2019 YP Pre-Conference Recap

For the third year in a row, MAPP’s Young Professionals Network hosted a YP pre-conference session for those attendees under 40 years of age. This professional development program was for industry young professionals looking to grow their leadership skills, industry knowledge and peer network. 

The event included a special leadership workshop from keynote speaker, Kirk Weisler, with a focus on building a strong team, personal ownership and inspirational leadership. Additionally, attendees participated in three YP LIVE sessions from company presidents and owners, with open ask anything Q&A, and concluded with networking during an exclusive YP reception.

The Pre-conference session with Kirk Weisler was a huge success! Kirk gave many valuable lessons, but if you missed it, here are a few of the main takeaways:
  • You cannot NOT communicate. Whether you do something or not, dress a certain way, say certain things, do a certain amount of work, you are communicating to everyone about how you live. Stop being a victim of other people’s judgement.
  • Keep a leadership journal. Every time you see someone exhibiting excellent leadership take note of that and share the example with employees and your team.  Implement those examples of leadership within your own culture.

  • Repetition is the mother of all learning! Teach others what you wrote down. This helps knowledge and wisdom stick.
  • Show great leadership by setting good examples.  When attending an event such as meetings, seminars etc. make yourself the most attractive person in the room.  Sit close to the front, have a pen and notebook ready, be alert and show open body-language. By exhibiting these behaviors it indicates that you are ready to learn and engage which are attractive qualities.  Make your team the most attractive people in the room, set the expectations with your team that this is how they should behave.

  • The most important thing is people. At a concert, sporting event, or any other performance, you don’t remember what brand of instrument or equipment, but rather the accomplishments of the people and how the experience made you feel. Don’t lose focus on what matters.
  • Take 10 minutes of every day to reflect. Ask yourself if the next 100 days were just like this one, would the world be a better place? Would your business/team/yourself be more successful?
During the YP LIVE Sessions, three experience industry leaders shared their journey, their lessons and their advice with attendees. 

  • Jim LeGacy of AMCO Polymers
    • LeGacy hit home on the importance of three key skills: delivering, listening and building a strong team
      • When it comes to the habit (and yes, it is a habit) of being a good listener, LeGacy shares, "The information you need is all right there. Learn to relate to people, understand who you are sitting in front of and what their perspective is, and ask lots of questions.
      • When hiring people for his team, LeGacy looks for the four E's: they can execute, they have energy, they energize others and they have edge.
  • Chris Gedwed of Cosmetic Specialties International
    • With an unusual path into being a plastics company leader (Gedwed previously worked in Finance, M&A and Equity), he shared his humbling journey of walking into an operating plastics facility and finding out how to be a great manufacturer, stating, "Reading an SOP was like reading Chinese to me at the time."
      • When it comes to getting up to speed, Gedwed shared that he worked his way through each department. Over the course of a year, he worked on the floor and on the machines, interacted with his people and worked to make their jobs easier.
      • His main piece of advice for young people in their organization looking to stand out: Be Proactive. "Don't wait for opportunities. Be involved. Show your leaders they you are trying to find ways to be more effective, efficient and make their jobs easier."
  • Missy Rogers of Noble Plastics
    • Another leader whose pathway into owning a plastics company wasn't typical, Rogers and her husband opened Noble Plastics because they couldn't find another plastics company willing to mold a product for them. However, what was missing in traditional plastics knowledge, Rogers made up for with ingenuity and instinct. Noble Plastics has a large, and remarkably young, engineering and design team. It is their creativity and team-based culture that Rogers credits for Noble's continued growth. 
      • Some advice to young professionals from Rogers:
        • "Don't get sucked into the idea that management is the pinnacle of any career. At every level of any organization, whether that is as an individual contributor or a managerial role, you should be able to flourish. Instead of chasing this idea of management, find what suits you and where you best fit."
        • "Say yes to all kinds of opportunities. Be the financial professional that learns how to be processors or the engineer who learns marketing. Being able to understand each part of the business will make you a more well-rounded professional."
        • "Don't confuse supervisory roles with leadership. Being in a supervisory role does not automatically make someone a leader. Instead, if the manager lacks leadership skills, you need to choose to lead where and when you can. Have faith that those in your organization will recognize this, and if they don't, then maybe you aren't where you are supposed to be."
Peer Networking Reception

During the peer networking reception, attendees had to write down one challenge they are facing in their organization, then find four others who could help them solve that problem. Young Professionals were able to meet those with similar challenges, from various backgrounds, and enjoy finding new ideas, giving advice and meeting new peers.

Suggested Readings from the Event

Many of the presenters shared their favorite book recommendations. A few of them are below:

  • First, Break All the Rules

  • It's Your Ship

  • Love 'Em of Lose 'Em

  • Five Dysfunctions of a Team

  • Tribal Leadership 

  • Traction

Learn more about upcoming YP events or join the YP group here.