This post was written by the members of Team 6 Degrees, made up of six 2017-18 LDA participants. Each group members wrote a portion of this post; each author’s name and employer appears in their respective sections.
By: Dana Simmons, School District of Janesville
“A vision is like a dream – it will disappear unless we do something with it. Do something big or do something small. But stop wondering and go on an adventure.” Simon Sinek
As we embark on our journey with LDA, each session helps us reflect on what it truly means to lead. Amy Jo Verbeten lead us in a discussion on “what it takes to lead.” We started with brainstorming different characteristics, such as motivating, innovative, humble, empathetic, visionary, teacher, and engaging.
As discussion progressed, we identified the role of a leader – visionary and culture keeper. A leader also needs to own and learn from their mistakes. The discussion forced us to reflect not only on their leaders in our lives, but who we are as leaders.
Whether you are born a leader, or developed, our life experiences and relationships help mold and guide. Not only were these common themes found within our LDA group discussion, they were woven into the stories from a Leadership Panel.
By: Kelsey Rettke, Greater Beloit Chamber
Following the brainstorming session was a Leadership Styles panel moderated by AmyJo Verbeten with panelists: Larry Squire, Regional President for Johnson Bank; Sherri Stumpf, CEO of Blackhawk Community Credit Union; Pastor David Clark of Central Christian Church in Beloit; and Bekki Kennedy, Senior Leader of Marketing & Publishing at the Studer Group, as well as development overseer for the Block 42 Shops in Downtown Janesville.
Discussion and conversation ranged from an impressive mix of professional and personal anecdotes, engaging stories of failure and how to overcome, to visions for the future, the importance of having a mentor, and book recommendations for those of us just starting out on our leadership journeys.
With a background in publishing and the healthcare industry, Kennedy shared her story of managing a company and trying to lead her team during a buyout by a growth equity firm. She recalled learning the hard way how important it is to stick to core values and owning up to mistakes, especially as a leader in the workplace.
Squire recalled a time in his life when he would not have envisioned himself working for a bank. With a degree in computer science and a family legacy of strawberry farming in Wisconsin, his path to a career in banking was unexpected, to say the least. He encouraged us to remember the time it takes to develop leadership skills, and to “meet people where they’re at,” using his Dad’s commitment to giving kids summer work on their family farm as an example of taking a chance on future leaders.
Stumpf “moved south” to Wisconsin from Minneapolis with a 30-year background in Human Resources, and says her path to becoming a CEO happened “quite by accident.” She emphasized the importance of surrounding oneself with good people, and that becoming a leader is all about how you treat, interact with, and work together with a team.
Pastor Clark said he felt “humbled” sitting in a panel with so many impressive people. Indeed, his story was also impressive. 36 years as a pastor at Central Christian has led him and his team to redevelop and grow the church to have 4 different places of worship: 2 in Beloit, 1 in Machesney Park, and 1 in Janesville, all catering to different demographics, spaces, and cultures, but with a “heart for Jesus,” a strong commitment to the poor and homeless populations in the county, and service to children and underserved communities.
Clark and his wife have also adopted children from Haiti, and organized response teams for natural disasters. He said, “getting the people done is more important than getting the work done,” and stressed the significance of fostering relationships as a pillar for successful business, careers, and life.
The panelists were also on hand to field questions from the audience, ranging from “Who are your mentors and what do they mean to you,” and “How do you move on amidst failure to create a more favorable outcome?” to “Does a leader ever doubt that they’re a leader?” and “How has your personal mission/mantra guided you as a leader and throughout your career?”
It was an engaging, thought-provoking, and informative panel, full of inspiring stories — definitely a favorite experience among our class.
By: JoLynn. Burden, Forward Janesville
“Networking” is such a cliché word in the world of business. Good business is about who you know and the relationships you have built. Expanding on your rolodex of contacts can be done on a regular basis and the Leadership Development Academy groups are learning just that.
Each of us have added 29 contacts to our ‘network’ since September 7th when we began this leadership journey. Our December class learned how Forward Janesville hosts their “Nothing But Net Speed Networking” events and even was treated to a complimentary admission pass from both Forward Janesville and the Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce to a 2018 Business After Five.
The 30 members of LDA were joined by 23 community business representatives for a one-hour speed networking session. The hour kicked off with an ice-breaker of “would you rather”. The idea behind the game was a quick 5 minute get-to-know-your-neighbor.
Once the ice-breaker was complete, LDA folks were asked to get in a large circle. The groups consisted of 2 LDA attendees (who were not on the same team) and one community representative. These groups were given about 2 minutes to exchange business cards and give each other their best elevator speech. Once the whistle rang, the community rep moved around the circle in a clockwise manner. The goal was to get around the room to meet everyone within the hour and to leave with 53 new contacts!
Networking is meant to be fun. Get to know those that live in our communities and work beside you or maybe even against you. Building relationships is the best foundation for a successful career and business success.
By: Darlene Ramirez, First Community Credit Union
After our networking session we went on a tour of Craig High School. Our tour guide was Assistant Principal, Shawn Kane. The tour began with a goat. Yes, you heard me right, a goat. The 8th graders were also doing a tour and animal science teachers wanted to promote the vet science programs.
School used to consist of core classes like English, Math and maybe some electives like Shop or Home Economics. Nowadays, students have so many more opportunities.
Instead of a shop class where you learn from a book, these students get to work on an actual vehicle. If you take an Engineering Design class, you get to learn the design process. They work on design briefs, sketching, 3D solid molding and prototyping.
Students interested in business have a chance to work at the Cougar Den, which is the school store. They are responsible for managing everything in the store. This includes the schedule, inventory and finances. So many classes are hands on.
Craig has a state recognized art department. So, as you walk through the halls you can’t help but notice all the beautiful artwork. Craig has so much to offer. Students have so many opportunities which allows them to pursue their career interest more in depth.
By: Brentan Vivian, Baker Tilly
The afternoon wrapped up with a fundraising discussion panel consisting of Jon Urish of Beloit College, Joe Jimenez of Lamar Advertising Company, and Jennifer Johns of Mercy Health. The discussion panel was moderated by Sue Conley.
They discussed their current and past fundraising efforts in which they have been a part of from capital campaigns to large gift donations to specific events. They shared their strategies on how to get both potential donors and volunteers vested in fundraising campaigns to ensure it is successful. The panel also discussed other factors of a successful campaign and why some fail.
Then it was time for the LDA teams to use the information they just learned to develop a mock fundraising campaign. Each group had 15 minutes to create a fundraising campaign and then pitched it to the discussion panel who represented eight different potential donors (i.e. a local company, a widow, single mother, etc.).
The groups explained their projects, its mission and their fundraising needs. Each potential donor had a set amount of money they could donate, which they allocated to each group based on project needs or if they feel vested the project’s mission.
Group four raised the most amount, but there were a few others who were able to fully fund their project. This mock scenario has the teams better prepared for their actual fundraising campaign to ensure the successfulness of their projects.
By: Casey Bellard, Town of Beloit Fire Department
Who said colors are just used for coloring or painting a pretty picture? LDA colors are used to find out more about someone’s personality and individual traits.
Most people walk around with a couple or even a few colors all the time. But everyone has a dominant color that makes up who they really are. As leaders, this helps us communicate on different levels in our field of work.
Understanding colors gives us the ability to CONNECT professionally and even personally when needed. I am primary orange, but I feel as if I have a little of every color in me.
We were asked to write down the first time we were a leader and a skill you want to have on note cards. The first time I was truly asked to lead a group of people was when I was a senior in high school. Myself and 2 others were voted team captains for our high school hockey team. We were in charge of getting the team ready to go physically, in the off season. We put together team workouts and team bonding time.
Thinking back if I would have known everyone’s color at the time I may have been able to incorporate some other things to make us even better. A skill I have always wanted was to be able to play the guitar. I am not musically inclined, but I would love to take lessons someday.