If Age Is Just a Number, Consider YoungConference
Zack Fishman, left, is co-founder of the Franchise YoungConference, shown here interviewing Tom Wood, CEO of Floor Coverings International, for his MODRN BUSINESS podcast during his summer RV tour of 26 states in 47 days.
If you’re at that awkward age when everyone from the airplane captain to your new boss to your gastroenterologist is about as old as your children, you may think you’re too long in the tooth for the Franchise YoungConference—but Zack Fishman says maybe not.
The co-founder of the YoungConference, to be held in Miami November 4 and 5, Fishman is the scion of PR powerhouse couple Sherri and Brad Fishman of Chicago.
Did he start the conference because attendees at other franchise conferences were, well, old? I asked, but he’s too much of a PR pro to fall for that.
“We really felt like there wasn’t a great place for younger people in the franchise space to meet and to talk,” he said. “We find that the old guard has their audience where they can go. We wanted to create a community… that doesn't really exist within the younger sets of franchising.”
Fishman and Ryan Hicks spent the summer driving around the country in an RV and interviewing franchise execs, both to promote their podcast and the YoungConference, with their names emblazoned on their ride.
“It was 47 days and about 26 states, we did about 112 pieces of content,” he said.
“It was a 38-foot Class A motorhome,” he said, the preferred vehicle of senior citizens, and the irony wasn’t lost on him. “We were always the youngest people at every RV park where we went.”
The tour had 14 sponsors to raise a little revenue, but making money wasn’t really the point. “We didn’t lose money which is always good but RVs are expensive, and so are people and so is food and alcohol, of course,” he said. Listeners of the podcast MODRN BUSINESS increased “500 to 600 percent” after the tour. (P.S. If you think MODRN BUSINESS is misspelled and should not be all caps or YoungConference should be two words, you are too old to attend.)
Fishman is 26, with the title director of innovation, “which I’m not sure what that means,” he joked, at Fishman Public Relations. He joined the staff on September 3, and finds the experience of working at his parents’ firm to be “great and weird is what I would really say.”
His track record at FranFunnel, where he “worked my butt off” selling franchise sales software and took the firm from two clients to more than 450, helped him gain credibility at Fishman PR, he said.
Fishman expects 75 to 100 people at the first YoungConference, which costs $450 for franchisees and franchisors to attend.
And remember, age is just a number. "People are asking how young attendees need to be. I say we're not checking IDs at the door, and all young-minded are welcome, anyone with fresh ideas," said Fishman. "You're the right age if you want to be part of the next generation of franchise greats."
As for YoungConference's co-founder being about the same age as my daughter, I'm fine with that, unlike when the captain of the airplane or the surgeon in the hospital looks like a teenager. When my life is in their hands I prefer my professionals less fresh and more grizzled.