Giving thanks for West Michigan’s most valuable source of capital

November 22, 2013
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Business owners annually strive, in this week of the Thanksgiving holiday and throughout the holiday season, to balance valuable customer demands and continued business profits with employee work/life balance.

In a week that gives Americans pause to give thanks for the result of such balance, the Business Journal notes that a day put aside for personal thanksgivings has spiraled to include many expectations from “family time” to Black Friday/Black Monday profits.

The Business Journal calls attention to the TEDx event held in Muskegon last week. Business owners and the Mona Shores High School football coach each offered insights to coordinating, collaboration and capital, but altogether they formed an overarching pragmatic conclusion: Success is realized by policies and practices that consider and honor each individual contributing to the team — with thanks for each.

Coach Todd Conrad spoke to “collaborative competition” and asked the audience not to allow people to internalize themselves or others as successes or failures based on competitive results, but as human beings. He stressed that not every competitive outcome affects who a person is or how valuable he or she is.

Conrad emphasized that competition is a means for individual improvement.

“We need to think of our opponent as our ally, not as our adversary. … If competition is a means for individual improvement, then I need that person over there because it’s the interaction between us that makes us both better.”

Entrepreneur and Media 1 CEO Chris Willis focused on human capital: “Capital is the most valuable thing. It’s money. My thing is, if we treated our people with the same respect that we treated our money, wouldn’t it be great?”

Willis noted stockholders and owners see human capital as a cog in the wheel rather than as an asset.

 She dove deeper, stressing the importance of business innovation and its shareholder value, advising an emphasis on innovation to stockholders: “Yes, we are eliminating redundancies and inefficiencies, but we are also actively investing in this group of people in this area because we know we either innovate or die.”

Butterball Farms CEO Mark Peters based his TEDx talk on individual talent development and career alignment. “We have employers who are really not very good at doing career development,” Peters noted.

As business owners and CEOs finalize budgets and New Year goals, the overview of the trio of speakers is compelling, especially given the oft-cited retention and recruitment issues now so prevalent, especially in western Michigan.

The investment in talent is investment with a certainty of return and a perpetuation of success; it’s regional economic empowerment for which we’d give thanks.

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