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From the Director’s Desk: 10 Ideas for the Workplace, Leadership and Life

April 28, 2022

I recently had the honor of speaking at the Quad Cities Business Journal’s inaugural event, 90 ideas in 90 minutes. I joined a panel of 8 community leaders and we were asked to share our top 10 ideas for the workplace, leadership and life. Here are the ideas I shared:

Focus on Retention not Recruitment

Everyone is feeling the constraint of a shrinking workforce and a dwindling pool of applicants. Invest in the employees you have, creating a workplace that makes them want to stay rather than creating a conveyor belt of new employees.

Community involvement is the key to unlocking several doors

Get involved in the community you serve because it contributes to the overall health of it, without expecting something in return.

Engage your peers

Every industry is going through a reboot thanks to the pandemic. Connect with your peers – you may find opportunities that didn’t exist before COVID. Keep your eyes on the horizon to see what’s out there.

Get reacquainted with your customers

Your customer base may have changed in addition to their expectations and need for new and different products. Whether it’s the pandemic, emerging technology, economic trends – whatever the case may be, you’ll need to continuously educate yourself on your customers and reintroduce yourself as an organization that understands their needs.

Don’t assume all the good ideas are taken

When I talk about having a commercial space port in the QC, it often draws snickers. The timeline between the first flight and the moon landing was less than 70 years, and people at the time thought airplanes were silly. Don’t be deterred by people that think your idea is silly.

Invest in people early

Your community’s schools are a tremendous opportunity. Early introduction to careers fosters a passionate workforce. Show kids all the possibilities of your industry and get them excited to keep learning and growing. This is crucial to the vitality of your industry and creates a homegrown future workforce.

Let your leaders lead

I joke that I don’t do much but it’s because I trust my management team to do good work. Hire leaders that are great at what they do and that you can trust enough to get out of their way. I believe our organization is lean but high-functioning because of the expertise and initiative of our workforce.


When I arrived in Illinois, I realized I had a lot to learn about the politics here. I asked my peers in the state why certain legislation was still in place and I got a lot of shrugs and the worst possible phrase, “because that’s the way it’s always been.” As a newcomer, I took advantage of my ‘naiveté’ by shaking things up and you should, too. If legislation, workplace policy or processes just aren’t working, take initiative, build support around your ideas and get things moving again.

Create good partnerships

You’re not going at it alone – it’s more than likely that your organization depends on other businesses for success whether it’s manufacturing, distribution, etc. Airports depend on economic and tourism development – we simply can’t grow the airport if our region isn’t growing. We depend on good partnerships with Visit Quad Cities and the chambers of commerce for our region so when we talk to airlines we have a positive story to tell about our region. Look outside of your organization to the partners who can help you build success.

Stay passionate

My enthusiasm for the industry I work in fuels me. My work is personally and professionally fulfilling because I have a genuine interest in what I do, and I care about the future of my industry. Keeping that passion alive, whether it’s learning a new area of the business, taking on new challenges or switching areas (like going from airport to airline, for example) is key to avoiding burnout. If you’ve lost the spark you had, don’t grind it out. It’s okay to realize you’ve moved on and to use your skills to help another industry thrive.

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