Guy Millner Stresses Importance of Asking Questions and Listening to Other People
A group of Wittenborg MBM students specialising in Human Resource Management had the opportunity to gain valuable insights into leadership, business management and entrepreneurship by attending an online guest lecture delivered by AssuranceAmerica’s co-founder and Executive Chairman Guy Millner. Organised by senior lecturer Bert Meeuwsen, the activity was conducted as part of the module High-Performance Leadership on 17 May. Additionally, both the session and the module are connected to Meeuwsen’s ongoing PhD research on ‘Ethics Within Business Education’.
During the lecture, Millner discussed multiple topics related to his many years of experience in entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Besides other advice, he encouraged students not to be ashamed of asking questions. “The smartest people are not the ones who have all the answers, but those who are not afraid of asking questions. If you want to be a successful leader, you need to be interested in other people’s ideas and experiences as well as surround yourself with people who can do things better than you.”
In addition to that, the entrepreneur stressed that trust is an essential element in business, and must be built through transparency and open communication. “You can learn a lot by listening to your employees, customers and other influential business leaders, and this is one of the most important things to do in order to build a prosperous company,” he pointed out.
Asked about his company's philanthropy, Millner mentioned that AssuranceAmerica donates 5% of its pre-tax earnings – approximately $1 million – to projects and organisations that support homeless people and veterans, among other causes. “Businesses have the potential to transform society and this charitable focus gives collaborators a sense of purpose in their work, apart from enabling CEOs to serve their community. So, philanthropic initiatives and entrepreneurship can definitely complement each other,” he underlined.
Senior lecturer Bert Meeuwsen thanked Millner for his participation, and said that the session was very productive and interactive, with the students often making comments and asking questions that were promptly answered by the guest speaker. Moreover, Meeuwsen highlighted that, after the lecture, Millner took the time to write to each student individually, answering further questions that had been sent by email. “This was a great session from a motivational and educational perspective, and students have received important information that will influence their learning path and behaviour. Guy’s actions will remain in their thoughts and later on, during their career trajectories, these memories will hopefully return as valuable examples on how to act when faced with challenges and choices.”
MBM student Faezeh Yavarnejad, specialising in Human Resource Management, said that she really enjoyed participating in the activity, adding that she found Millner’s lecture inspiring. “We had the opportunity to listen to a highly experienced professional, and one of the key takeaways for me was that it is never too late to make a change in our lives and achieve success. On top of that, I appreciated the fact that, despite his position and experience, he was friendly and respectful, and took the time to give us important lessons.”
According to student Mahesan Suntharesan, the session was very informative and well-organised, and the guest lecturer made sure to answer all of the students’ questions individually. “I felt very motivated by this lecture and it provided me with relevant insights. I particularly liked the way Mr Millner talked about trust in the organisation and how it must be actively built by both the employee and the employer. The advice we received will be useful for our personal and professional lives; it will help us reach our goals and accomplish our plans.”
For student Sara Shahidi, one of Millner’s most important lessons is that professionals should not limit themselves by avoiding taking risks, because this will decrease their capabilities. “People must think big, set goals and try hard to reach them, by using management tools and always being ethical in each step they take. Moreover, trust is the base of running a business, and I noticed that most of the people in Guy’s team are young, which means that he, as a leader, has put his trust in a new generation of professionals. They, in turn, can learn from his vast experience and grow faster.”
by Ulisses Sawczuk