UnleashWD Inspires During Opening Day of the Innovation Summit

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UnleashWD, the only innovation summit for the wholesale distribution industry, featured a keynote address from Blinds.com CEO Jay Steinfeld.

“I’m thrilled to bring these thought leaders together,” Dirk Beveridge, founder of UnleashWD said.

UnleashWD speakers asked attendees to define success.

Keynote speaker Blinds.com CEO Jay Steinfeld opened the 2nd annual UnleashWD Innovation Summit with that question, and he was joined by a line-up of business leaders from outside the wholesale distribution industry in an examination how to create value and define success.

“I’m thrilled to bring these thought leaders together,” Dirk Beveridge, founder of UnleashWD said. “Every single storyteller here inspires the living daylights out of me, and I believe that their ideas will create a wave of innovation within the wholesale distribution industry.”

Steinfeld defines success as the process of continuous improvement. And UnleashWD passes that test. In only its second year the summit has more than doubled the number of sponsors and attendees. While the success of the innovation themed wholesale distribution conference shows that the message is taking hold, the story on the first day of the summit was the speakers.

Steinfeld closed his story with a company wide rendition of the song “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” to show that the journey to innovation should be collaborative, empowering and, ultimately, fun. Steinfeld compared his office to his favorite childhood hangout—a magic shop.

“If you want innovation you have to create an environment for it,” Steinfeld said.

The next group of speakers continued on this theme with stories centered on innovation. Deb Mills-Scofield, owner of Mills-Scofield LLC said that innovation is a team effort and discussed the importance of building a diverse network of contacts to create opportunities. Ken Hey, Managing Partner of Inferential Focus, displayed an example of how to project future trends by eliminating opinion and focusing on facts and events during research. Rogier van der Heide, Chief Design Officer of Phillips Lighting offered an interactive survey while showing that possibilities are endless when designers and engineers work in harmony.

“We are shifting from do it yourself to do it together,” van der Heide said.

Curtis Hill, Vice President at Cisco Systems started out the afternoon session, which focused on reinventing leadership.

“We need to shift to a culture of asking why,” Hill said.

Allowing employees to be involved in the process and keeping them informed makes them buy-in according to Alexandra Levit, CEO of Innovation at Work. Levit discussed the need for organizations to alter their structure to better serve the wave of Millenials entering into the workplace. Brad Lomenick, president of Catalyst continued this theme by offering recommendations for working with younger workers entering the labor force including trusting them to get the job done their own way. Lomenick trusts a Millenial manger to run his company as he takes a sabbatical.

“Pass off the baton and let your young leaders lead,” Lomenick said.

The afternoon session examined reinventing your business and yourself. Dorie Clark, CEO of Clark Strategic Communications, had to start a new career after getting laid off from her newspaper job. She said that constantly re-inventing yourself and puts you in a position of strength. Matt Hlavin, president of Thogus changed the focus of his plastic moldings company. He has embraced 3D printing technology and solves his clients problems rather than sell them a one-size fits all product.

Homaro Cantu, owner of Moto Restaurant continued the 3D printing trend by showing food creations including an edible menu.

“Our business asks what if and why not?” Hlavin said.

After the first inspirational day of UnleashWD, many attendees are asking the same questions about their potential.

UnleashWD continues today with a keynote address by former Allied Supreme Commander of NATO Admiral (Ret.) James Stavridis.

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Christopher Troksa
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