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Grooms Office Environments co-owner Jonathan Garard presents during the second-annual 90 Ideas in 90 Minutes event at the AMC Springfield 11 IMAX Theater.
SBJ photo by Wes Hamilton
Grooms Office Environments co-owner Jonathan Garard presents during the second-annual 90 Ideas in 90 Minutes event at the AMC Springfield 11 IMAX Theater.

Tips from top executives in spotlight at 90 Ideas

Posted online

Nine executives this morning gave business ideas and advice to a crowd of over 200 people for Springfield Business Journal’s and sbjLive’s second-annual 90 Ideas in 90 Minutes event.

Held at the AMC Springfield 11 IMAX Theater, each executive presented for seven minutes, followed by an audience question-and-answer session.

Below are the nine CEOs in alphabetical order and a sample of each presentation. SBJ will publish a full list of the executives’ 90 business ideas in the Dec. 11 edition.

Steve Baker, vice president, The Great Game of Business Inc.

Idea: Open the books to your employees.

“We are a nation of illiterates — financial illiterates. We don’t teach our kids anything about money,” he said. “It’s much easier to have the whole team on board.”

Jonathan Garard, co-owner, Grooms Office Environments

Idea: Do the right thing.

“When you do the wrong thing, the reality is there’s consequences. You have to stop and consider the choices you are about to make,” he said.

Jeff Houghton, host, “The Mystery Hour”

Idea: Go to therapy.

“You need to change your relationship with fear and risk. You need to figure yourself out before you lead people,” he said. “I killed my addiction to security.”

Alina Lehnert, owner, Lehnert Leadership Group LLC

Idea: Schedule self-care.

“I encourage you to insist that your team does that as well. Self-leadership is about regulating yourself,” she said. “I can get on my own nerves.”

Austin O’Reilly, CEO, Dynamic DNA Laboratories

Idea: Master your specialty and don’t multitask.

“Totally own that space and immerse yourself in it,” he said. “People are always going to be looking to you for that expert status.”

Carol Taylor, president, Evangel University

Idea: Hire for grit and those who will be all in.

“You can’t lead an organization in isolation,” she said. “It takes more than competence. It takes passion.”

Brad Thomas, president, Silver Dollar City Attractions

Idea: Be one who wants to learn versus one who knows.

“The knower will fall asleep at the wheel,” he said. “Understand and have respect for your customer.”

Karen Thomas, president, Oxford HealthCare

Idea: Do not be complacent.

“If we stand still, we are falling behind,” she said. “Success is a journey, not a destination.”

Mark Steiner, co-founder and CEO, GigSalad

Idea: Don’t do it alone.

“Have a good companion in your journey,” he said. “If you do not have a Toto, get a Toto.”

Below is a sampling of the audience Q&A.

Question: How do you lead a legacy organization?
Brad Thomas: It’s important that we recognize what are those sacred cows.
Taylor: Deep DNA is unchanged. That legacy endures. Never lose sight of the rich legacy.
Garard: It’s crazy when you own a business that’s as old as you are. History is everything. When all else fails, that’s all we have.

Question: What books would you recommend?
Baker: “Man's Search for Meaning.” The key is to find meaning in the suffering.
Garard: Max De Pree’s “Leadership Is an Art.”
Brad Thomas: Jim Collins’ “Good to Great.”
Karen Thomas: TED Talks.
Houghton: “The Book of You.”
O’Reilly: Tim Ferriss’ “Tools of Titans.”

Question: What do you see over the horizon that’s your biggest worry from a business standpoint?
Baker: Our biggest concerns are talent and government regulation.
Karen Thomas: Government regulation and reimbursement. How are we going to handle the change? Are we making the right investment? I feel like I’m balancing on the end of a pencil.

Question: How involved should a company be in their employees’ personal finances?
Baker: Use whatever you’ve got. It is so important. If they do better at work, they’ll do better at home. If they do better at home, they’ll do better in the community.

Question: I’m interested in getting into promotional videos. What’s the biggest thing that I can do?
Brad Thomas: We have to understand what do we own, what do we want to own.
Taylor: We want (marketers) to spend time getting to know us.
Karen Thomas: Make sure you understand what your clients’ goals are.

Following the event, attendee Doyle Childers said he wrote down an entire list's worth of advice.

"I find that every time I go to one of these, I always pick up something of use to myself or the people I work with that I can pass along,” said Childers, an energy and environmental consultant and former director of the the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Attendee Ben Sapp said he was encouraged by the discussion, particularly when it came to learning “other people are thinking what you’re thinking.”

"You have to always encourage people to be experts in their field and pass the knowledge down,” said Sapp Design Associates Architects’ communications director. “The trick is to be able to pass that down and not feel threatened they are moving out of their position."

Editor Eric Olson contributed.

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