Springfield, MO

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Opinion: Pay tribute to staff, dividends will come

Publisher's Perspective

Posted online

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending Ollis/Akers/Arney’s 11th-annual corporate wellness event at the White River Conference Center. At least for the last couple of years, these have been unlike any other wellness event I have attended  – most of which I’ve left kind of freaked out about some looming and potentially disastrous health threat that is out to get me and two of every five of my friends or family members.

At this particular conference, my mind got a workout, and the message of Andrew Horn, co-founder of a company called Tribute, has continued to resonate with me. Horn told of a video tribute he’d received as a birthday gift from his girlfriend in which 20 of his friends and family members told him what they loved about him. As you might imagine, Horn was deeply touched by the gift. So much so, he and his girlfriend developed a platform for others to create their own video montages for all occasions.

Horn recalled in his speech a lesson we were all taught growing up: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

“The Tribute manifesto turns that lesson on its head by teaching this instead: If you have anything nice to say, say it all,” Horn says. “If you learn from someone, let them know. If someone helps you, thank them. If you love someone, tell them why.”

In the days following the wellness conference, Springfield Business Journal’s management team was deeply entrenched in 2018 planning. Mar’Ellen Felin, our vice president of creative services and CEO of Hightide Communications, shared her idea to engage Tribute to help reinforce the meaning and purpose of the work that each staff member does every day. Who better to do that than those in the business community who depend on SBJ for news, information, professional opinions, networking events, marketing and advertising?

As I write this column, I am anxiously anticipating our all-staff meeting that takes place the morning of Dec. 1. We will gather for breakfast, talk about what each department sees on the horizon and we will discuss our 2018 financial plan at length before collecting a confidence vote on our ability as a team to bring the plan to fruition. This is something we’ve done every year for more than a decade. We reveal what the plan is and then talk about all the practical ways we can get there. We always leave knowing the who, what, when, where and how. This year we will take time to remind ourselves of why we do what we do.

SBJ’s management team asked a handful of area business leaders to record a 2-minute video describing how they use their business journal. We asked how SBJ has impacted the way they operate or make decisions. We asked what they depend on, what they need from us and what their experiences have been. This was not a plea for compliments, and that is not what we got. I believe we got real answers that will give a new layer of meaning to our work. It’s important to know there are people out there who really need us to get it right and to work as hard as we can to find news and information and bring it to them where they are as soon as we can possibly get it to them. They need us so they can do their jobs better and so they can provide their own customers with what they need.

I believe the “why” is perhaps the most important of the five Ws. I think people are at their very best when engaged in purpose-driven work. After all, who doesn’t want to be needed? I believe the “why” binds us to our work and gets us out of bed in the morning. I am fortunate to work with an incredibly talented and dedicated staff. I know they can easily work somewhere else. However, I also believe if they find purpose in the work for SBJ, if they know that what they contribute matters and brings value to someone else, they are more likely to continue as a part of the SBJ team.

If you value your team and the unique contributions each member brings to the whole, I strongly encourage you to find a way to tell them and to let them know why.

Springfield Business Journal Publisher Jennifer Jackson can be reached at


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Richard Ollis

I was so pleased to hear about your use of Tribute and the meaningful take aways from the wellness conference. The SBJ is such an important part of Springfield’s business community. You and the SBJ staff have much to be proud of!

Monday, December 4, 2017
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