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Exploring Madison WI with Deb Archer CEO at Greater Madison Convention Visitors Bureau

Podcast Published On: 03.06.2019
Found In: Business

Episode Summary

Exploring Madison

Well, I’ve, I had the good fortune raising my daughter here. Uh, she was three when we moved here. Um, it’s a fabulous city for so many reasons. Um, I think anybody who hasn’t been here the first time you come here, we love first time visitors because, um, typically are just blown away. It’s a, it’s a small city, but you have so many of the big city amenities. You know, we have a fantastic music scene, dining scene, and then you throw in things like big 10 sports, um, university, our lakes, recreation, you know, it’s, uh, the other thing about our city itself, it’s so walkable and the scale is so great. I mean, you can see so much of our city in a couple of days and really feel like you walked away with the essence of this place. Um, and the fact that it’s a university town, there’s just this vibrancy and youth. When I just, when we bring people here, when we bring clients here and visitors here, they oftentimes leave and they say they were inspired, they were inspired, they were, they felt alive. And, um, I don’t think there are a lot of cities that you can walk away and really feel that way.

About Deb Archer, CEO Greater Madison Convention Visitors Bureau

Prior to her arrival in Madison, Archer had already begun to make her mark in the tourism industry. Archer had served as Associate Director of Sales at the Kansas City CVB for 7 years and Executive Director of the Park City Utah Convention & Visitors Bureau and Chamber of Commerce. While in Park City, she served on the founding board of the Park City/Sundance Film Festival. 

Archer is a Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME). Archer is a past chair and continues to serve on the Governor’s Council on Tourism and the WI Association of Convention & Visitors Bureau Board of Directors. She has served as Past Chair of the CVB’s international trade association’s Foundation and on their Board of Directors. She holds a B.A. from Michigan State University in Hotel, Restaurant & Institutional Management with an emphasis in tourism.

Deb Archer

Deb Archer

CEO Greater Madison Convention Visitors Bureau

Contact Deb

Episode Transcription

Introduction: Welcome to the Inspire People Impact Lives podcast. This podcast is for people who are looking to get more out of life by making an impact on those around them. Each week we bring you local influential business and community leaders delivering powerful messages to help you live a more inspiring and impactful life coming to you live from Northwestern Mutual Middleton. Here’s your host, Josh Kosnick.
Josh: Welcome to another episode of Inspire People Impact Lives. Today we have a unique guest and we’re going to do a unique episode where we’re going to focus less on leadership and more on business and visiting Madison. So today I have Deb Archer with me with and, uh, like to welcome you to the show Deb.
Deb: Excited to be here.
Josh: Great. We’ve had some good conversations, some commonalities, some uh, uh, people that we know in common that we’ve gotten to talk about pre show, but, uh, well for the sake of keeping their names private we’ll not talking about that so much, but, uh, let’s talk about Madison. Uh, you and I both weren’t birthed here and didn’t necessarily grew up here. I moved here in eighth grade. So, but uh, you were past that, but you raised a daughter here and now you’re one of the biggest advocates Madison has, what are some reasons out audience should plan a trip or vacation to Madison and what makes Madison unique or special to you?
Deb: Well, I’ve, I had the good fortunate raising my daughter here. Uh, she was three when we moved here. Um, it’s a fabulous city for so many reasons. Um, I think anybody who hasn’t been here the first time you come here, we love first time visitors because, um, typically are just blown away. It’s a, it’s a small city, but you have so many of the big city amenities. You know, we have a fantastic music scene, dining scene, and then you throw in things like big 10 sports, um, university, our lakes, recreation, you know, it’s, uh, the other thing about our city itself, it’s so walkable and the scale is so great. I mean, you can see so much of our city in a couple of days and really feel like you walked away with the essence of this place. Um, and the fact that it’s a university town, there’s just this vibrancy and youth. When I just, when we bring people here, when we bring clients here and visitors here, they oftentimes leave and they say they were inspired, they were inspired, they were, they felt alive. And, um, I don’t think there are a lot of cities that you can walk away and really feel that way.
Josh: I would completely agree. I was thinking as you were saying that, because I haven’t thought about this in a while, just being here, you know, I exist here and I love being here, but, uh, as I was going through leadership with Northwestern mutual and I was. Potentially could take over in Madison potentially they were gonna ask me to take over somewhere else. My wife was asking me, you know, where else would you consider? And my biggest thing was if I, if I had to move for first choice would be here, but if I had to make that decision, I’d want a major university. And uh, in a place that I went. Now Northwestern mutual is a great internship program and we recruit off campuses a lot. And so that would be tough for me if I went to a city like Chicago, um, which I love Chicago, I’m a Chicago Sports fan, but where do I send my kids to school? Uh, where do I, you know, there’s not a big 10 team in town even though, you know, they try to pursue Northwestern being that, it’s not in Chicago. Uh, so, just as an example, like the, as you said that I was like, that I really connected with me cause I was like that vibrancy and the energy that you get off that major campus being right downtown is huge.
Deb: And the intellectual capital. It’s a city that’s, that’s such an interesting, because it’s got such a high intellectual capital piece that it’s, it’s also a really interesting city to live.
Josh: Yup. I would agree. So what, when you were thinking about, or when you’re attracting businesses, What is the typical visitor to Madison in the business sense that there we’re attracting right now?
Deb: Well, we, uh, we actually just went through a really intense branding, um, uh, exercise and we collaborated with our chamber of Commerce too, and, uh, we work with Lindsey Stone and Briggs here in town. And um, when you do branding, there’s often sort of the Carl Young, um, psychological thing of what’s the persona of your brand and who’s after your brand. And we landed on that. We attract what we are calling the seeker. We really attract people who are looking for improving their life, learning more, trying something new. I mean, we really get adventure. Some people, we get people who are willing to sort of take a risk, um, venture into something different. They want experiences. And this is a city where we have so many ways for you to not passively visit a place, but you can do things. You can get a but B cycle and go cycling, you can go fishing, you can just, you can immerse yourself in this place. And so we attract those types of conventions. We attract conventions that are, you know, a lot of people with big ideas.
Josh: Um, we attract things like crossfit and Iron Man where people are, they’re pushing themselves. And so those are the people that really are attracted to this place and, um, and fit here.
Josh: Yeah, it was, you said that before, uh, before show we’re talking about, I had no idea that you were so instrumental and was so instrumental in bringing Crossfit in Iron Man here. And I think about that as like, you know, iron man or crossword could’ve looked at Milwaukee. Well, first of all, Iron Man could have looked at Milwaukee or anywhere else, in Wisconsin. There have many places throughout the country that do it. Crossfit. It only happens, the Crossfit Games only happens in Madison where it used to be L.A., right? Yeah. So there though, I mean, you know, one of the biggest cities in the country chose Madison, Wisconsin. Tell us more about that and how that came about.
Deb: Well, um, our sports commission team, Jamie Patrick led it. We were really interested, he approached them about trying to bring a regional event here and uh, we flew him out to, one of the games in la so he could sort of get to know it with another staff member and uh, met their team. And um, I think when their team started to get to know Jamie and hear about Madison, um, one of the people that we work most closely with grew up in Minnesota. So he knew a little bit about Madison and um, they got intrigued and, we brought them here for a site visit in the summer of I guess 2016. And, it was sort of funny actually because they came and Jamie Jamie was very strategic about what to show them and where we thought that would fit on the Alliant Energy Center campus.
Deb: But when we’re having breakfast at Marigolds, which is a great breakfast spot, um, they said to us, they’ve been here a few hours, are you paying people to like run and bike and do things in front of us? And we were like, well, no. Hadn’t occurred to us. Um, and it took them a while to warm up to it, but when they started, as they got the vision, it was the same thing that happened when Iron Man came here. They got a vision that this city would embrace this. And they also, the scale of the city meant a lot to them because when they went to L.A., they weren’t the Stub Hub Center for the events. But then when people left, they just scattered all over Christendom. And they got the sense that if they brought it here, the athletes and the fans would all be in the same place essentially.
Deb: And that first year they were, Greg Glassman who owns Crossfit, told Jamie last year coming to Madison was one of the best business decisions he ever made because the athletes and the fans, they see each other all the time while they’re here. If you go to the restaurants while crossfit’s here you’ll run into the athlete’s, you’ll run into the fans. And it just created this, a much more synergistic, exciting atmosphere for them. And, um, they’ve been fabulous to work with. They are smart. Um, and it’s been, we have a contract with them for five years, so we have two years under our belt and, as people are close to it, know, no two games are alike. And so most of the, um, activities are kept really sort of secret until the games because they want the athletes to be really challenged when they come here.
Josh: Well, that’s awesome and easy as you were saying that, like they’re spread throughout the city and not just the city, but the suburbs we’re here in Middleton. And I remember being over at Cafe Zupas, great. Become one of my favorite lunch spots, not just because of proximity, but they have great healthy food as well. Uh, so being that I’m in line and there’s four to six crossfit athletes in front of me, um, getting like four different lunches for themselves, they’re fueling, right. So, but I mean you can certainly tell like they’re, yeah, I mean great athletes, so they’re in great shape and they’re in their Crossfit gear and getting this, you know, healthy lunch and whatnot. I was like, oh, so it has an impact in Middleton. I’m sure it has an impact spreading over to Sun Prairie. Uh, but then even so being at the gym that I go to as well, at Carbon World Health, they’re using the cryotherapy there as well. So I mean most of it’s not just the hotels and the convention center and, and the Alliant Energy Center and all that. It’s all the local businesses from food to gyms to optherwise, I’m sure the, you know, and uh, carbon isn’t a Crossfit gym. But it has cryotherapy. So I’m sure the Crossfit gyms, even see an actual boom from that as well.
Deb: Yeah. And if you think about Iron Man, the first one was here in 2002 and think of all the running stores, the businesses that have started the personal trainers, the extension of what’s happened because Iron Man came here. Um, it’s these events have long, long, long lasting legacy for our community.
Josh: And ironman, is it still true that it’s the, highest spectated in the world?
Deb: It is one of their hallmark events and a lot of it has to do because of our great community. I mean, still after what, 17 years, we still see people lined the streets on the biking course and downtown when you’re on State Street for the end of the marathon. Um, Iron Man loves coming here and it’s been a wonderful story for us.
Josh: Experts say that you are the average of the five people you hang out with and the books that you read, we’d like to suggest the podcast that you listen to as well. So hit that subscribe button and add Madison’s top leaders to your circle. We’d also encourage you to share this podcast with as many friends as possible. Our mission is simple to inspire people and impact lives. If you know of a friend or colleague that could benefit from listening to some of Madison’s top leaders. Give us a share. Now back to our guest.
Josh: Yeah, it’s awesome. So, my wife’s first cousin was, I don’t know if he still is, but he was a professional. He started his own coaching business now and he’s down in Fort Wayne, Indiana. But, uh, watching him, chasing him, uh, throughout the time to see, uh, the professionals finish and he finished his highest fifth here, uh, in about nine hours, like, you know, but it’s still nine hours. You’re chasing them all day. So you’re going, out starting downtown at the Terrace. You’re driving, then get in your car, drive out to Verona, Mount Horeb for the bike, getting back downtown for the finish. And then it’s an all day thing, but the best part is going to watch the finish line for the amateurs.
Josh: We run a lot of the finish line stuff and you’re right, the swim start is amazing cause, it’s the only time all the athletes are in one place, so the swim start is amazing. And then you’re right after dark. Those people that have been working for 14, 15, 16 hours and the crowd that’s down there, you’re right, it’s, it’s electric.
Josh: Yeah. You get goosebumps. Like I would just remember just seeing that in some of the people in some of the stories that you hear from people overcoming certain health or certain injuries or whatever it may be finishing this feat, like I have zero and like, I’m in very good shape, but I have zero inclination to ever do an Ironman. That’s just not how I’m built but I’m really inspired by people that go out there and do it.
Deb: I agree. It’s been wonderful for our community health wise I think. Lifted a lot of people and made people think about their health and the Crossfit’s interesting because it’s gotten a lot of restaurants to do a lot more paleo menus and really think about food, Whole Foods I know it does really well that week and Trader Joe’s and um, it’s, it’s an interesting, it’s an interesting success story.
Josh: So let’s talk a little bit about that as we’ve been talking about some of the multiple businesses impacted by just these games. Uh, I don’t want to talk about the water, uh, arena thing that the Crossfit games did this year cause I was pretty close. We’ll come back to that. But the tourism, the dollars that come in and what does this, what does this all mean to Madison?
Deb: Well, um, annually for the last 10 years, it’s over a billion dollars a year. The visitors and that’s, that’s not a turnover factor. That’s actually what gets spent by visitors throughout the year. And uh, people familiar with Madison. It’s everything from World Dairy Expo that comes here every year.
Josh: And that’s one of the largest, uh, revenue generators, right?
Deb: It is, it is. Epic’s, user group meeting that they hold, in September we’ll now it’s August, um, you have iron man, you have Crossfit at all the conventions that come here and all the individual visitors, the parents that visit their kids in school. Um, it’s, it, it’s over $1 billion a year industry. And I think people oftentimes think the hotel industry is, that’s where the majority of dollars go. But actually food and beverage is the number one, uh, spending piece because not all visitors stay in a hotel. Some say with friends, some stay with their kids, some stay with relatives. Um, and, but food, when you travel, everyone eats. So food and beverage is the largest one. If you think about the, the sort of trickle down, all the restaurants have to buy their food from someone and you know, so as we get to be more, more of a local food place too, it’s a lot of the local farmers and local producers and um, so, uh, the income that it’s bringing to individuals, to businesses, um, and, and not what people would think about.
Deb: Again, Whole Foods told us the first year Crossfit was here. It was like Christmas for them in August. And it was, um, who, who wouldn’t think that Crossfit would be profiting Whole Foods, but it makes sense. They all come in, they get all their food for the week, their fuel, as you said. And um, it’s a, it’s a tourist visitors mean a lot to a community. The other thing is our community. We could never, the population would never support all the restaurants and things are to do here. If visitors were coming here, you would, we would not have the plethora of attractions and businesses that we all get to enjoy. But because visitors come here, we have higher quality and more of them.
Josh: Yeah. And we don’t have enough businesses to support even Monona Terrace. Right without the visitors.
Deb: No, no, no. Monona Terrace, if it weren’t for visitors what had been built, but it would never survive.
Josh: Right? Yeah. I think from what I understand in the history behind that, it would have been built, but third of them needed some major dollars to come in and beyond that for it to survive.
Deb: Right. Conventions and conferences account for more than half their revenue every year.
Josh: Yeah. And then you think about how many weddings happen there, but you only have about three months or running. Susan. So sorry. Yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s amazing. The thing about, so let’s think about, uh, what are some unique places for business owners to take clients or whether it be a restaurants or just meetings in general?
Deb: Well, I think, um, it sort of depends on what mood and what you’re trying to do, but you know, it’s everything from the Madison Club too. If you want something formal, you know, one of my favorite places to take people in the summer, which a lot of people don’t even know about is the Lake Vista cafe on the top of Monona terrorists. You’re going to have a small meeting or a client. It’s, it’s lovely. It’s beautiful. The food is great. You’re outside, you look at the lake. Um, and then you have places, you know, favorites of pit people. If you’re entertaining clients, you know, their tornado room, um, graph downtown, graze, Look Tuol but then you have the as a, you know, Nov, no on the top of the AC hotel downtown, which has spectacular views or you go and you have a small meeting at the Avenue Bar Avenue Club on east wash, you know, um, and those are downtown places.
Deb: But then you got, there’s a great new place out in Cambridge called the dancing goat that’s a new distillery and a brewery and it’s got, it’s got a great restaurant. Um, I just toured the Garver feed mill that’s being redone by overt gardens and Ian’s pizza’s going to put in a brand new family friendly restaurant inside Garber. Female Garver feed mill is an old structure that’s behind Albert Gardens that is being turned into a quite a large, um, both business incubator, a production facility, but it will have also retail outlets. Um, and then we’ll be opening next year. There’ll be opening next summer. Um, there are so many good places. The Edgewater is a great place for meetings. Um, the concourse, one of the things about our community is there are a lot of the really strong brands you can, you know, take people to the Hilton. You can take people at the Hyatt place.
Deb: Um, but then we have these amazing independence, you know, whether it’s the concourse or the edge water. Yeah. We have, uh, which really fit in our community. Um, the AC, the graduate Madison, there’s a restaurant on top of the graduate Madison Hotel on Langdon Street. And I’ll never say the name right, but it’s camp to dip anondy or something. It’s very kitschy. It’s darling and you could have meetings up there to great restaurants, the top floors, so you get a view of the like, um, anybody that needs help with anything like that can reach and we can be happy to help guide you to find something either unique or something if you want, you know, standards you’re used to. Um, we will, uh, be able to point you in the right direction.
Josh: Well, it’s awesome. I’ve been to almost all of those places. I did not know about the one you can pronounce the camp.
Deb: I’m not going to say it’s at the top of the graduate Madison Graduate Madison Hotel on Langdon Street.
Josh: All withdrawal. Just look that up as well. But there are held events at a Edgewater I’ve held events, especially Cambridge winery who has a really neat place, which used to be Matt Kenseth car museum. That’s right. Turn that and draw a winery. Then we had our awards dinner there, uh, earlier this year.
Deb: Great. A lot of great things and think about all the lovely little towns that are around here where you can do things in new Glarus or Mount Horab or mineral point or we’ve got some amazing places and if you lose, we got places. If you’re uh, Madison College has a new challenge course if you’re trying to do some business development, um, it’s a great new challenge course. You can do ropes. They do all sorts of things. They’re putting together a phenomenal program for businesses.
Josh: Well in school. I was really cool. Are always thinking about as you brought up new Glarus. Every student new Glarus brewery is a great spot to visit as well. They’ve done a major renovation on the last few years and it’s been awesome. And then I, uh, one of my brothers who went to UCF, central Florida, uh, his friends would visit it a couple times. The first time we introduce them to spot a cow. Then the next time they came up they said, uh, Hey, uh, let’s get some of that Moomoo beer.
Josh: They didn’t remember the name. They said hey can we get some of that Moomoo beer? You mean spotted cow? Yeah, that stuff.
Josh: So it was just funny how they remembered it.
Deb: If you’ve never been to Madison, you have to have Spotted Cow.
Josh: That’s right. It’s one of those things now for us. So, you know, I still, I still enjoyed it, but I think a lot of people, you know, get into other microbreweries as well because they’ve, they’ve had it their whole lives or had access to a beat from here. But for those that have not been or don’t have access to and have not had access to it or just from another state, it’s a novelty. So it’s, it’s an, it’s a good one. So, so unique places for business owners for, um, I think we need to talk about drinks, lunch, dinner. You mentioned marigolds for breakfast.
Deb: Yeah. Marigolds, one of my favorite, but there are other places like Sue Joe Downtown and Tavern Akaya um, uh, graft downtown rare. Um, and all of these, another beauty of this tipsy cal, they’re all independence and so their unique, um, mostly work with local producers. Um, feel table, Eh, you know, if you were sort of a Vegan or really into, you know, I’m eating really healthy field table downtown is phenomenal.
Josh: Oh, it’s all local farm food, right?
Deb: It is. Yeah. It is.
Josh: Boomer looks very good burger even though I’m not a Vegan, but the, the local farm fresh revive their schools as well.
Deb: Absolutely. And they’re opening breakfast. I’m old fashion. A lot of people don’t know. Old fashioned is a favorite with a lot of people. People don’t know. You can have breakfast it old fashioned too. They have a little side room that they serve breakfast and it’s lovely. You get pancakes or Granola or a lot of people. Right.
Josh: That’s actually fantastic. I did not know that for a while. Uh, and I, you know, like we talked about before, I lived downtown for a number of years and, and uh, we happened to stumble across it I think after or during a farmer’s market. And, uh, we were like, oh, how did we not know?
Deb: Right, right. So, well kept secret. Exactly.
Josh: So we talked a little bit about before, um, hotels versus airbnb and what’s been done there and how are you guys were instrumental in the airbnb side of things. Can you talk about that for us? And because Chad asked you that question, what does that, does that really hurt the hotels here? Then you had a great answer. Can you tell our audience about that?
Deb: Sure. Well, airbnb obviously is a disruptor like Elle. So many, it’s really a technology business. Um, uh, so many businesses and it’s become ubiquitous. And when I first started getting popular six, seven years ago, um, we all knew, particularly in a city like Madison, we thought, okay, the type of visitor we were talking about earlier, some of those visitors will be airbnb lovers. And so we thought, we can’t turn our back on this. Um, but we also want to make sure there’s an equal playing field so that if they come into the market, how do you make it so that they aren’t really hurting the hotel community or at least are they contributing at the same level, paying taxes, being insured, being licensed, that other accommodations are required to do. So we worked with the city on what’s called a transient rooming house ordinance that, uh, in order to be a host now in the city of Madison, you have to have to be licensed.
Deb: They have to have insurance and they have to, um, well airbnb makes have, I’m sure it’s, but they have to also collect a room tax from visitors. And so they are now, I’m the city. Madison has an actual agreement with the airbnb itself that airbnb collects the tax, remits it to the city. And so there are equal playing field, equal footing with the hotels that are here in terms of contributing back to the community and they have to be licensed. And that’s really helpful because we always want everybody to have a safe experience. And so making sure they’re licensed, which mostly had to do with health inspections that they are, the hosts have to have their airbnb. AIRBNB is go through a health inspection just as a hotel would. And so, um, it’s been successful in that. Now the hosts that now licensed are really serious about running really high quality airbnb’s.
Deb: It’s not just someone who, you know, because I know there’s a game this weekend decide they want to rent their house out for the weekend. It’s a, it’s a little more regulated than that and we’re happy about that. Again, safer experience, better experience. Um, but it has, you know, it has certainly had an impact on the hotel industry. You know, we, we can’t quite quantify it at all. And yet we know with things like crossfit and iron man, we know that when the iron man was here 10 years ago, there was an airbnb. Right. And we know that some of those people are now using airbnb versus staying in a hotel. There’s always been host families, but they’d probably Oh yes.
Josh: Cause I mean even when you go to a big golf tournament, people are giving up their houses as like the host family and whatnot.
Deb: You’re right. Sure. Yes. But it’s just now the sort of average fan and other people are choosing airbnb. Um, and it’s, it’s popular here.
Josh: Yeah. So that tax, is that unique to Madison or is that done by a lot of citizen?
Deb: It’s everywhere. Okay. Um, I can’t think of any city across the country that doesn’t have some level of tax. Sometimes the city loves, you said sometimes a county, sometimes the state and in our state of Wisconsin and their lever, uh, at slowly by cities. Okay.
Josh: Well in the, it makes sense. I just wanted to know how that, how that worked because you definitely want to have an even playing field for all businesses. Absolutely. So that’s good. Um, let’s talk about Bucky. So you guys were, you guys were, this was really interesting as well. You guys, most people think that the university was in charge of the buckies on parade, but that was you guys. So talk about, uh, the inspiration for that idea all over in behind it, and then we’ll talk about more of the success of it and you’re going forward.
Deb: Sure. Well, the inspiration actually came from our good friends at University of Iowa. I don’t know of our good friends at least, and rivalries. Yes, that’s right. Our counterparts over there are, we absolutely love them. They were great team at their convention and visitors bureau. And they approached us, gosh, 14, 15 years ago. They first did it in 2004. They had their herky on parade and they came over to us. They had worked with our athletic department, their convention of visitors bureau put it on, came to us, and, um, they were going to franchise the idea. And, um, we talked about it and the timing just wasn’t right. And, um, it was just something that when it came here, I just kept thinking, I mean, I hadn’t even lived here that long and I went to another big 10 school, but it was so clear that people have such a passion here for Bucky badger that it never really left my mind.
Deb: And they did it 10 years later in Iowa. And we heard, they did a 10 years later. And I called them and I said, was it as successful the second time? And they said, probably more so and so we thought, we need to do this, but the timing had to be right. And we finally had a team on our staff that had such a passion for this. And, um, our marketing person at the sports commission, Kate deal was just wild badger fan. And we said, let’s figure this out. So we went to the university, the chancellor, chancellor blank loved the idea and they gave us the rights to do this. Now they were closely involved. Uh, we did the artists, they were on the jury for the artist’s design. Um, but it was, it wasn’t, it was a behemoth of a project probably bigger than we ever imagined going into it. But it has been so it’s been so successful on so many levels. We’ve raised a lot of money for charity. We will be giving over the next month over $1 million to different charities in the area, which is phenomenal. We had no idea what we would be able to raise that much money. The community raised that money because they sponsored the statues. Um,
Josh: but that idea was huge because, I mean we’re a very giving community, but that was unique. That was a unique opportunity.
Deb: And so once it’s a once, maybe once in a lifetime, we don’t know, we wouldn’t run out and do it again in a couple of years. It’s a, was so unique and we want to respect those people that sort of took advantage of this one time, um, by statue might be the only time they ever get to buy it and then give to buy one that the community embraced it. It brought a lot of joy to a lot of people. We s we worked our offices on the square, we watched families, grandparents, couples, all ages just all summer enjoying being around seeing these bikinis. I mean, it literally just lit peoples faces up. It was, um, it was truly a joyful thing to be, to know that we did that for the community.
Josh: I told you beforehand, but my girls loved it. They, uh, you know, I every where you go, there’s marketing, there’s Mckee. Can we get a picture? Can we get a picture? Yup. Yup. We’re going to stop and get a picture. Yeah. Whether it was Hilldale, whether it’s downtown, where, I mean, every spot that they were, they, the kids almost like the golden arches of Mcdonald’s. Like they recognize it just like that.
Deb: The artists did a great job and we’re so grateful that you’ve w had the insight. They just really, they believed in it right from the start.
Josh: Right. So how many artists
Deb: there were about 60 artists and 85 design. So some of the artists did two of them.
Josh: And they’re all so unique. Okay.
Deb: We’re one of a kind from celestial Bucky that was painted and you know, glow in the dark paint to crazy legs, Bucky, which was the one that we didn’t put out until the end of the summer. And um, so you had some sublime, some sort of typical university. We had band ones with instruments on them and uh, one layered in all pennies called Lucky Bucky. Yup. Um, and, and so many companies, um, you know, this was a real collaborative effort, companies that you probably work with, two men and a truck and why con concrete and Colin Construction, um, these companies stepped up and they were with us every step of light. Madison College was a huge partner with us. They warehouse them, they coded them through their auto body program. Um, I mean it, it was amazing to see the community people wanting to be a part of this. It was really fun to watch.
Josh: So you said the average was silver?
Deb: I’m going to say around 20,000
Josh: and the hardest one, 47. Awesome. So that’s how they get to the big number. Um, some of that money goes to you guys, but the majority is going to,
Deb: sure. Yes. Guarding against cancer. Um, will soon receive a really nice big gift, uh, from the community really.
Josh: Well, that’s why I was happy to hear that because that’s one of our passions here and mine was given to Alex’s lemonade stand is our partner, but all towards the same of fighting a childhood cancer. So I’m happy to happy to hear that because that’ll do a lot of good.
Deb: One of the things that a lot of people don’t know is when you, uh, if you were a spot, a statue sponsor, you could designate 10% of that to any charity of your choice. So we have several other charities in the community and a couple of outside the community that are receiving, um, uh, we’ll receive gifts as a result of the sponsors choosing, selecting them as a, a specials.
Josh: Do you know offhand how many charities are going to benefit?
Deb: I think it’s about 15 or 20.
Josh: Wow. That’s awesome. So, all right. So this one idea that’s really about our university’s mascot spurned into creating a revenue for our convention bureaus and also 15 to 20 charities. Yes. She was phenomenal.
Deb: Yup. And just, and the joy of going abroad, um, I think it was just, it was a really, uh, the newspaper get did an editorial and called it the summer of Bucky love. And it really was, it was, it touched so many people. I mean, we have heartwarming stories about people and families and, um,
Josh: no, tell us a little bit about that. The other one, we talked about it a little bit before.
Deb: Yeah. We had one family who I’m near the end of the parade, um, sent to us to photographs and um, young family, three young children being in the summer. Um, they were, um, touring the buckies and um, they sent us a picture of that and then they send us a picture later in the summer with the family, uh, the parents and two children. And as it turned out, they lost one of their short young children in the summer. And they sent us the pictures because they said they wanted to us to know. I get very chill or teary when I think about it. They wanted us to know how special their summer was because of the buckies and there last summer with their son and that they want to share that with us. And um, we’re actually going to make a donation in his name to the children’s hospital. Um, I’m not going to say their name, but anyway, it was, we had several really touching stories. Uh, we had a woman who had cancer. She was turning 60 and she decided she was going to visit every 85 Bucky and she dressed like that Bucky.
Josh: So how did she make the pennies?
Deb: You know, I care, I’d have to pull up the pictures because she said if she posted pictures. I mean, that was the other thing that social media on this is one of the things that I think made it, uh, could make it so successful because it, everything went viral. And, um, I don’t know, Josh, that’s a great question. I don’t know her penny one. I can remember some of the costumes, I can’t remember the pennies, but she worked really hard at it. Penny is to address a lot of work. She heavier garment to wear. She may have go to get, go to my camp, prayed Instagram or Facebook and you’ll be off
Josh: the most. Awesome. Any other stories that stick out for you? Okay.
Deb: Oh Gosh. You know more. The one thing I would, the other thing we said was about halfway through the summer we got people calling us and saying, what do we get if we saw all 85 and particularly children, you know, is there a prize? Is there something? And so we did do some online things, but we said, why don’t we just, somebody on our staff just said, why don’t we just create a button and you can come to our office and tell us, show us your pictures or whatever. You get a five you get a button. I said, I found them all, but we had no idea. We had almost 3000 people come to our office. We’re in an office building to get their buttons. There’s like a book or program of Pizza. If I read five books, I get a free person. Yes, yes.
Deb: You’re just giving them a button. Yes. And these precious children would hold up cause we had children, got kids guides and they would say, here’s my guide. I saw all 85 it was grandparents would bring their kids in. Oh yeah. We’ve spent doing it all summer and we had a group, we had one group of like college friends who came to town one weekend and saw all of them in one day. They did it as a group. That was their goal. They’re going to do all of them one day. All right. So good for them. It was good. Oh I’m sure. Well that’s great. So what else are you
Josh: um, move that you can talk about right now? The, the Madison or people that are looking to coming Madison should know about?
Deb: Sure. Um, we’re working really hard right now on a couple of big projects that would be really be in the future. We’re looking at working with the county on the future of the Alliant energy center campus. And what can be embellished and enhance on the campus and everything around that campus. Um, we’re working with the city on trying to get the new hotel near men on a terrorist that what they’re the judge Doyle Square hotel. And there were also supporting a group of really brilliant, um, landscape designers who’ve been working pro bono for years on a concept to build out the waterfront on John Nolan drive between Manana terrorists and Williamson Street and Sardine restaurant where we have this beautiful lakefront and we’re big believers that lakes are one of the reasons that draw most of us here, keep us here, attract people. And yet we don’t celebrate our waterfronts the way a lot of places do.
Deb: And so we’re really a, of trying to push these big ideas about how do we help people celebrate the lakes. Um, and so that’s called a Nolan waterfront project and so we’re working with them. So that’s where we’re spending a lot of time sort of on big strategic things. But we are, our team is constantly, you know, we’re, we bring clients here all the time and I wish I could share the names of some of them, but they’re, they’re sort of, as you said, iron man could, could’ve looked in Milwaukee. We didn’t let no walking. No, that iron man was looking at us. So we don’t talk about some of these clients, but they’re clients that people would be like, wow, we would love to see that here. Um, we just had a work with the university. We had the NCAA cross country national championships here. They’d never been here, which was awesome. It was, it was a phenomenal success. They weren’t Terre Haute for years and years and years. Phenomenal success. The university did an amazing job. Um, we’d love to get that back. Um,
Josh: do they, so they were in Terre Haute for years, so they could be in a spot for years. They don’t move it around every year.
Deb: No, they were in terror hope for many years, multiple years. And uh, I was gone that weekend. I wasn’t able to observe it, but everyone who was around it a said that we got rave reviews and that Tom Zimmer cross country course at the university built like cross country runners. My daughter was a runner and a lot of friends said it’s
Josh: an incredible course. Yeah, those are for me. So My, my mentor, uh, his, uh, his son is running for Duke and he’s a freshman and he was coming to Madison or watching them. That was one of the qualifiers. It wasn’t a cause dukes. Oh, the prenups do are the prenups or are, I don’t know about a lot of, uh, made the nationals with a prenups years here and I happened to be out of town for the weekend. He’s like, yeah, do you know where this is? I was like, I know exactly where that’s at. And he’s like, any restaurants we should go to? I was like, yes, you should grow that. I know Vino since you’re a be on this side of town, you should go over here. I was like, uh, so it was just, you know, it’s how I’m happy to give those Russians, I wish I was in town or where to spend some time with him, but he and his son had nothing but great things to say about the course about Madison or it was great. And he’s from Denver as Sam, these songs out of Duke. So that’s fantastic. We love those stories. So are you the ones that help with, uh, proteins or did you help with the soccer? Did you help with? Uh, uh, well, Ryan suter strong Madison, the Madison capital’s, I don’t know if you guys had anything to do with those,
Deb: not bringing him here, but we love to promote them. Peter Wilt, I got to know when one in Wisconsin sports development corporation was in business. He was with the admirals. Um, we’re here to support them, promote them. We want them to be successful. I mean, we’d been waiting for some of those success stories. I mean, look at them all with the Malheur tip done, which is they are an amazing company. And, um, so creative and, uh, we’d love to see the soccer team do the same thing. And the fact that Breese Stevens has resurrected as this, you know, and again, on a big top, the mallards folks who are running that great, great music venue, you know, sports, um, to see that building resurrected as fabulous. And then to know that the new Sylvie is across the street with just unbelievable music acts. Um, and there are other, you know, there’s another thing I’m going to mention
Josh: last March,
Deb: they were, they were, um, people don’t know that we have one of the finest comedy stores in the country. I was listening to an interview on entertainment radio, the other, uh, about three weeks ago with Judd Apatow. A lot of people know what jot avatars, filmmaker, comedian, he was starting his, he’s going on tour again. He started here and when he, they asked him on entertainment radio where you started, he said, oh, I’m starting at the comedy store in Madison. And they said, really? They said, that’s awesome. He said, one of the best comedy places in the country. And they have phenomenal acts there. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So he was here. He was here about two weeks ago.
Josh: Oh, sorry. I love Judd Apatow movies. Most of them were most, yeah, that’d be great. And a Brie Stevens is funny. You mentioned that. I literally, the tickets for Toby Keith went on sale, uh, this weekend I booked because that’s on my wife and i’s anniversary and our shea was a, hey, you got plans June 21st and she was like, yeah, it’s our anniversary. I was like, yeah, yeah, here’s the tickets.
Deb: Perfect. And my daughter’s getting married the day after the Paul Mccartney concert, so I can’t go to the Palmach art one more. When was that? That’s June six. Okay. So anyway, those are the sorts of things if people aren’t familiar with Madison is just, we have amazing, amazing assets here and things that go on here.
Josh: Yeah, surely. Great night. I agree on that. Bruce Stephens in particular, because that’s been like, it’s just a unique spot that’s been on east wash for forever and it’s been really under utilized up until the last couple of years.
Deb: Right. And you’ve talked to people who grew up here and you know, monarchs played baseball there and then, you know, Edgewood used to play there and it was, it’s got a great history and to, I think it’s fabulous to preserve those places and the memories that are there. New Ones.
Josh: Absolutely. So let’s go back to the a waterfront project and stuff like that and then stuff that you’re working on. Um, what are the challenges you face?
Deb: Well, I think, I think the big hurdles are emotionally, you know, you need people to really get behind these because it’s a big lift financially, you know. Well, there have to be, you know, revenue sources that’ll have to be, you know, whether it’s state, city, county, um, as well as other revenue sources. You know, is there an additional, you know, whatever hotel tax, I don’t know what it is. Um, and private and private investment, you know what I’m going on, a terrace was built, there was a private investment part to that too. I served with overture. Right, exactly. And so those are big lifts. But when you think about, you know, the way I always talk about it, it, it won’t be for my children, but it might be for my grandchildren. I mean these are, it’s what they call cathedral thinking, you know, in Italy or it was, you know, 500 years ago when the people, the Mason started building cathedrals, they knew they would never see it.
Deb: Yeah. But they knew what it meant. And these are the types of things that we want our community to think. Okay. What would it be like? I mean that Nolan waterfront can be our millennial park if anybody knows Chicago and knows what grant park was like 30 years ago versus what it is now. I mean it was the top to a parking lot. I mean it was nothing. And now it is just this center piece of the city of Chicago and I look at the Nolan waterfront is being sort of the living room of our city that could have an amphitheater. You could have the Frank Lloyd Wright Boat House that he designed years ago. That could be a visitor center. You could rent canoes and enjoy it. And then you look at the Alliant energy center and what we’ve been able to do with what we have. But if we can, uh, we can improve the coliseum and put some restaurants out there and add some businesses and things around the sort of underutilized property that surrounds that and that’s the gateway to the city. How wonderful would it be if that were this magnificent gateway in our city, looks wise and just draw you right in. And he’d draw a growth driver, cross the causeway. Um, we want the community to start thinking it’s not about today, it’s about what is this place in 25?
Josh: Yeah, when you, and your, and I talked about pretty sure it was there were both from the Illinois and I moved up here, uh, where you are on stops in between broke. I ended up here and what that means. And so I do know what Chicago looked like in that. And now, now having attended Lollapalooza and other events down there, uh, the NFL draft was there, um, what the, what the park is brought in revenue and entertainment and everything to Chicago. Maybe it wouldn’t be the same scale, but there’ll be our scare that’d be scalable for us.
Deb: Exactly. Sure. And look what city and cities think that way. Look at Indianapolis, um, what it has become and what it was 25 years ago and what it has become
Josh: very sharp. Things are held there. Uh, the final four was holder because we attended that with the
Deb: see double areas to work in Kansas City. Ncaa moved its headquarters there. I’m drunk core Internet, John core championships. We’re here every once in a while. Every sort of four or five years were at Camp Randall there in Indianapolis every year now and their headquarters drunk course headquarters. You’re there.
Josh: Well, cause they have the space, the uh, in our hotels, the, the restaurants, everything to do it. So,
Deb: and the Lord them there.
Josh: So is there anything, uh, and I don’t want to dive into the weeds too much on this Missouri thing, uh, politically that’s sending in the way.
Deb: Um, not at this point. I think it’s really, actually the line energy center master plan is going to be presented to the county board on December 20th. I think most of them really understand that this is a huge opportunity. Then you have to really think out what’s the financing, what’s the operating structure? Um, uh, I think most people really, whenever you, whenever you talk about that with someone who lives here, everybody sort of nods her head and thinks, oh my gosh, that’s a huge opportunity. People don’t realize that campus is 164 acres. Yes, it’s huge. And so when you think what else could happen on that parcel, and if you take the ring around it, it’s 400 acres.
Josh: We’re just learning about broad fest and we’re to a Medicare office, right? They take up, we’re only a quarter of the space
Deb: crossfit builds. They built a stadium on one parking lot. Reebok had a 200,000 square foot shell on one parking lot. I mean, what can be done on that space is incredible. World Dairy Expo. I uses every inch of that hundred and 64 acres. Oh, that’s great.
Josh: Or work in the Madisonian is due to two criminal. I mean, this is a business lesson right here is like the first you have to have the vision and then you’ve got to have people that buy into that vision and make it come to fruition. So working in as Sonia was due to help with that.
Deb: I love that question. Joshy yes, let’s get engaged. Call Email if you’re really, if you’re interested, just pay attention, listen to it and then talk to your elected leaders, talk to your city council, all the leaders, talk to your elders, you know, and uh, Fitchburg, he really cares about this whole line energy center. Well all the community does. And then talk to your county board supervisors because the county board really is going to be the driver in what happens to this. And if you live in Dane County, you’ve got a supervisor. Um, just talk about how this is important. This is, this is important for our economy. It’s a, it’s going to drive jobs, it’s going to improve the future of our community and we want to be competitive because every other community around the country is doing things, investing in infrastructure. Um, they are making, I think how many cities voted to put their bids in to try to be, Amazon’s had HQ two, I mean 99 cities put bids in for that.
Deb: This is what cities are doing. And so if you want to get involved, call and elected official, talk to your local chamber of Commerce, call us and just say, how can you get involved? Cause we’re going to have committees that are going to be, you know, studying different aspects of this. Um, we’re going to have to do polling of residents and we want as much input as we can. What do you want out there? We did polling during broth fasts last year. We went around and did a online polling and uh, got some really, really interesting information from people about, they’d like more concerts. Um, they’d like more sports. They’d like, they’d like gaming, they’d like to see some gaming events come here and we need that information.
Josh: Yeah. Right. Cause the lion energy sort of from what I hear, it doesn’t draw a lot of good concerts cause we’re acoustically it’s way out of date.
Deb: That’s right. And the size, it’s sort of an odd size that size, uh, bands are either playing to smaller, intimate places like the Sylvie, right. Or they’re to big stadiums. Nope. Nope, nope. So like Mumford and sons who played at Alliant energy center year or two ago, next time they come in and come to the call center, they want something bigger. And it’s just that size of the Colosseum it works for. It works for some family shows like Disney on ice works for some concerts. Right. I bet you have that. You have the dinosaurs when they come.
Josh: Uh, the Orpheum immediately goes, it was Disney on ice coming back to the [inaudible] or like, I actually, I don’t think so. It’s not on the agenda, but yeah, no.
Deb: Are females and other spot majestic, all these places. Yeah.
Josh: So there’s a lot of great places, but yeah, I’ll be aligned. Energy Center spot could be tremendous. And again that the waterfront spot.
Deb: So please do get engaged, give us a call, talk to people in the business community. Um, we want people’s input, we want your energy, we want your insights. What have you experienced somewhere else that you’d love to see here?
Josh: Yeah, both those firms [inaudible] screwed feed better for everyone, but you can get involved in that. You’re putting yourself out there and say, hey, we can lead the charge on this and contacted me and let me know what it is we’re looking for.
Deb: Absolutely. We’ve got high energy board who’s just really excited about all these conversations.
Josh: No, it’s great. So you want to repeat where people can get ahold of you because I was asked that at the end, so I want to make sure that, where you get that back out there.
Deb: Sure. Uh, if you want to find out about Madison, go to visit we’re also on Instagram or on Facebook. Um, and um, you can reach me, Deb archer, just my last name, archer arc. Er Visit Love to hear from you. Um, I’m on my email all the time too much. But, um, we just, we, we, we love it. And if you’re bringing new people here and you have special questions or you are planning a business meeting or you, you are looking for something unique, please call us cause we have an incredible inventory and asset list of what people can do here. We also created these new things called essential Madison experiences. So they’re good for, you know, small groups. But even things like Betty Lou cruises have totally revised their experience for people. If you want to take a group out on a, on a cruise, um, we’re trying to create these experiences where people come to Madison and find something totally unique. You can even build your own old fashion, that bitters boot camp at the avenue bar. No Cure. No kidding. And it’s really fun.
Josh: Sorry, I’ll give a shout out to uh, porches role as you brought up Betty Lou. I know at one point though was a contentious thing, but there are so uniquely different. Um, and anyone that’s visited medicine where I usually take my interns out there because they’ve seen it on the lakes because a lot of them are on the CW Madison campus, but it’s a, both of them. I’ve done Betty Lou, I’ve done a pontoon porch and they’re so cool. So
Deb: there’s room for both. There was room for the Reebok fit barge this summer. I want to go back to that. That was fabulous.
Josh: Whose idea was that crossroads idea they brought in? Said
Deb: was it Reeboks idea? Well, who is it? It’s a, it’s a Reebok crossfit and after their first year here, they, the Reebok folks had a blast here the first year and they saw the lakes and it was their idea and they called us and we connected them with Tyler labor and wigger boot, Madison votes and Tyler, I don’t know if you know Tyler, you should have him on your show. He’s amazing. Um, he just absolutely made it happen. And the under part of the barge is actually the barge that shake the legs use for uses for the fireworks. And the fit barge was so popular and the only way to get the fit barch was to swim canoe or Kayak and it, they ran free classes. They sold up those classes filled up like in no time during yoga classes out there, a bootcamp. My daughter was here for the weekend, she’d a boot camp class on the barge. All that I didn’t see, but I’m sure sure
Josh: he was talking about the pontoon porch. We were on the puncher in portrait, I think it was with my, uh, uh, my staff and we’re going past them. They’re setting that up. And I was there setting up this rectangle and I had a goal on it. I was like, that’s gotta be a water polo. So, uh, we do someone that was involved with, with games and we asked them, we were like, oh yeah, they’re doing water polo author as well.
Deb: We, we, our hope is that next summer it’ll be up longer cause it was so popular. I know people in the neighborhood, they said they kayak there every day and they just let you walk in the barge. You could just sit there, they had couches and you could just sit there and you didn’t have to participate in a class. You could just sit there, the boat up there. And we’re sort of solution like, yeah, exactly. With a beer, have a beer and watch people or do you of that person’s got life figured out. Fear. It’s Wisconsin. That’s right.
Josh: We didn’t talk about about our great city either. We showed up today.
Deb: Oh, it’s so endless. I’m sure there are things that I, you know, I wish I would’ve talked about, whether it’s the distilleries, the craft beer. Um, we talked a lot about food. Um, and you know, we talked a lot about music, but they’re, you know, we’ve got opera and symphony and, um, you know, marvelous talented people here for motor of the overture, forward theater. Um, the performances that are here, um, uh, are tremendous and overtures. How home too, was it seven or eight resident companies? Um, and, um, that was a gift from, you know, the Fratti family, uh, that will be, uh, will last forever. And with multiple theaters and um, uh, state street. We didn’t mention state street. I think the other thing that we find interesting is a lot of cities you go to when they say, oh, to go to this district or that district, when you come here, you go to streets, you got to Willy Street where it’s sort of funky.
Deb: You got to Monroe Street and you find this sort of really cool vibe and state street is B connects the university with the capital. The capital is when you come to Madison the first time you have to go inside our capital because it is without a doubt one of the most stunning structures you’ll ever walk in. Yep, Yep. And, um, our legacy with Frank Lloyd Wright, if you come here and you’re a devotee of architecture to go to Talia Essen, we’re Frank Lloyd Wright first lived and built his first architectural culture and co-op, um, is a truly unique experience in when you’re out there, you can go to American players theater, which is phenomenal. Um, it’s, um, we could, we could talk all day about what there is to do and see and, um, it’s, it’s actually the hardest thing for people when they try to plan things. They always are like, somebody will call us and say, what weekend? We want to have a wedding and we want to know what weekend. There isn’t something going on, honestly. And it’s hard
Josh: when they’re thinking about gas and hotel space and venue and we know the terrorist fills up, uh, immensely. Uh, the course that I live on, Bishop’s bay is running. I mean, every weekend they’re running a wedding basically. Uh, which is a beautiful spot that overlooks the city from the opposite side. Yes. Those spaces, uh, I’m in, they fill up, I’m the union. Uh, all those spices. I, there’s a wedding going on almost every Friday and Saturday night
Deb: and his great golf here, phenomenal golf [inaudible] and you’ve got ice skating or ice skating in the winter at the edge water, you know, we’re a four season, you know, please, we embrace winter. It’s, it’s part of who we are. You can go fat tire biking once, you know, on the lakes once they freeze. Sorry. That’s right. The frozen assets festival. It’s the beginning of February. And um, there’s just, it’s, it’s a fantastic place to be able to call
Josh: which frozen assets supports our clean lakes, which are so vital. So. So everybody checked that out as well. So I really want to thank Deb archer president, CEO of Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau. Um, and we could talk about Madison all day, but rather go to so everyone can do that. Uh, and please come see us. Deb, I told you I wasn’t going to leave without giving me their favorite book.
Deb: Well since this is business oriented, I’m not going to pick one of them, but I will tell you that Stephen Covey has always been someone that I followed and I am old enough. And lucky enough I lived in Salt Lake when he was building his business and I was a part of the hotel sales marketing association chapter and we used to be able to bring him in as a speaker and uh, he didn’t charge us cause he was building his business. This was in the seventies and I will read anything, I will devour anything he writes and recommend it. And we oftentimes, um, we’ll pull stuff from a sort of a book, read a chapter that we’re doing in our office or something that we share with people. And oftentimes I’ll pull something from cubby cause I think that he’s just brilliant and, and makes things very simple about, you know, leading a great life and being a great leader.
Josh: Totally agree. Seven habits of highly effective is one of the most timeless business sports consistently rated in the top 10 by any, any, any expert that’s ever said, anything about barks that is one that’s almost always in there. Actually, I learned of Stephen Covey, uh, or my previous career was with best buy and sales management and uh, they gave us a of the day before smartphones, daily planners, their Covey planners, Franklin Covey, quotes galore in there. That was before I really got into self development. Uh, that might’ve been the start of it. So it’s our great, great reference or really have enjoyed having you on today. Deb, thanks for spending some time with us.
Deb: Sure. Absolutely.
Josh: Thanks for listening to another episode of inspire people, impact lives. If you’ve been inspired today, please share this episode with as many people as possible so that together our impact is exponential.

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