I’ve launched a new monthly series I’m calling Interview With A Trade Show Exec. While it may not have the Gothic setting of an Anne Rice novel, I think these main characters are just as complicated and deep as were Lestat de Lioncourt and Louis de Pointe du Lac, but without all that brooding undead thing going on.

To kick off this series I sat down with Dan Cole, Vice President, Sales and Business Development at International CES. (Okay, I didn’t actually sit down with Dan, but I did send him a questionnaire which he very willingly filled out.)

Dan Cole_11.07Dan Cole
Vice President, Sales and Business Development
International CES
22 Years in the Industry

Traci Browne: Where did you grow up? What was your adolescent experience like?

DC: I grew up in Chantilly Virginia, a suburb of Washington DC. Even in the 80’s it was considered the “Stix.” Now, it is part of the bustling “Dulles Technology Corridor.” In high school, I was a geek of sorts: President of the AV Club and the Safety Council (anti-drunk driving group). I was also the DJ for “WCHS,” our high school “radio station” which was just our PA system that “broadcasted” to the cafeteria during lunch hour. As a senior, I was voted “most talkative.” That’s never changed.

TB: What was the first show you went to? What do you remember most about it?

DC: My first trade show was in 1992. It was the Fed Micro show, produced by National Trade Productions. It was literally my first day of work. It was awesome. What struck me was the enthusiasm of attendees and exhibitors as well as the emphasis on relationships and customer service—about both of which I feel strongly today. It also strikes me that I got to work with many industry heroes of mine who are now admired leaders in the industry: Bob Harar, Diana Simmons, Jeff Calore, Mike Smoyer, Robbi Lycett, Jayne Dalton, Karen Howe, Karin Fendrich—all superstars.

TB: What show are you working on currently? What makes you excited about it?

DC: I head up Business Development for the International CES, one of the world’s largest trade shows. What makes me excited about it? Two things: First: The people I work and admire: President and CEO Gary Shapiro, Senior VP Karen Chupka and all my colleagues at the Consumer Electronics Association. Second: The consumer electronics industry is the coolest in the world. As a technology geek, I love it. It’s ever changing, ever growing.

Mimeograph circa 1918. An earlier form of a copier.
Mimeograph circa 1918. An earlier form of a copier.

TB: What was your first job? Did you learn any valuable lessons or tools that you have brought with you into your current career?

DC: Immediately after college, I worked for Lanier Worldwide, selling copiers door to door in Alexandria VA. I cut my teeth on real world sales experiences there. I developed an iron-clad work ethic and the fundamentals of sales. “The Old is Forever New.”

TB: When did you become interested in working in the industry? How did you get started in the trade show industry?

DC: I got a call from a recruiter who was looking for a National Accounts Manager selling exhibit space for a major trade show. “Selling booth space? Are you kidding me…?” I remember thinking. The rest is history. Bob Harar of NTP gave me my start in the most rewarding industry around shortly thereafter and the rest is history.

TB: Do you have any hobbies?

DC: My personal life is consumed with our 4 children. My main hobby? Carpooling. Every single day. Cheerleading, Soccer, Gymnastics, Tennis, Basketball and Coldstone.

TB: Do you have any pets? We want to know all about them if you do.

DC: Tucker is our 3 year old Cavachon. He’s a real character. Loves attention and loves to play with his buddy Angus across the street. Every morning he sits at the door and peers across the street waiting for his friend to appear. Tucker is a 3 year old male. He still refuses to lift his leg when he relieves himself, and when it rains or snows, he will not let his butt get wet He’s a bit strange.

TB: What’s on your iPod?

DC: Everything! From Journey and Styx to Bruno Mars and Led Zeppelin. I like it all.


(For the young’uns out there…this is what our music videos were like back in the 80s. Note the high production value.)

TB: If time travel was possible, where would you go and why?

DC: I would love to meet Abraham Lincoln He strikes me as one of the most visionary, ethical leaders of all time. We could all use a little Lincoln in us.

TB: Name three people you would love to have lunch with? (Living, dead, famous, infamous, unknown)

DC: You cheated Mr. Cole…that’s significantly more than three…six more than three to be exact! But in all fairness…it’s a hard question

  1. Moses
  2. George Washington
  3. Thomas Jefferson
  4. Abe Lincoln
  5. David Ben-Gurion
  6. Ronald Reagan
  7. Stephen Covey
  8. Og Mandino
  9. And my hero: My Grandpa Mike Cohen. We miss him every day. Right up there with honest Abe.

TB: What are your future goals? (Career, education, travel, etc.)

DC: Honestly, I just want to make sure my kids get every opportunity that I have been given. A good education, a wonderful job in a great industry with great colleagues and all the blessings that come with living in this great country. If you could guarantee me that, I’m happy.

Thanks Dan for being such a great sport! You’ve set the bar high for the rest of our interviewees. We hope your future goals do indeed come to full fruition.