Area business leaders share success strategies at 90 Ideas in 90 Minutes event

Nine panelists for 10 minutes each shared 10 pieces of advice


Forming trustworthy relationships, making mistakes and maintaining integrity were some of the many key themes woven into 90 concepts shared by Milwaukee-area business and nonprofit organization leaders today at the BizTimes Media 90 Ideas in 90 Minutes event.

The event, held at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino and sponsored by Concordia University Wisconsin, featured nine speakers who each spoke for 10 minutes about 10 ideas that have helped him or her, or his or her organization, achieve success and fulfillment.

The speakers were:

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  • Mary Dowell, founder and CEO of MJ Dowell & Associates
  • Jerry Jendusa, co-founder and partner at STUCK LLC
  • Vincent Lyles, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee
  • Marsha Mather, owner of Laacke & Joys
  • Jim Mueller, president of Mueller QAAS
  • Ugo Nwagbaraocha, president of Diamond Discs International
  • Marie O’Brien president and CEO of EnterForce
  • Rick Schlesinger, chief operating officer of the Milwaukee Brewers
  • Vince Shiely, partner at Lubar & Co.


Based on each leader’s presentation, their ideas were all guided by similar values that they said were either instilled in them by their parents or mentors, or independently learned while developing their careers. Knowledge of and adherence to these values have led them to make moral professional decisions– a uniting characteristic between the nine leaders.

For most panelists, including Marsha Mather, owner of Laacke & Joys, achieving success involves other people. Her philosophy that “people make companies” has, she said, created sustainable success at Laacke & Joys by guiding her to place employees in the right positions.

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Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee president and CEO Vincent Lyles echoed the same people-centered belief. He said he often gives his employees the advice, “Surround yourself with people who will help you succeed.”

He also believes it is essential for coworker and professionals to know each other on a personal level.

“If we’re going to be successful, we have to get to know one another,” Lyles said. “The fact that you’re a woman, the fact that I’m a man, the fact that I’m African American, the fact that you’re white– we have to get past the headlines… We have our cell phones and can talk to people in New Zealand but we don’t even know what are neighbor’s kids’ names are.”

To connect with coworkers, Rick Schlesinger, chief operating officer of the Milwaukee Brewers, suggests taking daily walks around the office to stop and talk casually with staff members.

Mary Dowell, founder and CEO of MJ Dowell & Associates, also finds value in professional relationships, but she emphasized mentorship as one of the most important human connections, encouraging the audience to find a mentor immediately if they didn’t already have one.

“No one person can know everything, therefore, finding someone you trust for advice and support, when you need it, can be extremely beneficial,” she said. “Mentoring is a two way street because the mentor also learns from the mentee.”

Attracting and building relationships with mentors or supportive employees allows business leaders to, in turn, trust in those people.

“When you think of business trust, think of allowing somebody to actually do their job, allowing for somebody to make a mistake, allowing for teams to hold each other accountable and, potentially, even be self-directed,” said Jerry Jendusa, co-founder and partner at STUCK LLC.

When a leader trusts his or her employees, the employees also trust the leader– even if mistakes are made which, as Ugo Nwagbaraocha, president of Diamond Discs International said, are inevitable.

“No matter how successful you are, mistakes will happen,” he said. “It’s not about what happened, it’s about how you look at it. Mistakes are opportunities to learn demonstrate, and build character.”

Responding to mistakes, Nwagbaraocha said, with accountability and honesty shows employees a leader’s humanity– and being “human,” along with having integrity, is one of president and CEO of EnterForce Marie O’Brien’s key values.

“Keep your promises, be sincere, tell the truth,” she said.

Integrity, or as Jim Mueller, president of Mueller QAAS, said, doing “the right things for the right reasons” was another key theme that appeared throughout multiple panelists’ presentations.

“Integrity is the ante for success,” Vince Shiely, partner at Lubar & Co. “Without integrity in your professional or personal life, you can’t check the success box, in my opinion. Self preservation is the enemy of integrity.”

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