On March 15th and 16th, the team from the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce was able to attend Southeastern University’s Forum. At SEU Forum, guests are exposed to high caliber speakers, entrepreneurs, authors and more in an intimate setting where they are introduced to their stories, habits, struggles and successes. From the President of Delta Airlines, Ed Bastin to one of the Sharks on the ABC Television show Shark Tank, Daymond John, to the many professional entrepreneurs and business people in between, Southeastern's Forum was an incredible experience.
Mark Sanborn – President of Sanborn & Associates, Inc.
Mark Sanborn was the opening speaker on Thursday. Mark is the President of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., as well as a certified speaker and author. Mark shared with us six ideas to getting better and ways to put these ideas into action.
1. Disrupt yourself before someone else does.
Sometimes you have to disrupt yourself in order to continue on the road of success. If you take the path to least resistance you will never develop mental or physical strength. When we find resistance we realize that we are getting somewhere in our quest to success.
2. (Re) Focus.
You can’t focus once and be done. We have to constantly refocus in order to keep our attention on the goals and dreams we have for our lives, business and more. We cannot let the the distractions of life take over. “Focused attention beats brains and brute strength every time.”
3. What Makes Teamwork work
The team has to be unified in their ability to see the vision of the business. When values are clear decision making is easy. Along with creating clear values, inspiration is another tool used as organizational fuel. 87% of millennial would rather make a difference in their work than be recognized for it. They live with a purpose. From culture we drive the future of business - it is an emotion. Its how people feel about doing business with us. Our teams will only work when we combine clear vision and inspiration.
4. Innovate Continually
In order to innovate continually we have to disrupt best practices. We now live in the Emotion economy: the client or customer has to receive value, they have to be pleasantly surprised, they become happier, they tell others and it grows your business. How do you create an emotion economy for your business? You outthink not outspend. Little things make a big difference. Nobody remembers sameness. Thoughtfulness happens when we slow down for our customers.
5. Increase Capacity
In order to increase capacity, we have to not only grow ourselves as leaders, but we have to grow our teams. There has to be a level of investment into the people in our spaces. Very few leaders have a growth agenda, but all leaders need to have this agenda on their minds. This is how we create intentionality in our workplaces.
6. Be Bold
No one gets to the top of Mt. Everest by accident. It’s intentional and requires boldness. We have to strive for boldness in order to be successful. What is the one common denominators of great leaders? intentionality.
Mark also reinforced the idea that there is danger when we don’t aspire. Settling in the same place will never open the doors of success. We have to aspire higher and follow these ideas in order for our business, lives and relationships to be successful.
Bill Rancic – First Winner of "The Apprentice"
The second speaker of the day was none other than Bill Rancic, the first winner of the show “The Apprentice." Bill Rancic shared with us his journey of entrepreneurship before he won the show and after the show.
He began to tell us that, when he was younger, he used to make pancake breakfasts for the older women in his grandma’s neighborhood. He would wake up early and start cooking away. When he realized that the women were leaving him money, he instantly made a connection to creating opportunities for himself in business. “You have to be able to recognize opportunities and cease them.”
Bill grew up with these notions, but found himself in a greedy work environment. He decided to start his own business. He came up with an idea called, “Cigar of the Month.” Him and a friend decided to put their money together to start this business. They started with $24,000 and had to quit their jobs in order to start it. His employers laughed at him, claiming that the business would never make it and this, of course, made him even more determined to make this business successful.
The first thing they decided to do was to send packages to the top 10 radio shows in Chicago. In these packages was a letter asking for help, a pack of the cigars and glasses that said “Take a closer look at our business.” Shortly after, they heard back from a radio show, saying that they would give Bill’s business 5 minutes on their show. This 5-minute plug on this radio show turned into 30 minutes and after that their phones were ringing off the hook for people to get involved in "Cigar of the Month."
Bill then decided it was time to try to get on T.V. He created 50 more of those packages to send to Daytime Talk Shows. He didn’t hear back from anyone for weeks, but finally made it on a very small show. After that show he ended up on CNN promoting his business. This is when their business really started to grow.
In 2001, he sold this very successful business and shortly after he received information about a new show, at the time, called “The Apprentice.” He applied to be on the show and was selected lastly out of 215 people. He remembers having to open a lemonade stand at the beginning of the show and then the show progressively made the challenges even harder. His final opponent at the end of the competition was an MBA graduate from Harvard, but he still won the show.
Right after he won the show he was whisked away to go on tours with talk shows to share his experience on the show. After he was done with the tour he asked himself, “Why was I the last one standing?” Here is why he feels he was the last one standing:
1. Practical Execution
He shared with us that actions always speak louder than words, and this was true for him during his journey. He explained that during the show people got so caught up in the trash talk and drama, but he found that keeping his head down and focusing on the goal made him more successful. “Let your actions speak.”
2. Be Agile
He also said that he felt that his agility set him apart from the other people in the competition. "When you are agile you are able to bring a new and fresh strategy to the table." The ability to move quickly and efficiently helps separate a successful person and someone who is unsuccessful.
In the pursuit to success one has to be willing to take risks. Risk can always be converted into success. “The biggest failure someone can make is not trying at all. Watch the successful people around you and do what they do.” You have to be willing to take risks!
Bill concluded that we should never let people determine our level of success. When you don’t know your limits, you tend to reach farther.
Scott Harrison – Founder of Charity:Water
The last general session of the day was concluded by Scott Harrison, who is the Founder of Charity: Water. Charity: Water is a non-profit organization that provides water for areas that are in the midst of a water crisis. He shared with the guests of the Forum his journey to creating this non-profit and the success it is experiencing now.
He recalls his childhood home where he lived with his mother and father. Unfortunately, his family did not know that their house that they just moved into had a carbon monoxide breach. His whole family got very sick, but his mother ended up getting extremely ill and it ended up affecting her for her entire life. He ended up being his mother’s caregiver for most of his young life.
When he turned 18 he moved to New York City where he became a night club promoter, where he spent 10 years climbing up the social ladder. There he became extremely wealthy and started doing drugs.
After becoming so wrapped up in drugs, money and societal bliss, he realized that he had wandered so far from his faith. He decided to sell everything and put work toward humanitarian efforts. But every organization that he applied to, rejected him because of his past. He found one organization called, Mercy Ships who told him that he could pay $500 to volunteer as a photojournalist on their ship and he accepted.
Mercy Ships is a ship that provides medical care to people who cannot afford it in suffering countries. This particular ship was posted in Liberia where Scott would volunteer. In order to focus and give his everything to this initiative, he decided to completely quit drugs and alcohol.
The 2 years that he spent with Mercy Ships, Scott took and kept photos of all of the patients who came to Mercy Ships to seek medical help. From children with tumors to adults with disease, Mercy Ships was able to treat these people and Scott was able to document the help that this organization was giving them. He realized that many of the people who came to this organization contracted sickness and disease through the water they were drinking. He felt an urge to find out more about the water crisis.
After those two years on board the Mercy Ship he came back to New York City with nothing. All he wanted to do was share what he experiences during his humanitarian work. He shared photos and stories about his journey in Liberia to the people who he used to socialize with in the industry he was in previously. He knew that it was a solvable problem and something that everyone can agree on: No one should not have access to clean water.
Scott decided that he wanted to reinvent charity. So many people he knew in New York never wanted to give to charity because they felt that they didn’t know where their money was going. He wanted to be 100% transparent with all of the money they received and they also wanted 100% of it to go to the water crisis efforts. So that is what he did! He built a beautiful brand for their charity and created it so that all of the money would go only to the water efforts.
He also began to create fundraising opportunities for those who wanted to get involved. He shared that Sak’s Fifth Avenue, a high-end retail store, raised $700,000. Tony Hawk, a professional skateboarder, raised over $20,000. Will Smith and his wife not only raised $219,000, they also went in person to see one of the water wells being installed.
Not only has this charity given suffering people clean water, is has also helped employ 1,600 people. Scott and his organization believe that it is important to have the local people leading the efforts from their homes. Because of this belief, the people who were once suffering in their homes are now helping in the efforts to provide their families with clean water.
Scott said that Charity: Water has raised 300 million dollars so far and is continuing to raise money even now.
Danielle Weisberg & Carly Zakin – Founders of "The Skimm"
SEU Forum was packed with powerful people on Friday and the first general session started with Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin with The Skimm. The Skimm is an application that allows people to live smarter. It is created to fit into the routine of any person. Whether you are an entrepreneur or working for a big corporation, The Skimm is created to fit into the daily routines of life while keeping its consumers well informed on anything and everything happening in the world today.
Danielle and Carly started in the workplace in the position of producers. They were always behind the scenes, reading articles, doing research and curating information for people to consume. But one day they got a crazy idea to create what is now known as The Skimm. They started this business with only $4,000 and talked to anyone who would listen to their idea.
Hundreds of people said no to their idea, until one day they had a chance to show their idea on the Today Show. That is what catapulted their business forward. After that show they were flooded with emails regarding their new business. Danielle said, “Do not be afraid to ask for help.” And that is just what they did.
These girls had no idea how they were going to raise money to continue their business and they found this to be the hardest part of starting their business. But today, they have raised 28 million dollars.
They have a strong belief that every generation needs to be informed. The generation before them was constantly consuming information through newspapers and daily news channels. Now that this generation is more on-the-go and digitally connected, they wanted to find a way to fit into those busy routines.
The Skimm provides its consumers with a chance to have an open and well rounded perspective on all of the things going on across the globe.
Charles Duhigg – Reporter for the New York Times
Charles Dughigg is a reporter with the New York Times. Charles began his presentation by sharing with us his recent realization. He noticed that he had really started devoting too much of his time to his work. He wanted to spend quality time with his wife and children, but somehow he couldn’t seem to balance his work and home life.
He decided to call around and ask successful people about their healthy habits and productivity. The successful people who he talked to had certain habits that they participated in and Charles shared those with us.
The first point is the habit of innovating. He used the example of the musical West Side Story and Jerry Robbins who helped in the creation of the film and script. The whole idea behind this story was combining clichés with new ideas. For instance, Jerry made this story mirror the old cliché of Romeo and Juliet, but at the same time he added some new language that no one had heard of. He also combined the clichés of dance to go with the movements of the gang in the musical.
By combining clichés with new ideas, this musical became one of the most important pieces of musical theatre history. Charles explained that transforming old ideas into a new piece of something is the definition of innovative. If we want to be successful, we have to create an innovation habit.
The second point was focus. He used the example of Quantas Flight 32. This jet took off from Singapore and was headed to Australia. This is a very sophisticated and advanced airplane. Typically, the pilot would only fly the plane for 8 minutes, because the remainder of the flight the plane would fly by itself.
Unfortunately, something went wrong during the flight and the plane ended up with a hole in it’s wing at 10,000 feet in the air. This type of plane was built to sustain those types of injuries, but something else went wrong and the plane began to take a hit.
But the pilot was trained to hold his focus in all situations. This is called situational awareness, telling yourself a story about what to expect before it even happens. Before the flight, while the pilot was with his crew in the shuttle, he asked them what they would do if something goes wrong. This is an example of situational awareness. He was already preparing for a situation that hadn’t event happened yet and that he didn’t know was going to happen that day.
As the plane began to go down, he took his hands of the controls and tried to focus on what he could do next. He made a choice to pretend like he was flying a completely different plane, a Sesna. This type of plane is dramatically smaller than the plane he was actually flying, but he decided to change the story. He landed the plane safely and no one was injured on the flight.
Focus is the very thing that saved his life and everyone else on the plane.
Teams was the final point in his presentation. He used Starbucks as an example of this point. Starbucks isn’t just in the business of selling coffee. Starbucks is in the business of selling an experience. You walk into a Starbucks and there is calming music, someone who takes your name and writes it on a cup and then you can sit and enjoy a relaxing cup of coffee.
But one thing that Starbucks had to address was the fact that it employed many many 19 year old people. This doesn’t seem like an issue until one day a woman walked in and asked for a cup of coffee and a cranky 19-year-old Barista writes the B word on her cup. This story went on the news and Starbucks took a big hit.
The management of Starbucks decided that they need to invest in the development of their teams. They began to teach every Starbucks employee will power. They wanted to make sure that their teams had the ability to think deeper in order to solve a problem. They created the Latte Habit. The Latte Habit teaches their employees to acknowledge the complaint and then solve the problem.
Because Starbucks decided to invest in the development of their teams, their success increased and now Starbucks is better than ever.
Through innovation, focus and developing our teams, we can build a successful business and future for ourselves without compromising the other important things in life.
Ed Bastin – President of Delta Airlines
The next speaker was Ed Bastin who has been with Delta Airlines for 20 years. We were able to listen to a Q&A with him and the President of Southeastern University, Kent Ingle.
When asked why he decided to go into the airline business, he said that he wanted to make money, but also leave his mark on the world. “You have to be able to take a chance on yourself.” He says that he owes all of his success to his mother who gave him the nudge to keep moving forward.
After traveling so much in his job before Delta, he actually got plugged into the job he has now with Delta. But, in 2004, he left Delta when he felt that the culture wasn’t going in the right direction and it wasn’t staying true to the customers and values of the company. Six months later they called him to come back and implement his ideas to the company.
He wasn’t sure that he was ready to come back, but he shared with us that, “When you feel like you aren’t ready, it’s a good sign that you are.” So he came back and instituted the Delta Airlines culture that we know and appreciate today.
He also shared that the airline industry is always facing change. The only way that this industry will continue to succeed is to continue laying down structure and framework. Although there have been some recent social media issues, Delta Airlines has a strong desire to be in the people business. With all of the amateur videographers in the world, it is easy for things to become misunderstood or taken out of context.
There moto to “Keep Climbing,” is something they implement in everything that they do. They aspire to improve and understand what is important to the customers who fly Delta. A part of that process is being transparent and visible.
Delta Airlines fosters an attitude of customer service and exhibits excellence in all that they do. Ed Bastin was a wonderful representation of Delta culture.
Julissa Arce – Advocate for Immigrants Rights
Julissa Arce is a writer and advocate for immigrant’s rights and education. She wrote the book, “My Underground American Dream,” which follows her story about being an undocumented immigrant who eventually landed a job on Wall street.
When she was very young her parents moved to the United States to start build their American Dream. Eventually Julissa moved to America to be with them on a tourist visa. When she was 15 her tourist visa expired and she was living in the United States undocumented. She continued her normal routine with her mother’s directions in mind. These two directions were to work hard and stay out of trouble and that is just what she did.
She excelled in dance, basketball, school and was a part of the National Honors Society as well. She graduated in the top 5% of her class as well. The only class she was insecure in was English. The language barrier made it hard for her to feel confident in this subject, even though she knew English.
Julissa had a desire to further her education by going to college, but she was rejected by most of them because she was an undocumented immigrant.
In 2001, Texas opened up opportunities for undocumented immigrants to attend college. This was perfect timing for Julissa because she was graduating high school at this time and was excited to finally have the chance to be accepted by a college.
Around the same time, Julissa's parents moved back to Mexico. They were involved in a very bad accident and felt that it was time to move back to their home. But Julissa stayed behind to finish her college education and hopefully pursue the American Dream.
Julissa sold funnel cakes all through college just to pay for tuition. Back then, banks did't allow undocumented people to open of bank accounts, so the money that she made from her funnel cakes, she had to keep hidden in her mattress.
She continued to search for ways to become a documented citizen, but no opportunities were opening for her. All she knew to do what to keep looking forward and working hard. Eventually she received a job opportunity at Goldman Sachs during her senior year of college and she accepted. But she still was undocumented at this point. She didn't know how to solve this problem of being undocumented, so she decided to buy fake documents for herself in order to pursue this job opportunity. After her first year at Goldman's she made $125,000. By 27 years old, Julissa had it all. She had an expensive car, career and plenty of money.
One day, she received a phone call from her mother who explained that Julissa's father was very ill. Due to being undocumented, Julissa had to decide if she was ready to go back to Mexico for good, or stay in America and risk not seeing her father before he died. While she was struggling to make a decision, her father passed away.
Julissa ended up getting married to a United States citizens who she was very in love with and in 2014 she became a citizen of the United States.
Julissa is still fighting and advocating for the rights of immigrants who are struggling to become citizens and who are still hiding like she was. Her book, "My Underground American Dream," has inspired and opened many eyes to the problems and barriers that immigrants face. She continues to shed light on the subject through the truth of her story.
Alex Sheen – Because I Said I Would
This was perhaps one of the most emotionally touching and inspiring presentations of the event (Katie was literally balling by the end). From the grief-stricken post on Reddit after the death of his father, a world-wide sensation was born. Alex Sheen presented about the power of keeping promises, a trait his father instilled in him as a child. He spoke about how his Dad, an all-around average guy, died 5-years ago from a very aggressive form of cancer.
As he was writing the eulogy for this father's funeral he began to think about what impact his father had on his life. What he realized that while his dad lived an average life, he was a man of his word. He was a man who kept his promises because he said he would. At the funeral, Alex introduced the concept of "promise cards" to the attendees so that everyday people could remember what the power of a promise could do. That night he went home and posted about it on Reddit and promised to send 10 promise cards to anyone that wanted them. It went viral. Little did he know what those cards would mean to the world.
A successful software developer, he eventually left his job to start the non-profit, Because I Said I Would. Watch the video below to learn more about how this small idea has turned into a movement dedicated to the betterment of humanity through promises made and kept. Truly an idea/effort that could save the world.
Jason & Hillary DeMeo – Innovation by Design
Jason & Hillary DeMeo are the Founders of We Are Curio, which is a business focused on Design Thinking and unlocking new values within businesses and organizations.
Jason began their presentation by describing to us that innovation is the change that unlocks new value and it also has to be something that is accessible to all people. Not only does desgin need innovation, it needs both science and art. It needs the ability to problem solve, while also have the capability to imagine and think abstractly.
The four essentials to innovation are:
One way to put action behind your ideas is through IEDA, which stand for Immerse, Expand, Design and Act.
Immerse is all about understanding and digging deep into your thoughts and feelings. It's about embracing the unknown and exploring it fully.
Expand encourages imagination and the ability to brainstorm on ideas.
Design focuses on the proof of something. We can't be afraid to hack the system and show proof of our ideas in action.
Act points to designing for everyone and always act to leave the product or service better than it was in the beginning.
They reinforced the idea that design has to be bigger than products. It has to help the consumer and make their lives easier and more efficient. The design has to keep the customer in mind.
Brian Kilmeade – Co-host of Fox & Friends
Brian Kilmeade was the first speaker of the afternoon sessions and he is known for his work as a Co-host of Fox & Friends and is also an author.
Brian talked about many different things in his presentation, but he mainly talked about the struggles before he started at Fox and also the books that he has written and how they have impacted his life.
Brian shared with us that he always had a desire to be a professional soccer player. He was always on the field, practicing and trying to make himself better, but his coach always left him on the bench. He didn't think that Brian was good enough. That is when he had the realization that life isn't fair.
Thankfully in college, he had a coach who thought he was really great at soccer. He gave him lots of time on the field and always encouraged him that he could make it professionally. Shortly after this, the team got a new coach who thought that Brian shouldn't play. He was now back to where he was with his high school coach.
Brian kept experiencing failure. He became a waiter after graduation and felt that he was struggling to find success. Then he received an opportunity to talk on a radio show, but it wasn't anything serious. But he felt that it was an opportunity to get more experience. In his season of failure, he realized that is is necessary in the pursuit of success.
He finally got his big break with a show called Fox. He sent in an audition tape and was hired in 1996. These moments of failure that occurred before Fox taught him so much. Sometimes humility is forced on you, but it is necessary to be humble. Even if it is forced, humility is essential to life. He shared that your response to defeat will show who you are as a person. In those moments of failure, we have to watch our response and continue to stay humble.
Kristen Ledlow – NBA T.V Reporter
Kristen Ledlow was the second to last presenter at SEU Forum. She shared with us her journey to become a NBA Television reporter and also shared with us how she chose to embrace every season of her life.
Kristen was an alumni of Southeastern University and shared that she was very involved during her time at the University. In the midst of graduation she was offered an opportunity to further her career during the summer with a broadcasting team. But she also had another opportunity on the table to go to a camp called, "Kids Across America."
During this time she was very conflicted. She always had big dreams of becoming a reporter or sports news caster, but she also felt an urge to be a part of Kids Across America. She felt that it was important for her to pursue greatness and not fame. So she decided to be a counselor for this camp for the entire summer. This camp changed her life, but when she came back to reality, she still had no plan.
Eventually she started working on a radio show. She felt the need to establish herself as a personality before she was physically seen on television.
After establishing herself as a personality on radio, she received an opportunity from a show called, "Inside Stuff." Many women tried out for the part, but her and the current host found that they both had great chemistry together, but Kristen didn't have lots of experience.
They asked her what set her apart from the other women and she explained, "No one will work harder than I will." Her work ethic and chemistry with Grant, the current host, landed her the job on "Inside Stuff."
From her journey, she felt that embracing every season of life is vital to success. Whether you are in a season of failure or rejection or you are in a season of success and health, it is important to embrace the season and walk in it with confidence.
Daymond John – Shark Tank & Author
To close out an incredible time at Southeastern's Forum, Daymond John took the stage. Daymond John is known for his part in the popular show on ABC, Shark Tank, but he is also an author and was the Founder of the FuBu clothing line. Daymond took us on his journey to success and all that it took to get there.
At the age of 6, Daymond decided he wanted to make some money. He got creative and had an idea to make pencils with the names of the prettiest girls in school and sell them to the boys in his classroom. He pitched it to his friends so that they would think giving the girls this pencil would get them to like them. This proved to be unpopular with the boys, but he actually ended up selling these pencils to the girls! They loved having pencils with their names on it. But the principal of the school found out and shut his "business" down.
When he was 10 years old, Daymond's parents divorced. His mother had to work three jobs at the point in his life, just to make ends meet. Because of Daymond's love for his mother, he decided to jump into action. He got a job handing out flyers in front of the new mall they were building in his home town. In that moment he realized that responsibility isn't always given, sometimes you have to take responsibility.
Hip Hop music became a huge roll in his future success. This music was bringing people together. It was a means of communication during this time and it seemed to tie their community together like nothing he had ever seen before. He would walk around his neighborhood and see about a hundred people listening and singing along with hip hop music in the streets.
At some point these "hip hop" gatherings grew to 30,000 people! Daymond noticed that all of these people were labeled with brands. They were wearing adidas and other popular name brands. He decided in that moment to set a goal for himself and he realized that you eventually become what you think. He wanted to create goals and stay on track with them.
He knew he needed a job to make his goals come to life, so he got a job at Red Lobster. He worked extremely hard at this job, because he knew he needed it to make his dreams a reality.
One day, he came up with a name for the clothing line that he wanted to create. But he quickly realized that "BuFu" was not going to work. He changed it to the nationally known, "FuBu." First he started creating "FuBu" hats and he sold all of the ones that he had made.
On Good Friday, he stood outside the mall, where he handed out flyers as a 10 year old boy, and sold his hats. In one hour he sold $800 worth of hats.
Then he created "FuBu" shirts and tried to get these shirts on any celebrity who would put it on just for a picture. He had some luck with this and got pictures of popular people wearing his brand. Then he took it a step further. He asked local businesses if he could spray paint "FuBu" on the gates that close up their businesses for the day. In the early morning as people were commuting to work, he knew that plenty of people would see "FuBu" on the gates of businesses in their town.
Now that he found a couple of ways to get people to recognize the name of his brand, he knew he needed to take it to the next level. He realized that he needed a popular spokesperson for "FuBu." He knocked on LL Cool J's door to see if he would be interested. After some resistance to Daymond's idea, LL Cool J finally decided to pose for a photo in a "FuBu" shirt. He sent out 300 copies of LL Cool J's photo.
Daymond wanted to physically get his brand in front of different people. He and his friends traveled to Vegas to sneak into trade shows to get "FuBu" in front of all of the people who attended these shows. They set up their "FuBu" merchandise and sold $300,000 worth of clothes.
He realized that he was going to need more money and more space to make these clothes. His house was maxed out with clothes up to the door frames! His mother took out a $2,000 loan to help him find a partner so that he could make his business go to the next level. They put an ad out, looking for a partner for Daymond to sell his merchandise with.
Samsung called him with an offer. They wanted him to sell $5 million worth of clothes in the span of 3 years. Daymond exceeded that offer, by selling $30 million worth of "FuBu" in only three months!
Daymond shared that you have to truly love what you do in order for it to be successful. You also have to put yourself into the brand because you are the brand!
Daymond closed with his last point being, "Keep Swimming." In the business world, in daily life and in our relationships, we will always face hardship and struggle. Failure is something you can expect when you are reaching for success. But you cannot forget to keep swimming, even when things are not going like you expect them to. Push through and continue to work hard for your dreams and goals!