When we last left our heroes (see Recap of Fuel: Detroit Part One) they had just finished watching Martha Stewart effortlessly bounce from story to story. Some would call it ADD or simply disjointed. To me there is a subtle genius in who she is and how she is. But enough about her (unless you want more than go read part 1).

AHHHHH lunch time. I wonder what they’re serving?

Answer #1 is a crazy amount of people. That room across from the Soundboard (lower level) was PACKED. And the team at Motor City Casino did an excellent job.

Answer #2 is 3 more talks during lunch. I have to be honest, I didn’t love that. When I go to a conference I want a break from having to pay attention. More importantly, I want to engage with the people at lunch and discuss some of the big ideas that were gleaned in the earlier sessions. Don’t get me wrong, they offered some nice networking breaks, it just would have been nice to have a break here too in my humble opinion. I will be sure to put this comment in the survey.

Answer #3 is the day the music died. Seriously, why did Prince have to pass at all let alone during lunch. At one point when Jacques Panis of Shinola was being interviewed I wanted to ask if Prince ever owned a Shinola watch because if not…it was too late to get him one ;-( I decided to let Paul W. Smith “break the news”.

Alright, back to Answer #2

Detroit Police Chief Craig kicked off the lunch talks and shared some interesting stories from not only the front line but how he ended up there. The most important part about his talk were the significant decreases in violent crime in the city of Detroit 2 years running. That’s a great measure of the progress happening in our soon to be fair city.

Next up was Jacques Panis of Shinola. Shinola is an interesting story and often the poster children for the rebirth of Detroit. In a lot of ways the fact that they’re doing manufacturing here, as opposed to anywhere else in the world is quite symbolic. In addition to the question about Prince one I would have asked had the Prince thing not happened is will they be manufacturing the components here too one day? I’ve heard that was on the docket (and may have begun since I toured the plant 2 years ago). I do love the diversity of the products they offer: watches, leather goods and bikes. What a fun combination. Honestly, When Judy Perry of 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For asked the table if the TMZ report on Prince was true, I was pretty checked out. Partly because my phone started blowing up and partly due to the news.

Next up during the lunch break was Veronika Scott of the Empowerment Plan. I’ve had the good fortune to share the stage with Veronika in the past and have been a fan of her work since her TEDx Detroit talk years ago. If you’re unfamiliar with the work they’re doing, it’s well worth checking out. Don’t believe me, than explain how she was the only speaker all day to receive a standing ovation from almost everyone in the room (sorry about not standing, I was totally in my own world at that time). In short, Veronika engaged with some homeless folks to make them a coat that converts into a sleeping bag. During her research phase she was told they didn’t need clothes, they needed jobs. So she began putting the homeless to work. And the impact keeps growing. Seriously, check her out!

When we returned from lunch, we were in for a true treat. I didn’t know who Marcus Buckingham was, but he instantly became my favorite presenter I’ve seen in forever. He had the perfect combination of wit, impeccable delivery and great information. He spoke about how to create a wonderful culture. His methodology was simple and could be followed by any leader/manager and would take less than 5 minutes per team member per week. Want to know what it is? Ask your people two questions: 1. What are you working on this week? (or what are your top priorities for the week?) and What can I do to assist you? BRILLIANT!!!! Seriously, it’s almost too easy. The lesson is checking in with your team often allows you both to stay current. He made a compelling argument that “reviews” aren’t as much about the person being reviewed as the person doing the reviewing. Very interesting indeed. As an added bonus, he gave us a really cool assessment tool called StandOut. Use the keycode Fuel2016 and you can learn a little about you.

Two of these things REALLY matter

Two of these things REALLY matter

Sarah Kay, a wonderful spoken word poet, showed us just how important art is to our culture. It’s kind of amazing to think of a person making a career out of doing poetry and teaching poetry. It was a lovely addition to a great day. She shared two different pieces during her talk and discussed the impact she gets to make around the world.

After a little break we came back to hear Jay Towers interview the one and only John Varvatos.

Cool cat in a cooler store

Cool cat in a cooler store

John’s story was particularly cool because he was at the top of the game…lead designer for Ralph Lauren and he cashed in all in to do what he wanted to do. That takes balls, vision, and a great support system. Clearly he has them all. It was cool that he’d long wanted to open a shop in the D. and finally had the chance too. And it’s a gem of a shop. Totally worth the trip. This is a guy who outfits rockstars and he really is one himself.

Last and never least was the good Michael Strahan. He was interviewed by Carolyn Gifford and they seemed like old friends. In fact, Carolyn got him to agree to let her interview him again during the Auto Show next January (he’s a big car guy). Michael’s primary lesson was WORK. He’s a pretty good example of it too. He was funny, charming, engaging and a bit gap toothed. He talked about authenticity and not fixing that gap was a part of his story. I felt like he left the audience forgetting that he could tear most of us apart in a moment’s notice.

The after hours networking was a nice touch and a great way for people to connect with new folks.

All in all it was a fantastic event. Totally top-shelf. They are hosting one in Las Vegas at some point in February and will be back in Detroit in April. Looking forward to seeing who they bring next year.

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