Former Marion Laboratories COO Jim McGraw mixed humor and insight in a well-received keynote speech before the 2017 annual meeting of Midwest Small Business Finance.
Accepting recognition for their success were (from left) Pro Circuit Controller Lesa Carlton; Jamie Miller and fiancé Scott Middleton, with son River; and Corner Cafe owners Ed, Kathi, Jason and Julie Rule.
“You see two companies and wonder, ‘Why is one successful and the other is not?’” he asked over 100 people gathered at Embassy Suites by Hilton Kansas City International Airport Feb. 24. “It’s usually leadership. That’s what makes the difference.”
Former COO with Marion Laboratories, McGraw frequently cited examples set by CEO Ewing Kauffman, who started his company with $5,000 and became one of the most successful and admired executives the United States. McGraw shared valuable lessons in leadership with an entertaining blend of information and humor.
”Leadership is the ability to achieve the right objectives on time through people,” McGraw noted. “It’s not that complicated. Unfortunately, a lot of people make it complicated by doing the wrong things.”
McGraw noted that the success of Marion Laboratories and Kauffman were built on well-defined principals that included clarity, focus and the ability to listen. “Entrepreneurs above all need real grit,” he added, “but don’t confuse that with pigheadedness. Don’t follow a bad product into failure. If you think that’s happening, then it’s time to listen, listen, listen!”
Another highlight of the meeting included recognition of three companies that have grown and created jobs with the help of funding programs administered by MSBF: Jamie Miller Hair Parlour, Pro Circuit, Inc., and the Corner Cafe. The three are the most recent of more than 500 companies that have utilized MSBF’s SBA loans or the organization’s own revolving fund in order to grow, expand their businesses and create jobs in the region.