Insights and Takeaways from the 2023 ICCFA Leadership Summit

The International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA) recently held its annual Leadership Summit October 24 – 26 in Tucson, Arizona. This year’s event was in partnership with the Death Care Collective, an organization of female leaders dedicated to fostering connections, strengthening relationships, and empowering women in the death care profession

We sat down with Homesteaders’ leaders Scott Morris, Regional Director – Strategic Markets; Dan Lodermeier, Vice President – Field Sales and Danielle Burmeister, Vice President – Marketing Communications, who attended the summit for their takeaways from the event.

Homesteaders: What was the most valuable session you attended at the summit?

Scott: I liked a lot of the ideas presented during Tuesday’s Servant Leadership Panel, moderated by Erin Creger, Envision Strategic Partners and Honnalora Hubbard, Coldspring. The session featured helpful insight into becoming a more effective and efficient leader and covered experiences as servant leaders within their respective organizations in a lively conversation among panelists Lauren Blevins, CCFE, CPLP, with Williams Funeral Homes and Crematory; Nick Timpe, CSE, with webCemeteries and Don Winsett with Winsett Consulting, LLC. They also provided attendees with the book "Servant Selling" by Dave Brown, which I’m anxious to dive into.

Dan: I found great value in Wednesday’s Keynote speaker, Elizabeth Mahusay, and her session “Lead Like a Woman: Courageous Confidence, Communication, and Connectedness”. Her presentation focused on ways to lead your team to success and demonstrated the differences in how women communicate versus how men communicate. She shared examples of how to connect with your direct reports, how to respond and ways to grow as a leader, which really resonated with me.

Danielle: Robbie Pape’s presentation on executive presence was wonderful. It’s a topic that everyone who works in funeral service can benefit from – especially women who often face different expectations in the workplace than their male colleagues. The framework of the presentation centered on Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s book, "Executive Presence". In researching her book, Hewlett discovered that executive presence includes three key components: how you act (gravitas), how you speak (communication) and how you look (appearance). Robbie offered tangible tips for how to level up in each area, noting that gravitas was by far the most important, accounting for 68% of how others view us.

Homesteaders: What is the most important thing you took away from the event?

Scott: I left with a better understanding of what my true priorities are, and how I can make notable performance improvements upon them.

Dan: The networking opportunities with customers and fellow vendors is always beneficial. I also learned more about the legislative updates surrounding the Federal Funeral and Cemetery Trust Modernization Act. The FTC has just taken the next step in updating the Funeral Rule, and the FTC also introduced a new Federal Rule that will ban all non-competes for all businesses.

Danielle: It sounds simple, but the relationships. The best part of events like this is the people you meet and the connections you build. I enjoyed meeting a lot of new people, especially young women who are just starting out in funeral service. And it’s always wonderful to catch up with friends within the profession.

Homesteaders: How valuable were the networking opportunities to you?

Scott: In my opinion, networking at this event is the most valuable part, right behind enhancing your skill set and expanding your industry knowledge. I went into the event with the goal of having at least three quality networking conversations and I left the summit with five new contacts.

Homesteaders: Who was the most interesting person you connected with at the event?

Dan: I enjoyed meeting Robbie Pape with Carriage Services, who spoke on executive presence.

Danielle: I was fortunate to be among a small group that had dinner with Larry Long, Jr., the closing keynote speaker. He brought such a unique perspective to the conference, and his energy was impressive. I loved how he challenged everyone at the table to think of the lessons we’d learned in the last year and what we want to master in the next year. 

Homesteaders: Would you recommend joining ICCFA for funeral professionals, and why?

Scott: Absolutely. Because we're all in the same profession, surrounding yourself with other insightful and professional leaders is a good and healthy thing. It's also a great way to network and keep your finger on the pulse.

Homesteaders: Would you recommend attending next year’s summit to funeral professionals, and why?

Dan: I would recommend attending next year’s conference. The committee does an excellent job selecting quality keynote speakers and ensuring the speakers are providing education and insight into relevant topics for each session.

Homesteaders: What is a piece of advice for someone considering attending next year?

Scott: Be mindful of your presence. Don't be shy, put yourself out there to meet new people and contribute to the conversation.

Dan: Be sure to attend all the presentations. You never know when you will find that one pearl of wisdom.

After hearing insight from Homesteaders’ leaders who attended the 2023 Leadership Summit, it sounds like the event was a success and one not to be missed! Will you be joining ICCFA and registering for next year’s ICCFA Leadership Summit?

If you would like to learn more about leadership in the funeral profession, check out our three-part series on leading your business, your team and within your community.


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