Our second installment looking at the region’s most powerful leaders has a few surprises—and a lot of insight from the region’s top execs.
By Joe Sweeney
About a year ago, we were well into the first steps on a new journalistic journey here at Ingram’s: Conducting the first interviews for a feature we call the Ingram’s 250, a compilation of the most powerful business executives in the Kansas City region.
Inspired by our colleagues at business publications in Los Angeles and Dallas, who set their bar at 500 profiles (and had the significantly larger populations to justify that goal), we were committed to doing something no other publication had ever attempted here. We looked across business sectors, across the for-profit and non-profit worlds, across private-sector and public, across privately held and publicly held companies, and even across non-profits.
It was an interesting first step. The real payoff for it—the connections that are made or reinforced through such projects—well, that came in December, when many of those honored in that first installment braved a cold early-winter night to convene for a celebratory evening in the Grand Hall of the Power & Light building Downtown. If you missed it, you missed a terrific gathering of the region’s business elite.
But how do we top something like that just a year later? In part, by honing the list and bringing in new players to replace others who, in many cases, had retired or left the market altogether. The real key to making this a useful project for business readers, and not just an ego-stroker for those recognized, was finding a few key questions that could unlock nuggets of wisdom.
And, boy, did this year’s i250 field come though: In response to our short surveys, they addressed a few key questions with enough combined insight to fill a business book. “Advice to a Starry-Eyed Entrepreneur” was one of those questions; another was “What Emerging Trend Will Have the Greatest Impact on Business?”
Our clear-cut favorite, though, was “Scariest Moment,” either in business or outside the office, and what you learned from it. There, you will find, in some cases, highly personal revelations about health scares, stories of vacations gone horribly wrong—including near-death from a charging bull elephant—
or tales of mistakes that could have been career-ending, or even company-killing.
But the lessons they learned—that’s where you’ll find real value in this special edition.
The responses have been fascinating—and instructive. Aspiring entrepreneurs will find appropriate cautions about the risks of under-capitalization, or the unexpected rewards of building an effective adviser network, or the value of aligning with proven mentors. Innovators will have pause to consider the implications of both demographic change and technological advances, among others.
And then, there’s the stuff that’s just plain fun. Prompted for memories about first cars, or their favorite books or favorite movies (and why they continue to resonate), many offered comments that—if you’re reading carefully—tell you something about their own character and values.
We believe, deeply, that an exercise like this holds a value far beyond that of coffee-table décor. When you know a little something about a person, it’s easier to create a meaningful conversation when you do get that chance to shake their hand for the first time. And we’re all about connections here at Ingram’s. The more that members of this business community are engaged with one another, the stronger our regional network, and the better our business ecosystem and quality of life will be. For everyone.
It’s that simple. So read on, “meet” these folks who, you’ll find, might have attended the same college you did, or who cling to the values of the original “Star Wars” (Episode IV, naturally) as much as they do to Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” (A movie, by the way, that seems to resonate disproportionately with lawyers. Hmmmm….)
One final thought: With such a superior collection of business skill, it was a natural to dedicate one of our regular leadership assemblies to the Ingram’s 250. That we did, and the outcome of their meeting is chronicled in this edition, as well.
Save for our General Assembly meetings that have usually been spaced half a decade apart, these assemblies have almost always been sector-focused, to generate a sense of shared opportunities and concerns within an industry, trade or profession. This one was multi-faceted, with executives from all walks offering various perspectives on what will drive Kansas City forward.
Again, fascinating reading. And informative. Which is what we strive to bring you every month.
Editor-In-Chief & Publisher