmeister, will explore with us the possibilities to still achieve happiness as a designer without the work deteriorating into a job, and how happiness translates to the bottom line.


ON Procurement
The discussions on the APDF Listserv on spec work, procurement, pricing pressures and other issues will be addressed in our conversation on design procurement with Blair Enns, founder of Win Without Pitching, and John Gleason, founder of A Better View.


ON Design Thinking
Award-winning professor specializing in marketing strategy, branding and advertising, David Dunne, Adjunct Professor of Marketing and Co-Director, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto will discuss the future of design ownership and the evolution of design thinking.

Regional Leadership Forums

APDF Regional Leadership Forum: CHICAGO + BOSTON
Friday, March 12, 2010

As a result of our recent member survey, APDF has developed Regional Leadership Forums for our traditional March Leadership Forum. With the help of APDF Member Firms, we have developed four locations for these Regional Forums. The goal of these Regional Forums is to enrich the APDF Member peer-to-peer discussions on key issues, in a location that is driving distance or a short flight away.

Webinar Series: Economic Forecast

Countdown to Recovery: What's Been Accomplished; What's Left to Do
Dr. Barton Smith
Senior Professor of Economics, University of Houston and
Director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting
Monday, February 22, 2010


While there continues to be growing evidence that the hoped for economic recovery is becoming more of a reality, the news continues to be mixed. This webinar will help us decipher the purported signs of recovery and guide us in what still needs to be done.

Webinar Series-Culture: Are You Who You Say You Are?

Dan Dangler, Authenticity
Tuesday, January 26, 2010

At the APDF December Leadership Forum, we began the discussion of firm culture. Based on the request to dig deeper into this topic, APDF has asked Dan Dangler to return to give us further perspective.

In this webinar, we will discuss:

  • Culture Overview
  • The Four Culture Model
  • Understanding Your Culture

Leadership Forum: Transforming Your Firm for the New Economy

Transforming Your Firm for the New Economy
Friday, December 4, 2009
Hotel ZaZa, Houston


Dan Dangler, Authenticity
Jonas Brickus, IDEO


At the September Leadership Forum in Chicago, we started the day's discussion with a round of introductions and shared how the economy has affected our firms. Everyone seems to have the same story, but the timing has been different.


Most firms have gone through difficult layoffs, four day work weeks, benefit trimming, and more. As firm owners and leaders, how do we:


  • Prepare our teams for the new economy?
  • Position our firms to ride the economic uptick?
  • Create (or repair!) company culture?
  • Hold on to great employees?
  • Motivate and engage our current teams?
  • Support and grow our future leaders?
  • Build a strong firm, even in times of adversity?


This full day Leadership Forum includes presentations from Dan Dangler and Jonas Brickus, who will answer these questions and more as they share their perspectives on implementing organizational and cultural transformation, and how to build and support leaders within your firm.

Webinar Series: Advisory Boards-Your Best Form of Insurance in Uncertain Times

Kathy Long Holland
Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An Advisory Board can provide the trusted, independent advice that in challenging times, can be the critical element of your survival. Charting a course in these times is challenging at best. The old saying of "lonely at the top" has gained new meaning, particularly for small- and medium-sized businesses. An Advisory Board can provide the trusted, independent advice that in the best of times keeps a company on course; but, in these challenging times can be the critical element of your survival.

Webinar Series: Staff Compensation in the New World Order

Kathy Long Holland
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Compensation is the one area for firms that has typically not been adapted to the market changes, nor has it been strategically linked to the firm's plan. Now faced with declining demand and compressed revenue, firms must revisit their compensation plans. The compensation plan of the future will need to be variable. This will allow for better firm performance, better employee retention and a cost structure that will be more adaptive to market changes and plan performance.

Leadership Forum: Determining the Value of Design--Rethinking Firm Compensation

Determining the Value of Design: Rethinking Firm Compensation
Friday, September 25, 2009

Dana Hotel and Spa

John Gleason of A Better View Strategic Consulting


A variety of forces are at work causing brand owners and design firms to rethink their roles, their relationships, their value propositions, and even the transactional components of their business relationships. This hands-on workshop will be facilitated by John Gleason, founder and president of A Better View Strategic Consulting, LLC. John, who spent over 20 years at Procter & Gamble reviewing almost 400 design consultancies who sought relationships with P&G, will explore one of the more tangible elements of managing such relationships: FIRM COMPENSATION.

Webinar Series: Projecting Your Workload and Finances

Shel Perkins
Tuesday, August 25, 2009

You have the data and information. Now, how do you use it?
This special webinar for APDF members will examine two types of forecasting: a short-term projection of the workload based on specific projects and accounts, and a longer-term projection of financial activity based on past performance, adjusted for new assumptions about market conditions.

Webinar Series: How Social Media is Turning Sales and Marketing Upside Down

Shane Gibson
Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It's not who you know but who knows you in today's hyper-connected marketplace. The customer now owns your firm's brand, and in order to profit from this new dynamic, we need a solid strategy and set of principles to engage current clients and prospects.

Webinar Series: Talking Money

Blair Enns
Win Without Pitching

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

As a follow-up to APDF’s successful Leadership Forums with Blair Enns, this Teleforum offers you the opportunity to learn from both Blair and your APDF peers on a difficult topic: Talking Money. The Win Without Pitching rule of money is this: Those who don’t talk about it, don’t make it.  

2009 Annual Meeting & Exchange

Charting the New Frontier
Thursday, May 14, 2009 to Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hotel Lucia, Portland, Oregon

The American West has always symbolized change, a fresh start, renewed hope. The West is still a powerful metaphor for change. Progressive, environmentally conscious, and a bit of a maverick, Portland truly reflects the new West, and it is the perfect setting to talk about where the business of design is heading. Open only to design firm owners and senior management, APDF’s annual meeting is called “Exchange” because the key focus is on dialogue, intimate peer-to-peer networking, leadership learning and collaboration.

Polly LaBarre.
 LaBarre is the Innovation Correspondent for CNN and co-author of Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win. She has interviewed hundres of the smartest people in business for over a decade. Her stories dig deeply into what separates great companies from good, and good companies from yesterday's heroes. Polly will share her perspective on the fundamental changes that are occurring around us and how this will affect how the workplace is structured.

Featured Speakers:

Kathy Long Holland. Kathy is a specialist in the development and launching of new products and strategies. She was an executive at Nike for seven years as the Divisional Head of New Products and Markets.  Kathy will present strategies for survival during these challenging economic times and ideas on how to position your firm for the eventual economic upturn.

Nathan Shedroff. Nathan is the chair of the ground-breaking MBA in Design Strategy at California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco. He is one of the pioneers in Experience Design and has co-written Making Meaning with two members of Cheskin, a Silicon Valley-based strategy consultancy. Nathan will explore the tough question: if we really do implement more sustainable practices, where does that leave our business models?

Benjamin Linder. Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Frank W. Olin College of Engineering. Benjamin will share practical steps our firms can take today to make a lasting difference.

Randy Gragg is a writer, editor and organizer who has worked in the Northwest for the past 25 years. Most recently, he developed and is now editing a new magazine called Portland Spaces. Randy will share with us a 164-year guide to the planning, foresight, luck and accidents that shaped the city of Portland -- both real and mythical!

Stephen Randall. Stephen is Founder and Chief Executive of LocaModa, Inc, a technology media company connecting digital-out-of-home, mobile and web audiences through location-centric social media. Stephen's discussion will be on Social Media, what we need to know, how to apply to our firms and what tools are available to us.

Webinar Series: Determining the Value of Design: Sharing Client Experiences

John Gleason, A Better View Strategic Consulting
Tuesday, April 7, 2009

This Teleforum will be facilitated by John Gleason, founder and president of A Better View Strategic Consulting, LLC. John, who spent over 20 years at Procter & Gamble reviewing almost 400 design consultancies who sought relationships with P&G. This Teleforum will be an opportunity for you to share your best and worst client stories, and give you the chance to ask the burning questions you want included in our September 25 Leadership Forum agenda.

Webinar Series: Networking for the Relationship Economy

Brian Matt, Altitude
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Networking is more than collecting a stack of business cards. It requires good social skills, and involves identifying contacts and relationships with others who have similar interests, ideas and goals. This requires learning how to create meaningful interactions that are mutually beneficial, as well as relevant and timely. All while having fun, too!

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