I type this with hands more sore and tanned than they were 48 hours ago. Last night I got home from ShareASale‘s annual ThinkTank event, held in Austin along Lake Travis at Lakeway Resort and Spa.
Brian Littleton, ShareASale President and CEO, and his team put on one heck of an event. There were plenty of organized opportunities to meet directly with merchants and affiliate managers to set up new relationships. And it was great to meet the ShareASale staff … a fun group of people!
I live in San Antonio, about a two-hour drive from the resort. I hit the road about 9:30am on Wednesday, giving me plenty of time for a leisurely Hill Country drive. And it was beautiful! Our recent rains have helped the area turn green, and a warm spring day can be glorious.
Checking in was uneventful, except for soaking in the ambiance of the Texas lake resort. Antlers and guitars were prominently featured in the motif. One guitar was signed by members of the Beach Boys, as well as all of the people from that event.
I headed right out to the golf course, where I met up with Brian Littleton and Lindsey Savoie, Merchant Development Manager (and heckuvan organizer). Brian was living up to the challenge of Best Dressed per foursome, decked out in hot-colored lightning-bolt pants. However, he graciously picked me as the top in my foursome, due to my plaid shorts and cap. We even have proof, as this made it into ThinkTank’s concluding video.
Brian also put us to shame at the opening tee. After Joe Sousa (not my cousin) knocked a straight fairway shot further than I’ve ever hit a drive, Brian offered a $20 bill to anyone able to hit one further than Joe. Of course none of us were able to match the distance. So Brian stepped up to give it a shot … and promptly crushed it. I knew I was in for a challenging afternoon, and declared that I would be happy to drop along the way when necessary to keep things moving.
I am happy to report that I didn’t humiliate myself too badly on the course. I shot the only par on the second hole. I stopped counting after that.
After nine holes, I needed to get back to the resort to check in on work, and to rest for a bit before the evening’s networking welcoming reception. Clad in my personalized blue “My name is Eric Souza and I am an Affiliate” t-shirt, I headed to the reception.
While everyone else was mingling inside, I walked around the back to call and say goodnight to my kids. It was a gorgeous spot overlooking Lake Travis with the sun nearing the horizon. The only other person out there was a friendly bartender named Nam, who kept me stocked with water and Shiner Bocks.
It was nice to have a quiet spot to sing our usual lullaby to the kids. And shortly after, people started making their way to the deck to watch the sunset. It was a great spot to meet new people and chat. And then when the group migrated back into the room (partially motivated by Missy Ward assuring me that there was indeed a sushi corner) the socializing kicked into high gear. There were 18 tables of OPMs and appetizers to walk through. And at each table, they stamped a card which at the end of the night, would serve as a ticket for a drawing for two round-trip tickets to … Hawaii! (Note the foreshadowing!)
I walked through and met old friends and made new ones. My list of favorite people is expanding!
As the evening was wrapping up, I grabbed a spot near Affiliate Boys of Summer podcast compadre Greg Hoffman and Fanatics‘s Wade Tonkin. We chatted for a bit, until the Hawaii trip drawing. I didn’t even realize they were pulling names until I heard … “Eric … Souza?”
It was quiet for a moment and then it sunk in … she called my name! When the initial shock wore off, I hooted a quick “Woo0Hoo!!” and walked up. Even now as I write this, I still can’t quite believe it!! And let me say again, THANK YOU ShareASale. This is incredible. I called my wife (woke her up!) and told her … she playfully didn’t believe me at first. 🙂
The rest of the trip, I’ve had a few offers for backups in case my wife can’t make it. Most notably, the Affiliate Boys of Summer guys, whom I told could be my dates so long as they wear bikinis. I think that swung the balance back to my wife.
The next morning was highlighted by the individual meetings. What a great idea this was, to organize merchants at stations and “speed-date” the affiliates with them in 15-minute chunks. I have a couple of irons in the fire with new relationships as a result of these meetings, and I’m eager to get them going!
The afternoon was spent on Lake Travis in a skiboat and a WaveRunner. Attendees were welcomed onto a yacht and a pontoon, which were tied together in a nearby cove as a Lake Party Central. But most of my time was spent in the front of the skiboat, and trying to relive my youth on a slalom ski and kneeboard. It was fun to get a little hydrosliding in, but the skiing was actually accomplished by guys like ShareASale’s Sales Director David Zelken (and apparently ShareASale’s push-up champion) and Nick Marchese, ShareASale Sales Specialist and Kermit the Frog impressionist. Sorry I didn’t get any shots of you skiing with the mask – classic! Glad the video crew got it.
The afternoon was a blur of wind-in-the-face fun on the lake, alternating between boat time and WaveRunner time. And by the time we got back to the docks, it was already nearly 6pm. I cleaned up and packed, since I had to drive home after the second night’s events. But I didn’t want to miss Shawn Collins and Missy Ward’s Affiliate Summit-sponsored poolside reception. I wasn’t able to make it to Summit because my wife was on call Tuesday (meaning a 24-hour shift in the NICU) but I was glad to see them at ThinkTank. It was another beautiful evening, with excellent catering an an open bar. I had stayed with water all day, knowing I would have to drive home after all was said and done.
The video itself – hilarious! Aside from the mashed potato bar and prime rib, that was the talk of the night. So much fun – can’t wait to see it again (despite the display of my skiing flops!).
So I said my goodbyes, sang my farewells and drove back through deer-thick roads until getting home about 12:30 this morning.
Thank you again, ShareASale, for putting on an excellent event.