It’s amazing how fast time goes by. Friday morning I went to a seminar called 7 Habits of 7 Highly Successful People, based on the Stephen Covey book 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People. This is actually the second one I’ve gone to; the first time I went was in 2007, and I’ve missed all the others since then. Shame on me!

iconInstead of being held at the Centerstate CEO building, as these were the folks sponsoring the event, this time it was held in Recital Hall at Onondaga Community College, in a building I’d never been to before and thus was a little late in arriving; it was also snowing and raining at the same time, which figures; welcome home to me. 🙂

Matt Mulcahy of CNY Central moderated the event, and the participants, less Jason Smorel from the Syracuse Chiefs, were:

Kimberly Boynton, President & CEO, Crouse Hospital; Eileen Brophy, President, Brophy Services Inc.; Amy Collins, President & CEO, CNY Central; Bob Daino, President & CEO, WCNY TV/FM; Eric Hinman, Partner,; Dominic Robinson, Vice President of Community Prosperity, CenterState CEO. For just about 2 hours each presenter got up, told a little bit about how they got to where they are in the first place, and then gave their 7 habits, explaining each one. One of the most amazing things is that there were some themes that were common for all of them. As someone who writes and speaks about leadership, I was impressed that all of them believed communications and transparency with employees is very important, as well as honesty. Also, every person talked about making lists to help them concentrate on their tasks and goals, not only for the day for long term as well.

Of course I have some personal insights about each speaker as well. I have to admit that this time around, unlike in 2007, I only knew of one of the people presenting beforehand, though I’d never met her, and that was Kimberly Boynton. It’s amazing how far she’s gone to become the top person at Crouse Hospital, a place I used to work. What was shocking is that she mentioned how she decided not to move into the president’s office and instead shares a space with her assistant. When you want to see her and walk into her office, she’s right there across from her assistant; no gatekeeper for her. I assume she has a space for privacy when needed but that was a very interesting concept.

Bob Daino led off, and he was the true humorist of the group and easily the most comfortable speaker. He told an interesting story that most of us can learn a good lesson from. He mentioned that years ago a guy came into his office and asked him if he wanted the good news or the bad news. He said he wanted the bad news, so the guy told him. Then he asked what the good news was and the guy said he asked which one he wanted and that’s all he was getting. Years later the guy was retiring, and he asked about that day, which the guy remembered. The guy also remembered what the good news was, but said he was taking that one with him. In essence, the point is to always listen intently, not only to what someone is saying but how they’re saying it, so you can ask the right questions.

Amy Collins was interesting in that she rose to her position via sales and really only had experience in that area and not all the other areas of media. So she’s been doing shadowing programs, where she follows different people around for a day or two to see what they do and to try to understand their needs. In essence, she’s Undercover Boss without having to go undercover. That’s important because many leaders really don’t know what their employees go through and deal with on a daily basis, especially if they’ve never done any of those things.

7 Habits Eric Hinman was something entirely different. He didn’t talk about his business as much as being an Ironman triathlete, which was quite impressive as he’s ranked #26 in the world. He said he does the same type of thing in business that he does as an athlete, which means planning his day, making sure to do certain things every single day because it’s important to stick with a routine and take care of the details, and to always plan on getting the things you need to get done even when other things are getting in the way, such as his traveling back and forth between New York and California. He also owns other businesses locally, such as crossfit gyms.

Eileen Brophy’s story was the most touching. She came to entrepreneurship unintentionally with the unexpected passing of her husband and didn’t know anything about the business. She said it took her 4 years to figure it all out, and along the way realized that she didn’t want to be all about the business like her husband was. So she learned how to delegate while learning everything about the business, did shadowing like Amy above, and also did some of the cleaning services to show her employees that she wasn’t above getting into the mix of dirt and other nasty stuff. A crash course in business without the benefit of school or anything else; proof that it can be done.

The final presenter was Dominic Robinson, and in his own way he’s helping to revitalize areas of the city that have fallen into hard times and have a low economic base. His most interesting story was saying how he talks to two people almost every single day. One is a staunch conservative who used to be a banker, and though their ideals are totally opposite the insight he gives helps Dominic see certain things clearly. The other guy is an uber liberal who, once upon a time, ran for the office of vice president of the United States via the Communist Party. He said this guy doesn’t always think he’s doing enough, yet keeps him grounded on the true mission of his work. Whereas I’d admit that I probably wouldn’t do well with people as diametrically opposed as these two, it is a great lesson in taking opinions from others who might not always believe as you do because other points of view are always helpful in the long run.

Fantastic stuff, and a very appreciative crowd helped make the event special. I even got video face time when Matt scanned the crowd while making a video from his phone showing the enthusiasm of the people in the audience; I’ll take that any day. I can’t wait for next year’s event.

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