When someone inspires you, it can change who you are for the better. Last week, I shared a story about my design influence. This week, I’m going to tell you all about an organization and two individuals who I credit with much of my personal management style.
It all started back in 2001. A very good friend of mine, a fellow New York entrepreneur, introduced me to the Young Presidents’ Organization. Though I’d encountered many professional networking groups during the course of my career, none affected me as profoundly as YPO. As I attended YPO’s business-oriented events, listened to guest speakers and met the developers, investment bankers, hedge fund presidents and more who make up its membership, I began to see why my friend felt so strongly about the group.
YPO is different than typical “networking groups,” where executives sit down for an 8:30 breakfast and listen to a talking head while slipping each other their business cards. This organization helps you become a more well-rounded leader, not just in your professional life, but also in the personal realm. It connects 21,000 chief executives leading corporations in more than 125 counties — how’s that for a global reach?! Through YPO, I was exposed to new ideas, charitable groups that have become important to me and my family — such as Habitat for Humanity — and incredible opportunities, such as a group sit-down with Bill Clinton. That’s why I became increasingly involved over the years, organizing events and taking leadership roles in the New York area chapters. As the education’s chapter chair, a rewarding position that I especially enjoyed, I helped procure speakers to add value for members and to help them, in turn, become better owners and leaders.
Speaking of which, through events such as the ones I helped organize, I encountered two “thought leaders” whose messages are now woven into my own leadership style. Here’s a bit on each, for those of you who want to read up further (and maybe use the information to help you in your own business or personal lives):
Dr. Victoria Medvec, professor at the Kellogg School of Management: YPO held an event with Dr. Medvec three years ago, but unfortunately, due to a scheduling conflict, I missed it. However, everyone came back with such rave reviews that I wound up coordinating a private phone call with her and was blown away by her insights. She re-taught me what I thought I knew about the art of negotiation and set me on a new, improved course when it came to communicating with clients, vendors, landlords and others I encounter during my day. Six months ago, YPO brought Dr. Medvec back for a full-day workshop attended by 200 members here in New York City and even more people benefitted from her knowledge and tactics, which are strategic, but holistic and natural, rather than rehearsed. Whether it’s for a multimillion-dollar deal or to negotiate a personal matter, her open, honest method of finding mutually beneficial solutions affects my approach and undoubtedly improves the outcome.
Dr. Gerard D. Bell, Ph.D and CEO of the Bell Leadership Institute: Approximately six years ago, Dr. Bell held a talk with 25 YPO members on the art of listening. Not a day goes by where I don’t mentally reference what I learned during that half-day seminar. Dr. Bell’s techniques taught me to be a genuine listener with an ability to focus on the person on the other side and disarm them, not just by looking him or her in the eye, but by reflecting back content and engaging them. That skill has helped me be a better leader, better friend, better husband and better parent.
So, now time to hear from you: who inspires you? Feel free to reach out to me by commenting on this article or by emailing me at the address below. After all, when it comes to being an effective leader, there’s lots we can learn from one another.
Scott E. Spector, AIA, is a principal at Spector Group, one of New York’s premier architecture and interior design firms and a leader in corporate tenant and building owner-based design. The award-winning company has affiliate offices nationally and internationally. To date, it has completed more than 1,500 projects.