With ideas that ranged from the profound to the profoundly simple, nine of the region’s leaders presented some of their best ideas for business and life in Lehigh Valley Business’ annual 90 Ideas in 90 Minutes program this morning at University Center at DeSales University in Upper Saucon Township.
The challenge was for each to present their 10 ideas in five minutes or less, or be interrupted by a bell.
One of the panelists, Matthew Petrozelli, CEO of Valley National Financial Advisors in Hanover Township, Northampton County, said, “You’ve often heard that leaders are born. I can tell you that’s completely false. Everyone has the capacity to lead.”
Petrozelli said leadership can be learned, but it takes time. He counted himself among those who learned through activities such as participating in a wilderness survival school in the Yukon after graduating from Lehigh University instead of getting an internship on Wall Street.
Barry Schlouch, president and founder of Schlouch Inc., a construction and excavation company headquartered in Blandon, said, “Get rich slowly.”
Schlouch said he and his wife built their business with $2,000 in the basement of their home and built it up over time. Today, Schlouch has done more than $1.3 billion in business and is ranked among the best places to work in Pennsylvania.
“It was slow building and doing one good thing at a time,” he said.
Schlouch stressed the importance of finding the purpose in everything you do.
“We don’t just put roads in; we connect people,” he said.
Several leaders spoke about the importance of saying thank you.
“Return phone calls,” said Cindy McDonnell Feinberg, principal, Feinberg Real Estate Advisors LLC in South Whitehall Township.
It seems like common sense, she said, but people will remember it.
Jacquelyn Fetrow, president and professor of chemistry at Albright College in Reading, said people matter in an organization and so does the language you use to speak to them.
“Everyone wants to matter or feel like they are making a difference,” Fetrow said.
She said it was up to leaders of an organization to use language that bridges differences and empowers people.
Fetrow stressed the importance of learning “because it’s the key to success in the digital economy where everything seems to be changing faster and faster.”
She noted 60 percent to 85 percent of jobs in 2025 haven’t been invented yet and half of all work in 2033 will be automated.
Fetrow concluded with the notion of the importance of finding time for oneself to get away and think.
“Don’t forget to walk your dog. Commit to doing it every day. Because it matters,” she said.
Other speakers at the event were Joseph A. Bubba, founder and co-managing shareholder, Fitzpatrick Lentz & Bubba PC; Tony DaRe, president, BSI Corporate Benefits LLC; Gregory G. Kile, president and CEO, Populytics, and chief insurance officer, Lehigh Valley Health Network; John P. Weidenhammer, president of Weidenhammer, the event sponsor; and Jane Wells Schooley, CEO of Northstar Team Development and owner of Dutch Springs.