YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Childhood leadership lessons – good and bad – leave lasting marks. Who did you look up to and why? How does your career path lead back to your youth?
Recent episodes in the Brain Gain Youngstown Leadership Series podcast show the sharp contrast – and yet similarities – of the lessons learned by Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and entrepreneur Terrill Vidale.
The refrain, “Don’t stop believin,” from the 1981 song by Journey comes to mind.
Jeff Herrmann, CEO of the Youngstown Publishing Co., interviewed Husted and Vidale. The Brain Gain Youngstown Leadership Series premiered Sept. 9.
All episodes – a new one is posted every Wednesday – are available on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google Podcasts and Stitcher. Listeners can also go to BusinessJournalDaily.com/series/brain-gain-leadership-series.
Coach Local Economic Development
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted began his life in a foster home and found his first role model, his father, when he was adopted.
Growing up, whatever the sports season – football, basketball or baseball – Husted was a team player. At the University of Dayton, he was an All-American defensive back when the Dayton Flyers won the 1989 Division III National Championship. Little wonder, then, that his leadership lessons came from coaches and his path to political leadership from coaching.
“Collective accountability requires personal accountability and it goes both ways,” he says.
“You’re accountable to your teammates, but everyone on that team has to do their part. If you want to be stronger than everybody else, then you’ve got to spend time in the weight room. You don’t drink it out of a bottle. If you want to be faster than everybody else, you’ve got to be out there doing sprints. If you want to be a better receiver, then you’ve got to go out and catch some passes. If you want to shoot the basketball, you’ve got to spend time. That’s what sports teaches you. It’s the great equalizer,” he says.
“The person at the top needs to make decisions and be accountable, but you have to lead by example.
“Articulate what you want to accomplish. Listen to what other people want to accomplish and see how you can build a bridge. See how you bring people together because a lot of times, our disagreements are not about the goals, they’re bout the means for achieving them.
Husted believes local leaders must build a culture of entrepreneurship.
“You’ve got to support entrepreneurs,” he says. “They are the difference makers in terms of economic development. We can talk about all the government assistance that you want and what government can do. Government creates great environment. It could create talent. It can be an encourager…
“Let’s face it. If the GM [Lordstown] plant was a locally-owned [and] headquartered company, that facility wouldn’t have closed….
“When you depend on outsiders for all of your economic activity…you don’t have a lot of control over that destiny. Those local entrepreneurs, local investors – people who are part of the fabric of the community – and your institutions support them, that’s where the opportunity to go big is.”
Faithfully Walking His Path
Terrill Vidale was the poster child – literally – for Beatitude House in Youngstown.
“My face was on the billboard” for a wine-tasting fundraiser, he says. “I’m that face that you were supporting.”
Growing up, his mentor was the Rev. Kenneth L. Simon, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Youngstown. “I was going to church every day. That laid my foundation. He mentored me as far as morals, values and things like that.”
So, too, did all the mentors who Vidale met at the YMCA Central Branch.
“When I was 14, I was sweeping the floors,” he remembers, then began to referee basketball games. “A lot of my mentors, the people that I call on – people on bank boards, CEOs and entrepreneurs – I met at the YMCA,” he says.
Today, Vidale is the founder and leader of 2Deep Entertainment in Youngstown and G.A.I. Capital Group LLC, based in Canfield.
G.A.I. “stands for God and I,” Vidale says. In July, the company invested $1.33 million to buy two apartment buildings and an office building in Canfield.
“Imagine you being me. I’m young and I’m black. A lot of times I get labeled,” he says.
“Everyone’s culture’s different. Everyone’s perception’s different, so unless you have a diverse group at the table, you don’t know how everyone is going to perceive what you’re doing.
“I think what helped me is that I’ve been broke. I’ve been poor. When I started a business, it didn’t really hurt me because I was already broke.
“I believe in this valley. I believe in this town. I think this town has a lot of room for growth. I always said to myself, ‘Why would I want to go somewhere where everyone’s at?’ I want to create the opportunity [here].
“Everything that happened in my life got me to where I’m at now,” he says.
“A lot of times when something negative happened in my life, it actually turned out to be positive. When you’re going through it, you’re always hard on yourself. Now, I say, ‘OK God, what are you trying to teach me?’ ”
Click HERE to watch the Brain Gain Youngstown Leadership Series podcast.
Pictured above: Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and entrepreneur Terrill Vidale were interviewed for the Brain Gain Youngstown Leadership Series.