Category Archives: Lessons

Takeaways from Julie Yurko, President and CEO of Northern Illinois Food Bank

Executives Breakfast Club

Terrific Executives Breakfast Club event this past Friday morning! Over 100 business leaders united to hear about transformational leadership from the personal stories of Julie Yurko, President & CEO of the Northern Illinois Food Bank!

A Few Takeaways

“We all have special needs, some are documented by doctors and some are not.” We have to remember that everyone is dealing with different issues, including ourselves. Let’s all try not to focus on what is wrong, but more so how can we better ourselves, and learn from our needs – and help those around us in ways that we can with their needs.
– Olivia Sorokes, Paul Gregory Media

I found it interesting that many leaders have a coach to help with their own leadership growth and accountability. It’s always great to get some outside feedback on areas you can improve.
– Julie Poulos, Red Caffeine

When times get tough, accept and think about finding the blessing in it.
Mary Kay Slowikowski, Slowikowski & Associates

It’s important for each leadership team member to have 2-3 personal development goals that are shared w/the rest of the leadership team—so they can help!
– Jim Kales, Aspire

Inspiring people: Communicate in a way that the option of NOT following the vision is unfathomable. Articulate vision clearly.
– Alla Ioffe, Executives Breakfast Club

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Breakfast Rescheduled with Greg Wasson President & CEO of Walgreens

Dear EBC Family,

It is with great disappointment that I must reschedule tomorrow’s breakfast with Greg Wasson, CEO of Walgreens. Someone very close to Greg is nearing the end of his life, and Greg – as a great man and leader should – will stay by his side and take this time to be a comfort and support to his loved ones.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh said, “Grief can’t be shared. Everyone carries it alone. His own burden in his own way.” While we do each feel the ache of loss individually, I disagree that grief can’t be shared. Just as we share in each other’s successes and joys, we – as empathetic leaders and human beings – are all touched at some point by loss and can therefore understand and share one another’s pain.

Each month at the EBC we discuss how to be a transformational leader. What is that quality that some leaders have that makes people want to share in their visions and feel like they are a part of something bigger, not just an employee exchanging time for a paycheck.

Each month we interview leaders and shine a light on different sides and manifestations of one core truth: it is character. One leader may be charming, one may be highly intelligent, another may be the hardest working. But each one must have a foundation of character at her or his core to be truly transformational. Greg Wasson is that kind of guy, that kind of leader, and that kind of loved one. It is his decision to stay by the side of his loved ones in this difficult time that makes him the kind of guy we at the EBC welcome with open arms.

So yes, I am disappointed that I will not see everyone tomorrow. But I too have been touched by loss and so more than anything right now I am sad for Greg and his family and will keep them in my thoughts. I hope that you, my EBC friends, will do the same. And when we welcome Greg back to the EBC in May we will do so with delight because he’s the kind of guy who has a core of solid character.

Now to some business:
The Next EBC breakfast will be March 14th with Maria Wynne, Former CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago
If you registered for tomorrow’s event you will be automatically enrolled for the May event (date TBD) with Greg Wasson. If you are unable to make it to the rescheduled date in May we can issue you a credit for a future EBC breakfast or a refund.
Because we had to cancel this month, we will also have a bonus EBC breakfast in June. Most likely this will be June 13th but we will confirm once details have been finalized.
If you have any questions or issues please feel free to contact me at any time. My direct email is [email protected] and my cell phone number is 414.617.4633.

Thank you for your understanding. It is in challenging and sorrowful times like these that our character is tested. And I know everyone in the EBC would earn an A+.
Your Executive Director,

Alla Ioffe

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Wisdom from Anne Saunders, President of Redbox

Prior to Redbox, she was executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Knowledge Universe, where she was responsible for creating the company’s business strategy, accelerating revenue growth, and developing new revenue streams. From 2007 to 2009, Saunders worked at Bank of America, first as senior vice president, brand executive, then as senior vice president, consumer bank executive. Saunders previously held a number of positions at Starbucks where she was responsible for global brand strategy, marketing, and communications.

The Aha Momement

Early Career

Creating Culture

Learning from Starbucks

Optimism, Conflict, Failure

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Wisdom from Brian Baer, President of Dominick’s

Relatively newly appointed to the President role, Brian’s experience as Dominick’s CFO and previous positions within Safeway, the parent company, as well as experience with other service based organizations such as the Marriott, has shaped Brian into an outstanding leader to elevate the Dominick’s brand in Chicago, which is the most difficult market in the grocery industry. Each morsel of experience and philosophy that Brian shared was so valuable, but to summarize, the following were my top takeaways.

How do you prioritize in a role that has so many demands?

Brian said what guides him is to have clarity in purpose. Share that amongst your team. Often employees know the job, but aren’t clear on the purpose. A job may have 1,000 tasks, but there is only one purpose. Define what is our purpose. At Dominick’s, Brian has shared the following with his team of 7,200 employees.

  1. Make our customers’ experience unforgettable. In an industry where profit margins are 1-1.5%, price is a factor, but with that being said, people will go where they feel welcome and the experience is a pleasant one.
  2. Grow your brand. 
In the service industry, your brand is your people! Empower them with knowledge through training. A motto that Brian lives by is “Tell them. Show them. Watch them. Coach them.” Far too often we do not equip our employees with the knowledge, training and mentoring.
  3. You are here to sell! We are in the retail business so each and every customer-facing employee is a contributing factor. It goes back to #1, providing an unforgettable experience. Often when doing the task required of our jobs we forget the goal to grow business.


Data and Decisions

Brian had some interesting thoughts as to how data should be utilized in decision-making but not exclusively. He said to use data to validate, but use your eyes, ears, feet, brain, and mouth to make the ultimate decision.

When Brian took over as the new president, he facilitated round tables to listen to what the employees had to say. He carefully assembled different management teams and he listened. Brian said listening to both your employees and your customers is key. Dominick’s has impressive employee retention, with the average tenure to be 30 years!

Characteristics of a Great Leader

  1. Tenacity: Never give up, as often persistence prevails.
  2. Self Awareness: Be cognizant of your weaknesses and leverage your strengths.
  3. Constant Improvement: Always strive to take strengths to the next level, and make your key differentiator stand out.


Characteristics of a Great Employee

  1. Make your boss’s job easier.
  2. Know you have many bosses.
  3. Make your purpose to eliminate your job.

*Takeaways courtesy of Julie Poulos, VP Strategic Solutions at Desert Rose Design

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Tom Walter & Rich Panico Discuss Company Culture

In November the Executives Breakfast Club had the honor of interviewing Tom Walter, CEO of Tasty Catering and Rich Panico, Founder and CEO of Integrated Project Management. Both men and each of their companies have received multiple awards and recognitions for their commitment to fostering a culture of ethics, trust, empowerment, and integrity. Tom recently co-authored a book titled It’s My Company Too! where Rich and IPM were featured as a case study. Below are some takeaways from their interview at the EBC.

EBC: What is a values-based culture?
Rich Panico: We have baseline principles that guide all our decisions, not just some decisions. When we talk about values-based culture it’s one in which principles are absolutely understood and are applied consistently regardless of the consequences. I truly mean regardless of the consequences because if you never have to really stand up or have the opportunity to prove that the values are real where its cost you money you will never gain the credibility as a leader that you really need to gain access to the heart. So in our organization honesty is at the top of the list. We tell candidates if you lie once in this organization you get fired.

One time I was presenting at DePaul to a graduate class and I made that statement and a gentleman in the back of the room, this elderly gentleman who I thought was a student and later I found out that he was another professor, he stood up and he said ‘That’s not very Christian of you’. And I said ‘Well, I’m not condemning this individual to hell, all I’m doing is firing him!’. He actually, at the end of class came up to me and gave me his card and said, ‘if you ever decide to go public give me a call, I’d like to invest in  your company’.

Core Values of Tom’s company, Tasty Catering:

  1. We’re always moral, ethical, and legal.
  2. We treat all with respect
  3. Quality in everything we do
  4. High service standards
  5. Competitiveness- strong desire to be the best
  6. Individual culture of discipline (you’re responsible for your own area)
  7. You’re free and responsible within that culture of discipline. You can make decisions on your own but you’re responsible to everyone else within the organization.

Tom: We repeat those core values plus the culture statement before every meeting in our company.  I’m firmly convinced that academia has it wrong. When I was in school they preached mission, vision, values were important. I’m firmly convinced it’s values then vision then mission. We hire and terminate people based on core values.

Rich: All our employees know our values. If you asked them what they were all their answers would be consistent. In fact, in our recruiting and interviewing process I ask candidates to go out there and test the culture by asking people what are the values of this company. Ask across the organization. And I also tell them, if you get once inconsistency if I were in your shoes I wouldn’t join this organization.

I’m confident everyone would say honesty, integrity, doing what you say you’re going to do and doing it in a moral, ethical fashion. And caring deeply is important. I would much rather have someone with an average IQ that cares deeply because they always win. They always win. If you have a phenomenal amount of talent but you don’t combine it with the heart, which really drives passion, that’s the catalyst in life, you’re going to fall short. Respecting others, treating others with respect and dignity, you would hear that too. And then you would also hear things that are more around the structure of our company and that is quality and discipline in carrying out your activities. That’s what we communicate in our hiring process. We tell everyone when they come on board “these are the things that you’re going to have to perpetuate, and if you don’t you’re going to find a short life here”.

EBC: So many of us wish our organizations had such consistent clarity about our values. How do you build and maintain it?

Rich: It’s not as difficult as we’re led to believe. It starts with the recruiting process. In our company, anyone who gets hired is going to have to go through at least ten interviews. At least. And that’s excluding a phone screening. Half of those interviews are targeted at trying to understand what people have in their hearts. When I interview people, typically every third interview people break down and cry. It’s not because I’m beating them up or being tough on them. I just ask them to tell me about what they most want me to know about what is in their heart. And then I ask them if they’re willing to share with me a significant heartbreak.  And it’s not because I want to dig into their lives so much as I want to know how they processed. How were they able to process during that period? It tells me that they have an EQ- that’s emotional quotient- that they still have that instilled.

So it begins with that process when they come on board, staying close to them and making sure they are living in accordance with the values of our organization is important. We rely heavily on our managers to stay very very close to them. They’re told that they have a responsibility for helping us sustain and strengthen the culture.

Probably one of the most important factors is to make sure you promote the right people. I’ve been told ‘when you get to 25 people you’re not going to be able to sustain it [the culture], when you reach 50, 100, and I’ve had a lot of smart, professional people tell me this. Well, we’ve done that and we’ve surpassed that and the culture is stronger today than it ever was. But if you move the wrong person into a leadership position you become vulnerable. If you recognize that you’ve made a mistake, deal with it. I don’t care how strongly that person is contributing to the mechanics of the organization, you have got to cut them loose. And that is where companies fail.

We see it often. When someone will make the excuse that so and so is so talented and she is able to do this and that, but she is not a collaborator, she doesn’t espouse the values of the company. You’ve got to let those people go. It’s that plain and simple. If you accept people like that, you’re going to fail. And you keep reinforcing it. I’m certainly key to that. I feel like I’m “on” 24/7 both inside of work and outside of work. I’m very much aware of my behavior.

EBC: Do you have to be liked to be successful?

Tom Walter: I frankly don’t care if I’m liked. I think what is critical is respect. I think earning respect is far more important than being liked. As a leader you’re watched 24/7. You’re always watched, listened to, everything you say is repeated. The most important tool in your toolbox as a leader is respect. You earn that respect on a daily basis through your actions and your deeds.

EBC: What is Transactional vs. Transformational Leadership?

Rich: Transformational leaders are effective by being affective. Affective means that it’s not only about what we refer to as a managerial process and tactics that we learn in school or from companies we join- that’s process driven. It’s a script. And you can be effective to a certain degree in applying those principles and unfortunately there are many people that have the title of leaders who are nothing more than transactional managers. They’re playing to a script. It’s input output as though you’re working with machines. To be transformational requires you to appeal to an individual’s heart. That’s where the affective approach comes in. It’s much harder. It takes time. But it’s the thing that truly drives trust and loyalty, which is extraordinarily powerful.

In the end, the only true measure of leadership is the ability to gain an individual’s trust and loyalty and then to retain it. You don’t gain it once and keep it. It’s continually appealing to the intellect through the business decisions we make, and some are right and some are wrong, however no one ever questions the intent of those decisions because everyone understands that the baseline is honest.

We’re going to make mistakes, we all make mistakes, the best you can do is learn from them and move on. But transformational leadership is about inspiring people and truly gaining access to their hearts because that’s unstoppable.

Today you can buy intellectual property and ability, but the greatest competitive advantage that any organization can have is an inspiring, supportive culture. When people  get bound to that culture even average performers will do things they never dreamed possible themselves. That’s transformational.

My wife and I could live in a box and be happy because I know what brings happiness and it affords me the opportunity to treat everyone with respect and dignity and it helps me take risks in business. I’m not afraid to lose what I have because I know what’s really important and no one can take that away.

Please join us at the EBC on Friday, December 14th for our next breakfast with special guest, Brian Baer, President of Dominick’s.

Be well,

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Mike Evans on Hiring

The EBC was fortunate to welcome Mike Evans, Founder of to breakfast last week. Mike graduated from MIT in 2000 and moved to Chicago to work for where he came to understand the value of lead generation Internet Advertising.  In 2004 Mike wrote the first version of The company’s rapid growth since then has led to five rounds of investment funding, totaling $84.1 million.

Over the next couple of weeks I will share brief takeaways from our chat with Mike.

We asked Mike what he looks for when hiring and he gave us a very short list: 1) The applicant must be passionate about something. Whether it’s bowling, reading, tv, work, or family, a new hire at Grubhub must have the capacity to feel passion. 2) The applicant must be an expert in his or her domain. How can you tell? If you’re hiring someone to program, ask them to write code. If you’re hiring someone for HR, ask them to mediate a workplace conflict, if you’re hiring someone for sales, don’t call them back.


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Mike Evans: Founder of Grubhub- Oct. 12th!

See this video of Mike Evans and then send in your questions for October 12th!

Please email [email protected] to include your questions in the interview!

VIDEO OF MIKE EVANS (Entrepreneurs Unplugged)

Mike Evans is the co-founder and COO of GrubHub. Mike Evans graduated MIT in 2000 with a pile of degrees and an equally impressive pile of debt. Following along the dotcom bandwagon, Mike moved to Chicago to work at While there he came to understand the value of lead generation Internet advertising.

In 2004 Mike wrote version one of because he was frustrated with futilely searching for delivery restaurants and grumbling through inaccurate orders. After refining the website, he jumped ship and went full time to pursue making a real business. Armed with a “Sales for Dummies” book, Mike and co-founder Matt Maloney bootstrapped the business for two years. In 2006, GrubHub won the University of Chicago’s New Venture Challenge. The company’s rapid growth has led to five rounds of investment funding, totaling $84.1 million.

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Send in your questions for Doug Porter

The EBC is pleased to announce that Doug Porter, the CEO of the Ronald McDonald House Charities, CNI will be our September interviewee! Doug has had a very rich and broad career, having worked in the Navy, a major ad agency, and now the non-profit world. Please read his bio (posted below) and reply to this post with questions you would like us to ask Mr. Porter at our September 14th event!

Doug Porter:

A New Jersey native, Doug graduated from Cornell University with a BS from the School of Hotel Administration in 1978. Always dreaming of becoming a pilot, Doug went through the NROTC program and received his commission in the U.S. Navy upon graduation. Entering naval flight school in the fall of 1978, Doug accumulated 2000+ hours in carrier-based jets over the next seven years and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for accomplishments during extended deployments to the Indian Ocean.

Upon leaving the military in 1985, Doug joined Leo Burnett Advertising in Chicago. Throughout the course of the next 19 years, Doug worked on a number of clients in the Account Management area. From 1999 -2004, Doug served as the Executive Vice President and Worldwide Management Director on the McDonald’s and Hallmark businesses for Burnett, as well as serving on Burnett’s US Operating Board and the Global Operating Committee. During his advertising career, Doug was a part of the agency teams that were recognized with Effie awards for achieving outstanding marketing results on Procter & Gamble, Crayola and Hallmark. Additionally, he was a member of teams that were awarded a Clio and a Bronze Cannes Lion for creative excellence. During that time, Doug served on the Board of Directors of the Advertising Educational Foundation in New York City and as President of the Board for the Ronald McDonald House near Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, as well as participating in the ‘Leadership Greater Chicago’ class of 1997.

In the fall of 2004, Doug retired from his business career and joined Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana as the CEO. In that role, he oversaw a merger of all the assets in the Chicago area to form one cohesive organization that is dedicated to the health, well-being and education of children. Today, he leads four Ronald McDonald Houses and one Ronald McDonald Family Room that provide a “home away from home” for 140 families each night in medical crises, a Ronald McDonald Care Mobile offering free pediatric medical services and a scholarship program. The charity has just opened the world’s largest Ronald McDonald House in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood that serves the new Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

Doug is immediate past Chairman of the Namaste Charter School in Chicago and currently sits on the board of JobBound, Beauty for the Brave and Receptions for Research, The Greg Olsen Foundation.

Doug and his wife, Ann, have two children, Alison and Scott, and reside in Western Springs, IL.

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New Members!

Dear Executives Breakfast Club,

As the 2012-2013 season approaches I am so pleased to report that Judy Beaver of The Office Pro, Bill Burris of InnerWorkings, and Russ Jones of First Transitions have joined the Club! Bill and Judy have joined the Executive Council and Russ Jones has joined us as a sponsor on our Board of Governors.

The schedule of speakers will be posted on Friday, July 27th so stay tuned and spread the word!

Thanks for your continued support,


Executive Director

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Lessons from J.C. Gonzalez-Mendez, President of McDonald’s Latin America

When big issues come up, put them in perspective. Try to disassociate yourself from the issue and look at it with less emotion.

Coaching is so important. I have 5 people I consider coaches. I mentor many people of all backgrounds. Even Michael Jordan needed a coach! It’s best to have mentors within the organization and outside of it.

I have had had the opportunity to work in so many different disciplines at McDonald’s that I have not been really good at any. But it has given me a good understanding of what needs to be done and how to pick good talent.

Business happens at the counter; it’s difficult to see that at the desk.

I think it was Confucius that said ‘find yourself a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life’.

People think we’re just in the hamburger business. We’re really in the people business. We employ over 1.5 million people. We touch a lot of lives. Being a part of developing great people is what I enjoy most.

You will learn a lot from mistakes. The question is can you learn from a mistake after making it once, or do you have to repeat the mistake to get the message?

Unfortunately there are bad people out there. When you’re in a leadership role it’s important to understand peoples motives.

It does get lonely at the top. You have to be careful who you’re listening to. Continue to seek out mentors and people who will tell you how it is.

People say more with what they don’t say but how they behave. If people aren’t coming to you it’s because they don’t feel comfortable. It’s not their problem- it’s your problem. Make it easy for people to come to you and open up to you.

Integrity is the most important quality a leader has to display. I define it as “how close are your actions to what you’re saying?”.

If you’re willing to go outside of your family and cheat on your spouse, what is it that you’re not willing to do in the workforce?

Authenticity and transparency are so important. What you do is so loud I can hear what you’re saying.

Charisma is so difficult to define; you know it when you see it. Authenticity, transparency, and consistency help.

There have been great leaders who were not charismatic. It’s helpful but not required.

In business you need to think globally. At McDonald’s we call it a “Glocal” mindset. It’ a global mindset but with a local execution. You need to think of the intricacies of particular marketplaces, but you need to think globally about quality standards, values, mission, and so on so you don’t deviate from that.

I’m not an avid reader, but when I do read I read leadership books. But right now I am reading Mandela.

You don’t know what you can get until you ask for it.

My mom used to say, “why do you worry so much? If it doesn’t have a solution, why do you worry so much? And if it has a solution, why do you worry so much!?” Things that make you worry today will make you laugh tomorrow.

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Happy Holidays from the EBC!

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” – Albert Pike

Thank you for your continued generosity and support. It is with your membership, sponsorship, attendance, and promotion that we at the Executives Breakfast Club are able to offer an “under the hood” glimpse into what it takes to lead.  Sometimes the actions we need to take are not popular and can influence lives drastically, and it is with the support of our peers and mentors that we are able to maneuver those situations with grace. As David Bere, our October speaker and CEO of Nonni’s Foods said, “A lot of times you don’t have the choice to make a decision, but you certainly have the choice how you make the decision.”  With your support, the Executives Breakfast Club is able to offer a forum to explore these tough situations and offer guidance, mentorship, and friendship.

Please keep us in mind as you plan your giving for the end of 2011 and your budget for 2012. Although we do not pay our speakers, we do incur other operating costs. Any support you can give the Club is immensely appreciated and helps us continue to spread our message. The Executives Breakfast Club is where Chicago’s leading business minds unite to evoke, expand, and exemplify the principles of business ethics to be better people and business professionals in an inviting, warm, and accepting environment. Let’s continue to spread this message and strive to do well and do good in business.

To give to the EBC, please make checks payable to the Executives Breakfast Club of Oak Brook and mail them to

KGR Brown and Associates, P.C.
475 S. Frontage Road, Suite 210
Burr Ridge, IL 60527

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

-Your friends at the EBC

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Cooking Up Business Insight with Doris Christopher, Founder of the Pampered Chef

Some lessons from our November guest, Doris Chsitopher, Founder of the Pampered Chef:

  • Have confidence in the leader who is taking over – succession is easier when you have trust!
  • Put the business first; it is not about you. You’re serving the higher purpose of the business mission.
  • Never set up employee promotions and contests where only one person can win. It becomes a disincentive instead of an incentive program.
  • Diverse teams with a variety of skill sets are vital to success.
  • Don’t fixate on what holds you back. Focus on how you can be more effective because of what you have and who you are.
  • Hold on to your faith and family. You will not feel fulfilled in a job that asks you to choose between your life and your work.
  • Collaboration is so important. Otherwise you’re subscribing to a very narrow bandwidth.
  • Don’t expect people to do things you think are beneath you. Doris has worked in every role in her company.
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Lessons from David Bere, CEO of Nonni’s Foods

We were delighted to host David Bere, CEO of Nonni’s Foods and former CEO of Dollar General, for breakfast in October. Here are some highlights from breakfast:

A sense of mission in a company and the feeling that there is opportunity help fuel passion in employees.

Sometimes grwoing too fast can make you forget about basic, fundamental principles.

Leading a high profile company is a rush! The idea that the world is watching is terribly exciting!

The hardest decisions to make for a leader always center around people. Leading people in a major corporation and in a small business means you meddle in people’s lives.

“A lot of times you don’t have the choice to make a decision, but you certainly have the choice how you make the decision.”

Sometimes the people you need to get through a certain period are the ones you need to be without to conitinue moving in the right direction.

80% of criticism is legitimate. Use the 24 hour rule before reacting.

The best way to diffuse criticism is to ask more questions.

For teams to work you need to make sure the right people are in the right roles.

When hiring, look for people who have passion. If you care you can develop the skills you need.

Sometimes you’re a leader and sometimes you’re a follower. The key is to know when to be which.

There are three things in life that are important: work, family, and golf and you can only be really good at two of them.

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Executive Council Meets for Dinner!

The Executives Breakfast Club’s Executive Council had a terrific meeting on August 24th at Braxton Seafood Grill to discuss some of the specific topics we’ll be addressing this season at breakfast and we can’t wait to share what we’ve come up with! With the speakers we have lined up for this season, there are sure to be some pithy lessons you, your executive team, and your organization’s rising leaders will find enlightening. Maureen Beal, EBC’s President and CEO of National Van Lines, shared an amusing Winston Churchill quote with the group that I will pass along to you, “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm”.

We’re all tired of narcissistic leadership events and we, as we’re sure you do, desperately crave raw humanity, authentic relationships, and meaningful learning. On behalf of the EBC, the Executive Council is looking forward to bringing you another year rich in learning, authenticity, and depth.

To learn how to join this group, please contact our Director, Alla Ioffe, at [email protected]

Our Executive Council is composed of leaders from established and up and coming companies interested in ethical leadership and promoting the way things should be. They include Christ Church of Oak Brook, National Van Lines, Pallandrome Events, Slowikowski & Associates, Aspire of Illinois, Bridgepoint Technologies, LCG Executive Coaching and Training, and Gould & Ratner.

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HP’s Head of Strategy & Plans: Dean Campbell

On April 8th, the Executives Breakfast Club was proud to welcome Dean Campbell, the Head of Strategy and Plans for Hewlett-Packard. We were honored to hear Mr. Campbell speak candidly about his successes and mistakes, and were fortunate to glean some valuable lessons from the conversation.

1) When thinking of integrity, people often imagine it on the percentage basis. I have integrity in 95% of my life and, therefore, can allow myself a lack of integrity in just this 5%. When it comes to leadership, integrity is binary. Followers will not ask what percentage of this leader’s life was honest and ethical. They will only ask, “Did he or she have integrity, yes or no?”

2) As leaders, we need to be creating a culture where the next great idea can emerge. To create this context for innovation, we must create an environment where people are not penalized but given incentive to take risks to create something new. Every manager says he or she promotes creativity, but think back to who was given the raise? Was it the person who tried something new and perhaps failed, or was it the person who was consistent but safe?

3) It is not enough to design an excellent product or service. You must also market it excellently.

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Leading a Superpower

McDonaldsJim Skinner, CEO of McDonald’s, was EBC’s March, 2011 speaker.

Some takeaways from Leading a Superpower:
Know what your company does best and don’t hire outsiders to improve it. McDonald’s manages operations better than any other company in the world, arguably. It was when advice about operations was taken from those outside the company that McDonald’s lost steam. Continue reading

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It’s the only business conversation that matters

“It’s the only business conversation that matters.
Everything else is just tactics.”

Our 2010-2011 Program taps into the heart and soul of leadership. With case studies presented by leading executives, we’re getting personal and exploring the significant, often difficult experiences that forge true leaders and build strong character.

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