Celebrating 25 Years - Part 3: Cultivating Culture

Gail Davis, 22 March 2024

They say slow and steady wins the race and in GDA’s case, that has definitely proven to be true. In 1999, we had one speaker booking. The next year we closed 11 contracts, and the year after that we closed 25. I’m very proud to say 25 years later we’ve booked 4,879 events! With persistence and consistent effort, we’ve grown our business organically and exponentially in the past 25 years - all thanks to our valued clients who trust us with their vision and our hardworking team who helps bring that vision to life.

As the volume of contracts grew, so did our team. My humble beginnings of launching GDA Speakers solo and working out of my home has now grown into a talented team of individuals who are dedicated to creating the ultimate client experience - from creating meaningful client connections to overseeing each event logistic with detail and care.


However, this growth did not happen overnight. When hiring I sometimes drew upon my previous experience in corporate recruiting and approached the finding and hiring of talent as a structured process. At other times, I got caught up in the excitement of entrepreneurship and made a few “crazy” hires. Some worked out well…and others didn’t.

But as every business owner knows, there is much more to growing as a business than just the number of clients and closed deals you have on the books or employees you have on payroll. We are proud to have cultivated a culture based on our core values that makes both clients and employees continue to CHOOSE us. We are equally proud of our proven process for booking speakers, which we call “The GDA Way.”

GDA’s Core Values

1. Professionalism

Each member of our team has a strong sense of ownership - in their job responsibilities, resiliency, reliability, and being solution-oriented with every challenge that comes their way.

2. Commitment to the Ultimate Client Experience

GDA prides itself on developing deep and lasting relationships with our clients, always seeking to understand how their lives and businesses operate and how we can be the best partner we can be to them. Our team knows this type of relationship requires being committed to curiosity and proactivity to make our clients’ jobs easier.

3. Efficiency

Our team embraces creativity and collaboration to come up with the best solutions possible. We also strive to utilize technology to make that collaboration even more effective with our GDA Client Portal and Speaker Portal. We are a balanced blend of high-touch and high-tech.

4. Clear & Courageous Communication

At GDA, we understand that active listening is the key to successful communication. This again points back to our commitment to being curious by asking questions to get to the heart of clients’ vision and goals.

5. Treat People with Kindness & Civility

The foundation of our team’s relationships with both each other and clients is practicing assuming the best and being solution-oriented.

Building the right team and the right culture has been a learning process for me. In my first career at EDS, the culture was already established. When you’re starting a company, you have to build the systems, the client base, and the processes that will make your company stand out above the rest. While it took me a while to fully appreciate the importance of being intentional with cultivating culture, with the help of my team we have been able to create a culture we are proud of.


I would be remiss to not mention the pandemic’s role in creating our culture as well. That event clearly had the most significant impact on GDA, our clients, and our team. I remember a business coach telling me the pandemic could be a gift if I chose to look at it that way, so I did! It was an opportunity to reevaluate every process, revisit contract terms, and solidify client and speaker relationships. Sadly, I had to make the difficult decision to drastically reduce our headcount as many other businesses did. When we were able to build our team back up, I was a better leader who knew how to better recruit and lead our new team. I was strengthened by so many friends and partners in our industry - we were all in it together.

I am very proud of and honored to know each team member I have had the opportunity to work with over the past 25 years. Each made a contribution that helped me develop as a leader and create a company culture worth celebrating.


-Gail Davis
Founder & President, GDA Speakers