I have also included for you below the details for the upcoming 2011 event.
ShareASale Think Tank 2011 - The Westin, Chicago
This year's 2011 Think Tank is moving to the windy city of Chicago. If you never been there before now is your chance to take in this first class in a this world class city.
The event kick's off the evening of May 25th with a welcome reception.
On the 26th the day will begin with breakfast followed with a series of educational sessions.
After a great lunch affiliates and merchants meet-up one-on-one to talk business.
The evening will be another mixer between this time outsourced program managers (aka OPMs) and affiliates. This is always a great session.
Sunday follows with another breakfast and then the morning is spent with a round table session with Brian Little in the always popular "fix it" session.
After sessions conclude around 11am on Friday morning, we’ll head over to the State & Lake “El” Stop to catch the ShareASale Train to the Cubs vs. Pittsburgh game.
ShareASale has reserved the entire rooftop and bar at 3936 Wrigley Rooftop. The afternoon will be spent networking with conference attendees, and enjoying all you can eat food and all you can drink beers in Chicago’s iconic Wrigleyville neighborhood!
A great time is sure to be had by all!
- ShareASale Think Tank 2011 - Westin, Chicago (event May 25-27th, 2011 - register now)
- ShareASale Think Tank 2010 - The Ritz Carlton
- ShareASale Think Tank 2009 - Pelican Hill Resort
- ShareASale Think Tank 2008 - Grand Del Mar
Transcript for the Above 2010 Video
James: Well wasn’t that another absolutely spectacular ShareASale Think Tank?
Arlene: Oh, again Brian put on a really great event and this time we got to go to beautiful San Francisco at a place called Half Moon Bay.
James: It was really a beautiful time to go. It was a nice time of year. We had some pretty decent weather, I think you would agree. When we flew out of Bellingham it was a little bit rainy and drizzly. We had our friend Kimberly Juchnowski along with us for this trip who affectionately refers to herself as an affiliate baby because for the most part is just getting started. I know the two of you sat together while we were on the plane and by the time we were done with the trip I had to call you partners in crime.
Arlene: You know I think it’s great that Brian invited a lot of seasoned veterans plus a lot of people that are kind of brand new to the industry. It really opened their eyes and gave them a great feel for what’s going on.
James: I know as we were flying in over San Francisco we could just get a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge. We could also see Alcatraz. We landed at San Francisco International Airport and went to find our luggage. You rented us a beautiful SUV this time and then we were off. Unlike a lot of the Think Tanks where we first do a bit of a break up front we decided to take in the conference first so we headed straight to the hotel. The hotel was just outside this little town called Half Moon Bay. Wasn’t that a beautiful little place?
Arlene: It was gorgeous. It was right on the Pacific Ocean and it was just spectacular. You were driving through the golf course down the hill and you could see this amazing huge, huge building off in the distance and you could see it was a spectacular hotel. It was very picturesque.
James: One thing Brian always does is put us up in a beautiful 5 Start resort and this time was no different. The Ritz Carlton at the Half Moon Bay was all decorated up for Halloween with big pumpkins out front, a beautiful fountain. Of course one of my favorites is the palm trees so it’s really nice. You get a chance to meet up with a bunch of friends. I know Kimberly fell in love with a Maserati. The two of us had a chance to take her up to her room and she was like a kid in a candy store.
Arlene: It was hilarious. I don’t think she has ever stayed in a resort quite as opulent as this and it was just a joy to watch her face as she went from room to room and discovered what this hotel was all about.
James: I think she discovered the bathroom first, which is a classic 5 Star beautiful, gorgeous bathroom with the big shower and huge tub. It’s just really nice. It’ has a huge bed, big comfortable pillows. I know she discovered the goodies in the drawer and I think if I recall correctly she found a jar of gummy bears.
Arlene: Yeah, I think she thought that was pretty cool.
James: So we got all checked into the Ritz Carlton. We had a beautiful room. Phil Watkins and his wife Lori were there as well. They are a couple of really good friends and associates of ours. I had a chance to meet up with them and spend some great time with them. I know Andy Radriguez and we always run into him at these events and he had a glass of wine in hand out in the front area of the hotel. The hotel itself though, wasn’t that absolutely spectacular right on the ocean there?
Arlene: It was amazing. You know what I really thought was cool was that it was perched on a cliff and the cliff just dropped down to the sandy beach below and you can see the ocean waves crashing in and it was just amazing. They had these beautiful walkways that went along the ocean side and into the hotel. It was absolutely gorgeous. I loved it.
James: I know we had a chance to wander around the backside of the hotel where Phil and Lori’s room was and they were sitting out on the patio enjoying a nice drink overlooking the gulf course and Pacific Ocean and the ocean is just amazing. Unlike Vancouver where we have Vancouver Island sitting in front of us, of course they are really exposed to the real Pacific Ocean where you have those big crashing waves. I know each of the rooms also had a fire pit outside, which I know we had a chance to sit down and basically unwind, take a little bit of a break. That was all just getting there.
Then that night if you recall we wondered into the back to an outdoor reception that I was a little bit worried about because I didn’t bring a coat. You told me to bring a coat but I didn’t bring a coat but in Brian Littleton’s usual way he had already prepared all of us for that. He prepared a beautiful little grey fleece goat so as we registered for the conference and go out badges and stuff he handed everybody these beautiful nice, warm fleece coats.
Arlene: That was a really nice touch because you don’t remember that that ocean wind is going to come in at you and we were right there just above the ocean so those jackets were fantastic.
James: When Brian was giving basically a little bit of an opening talk there he actually called it the frigid event, frigid version of the Think Tank because it was a little bit chilly but they had the heaters out. They had fires going all around us. I know there is about 100 plus people there. Lots of chatting. Lots of networking. Of course they fed us an absolutely 5 Star class dinner. They had the big tables set up. So it’s really just a good chance to meet up with good friends, make a bunch of new friends. I know you found over at one of the fire pits you guys were roasting marshmallows and I think you also got into the smores.
Arlene: Yeah there was a big basket there of chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers and we could sit around this massive fire place and chat with other people and eat the smores. It was great!
James: It’s really just a great event. I know Asif was there and he’s the resident ShareASale golf pro and he was packing around the big rapture sign. I know Kimberly had it for a while. It was definitely a huge hit. After that event we basically waited and got to bed reasonably early that night. I know the next morning we were up bright and early for just another ShareASale breakfast.
Arlene: Yeah we all got together and it was a great time to just meet up with people. I know some of our members were there from all over the United States. We got to sit with them and chat with them and just make a plan for the day. It was great.
James: I know Kimila was there. Don Campbell was there, Stan and Deb Horst, and it was just a good time to meet with them. I know we had breakfast with a number of them. Then we headed off to the sessions. There was lots of buzz in the room. I mean a really exciting event. Everybody was really excited to be there. There were lots of laptops around. Everybody had wireless and we could have our laptops in front of us as they were doing the presentation so we could take notes and really, really dig in.
One of the beautiful things I love about these sessions where it might be a panel or it might be Brian Littleton just doing a talk the stuff you learn at these conferences, and I’ve got to say I’ve never done college on any of this or university in the marketing area but the level of quality of information that is being taught is well worth the trip.
Arlene: That’s for sure and anybody that was there definitely took a lot of notes and got a lot of great information and I think that is really, really smart. It really helps ShareASale. It really helps bind us to what he does and keep us in his network. I think it’s fantastic.
James: So the morning session was wrapped up and then we headed for lunch. I know this time they had the barbecue fired up and they were cooking hamburgers and chicken burgers. It was a very delicious lunch. I think everybody enjoyed it. Again it was lots of great networking, lots of time together. I know you pulled out what I come to know as your flip chart. I know you gave Stan and Deb Horst a good presentation maybe you can talk about that.
Arlene: Oh sure we have a new granddaughter so I brought pictures along to show everyone and what grandma doesn’t like to show off her new baby.
James: I know one of the reasons we are there is to meet up with everyone and in the after lunch was all wrapped up we had meetings with the merchants. Brian had the rooms set up with little tables where we could schedule times to meet with merchants like Checks Unlimited was there with Andy Rodriguez. Vinnie and Deb were there and I think they represent Raven tools. It was just a great event where we had a chance to talk to affiliate managers face to face. I know we talk a lot about it in the BootCamp training how important it is to get to know your affiliate manager, get on the phone with them and build relationships but meeting face to face is a whole different thing. This is just one of those great opportunities to sit down and chat with your affiliate managers one on one.
I know I had a chance as well to interview Kimila, Stan and Deb, Don Campbell, and Brian Littleton at the event. That’s always fun. We had a chance to get to know each other a little bit and have a little conversation. It was really a good afternoon. I also had a chance to sit down with Kimila and Don Campbell or maybe it was Stan as well, I think it was Stan, one on one for about an hour around the table just talking about their businesses and giving them some tips and pointers. It was just a great afternoon all the way around.
Arlene: Yeah we covered a lot in one day. It was great. Then we went off for dinner and I think we had the evening free that evening didn’t we James?
James: Actually no we had a little bit of time for free. I know you and Lori headed out to the patio and you two were sitting there having what I call a YouTube moment in your nice comfortable chairs in your warm ShareASale coat and the fireplace in front of you. Then as it got dark, this is a beautiful hotel at night by the way. It is just absolutely gorgeous with palm trees all lit up and the fountain out front all of a sudden has a fire that goes over top of it. I know you and Lori were posing in front of it with the big huge 400-500lb pumpkins.
James: but then if you recall we all hopped on the shuttle and went to the Thomas Fogarty Winery where they treated us to a beautiful what they called the wine and OPM tasting and wasn’t that a beautiful place.
Arlene: Oh that was spectacular. This was like way up on the hill and it was this big cedar lodge with all these little walkways and fireplaces. They had advertisers there and all the OPM’s had their tables set up where they were doing a little bit of wine tasting that was from the Vineyard and they would explain what the wine was. You could have a little sip of the wine and they would tell you about some of the products that they are promoting. It was a really good way to meet a lot of the merchants all in one place and ask questions in a really relaxed environment.
James: For those that may not be familiar with the phrase OPM it is simply just Outsourced Program Managers. These are the affiliate managers in the agencies that are representing the various merchants and as affiliates of course we want to talk to them. What a great way to lure us in every one of the tables that were set up had a different type of wine that we could go taste while we learned about their product and services that they were offering.
The view in front of them and the view from up on this mountain we’re actually overlooking Palo Alto, which of course is the home of Google so it was kind of appropriate to be there I think. It was just a great time. I know Sarah Bundy was there marketing her program for her merchant. Wade and Karen were there is well and all around great event. It was just a really, really nice evening.
Arlene: It was a lot of fun. They had lots of little prizes and give a ways too. We were able to bring home a few little things. We got a little red wagon for Brook and we also won a beautiful wrap around canvas print, which was really nice.
James: Oh that’s right I forgot about that. That is absolutely right. There are always these little perks for going to these events. So of course when we wrapped up there they took us back down to the hotel where we hang out with some friends a little bit. We got up in the morning and sat through a little session with Brian Littleton and he actually gave me a beautiful platter for being one of 13 that has attended all five of the Think Tanks.
It’s gorgeous and it says on the back number three of thirteen of the ShareASale Think Tank and then it’s signed by all the ShareASale staff and it has the date of 2006-2010. It really, really made my day to get that platter. It was just a real nice cap off to the event. Now Arlene, once we were done I know Kimberly headed for the airport where she headed for home. You and I, we weren’t done yet. We were heading for a breakation here. You and I headed into San Francisco. We took Kimila with us because she was going to be flying out later that afternoon and she had some time to kill so we figured let’s all go together and do a little bit of exploring of San Francisco. I know we can see the beautiful bay. Alcatraz was there and then we spent some time on pier 39.
Arlene: Yeah it was nice. We had some fish and chips for lunch and I just walked around. It’s the coolest little pier. It has all these little shops and of course the birds are flying around and it’s open air, it’s fresh air, you know it’s just beautiful. You know you can see Alcatraz there and you’re surrounded by the ocean. It’s a fantastic place to go in the afternoon.
James: We stopped in one of those little restaurants right on Pier 39 and had a nice lunch. I think we had clam chowder and I think if I recall you had one of the world famous San Francisco sour dough clam chowders.
Arlene: I love the sour dough. It’s just not the same anywhere else unless you are in San Francisco.
James: So one of the things you and I always like to do is when we attend an event we either spend some time having some fun a couple of days prior to the event or in this particular case we decided to stay a couple extra days. Once we were finished wandering around pier 39, oh we also got to see those sea lions.
Arlene: Yeah those big loud sea lions and they are all just lounging in the sun. They were fun to watch.
James: We then dropped off Kimila at the airport and then you in the way that you do all the time managed to find us absolutely a beautiful B&B so we headed over to the Golden Gate Bridge. We headed for a little town called Mill Valley which was just above Sausalito.
Arlene: We found it on VRBO.com and we had the whole floor of this house and it was absolutely spectacular. We were up on the hill and kind of up above Sausalito households in a very famous area. We just had this amazing apartment all to ourselves. It was fully furnished, a beautiful living room with a big screen and a private bedroom with a beautiful view. It had a fully equipped kitchen. The place was spectacular. We spent a couple of nights there and got to do some sightseeing all over San Francisco.
We also went into a little town called Mill Valley, which was just this little picturesque little tiny town. I had a little movie theater, a little shop, again just so relaxing and such a treat to just stay in such a beautiful place.
James: I know you did some exploring as well. You found another little baby shop there on the camera again. I know I spotted an original California Mustang convertible, which is kind of cool for a guy from Canada. To me it was very Americana, the whole town. It was a small town USA, especially for a couple of Canadians like ourselves. It had beautiful trees lining the streets, the old theater and an absolutely beautiful flower shop that sits right on a little creek. I mean it was just a gorgeous little town. I would love to live in a place like that.
Arlene: Yeah it would be nice. And then we got to go in to San Francisco for the day and one of the places we wanted to see was the Cable Car Museum. I think they’re so fascinating and then at the Cable Car Museum you can actually go right under ground and see all the workings, how all the cables work. It’s a massive undertaking and it’s all going on underneath the city. So we got to see the history of that and I thought that was amazing.
James: It was amazing to see that the entire San Francisco cable car system runs completely from that building. All the cables that feed all the cable cars everywhere in the city in all four of their major lines all come into that building and out they go again. Of course seeing the inner workings of that was really quite something. Incidentally it’s the only running cable car system in the world so it’s really cool, especially for a couple like you and me with kids who love trains and anything to do with rail.
Of course when we were done there we had to hop on one of these cable cars. I know we saw Lombord Street. We had a chance to experience that. Then we headed down the hill and into Fisherman’s morph. I know we ended up down there and saw the, what was the name of that ship we saw?
Arlene: USS Constitution
James: We saw that and again spent some more time on the water front. That night we headed to Fisherman’s Wharf, had a beautiful dinner and just spent some time in the city at night in San Francisco. It was gorgeous. We also if you recall the first evening we were there is we had a chance to go meet up with Christian Chapa.
Arlene: Yeah that was a real treat. Christian had come to one of our BootCamps here in our hometown the first time we met him and so it was great to actually go to his hometown. We all went to a little pub and met up with Christian and just had a really fun evening talking with him.
James: So these events, of course we’re talking about the ShareASale Think Tank 2010, always encouraging people to go. I know this year in 2011 Brian has switched things up a little bit and he has opened the event up now to pretty much anyone who wants to go as long as you get in there before it sells out. Of course there is always a space restriction. But this year, May 25th through the 27th we’re going to be in Chicago.
Arlene: Yeah and Chicago is a fantastic old town or city and we’ve been there a couple of times and done some exploring but I cannot wait to get back and do some more exploring in Chicago. There is so much to see and so much to do and it is such a grand city.
James: The thing with ShareASale is that’s also their home base. ShareASale is based out of Chicago so I think it is probably very appropriate to go there. I know the last time you and I were there we had a chance to do a little bit of a tour. We had some friends there take us out for the whole. We had a chance to see the Billy Goat Tavern and have some lunch there from the Saturday Night Live theme you know cheeseburger, cheeseburger, no Pepsi, Coke, and that whole thing.
I had a chance on a previous occasion to visit the Sears Tower, which is now called the Willis Tower. It’s 103 stories high and you have to take in the sky deck experience, which is essentially imagine being 103 stories in the air and walking out into a cube, a glass cube, and looking straight down and the floor is glass, the walls are glass, the sides are glass, everything is glass. I don’t even know if I can do it but I’m going to go up there and have a look at it. I know another thing that Brian is doing with this upcoming event is, it’s going to be formatted exactly the same way we just talked about for the Ritz Carlton, Half Moon Bay Edition, it will be the same in Chicago from what I understand.
On the last day, after they do the morning session on the last day we’re all going over to see the Chicago Cubs play. He has rented one of the big, it’s not really a sky box, maybe a pub box I don’t know what it’s called but it’s really cool and he has the whole pub rented and all of the seats in this area. It’s going to be a spectacular event so I’m really, really looking forward to that.
Arlene: That’s going to be a lot of fun and I hope that a bunch of you can make it too because it’s going to be really fun this year.
James: Absolutely, we’d love to see you. If you’re there let us know you are going and of course when you’re there come up and say hello. So Arlene, it was good talking with you and we’ll see you shortly.
Learn more about the ShareASale Think Tank 2011 here: