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262: Emilia DiMenco: Our reputation is at stake

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Emilia DiMenco Show Notes Page

Emilia DiMenco is making a bigger impact in smaller ways. After completing a 30-year career as an executive vice president for a large commercial bank, she now serves the capital, loans, programs, and services that support and accelerate women’s business ownership and their impact on the economy.

Emilia was born in Marlia, Lucca, Italy, and moved to the U.S. with her family in December of 1957. Emilia, her mother, and her older brother moved to America to join her father, where he was working for the Illinois Central Railroad Co. as a pipe fitter. Upon moving to the states, her family expanded with two younger sisters.

Alongside her siblings, Emilia grew up in south suburban Blue Island, which had a small Italian community. Her parents had a great relationship, but it was very traditional. Her mother gave up her work in a paper factory in Italy when she had children and her mother’s dependence on her father inspired Emilia to pursue her independence and establish a career in finance upon graduating from DePaul. Her success led her to BMO Harris N.A., where she spent 30-years in corporate banking before joining the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC).

Emilia rose through the ranks at BMO Harris, eventually being elevated to executive vice president in the corporate and commercial bank. She also led BMO Harris’ Women in Business Initiative, which made it the bank of choice for many women business owners.

During her time at BMO Harris, Emilia served on the WBDC’s Board of Directors. She then refocused her career and joined the WBDC as Chief Operating Officer to work under its original co-presidents before transitioning to president and CEO in 2013.

Since Emilia’s arrival, the WBDC has dramatically expanded its direct lending program, which now offers a pool of over $3.3 million. It has also expanded its certification program in a nine-state Midwest region, opened additional offices in five major markets, and opened three additional offices in the Chicago Metro region, amongst other program developments.

Emilia is proud to advance the mission of the WBDC as an advocate for women and other underrepresented business owners. She lives and breathes the WBDC’s mission and her hope is that one day organizations like the WBDC will, once and for all, level the playing field for women and minority business owners.

Emilia currently resides in Hinsdale, Illinois. When she is not advocating for women business owners, she enjoys going to the theater and symphony, gardening, and traveling. Her favorite travel companion is her son, Bob Groselak, who graduated from the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and is now an intellectual property associate in Chicago.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @EmiliaDiMenco to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet

“The larger companies, in their drive to create operational efficiencies, have lost something in the journey.” – Click to Tweet

“Larger companies are looking to be more centrally leveraged and locally rooted.” – Click to Tweet

“Even if you have a great idea, you have to understand every element of the business model.” – Click to Tweet

“The numbers are nothing more than the numeric manifestation of the idea.” – Click to Tweet

“I ask them to share their story, and then I look at the numbers. Then I look to see if the numbers jive with the story they told.” – Click to Tweet

“The relationship is what allows us to be successful.” – Click to Tweet

“It’s okay to be very honest on what you can and can’t do, even if it means you won’t win in the short-run.” – Click to Tweet

“Businesses require different leaders at different times.” – Click to Tweet

“Experience is good, but sometimes it limits your ability to see something from some else’s perspective.” – Click to Tweet

“Build the skill to understand that there is more that you don’t know than what you do know.” – Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Emilia DiMenco is making a bigger impact in smaller ways. After completing a 30-year career as an executive vice president for a large commercial bank, she now serves the capital, loans, programs, and services that support and accelerate women’s business ownership and their impact on the economy.

Advice for others

Build the skill to understand that there is more that you don’t know than what you do know.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

Experience is good, but sometimes it limits your ability to see something from some else’s perspective.

Best Leadership Advice

We know you have the answer, the issue is can you get everybody there.

Secret to Success

Courage and hard work.

Best tools in business or life

My understanding that getting everyone to buy into the mission and the strategy and empowering everyone to deliver on it is critical.

Recommended Reading

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Contacting Emilia DiMenco

LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/emilia-dimenco-50237321/

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/EmiliaDiMenco

Websitehttps://www.wbdc.org/

Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

An Even Better Place to Work

 

Show Transcript

Click to access edited transcript

Jim Rembach:                  00:00

Okay. Fast leader Legion. Today I’m excited because we’re going to get some insights on how to leverage a wealth of experience to really serve people who have a need as well as needs that you may have. Emilia DiMenco was born in Marla Lucca, Italy and moved to the U S with her family in December of 1957.

Jim Rembach:                  00:22

Amelia, her mother and her older brother moved to America to join her father where he was working for the Illinois central railroad company as a pipe fitter. Upon moving to the States, her family expanded with two younger sisters alongside her siblings. Emilia grew up in South suburban blue Island, which had a small Italian community. Her parents had a great relationship, but it was a very traditional relationship. Her mother gave up her work in a paper factory in Italy when she had children and her mother’s dependence on her father inspired Amelia to pursue her independence and establish a career and finance. Upon graduating from DePaul, her success led her to be M O Harris, where she spent 30 years in corporate banking before joining the women’s business development center.

Jim Rembach:                  01:09

Emilia rose through the ranks at BMO Harris eventually being elevated to executive vice president in the corporate and commercial bank. She also led BMO Harris business women’s initiative or women in business initiative which made it the bank of choice for many women business owners. During her time at BMO Harris, Emilia served on the WB T CS the WB D CS board of directors. She then refocused her career and joined the WB D C as chief operating officer to work under its original co presence before transitioning to president and CEO in 2013 since Emilio’s arrival, the WBE EDC has dramatically expanded its direct lending program, which now offers a pool of over three point $3 million. It has also expanded its certification program in a nine state Midwest region, opened additional offices in five major markets and opened three additional offices in the Chicago Metro region amongst other program developments, Emilia is proud to advance the mission of the WB DC as an advocate for women and under represented business owners. She lives and breathes the WB DC’s mission. And her hope is that one day organizations like the WB DC will once and for all level the playing field for women and minority business owners. Emilia currently resides in Hinsdale, Illinois when she is not advocating for women business owners. She enjoys going to the theater and symphony gardening and traveling. Her favorite travel companion is her son Bob, who graduated from Northwestern university Pritzker school of law and is now an intellectual property associate in Chicago. Emilia DiMenco, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

Emilia DiMenco:              02:56

Absolutely. Thank you for inviting me.

Jim Rembach:                  03:00

Well, I’m glad you’re here. Now. I’ve given my Legion a little bit about you, but can you share what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?

Emilia DiMenco:              03:07

Well, my current passion is exactly what I’m doing. Um, you have to remember in the 70s I was passing out leaflets for the equal rights amendment. So this is at the core of who I am. So women’s economic empowerment, uh, and independence is financial independence is at the core of who I am.

Jim Rembach:                  03:30

Well, you know, you and I had the opportunity to talk about that in a couple of different ways because, and as you started talking, I started seeing multiple impacts for folks that really aren’t designated in that, you know, women or minority business status. I mean it’s, it’s more encompassing than that. It’s more global and more holistic. And we even talked about some of the work that you are doing at BMO, uh, prior to the days of it being called customer experience and how that is important in how you’re even carrying that today. So if you can give us a little bit of insight into that historical journey in regards to the customer experience and how it’s impacting the folks that you work with today.

Emilia DiMenco:              04:08

So, um, when, so what we do with women business owners is we, they’re, they’re extremely creative, uh, and other underrepresented communities, they have great ideas, but they don’t necessarily have the business and financial acumen to turn that idea into a viable, sustainable business. So what we do is we can start with, and usually, well let me say this, usually with smaller businesses, they’re, the only way they can differentiate themselves is through customer experience. Now that doesn’t mean they’re not price competitive. That doesn’t mean they don’t have to be innovative. But the larger companies usually provide the most operationally efficient solution even though it might not be the best solution and the innovative piece, it’s not that, uh, all businesses don’t have to be innovative. But, but when, when you think about business innovation from a, um, a, a perspective of everyone you’re competing with, those that truly differentiate themselves on, uh, innovation are the apples of the world.

Emilia DiMenco:              05:36

Uh, you can put Starbucks. So the first to do something, the client experience piece, there are, it is the four seasons model. It is the Ritz Marvel, but it is also the small business and middle market model. And that is the point of differentiation that uh, smaller businesses competing with the fortune 500 or the fortune thousand that has so much value and certainly is something that corporate America buys from our women business owners. I will tell you that, um, my own personal experience since I’ve been at the center and of course we have a biased and do a lot of business with women business owners is one of the things that happened was a technology problem that I had when I came to, when I became CEO the center and nine out of 10 times when I have any issue of PR issue at, uh, any, any kind of issue, a technical, uh, problem.

Emilia DiMenco:              06:46

When I go to a woman business owner, the level of service that I receive, um, they’re, uh, they and their staff, these aren’t small companies, but their level of customer service customer, which translates to a customer experience is usually second to none, is usually second to none. And, um, it results in our, not even entertaining talking to any other competitor when they present us with possibly a cheaper price because there is so much value in our time, particularly if you’re a smaller business, um, in, in our time by having whatever our expectation was and whatever, however we defined it, a friend having that fulfill,

Jim Rembach:                  07:38

You know, as you’re talking, I started thinking about something, you know, everybody talks about the, you know, the, the big box store if the big retailers and all that stuff and, and how it’s really hard to create a personal connection. However, when you’re dealing with some of these smaller businesses, they have one possible significant advantage. And part of that could be proximity, right? I know the person down the street, you know, I know the person, you know, even maybe even across town, you know, and that’s why I do the relationship. That’s why I continue to do business. That’s why I may be even paying a premium. I would also say that’s maybe also why they, I showed them a little bit of grace when they mess up.

Emilia DiMenco:              08:18

Well, you’d be surprised. Um, I agree with what you said particularly about neighborhood businesses, but the biggest difference how I would define that difference between a big box and a smaller business has to do with the owner is involved. The owner is more intimate. So Jim, if I’m buying services from you, if I, let’s, let’s talk about the call center piece of your business. If I am worried about how to implement a call center, we call centers when I was in my old job at BMO Harris and um, the fact that I’m dealing with the owner and the owner is tied more, you know, the, the, the distance between the CEO and the person that I’m dealing with is shorter than a fortune 500 companies. The culture, the, the customer service expectations, all of the, that that connection is stronger. So, and it’s, it’s, it’s the, even the people that work for you feel that they’re part of your company.

Emilia DiMenco:              09:31

So they own, they own what you’re trying to do. So I think the biggest difference between a box, a big box store and a privately held company, let’s say regardless of size, is that the culture is much strong. They have the ability because they are sometimes smaller, but I mean they’re the, the, the entrepreneur or the CEO of the company is more integrated in everything that they’re doing. Cause they’re usually the founder, right? So, um, that is what I think delivers the intimacy if I may, between, um, their customers and the people representing the company.

Jim Rembach:                  10:16

Well, even though as you’re saying that, I start even think about some of these larger organizations and a lot of them have really taken out a lot of their hierarchies and are working quite differently than they had in the past. And they’re trying to, you know, invigorate, encourage, nurture and facilitate more of this entrepreneurial type of spirit. And you’re seeing, you know, more team collaboration. You’re seeing, you know, more, um, you know, unity among these types of groups so that they’re actually creating, you know, internally that type of culture. So that hopefully the, the entire organization as a whole, even if it’s a global organization, benefits from that. So if someone that I had on the show recently, Colin Ellis talks about having subcultures. So even if I’m a global organization, the way that the culture of my global organization is successful is really by the success of the subcultures. Well that in itself inherently means local.

Emilia DiMenco:              11:10

Absolutely. And I couldn’t, so, so 0.1, uh, that proves my point that the privately owned company is having success because the larger companies are seeing that in their drive to create operational efficiency and achieve the ROI that they were required. They lost something on that journey. And what I’m seeing that I think is quite successful is the marriage, for lack of a better word, between, um, uh, operating units and, and it’s a matrix and geographic accountability. So it’s a centrally leverage locally rooted.

Jim Rembach:                  11:59

I liked the way you said that. Uh, and so when I start thinking about, you know, these particular types of organizations, I even shared with you some of the competencies that you know, at the leadership Academy that I have, the virtual leadership Academy, the call center coach for the front line leaders in those contexts and environments is, you know, we’ve identified six core competencies and one of them that you talk about from a service perspective that you really help a lot of people who come to you or support and services is in the area of business acumen. Now I would for I, because it’s so important and I see in my work such a gap around business acumen, I even see it in, you know, a lot of these organizations when they’re trying to work in that business unit a lot, for example, a lot of times people say, well, why don’t we just do this? But they don’t understand the entire business affect an impact in all of that. I mean, it’s great to try to implement something and call it innovative, but it doesn’t mean we can execute it, right? It doesn’t mean that it really is good for the business. So when you start talking about business acumen, what do you mean really?

Emilia DiMenco:              13:01

So when we, we have to see it from the perspective of the business owner. So what does it take to build, sustain and grow a business? So it D, you know, we, when people come in here with new ideas and they’re starting out or they’re trying to bring their business to the next level, we spend a lot of time talking to them about what market research they’ve done. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean primary research, but who else is in the space and are you filling, are you filling a gap that’s out there? And is that gap sustainable? Can you, how, what is the period of time where it will become obsolete and what do you have to embed and what do you have to do to execute that idea? So even if you have a great idea, we have to make sure that they understand every element of, of the business model.

Emilia DiMenco:              14:09

And you know, just something as simple as we spend a lot of time, how are you going to make money? What’s your profitability model? So we spend a lot of time looking at every aspect of a business from a, if it’s a service business, you know who are going to be your customers, where, where is the best target for you? What do you have to do to invest and deliver? How, how much cash do you need month to month to fuel it? What happens if you win a contract and it has to be delivered in 30 days? If you don’t have the staff, do you have contract people that you’ve been bring in? Are there people you can align yourself with to deliver? But it really is taking the idea and looking at every component of a bit. And we have, we have a curriculum that that’s updated all the time and we have a process that has, that continues to evolve to help the business owner because they, a lot of the, almost all the business owners we deal with do not have MBAs.

Emilia DiMenco:              15:21

They do not have MBAs, but they’re smart. They’re industrious. And many of them, many of them have started their companies, not because they had this brilliant idea that no one was doing, but they had a need to make money to support their families and they needed to figure out what they could do in to earn money. And these women, like if you go back 20 years, some of these money women and other people of color who have started these businesses, bill hundreds of million dollars worth of businesses and are employing 1,002 thousand people. And it’s, it could have started in a garage. The idea could have started in a garage or around a kitchen table, but it’s, but they great idea, but they don’t under, they don’t have the business or, and I’m going to emphasize this financial act too, uh, uh, support them. And that’s what we, and they can’t hire a CFO, you know, there’s no money to hire a CFO if they get to a point where they can hire a controller, that’s a bad thing. But we, we supplement that through our staff and through all the subject matter experts that we work with.

Jim Rembach:                  16:47

But as you, okay, so one thing that I start thinking about too as you’re talking, cause I’m starting to think about how, you know, a lot of times I see, you know, behave Pavier and even in myself, you know, sometimes you can get so passionate about your particular idea that you oftentimes don’t want to take the time to figure out, you know, all of the financials and all of the things that you need from a business acumen perspective. So when I start thinking about your support and your development, how much of it adding, you know, encourages people to not have the bias pitfall? You know, even when we started this, you started talking about, Hey, we’re biased and we’re all biased, right? So my, I might have idea bias. It’s like this idea is great, you know, and I know people are going to want it, but however I, I, you know, I still got to do all of these other things. I don’t, but I’m passionate. I want to get to it. I’m wanting to get it done. How do you actually manage and help people work through all of those biases?

Emilia DiMenco:              17:39

Well, we do it through looking at the numbers. So, um, the numbers create an, you know, doing the forecast and I’ll explain more the numbers. Nothing more than the numeric manifestation of the idea. Right? So what I do when I talk personally talk to a business owner and they want to, they want to tell me their great idea or they want to show me the numbers for their great idea. What I do is I tell them, I asked them to share their story, just tell me what you’re going to do. And then I look at the numbers and I look to see if the numbers jive with the story they just told me. So, um, if they’re giving me three year numbers and this is a new idea and they put any revenues in that first year, unless they have a contract in hand, that doesn’t work for me.

Emilia DiMenco:              18:35

So, but I, I want to add two. Yes. Entrepreneurs, particularly successful entrepreneurs who have brought their business to a certain level, have confidence and courage. So, and they feel they really know their business and they do. But you can have them risk at all. So what we do, so there’s nothing wrong with pilots. You don’t have to, you could do a small pilot, but what I don’t want to see is that you’re building a multibillion dollar business building. Excuse me, because you just want a contract from Walmart and you know what, and 50% of your business is tied to Walmart. That is so much revenue risk. And I actually saw a $250 million company lose it all when it, since I’ve been here because of over-investing in brick and mortar, when they have that kind of customer concentration. So you can, you know, if you want to take 5% risks, 10% risk, when you start pushing 30% risk, 40% risk when you’re investing all of your, when you’re 50 years old. And I see you investing all of your retirement income into this idea, that’s when I, you know, try to slow down the process because we, we, we don’t, we don’t, we’re not saying don’t do it. We’re just saying, um, you need to do a little bit more research or maybe move forward, um, with a little bit more cautious. Do the pilot, but you don’t want to risk it all.

Jim Rembach:                  20:24

Well, I think that’s very, to me that makes total sense. I mean, so you’re talking about varying levels of scrutiny, right? Yeah. I’m not going to be, you know, as scrutinous you know, if I’m only talking about an exposure of 5%, however, if it now becomes 25, it’s like, Whoa, wait a minute. There’s more due diligence that’s required. I need to extend, you know, the whole discovery and the alignment and of the analysis piece, um, and be more realistic about it. Even though I may have the passion I’ve got, I’ve got to, I’ve got to definitely tone that down a little bit and get control of that.

Emilia DiMenco:              20:57

An example I’d like to share, which has to do with the other end, which is a startup business. When people come to us, they have a great idea and it is a great idea, but they want to quit their job and they don’t have one customer lined up. It’s like, just do it on the side, make sure it doesn’t violate any employee policy, but do it on the side. I mean, the best way that I see people that are in the professions, let’s say, and they want to start their own business, is what they do is they might have a core customer already lined up. And that’s a great way to start a business because then you have income unless you’re independently wealthy and then you could do whatever you want.

Jim Rembach:                  21:43

Well, and I think, and again, what all the things, everything that we’re talking about applies to all types of businesses because more and more organizations are running individual business units as their own really business entity, even though we’ll leave legally don’t have that paperwork in place. Right. Um, so there’s benefits and value in all this. Now you talk about three things that you provide assistance in and that is the technical assistance, the raising of capital. And you’ve mentioned one other thing to me, which talks about access. Um, you know, helping people get access to places and people and organizations that they otherwise wouldn’t get access to. And for me, I boiled a lot of that down into really relationships.

Emilia DiMenco:              22:22

That’s right.

Jim Rembach:                  22:23

We have to leverage our network and our relationships.

Emilia DiMenco:              22:28

So, um, we do, we get to know, uh, those that we serve and we have, uh, experience with them, uh, delivering to other companies that is the better we would get to know you, the better job we could do representing you and trying to open doors for you. So we do things locally in our nine state region as well as nationally with the, uh, women’s business enterprise national council. And we facilitate introductions. And these introductions are not just with private corporations, but there are public entities. The SBA is there, the state of Illinois might be there, but there are various, uh, we, we get to know the buyers through, you know, having, we’d been in business for 33 years. So we, we know the major corporations in our market. We know who Prince, certain principal decision makers are. We get to know our women business owners.

Emilia DiMenco:              23:44

We know, we learn through those relationships, what they’re buying. They gained confidence in us to be able to deliver innovative solutions through the people that we meet. We facilitate those introductions. We can’t, we can’t close the deal, but we can facilitate an introduction that that provides a warm handoff and our credibility is at stake. We have to make sure that we know the people that we are introducing to the corporation or public entity because as I said, our reputation is at stake, so the relationship that we have with the women, business owners and others repre underrepresented communities that we serve as well as our relationship with the corporation or the public entity which has been developed over many, many years is what allows us to be successful.

Jim Rembach:                  24:49

And I think that’s a, that’s an important point that everybody can take away from this is that it’s the relationships that are critical to our success regardless of whether it’s a face to face down the street entity or whether, quite frankly it isn’t. It even is a big box store. It’s the relationship which is the differentiator.

Emilia DiMenco:              25:06

But what I will, but what I will say to add to what you said is, you know, when you have someone in procurement or supplier diversity and they hire a company that isn’t a fortune 500 or fortune thousand company, they don’t get fired if that company screws up. If they hire a smaller company and they, that smaller company doesn’t deliver, that buyer could lose their job. So that’s why trust, relationship experience is important. And that’s, I mean that is critical. And you know, a lot of business owners that are privately held in smaller come to us and say, I’ve met with this person at whatever company five times. They and I know I can solve that problem for them and they still keep sending me wanting more information. It’s because of what I’ve just said, they have to be extra cautious because you as the business or owner, Jim, you might, it might impact your profitability or your revenues, but you’re going to be, you’re not going to fire yourself, right? This person’s livelihood is at stake. And that’s why people have to be very, very, it’s relationship and understanding the buyer’s perspective. And what the buyer needs.

Jim Rembach:                  26:40

That’s a great point. Okay. So when I start thinking about of this may, it’s definitely loaded with a whole lot of inspiration and emotion and one of the things that helps us focus in the right direction on the show, our quotes of that our guests share with us. Is there a quote or two that you like that you can share?

Emilia DiMenco:              26:56

Someone asked me this once and um, I, I hope that they asked me, Amelia, do you want to be, do you want to win or do you want to be bright? And let me tell you what I mean by that. Sometimes it’s about integrity and principle. So it is okay to walk away from business that you’re not 100% sure you can deliver it. And it’s so K two, um, to beat very honest on what you can and can’t do, even if it means you won’t win in the short run, you know, it’s, it’s better to do the right thing. So, um, it, it, it, it isn’t the, the person who I’m quoting will be anonymous, but, um, you know, you really have to think about that on multiple levels. Uh, and in multiple situations sometimes it’s okay not to win. You know, it’s, it’s okay not to win if you feel you’re doing the right thing because in the long run that’s where you really win

Jim Rembach:                  28:12

Most definitely. And talking about doing the right thing, sometimes we don’t always do that. And so that’s when we actually can learn, you know, from our own experience as well as experiences from others. And we talk on the show about, you know, times where we’ve gotten over the hump, where we’ve had that happen to us. Is there a time where you’ve gotten over the hump that you can share?

Emilia DiMenco:              28:29

Yes. Um, I, um, was managing an area where I had all these and when I, in my job at being at BMO Harris where, um, I had a lot of data people reporting to me and I had spent a lot of time looking at, uh, forecasting, doing some strategic work and we invested in a credible amount of time, uh, segmenting customers and being able to, and comparing that information to market trends. And I had to deliver a message about current customers and demographic forecasts. And those two things were not aligned. And I had to tell the CEO that if the S four for the, for confined market that in last we changed our strategy, we would not only not grow with the market, but we would be growing lack, our growth rate would be less, significantly less than the market. And, um, you know, I just had to deliver that message, understanding what the consequences were.

Emilia DiMenco:              30:08

Uh, on a more personal basis. Um, I had to make, when I was an executive vice president reporting to the CEO, I had a personal, uh, issue that I had to decide what was most important. And I had invested 20 years, uh, in my career and I had to take a little step back because of this personal situation. And I had to be honest about it and I made the right decision in the long run. But it was a very painful, uh, career decision at the time, uh, because I had to take a step back because of, uh, family obligations. So, um, I don’t know if that is, um, specific enough. Um, but you know, I’ll, I’ll give you an example of a business owner. Um, and this is not that uncommon, uh, that I, I see this all the time with business owners where they used a strategy and talent that worked for the company to bring them to a certain level.

Emilia DiMenco:              31:32

And then for the next phase, leadership that was required was different. Not that the owner needed to be different, but the leadership he had around him had to be different. And, um, one of the things, so they went through one of our curriculum and we’re counseled here and I’ll never forget in this one example, this gentleman, it was a man, uh, said, you mean I have to fire my mother? And the answer is yeah, yeah, you do. You know, like your sister, your brother, your child. Sometimes children are good for the business and sometimes they’re not. And um, the, the hardest thing for entrepreneurs are I think that businesses require different leaders at different times. Like the next leader of the WB EDC will be very different than I am because the center will need different things at that time. The average, when you look at corporate America, the average tenure of a CEO was seven to 10 years. Today it’s three to five years. And because that’s because the world around us is changing so fast that you need different, you need different leadership. That doesn’t mean you fire everybody. No. It means that as opportunities arise either, um, expanded financial resources or some internal transition, you bring in different talents. You have to constantly see what talent do I need to get us to the next place.

Jim Rembach:                  33:19

That’s a very good point. Okay. So talking about that, you know, you’ve had your career at BMO Harris, you have your career now. When you start thinking about goals, what’s one of your goals?

Emilia DiMenco:              33:31

Well, my goal here is to dramatically expand our access to capital program. I mean, we lend money directly, we place debt and equity, but there is not enough capital for, uh, those that we serve. And uh, becoming a community development financial institution is in our plan. Uh, and uh, trying to find more equity partners that can help with some of the investments that our business owners have. There’s no question that women and minorities have less access to capital, both debt and equity. Part of it is they need more assistance and facilitating those conversations. That’s half the problem. And the other half of the problem is the products that are available aren’t necessarily tailored to serving everyone in the community in a, you know, and to ensure that there’s equity in the distribution of capital

Jim Rembach:                  34:39

And the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on, let’s get a quick word from our sponsor and even better place to work as an easy to use solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and the leadership skills and everyone using this award winning solution is guaranteed to create motivated, productive, and loyal employees who have great work relationships with their colleagues and your customers. To learn more about an even better place to work, visit [inaudible] dot com for slash better. All right, here we go. Fastly to Legion. It’s time for the home. Oh now, okay. Maylee the hump day. Hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust, yet rapid responses are going to help us onward and upward faster. Emilia DiMenco are you ready to hold down? Alright. So what is holding you back from being an even better leader today? I would say that experiences,

Emilia DiMenco:              35:35

But sometimes it limits unless you force yourself and limits your ability to see something from someone else’s perspective.

Jim Rembach:                  35:44

What is the best leadership advice you’ve ever received?

Emilia DiMenco:              35:48

The best leadership advice that I have received was this. We know this, the CEO said to me, we know you, you have the answer. The issue is, can you get everybody there?

Jim Rembach:                  36:02

What is the one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

Emilia DiMenco:              36:07

Uh, I believe it’s courage and hard work.

Jim Rembach:                  36:12

What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?

Emilia DiMenco:              36:17

Um, I would say that it is my understanding that getting everyone to buy into the mission and the strategy to achieve that mission is critical and empowering everyone to deliver on it.

Jim Rembach:                  36:40

And what was, what is one book that you’d recommend to our Legion? It could be from any genre. Well,

Emilia DiMenco:              36:46

I’m trying to think. Recently, I, I read a hillbilly Elegy which, um, explains where our nation has changed and what it expects from its leadership. And I, I thought it was very interesting given the political environment that I’m in today, that we’re in today.

Jim Rembach:                  37:14

Okay. Fast Leader Legion, you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/EmiliaDiMenco. Okay. Amelia, this is my last hump. They hold on question. Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you, but you can’t take it off. You can only take one. So what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

Emilia DiMenco:              37:37

The skill that I would, that I would take back with me is the understanding that there is more that I don’t know than what I do know.

Jim Rembach:                  37:51

Emilia, I had fun with you today. Can you please share with the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you?

Emilia DiMenco:              37:55

Yes. Um, at wbc.org. Um, and my email address and feel free to contact me is E dimenco@wwdc.org.

Jim Rembach:                  38:07

Emilia DiMenco. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom. The Fast Leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump.

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