UnleashWD Keynote Speaker Hopes to Inspire Innovation at Oct. 29 Innovation Summit

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Blinds.com CEO Jay Steinfeld will serve as the keynote speaker at the UnleashWD innovation summit on Oct. 29. Steinfeld hopes to inspire attendees to create a culture of rapid experimentation at their wholesale distribution companies.

Jay Steinfeld, CEO of Blinds.com believes in rapid experimentation—so much so that a massive test tube sits in the offices of the Houston based company.

Every time that the company experiments with a new marketing initiative a clear marble is placed in the test tube. For every initiative that “works” a colored marble joins the clear. The clear marbles overwhelm the color marbles, but as for the exact ratio of success to failure?

“We have a 100 percent success to zero percent failure rate,” Steinfeld says. “None of the clear marbles are failures. They told us what we should not do or how to improve something that did work. If you know what not to do it is almost as important as knowing what to do.”

To create an environment that embraces experimentation, it requires employees to buy into the process and to express their thoughts. Steinfeld describes his training process as, “Giving employees a voice. Giving them the tools. Giving them a clear vision, and then getting out of their way.”

Steinfeld encourages employees to speak up when they feels a process fails to best serve customers. Great communication with customers, and empowered employees who have the forum to speak their minds has produced continued growth for Blinds.com. It has also resulted in awards for the best place to work in Houston for the last three years and a turnover rate of less than 5 percent.

“If you listen to people and they feel heard how are they not going to feel important?” Steinfeld says.

Placing great responsibility in the hands of employees makes their jobs far more difficult. Blinds.com employees are not told to complete their tasks one way and to repeat it. They are required to communicate with their customers, and to continuously provide suggestions on how to improve. Trusting employees to work hard rather than berating them with hubris has enriched the company and its employees.

Steinfeld says that genuinely caring about the progress of his employees and helping them reach their potential occurred later in his career. It is one of the recent steps in his own journey of constant improvement. In assisting on the development of others in his organization, Blinds.com has reached new levels of success.

“If you let people know that your goal is to improve their lives,” Steinfeld says. “It creates empathy and eliminates politics.”

Choosing empathy is a conscience decision according to Steinfeld. Choosing to treat people a certain way is the first step in a process continuous improvement in interactions with others. This stage of Steinfeld’s development led him to become a speaker at UnleashWD, the only Innovation Summit for the wholesale distribution industry.

“I love talking on the subject of core values and how to help people achieve beyond their expectations,” Steinfeld says. “This helps me to improve people beyond myself, and in doing so I usually find ways to express this message even better.”

Steinfeld is the keynote speaker on the first day of the UnleashWD Innovation Summit on Oct. 29 in Chicago. His segment titled, “A Vision to Find your Sources of Innovation” is the first outside the industry session that UnleashWD attendees will listen too. After his storytelling session, UnleashWD Founder Dirk Beveridge will moderate a “Lift and Shift” session to translate Steinfeld’s lessons into attendees’ businesses. Lift and Shift is the UnleashWD concept of taking the best ideas from other industries and applying them to wholesale distribution.

“Jay Steinfeld is the perfect innovator to kickoff UnleashWD,” Beveridge says. “His story is inspiring—building Blinds.com from scratch and helping many of his employees reach their own goals. His empathetic leadership is a model to lift and shift into wholesale distribution.”

Steinfeld says his UnleashWD presentation will not focus on Blinds.com or revenues. He wants to inspire others outside of his organization to reach their own potential.

“I am going to be there to provide the motivation, “Steinfeld says. “I am going to provide a template to help them.”

Beveridge founded UnleashWD to bring change to the wholesale distribution industry. The existence of the Innovation Summit shows that a lot of potential for change exists within wholesale distribution, which attracted Steinfeld to attend and share his stories.

“When I look back and ask , ‘what did I do?’” Steindfeld says. “If you impact other people and make them better you can feel really good about your life.”

Join Steinfeld at UnleashWD Oct. 29 in Chicago to start a own journey of continuous improvement.

About UnleashWD

UnleashWD is the only conference dedicated to bringing innovation to the wholesale distribution industry. UnleashWD features eighteen storytellers from outside the wholesale distribution industry. Modeled after TED's short-session format, UnleashWD's speakers share how to add business value through inspiring presentations on topics such as innovation, leadership, business model design, and corporate culture.

For the last twenty-five years, UnleashWD Founder Beveridge has worked with more than 3,000 firms as a leadership consultant, facilitating how wholesale distributors and manufacturers can increase market share through examining and improving their relationship with customers. For more information please visit: http://www.unleashwd.com.

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Christopher Troksa
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