ASCEND Experience


“large-group revenue is at 180 percent of goal”

Andy Neary of VolkBell, Longmont, CO

Andy Neary of VolkBell in Colorado

spacer-clearNelson –

All I can say is “thank you!”  Your ASCEND conference has transformed my career.

It helped me realize that, as an independent, we can still win, by differentiating ourselves from the competition and being consistent and efficient in presenting our differentiation to prospects.

With the Rainmaker strategy I learned from you and Scott, I’m raising my profile and establishing myself as an authority on benefits in my market.

But what’s most impressive…using strategies and resources I learned at ASCEND, our large-group revenue is at 180 percent of goal at the end of October – and
we should hit 200% of goal by year’s end!

For me, ASCEND has been simply game changing.

VolkBell, Longmont, CO

ASCEND is unlike any conference you’ve ever attended. Guaranteed.

ASCEND is where progressive benefit agency leaders working at the frontiers of innovation & reinvention come to up their game.

During ASCEND, benefit agency leaders from across the country collaborate & share front-line experiences & best practices, strengthen their leadership role, and identify the strategies needed to make their agency the benefits firm of choice in their market.

ASCEND is different, too, in its efforts to promote meaningful conversations…both with other non-competing agency leaders and with the vendors of innovative resources & solutions that you can leverage to grow your business.


ASCEND has been called “the anti-conference” both for its unusual format that insists on an active role for its conference attendees and its strong emphasis on business-building strategies that grow an agency’s top-line revenue & bottom-line profit.

At ASCEND you are an active participant, working on designing & developing strategies and tools your firm can leverage immediately for growth. And, during Mastermind Roundtable discussion, you collaborate with your non-competing peers in a unique “mastermind” process that fosters a cooperative interaction.


Mastermind Roundtable: A breakout group of non-competing agency leaders collaborate & share best practices and growth strategies

Mastermind Roundtable: A breakout group of non-competing agency leaders collaborate and share best practices & growth strategies at ASCEND 2016

In a signature ASCEND experience, you participate in peer-exchange Mastermind Roundtable sessions, professionally facilitated discussions with non-competing agency leaders to collaborate and share experiences, best practices & growth strategies.

The Mastermind Roundtable discussions solve an age-old problem for agency leaders: a professional isolation that is both frustrating to you and harmful to your agency’s growth.

You are an island

The English writer John Donne once wrote that “No man is an island,” which is true…unless you run an employee benefits firm. As an agency leader, with whom do you have meaningful conversations about your business challenges, problems, and opportunities? Who truly understands what you are dealing with day in & day out? Who can really celebrate your successes and truly appreciate the hard work that won the case?

The sad reality is, only another agency leader knows & understands your circumstances…BUT you can’t have this conversation with your competitors…not the honest, in-depth discussion that will really help you sort through your options and help you make the right decisions.

Peer-to-peer conversation

At ASCEND, you are able to talk freely with your peers…non-competing agency leaders who “get you” and all that you face as an agency leader in this time of massive change. These other agency leaders are working on the same problems, challenges and opportunities that you are…and will share their experiences and best practices with you. And you can open up about your business to create a dynamic conversation that is probably like nothing you’ve ever experienced.

Meaningful conversations

Facilitated by ASCEND Co-Founders Nelson Griswold and Scott Cantrell, the Mastermind Roundtable discussions are the heart of the ASCEND experience, helping to foster the “meaningful conversations” that make ASCEND so impactful and valuable to your business.

Discover more about this unique and valuable experience by clicking on the brief video below.

Expert Roundtable: Darin Vick (2nd from left) of miEdge shares strategies on building your sales pipeline with 5500 data

Expert Roundtable: miEdge’s Darin Vick (2nd from left shares advanced strategies for using 5500 data to fill your sales pipeline at ASCEND 2016

ASCEND’s unique Expert Roundtables are one of the most unusual programming formats of any conference in or outside our industry. In a speed-dating-type experience, during a fast-paced 90-minute session you move from one Expert Roundtable to another, each one delivering a 10-minute session packed with insights and actionable information from a subject matter expert.

Innovative strategies & market opportunities

Over two high-energy 90-minute sessions, you will meet with a dozen or more industry experts, who will provide concise presentations on innovative strategies and market opportunities to grow your business. In addition, you can ask questions of these experts.

You’ll discover some of the most cutting-edge strategies and resources in the market today, which you can use to differentiate your firm, deliver value to your clients, generate new revenue streams, and gain a competitive advantage in your market.

And during your time in the ASCEND Solution Pavilion, you’ll discover other innovative resources, strategies & tools from our industry-leading Sponsor Partners that will differentiate & grow your firm.

Discover more about the Expert Roundtable experience by clicking on the brief video below.



Expert Presentation: ASCEND Co-Founder Scott Cantrell talks marketing strategies at ASCEND 2016

Expert Presentation: Scott Cantrell talks marketing strategies at ASCEND 2016

From the ASCEND stage you will hear from and interact with top national experts in the fields of marketing, selling, management, and leadership. While most conferences parade speaker after speaker in a never-ending series of breakout sessions, again, ASCEND is different.

ASCEND hand-picks a select few top-tier experts in leadership and business-building strategies and industry authorities on key agency growth strategies and puts them on the main stage during General Sessions. At ASCEND, you never have to pick & choose which speaker sessions you’ll attend.

Presentations & Workshops

ASCEND 2017 presentations & workshops cover these business-building and agency-growth topics:

•  keys to organic agency growth from leading benefits firms;

•  leveraging innovation, data & technology for agency growth;

•  proven client attraction strategies;

•  advanced strategies with captive self-funding;

•  “Advisory Selling” consultative sales process;

•  leadership skills for leading in a time of change;

•  building a highly-effective prospecting machine; and

•  fiduciary responsibility & advanced cost-containment strategies.

Expert Faculty

ASCEND is proud to present their 2017 faculty experts:

♦  Nelson L. Griswold – author, agency growth strategist & ASCEND Co-Founder

♦  Scott Cantrell – author, marketing & practice management expert, and ASCEND Co-Founder

♦  Bill Whitley – a renowned author & speaker on agency marketing

♦  Tony Rubleski – best-selling author & speaker on leadership and marketing

Industry Experts

In addition, ASCEND features presentations from these top industry experts:

♦  David O’Brien – technology & innovation authority; CEO of Zywave, Inc.

♦  Rick Perryman – data analytics & cost containment expert; national practice leader at TrendShift

♦  Michael Schroeder – expert on self-funding captives; president of Roundstone

CLICK HERE for more on our speakers and their presentation topics.

And click on the brief video below for more information on the speakers featured at ASCEND.

Exclusively for agency leaders


Agency Leaders at ASCEND: (L to R) Adrienne & Tim Olson, The Olson Group; John Stoner, The Stoner Organization; Cathy Aitken, Corporate Benefit Analysts

Attendance at ASCEND is limited strictly to benefits agency leaders – owners & principals of benefits firms and benefits practice leaders at P&C agencies – making the event a uniquely valuable opportunity to learn what is working at other top firms and to build a national network of high-performing agency leaders. Networking and collaborating with other agency leaders help you raise your leadership IQ.

ASCEND is NOT for every agency leader.
The program is tailored and limited to thoughtful, innovative agency leaders who are open to new ways of doing business and willing to be an active participant in the conversation. If you are an open, collaborative leader; you’re ready to take your firm to the next level; and you’re ready to see massive organic growth, click the button below to save your seat now at ASCEND.