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10 Takeaways from the Think Summit

This year, Biz 417 hosted the first of its kind Think Summit, a place for innovators, entrepreneurs and thinkers to gather and have intelligent conversations about the local, regional and national climate we find ourselves in today.

This local event, similar in nature to TED Talks, was full of inspiring ideas and actionable strategies for business people nationwide. These are the top 10 takeaways we discovered and couldn’t imagine keeping to ourselves.

How to improve workplace culture and attract more candidates

The easiest way to attract high quality candidates to your business is by creating and maintaining a company culture that individuals seek out. Candidates actively seek out companies where their employees are excited to work and who take ownership of their jobs.

Creating a culture doesn’t happen by accident. Although, paradoxically, it doesn’t happen by focusing on culture either. Rather, if you want to foster a company culture that invites candidates, focus on the systems within your company that ultimately determine culture.

How do you approach interviews and onboarding procedures? How does your company communicate with its employees? Is there a process to receive employee feedback?  All of these things determine your company’s culture in the eyes of your employees because, while you can influence your culture, your employees ultimately decide how it’s projected to potential candidates.

How to prepare for a future you can’t see coming

Right now the future is blurry. With artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles and wireless everything becoming real possibilities by the end of 2017, how do you prepare for a future only seen in movies? Educators are becoming acutely aware that the skills they are teaching students now, may not be the skills they need when they enter the workforce.

Take a cue from teachers and instead of focusing your training on specific software applications, train your employees on the art of adaptation. If the rate of innovation continues on its current path, you must be prepared to pivot with technology or risk falling behind.

How to use generational gaps to your advantage

We’ve all heard the long, drawn-out brawls between Millennials and Baby Boomers about which generation has the most to offer. The traits of each generation are no secret. What is a secret, is the newly arriving Generation Z. Born after 1997, this generation is similar to the Millennial generation in that they are growing up immersed by technology, but, other than that, they don’t necessarily share anything else.

From an early age, products were catered to Millennials and companies actively sought them out. Gen Z hasn’t been given the same attention, thus they view brands and products differently. They are either oblivious to traditional marketing or choose to ignore it. Instead, they prefer to invest their time and money with individuals and products that they’ve followed from the beginning. While Gen Z may be hard to reach, they will allow you to experiment and find new and creative ways to talk about your product or service.

How to prioritize at a large scale

Prioritization, while most common at the individual task level, also applies to enterprise-wide decisions. The City of Springfield uses a unique integrated planning procedure that allows them to get “the most bang for their buck” as they create their budgets. This approach takes into account four specific criteria to prioritize regulatory compliance, necessary city enhancements and the availability of resource.

First, they evaluate the community priorities. This seems like common sense considering the main goal of the governmental body is to enact the will of the people. Then, they prioritize their sources. They imagine the main problem(s) they would get rid of if they had a magic wand and prioritize based on need.

Once they have prioritized their problems, they have to assess how that problem can be resolved. One path might lead to a non-traditional, cheaper option, while regulations might lead the other way. How the solution will play out is a key factor in determining how their resources will be utilized for other projects. Finally, they look at their financial capability to put these solutions into practice.

It’s only with careful deliberation at each of these steps and a tight communication circle between governmental organizations and bodies that the city has been able to meet all of its increasing regulatory issues and others that may have been pushed to the back burner long enough.

How to disrupt your industry

Disruption has been a buzzword in the marketing industry for some time now. Many marketers fail in creating disruptive products because they don’t actually know what it means. Disruption is more than just creating a better, smarter, cheaper product. To truly disrupt a market, you have to find a way to reach an entirely new market.

Think of Facebook or Uber. Facebook is a content creation platform that doesn’t own or create any content. Instead, it lets users create their own content, share their ideas and connect with people across the world for free. Uber is a car service that doesn’t own any cars. It capitalizes on markets that typically wouldn’t request cabs – those in under-served areas and college students.

If you want to disrupt your industry, think about all of the things that could hurt your business (such as a public, social forum instead of chat rooms or ride-sharing instead of traditional driving services). Can your product or service do that?

How to provoke and foster employee engagement

Sometimes it’s the little things that make a difference. Getting employees to engage doesn’t have to be a corporate-wide initiative with multiple strategies. It can be as easy as changing out seating.

At Biz 417’s Think Summit, Grooms Office Environments displayed a chair that looked like a spinning top. Its unique design had even our sales consultants taking a break to sit and spin. It was fun and gave them a chance to recharge during the event.

How to turn education into action

Most new hires come in with some sort of education—either from schooling or previous jobs. However, education doesn’t always mean that they will be able to hit the ground running their first day.

To keep your new hires active and engaged in your company, consider adding three additional phases to your training plan:


Encourage your new hires to participate in intelligent conversations within your company. Sometimes fresh eyes turn out to be the most valuable asset a company can have.


Have them set goals for themselves. Let them spend time thinking about what they want to accomplish and then have them create a clear path to meet those goals.


Make sure they tell someone about their plan. Not only will this help motivate them to reach their goals, but it will also foster engagement between employees.

How to inspire your community

To inspire your community, you must first be inspired. What is the one thing that your company truly cares about? Once you find your company’s passion, act on it. Use it to fuel a movement in your community to protect the environment, become healthier or care for those less fortunate. Encourage your employees to volunteer at local shelters. Host benefits or sponsor causes. The more you get involved and show the community your passion, the more they will look to you for inspiration.

How to create your legacy

Your legacy, like community inspiration, is fueled by the passion of your leadership team and your employees. Your legacy is the impact your business leaves on a community. For instance, Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, MO is not only a leader in the national conservation movement, but it is also the number one tourist attraction in the state. Their legacy is two part.

The first is because of their leadership in the conservation community. The have hosted summits with other national leaders to talk about the future of conservation and community engagement days to foster a love of the outdoors. The second is because they have made their store an experience. It attracts more than just customers. It attracts nature enthusiasts, conservationists, hunters and outdoorsmen, and will continue to do so with the opening of the Johnny Morris Wonders of Wildlife Museum & Aquarium.

How to know when you’ve found home

Springfield, MO is full of intelligent, driven and passionate individuals. It’s full of culture. It inspires entrepreneurs and innovation. It’s our home. The community we’ve created here is passionate about its work. It’s full of life and provides us with ample opportunities to expand our initiatives.

Your home is where the community supports you. It’s where you can be free to innovate and make mistakes. Your home should be full of influential and mindful people who can challenge you and help you grow. Home isn’t necessarily a place, but rather a feeling. It’s not something you can measure, but rather something you feel. We can’t tell you when you’re home, you’ll just know.  

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