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April 01, 2016

Industry Leaders Discuss Keys to Success at Phoenix Forum

TEMPE, Ariz.—Sean Christian says physical fitness is something that can’t be discounted when it comes to building a healthy company culture.  The Sacramento native returned home to launch Revolution Force last year and is now leading a team of 10 affiliate marketing veterans who have all gotten behind his progressive approach to management. “We are a no-drive shop,” Christian said Friday in front of a packed seminar room at the Tempe Mission Palms. “Everyone either walks or rides their bicycle to work. And three times a week we all walk to the park and eat lunch in the park like a bunch of hippies.” Christian made strong remarks on Day 2 of The Phoenix Forum during the entertaining panel titled “7 Habits of Highly Effective Leaders,” which was inspired by the bestselling self-help book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen R. Covey. The panel featured a diverse group of web-tech executives including Brad Mitchell (MojoHost), Michael Reul (TrafficPartner), Shay Efron (ImLive), Mia Hyun (Mobius Payments), Alec Helmy (XBIZ) and Ron Cadwell, the founder of CCBill, the host of The Phoenix Forum. Jay Kopita of YNOT moderated the session that highlighted a full day of education and networking just a few blocks away from the sprawling campus of Arizona State University. The wisdom from the panel came early and often and Christian wasn’t the only boss to share a thoughtful revelation. Brad Mitchell recalled that about seven years ago MojoHost saw “a turning point” when he decided to join the Entrepreneurs Organization, a global non-profit that helps leading entrepreneurs grow through peer-to-peer learning. “It was a sounding board,” Mitchell said, noting his group of fellow business owners met confidentially once a month. “I got to the point where I couldn’t work any harder; I needed to work smarter.”  Revolution Force’s Christian can relate; the former executive VP of AdultFriendFinder and co-founder of Cams.com has visited “a business coach” once a week for the past eight years. “Like a business therapist,” Christian revealed. Mitchell said that early on he decided to set a higher price and handle a lower volume of clients. “Because we wanted to provide a higher level of service,” said the Detroit-based Mitchell, whose 16-year-old company is now recognized as an industry leader. “You can’t be everything to everybody.” Shay Efron said it’s important to know “A to Z by heart” everything about your own company first and foremost, adding “I’ve never made a good deal with someone I don’t know.”  “It’s about personal relationships,” said Efron, the VP of ImLive and PussyCash. “It takes time.” Meanwhile, TrafficPartner co-owner Michael Reul assured, “You don’t have to screw people to be successful.” CCBill’s Ron Cadwell, who is in his 21st year in business and his 16th year conducting The Phoenix Forum, told the audience, “You can only do so much in a day. You can work your 16-hour days, but at a certain point you need to hire that next person. Don’t be afraid to hire that next person. “Whether you’re going from one employee to two, or 400 to 450, realize these other people can help you grow. We have 500 employees and I just approved two new people today.”  The day started with an informative discussion moderated by ASACP Executive Director Tim Henning about “Regulatory Changes” affecting the industry. The well-versed panel included Stephen Winyard (ICM Registry), Peter Phinney (Porn Guardian), Eric Paul Leue (Free Speech Coalition), Cathy Beardsley (SegPay), Raja Roy-Choudhury (Chargeback Help) and seasoned attorney Corey Silverstein. Noting there are “5.5 to 6 million sites that hold adult content,” Winyard warned the looming topic of age verification in the U.K. continues to be “one of the most highly complicated regulations to ever hit the industry.”  “The pressure is as high as it’s ever been,” Winyard said, noting that if the regs are approved they could potentially be “very draconian.” “Watch this space. Many other countries in the world are watching to see what happens.” Peter Phinney, who along with his partner Dominic Ford battles content piracy for about 400 clients, the majority of which are gay, noted, “we’ve found that 80 percent of adult content that is stumbled onto [by underage users] is actually stolen.” He said some pirates are pulling six-figure incomes by stealing content and that producers should make it a routine to copyright their finished title before it’s released; the cost to do it is $55 and could end up netting you tens of thousands in the event of a lawsuit. “You should build that into your production scheme,” Phinney said. “I encourage you to.” Nowadays, if original, or “work-for-hire” music is playing during the intro to a movie or the B-roll footage, that can be grounds for a copyright infringement suit if your movie ends up on a tube site without your permission. Rights holders could sue for performance royalties, statutory damages and legal fees, Phinney said. “Hire someone who can come at this in a logical and linear way rather than from a point of anger,” Phinney urged. SegPay’s Cathy Beardsley added, “Visa and Mastercard will act upon something that is copyrighted.”  The FSC’s Eric Paul Leue pointed out the government doesn’t necessarily want to deal with regulating the adult industry. “That’s why self regulation is key,” Leue said. “And that’s why working together and standing united is incredibly important.” Leue also spoke of reducing “the divide between public perception and industry reality.” He said the mandatory condom fight in California—there is a measure on the November election ballot—is critical because other states don’t have the money or the resources to combat a similar law being passed and it’s possible the outcome in California’s would go regional and then national. The Detroit-based lawyer Corey Silverstein stressed “the data privacy arena is one of the biggest issues” and companies ought to be taking it seriously. “It’s not just a U.S. problem, it’s a world problem,” Silverstein said, noting the fully thought-out privacy policies at the bottom of sites are of the utmost importance.  Beardsley concluded, “Don’t stick your head in the sand. If you hear something that scares you, take the bull by the horns.” The topic of high-tech interactive sex toys took center stage during “The Power of Pleasure Product Partnerships” panel, which was moderated by C.T. Schenk, the founder of the new male masturbator Blewit!. Frank Kok, the Amsterdam-based sales director for KIIROO, which makes the Pearl and Onyx devices, said his company places tech first. “With KIIROO it’s not about our two products, it’s more about our technology behind the products,” Kok said. He revealed that in less four months KIIROO and Fleshlight will launch a new device that will make the all the millions of Fleshlights already in consumers’ homes “interactive in one click.” “With our technology we can connect toys together and bring companies together,” Kok said. Kok was joined on the panel by Jeff Dillon, the VP of business development for Gamelink; Steve Scalzo, sales executive for North America-East and South America for CCBill; and Carrie Martz, the president of Clean Light Laboraties that launched UVeeToys.com at the AVN Novelty Expo in January. Uvee Sanitizers is billed as “the only sanitizing and charging storage system for adult toys,” promising to eliminate “up to 99 percent” of all germs, bacteria and yeast found on pleasure products. “We did a lot of work in the science of toys before launching,” said Martz, who spent 30 years in the mainstream advertising sector before venturing into adult.  Martz said she is on a board of advisers for a high-profile hospital that facilitates the use of sex toys by cancer patients after surgery “to help enhance confidence.” She added, “We will be selling our product through OB-GYN offices because a lot are beginning to sell vibrators.” Schenk suggested that in general sex toy users are just “looking for a new experience.” “Men can have multiple orgasms over and over again for 20 minutes; the problem is men don’t understand what’s possible with their own body,” Schenk said. “True pleasure is 100 percent vulnerability.” When Friday’s seminar program wrapped, attendees headed to the courtyard at the Mission Palms for the annual Sponsor Meet & Greet, where attendees mingled and picked up bags full of swag. BitterStrawberry’s squirt guns were among the most popular giveaways on the 85 degree afternoon. Lots of attendees planned to check out The House of Slam, presented by Adnium, at the pool for their late-night entertainment. This year’s musical acts include Method Man of Wu Tang Clan and Mix Master Mike of the Beastie Boys.

 
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