Nexstar’s Owners Spotlight 2016, Leadership unleashed: Smashing your personal limits, took place March 23-24, 2016 in Atlanta. There were a total of 247 attendees. Nexstar has had at least two big events annually since its inception. It changed the name of one of those events to Owners Spotlight in 2004 — making this its 12th year.

“At Nexstar, we know the most important need in every small business is engaged and inspiring leadership,” says Jack Tester, president and CEO of Nexstar. “That is why we dedicated this Owners Spotlight to a focus on leader belief and actions they can take to inspire similar beliefs and actions in others.”

Day one

Day one began with Tester talking about visualizing your business’ future and what matters when it comes to leadership. His sentiments were echoed in Keith Mercurio’s, Nexstar Network’s training manager, talk on the cornerstones of beliefs: physiology, focus and language. These cornerstones were touched upon in all the keynote speakers on both days.

David Rendall, author of The Freak Factor: Discovering uniqueness by flaunting weakness, was the first keynote speaker. He talked about identifying your strengths and weaknesses, and how knowing these can make you stronger. He encouraged attendees to become more of who they are. “What makes us weird also makes us wonderful,” he said. “What makes us weak also makes us strong. It’s about becoming more different and unique, not more average and mediocre. Take all the focus off what you don’t have and put it on what you do have.”

He encouraged attendees to decide their trade-offs and know how to delegate your weaknesses. “It can be hard, because the people we need the most, we often like the least because we see in them a weakness where our strengths are, when we should be seeing strengths where our weaknesses are. The keys to strong leadership are: awareness of your weaknesses; acceptance that your weaknesses are strengths in disguise; appreciation that we succeed because of our weaknesses, not in spite of them; the amplification of our weaknesses, instead of elimination; aligning with the right fit, not forcing yourself to fit in; and affiliating yourself with people who are strong where you are weak.”

Next on stage were three people in the Troops to Trades program. Mercurio talked about the need for more veterans in the industry and how attendees could help. Stories and inspirations were shared, as well as correlations made between good leadership and the cornerstones of belief.

Mercurio then shared tips on energy-management and how a new morning routine can start the day off right. The perfect morning consists of: starting the day by listing five appreciations, listening or reading something motivational, finding your feet — being in the moment, doing either 20 minutes of exercise or at least 20 reps of something, list off big and unreasonable goals — reminding yourself everyday what you are waking up for, and being sure to eat something wonderful — following the 200 year and ad campaign rules, if you couldn’t get it 200 years ago it is not good for you and if there is an ad for it, it is likely not good either.
“Being a leader is having power over yourself, not others,” Mercurio noted. “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

Motivational speaker, Les Brown took the stage next and encouraged attendees to never let someone else’s opinion of them determine who they are going to be. “Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else,” he said. “You have the ability to do more than you can ever imagine. Become a ‘no-matter-what’ person. There’s nothing as powerful as a made-up mind.”

Day one ended with a reminder from Mercurio that only actions create results and the need to create a culture of leadership, followed by a cocktail reception with 40 Strategic Partners represented.

Day two

Day two began with a continuation of the questionnaire game that had taken place the day before, with attendees grouped into red, blue and green teams, first answering questions about the night before and refreshing everyone’s memories and later about Nexstar as an organization, and the following speakers.

World champion adventure racer Robyn Benincasa took the stage next and shared her many adventure stories. She then applied the team-work and skills needed to win the adventure race to building a great team in business. “It is about t.e.a.m.w.o.r.k: total commitment, empathy and awareness, adversity management, mutual respect, ‘we’ thinking, ownership of the project, relinquishment of ego, and kinetic leadership,” she said. “At the end of the day it is not about the setback; it is about the comeback. Pain is mandatory, but suffering is optional. Accept help as a gift to the helper and give away the credit.”

A quiz was provided and attendees were able to score their business on Benincasa’s teamwork model.

Rod Hairston, chairman and CEO of Envision U, took the stage next and talked about stepping outside your comfort zone. He encourage attendees to go from certainty to uncertainty, to stay emotional, stay connected and not to let the unconscious mind take away the energy and the drive when they got back home. “Your imagination is activated by goals, a target, an objective,” he noted. “All focus is, is a disciplined imagination.”

He encouraged the development of a ‘power move,’ something to help energize you and put your focus where it belongs.

After his motivational words, he had all attendees grab a wood plank and mark one side with a hardship they wanted to overcome and the other with a goal they wanted to achieve. Hairston then proceeded to show everyone how to break through the board. “It is all about belief and focus,” he said.
The event ended on a high note with everyone gathered in groups and breaking through their boards. And for those who had difficulty, Hairston and the other attendees encouraged them not to give up and they kept trying until they got it — literally smashing through their personal limits, as the event promised.

Comments from attendees

Joe Giannone, owner/president, Joseph Giannone Plumbing: “I have been with Nexstar since the age of 23 and was amongst one of the youngest in the crowd upon joining five years ago. This is the first time I’ve noticed a diversified group in terms of age and military vets showing up to acknowledge the troops to trades program. It is always difficult to take time away from your business for personal reasons or to attend an event, but I am glad I made the time to attend this one.
“Les Brown has been an inspiration in my life ever since I stumbled across his YouTube videos. He has helped me learn that it is okay to leave certain people in my life that are not a positive influence and to get passed the fear of taking risks, moving forward without them. I am guilty of conducting business from my cell phone when sitting in a group but this particular meeting I was more focused than I have ever been.
“I also enjoyed David Rendall — his insights on utilizing your strengths in life to be successful and finding someone that can work together with you in order to balance the weaknesses in your life was a great outlook. I felt overall that this meeting was the best I’ve been to since I joined. I am back to work now and still have an incredible amount of motivation from the subjects that were taught and spoken about.”

Vicki Bradberry, director of internal operations, GeneLove Plumbing: “I have to say that for me personally, this was one of the best Nexstar events that I have attended! I had no idea that I would gain such knowledge and insight about myself. I’m so grateful for the experience that each one of the speakers allowed me to have.
“By far the most powerful experience for me was the breakthrough moment that I had when I broke my board! You see, in the middle of my board was the words self-esteem. To go through that was amaging! Rod Hairston, through his ability to coach others created a life changing experience for me that I am so thankful for.
“David Rendall made me think about focusing on myself and acknowledging what will be. Les Brown keeps me focused on this phrase that he used, ‘If you do what is easy, your life will be hard. Do what is hard – your life will be easy!’ And Robyn Benincasa made me really think about the Leadership Team that we have in place and made me realize how true her statement of, ‘Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things.’”

Joe Kubus, owner, SWR Drain Service: “I always look forward to the Nexstar events — where you are not only listening and learning from top guest speakers on a wide variety of topics, but also meeting with hundreds of fellow members who are also each looking to improve their companies regardless of how well they are currently doing.
“In our last meeting in March, I was able to meet quite a few members who have companies very similar in size and services that my company offers. We are able to talk about what systems we have implemented and the different services we have started performing. We also talk about the mishaps we’ve had and how to possibly avoid them. We are not competitors here — it’s more like a family who will share their secrets and tricks of the trade to help each other out. This type of networking is imperative to growing my business.”