I had the opportunity to attend the “Higher Perspectives: Lessons from Local Leaders” event hosted by the Young Professionals of Central Indiana (YPCI) earlier this month which included a question and answer session with a panel of local leaders: Greg Ballard (Former Mayor of Indianapolis), Ting Gootee (Founding Member and Chief Investment Officer at Elevate Ventures), and Ilya Rekhter (Co-Founder and CEO at DoubleMap, Inc.). The night was filled with insights on failure, success, and mentorship roles.  Below is a sample of several questions and responses as well as my own personal lessons I took away from the event.

How do you define success?

  • Greg: “Success is a journey, not a destination. It is about doing something, not being somebody.  Success is giving back in some way as you move up the chain.” He went on to say that all the financially successful people he knows give back in some way.
  • Ting: Early on in her career she defined success as “personal achievement.” Now that she has more experience and moved past that point she defines it as “helping others be successful.”
  • Ilya: “Success is collecting stories”

What role does failure play in success?

  • Greg: He reflected that it took him too long to realize that if he failed he would not get fired.  The world would not end if he made a mistake.  When he was the Indianapolis Mayor he began pushing to close off the Monument Circle for a month from vehicle traffic.  In the end the idea was shot down, but it led to other conversations to make the area safer for pedestrians.
  • Ting: “Admit when you make mistakes. Once you figure out how to own it and admit it, people are much more forgiving than you think and then there are opportunities to make corrections.”

How do you challenge yourself?

  • Greg: He advised to challenge yourself by keep doing what you believe in and that the next job you take should scare the hell out of you!
  • Ting: “There is no shortage of problems to solve. Opportunities can be found in the challenges.”

How have mentors impacted you?

  • Greg: He did not experience a formal one-on-one mentorship.  He has always just tried his best to surround himself with good people.  Greg recalled one mentor advising, “It doesn’t cost a dime to be kind.”
  • Ilya: In the early stages of his company they hired a salesperson from an unrelated field.  He and his partners did not consider sales one of their strengths.  It did not work out.  Upon relating this to a mentor, he was told, “You can’t outsource your core competencies.” Ilya took this to mean his passion.

By the end of the evening I was inspired by the new perspectives I had gained from the experiences and lessons learned that were shared by these speakers.  I walked away with lessons that can be applied to myself and others on a personal level, as well as themes that can be applied to business situations within our daily work at netlogx.  These lessons are:

  • There are many paths we can walk through our life’s journey and how we measure success in our personal way is unique to each person.
  • Courage and kindness were themes apparent in all the responses. It comes as no surprise that these values are also common to the netlogx Operating Principles!
  • Specific to netlogx and our role as consultants, it is important to remember that there are always problems to solve and this is where some of the best opportunities are found.