Reaching New Heights at the Eugene YP Summit

Ashton Eaton delivers the keynote address at the Young Professionals Summit

This article was originally published on the FCR blog on May 30, 2017. Click here to read the original.

I had the privilege of attending the Young Professionals Summit in Eugene, Oregon for the second year in a row. Last year’s summit was fantastic but the team at the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce managed to raise the bar this year.

The expanded lineup of speakers and breakout sessions gave attendees more opportunities to attend sessions of interest to them so they’d gain maximum value for the time spent. In addition, each attendee was assigned to a small group that they connected with multiple times for networking and discussing goals and key takeaways. Here are some of my favorite insights from the day.

Small Improvements

The conference kicked off with two-time Olympic Champion in the Decathlon, Ashton Eaton. As a wannabe runner, this was one reason I was really excited to attend. He shared a story from his childhood about two sticks where he would place one stick marking his current achievement and then place another just a little further, signifying his goal. He said, “There are few astronomical improvements,” and “Failure is a constant,” but we need to keep pushing toward our goal. Great advice!

Find a Mentor

A session titled “The 360 Mentorship Model” featured Joe Zaludek, Eugene-Springfield Fire Chief, DeLeesa Meashintubby of Volunteers in Medicine, and Ayantu Megerssa from University of Oregon. The panelists offered wonderful insights both about the importance of being a mentor and seeking out mentors in our lives. This is a great way to gain wisdom from others who’ve gone before us in our work and in life. I left that session feeling both challenged to seek out mentors and to build mentoring into any team that I lead.


Culture is a fun and often misused business buzzword. Sabrina Parsons from Palo Alto Software, Cheryl Collins from Ninkasi, and Michael Fuller of Northwest Christian University put to rest a number of misconceptions about culture in their session titled, Creating Company Culture. My favorite takeaways from this session include:

  • If you want to learn about your company culture, talk to your newest employees.
  • Hire slow to be confident in cultural fit.
  • “We’re picky about our peers” – Sabrina Parsons
  • The degree to which a job candidate prepares for their job interview is a deal breaker when hiring for cultural fit.


The closing keynote by Sadie Lincoln, founder of Barre3, a rapidly-growing boutique fitness company was nothing short of awesome. After 20 years in the fitness industry, Sadie realized there was more to fitness than restrictive dieting and regular exercise. At Barre3 they recognize the importance of relationships and encourage members to gain a deeper understanding of who they are as individuals. She shared her Foundational Five, which are the things she does to stay focused and effective. These are great principles to live by — especially if you work in customer service:

  1. Get enough sleep
  2. Meditate regularly
  3. Move mindfully
  4. Spend time with family
  5. Connect with nature

It was also a pleasure to attend the summit with a few of my colleagues, including Jonathan Conger, Site Director at our Veneta contact center. He made two comments. First that he’s going to bring more of his leaders to this event next year. And second, the only drawback was that there were so many great sessions and he wished he could have attended more of them. I tend to agree. What a day well spent!

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