Mickey's Mail - January 17, 2018

  Mickey's Mail - 1/17/18 - Teamwork When the Chips Are Down

54 years ago, I was In Washington, DC the day Martin Luther King, Jr. gave one of the most inspiring speeches of my lifetime. I wish I could say I was at the Lincoln Memorial. I was not, but I remember his speech like he gave it yesterday! 

In mid-December, I received some potential bad news about a situation here at the BRBC that, frankly, had me worried over the entire holiday period. This news had come to me even as we were basking in the glow of an amazing Annual Dinner at the Trumbull Marriott where we had the largest number of attendees of any BRBC event in as long as anyone could remember.

MGM International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren had given the keynote speech, and received a well-deserved standing ovation for what he pledged to do for our region where he and his family have deep and continuing roots.

I admit to being stymied by the news I had received, and I even let myself slip to into a “woe is me” mentality for a short while. But I was able to snap out of it by telling myself that all businesses face these circumstances and anyone can lead in good times. The differentiator between a good leader and a “not-so-good” leader is which one has the ability to rally an organization when the going gets tough. I decided to pull out all the stops and engage all the people we could muster to focus like a laser beam on the challenge at hand (my father used to build lasers at his job at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, so I know what I’m talking about).

What I found out is that a good leader also needs the counsel of other good leaders and a top notch team of professionals waiting in the wings - ready to jump into action.

I called on every staff member we have here at the BRBC to counsel me and advise me on what we could do. I fully engaged Jeff Leichtman, our consultant extraordinaire, who had great experience in dealing with situations such as what we were facing. I had Karen DelVecchio, from her vacation on the west coast, get for us critical information we needed from our national chamber association. I spoke at length with a peer chamber CEO here in CT who gave me invaluable information.

I met with my predecessor CEO, Paul Timpanelli, Laura Hoydick and Mary Dean (also former BRBC staff members), and I deliberated with several of our board members who I knew could offer me sound advice. The most important person in that regard was our new chairman, Kate Hampford Donahue, of Hampford Research who devoted a significant chunk of her time on this one matter.

I had changed my attitude – no longer feeling sorry for myself and the BRBC – but now determined that this circumstance was going to be an all-team…all hands-on deck exercise to make lemonade out of lemons.

Our team feels that we, as UCONN men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie is fond of saying, had “tens toes in” on this one. And, whether we were successful or not at producing lemonade, we just engaged in a team and organization builder that may very well be counted as the bigger success story.

I was also struck with how efficient and effective we have become here at the BRBC using all forms of communication tools at our disposal, from texting, group e-mails, PowerPoint presentations, and more from our actual and virtual work stations, and even in the end with the good old Alexander Bell telephone.

Because I’m old enough to remember mimeo paper before photocopying, faxing before .pdfs, “transparencies” on a projector before PowerPoint, long distance land lines before cell phones, and flip phones before smart phones, I was impressed with how quickly, efficiently and effectively the BRBC team coordinated communications and presentations we needed to address our situation.

Some of you may even remember my favorite business tool, the slide rule! I used this little gem almost every day when I was in graduate business school!

When Kate Donahue and I met Friday with the BRBC’s THRIVE Emerging Leaders Board of Directors at their off-site retreat, I couldn’t help but reflect on how communication in our business world has changed so dramatically. The world that we navigated as emerging leaders is a world these young professionals can’t even imagine.

We’re going to have a great 2018!