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NOTEBOOK: 90 Ideas in 90 Minutes: What we took away


We hope you enjoyed the engaging dialogue from our 90 Ideas in 90 Minutes as much as we did. Each year the panelists bring a new perspective, and what they share is always inspiring. For this week’s Notebook, we decided to tell you some of the key takeaways we got from panelists and attendees while we participated in the event ourselves. Enjoy!

–Emily Barske, associate editor

Millennials want to work for socially responsible businesses

By Emily Barske

With the pace of the event, you may have missed some of the many nuggets of knowledge the speakers addressed. One of those that stuck out to me was from Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the Iowa Finance Authority. She mentioned that millennials want to work for socially responsible businesses. 

A study from 2016 found that 64% of millennials won’t take a job if a company doesn’t have strong corporate social responsibility values. In a time when the pool of recruits is drastically low, where your company stands on social causes may make all the difference. 
Along those same lines, millennials also place a higher value on sustainability than previous generations. Nearly 40% of millennials have chosen a job because of company sustainability. Fewer than a quarter of Gen X respondents said the same, and 17% of baby boomers, Fast Company reports

If you needed any more reason to think beyond the bottom line, there you have it.

A common theme: Staying in the moment

By Joe Gardyasz

Tom Swartwood, associate professor of entrepreneurship, Ivy College of Business at Iowa State University, in an interview said he was impressed by the lively panel and audience. 

“I get a kick out of a crowd that’s ready to go that early in the morning. My students aren’t that ready to go at early classes,” said Swartwood, who said he’d like to give his students access to the 90 ideas that were presented. He said he particularly thought that Don Coffin’s idea of “play your shot,” which was picked up on by several of the panelists, was particularly relevant. 

“That’s something that I had to learn, but I see it a lot with younger people. I think they find it difficult to be in the moment, whether it’s in class, with friends or at an event. Partly it’s because they’re so glued to their devices. I actually ask my students to just be with me for 50 minutes, three times a week. I think Marty Martin’s last comment was: ‘Be here now.’ That’s a challenge that really affects a lot of us.” 

Protecting the human side of life

By Kate Hayden

Over the time I’ve worked at the Business Record and talked to community leaders, I’ve been hearing a shared sentiment — that there is no such thing as a true work-life balance, but more of a shifting line between personal priorities. Beth Shelton, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa, touched on this when asked for her final thoughts of the night. 

“It’s really complex. And we carry that complexity into the workplace, so benefits really need to recognize the human side of the workplace. Whether it’s paid parental leave or supporting mental health, there’s so much work we can do to support the human side,” Shelton said. 
Urban Dreams Executive Director Izaah Knox shared how his organization approached that concept while serving the community and preventing routine traffic stops between law enforcement and drivers from escalating. 

Knox was contacted by a business leader after a traffic stop in Minneapolis, stemming from a broken taillight, resulted in a police officer shooting and killing the driver. While thinking of the mundane human start of these tragic conflicts — car problems — the two came up with a new event to serve community needs. 
“He said, ‘How can we stop this from ever happening in our city?’” Knox recalled. “We set up a thing where NAPA and O’Halloran International come out and change every single taillight, headlight, any light that could cause a potential stop on cars to reduce that kind of negative interaction.” 

Today, Urban Dreams partners with the Des Moines Police Department, DMACC, Broadlawns Medical Center and other community leaders to support the annual pre-winter community car checkup, which provides all services free to the first 500 vehicles ? the 2019 event is scheduled for Oct. 19 at North High School. 
“Our events are really designed for that ? to connect neighbors, connect business leaders, elected officials, community activists and first responders, and have police have positive, out-of-car experiences with the people that they serve,” Knox said.

Once you know better…

By Kate Hayden

One of the biggest challenges in growing as a person is realizing how little you know, panelists shared.  

“You can only know what you know, based on experience,” said Dr. Richard Deming. “Understanding that no matter how firmly you believe something and how loudly you say it in a board meeting doesn’t make it true. Things will change and you will be proven wrong.” 

“The best part of being a human is that once we know better, we can do better. So always take that ‘do better,’” Izaah Knox said. 

Defining courage

By Joe Gardyasz

After the event, I spoke with Sophia S. Ahmad, senior director of development, MercyOne Des Moines Foundation. She was particularly taken with comments about courage and self-esteem.

“I loved when Dr. Deming was talking about how courage is not the absence of fear,” Ahmad said. “I think it’s so true in our everyday personal and professional lives to keep forging ahead, no matter what the challenges are, and really using that fear as energy to propel us to do more exciting things.”  
Panelist Beth Shelton’s comments about what gives an individual self-esteem also resonated with Ahmad. “It’s not about the trophies, it’s not about the awards — it’s about bringing meaning to the lives of others that we serve and the work that we do.”  

Ahmad said that she takes a lot of photos of memorable quotes and keeps them in the notes app on her phone. “Favorite inspirational quotes that I live by and quotes from 90 Ideas in 90 Minutes from years past are on there, so I’ll add these to the list,” she said. 


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