Author Archives: Stephanie Hawk

Darwin Smith and Leadership (Who is Darwin Smith?)

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In his article for the Harvard Business Review, Jim Collins wrote about the characteristics of “Level 5 Leadership.” One of the profiles that Collins used to show level five leadership traits of outstanding leaders was Darwin Smith of Kimberly-Clark, who took the paper company from a middle-of-the-road performing company to a company that outperformed 3M, Coke, and GE. Darwin Smith was trained as an attorney and joined Kimberly-Clark’s legal department after law school with the idea of staying a couple of years to gain corporate law experience and move on to start his own firm. It never happened. Collins categorized level 5 leaders as individuals who have personal humility, demonstrate modesty, shun adulation, never brag and act with calm determination. Smith’s introduction to leadership came through the Army, when he was told in officer-training school, “You’ll never be a leader.” Most level 5 leaders would not make the cover of…

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Small Business Saturday is Big News For McAllen

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Small Business Saturday (November 25th) is coming up and now is the perfect time for us to contemplate the amazing benefits small businesses provide in McAllen and the greater Rio Grande Valley. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy’s “Small Business Profile” issued in July of this year, there are over 2.6 million small businesses in the state of Texas accounting for 99.8 of Texas businesses. These businesses employ nearly 46% of the private workforce in Texas or 4.6 million people. Here in the four-county region that makes up the Rio Grande Valley, small businesses employe 19% to 55% of the workforce, depending on the industry. The sheer number of workers small businesses employ in Texas – and truly all throughout the nation – should never be underestimated. In Texas alone, the gross state product (GSP) impact of small employer firms with less than 100 employees was…

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Man and Woman of the Year

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This past week, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce honored two outstanding individuals from our community with our highest awards: Janet Vackar was honored as Woman of the Year and Paul Moxley was honored as Man of the Year. Both of these people epitomize the strength, character, and leadership that is so often demonstrated in McAllen. We are fortunate to have such wonderful people in McAllen. Janet Vacker. Janet is a warm and gracious person. Janet and her husband are outstanding leaders and have given and been a part of this community for a long time. Janet loves to tell the story of how she was teasing her dad about how nervous he looked on TV doing a commercial. Her dad asked her to join him on the next TV commercial and, from that moment on, a dynamic pair of father/daughter car commercials was born and they became TV legends in…

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Tori Heflin Got Married

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Tori Heflin got married two weeks ago in a beautiful rustic setting outside Ft. Worth to Kaleb Allison. I have watched Tori grow up, through elementary school, high school, college and beyond and she always had a gentle spirit and softness for people. Her mom would tell you Tori was born that way. As Tori grew up, her faith came to play a huge role in her life. As she entered middle school and high school, she was never consumed by boys or having a boyfriend, like so many young girls experience in that time. She was focused on developing what she saw as her core strengths and her love for people and what God had planned for her. And I thought as she went off to college there would come along that special guy, and she would get married like so many of her friends, but it didn’t happen.…

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The Five Minds Theory

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I recently came across a 1983 article by Howard Gardner, from Harvard Business School, in which he discusses his theory on the “five minds.” The idea goes that successful leaders have learned to develop these five minds over the course of their careers and their success is tied to these five key areas. I have shortened many of the concepts and I hope I can give you the essence of his theories. Here are Gardner’s Five Minds ideas: The Disciplined Mind. Leaders gain this “mind” through the practice of discipline and sustained effort. We gain experience by doggedly working on a project or idea that causes us to study and develop a deep understanding of processes, ideas or concepts. In other words, sustained experience counts for something The Synthesizing Mind. Leaders know how to survey a wide range of resources, information and data and can distill what is important and…

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The McAllen Phenomenon: Retail Still A Driving Factor

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It’s no secret. The City of McAllen has built a name for itself in the retail sector, and as the epicenter of the Rio Grande Valley, business continues to thrive. Regionally, the Rio Grande Valley sees retail sales exceed $5 billion annually, with McAllen grossing over $3 billion of that. Featuring the premier shopping mall in the region, as well as a number of national-level chain retailers, a bevy of unique boutiques, and numerous shopping centers spread throughout the city, it’s no wonder McAllen has become an international destination. McAllen’s Ever Growing Retail Sector McAllen has been fortunate to weather many of the economic storms that have affected the nation while continuing to lead retail development along the border region. The city has seen an explosion of retail growth over the past few years and we continue to be blessed with numerous developments throughout the city including: One of McAllen’s…

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The Coming Impact of Driverless Cars

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One major trend several futurists continue to talk about, and you also see car companies and technology companies focusing billions of dollars of resources and investment toward, is driverless cars. Some believe that, as early as next year, we will begin to see driverless cars in several key cities. The trend will start on a limited basis and grow each year from there as pricing continues to drop (Moore’s Law) and technology breakthroughs reduce costs. The first market that will be impacted by driverless cars will be the taxi industry. Uber’s and Lyft’s business models call for “high utilization” that creates efficiencies and profitability quickly. Here are some interesting facts and trends some “experts” are predicting will be happening by 2030: One self-driving car will replace 30 traditionally own cars. Driverless cars, because of utilization, will have a shorter life cycle (one year vs. 15 years today). Fleet owner and…

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Building Company Culture During The Holidays

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There are plenty of benefits to be had by hosting a fabulous holiday party for your company. Aside from improving employee relationships, functioning as an incentive, and acting as a personal thanks to your employees, holiday parties also help to build your company culture. Forbes covered the importance of company culture earlier this year and argued that it is becoming even more relevant in the modern workplace. Developing a strong company culture through programs and events such as holiday parties can unify your team and enhance your business’s operations in a number of ways including: Improved retention: A strong company culture creates a sense of being, organization, and attraction. A positive company culture is much more likely to attract top talent and help you to retain these quality employees. Building your brand: Company culture goes a long way in helping your employees understand the values and identity you want customers…

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Five Stages to Real Change

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How do you make changes in your life or in your work? Change is hard, for a variety of reasons. We often fall into routines or habits, without any thought as to why we do things a certain way or why we think a certain way. Our habits, many times, develop because it is the easy way to do things. It is human nature to take the easy path and there is nothing wrong with the easy path, until we need to change. Change becomes a challenge because we are breaking habits or routines on how we eat, exercise, think, or act. Psychologists tell us that there are stages that we go through in order to make changes in our lives. Here are the five stages of changes: Evaluation. Many people make the decision not to do anything because they feel they do not have enough information or the right…

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Max Grubb’s Journey

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Max Grubb has been the Chamber’s “go-to pastor” for the last 17 years, giving the invocation at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s Good Day Luncheons. I enjoy the way Max prays, always lifting up and encouraging new businesses in McAllen and McAllen’s leadership. Max came to the ministry late in life. He started seminary at Texas Christian University when he was 5 and came to the Valley in 2001, after graduating from seminary. Max has had numerous careers. He has run successful businesses and has worked as a financial manager and as a chamber executive. He told me, when he joined the McAllen Chamber of Commerce in 2001, it was a prerequisite for him taking the job as pastor at the two churches that the churches pay for his membership in the McAlen Chamber of Commerce. I always appreciate Max’s unwavering support of the Chamber and its role in the…

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Businesses Reap Benefits From “The Best Parade In The World” – The McAllen Holiday Parade

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Just this past month, on September 14th, the City of McAllen was recognized for its ability to hold outstanding world-class events. The International Festival and Events Association recently held its 62nd Annual Convention in Tucson, Arizona, and our amazing city was honored with a stunning 36 awards in the prestigious IFEA/Haas & Wilkerson Pinnacle Awards competition – not the least of which was the 2017 Best Parade in the World award. Going up against some major markets and events, such as the Portland Rose Festival, the award was definitely a proud moment for our community and went towards showcasing all the hard work and dedication put forth by the multiple city offices involved with putting together the event. And It’s Only Getting Better As the largest single-day event in south Texas, the McAllen Holiday Parade brought together over 255,000 spectators last year from all throughout the border region, northern Mexico,…

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The Top 5 Small Business Winners

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Every year, the McAllen Chamber honors the Top 5 Small businesses in McAllen. Small businesses are driving our economy and continue to play a vital role in the success of our community. The business experts tell us that small businesses create and sustain more jobs than big corporations. The best vital statistic for a community is the number of new small businesses being started. The second vital statistic is the growth of small businesses. McAllen is blessed with wonderful small businessses. They play such a critical role in McAllen. Small businesses also carry 2% of the total tax burden in Texas (Texas is a high property tax and fees state). The other critical role small businesses play, beyond the jobs and opportunities they bring to a community, is the role they play in giving back to the community. McAllen’s small businesses are the first to step up and donate to…

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Seven Key Leadership Elements from the Military

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The military develops leaders. The armed forces spend a lot of time and money in fine tuning and enhancing key elements for leadership. They train and evaluate constantly to see which people in the military understand and grasp the concepts and who just goes through the motions. Those key lessons can be applied to so many different business leadership opportunities. An interesting aspect of military leadership is how quickly they put young people in key positions to make decisions and to lead. People are given opportunities to show what they expected level of leadership. So here are seven key elements of military leadership than can be applied to businesses and organizations: Plan. Planning is a key element of leadership. The military plans and re-plans, time and time again. Planning forces an individual to think through all the different things that are needed to be successful. In today’s world, we want…

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Holiday Parties Are Good For Business

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It’s been a big year in McAllen! As the third quarter draws to a close, it’s time to plan for the holidays.  Your customers and employees have made every success in 2017 possible. How do you spread some cheer, reignite passion, and generally say thanks for your business or thanks for a job well done? A holiday party, of course! Here at your McAllen Chamber of Commerce, we understand how much of an effort it can be to find the right venue, arrange catering, and organize the event. We are here to help provide some insight into hosting and event planning to make this year’s holiday party one to remember. Holiday parties are good for business! Enhance employee relationships. A holiday party in a non-work environment can really help to build team connections and stronger social bonds that lead to improved work efficiency. Gain valuable insight. As a business owner,…

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Ethics and Business

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Ethics is talked about when something bad happens. Just this past week, Equifax announced that the private information of over 143 million people was stolen by a computer hacker. There is no doubt the information is being sold in the “dark market” of the internet. What compounds the problem of the security breach. I am not drawing the conclusion the executives knew about the breach before they sold their stock, but it does raise serious ethical questions. Stories like this seem to happen several times every year. Ethical decisions are made by businesses every day. The strong ethical of an organization builds a culture of strong ethics so that when a situation occurs, there is no doubt what the right things to do is. People in strong ethical organizations do the right things, even when they are not required to do it. Ethics in business is part leadership and part…

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