AJOT Insights

NBA legend West tips off Connections at Greenbrier

Jun 25, 2018

When it comes to true success, basketball legend Jerry West and supply chain organization leader Heather Sheehan appear to be on the same team.

In opening sessions today [Monday, June 25] at SMC3’s Connections 2018 at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, both West and Sheehan said it is not only alright to fail, but it can most assuredly be beneficial.

“Failure taught me things about myself I could never have learned another way,” said West, now 80, an NBA Hall of Famer and former standout for the West Virginia University and the Los Angeles Lakers, as well as highly successful Lakers executive and coach. “Be bold and don’t gamble, but take risks.”

Encouraging the more than 350 supply chain leaders in attendance to dream and set goals, West said growing up as an abused son of a West Virginia coalminer set him on a humble journey for self-esteem and genuine love.

“Pride make us artificial,” he said. “Humility makes us real.”

Basketball great Jerry West provides the stirring opening keynote address at SMC3’s Connections 2018 at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. (Photo by Paul Scott Abbott, AJOT)
Basketball great Jerry West provides the stirring opening keynote address at SMC3’s Connections 2018 at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. (Photo by Paul Scott Abbott, AJOT)

West said that, to be successful in life, one should “be impeccable with your words, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumption and always do your best.”

In urgings applicable to sports, business and all of life, West made 17 recommendations: “Before you lead, follow. Before you add, subtract. Before you speak, listen. Before you take, give. Before you cry, smile. Before you succeed, fail. Before you touch, see. Before you run, walk. Before you believe, doubt. Before you start, prepare. Before you act, think. Before you judge, understand. Before you find, seek. Before you teach, learn. Before you hate, love. Before you cross, look. Finally, and most importantly, before you die, live.

“Do not die with your dreams still inside you,” he said. “Take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously. Life is too short.”

Sheehan, the conference chairwoman, who serves as executive director of Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management and Education – AWESOME for short – echoed such sentiments.

Sheehan, a 30-year industry veteran who formerly was vice president of indirect sourcing and logistics for Danaher Corp., a Washington-based science and technology innovation conglomerate, said the company has performed admirably, relying upon people, strategy and operations, “but we knew where all the flaws were.”

SMC3’s Connections 2018 Chairwoman Heather Sheehan, executive director of Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management and Education, delivers remarks. (Photo by Paul Scott Abbott, AJOT)
SMC3’s Connections 2018 Chairwoman Heather Sheehan, executive director of Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management and Education, delivers remarks. (Photo by Paul Scott Abbott, AJOT)

Supply chain success at Danaher, she said, stemmed from “a healthy paranoia that we were never good enough.”

“Continuous improvement is vital to business performance,” she said, imploring supply chain leaders to hire strategic problem-solvers who come from diverse gender, race, age and personality backgrounds and are empowered to develop and implement ongoing enhancements, including eliminating wasteful activities that do not support top-level corporate objectives.

Comprehensive coverage of Connections 2018, which continues through Wednesday [June 27], is slated to appear later this week at ajot.comand in print in the American Journal of Transportation.

Author Photo

For more than a quarter of a century, Paul Scott Abbott has been writing and shooting images for the American Journal of Transportation, applying four decades of experience as an award-winning journalist.
A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, with a master’s magna cum laude from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Abbott has served as president of chapters of the Propeller Club of the United States, Florida Public Relations Association and Society of Professional Journalists.
Abbott honed his skills on several daily newspapers, including The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Richmond (Va.) News Leader, Albuquerque Journal and (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel, and was editor and publisher of The County Line, a weekly newspaper he founded in suburban Richmond, Va.
A native Chicagoan, he is a member of American Mensa and an ever-optimistic fan of the Chicago Cubs.

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