Each week, I am highlighting on some of the incredible people who are in the audiovisual industry. As this blog is mostly about AV insiders, today we are profiling Chuck Wilson.
Chuck Wilson has worked in the audiovisual industry for over 20 years. He is currently executive director of NSCA.
Please drop your questions in the comments below and I will make sure that he sees them.
1. Describe your journey in the AV industry. How did it start?
Ironically, I started with a very small systems integration company as a summer intern while still in college. That seems kind of strange now, as I spend much of my time dealing with things like internships and mentoring programs with ESPA and IGNITE. About 35 years ago, I helped start NSCA as a charter member. Fifteen years later, I was offered the best job in the entire industry: running the organization as the first full-time employee. A few issues quickly surfaced: NSCA was nearly broke and no member database. (And I, of course, had no idea how to run a trade association.) Fast forward 20 years, and you can see that we managed to figure it out.
2. What challenges face a new person who wants to join the industry?
It depends on their entry point and what role they start in. For most, it’s knowing what is expected of them. Many integration firms are still unrefined in their talent management practices. It’s also difficult for young people to know how assertive they should be. Many firms have little or no formal onboarding practices to guide people through their first year on the job, so NSCA has been working to put resources together to help integrators with that challenge.
3. What are the positives of working in this industry?
Knowing so many great people, and seeing the extreme loyalty people have to the industry. I travel a lot; every trip I take allows me to meet incredible people. Each day a blessing; the kindness and humanity we have in this industry, even amongst competitors, is extraordinary. This makes the good days great, and makes even the worst days tolerable.
4. What, in your opinion, would you change in the industry? What negatives are prevalent?
Understanding values and value: In my remaining years with NSCA, I’d like to be a stronger advocate for our members so they can stop undervaluing themselves and one another. That starts with us all focusing on being of greater value rather than just offering a lower price to earn business. I can’t change how people determine their own value, but I can certainly do a better job of advocating for positive change.
[RELATED]: If you have missed any of the previous interviews, please click here.
5. Describe your ideal client. What do you wish clients knew before hiring you?
We don’t have clients, but we do have members. Our ideal member is one who is highly involved and wants to make their people and their company better. Fortunately, that is almost every one of our members. The members who prioritize leadership development, business performance, best practices, process improvement, and defined success measures – those are the companies that have emerged as ideal members, and the ones that end-users select to complete their projects.
6. If you were going to start over, what would you do differently?
I wish I had been a better listener when I was new to the industry. I was a better talker than listener in my younger days. As I look back on the many opportunities I had to be mentored by some of the best people in the industry, I wish I would have been quiet. I missed out on some great storytelling by trying to prove too much too fast.
7. Describe a typical work day for you. What are your daily disciplines?
I have very little schedule discipline unless I’m traveling. My day generally consists of speaking with members (yes, on the phone) all day long. I also write and create videos to offer business suggestions and answer members’ questions. One topic I consistently discuss is relevance. Integrators fight competitiveness and relevance issues as they envision their futures. None of us can be certain that the business practices of today will fit with the integration world of tomorrow. When a customer can do for themselves what we can do, our relevance must be proven. The vast majority of NSCA members are prepared for that moment of relevance. My job is to make sure that 100% of us are ready.
8. Describe the apps and gear that you use daily to make you more productive.
The NSCA website is my go-to business tool. I spend hours with our members going over all the great resources we built for them. A great example is the Project Contribution Simulator, which is a web app that allows members to go step by step through the process of pricing their projects. It is great for training new salespeople and for job-costing training. These tools help us covey the NSCA brand. I love that so many members have become the co-owners of this brand by embracing our “trusted advisor” role and extending that to their customers. It’s become the brand of our entire community.
9. How do you stay relevant in this industry?
I’ve always been “over-employed,” and have worked on the fringe of my comfort zone. Our members force me to stay relevant. I have no choice. That has driven me to keep pushing harder to give our members more than they expect from NSCA. I enjoy working with integrators of all sizes and scopes. That daily member interaction helps me tremendously. I find that, no matter the company size, most of the business issues are similar.
In my role, I fight every day to ensure that the channel is strong, and that manufacturers and end-users see our members as the undisputed best choice for product and service delivery. I’ll always see myself at the bottom of the industry org chart. I’m here to empower and prop up the people who get the real work done.