Q&A with MDCE Breakfast Keynote speaker Seth Mattison

This year, the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo has added its first Breakfast Keynote.

Seth Mattison, founder of FutureSight Labs, will kick off the final day of MDCE on Thursday, December 8, with his talk “The New World of Work.”

We talked to Mattison about what dealers can expect from his talk and what he hopes they learn at MDCE.

What do you hope dealers take away from your talk?

Our goal is to help dealers prepare for a really uncertain future by given them a framework through which to navigate and manage a changing workforce along side elevated leadership expectations. We’re just coming off of three years of deep research around the future of leadership and talent for our new book called “The War at Work.” Based on that body of research we’re going to work to give dealers really specific and practical tools to elevate their leadership competencies

You are the first MDCE “Breakfast Keynote.” Why should dealers make sure they get up early to come hear you speak?

It’s definitely an exciting time slot. There’s always a lot of energy and buzz when conventions kick off and I try to add to the momentum. I have tendency to fly around the room a lot and work to get the audience evolved and engaged. We’re going to have a lot fun but people are also going to walk out with strategies and action items they can immediately implement in their operations.

If you’re thinking about how you are going to continue to attract and retain top talent, whether that’s on the show floor, shop floor or back office, we’re going to talk about specific strategies leaders, owners, and individual contributors can implement to move the needle when it comes to creating a high performance culture.

It’s going to be big energy and hopefully big fun.

You talk about the “unprecedented transformation” of the world of work. What do you mean by that?

I talk a lot about the fact that we’re entering what we call, the age of the Network, a world of hyper-connectivity and constant flux, where disruption is the norm and autonomy, empowerment and meaning are basic expectations of the new workforce.

But despite charging head long into this new environment, the fact is, we still live in a half-changed world, where everything from communication and etiquette, policies and procedures, where and when work happens, and “paying your dues” are still influenced by a long list of “unwritten rules” established by the world that preceded the Network: the Hierarchy. Responsible for the creation of incredible efficiencies and scale over the past 150 years, the top-down structures and culture of the Hierarchy are still deeply embedded in our organizations and leadership ideologies today.

Essentially these two worlds, the world of the hierarchy and the world of the network are battle with each inside every single organization today and as a result leaders are being forced to execute and perform while simultaneously maintaining the discipline to reinvent themselves for a very different future.  Successfully navigating the challenge of thriving in two very different worlds is the mandate of the modern day leader.

Where do you think dealers will be able to leverage your insights?

I think there are a few areas I hope we can impact. One specific area I know dealers are particularly concerned with is around technician shortages. I know most dealerships are smaller operations. You’ve got service departments, possibly some marina rental operations, financing and Insurance.  All of these business under one roof. You’re all wearing multiple hats and you’re all competing for talent. It’s a tall order

Tech shortages is the No. 1 thing I hear about. I know owners that have had two to three openings in the service department that have sat vacant more than a year. They’re in situations where they could have sold a 1/3 more boats.

As an industry we know more than 21 percent of full time positions were unfilled – more then 23 percent of part time positions were unfilled. My goal is to help the industry move the needle on these issues. What would it mean if we can help a dealer more effectively identify talent and most importantly keep them once you’ve got them.

What do you think is important for attendees to know about your background?

I grew up on a 4th generation farm in Southern Minnesota. I know first hand what it means to operate in a small family owned business. The impact that has on how you think about the business and work at hand. I’ve spent the last 10 years working with 35 of the top fortune 100 as well as thousands of small and mid size businesses to understand the key roadblocks leaders face today when it comes to their talent and creating a high performance culture and organization. My success in sharing insights and perspectives has come from the blending of these two unique background and I can’t wait to get to Orlando in December to share with you all.

MDCE 2016 will be December 5-8 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. MDCE is produced by the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and Boating Industry.

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