Museum director, football coach offer motivational speeches, share strategiesWritten by Caitlin McGlade | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Most early morning business meetings probably don’t involve the director of an art museum, a football coach, some cheerleaders and a man in a scantily clad female body suit. Savage & Associates team get-togethers usually don’t, either. But this year’s kickoff meeting drew all of the above to the Toledo Museum of Art’s (TMA) Glass Pavilion.
About seven or eight times a year, the financial consulting firm gathers its agents for meetings to share methods and motivate each other to improve. Character-building is vital to keep the more than 50-year-old company flourishing, said Co-President Dan Steinberg.
Brian Kennedy, the art museum’s director, began the meeting with a speech about visual literacy. Matt Campbell, University of Toledo’s head football coach, closed with a speech about the importance of character and passion.
A number of agents talked between the presentations. One of the last ones dressed in costume — the top sewed onto the body suit read “KEG” — but asked his fellow agents to take him seriously as he gave tips about business success.
The crowd, dressed in firmly pressed suits or pencil skirts, wasn’t bashful about bursting into laughter, all the while talking seriously about diversifying skills and how to best communicate with clients.
Kennedy, a Dublin native, became director of TMA in September 2010. He began his talk by admiring his new home. He has worked in Dublin, Brussels, Canberra, Australia, and Hanover, N.H. Noting that Toledo is the most welcoming place he has lived, he reflected on what makes a place “special.”
“A number of people told me, ‘When I was a kid, I came to this museum,’” he said. “People value the institutions here.”
Perhaps this is rooted in relevancy, sustainability and innovation, he said, advising the agents that a successful business, like the art museum should adopt these three elements. Rooted in all of these components is the ability to consider how we see the world around us, he said.
He used the elements of design as a metaphor for a business’s wellness.
“There are so many other aspects of your business that come from the principles of design,” he said. “Like harmony, balance, rhythm, unity. Scrutinize your business from these angles.”
Kennedy’s second point, sustainability, has meant seeing people as assets as well as reducing energy use. TMA uses less energy than it did in 1992. Among other new technologies, the museum will soon switch to LED lights. The museum’s 2,000 lights currently have to be replaced every six months, he said.
Innovation, the third pillar, is not just about new ideas but about changing how we see. For example, Kennedy said the museum staff has to visualize thoughts by writing them down or drawing them. Being inspired by spacial memories and closely observing our surroundings is key, he said.
Kennedy said many of us are not trained to be visionally literate, which basically means that many people do not truly take in and analyze what their eyes see.
He asked his audience to close their eyes and remember what color the person sitting nearby was wearing. He later held up his watch. He told the agents to look at it and interpret what they saw.
“You know it’s a watch, but it’s not a watch — it’s a shape, a line, it has a body,” he said. “When you start seeing you can start describing and only then. Look, see, describe, analyze, interpret. Do it for your business. Do it for your life.”
A few agent speeches later, cheerleaders bounced into the room. The UT mascot joined them. Campbell, the university’s 32-year-old head coach, followed and gave a speech about the importance of good character.
When he took the job, he questioned what he wanted the program to stand for and how he could separate the team from the pack. He said he adheres to three principles: recruit, retain and develop.
When recruiting, Campbell said he said he makes sure to draw in players who are not just good football players, but who have polished reviews from the community that watched them grow. His recruiters check with everyone in the school about the prospective player — including the lunchroom staff.
“We are going to be a character-driven football team, from the coaches we bring in to the players that touch our program,” Campbell said. “I think it’s lost in our society today. It’s lost in your business. It’s lost in our business.”
Passion on the field and excellence in the classroom are other qualities he seeks. He said he has community leaders checking performance in class, and is determined to ensure that his players are sitting in the front two rows.
Development and retention are about creating a culture of family and giving the players an opportunity to experiment with and understand faith. Community service also helps build understanding about a player’s crucial role in the city, so that he is doing his best to serve “Toledo Pride,” he said.
“We cannot just be about business and football games,” Campbell said. “It has to be about creating a sense of values.”
John F. Savage started Savage & Associates in 1957 and it has since grown to house more than 60 agents in five offices across northern Ohio. Agents advise clients about anything from minimizing financial risk to improving business performance. Although one might expect the financial downturn to force potential clients to tighten their belts and decide against making any business moves, Savage & Associates has seen an uptick in individuals seeking its services.
“I think our value is higher now than in the ’90s,” Steinberg said.