Design firm CEO, Joe Cecere owned his “weird” as he shared his perspective on how his past shaped his thoughts about the future.

“The future is always moving,” Joe Cecere shared at the Good Leadership Breakfast last Friday, November 17. Joe is the CEO of an internationally-acclaimed Minneapolis design firm called LITTLE. He shared his excitement about design thinking and good leadership in the context of “future” as the focus of the final breakfast of 2017.

Helping people like Joe tell their story of Good Leadership is my greatest professional joy.

Joe shared his perspective, as a thoughtful leader following in the footsteps of the firm’s founder. “We’re a 37 year old company that still acts as a start-up,” he explained. His job is to create growth that’s authentic to both the firm’s roots, and aspirations about how design will impact the future of how we all live and work. “The only time I get ‘stuck’ is when I find myself thinking backwards, worrying too much about honoring the past.”

Reflecting back to leap ahead

Joe’s journey started in college when he was mentored by the firm’s founder, Monica Little. “Looking back, I knew I wanted to be a leader at LITTLE someday, way back when I was in college. Monica’s mentoring set me on that path.”

Our tradition of living generously continues: James Wade, gave his Bucket of Goodwill gift of $5590 to the Minneapolis Urban League.

From the stage I shared our firm’s point of view on aspirational thinking. Mainly, to craft a personal vision by first looking back 7 years, before envisioning life 7 years from now. I shared my own personal example: it was exactly 7 years ago this month that I asked a focus group: “Should we keep doing this breakfast?”  What we created by accident, had grown into a money-losing, exhaustive monthly endeavor. With the generous support of Cargill, we attracted more sponsors and set in motion what we have today: 14,000+ guests, who’ve attended 64 meetings, and raised more than $230,000 for local, national, and international charities. And Joe was the perfect speaker to help us celebrate.

Know your weird

“The most important thing for me to do as I was earning the respect of my colleagues in this job was to own my weird. Because I’m a little weird, and I know it!” Joe laughed. Weird, maybe…we also found him sincere, energetic, slightly nervous in a charmingly unpolished way, and funny. His audience loved envisioning his father’s Italian restaurant, and his own Joe’s Panini Bar served fresh for LITTLE employees.

Joe and I connected on a number of levels. We both obsess over delivering a well-designed experience for our clients and guests. And it’s with confidence I’ve gained from people like Joe that I’m making some changes to the breakfast next year – to keep up with a future that’s always moving.

The presenting sponsor of the Good Leadership Breakfast Series.

Good leaders look back on their past to find confidence and positive momentum. And they own their personal style to engage and encourage aspirational thinking about a dynamic future that’s always moving.

Many thanks to Cargill, who shared their intention to be the presenting sponsor of the Good Leadership Breakfast for another three years. You can get season tickets here, which guarantees your seat for the 2018 kick-off speaker: international thought leader Jurriaan Kamp, the founder of The Intelligent Optimist.

Student leaders who invested in their future by attending the Good Leadership Breakfast.

And thanks to J Allen, founder of Masters Alliance whose firm created a special Student Day at the breakfast. An energetic group of high school and college students were introduced to the ideas around how Goodness Pays, and The Seven Fs: faith, family, finances, fitness, friends, fun, and future improve leadership.

Please share with me: How is the future moving through you?