Lessons Learned

Carrie Halstead

Carrie Halstead (IL '10), marketing director, Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Kentucky

Ignite Louisville Class of 2012 Opening Retreat

Lesson1: There is no ‘I’ in team.Okay, so this isn’t a new lesson, but it applies to so many aspects of our personal and professional lives it bears repeating.  After being assigned to our retreat teams, we were tasked with several team building exercises – each with their own special life lesson.  We learned that open, honest communication, even in the face of adversity, is crucial to any team.  We learned to value everyone’s opinion, especially the ‘quiet ones’.  We learned there doesn’t always have to be a defined ‘leader’ and in fact, the team worked better when each of us had a turn at the helm.  And we learned that you do achieve much better results when everyone participates.Lesson 2:  Listen to your gut and push yourself.Gill Holland (Group Entertainment) and Heather Howell (Rooibee Red Tea) shared some of their life experiences with us as they interviewed each other for the group.  And although they have many differences in their stories, they share a few similarities.  They aren’t afraid to be who they are – they’re not interested in fitting into someone else’s idea of who they should be.  They’re not afraid to take risks and they both embrace what makes them different.  What I took away from this conversation is to listen to that inner voice, even if it means veering off course and doing something way outside of your comfort zone.  Trust in yourself, lean on your friends, use your networking circle, push yourself and don’t settle.

Lesson 3:  Giving back feels good.

Want an instant pick me up?  Go volunteer.  You will likely never find yourself in a more welcoming, appreciative and diverse setting as you will in your local nonprofit agency.  And while I may not be the most objective person, having come from a nonprofit, ask around and watch people’s faces light up as they tell you about donating their time or talent to a worthy cause.  Better yet, watch the faces of the folks who work for that agency.  Take a good look at someone who burns the candle at both ends day in and day out just to make a difference in someone else’s life.  If you stay the course and invest your talent whole-heartedly, I promise this experience will change your life.

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What does Brand Me, Inc. look like?

Jaime Warren

Jaime Warren (IL '12), diagnostic imaging manager - outpatient centers, Norton Healthcare

Ignite Louisville March 2012 program day

As I turned onto Dixie Highway, I was given my first impression of Brown-Forman with its rich history being very visible from their campus. After being escorted to the conference center and enjoying a fantastic breakfast, our group was ready to go with learning how to create “Brand Me”. I quickly learned that this would be a very hard session as most of the questions were not immediately answered and required much deeper thought.

Kirsten Hawley, vice president, director of organization and leader development, walked our group down the path of starting the process of branding ourselves and what that should mean. We were asked what CEO, Me, Inc would look like. Three concepts were introduced: know your customer; deliver what matters; and keep your brand promise. What should be an easy task, I found to be very difficult.  What should my brand be? What do I bring to the table?

My “take-away” from today’s session was in three words. Ask. Listen. Repeat. Three simple words that when put together have a powerful message. I have wondered which of the three will be the hardest to complete. Ask is the easy part but listening to what the people you serve have to say… even when it’s hard to hear is not so easy. And then start the process all over again.

Over the next few weeks, I have challenged myself to create a “Brand Me” with starting with the three words above.

Surprising lessons learned at UPS

Gabe Riggs

Gabe Riggs (IL '12) manager, marketing web strategy, Norton Healthcare

Ignite Louisville 2012 program day at UPS

Before last Wednesday, the extent of my knowledge about UPS encompassed brown delivery trucks and the rumbling roar of their planes between 2 and 5 AM, continually shaking my house. To have a chance to see the expansive technology behind the global delivery machine, Worldport, and realize how much Louisville benefits from the organization, was very eye-opening.

One of the biggest takeaways I had from the morning was during the Director of Maintenance, Brad Schwandt’s talk about their community internship program. Brad spoke about how they work with FedEx to borrow parts and collectively it made both companies better. Brad said, “In the airline industry, you have to collaborate or you will fail.” That statement caught my attention. Why the airline industry? You would think that in an industry that has, as a whole, had horrible losses and struggled to stay financially viable, competitors would take any advantage they could over each other. Yet these competitors work together to create mutually beneficial relationships that help both companies better meet their customers’ needs. I thought about how we perceive our competitors in my industry. Instead of putting up walls and defenses, why don’t we look for bridges? I do realize that this wouldn’t apply to every company or industry, but I know that looking to a competitor for collaboration has never shown up on any of my resource lists.

The rest of the morning was great as well. Rhonda Clark’s story was absolutely unbelievable and inspirational. I can’t help but admire how she overcame so many obstacles and conquered new challenges with such humble resilience. I look forward to buying her autobiography someday. The afternoon tour of Worldport was great. How Jeff O’Dell knows so much baffles me. Aside from all the great UPS information, I learned that if you need a tree cut down, you should first get a quote for the wood to offset the cost. I also learned quite a bit about lobster. That guy would make a fortune on Jeopardy.

Thanks to UPS for giving us the opportunity to experience the heart of their operations. As I stood in the elevator with a UPS driver this morning I couldn’t help but smile at him as I thought through the amazing process the packages he held had been through. He was probably a little freaked out by me. Thanks again!

New favorites in my leadership toolbox

Reanna Smith-Hamblin

Reanna Smith-Hamblin (IL '12) vice president/ communications, Better Business Bureau, serving Louisville, Southern Indiana and Western Kentucky

Ignite Louisville 2012 program day at Yum! Brands

From Colonel Sanders’ white suit and secret doors in David Novak’s office to motivating leadership tools and culture, our Ignite Louisville day with Yum! Brands was an invigorating way to start the new year. Banners in bold colors were at every turn within Yum! Headquarters, inviting us in and demonstrating the excitement I’ve heard about from those who work there.

We were introduced to Yum!’s program, “Achieving Breakthrough Results” (ABR), designed with help from John O’Keeffe, a management consultant who wrote Business Beyond the Box. The program filled my leadership toolbox and I will share a few of my favorite tools I plan to use!

One of the most important tools for me was to Schedule Thinking Time. Schedule 30 minutes, two time times per week, to THINK! Some of your best ideas can come from this scheduled thinking time. Do it in an environment you are comfortable in. Think. Is that in your office? With music blaring? With the lights off? Mark your calendar!

Another valuable tool – Mind Mapping! It helps you categorize what could be a very big picture. For example, in an exercise, we had 30 seconds to come up with “things to do in Louisville.” By creating a Mind Map, we came up with a larger list of things to do than we would have without the map.

Jigsaw Achievement could help me with my mission to become President of the BBB when ours retires. In preparing for this position, I have often thought about all of the jobs I will be responsible for when/if I take his position. These are all parts of the jigsaw puzzle that I need to place together as I learn about each piece, one-by-one.

During lunch, we were asked to use the 3 x 3 CHING for Breakthrough Results. We sat with a partner and asked each other three questions (3 times each). The questions were: 1. Tell me something you think I don’t know about you. 2. Tell me something you like about me. 3. Tell me something you think we have in common. It’s a great way to “break the ice” and build relationships. I came into my office today and used it on a few people!

The day with Yum! Brands wrapped up with a tour and we discovered many things. First, did you know Colonel Sanders always wore white suits so he could check out the kitchen without flour from the biscuits showing? And David Novak’s recognition culture comes to life in his office, where plaques and awards plaster the walls – even on the ceiling! And the secret doors, well….if I told you they wouldn’t be secret!

It was truly an honor to spend the day at Yum! and I look forward to putting the lessons into action!

Be like a duck

Jean Lee

Jean Lee (IL '12) client and community relations coordinator, PNC Bank

Ignite Louisville 2012 December program day with Norton Healthcare

Have you ever been told “Be like a duck! Stay calm on the surface but paddle like crazy underneath!” Our opening activity of the Ignite Louisville December program day was to identify the qualities that a duck possesses that could relate to leadership. It was a fun and interesting exercise to identify leadership qualities such as adaptability and resiliency. Lead by Al Cornish, chief learning officer at Norton Healthcare, this activity kicked off an entire day of focusing on our own personal leadership skills and competencies. If you ever have an opportunity to sit in a class taught by Al, I highly recommend it. Al’s teaching style is so engaging and entertaining that you won’t even realize that you are learning!

One of the most interesting parts of our day was when we heard Lynnie Meyer’s leadership story. Her journey is an incredible one with so many twists and turns. As a young professional it is always inspiring to hear from leaders in our community who have hit crossroads in their careers and have landed on their feet. She also talked about being passionate and dedicated but also striving for life balance. Our December program day held at Norton Healthcare was exciting, insightful and stimulating and I look forward to our future program days.

An incredibly humbling, awe-inspiring opportunity

Michael Bush

Michael Bush (IL '12) financial advisor, Northwest Mutual

Ignite Louisville 2012 November program day at Ft. Knox

Ignite Louisville has already proven to be a huge success for me, and we’re only a month into the program! On November 16 we had the chance to spend time at Fort Knox getting to know some of the members of our military and learning their leadership strategies. What an incredibly humbling, awe-inspiring opportunity!

Our group leader, Captain J.R. Fry, actually thanked US for our service and what we do for the community. He told us the reason he serves in the military is to give people like us the freedom to do what we do. Captain Fry recently worked two years at a base in the Northwest near Lewis, Washington, and he encountered war protestors and general hostility towards the soldiers. He had to remind himself every day has he passed them that what he is doing gives them the ability to express their feelings freely. All of this was coming from an Army Ranger—one of the toughest men on the planet—who has served two tours of duty in Iraq. We can all learn a lesson from his humility and selflessness.

I have to say, though, that one of the best parts of the day came when we went to the strategic weapons training area and got to shoot our own M-16 semiautomatic rifles! After learning the basics of how the gun operated, we practiced on some turkeys (picture Duck Hunt on Nintendo—no real ammo). It was painfully obvious I’m not a hunter when my teammate Josh hit 62 and all I could manage was 3. We then graduated to some sort of industrial war zone and had to fire at the enemy hiding in various positions. Finally, we were placed in real-life scenarios in which we had to determine who were the good guys and bad guys and if the bad guys were enough of a threat to shoot. Talk about intense! To imagine that our troops are put in those situations on a daily basis without the comfort of knowing it’s just a training exercise is overwhelming to say the least.

I can’t wait to see what the Ignite Louisville program brings us next!