The Pinnacle Experience

NOVEMBER 13-15, 2019
Denver, Colorado

An Event for A/E/C Marketing Leaders


SMPS announces the third annual learning and networking event for our members and colleagues specifically designed for senior marketing leaders. The Pinnacle Experience 2019 has officially sold out.

Why Attend?

“The Pinnacle Experience challenged me to stretch my mind in new ways.”

-David Werking, FSMPS, CPSM
Business Development Manager, ERMCO, Inc.

“The Pinnacle Experience gave me the tools and data to expand my thinking with tangible takeaways.”

-Sarah Hoff
Owner / Principal Consultant, Hoffhaus Creative

The Pinnacle Experience 2019 Speakers and Program Sessions


Blair Enns

Session Title:

Pricing Creativity: Profit Beyond the Billable Hour

Speaker Bio:

Blair Enns is on a mission to change the way creative services are bought and sold. He’s the founder and CEO of Win Without Pitching, a sales training and coaching organization, and the author of two books on selling and pricing for creative professionals. His first one, The Win Without Pitching Manifesto, has sold over 30,000 copies since publication. He’s the cohost of 2Bobs, a podcast on creative entrepreneurship. According to one industry survey, 2Bobs is the second most listened to podcast by independent marketing firm owners, after The Tim Ferriss Show. Blair also lectures and has presented at conferences and organizations throughout the world.

Session Description: 

During this session based on the book of the same name our presenter shares how firms can charge much more –and get paid for their true value. You’ll learn how to be an effective pricer by studying complementary skills of selling and negotiating. You will also discover how to move from a 50-page presentation decks to effective one-page proposals and ways to overcome mental hurdles to charging more for your services.

Carla Johnson: Opening Keynote Speaker

Session Title:

The Evolution & Awakening of the Modern CMO

Speaker Bio:

Carla Johnson is an international keynote speaker, best-selling author, CMO, and world-renowned storyteller. Over the last two decades, Carla has helped architects and actuaries, executives and volunteers, innovators, and visionaries leverage storytelling to inspire action. Her work with Fortune 500 brands served as the foundation for her eight books. In her latest, Fast Forward Files, she contributes to a larger collection of thoughts by some of the world’s greatest minds: Shazam co-founder Dhiraj Mukherjee, activist and entrepreneur Heather Mills and behavioral designer, technologist and mental-health champion Peter Trainor. Today, Carla travels the world teaching clients how to cultivate idea-driven teams that breed unstoppable creativity and game-changing innovation.

Session Description:

We’ve got blog, video, and podcast metrics down to a science. We know how to target specific audiences. But we’re still struggling to create emotionally driven experiences and tell jaw-dropping stories. What if it’s not the content but the blend of talent we have behind the scenes? In this presentation, best-selling author and marketing executive Carla Johnson will teach us the six archetypes every marketing team needs to successfully align. You’ll learn how one degree of change in your thinking can turn into a 180-degree spike in outcomes. You’ll walk away ready to assemble and lead an exceptional team that collaborates across silos and takes the risk out of disruption.

Greg Kihlström

Session Title:

An Agile Approach to B2B Branding & Marketing

Speaker Bio:

Greg is an entrepreneur, author, and speaker and is currently president and chief experience officer at Cravety. As an award-winning creative director and digital strategist, he has worked with top brands, including Coca-Cola, GEICO, MTV, and Starbucks, to name a few. He’s the author of three books in The Agile series and his podcast, The Agile World, launched in early 2019, discusses brand strategy, marketing, and customer experience. Greg was named a 2018 and 2015 “50 on Fire” winner from DC Inno as one of DC’s trendsetters in marketing and is a regular contributing writer to Forbes. He has guest lectured at several universities.

Session Description:

Professional services firms require unique marketing of their products and services. But it’s sometimes overlooked that B2B customers are also consumers that experience B2C marketing in their everyday lives. Because of this, they often expect the same level of customization and approach they experience as consumers when buying for their firms. B2B marketers who understand the modern, agile consumer, and how to reach them in a meaningful way through B2B marketing, will be uniquely successful. During this session, you’ll discover how to apply agile marketing principles to your B2B marketing and improve the customer experience for potential and existing clients.

Deborah Knupp

Session Title:

You’re Not Selling! Re-imagining Your Client Experience Strategy

Speaker Bio: 

Deborah Knupp, chief executive officer of Akina Consulting and managing director of Growth Play, has worked globally as a coach and business executive for 30 years. She helps leaders create cultures based on the principles of accountability, integrity, and authentic relationships. Prior to joining GrowthPlay, Deborah founded Akina, a national consulting, training, and coaching firm that helps professionals rethink relationship-building. GrowthPlay acquired Akina in 2014 to become an industry leader in a reimagined approach to sales effectiveness. Before Akina, Deborah was a sales and human resources executive with Frito-Lay, Pearle Vision, among others. Deborah is a sought-after speaker in sales, relationship-building, culture, and leadership. She also regularly provides leadership and staff development on a pro bono basis to numerous non-profit organizations.

Session Description:

The term “sales” can leave some of us bristling with discomfort when imagined as pushy, arm-twisting tactics in the name of revenue generation. But what if sales were less about self-interest and recast as an act of service designed to deliver meaningful client experience (CX)? This session will reimagine what client-centric selling looks like by showcasing GrowthPlay’s Six Pillars for Client Experience that include specific CX behaviors, tools, and tactics that accelerate sales growth. Using 18 years of sales and CX effectiveness, our presenter will provide a proven sales process, behavioral best practices, and sales coaching tools. You’ll leave with a clear roadmap that will bridge the ROI between sales and CX.

Tanya Mas: Closing Keynote Speaker

Session Title: 

Being Human in the Age of Technology Disruption

Speaker Bio:

Tanya Mas is a marketing strategist with over 15 years of extensive experience in digital and content marketing, product positioning, and global market expansion. Her domain expertise in the Learning and Development (L&D) industry is rooted in leading global marketing teams and operations at a variety of L&D providers. Prior to serving as chief marketing officer at Strategy Execution, Tanya was the marketing director for the Association for Talent Development and led global marketing for Rosetta Stone. Tanya’s professional passion is to foster a growth mindset and build high-performing innovative teams. She believes that to succeed and deliver results, we must be fearless and ready to embrace opportunity when it comes our way.

Session Description: 

It’s no secret that technology has transformed the way we live, changing how we work, communicate, and learn. The speed of innovation has fundamentally changed everyday life—and technology is constantly changing the way we market. Marketing automation has boosted efficiency and productivity, and real-time analytics have granted us the ability to become more reactive and data-driven. So what’s the missing link? How we connect with others is becoming increasingly important, and we must find the right balance. In this session, we’ll dive into what being human in the age of disruption means and how we can leverage technology to build meaningful relationships with our audience.

Kabri Lehrman-Schmid, DBIA, LEED AP BD+C

Session Title:

The Business of Diversity & Inclusion

Speaker Bio:

Kabri Lehrman-Schmid, DBIA, LEED AP BD+C, project superintendent of Hensel Phelps Construction Co., is known for her empathetic coordination of construction teams and rigorous command of building strategy. Her 12-year career spans the aviation, higher education, and correctional market sectors. Kabri leverages her position as director for the Puget Sound chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) to rally resources for other construction organizations that support women and minorities. She’s fascinated by the new frontier of psychological safety, a topic that combines her favorite initiatives of thwarting bias and overcoming the stigma of suicide and mental health in construction. Kabri is a proud graduate of Columbia University.

Session Description:

Marketing plays a key role in the successful growth of your company’s diverse future. Managing the front line of external communications, marketers help identify revenue for today and tomorrow—and are tasked with building brands that stand the test of time. During this presentation, we’ll talk about how diversity fits into your brand and how intentional efforts undertaken now can change the game for future business success and employee retention.

Ciara Seger, STS

Session Title:

The Business of Diversity & Inclusion

Speaker Bio:

For almost 15 years Ciara Seger, STS, project superintendent for Hensel Phelps Construction Co., has worked on variety of challenging projects in healthcare, aviation, education, correctional, transportation, and hospitality market sectors. In addition to participation in Women In Construction and California Women in Design and Construction panels, she has been featured in Forbes: “Day in The Life: A 12-Hour Shift in a Hard Hat and Ponytail” and ENR: “Viewpoint: the Continuing Rise of Women in Construction.” Originally from Kansas, Ciara enjoys connecting with her community through various volunteering opportunities. Her journey to superintendent has been an extraordinary adventure from her studies at Brigham Young University where she focused on civil engineering.

Session Description:

Marketing plays a key role in the successful growth of your company’s diverse future. Managing the front line of external communications, marketers help identify revenue for today and tomorrow—and are tasked with building brands that stand the test of time. During this presentation, we’ll talk about how diversity fits into your brand and how intentional efforts undertaken now can change the game for future business success and employee retention.

Lea Stendahl

Session Title:

Engage & Inspire Through Branded Experiences

Speaker Bio:

Lea Stendahl is the executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Suffolk. She’s responsible for creating and executing an integrated, diverse marketing strategy that encompasses all branding, media, communications, digital marketing, and promotional strategies. As chief marketing officer at E*TRADE, Lea helped define and drive E*TRADE’s brand and marketing initiatives through innovative campaigns. Under her leadership, E*TRADE rejuvenated the iconic brand and earned a Gold Effie Award. Prior to E*TRADE, Lea was a managing director of brand and marketing communications for TD Ameritrade. She has been recognized for vision and leadership and was recently named to AdWeek’s “50 Most Indispensable Media, Marketing and Tech Players.”

Session Description:

Direct-to-consumer brands have long used brand differentiation, audience segmentation, and tailored engagement channels-while the A/E/C industries traditionally deploy an inward-looking approach to a singular audience. What happens when we think differently and more broadly? We’ll discover endless opportunities to engage and inspire through distinctively branded experiences at all touchpoints—grounded in brand purpose and injected with emotionally-driven creative expression. During this presentation, learn how best practices from iconic consumer brands can be applied to stand out from the competition.

Check out the list of The Pinnacle Experience 2019 attendees

Network with fellow senior-level marketers, business developers, and firm leaders representing firms from across the country.
Download Now

The Pinnacle Experience is a symposium-style learning opportunity for senior marketing leaders. During this thought-provoking event, we’ll discuss fresh ideas, exchange unique perspectives with other marketing and business development leaders, and learn about and share inspiring successes. You’ll be challenged by thought-provoking speakers, addressing a variety of factors associated with setting strategic direction and leading successful firms.

Participants will engage with others as we explore resiliency, strategic planning, technology, and other forward-thinking trends affecting the A/E/C industries. As you leave, you will be armed with innovative tools and smart practices to strengthen your firm and its future while increasing business.

Our 2019 program offers 8.5 CPSM CEUs.


The Pinnacle Experience returns in 2019 as the event for professionals with significant experience (10-15+ years), who serve as the “first chair” for leading their firm’s marketing and business development efforts. This may include CEOs, CMOs, directors, principals, vice presidents, and SMPS Fellows. Attendance is limited to approximately 100 qualified professionals in order to guarantee an impactful learning and networking experience.


Stacy Stout, FSMPS, CPSM


R. Tim Barrick, FSMPS
Ida Cheinman
Dawn Savage, FSMPS, CPSM
Heather Ward
David Werking, FSMPS, CPSM


Conference Location

Four Seasons Hotel Denver
1111 14th Street
Denver, CO 80202

Located in the heart of downtown Denver’s bustling Theatre District, our host hotel is a short walk from some of the city’s best shopping, including the famed 16th Street Mall and the boutiques of historic Larimer Square, while complimentary town-car service will take you to the chic Cherry Creek North. Three professional sports arenas, offering baseball, basketball, football, hockey and soccer, are just minutes away, as are family-friendly attractions such as the aquarium, the botanic gardens and the renowned Denver Zoo.

Driving to the Hotel

Valet parking is available at $49/night but you may wish to consider other nearby parking garages upon your arrival.

Flying to Denver

Attendees arriving at the airport are encouraged to use the RTD light rail system to/from the Denver Airport (University of Colorado Line; fare is $10.50 one way). The driving time is approximately 45 minutes (depending on traffic). Uber/Lyft are available from Union Station (the RTD terminating point) to the hotel or you can walk roughly .6 mile. Travel time by RTD is approximately 45 minutes – one hour. Click here for more information.

Taxis are also available at a flat rate of $55.57+tip (fares are metered on the return trip to the airport).


Wednesday, November 13
Registration 3 – 6 p.m.
Welcome Reception 6 – 7 p.m.

Thursday, November 14
Registration 7 a.m.
Breakfast & Networking 7:30 – 8:30 a.m.
Program 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (lunch included)
Off-site Dinner/Networking/Social Event 6 – 8 p.m.

Friday, November 15
Breakfast 7:30 – 8:30 a.m.
Program 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (lunch included)

RegistrationSMPS MemberSMPS FellowSMPS Nonmember
Early-bird: Now-June 30$849$749$1,049
Regular: July 1-Oct. 31$949$799$1099

Your registration fee includes the meeting materials, all meals listed on the schedule, Wi-Fi in the meeting room, and access to great content.

Cancellation policy: Cancellations must be received in writing and sent to SMPS, Attn: Education, 123 N. Pitt Street, Suite 400, Alexandria, VA 22314. The registration fee will be refunded if cancellation is received two weeks prior to the event. No registration fees will be refunded with less than two weeks’ notice. A substitute may attend for no extra charge provided SMPS is notified of the substitution or transfer prior to the start of the event. Please see our complete registration and cancellation policy.

2018 Recap Report

The 2nd annual Pinnacle Experience was a thought-provoking learning and networking opportunity for the participants. View the post-event report full of the knowledge shared during the experience. We encourage you to share this with your colleagues.

Download Now