Originally published in 2018. Updated on September 6, 2023.
There are moments in life and business that are truly transformative. When you experience one, as I did in 2018, I believe it is imperative to drive forward with intention and share that purpose with employees, partners, and customers. While this experience was nearly five years ago, it left a lasting impact and still impacts my leadership today.
In 2018, I had the very distinct honor of attending the Tuck-WBENC Executive Program at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in Palisades, New York. I was joined by more than 60 women business owners from all walks of life to enhance the skills needed to grow our business, elevate our leadership, and better serve our customers.
Lighting the Fire
I am truly grateful for the “real-world” business training, but what I honestly took out of the experience, especially as a woman business owner, was the relationships and leadership support from my fellow women entrepreneurs. Listening and learning from my peers was transformational. The stories shared were nothing short of awe-inspiring. I was able to connect unlike I had ever experienced before in business.
As leaders and as women, I know we all doubt ourselves sometimes. I want to be transparent and let you know that I went into the program feeling like an impostor thinking “I am not sure if I belong here.” But I left realizing we are too hard on ourselves most the time. Ask anyone one on my team and they will tell you that a new fire was lit beneath me after this program. I left ready to take on bigger challenges, lead with even more heart, and do so with unwavering confidence.
Going into this program, I knew the basics of what to expect. I knew we would work on business operations and marketing strategy, hear from various business experts, and learn about some of the challenges and solutions experienced by our peers. But what I didn’t expect was that I would get so passionate about empowerment. Empowerment has always been a part of my purpose as a leader. I discovered during this program that there was more I could be delivering and that my excitement for creating purpose runs deeper than I could have ever imagined.
In an age of technology, transparency, and social media, there is a lot of criticism on what we are all doing “wrong.” What if we stop focusing on what we are doing “wrong” and start to focus on what we are doing right and how to continue to create opportunities and successes? Magic may happen.
Finding Vision and Strategy
This program inspired me to reflect on the history of M&IW. I thought about my father and grandfather—their courage and perseverance to start a family business more than 50 years ago. I thought about their unwavering principles and values that have stood the test of time and continue, to this day, to run deep through our employees and our company’s culture. However, there is one attribute that particularly stood out to me: grit.
Grit is a character trait that is deeply ingrained in our family, and also one that we strongly value at M&IW. To us, grit is the courage to go first, the resolve to always do the right thing by our customers even if it is difficult, and the strength of character to admit we may not have all the answers, but you have our promise that we will work together in partnership and figure it out. It is having the perseverance to fail, pick yourself back up, and keep going.
After completing the Tuck-WBENC Executive Program, I asked our executive team to redefine the objectives that will drive future strategies, create more alignment across teams and departments, and provide us with a means to track our performance and ongoing success. Through this exercise, we came up with three focus areas: GRowth, Innovation, and Talent. And there you have it—our new meaning of GrIT.
I am proud to say that our annual organizational goals are still defined by GrIT. We also added a fourth focus area, Excellence, to make GrITE (pronounced gritty). The specific objectives may change year to year, but every goal must align in some way to these categories. Whether we’re growing our business and relationships, leading the industry in innovation, recruiting and retaining the best talent, or providing service excellence for every event, it all comes down to best serving our customers and team and living our vision of transforming organizations through the power of human energy, one event at a time.
Journey to World Class
Since participating in the Tuck-WBENC Executive Program and implementing the GrITE goal system, I continue to be amazed and proud of how M&IW has grown and what our incredible team has accomplished.
In 2022 and 2023, we embarked on our Journey to World Class, the culmination of everything we’ve been working toward. In 2022, our journey was about tackling and responding to external pressures; in 2023, we turned inward and focused on continuous improvement with a one-team spirit. I explored the details of our journey in my State of the Company address at the 2023 M&IW Summit.
Today, I truly believe M&IW is the best we’ve ever been. That’s not to say there’s not still room to grow, but the essence of M&IW—our culture, customer focus, continuous improvement mindset, and core service values—is stronger and clearer than ever.
Tina Madden, CPA
Meetings & Incentives Worldwide, Inc.