Farmington — This year's keynote speaker for the Four Corners Conference for Professional Development encourages business owners to learn the art of customer service.
Motivational speaker and author Joseph Michelli will deliver the keynote address at the conference Oct. 10 at San Juan College's Henderson Fine Arts Center.
The all-day conference offers more than 20 workshops focusing on business development, employee communication, career transition and balancing work and life.
"My career is all about creating the customer experience and the human experience in companies," Michelli said in a phone interview while traveling to a speaking engagement in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Throughout his career, he has studied and written about companies like Starbucks, Zappos and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and how, despite being large, they relate one-to-one with their employees and customers.
But his bottom line is teaching businesses how to engage customers by personalizing the experience to develop loyalty.
So far, Michelli has written six books, and each one has found a spot on the best seller lists for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and BusinessWeek Magazine.
His latest book, "Leading the Starbucks Way: 5 Principles for Connecting with Your Customer, Your Products, and Your People," was released this month and is a follow up to "The Starbucks Experience: Five Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary."
When Michelli initially decided to write about business, he had to work his way into companies to watch the internal operation. These days, businesses seek out him to review their managing and customer service styles.
He chooses companies to observe based on two things: a company's treatment of employees and its history, or "the real heart for doing more than basic service."
Michelli was born in Raton and raised in Colorado. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Denver and his master's degree and doctorate from the University of Southern California.
Michelli said he is looking forward to returning to New Mexico.
In addition to Michelli, San Juan County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter will speak about "The Power Influence of Perseverance" during the luncheon.
Nancy Shepherd, presidential assistant of community relations at San Juan College, has coordinated the conference since its start 29 years ago.
"It's a time to get away and to think about things more big picture," Shepherd said about the event.
Joyce Donald, who retired in 2012 after leading the Better Business Bureau for more than 30 years, began the conference 29 years ago as a way to encourage women to develop their professional skills and to encourage them to start their own businesses.
From there, it grew into the conference it is today. Last year's conference had 450 attendees, Shepherd said.
"People take away different things," she said, adding that the event is "upbeat" and "enlightening."