CRYSTAL LAKE – Business leaders from across McHenry County shared their best tips during the “90 Ideas in 90 Minutes” event Tuesday morning.
Kathleen Caldwell, president of Caldwell Consulting Group and the event’s presenting sponsor, kicked off the talk held at the Holiday Inn in Crystal Lake.
“The intention [of these 90 minutes] is to help you become change-ready,” Caldwell said. “A lot has happened since this event last year.”
Caldwell said that there were keys set on each table to help the business community members “unlock their success.”
Leadership Greater McHenry County Executive Director Marcy Piekos was the event moderator and spoke to the positive attitude of everyone in the room. She said the event offered a unique opportunity to hear from business leaders across the county.
“How do you define leadership?” Piekos said. “Think about leadership in one word … influence.”
SmithAmundsen law firm partner Carlos Arévalo works out of the company’s Woodstock branch and was the first to speak at the event. Arévalo brought a timer with him because he said he was worried his attorney training would cause him to be a little too wordy.
“I’ve been around the block, and I’ve seen different types of leadership,” Arévalo said.
He advised others to create a leadership philosophy and stick with it. Part of his philosophy is to be a servant leader by considering others’ specific needs.
“You have to be the first to trust,” Arévalo said.
John Buckley, executive director of Adult and Child Therapy Services in Woodstock, was next, and he said he was unsure why he was asked to speak.
“When I was invited to be a part of this, I thought, ‘Well, really?’ ” Buckley said.
But Buckley has more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit organizations. He helped guide one of his businesses through a merger and spoke to the benefits of combining assets.
“We realized that if we banded together we could provided a higher quality of service,” Buckley said. “Mergers are a way to ensure your stability.”
Carol DeFiore, owner and funeral director of DeFiore-Jorgensen Funeral and Cremation Services in Huntley, emphasized the importance of making viable connections.
“That connection that you make with people makes a difference,” DeFiore said.
She said people want to do business with those they know. DeFiore was only able to get a loan to open her funeral home because she had a connection with a banker.
“I encourage you to take a risk – take time to make connections,” DeFiore said.
Crystal Lake-based JA Frate Inc. President Jill Dinsmore said that she was not the company’s innovator, as many of her fellow panelists might have been. Dinsmore said she helped establish a framework and values for the company that kept its ideology alive.
“If those employees can make decisions based on those values, it’ll work out,” Dinsmore said.
She also said leaders should always be willing to jump in and help the team. For that reason, she said she always brings a pair of flats and boots to work.
Shaw Media, owner of the Northwest Herald, hosted the event.
Carole Peters of the United Way of Greater McHenry County, Patricia Miller of Matrix 4, Sharmella Harris of Scot Forge, Harry Patel of Which Wich Superior Sandwiches and Jennifer Prell of Paxem Inc. and Elderwerks Educational Services also spoke during the event, and attendees asked the panelists questions at the end.