Great Minds Think Alike!
In our efforts to cover unique and relevant content to the industry, we are sharing some thoughts here from some of the brightest minds in the industry. When I was at the recent PMANC Regional Association event in beautiful Monterey, Calif., someone suggested that we cover the PPAI Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC), which this year happened to be just three hours away, in San Diego.
Of course, I never would have thought of that, but since I love San Diego and the opportunity to bring fresh content to the industry, we chose to use the WLC as a launching point for a variety of insightful material that will be shared by some brilliant people. More content like this will follow. My amazing collaborator on this, Glenda Stormes-Bice, representative for Bankers Advertising, interviewed a few of the women who attended the PPAI Women’s Leadership Conference and compiled their thoughts in words below. Links to the video interviews we filmed are also included.
Our goal is to bring insightful information to you that will be helpful in your personal and professional development. To that end, we will be presenting a FreePromoTips SuccessTracks Online Learning Experience to cover more of this valuable content. This SuccessTracks session will be bought to you with the support of Southern Plus and The Vernon Company. You won’t want to miss what’s coming!
In our conversations, we discovered that successful leaders have many of the same skills and articulate some thought-provoking ideas. We share them with you here, in no particular order.
Teach Decision Making Skills: The promotional product business can be described in many ways, but most would agree that in its simplest form we create experiences and solutions for people. This highly individualized process means that one day is never the same as the next. Being successful means we must enlist the help of others, and empower them to be able to make decisions.
Leslie Roark, president of PromoPros Inc., a distributor in Houston, Texas, believes in teaching her staff to be resourceful. She said by giving her employees more information on the underlying reasons and meaning to decisions, they become more empowered to make more decisions down the road. Leslie shares her thoughts on the PPAI Leadership Conference in this short video.
“A business depends on teaching people critical thinking skills,” explained Sydra Newell, vice president of sales for industry supplier SnugZ USA. “By explaining the WHY of the answers, people have the buy-in of the reasons behind why answers are what they are. This gives them the ability and information to learn to make their own decisions in the future.”
“I can’t provide the HOW of the future. But I can provide the WHY of decisions so that they learn and better understand,” she added. Sydra shares her thoughts on the PPAI Leadership Conference in this short video.
Acknowledge Differences: None of us are as good as all of us. This seemingly cliché saying can be another key to success in business. Leslie works with her husband Sean and other office staff. She describes her husband as having a high-level thought process, which is very helpful in the big picture of business. However, it also means he can lose sight of smaller details. “Part of his gift means it excludes some of the task oriented stuff on a day-to-day basis,” she said. Leslie, on the other hand, is much more task-oriented—interested in accountability, frustrated with time wasters. This is a good balance to her husband’s business strengths.
Leslie and Sean divide the tasks and responsibilities to play to their strengths. They look at what is needed to run a successful business and decide I’m better at this, you are better at that. As a result, they succeed by working together, not against one other.
Opposites attract for a reason. Working with our opposite can complement us. Roni Wright, vice president of The Book Company, an industry supplier, noted that we need to shine with the skills we do have. “Acknowledge our weaknesses and make our strengths our assets,” she said. “We all have unique challenges and we make different choices.” Roni shares her thoughts on the PPAI Leadership Conference and her Woman of Achievement Award in this short video.
Accept Diverse Communication Styles: We all communicate differently. But what could be a potential pitfall is really only a style difference. If we all have an inherent respect for the values of the other person and look for common ground, communication can nurture success.
Andrea Smith, industry relations manager for distributor The Vernon Company, believes that understanding communication across generational lines is one important issue. Whether a manager with employees, or a salesperson selling to a customer, the differences in the communicating parties may vary by decades in age. “Sometimes communication styles are not only different but can be challenging,” explains Andrea. “We must continue to grow and adapt to the situations we find ourselves in.” She feels communication is not a battle of the sexes, but believes success is found with a blend of people where all ideas are welcome.
Often communication is more than just a matter of simple understanding in a conversation. It can involve potentially uncomfortable topics or information. Emotions can change communication quickly. “You can make your point and retain respect without yelling or being unpleasant,” according to Grethe Castberg Adams, president of industry supplier Southern Plus. “You have to have the respect of people. It is difficult to get cooperation without it,” Castberg adds. It is also important to remain approachable at all times. “My door is never closed,” she points out. “Anyone can come in anytime.”
Ride the Wings of Change: Leading during change is never easy. And there is a tremendous amount of change in our industry, for everyone—suppliers and distributors alike. Change gives us the opportunity to continually learn new things.
“There is so much to tap into,” said Smith. “Communication methodology to technology, we are all broadening all our horizons.”
Growing expectations and the demands of customers for both distributors and suppliers are and will continue to be challenges. “Regardless of size, everyone’s expectations have grown,” Adams stated. “We have become the society of NOW.”
Kim Newell, president of industry supplier World Wide Line, doesn’t focus on the change all around her, but looks ahead. “We are thinking forward all time,” she points out. “How can we change and evolve and stay ahead of the change that is coming our way?” Kim asks. She finds that at the end of the day, looking into the future removes some stress. Kim shares her thoughts on the PPAI Leadership Conference in this short video.
Be a Respected Role Model: Much of our learning happens from others. We grow and develop in large part with help and guidance from the people around us, both directly and indirectly. Woman by and large are nurturing, and are often inclined to help grow and develop talent around them. “Let’s not deny that we are nurturers, but embrace it so we can be more successful at our jobs,” Smith states.
When it comes to the next generation coming out of school and into the workforce these days, Roark doesn’t believe they have the role models previous generations have enjoyed. She finds herself being a mother figure to the young women in her office, who are open and receptive to learning from her. This is a role she is very comfortable with.
Wright reminds us that we all lead by example and we should think about how we want people to remember us. “It only takes one person to make a difference,” she reminds us. “And there are so many places we can do this!”
Here we have pearls of wisdom from a group of leaders who make things happen. Through the years, I have personally been blessed to get to know many of these people and other leaders in our industry. These relationships have inspired me to make a difference.
For these friendships to be developed, I chose to get involved through attending industry events and volunteer service. This includes being mentored by colleagues and passing my knowledge to others.
Take advantage of what the chefs in the PromoKitchen are cooking up! I’m very much looking forward to attending this year's PPAI North American Leadership Conference. Each time I attend, I come away with useful information and new friendships with people I can learn from.
Are you ready to take the next step in your own success? Get involved! Our industry offers so many places to get plugged in. Join your regional association; take the time to attend conferences within our industry and in your local business community. Offer to volunteer at these events. Not only will you be learning, you might meet someone who will enhance your career. You might be that mentor to an industry newcomer. Don’t miss The PPAI Expo, our industry’s premier event! When you go, attend workshops and meet your peers. Build relationships wherever you can. This will change your life! It’s changed mine.
Jeff Solomon, MAS is affiliated with a Top 10 distributor company. The FreePromoTips.com website and e-newsletters he publishes are packed with beneficial information and exclusive FREE offers from a few forward-thinking supplier companies. Don’t miss out on what’s happening! Opt in to receive their e-newsletters! LIKE their page on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.