TROY (WWJ) – Nearly 200 people learned more about the high-tech future of the auto industry at a WWJ Newsradio 950 business breakfast Thursday morning at Michigan State University’s Management Education Center, produced in cooperation with the Michigan University Research Corridor.
And those who stuck around for the event’s second act got an absolutely amazing pep talk about building a positive corporate culture from best-selling business author Chester Elton, whose books “The Carrot Principle,” “24-Carrot Manager,” “The Orange Revolution” and “All In” have sold more than a million copies.
If you couldn’t attend, you can listen to audio of the event below:
During the auto panel, Jerry Ku of the College of Engineering at Wayne State Univesrity spoke of the school’s new electric drive engineering program and its participation in the EcoCar 2 high-mileage federal auto competition for colleges.
Amy Cell, senior vice president for talent at the Michigan Economic Development Corp., spoke about the state’s efforts to boost interest in science and engineering in K-12 education.
Christopher Borroni-Bird, director of advance vehicle concepts and the EN-V program for General Motors, covered the world’s largest automaker’s efforts to create a sustainable driving future that’s still fun.
Garth Motschenbacher, director of employer relations at the Michigan State University College of Engineering, repeatedly stressed the global competition for talent and pointed out ways Detroit and Michigan can more effectively compete.
And Peter Sweatman, director of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, spoke of UM’s many research efforts in everything from connected vehicles to autonomous vehicles.
Patrick Anderson, president of Lansing’s Anderson Economic Group, also presented the results of a study showing how the three URC schools — MSU, UM and Wayne State — help drive the high-tech auto industry through their $1.9 billion a year in research. They also produce 18,000 high-tech degree graduates a year.
Elton, meanwhile, urged those in attendance to create corporate cultures that are fun and allow employees to be themselves as a way of attracting the best young workers.
“The right culture attracts the right talent and rejects the wrong talent,” Elton said. “It can’t be just your job and what you do any more. It’s got to be ‘why.’ When you get that emotional engagement, productivity goes way up. So what’s your noble cause? How am I making a difference?”
He spoke at length about the Hard Rock Cafe chain, showing an interview with a dishwasher who described his job as fun, said it allowed him to be free and truly himself, and that he loved his job.
Elton’s latest book, “All In,” describes ways employers “can create an environment where people love to come to work, not going home.”
All this affects the bottom line, too. Elton said companies with the highest level of emotional engagement have operating margins of 27.4 percent, vs. 9.9 percent for companies with low engagement.