Area business and community leaders on Thursday, April 21, shared their views, experiences and lessons learned about being successful in business and life at the QCBJ’s inaugural business event.
Some of those views include: make love a core value at your company, be humble, trust your employees and eat your veggies. Those views and many others were shared during the 90 Ideas in 90 Minutes event hosted by the Quad Cities Regional Business Journal at the Adler Theatre in downtown Davenport.
During the 90 Ideas event, each speaker was given five minutes to discuss his or her 10 best ideas or best practices. Each speaker’s 10 ideas also were published in a supplement given exclusively to attendees.
Several speakers talked about how their experiences in life have shaped those views.
Randy Moore, president of Iowa American Water, told the audience about how his tough experiences with racism helped forge some of his views. For instance, as a child, a school counselor told him to forget his dreams of becoming an oceanographer “because there are no Black oceanographers.” After that, his mother enrolled him in a diving school in an effort to advance his dreams of becoming an oceanographer. He attended the school, did well, but the school refused to certify him as a diver because of his race.
He told the audience to take such experiences and “use that as fuel” to improve themselves.
One of Mr. Moore’s 10 ideas centered on the value of friendship. “I have for years operated under the philosophy that I don’t need many friends. The fact is, friendship or having friends is hard work. But I’ve come to realize in my older age that developing friendships has so much value that it must not be overlooked. Often having a friend is more valuable than having a ton of money,” Mr. Moore wrote in the QCBJ supplement presented to the audience.
Another speaker, Jim Thomson, chairman of LandJet, and a former leader at Deere & Co., told the audience that it’s important to be firm, but polite – especially in cases where you have to say “no.” He said people need to be tactful and firm, but take emotion out of such situations.
Mr. Thomson also gave the seemingly unusual tip of eating your veggies. “The real point here is to be healthy,” he said, adding that it’s important to make healthy decisions and take the stress out of life.
Other speakers and some of their tips included:
- Steven Bahls, president of Augustana College, spoke about the importance of being humble. “We have the privilege of leading a team. … Leadership is a privilege,” he said. He added that employees can bring great ideas to the table and help move an organization forward.
- Denise Bulat, executive director of Bi-State Regional Commission, spoke to the need for collaboration and having respect for each other. She added that people may not always agree with differing views, but it’s important to maintain respect for other people.
- Benjamin Leischner, executive director of the Quad Cities International Airport, told the audience to never assume all the good ideas have already been discussed. The world is constantly changing and we all need to start planning for the next 20 years. As an example, he told the audience about a time some 20 years ago when Jeff Bezos, leader and founder of Amazon.com, went to Harvard University and told university officials about his Amazon business plans. The Harvard officials heavily criticized the plan because they did not see changes in the business world.
- John Lohman, group publisher and CEO of the Corridor Media Group, shared that his top idea is to train and run a marathon – literally. He said such training and running will help the mind and will set a good example for quality health. Some of his other ideas were: treat people with respect, family comes first, buy and read books, and read a newspaper every day.
- W. Kenny Massey, CEO, Modern Woodmen of America, said that passion is key to leadership. “Passion is a leader’s secret ingredient.” He said you need to schedule an hour for yourself for deep reflection. “Through reflection, you will make course corrections, be more productive with your time, and be inspired to set new goals,” he wrote in the supplement.
- Katie Castillo-Wilson, founder and CEO of TapOnit, said to trust your employees. “They will amaze you. They will step up to the plate,” she said. She added that people need to be open to new ideas. “Make sure you are always learning.”
- LaDrina Wilson, CEO of Iman Consulting, LLC, said to make love a core value. “Absent from many work spaces is the value of love. Love for one another. Love for the people you serve. Love for the products you distribute. Love for the work people do,” she wrote in the published materials.
Maria Ontiveros, corporate community liaison for Group O, and president/co-founder, Mercado on Fifth, was scheduled to speak but was unable to attend. Some of the ideas she offered, as printed in the booklet, include: Every business process can be improved; don’t be afraid to fail; and the organization wins when people get a chance to show what they can do.
The 90 Ideas event was the first of several business recognition events the QCBJ is planning for 2022. For more information, visit quadcitiesbusiness.com/events/.