Mickey's Mail - January 31, 2018

  Mickey's Mail - 1/31/18 - The Sizzle and the Steak

You may have read in an earlier edition of “Mickey’s Mail” that when I came to Bridgeport in 1976 to start a new health plan, I chose this area over Chicago and Los Angeles where I had two other health plan start-up opportunities. What most attracted me here was the fact that I could also play fast-pitch softball for the Raybestos Cardinals, the defending national championship team right here in Stratford, CT. 

When I arrived here, one of the first things I did was sign up my fledgling health plan (which was mostly a hope and a dream at that point) as a new member of the Bridgeport Area Chamber of Commerce (BACC), the organization which became the Bridgeport Regional Business Council. Its CEO was a man named Bill Hawkins who had just been named CEO after serving for 26 years as the Executive Vice-President (Karen DelVecchio’s job today) of the BACC.

What I remember best about my first meeting with Bill was him saying to me: “You have a great chance to be successful with your health plan because of your softball prowess”. When I asked him to explain, he said...

“Your health plan is the steak, what you can sell is your softball ability; that is the sizzle”.

Turns out I ended up playing eight seasons for Raybestos (and its successor, the Franklin Cardinals, until the team folded after the 1984 season). Back then, the team had a big following in this region, and for many years, people knew me much more as a Raybestos softball player than knew me as a health plan executive. This was true even after the health plan, Physicians Health Services, which I ran for 22 years, became a large tri-state publicly-traded company, with $1 billion in revenues, serving over 500,000 enrollees.

Bill worked for four more years until he retired in 1980, and whenever he introduced me to anyone, he would add “and he plays left field for the Raybestos Cardinals”.

When I became BRBC’s CEO in November 2016, I wanted the BRBC to be as transformational as possible, without even really knowing what that meant. Fifteen months later, I am definitely older and hopefully a little wiser, and one thing I have learned is that the BRBC needs to be constantly evolving to continue to bring value to you, our members. We need to try new things, initiate new programs, hold different events, while at that same time preserving the very best events we know you would not want us to eliminate. It is not exactly “Out with the Old, in with the New” but we are always looking for new and exciting programs and events.

To that end, we have two new things we want you to know about.

This past week, we launched a new leadership training program that we named our “Chief Executive Peer Group”, or CEPG, that consists of 12 senior executives of our member companies, with only one business represented in any one industry (to ensure confidentiality). 

CEPG is headed up by Paul D’Andrea of Watch Hill Partnership who has a B.A. and M.B.A. from Fordham University and teaches part-time at Sacred Heart University. The CEPG program is tuition-based and meets one Thursday a month for two hours. The executives in CEPG can learn best practices from each other, share issues and solve problems together, learn how to identify opportunities to improve their own skills, become better leaders, and step out of their “day-to-day” routines to take time to think of how to improve their businesses. 

Let Karen DelVecchio or me know if you’re interested in CEPG. We have room for three more senior executives to join the group.

Our second new program is a one-time “Government 101” seminar we will be holding on the morning of February 16 at the Bridgeport Holiday Inn. Held just one week after the convening of Connecticut’s state legislature, our goal is to allow our attendees to get an up close and personal view of how laws are passed. 

The seminar begins with breakfast and runs until mid-day. You’ll hear from elected state representatives from both parties, lobbyists, and business leaders who have worked successfully with our legislature. This is one educational event you won’t want to miss. Special thanks to Melissa Biggs from DePino, Nunez & Biggs, LLC for her work in putting together our program.

She will also be the keynote speaker for the event. Registration HERE or by call our office at 203-335-3800.

Have ideas for new things we should try? Respond to this e-mail and let me know. There are no bad ideas.