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Back in 2005, I was a new internet marketing manager for Thompson Cigar, The Linen Source, Casual Living and Café Belmondo. I was trying to juggle paid search, SEO, email, CPA offers, shopping comparison engines, blogging and this new thing called affiliate.
I was intrigued by the affiliate channel and I wanted to learn as much as possible. I quickly found articles, blog posts and videos by Shawn Collins and Missy Ward, co-founders of a new conference called Affiliate Summit. In the summer of 2006, I got a free ticket from Jamie Birch to attend Affiliate Summit East in Orlando. It was a short drive from Tampa and an easy day trip.
Just as my father taught me, I marched right up to Shawn and Missy and shook their hands. I was having a fan moment and they were clearly confused by my excitement to meet them. They were royalty in the affiliate industry and that was the moment I met my heroes. They say to never meet your heroes, but this was one time that advice was very wrong.
I’ve read nearly every word they have published and watched every video since. There have been many other influences, both online and in real life that have helped me grow my business and become better at what I do. But it all started with Shawn and Missy. They forged the path for us to follow and expand our networking and education. They fostered the relationships that this industry is fueled by in giving us a place to call our own.
The Affiliate Summit blogger lounge of the early 2010s was the mecca of my inner circle. I think of those I’m close to now and whose relationships I treasure, and they were sitting right there with me. The breakfast and lunch tables at Summit were loud with laughter and table-slapping memories. Our group was shushed on a regular basis, whether in New York or Las Vegas. Those were the best years ever.
For the first time since 2009, I will not be attending Affiliate Summit West. I’ll be sending the Apogee affiliate managers to carry on the tradition. I attended 20 Affiliate Summits. I honestly don’t remember how many panels and solo speaking presentations I did over the years, but there have been many and they helped nurture some of my long-lasting business relationships.
Shawn and Missy called my name, my company’s name or my clients' names nine times during the Pinnacle Awards since 2013. I proudly accepted two of those awards, one for OPM of the Year and one for Affiliate Marketing Advocate of the Year. I told one of my employees, who I was then in job negotiations with, that she better win the year she was nominated for Advocate of the Year because I didn’t hire losers. She did, and beat me out for the honor.
I am eternally grateful for the opportunities afforded to me and my team members over the years because of the vision Shawn and Missy had. You helped create this industry and no one will ever forget that.