"Fear Is My Homeboy®: 4 Ways You Can Transform Fear Into A Powerful Secret Weapon"

Sunday, July 28 | 9:00-10:15 AM

Rather than running scared from fear, keynote speaker, author, and professionally trained improviser Judi Holler has embraced it. An alumni of The Second City’s Conservatory in Chicago, she studied and performed improv theatre at night while working in sales and marketing full time by day. That experience shaped a new vision for success that she’s shared with audiences across the country as Founder and Chief Fear Boss of Holla! Productions and author of the forthcoming book, Fear Is My Homeboy®: How to Slay Doubt, Boss Up, and Succeed on Your Own Terms. Judi’s mission: To stop fear from stealing your joy and robbing you of opportunities to succeed the way you really want. Judi wants to help you transform fear into a powerful secret weapon so you can connect in even more powerful and profitable ways.

In this fun and interactive session, Judi takes the experimental ideas she learned from the improv theatre and helps participants apply them to the unscripted stage of everyday life. Participants will take away:
  • an understanding of fear’s greatest hits
  • how fear can help you
  • how to not be burdened by fear of failure
  • tools to help manage fear, personally and professionally.
  • a 5-step fear setting framework to help you take action 

Before she started Holla! Productions in 2013 and became the Fear Boss, Judi worked in the meetings industry in sales and marketing for companies like Marriott, Omni, and Starwood Hotels. She is a past president of Meeting Professionals International, Chicago Area Chapter, and was named one of the "40 under 40" in the meetings industry by Connect magazine in 2015.

Judi’s book, Fear Is My Homeboy: How to Slay Doubt, Boss Up, and Succeed on Your Own Terms, has been endorsed by best-selling author and media personality Mel Robbins calling it: “relatable, relevant and most importantly ACTIONABLE!” Fear Is My Homeboy comes out May 28, and is available for pre-sale now on Amazon, 800 CEO Read, and Barnes & Noble.

When Judi is not keynoting events, testing out new fear experiments and/or creating content for you, she is most likely riding her Peloton bike, deep in a book, or hanging out with her husband Scott and their golden retriever, Tito.

“Election Outlook 2020”

Sunday, July 28 | 12:30 - 1:30 PM

Iconic political forecaster Charlie Cook is the editor and publisher of the Cook Political Report, a political analyst for the National Journal Group and an analyst for NBC News. Al Hunt in the Wall Street Journal once referred to Cook as “the Picasso of election analysis.” He will offer his expert take on the turbulent election season to come with control of both the White House and Congress at stake.

In 1984, Charlie Cook founded the independent, non-partisan Cook Political Report, a publication that the New York Times said is “a newsletter that both parties regard as authoritative,” while CBS News’ Bob Schieffer called it “the bible of the political community.”

Charlie has appeared on the ABC World News Tonight, the CBS Evening News and the NBC Nightly News, on ABC’s This Week and NBC’s Meet the Press. Over the years, Charlie has served as an Election Night analyst for CBS, CNN, and since 1996 on NBC News Election Night Decision Desk in New York.

In 2010, Charlie was received the American Political Science Association’s prestigious Carey McWilliams award to honor “a major journalistic contribution to our understanding of politics.” In 2013, Charlie served as a Resident Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

“Economic Outlook: Key Investment Themes”

Monday, July 29 | 9:00 - 10:15 AM

There is no doubt that the economy -- both globally and at home -- is a major influencer on consumer mood and spending. In this high-level talk, Michael Vaknin, Chief Markets Economist for J.P. Morgan Private Bank, will share potential short and long-term impacts on the overall health of the retail sector based on the most current macroeconomic outlook. He’ll share key investment themes to watch, including growth in the U.S. and abroad, geopolitics and trade.

As Chief Markets Economist for J.P. Morgan Private Bank, Michael Vaknin is responsible for the global, macroeconomic and market research that underpins the firm’s views and, by extension, how client portfolios are positioned. He co-chairs the Private Bank Global Investment and Brokerage Committees, which guide asset allocation and market strategy decision-making for J.P. Morgan private clients across the globe.

Prior to joining J.P. Morgan, Michael was a Senior Global Markets Strategist at Goldman Sachs International in London, where he conducted global strategy research with extensive expertise in interest rates, credit, currencies and macroeconomics. Previous to Goldman, Michael lectured on international finance and monetary economics at Columbia University. While earning an M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics and Finance from Columbia University, he worked as a research assistant to Richard Clarida, Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve, as well as for Nobel Laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Edmund Phelps.

“Buying Trends & Value Propositions of Jewelry Customers”

Monday, July 29 | 12:30 – 1:30 PM

Jewelry customers are buying differently, and retail is changing to improve customer experience by leveraging value propositions and technology. Neeraj Mehta, CEO of Synchrony’s Payment Solutions platform, will share trends in jewelry consumer purchasing behavior across channels, compare them to other retail verticals and describe investments to focus your business on your customers. Areas covered include:

  • Jewelry path-to-purchase journey
  • Investing in customer value propositions
  • Benefits of shared data & analytics
  • Leveraging technology and digital to improve customer experience

Neeraj Mehta is Executive Vice President, Chief Executive Officer, Payment Solutions and Chief Commercial Officer at Synchrony. With more than 20 years of financial services experience, he led strategy, acquisition and venture investments, strategic partnerships and payment network relationships for Synchrony & GE. Neeraj joined GE in 1996 and rose through GE’s Corporate Financial Services business to become Vice President / Officer of the GE Company. Neeraj was the President and CEO of the Bank Loan Group (BLG) for GE Capital, Americas, which was a leading institutional investor in syndicated bank loan facilities and special situations. He built a similar GE Capital Bank Loan business in Europe. Then, President and CEO of GE Capital, Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF), where he grew operating income and assets over his tenure. Neeraj became the Executive Vice President Chief Executive Officer of Payment Solutions and Chief Commercial Officer for Synchrony in 2018. Formerly, he played a key role as the EVP, Business Strategy and Development.

Neeraj has served on multiple for-profit and not for profit Boards and has been an advocate for diversity in support of internal and external Asian Pacific American groups. Neeraj earned a Master’s degree in finance and banking from Syracuse University and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Ecology from the University of California, Irvine.


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