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Conversations with a CEO Recap

Feb 2, 2011

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The first gsSCENE luncheon of “Conversations With A CEO” was held on Thursday, January 27, 2011 at Pine Lakes Country Club. Featured executives included: Jim Apple of Burroughs & Chapin Company, Brad Dean of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, Ted Fortenberry of WMBF News, Buzz Freeman of Conway National Bank, Jeff Garner of Greenburg Sports Group, and Dennis Wade of The Jackson Companies. The sold out luncheon began with a 30 minute meet and greet where gsSCENE members mingled with the guest speakers. A buffet lunch of fresh green salad, grilled chicken, rice and green beans was served and one by one the speakers took the podium to give their background and offer advice. Each speaker focused on different areas of advice for young professionals to grow in their careers. Many of their recommendations came from mentors that they had experienced over the years with the common theme of having passion for what you do or at least make it your passion.

Brad Dean of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce kicked off the luncheon and pointed out that his advice for success to a young professional was to extend your vision and your passion into what it is that you like to do. He also noted that finding a way to impact others will in turn impact you and your decisions. This advice can be related to a professional goal, as well as, a personal aspiration. Mr. Dean enlightened the audience about his background in finance and how that knowledge helped him in his career path to his current position.

Jim Apple of Burroughs & Chapin Co. pointed out that as a leader you need to extend yourself to others so they have what they need to succeed. He pointed out that love was very important in business, something you do not hear very often. Love for your team members and love for your community were two of the areas found the most significant. He says that having an attitude of servant leadership will get you very far in the professional world.

Buzz Freeman of Conway National Bank also shared some of his secrets to success. He answered the question “What do you think is the importance of CEO’s interacting with front line employees?” He wanted us to understand that in any level of management everyone you come in contact with is valuable. Every single job counts and is necessary for the overall success of a business so treat your team members well every day.

Ted Fortenberry of WMBF News advised young professionals to take advantage of every opportunity as one that can better you for the future. He stated that when an opportunity presents itself you have to embrace it, even if it places you out of your comfort zone for the time being. You can always learn from these challenging experiences, and you should keep in mind that when one door closes, another will open. Every speaker had their own individual way of opening our eyes to the opportunities in each of our own personal careers which is something we can all use in our day to day lives.

Dennis Wade of the Jackson Companies highlighted three key points for success. The first point is to network with people you currently work with and those that you meet over time. As the old cliché goes “sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. The second point is to take on a leadership role within your community. The best way to do this is to find non-profit organizations that interest you and volunteer on different boards or committees within that organization. This was great advice for personal and professional development. Lastly, Mr. Wade acknowledged that most people are not comfortable doing things that are out of the ordinary for them. Getting into the zone of discomfort, and extending your limits, will eventually become comfortable. Making an uncomfortable situation comfortable may be a challenge, but it is the best way to continuing growing and learning as a person.

Jeff Garner of the Greenberg Sports Group offered advice based on his experiences. Mr. Garner discussed how when you are just starting out in your career and your boss gives you all the “grunt” work to complete, don’t look at it as you’re the new kid on the block and no one else wants those tasks, instead embrace those tasks and find ways to improve current procedures within your company. His advice for networking was to make a personal connection with people that you encounter. He expressed that it is not just the “here and now” that we should be focusing on, but we should think about the future and how to prepare for it. One way to prepare for the future is to set goals with end dates and always strive to work towards accomplishing those tasks.

Although each of the speakers had a common theme in their presentations, they all had different experiences and journeys to their accomplished success. Their advice was intuitive and insightful for each of the young professionals at the luncheon. This opportunity was very rewarding for the gsSCENE members, as well as, the executives, who learned about their community’s young professionals.

Submitted by Carla Gatti & Amber O’Brien