MAPP’s Annual Benchmarking & Best Practices Conference: Perseverance, The Secret of All Success

MAPP’s Benchmarking & Best Practices Conference took place at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis, Indiana. CORIE FARNSLEY/CORCOMM CREATIVE

When more than 500 plastics processors and industry partners gather in one place, the opportunities for sharing, learning and making valuable connections are immense. The JW Marriott in Indianapolis, Indiana, was once again the location of the 2016 MAPP Benchmarking & Best Practices Conference.

The value in the annual event goes beyond inspiring keynote speakers, although attendees were on their feet in applause for Titan Gilroy, a former inmate who has become a media personality dedicated to the advancement of manufacturing, and Lt. Col. (retired) Rob “Waldo” Waldman, a fighter pilot who shared stories of his time in military combat and the wingmen who had his back, while encouraging the audience to identify the wingmen in their own organizations. Intense peer-to-peer discussions on issues common to every molding facility were found in formal roundtable sessions and during session breaks. Exchanges with industry experts on facility safety, competitive business models and best-in-class sales practices contributed to 36 intensely focused hours.

Processors became professional speakers while sharing knowledge earned through struggles in their own organizations to overcome significant issues. Following the Perseverance theme, leaders from processing companies across the US spoke to fellow attendees about

  • Recovering from natural disasters that included Hurricane Katrina and a massive facility fire;
  • Enduring an unexpected OSHA inspection and the lessons learned from the experience;
  • Slowing an employee exodus by focusing on morale to retain employees already committed to a company and attract new prospects.

On the second morning of the conference, operational and processing personnel gathered around tables to solve problems related to shift changes, cellphone use on the shop floor and procedure documentation; senior company leaders discussed challenges in finding qualified employees and reviewing new technologies; and human resources professionals queried others on training resources, employee retention plans and incentive programs. Other peer learning experiences at the 2016 event included sessions on 4DX, the internet of things, implementing a Zero Net Waste program and cooperative health care programs to reduce and control costs.

The MAPP Benchmarking & Best Practices Conference will return to Indianapolis on Oct. 12-13, 2017.

Shift Your Brilliance – Harness the Power of You


Simon T. Bailey, Simon T. Bailey International
Speaker and author Simon T. Bailey is the leader of the “brilliance” movement – helping more than one million people find their brilliance, shift their thinking and produce sustainable results. Bailey’s previous work experience includes serving as sales director at the world-renowned Disney Institute based at Walt Disney World Resort. In 2003, he founded Brilliance Institute, Inc., to teach companies how to grow their most important asset – people.

Bailey spoke about the emotional equity that exists in “the way we’ve always done it,” which is a powerful force working against change. He said employees come to work and want to leave an impact, but often get caught up in a fast environment that has multiple priorities, but no clear vision. The resistance to new ideas leaves employees and management worn down and suffocates the brilliance that lies in individual thinking and enthusiasm, he said.

He challenged audience members to act as leaders within their organizations by doing the following:

  • See Differently. Give your business a fresh start by looking at it and understanding it in a new way. Step outside of “the way it’s always been done” to see what possibilities exist.
  • Build Rapport. Working with millennials requires a mindset shift to tap the energy, knowledge and potential of the younger generations. Make the effort to understand what they need from your organization.
  • Learn to Listen. How do you listen authentically instead of having selective hearing? Do you truly understand what the people speaking to you are trying to convey?
  • Create a Moment. For your customers and for your employees, how are you creating moments that will be remembered and have an impact? Those moments solidify the desire to work together, to succeed together and to build a deeper relationship.

Never Fly Solo!

Lt. Col. (retired) Rob “Waldo” Waldman
Lt. Col. (retired) Rob “Waldo” Waldman is a professional leadership speaker and author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller “Never Fly Solo.” He teaches organizations how to build trusting, revenue-producing relationships with their employees, partners and customers while sharing his experiences as a combat-decorated F-16 fighter pilot and businessman. He believes the key to building a culture of trust lies with a person’s wingmen – those people who help to overcome obstacles, adapt to change and achieve success.

Waldo encouraged audience members to train their teams thoroughly for each mission, to build a company culture that promotes integrity and support and to lead their teams in a way that enables each member to become a wingman. To do so, Waldo – who was terrified of heights – told of the time he had to jump off a 33-foot diving board as part of his fighter pilot training. Thirty-three feet (which might as well have been a 500-foot cliff) stood between Waldo and his dream career, so he took a deep breath and made the leap. He asked audience members, “What is your 33 feet? What is standing between you and your own success?”

Successful wingmen are dedicated to the following principle commitments:

Commitment to yourself. Complacency kills, and a commitment to yourself means never settling into a habit of complacency. “Your comfort zone is your danger zone,” and a wingman has to be ready to get out of that comfort zone. A wingman is always willing to stretch himself, even in the face of difficult changes and adversity.

Commitment to the mission. Waldo recounted stories of his days as a fighter pilot in which he committed to learning and practicing for missions because a wingman is always mission ready. This commitment to mission encouraged audience members to always be prepared and be ready with a contingency plan, which builds trust in their teammates.

Commitment to the team. When you know who your wingmen are and who you’re a wingman for, you ensure that you never fly solo. Leaders build trust with their teammates by supporting, collaborating and watching for potential threats. True wingmen do not focus on ranks or titles, but on building up everyone in their team.

Commitment to courage. “Lose sight, lose fight,” is the motto for this commitment. Leaders are ready to take action despite fear, apprehension or ego. Audience members were encouraged to reflect on their own purpose and to be ready to take risks to fulfill that purpose. A wingman’s courage allows him to help, ask for help and let teammates know he will not let them fail.

Everyday Leadership


Bill Clement, Two-Time Stanley Cup Champion
Two-time Stanley Cup champion Bill Clement is a speaker, broadcaster, actor, entrepreneur and author. His new book, “EveryDay Leadership – Crossing Gorges on Tightropes to Success,” introduces valuable life lessons linked to leadership and success, all born from the devastation of personal and financial defeat.

Clement was a championship hockey player with the Philadelphia Flyers. An All-Star center, he fought through injury to help the Flyers win two Stanley Cups, but when his career ended, he suffered through depression and bankruptcy before finding new career opportunities in the broadcasting booth and acting. With touching stories and laugh-out-loud humor, Clement reflected on his time in the National Hockey League and the lessons he learned from those he skated with, those he worked for and those he led as a captain of his team.

First and foremost, leaders – whether on the hockey ice or in the business world – need to earn trust and respect. That comes from day-to-day behavior in the workplace witnessed by those you are trying to lead.

Everyday leaders do the following:

  • Embrace challenges. From competition from rivals to economic downturns and the struggle to recruit youth to the industry, Clement explained that leaders embrace and attack those challenges, rather than ignoring them or waiting for others to provide solutions.
  • Leave yesterday behind. Whether wins or losses, leaders leave the events of the previous day or year in the past and look ahead with vision, strategy and enthusiasm.
  • Be an energy source. Every organization has those who suck the energy from the room and those who light others up. Be someone others can plug into for encouragement.
  • Give more to their cultures than they take. Those who lead put more into their organizations – more energy, more knowledge, more resources – than they remove.
  • Pull people, as opposed to pushing people. A leader who forces employees or coworkers to perform tasks, rather than encouraging them to follow, is never effective – or at least, not for long.