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"Driving Corporate Innovation Through Personal Disruption" and 1st Annual Awards Banquet of the Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce

On Friday, January 29th, we went to the City Club for a program titled "Driving Corporate Innovation Through Personal Disruption" featuring Ms. Whitney Johnson, author of "Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work" and "Dare, Dream, Do." First of all, Wikipedia defines "disruptive innovation" as "an innovation that creates a new market and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leaders and IMG_7488alliances." Thus, the creation of the automobile would not be regarded as a "disruptive innovation" but the mass-production of it certainly was because it changed the entire transportation industry. Ms. Johnson contended that it is not so much corporations that are the innovators as it is the talented people within them. And these talented people underwent a lot of "personal disruption" in terms of risk taking and personal growth to become the invaluable assets that they have proved to be.

In answer to a question, Ms. Johnson said that the questions a person should ask himself/herself when exploring new possibilities include:

  1. Am I taking the right kinds of risks?
  2. Am I utilizing my strengths?
  3. Is what I am doing hard or frustrating? (if it is hard then one is on the right track but if it is frustrating then one needs to step back and take a look)
  4.  Am I gaining momentum?

It is also vital to have close relationship with friends/relatives/colleagues who are "truth tellers" and "call us when we are not being the people we can be." What's more, Ms. Johnson indicated that a definite key to being a healthy person is not to become obsessed with one's failures or successes (i.e. curves) because everything will ultimately come together into the wonderful "mosaic of you."

At this point, Dan Moulthrop, City Club CEO, said that this would be an excellent place to end the program and everyone applauded in agreement. We met Ms. Johnson when she first arrived at the City Club and told her that it seemed to us that her work has the potential to bring people of different cultures together and that we would ask her about this during the Q and A which we did. Ms. Johnson replied by saying that in order to work successfully together different groups must first put aside their sense of "entitlement" and say things in a way thatIMG_7499 the other party can understand it. If this can be done the results can be tremendous because it has been proven that groups composed of people from different backgrounds, genders, and cultures can create a very strong "collective intelligence" that can increase innovation and productivity.

In response to another question, she said that she believed that certain regions of the United States were more innovative than others due to their immigrant populations because immigrants tend to be very well-trained, bring a different perspective, and are "hungry" to take advantage of the opportunities now before them.

After the presentation, we talked for a moment with Ms. Anna Buchholz, General Manager of StartMart which hosted a table as did Jumpstart which was indeed appropriate because both organizations provide excellent assistance to entrepreneurs and innovators.

We, ourselves, shared a table with Mr. Zach Wemple, HR Vice President and several other people who worked there; Ms. Alyssa Grau, Sales Associate at Hanna Commercial Real Estate and her husband, Andy; and our friend Mr. Tommy Greene who is a candidate for Ohio House District 16.

In addition, we introduced ourselves to several people that we hadn't met before including a college student named Monique who had never been to the City Club before but really liked it and wanted to come back.

On Friday evening we attended the held at LaMalfa Conference Center in Mentor. We mingled and had a great meal but it was one of those times when the appetizer selection was so scrupulous that we had to refrain from eating so much that our supper would be ruined.

IMG_7501We watched as award the 2016 Heritage Award was presented to Christ Child of the Western Reserve which is "an all-volunteer group of women dedicated to improving the lives of children in need regardless of race, creed or national origin." Ms. Susan DeRespiris accepted on behalf of her organization, which has been operating in Lake County for 32 years, and said that it is very important that such assistance be provided to children because they are our future and that she everyone else involved with Christ Child of the Western Reserve was determined to "challenge poverty one child at a time".

There seemed to be unanimous agreement throughout the banquet hall that no one deserved to be named the 2016 Outstanding Citizens of the Year more than Mr. Joseph and Ms. Mary Hada who have devoted so much of their lives to improving "the quality of live in Painesville for both residents and businesses." Ms. Mary Hada had served on the local school board for over twenty years as well as being involved in many other projects as was her husband Mr. Joseph Hada who served eight terms on the Painesville City Council and inspired many students during his 30 year tenure as both a teacher and a coach in the Mentor School District.

We had a good time watching Hearn Plumbing and Heating receive the 2016 Award for Outstanding IMG_7510Business of the Year. This third generation family business located in Madison has been serving the surrounding communities since 1946. Mr. Tom Hearn accepted the honor and took advantage of the moment to descend the stage and walk amongst the tables thanking the specific people/parties who have helped Hearn Plumbing and Heating succeed over the years. He even acknowledged the Open Door Coffee House in Madison and the its customer service staff for providing hot coffee first thing in the morning to his crew. Several family and crew members couldn't be present  so the Hearn family held up large photographs of them on sticks to the applause and laughter of all of us.

Earlier in the evening we, ourselves, had talked to the staff of the Open Door Coffee House and learned that in it has some vegan products on its menu so we cannot wait to visit it ourselves hopefully on a dark and cold morning when coffee and pastry taste particularly good.

We had several other good conversations that Friday night including one with Ms. Jennie IMG_7502Best of Leadership Lake County recalled watching a "Seinfeld" episode about a man who was trying to fill out his immigration paperwork himself and having a tough time doing it. We will have to see if we can locate it because it sounds like it would be very worthwhile for us to watch it.

We talked briefly with a local nursery owner about the H2A visa program and said hello to Father Tom Johns of St. Vianney Catholic Parish who is a good friend of our good friend Sister Rita Mary Harwood.

We shared a table with Mr. John Wainwright, a young man who is studying both business and Spanish IMG_7503in college. We told him that we believed he made a wise choice due to the international nature of today's economy.

As we have written in this blog before, the Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce was created by the joining of the Madison-Perry and the Painesville Chambers of Commerce. It will serve Concord Township, Fairport Harbor, Grand River, Leroy Township, North Perry Village, Perry Village, Perry Township, Madison Township, Madison Village, Painesville City and Painesville Township. Ms. Amanda Cooper of COSE (one of the sponsors of this event) said that there was a lot of talent and a lot of energy in the banquet room.

In the end, we all paid tribute to Ms. Linda Reed, Ms. Alice Cable, Ms. Kathleen Obrenski, and Ms. Katrina March who worked so hard to successfully combine the two chambers and bestowed our best wishes upon the Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce so that it might have a long and prosperous relationship with the communities it now represents.


Written by:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.

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