April 24, 2019

7 Lessons from Houston's Young Business Leaders

Key takeaways from an evening with Regions Bank

Fast Track Your Career Growth

This post is sponsored by Regions Bank, Member FDIC, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

As you’ve probably noticed lately, I’m turning a lot more of my attention to business matters. In particular, I’m dedicated to empowering other young business people (particularly women) through the investment of both capital and time — speaking, advising, coaching, mentoring, networking, and more. I have discovered an intense passion for sharing my business acumen with others.

After all, I spent almost twenty years in the energy industry. The vast majority of my career was at a wonderful company with a very entrepreneurial mindset. Sharing with others the powerful tools and lessons I learned during that career is so fulfilling.

So, when sponsor Regions Bank, Member FDIC, reached out regarding me joining them and the Houston Business Journal for an evening of real conversations with some of Houston’s top young business leaders, I jumped at the chance! The “Fast Track Your Career Growth” event was a wonderful success with so many great takeaways.

Keep reading for the best insights I took away from the event that can surely help you in your life and business…

7 Important Lessons from Houston’s Young Business Leaders

The setting for Region’s Bank’s panel discussion was relaxed and fun. We met at Houston’s very own 8th Wonder Brewery. Nearly a hundred young professionals networked and enjoyed drinks and pizza before we settled in for the highlight of the night — the panel discussion.

Chris Matthews, finance and innovation reporter at the Houston Business Journal, moderated the panel, which consisted of the following leaders and experts:

– Pierce Bush, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star

– Will Davis, manager at Regions Bank

– Kelly McCormick, managing director at University of Houston RedLabs

– Grant Pinkerton, founder of Pinkerton Barbecue

– Ryan Soroka, president and co-founder of 8th Wonder Brewery

The lengthy discussion was rich with insights and actionable takeaways. Here are the top lessons I wanted to pass along to you all…

Lesson 1 : Invest in yourself

Everyone on the panel iterated this point over and over — and I couldn’t agree more! Invest in yourself. Be your own biggest cheerleader. Believe in yourself. Take time to learn and grow and develop and expand your skill set.

Lesson 2 : The best way to learn something is by doing it

Pierce Bush brought up this point… Nothing beats experience. If you don’t know how to do something, give it a try! Don’t become paralyzed by fear of the unknown. Sure, study up and learn all you can. But at some point, you just have to do it!

Lesson 3 : Delegating is critical to long-term success

Grant Pinkerton emphasized how important it is to learn how to delegate. If someone can do something 80 percent as well as you can do it, let it go! Focus your time on where it adds the most value. He likened it to building a team. Everyone fills a different role – and you have to let them do the role they are hired to do.

This reminded me of something I’ve heard New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick say multiple times. He talks about how each person on his team knows his role very clearly – and that’s all each person is supposed to worry about! He directs them each to go out and perform each of their specific roles to the best of his ability. And if each team member does this, the results will take care of themselves.

Lesson 4 : Technology makes it easy to test ideas

Kelly McCormick talked about what a wonderful time in which we live! Technology makes it so easy to test ideas. In the past, testing an idea would be a long, expensive process. But with all the access we have at our fingertips, we can determine the validity of an idea so much more easily these days.

So, figure out what you’re passionate about. Try some ideas that fall in line with your passion. And if an idea doesn’t work, fail fast – and move on to the next idea. Eventually, you’ll land on the right fit – something for which you are passionate, customers are excited about, and you can make a living doing it!

Lesson 5 : People make decisions with their eyes first

For me, this was a really interesting observation that Ryan Soroka made. I hadn’t really thought about it exactly in these terms, but boy is it true! I’m sure you can validate this with your experiences from both a business and consumer standpoint.

When you’re looking for a new restaurant option, when you’re shopping for clothes, when you’re in the market for a new house… Are you primarily reading words or looking at images? Content creation matters! No matter your business, you should be creating visually compelling content on a large scale.

Grant Pinkerton made the same point, but said it slightly differently. He said, “These days, we hear with our eyes. And we consume text in 140 character chunks.”

Social media is powerful in letting us connect directly with our customers!

Lesson 6 : The value of a good mentor is immeasurable

Will Davis had some powerful advice on how to get the most out of a mentor relationship. Once you find a great mentor:

(1) Ask your mentor for feedback

(2) Accept that feedback

(3) Activate that feedback — while staying true to yourself.

Lesson 7 : Eliminate the noise

We will end with a bit of a funny story that Pierce Bush shared in order make an important point… Having a large following on social media does not automatically make one an expert! Pierce illustrated this point by sharing that his dog has almost 90,000 followers on Instagram!

The point is this: With so much information readily available at our fingertips these days, we must carefully discern what is value-adding versus what is just noise.

Focus on consuming content that adds value to you. Likewise, focus on producing content that adds value to others.

In Closing

Did you enjoy these insights? Which one was your favorite? Though I wish you could have all been at the event with me, hopefully this served as a nice substitute for being there.

Finally, I encourage you to take advantage of any relevant networking opportunities in your city. There really is power in our collective knowledge and experiences.

A big thank you to Regions Bank for sponsoring this content. Sponsorships like this help make my business possible. Don’t forget to visit Regions Next Step for financial tools and educational resources to help you achieve any of your financial goals!

And thank you to you, our colorful community, for supporting the businesses that support us.

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