Envisioning the Future Day 2020

By Lauren Morelli, ENV Property & Casualty, LLC

Envisioning the Future with 2020 Hindsight

After weeks of preparation, Envisioning the Future Day is finally here! The design team virtually welcomed the LGS Class of 2020 to experience a day full of inspiration, where we envision the future with 20/20 hindsight. We kicked off our introduction by inviting our classmates to be inspired on the realizations about how they can empower their community, foster innovation, re-connect with nature, and become a balanced leader. To open the day, we shared a video that highlighted the goal of our class day, titled: The Great Realization. Our speakers plan to enlighten us by sharing how 2020 has changed their vision for the future and how our class can leave feeling inspired to reach their future goals by finding balance, reconnecting with old roots and propel innovative ideas.

The Year That Mother Nature Demanded Our Attention

Our first speaker, Dr. Robert Corona CEO from SUNY Upstate Medical University Hospital discussed the importance of resilient leadership, inspiring other people, learning how to pivot quickly during crisis and not to be afraid to fail. To begin, he shared the term Gaman, which means, “enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity”. Upstate leads by their valued behaviors, PULSE: Patients first, Understand, Leadership, Safety and Excellence. Dr. Bob asked the question, “When you have a crisis, what are people feeling?” The answer is, fear, so as a leader it is important to respond to fear by understanding and communicating with others to calm those fears. With that, Dr. Bob emphasized the importance of their employees being the fundamental infrastructure of the organization. In particular, Dr. Bob was impressed with the infection control unit because their staff was able to give excellent patient care and work together to calm the fears of others. Briefly, Dr. Bob commented on technological advancements in healthcare, which included telemedicine, apps on the apple watch and soon the shift towards virtual reality. To close, Dr. Bob left us with an important message: as future leaders, the most important thing is to inspire others and keep an infinite mindset.

Embracing the Past to Nourish the Future

Next, we heard from Jessi Lyons and Emily Nisco-Frank from the Brady Faith Center, which is an urban farm located on the south side of Syracuse. The Brady Faith Center opened the urban farm in 2016 as a welcoming garden for the south side community. Jessi shared the term Sankofa, which means, “Go back to the past and bring forward that which is useful.” The pandemic has led more people to build gardens at home because people want to know where their food is coming from. As a result, Brady Faith has taken on 100 more customers who have requested produce delivery to their homes. Over the past four years, the Brady Faith Center has grown to better serve and support the needs of their surrounding community by providing food from the garden, holding online cooking classes, teaching food preservation and making a safe space for members of the community. Not only are adults a part of the farm, but children from the community are a part of maintaining the farm and selling their produce at the local farm stand. The Brady Faith Center has created a safe space for adults and children to explore, inspire conversation and connect with nature.

Lifecircle Leadership

As a class gift, Kim Townsend generously donated her book, Lifecircle Leadership, which is part inspirational, part actionable advice and part memoir. Our design team was excited to have Kim Townsend a part of our day. Kim Townsend is the President and CEO of Loretto Management Corporation in Syracuse and is an expert in healthcare management and leadership. In her opening statement, Kim shared a Chinese proverb, “may you live in interesting times.” As we are living in new and uncertain times, Kim shared four critical areas in which she focuses on in her leadership at Loretto. Those include decision-making, communication, expectation setting, and being understanding to those who are in crisis. Decision-making: as leaders, we must be clear on our organizations mission. Communication is important during times of crisis because people are feeling mixed emotions. Those feelings include impatience, anger, frustration, resistance, etc. It is important that we do not set high expectations during unpredictable times such as a pandemic because there is a higher chance those expectations would not be met. Lastly, it is important to understand how to approach people in a crisis and how to address their needs. To close, Kim answered the question, “How has 2020 changed your vision for the future?” Kim’s answer is it is important to instill a spirit of purpose and optimism and to realize that the future may be better than the life we left behind.

Re-Connecting with Onondaga Lake

            Up next, Travis Glazier, Director of Onondaga County Office of the Environment joined to talk about the progress at Onondaga Lake. Travis shared his excitement about the continuation of trails and the ability to use the lake for recreational purposes. Onondaga Lake has continued to extend the trails with hopes to connect more communities together. Onondaga Lake is not the only place to have extended their trails, but the Erie Canal and new Empire State Trail have built more trail extensions throughout Central New York. By the end of 2020, you will be able to walk around the entire lake. Travis touched on the importance of recovery and restoration for Onondaga Lake’s clean up. In addition to the lake clean up and extension of trails, in 2015 the Amphitheater opened drawing in large crowds to summer concerts by the lake. The Amphitheater is a popular concert venue in Syracuse, and it is located at the heart of Onondaga Lake. To attract more boaters and fishers, they have a free public boat launch and shoreline fishing access with deep waters. Travis was asked, “What has been the biggest challenge?” His answer is that many people from the community are still skeptical about the lake clean up and the only way people will see that it is clean is by visiting. A positive effect from the pandemic is that Onondaga Lake has seen an increase in public use of trails, boating and fishing. Lastly, Travis answered the question, “How has 2020 changed his vision for the future?” His answer, he is excited that more people are finding value in being outdoors and hopes to continue to see more people enjoying the many activities available at Onondaga Lake.

Be Positive

To end the day, we heard from Paul Lilly, Training and Development Director from Wegmans Food Market. Paul spoke about Wegmans quickly shifting from a face-to-face business to more an e-commerce business. March 16th, 2020 was the day Wegmans began their business shift in order to serve their customer needs. These changes include, mandatory face masks, social distancing, limiting capacity, and putting up Plexiglas between registers. In order for Wegmans to operate safely, these changes were mandatory, but did not fit the Wegmans culture. However, it is important to Wegmans to be the absolute best at serving the needs of their customers. Paul stated, “Every plan for the future should have a look back”, which means look at where you came from in order to learn how to do better. The increase in e-commerce sales lead Wegmans leaders to become more open-minded, more optimistic and reassure employees that these changes will be positive for the company. E-commerce is not new for Wegmans, but due to the pandemic, there has been more demand for order pickup and delivery services, such as Instacart. Due to high demand, Instacart was unable to fulfill all their orders, which resulted in Wegmans fulfilling orders for pickup at the stores. Since there has been a high demand for quick contactless services, Wegmans introduced an app called Wegmans Scan. Wegmans Scan allows customers to have contactless check out while shopping in their stores. In addition to this app, Wegmans offers two more apps, 2 Go Team and Meals 2 Go. Wegmans is going to continue to meet the high demand for online grocery sales and will not be going back to where they were before the pandemic. Lastly, Paul answered the question “How has 2020 changed his vision for the future?” His answer is that it has changed everything and that Wegmans will continue to shift with customer demands. We are living the future today.

How has 2020 changed your vision for the future?

In conclusion, our speakers left us feeling empowered, innovative, re-connected and most importantly inspired to become balanced leaders ourselves. Our speakers talked about the technological changes in healthcare, benefits of an urban farm, pragmatic altruism: doing good is good for business, extending trails to re-connect with Onondaga Lake and the shift to e-commerce transactions in grocery stores. Our speakers touched on a common theme throughout the day and that is the idea of interconnection. In crisis, our actions have shown we are more interconnected with each other than one might have thought. Lastly, another common thread shared by several speakers is including cultural terms in their presentations to describe ways in which they have been leading through crisis. Now as future leaders, we ask you, how has 2020 changed your vision for the future?