Self-Discovery, Civic Involvement Highlight YP Summit 2019

A crowd of more than 300 took a journey of self-discovery, out-of-the-box thinking, and civic involvement at the 2019 YP Summit, which was held Thursday, Sept. 26, at The Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum.

“I found out (as a child) if I could out think, schmooze, out-talk, outperform and outwit you, then I could get what I wanted, and I could keep myself safe, and you couldn’t hurt me like everyone else,” leadoff speaker Rocky Garza told those attending. Garza described his upbringing, which involved multiple moves to cities across Texas, even living with his grandparents. After Garza related those personal experiences to the crowd, he told them it is his belief that how kids handle challenges between ages 6 and 12 is a predictor of how they will operate as adults.

“I became very good at disclosure, but very bad at vulnerability,” said Garza, who asked the crowd to explore their formative memories and feelings. Such self-reflection is necessary for individuals to come to grips with who they are, faults and all. It’s also important for individuals seeking to make genuine connections with others.

“Today, when I walk off the stage and you leave, I want you to be able to stand unapologetically in who you are, not as a jerk and not being prideful, but in full confidence that there literally is no one like you. And simultaneously, remain aware that your neighbor is not your competition.”

Garza said striking that mental balance – between feeling unique and being just like everyone else – is key. He also encouraged everyone listening to reflect upon their core values, and to use those guides for future decision-making and courses of action.

‘We Are Our Own Billboards’

Keynote speaker at the summit was Lucy Billingsley, who discussed making her way in a male-dominated real estate development industry. Billingsley and her husband, Henry, are co-founders of Billingsley Co., which is developing the 1,000-acre Cypress Waters office/housing development in Coppell.

Lucy Billingsley appeared on stage with CoStar Group journalist Candace Carlisle, who asked her what it was like to work in a male-dominated world.

“I am happy being a female in a man’s world… the way you’ve got to look at it is, what can I bring to the table? These are great guy and it’s a fabulous industry, and I also don’t play golf and don’t go to bars to drink.”

Billingsley said instead, she entered the development game late with Henry Billingsley, after she managed the Dallas Market Center for 15 years. She said they teamed up to enter the industry. Henry Billingsley was already buying land for development, she said, adding that they dove in anyway.

“Maybe it’s for women in particular, but we are sort of our own billboards,” she said. “If you see me being awkward, shy, and ashamed, I’m telling you, ‘I’m awkward shy and ashamed.’ But if you see me being confident, out there, wanting to have a good time and being natural and pragmatic about things, then you think that’s who I am.”

Humility, Inquisitiveness Key in Innovating Success

Dallas Regional Chamber Director of Research and Innovation Natalie Pazera then headed up a roundtable featuring Neighborhood Goods Co-Founder/CEO Matt Alexander, CerSci Therapeutics Co-Founder/CEO Lucas Rodriguez and Scout & Cellar Founder/CEO Sarah Shadonix.

One common piece of advice from that panel was the importance of finding skilled professionals to assist in executing key elements of their business plans, and to take the time to ask a lot of questions. And, by no means, should entrepreneurs pretend to know all the answers.

“Everyone’s … trying to do their best, acknowledging they don’t have all the answers,” said Alexander. “I’m bordering on a human disaster most days.”

Alexander said he and his team look carefully at how job candidates treat others when they’re hiring them. He said when they take candidates for higher-level jobs out to dinner, they pay close attention to how the candidates treat the wait-staff.

Get on Board’

Young Professionals were encouraged to involve themselves in nonprofits – including serving on their boards – in the final panel discussion.

Big Thought President/CEO Byron Sanders lead the discussion, which included Education Opens Doors Board Liaison Joe Babeu, Encephalitis411 Board President Becky Dennis, and Turtle Creek Recovery Center President/CEO Joe Castaneda.

Sanders said that young professionals bring new ideas that might even be more valuable than cash contributions.

Panelists agreed that those interested in a nonprofit should volunteer with the organization, get to know board members and then, perhaps, pursue board membership.

Castaneda said prospective members shouldn’t discount their worth to a board early on.

“There’s a lot of basic help that anyone in this room can provide,” he said. “From transportation, to looking at (the organization’s) compensation.”

Presenting sponsor was Thomson Reuters; venue sponsor was The Bomb Factory and Canton Hall; Silver Sponsor was BKD CPAs and Advisors; Happy Hour sponsor was Crowe LLP.