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Top Executives Share the Power of Pivoting, Mindfulness and Self-Awareness
November 13th, 2020
By Melissa Fox

HYPE Power Hour is one of the most popular events for HYPE members. Members of the young professional group hear from Houston-area executives as they share personal experiences and career journeys. It's like a career development master class over your lunch break. 

The recent Power Hour event on Wednesday, November 4 brought Houston's powerhouse corporate leaders to the virtual space to share insight on everything from how they’ve navigated their professional career through intentionality and self-awareness to mindfulness in the corporate world and learning to pivot when COVID-19 prompted shutdowns.  

Here are a few takeaways:

  • Jenny Philip, the Partnership's Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer shared how intentionality and pursuing a career in what matters most to you often leads to success. This intentionality led Jenny to her current role with the Partnership where her experience in public policy and research help guide the Partnership's policy development process to effectively address critical issues in our region. “At the start of my career, the intentionality piece of pursuing what matters to me personally was really important. And then later on it was about pursuing those opportunities that were important for my development. This led me to my most recent [career] transition,” Philip said.
     
  • Philip also discussed the importance of self-awareness and knowing where you excel and where you can improve. To succeed, you have to be willing and confident enough to ask your organization for growth opportunities to strengthen your professional weaknesses. Philip asked to take classes and attend conferences on strategy and organizational alignment to strengthen her knowledge in these areas, knowing she would need these experiences before taking on a new role. 
     
  • Lisa Trapani Shumate, Associate Vice President, University of Houston System and General Manager of Houston Public Media, explained how knowing and understanding your Birkman Map can assist you in communicating effectively with your colleagues and create self-awareness on how you need to be communicated with. The Birkman Map can also help you elevate stress as it allows you to acknowledge your team’s personality differences. “Part of the Birkman is to accept that everyone is different. You have to accept it and then let it go,” said Shumate. 
     
  • Shumate also shared what true mindfulness is and how it can deescalate stress. She explained that everyone can be mindful, it is not something you have “conjure up,” you just need to learn how to access your mindfulness and understand what is blocking it. 
     
  • A study on mindfulness from the University of Pennsylvania showed 100% of the participants report a significant improvement in workplace effectiveness when they practiced mindfulness. 86% of the participants also described an improved ability to identify and manage their emotions. 
     
  • Jorge Franz, Senior Vice President of Tourism at Visit Houston shared how the pandemic has affected the Houston travel industry. In his role, Franz and his team promote Houston as a top travel destination, and they have been very successful in recent years—Houston received 24.3 million visitors in 2019. 2020 of course looks a bit differently. Like many industries around our region, COVID-19 has been significantly impacting our tourism industry. Earlier in the shutdown in March, Houston’s hotel occupancy fell to a record low of 7% and 94% of conventions that were scheduled for this year have been postponed. 
     
  • To help alleviate some of the financial pressures that the tourism and hospitality industries were (and still are) facing during the pandemic, Franz and his team pivoted their marketing efforts to promote Houston as a staycation destination. Their summer and fall messaging targeted Houstonians that were stuck at home that would be looking for a way to “get away” for one or two nights but were still wary of traveling. The team leveraged lower price points on hotels and experiences to entice Houstonians to get out of the house and support local attractions. The summer campaign resulted in more than 42,000 hotel nights booked and $4.3 million in gross hotel bookings. 
     
  • Franz shared that he learned a great deal from this quick pivot, “I have learned a lot over the past year… I have had to make incredibly difficult decisions… But it did show me that we are never too old to learn something new and it can be rejuvenating when you need to learn something quickly and need to pivot.” 
     

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