Leadership tips from Milwaukee leaders

Top strategies for success shared at 90 Ideas in 90 Minutes

Eight Milwaukee-area leaders described their approaches to overcoming their toughest challenges, including their best advice, leadership insights and secrets to success, at BizTimes Media’s recent 90 Ideas in 90 Minutes event.

The event, sponsored by Concordia University Wisconsin, was held on Thursday, Oct. 11 at the Italian Community Center in Milwaukee. Each of the eight speakers was given 10 minutes to present his or her 10 leadership ideas, and then participated in a Q&A with the audience, followed by a reception. Concordia also shared 10 leadership tips.

The speakers were:

  • Therese Bailey, founder, ZenZen Yoga Arts (1)
  • Elana Kahn, director, Jewish Community Relations Council, Milwaukee Jewish Federation (2)
  • Dan Katt, co-founder and chief executive officer, Good City Brewing (3)
  • Erik Kennedy, community impact coordinator senior, Aurora Health Care (4)
  • Jim Tarantino, founder, Capri Senior Communities (5)
  • Maurice Thomas, founder and executive director, Milwaukee Excellence Charter School (6)
  • Andrew Weins, chief operating officer, JDog Junk Removal & Hauling United (7)
  • Sherry Zhang, founder and CEO, GenoPalate Inc. (8)

Here is a taste of the speakers’ top ideas. To see all 90 ideas, visit biztimes.com/90ideas.

Therese Bailey:

My formula for happiness.

“Happiness comes from releasing grievances, hostility and blame as you interact with others. You can choose to be happy or be stressed out. A line from one of my favorite songs by the Eagles, ‘…you keep carryin’ that anger, it’ll eat you up inside.’ Too often we use circumstances and events to justify being unhappy. Stop listening to your stories of grief and pain and start living your life. Take responsibility for each and every thing that happens and find your way to forgiving yourself for whatever errors you believe you’ve made.”

Elana Kahn:

Look away, if just for a moment.

“Productive people often value putting our nose to the grindstone and doing, doing, doing, with hyperfocus and diligence. Sometimes, however, we unintentionally narrow our field of vision and lock into a false set of limited choices. We can feel stuck having to choose between two bad choices. Often, however, there are other options that reveal themselves to us only when we step back and dislodge from our patterns of thinking. We can do that in multiple ways, including selfless listening, reading fiction or poetry, watching film, meditating – somehow taking leave of our patterns of thinking, allowing us to see situations with fresh eyes and often revealing options that we couldn’t otherwise imagine.”

Dan Katt:

Play to your strengths.

“While it is important to be aware of your weaknesses, I am convinced that focusing on your strengths will always lead to more personal and professional success. Know what you are good at, and put yourself in the best position to perform at the peak of your powers. Know your weaknesses and find others to complement you.”

Erik Kennedy:

Remove your lens. 

“Removing your lens to understand and respect others while embracing change correlates with, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’ I’ll be the first one to admit that this is hard for me because it is in our nature to pass judgment; however, I strive each day to embrace each person, situation and moment with respect. For us to move forward as a community while overcoming challenges and obstacles, we need to embrace change and remove our lens. Challenge the idea, but not the person.”   

Jim Tarantino:

When you find the right leadership, let them lead.

“Our company is fortunate to have attracted leaders that are highly skilled, believe in our mission and are willing to share their talents and insights. They are dedicated to advancing our mission of building and operating the highest quality living environments for our residents. To be dynamic, I believe the leader needs to know that he or she drives the activities in his or her particular area of expertise. If this is working, there should be robust discussion on the leadership team level as the leader’s ideas are blended into the overall mission of the organization.”

Maurice Thomas:

Speak less, listen more.

“My best ideas come from other people. I’ve traveled the world learning about education. It’s a field where everyone has an opinion because we’ve all (for the most part) had some form of education – making us all experts. In this field, I’ve learned that the best ideas come when I’m able to sit with my thoughts and all the thoughts of the ‘experts’ I’ve come across.”

Andrew Weins:

Embrace the hustle.

“You don’t get anywhere in life without getting started. The hustle is chasing what you think you want to do. It’s the necessary steps to get you where you think you need to be right before you realize you’re close. In the hustle, you have the most opportunity to make mistakes. Make them early; make them often. Use this time to figure out if you’re going the direction you want to go. Embrace it.”

Sherry Zhang:

Curate your network of people.

“When we are growing our business, we will meet many new people. How do we manage the ever-growing network and develop that into our support system? I have found taking each relationship seriously has helped me in building a rewarding experience with my network. Be serious about each new relationship. Be serious about each existing relationship. Respect all people you meet in life and show them your respect. Saying no is just as responsible as saying yes. Don’t cumulate your network, cultivate it. A network is like information; you need it to be as large as possible. But it adds little value to your cause if you don’t know how to curate it.”

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