Meet Pete Vallino, Vice President at I.V. House, Inc.

Get to know Pete, a new member of EFBC!

I.V. House, Inc.
Founded: 1991
Location: St. Louis, MO

1.Tell us about your background & career leading up to where you are now?

Looking back on my journey, I wanted to pursue a career in the sports industry. I always had a passion for sports, having grown up playing hockey, baseball, and golf. I was drawn not only to the games themselves but also to the behind-the-scenes business aspects. I even considered a role with the Philadelphia 76ers at one point, but ultimately decided it wasn’t the right fit for me. Instead, I embarked on a sales role in Chicago for 2 years.

After gaining a couple of years of experience in Sales, I received an exciting proposition from my family’s company. With an opening available, I made the decision to join the team full-time. Fast forward almost 6 years, and I’ve enjoyed a rewarding journey. Starting as a sales rep for our medical device company, I’ve had the chance to engage directly with healthcare professionals, training them on product usage. Over time, I’ve taken on more leadership responsibilities and have been involved in various aspects of business operations.

2. What do you like the most about what you do right now?

What I find most fulfilling about my current role is the direct impact we have on patients, particularly pediatrics. Our products play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and comfort of kids undergoing medical treatment, especially when it involves IV procedures. It’s heartening to know that our efforts contribute to improving their hospital experience and reducing patient harm. Witnessing the positive outcomes we achieve in healthcare facilities is incredibly rewarding.

Additionally, I genuinely enjoy working with our tight-knit team. Despite being a small group of people, our collective dedication and synergy makes a noticeable difference in our workplace dynamics. It’s inspiring to witness the longevity of our team members’ tenure, reflecting both their commitment to the company and the positive working environment we’ve cultivated.

3. How did you hear about EFBC?

I was introduced to EFBC through my father-in-law, who was a longstanding member and owner of James and Sons Fine Jewelry. With his extensive experience as a member, he recognized the value EFBC could offer me as I navigate my career path, particularly as I plan to assume ownership of the company. Knowing the invaluable networking opportunities and resources EFBC provides, he encouraged me to explore membership as a beneficial resource. His recommendation resonated with me, prompting my interest in connecting with like-minded individuals facing similar professional transitions.

4. What motivated you to join EFBC?

Networking has always been a significant driver for me. Back in college at The University of Dayton, instead of traditional assignments, one of my professors emphasized the importance of networking. We were tasked with reaching out to professionals on LinkedIn, initiating conversations, and setting up meetings, with grades tied to the number of successful connections made. This experience proved invaluable as it allowed me to gain insights directly from industry professionals.

Now, as I navigate my professional journey, I recognize the immense value of networking once again. Joining EFBC presents an opportunity to engage with individuals facing similar professional challenges and opportunities. While I may be on the younger side at 30, I appreciate the diverse experiences and perspectives that EFBC members bring to the table. Engaging with individuals who have walked similar paths and overcome comparable challenges is invaluable as I navigate the complexities of business ownership and leadership.

5. What do you hope to gain or achieve from your membership?

Primarily, I’m seeking shared experiences and insights from fellow members who understand the unique challenges and opportunities in running a small business. As part of a small company, I often lack a broad network of peers to turn to for guidance and support. Joining EFBC provides me with access to a diverse community of professionals who have navigated similar paths and can offer invaluable insights and advice based on their firsthand experiences. I aim to tap into this wealth of knowledge to enhance my own leadership skills, overcome obstacles, and drive growth within my company.

6. Outside of professional interests, do you have any hobbies or passions you’d like to share?

When I’m not focused on work, you’ll often find me on the ice, playing hockey. It’s a passion of mine that I’ve carried since childhood. Additionally, my wife and I share a love for travel. We are fortunate that our families get along so well, allowing us to enjoy vacations together. And speaking of family, we’re eagerly anticipating the arrival of our first child in a couple of months, which is an incredibly exciting milestone for us and our future.

Join us in welcoming Pete Vallino to the EFBC community!


President’s Letter: Embracing the Spirit of April with EFBC

Dear EFBC Members,

Spring has sprung in Chicago, bringing with it a sense of renewal and inspiration for all. As we eagerly anticipate the Easter holiday later this week. Several golf courses have already opened!!!! Someone we know is getting a tax refund!!! We revel in the excitement of NCAA March Madness, we are reminded of the vibrant energy that surrounds us during this time of year. Additionally, the implementation of Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) regulations has ushered in a new era for women & men student-athletes, providing them with well-deserved financial rewards for their efforts both on and off the field.

Exciting Updates and Upcoming Events We have some exciting updates and events to share with you as we embrace the spirit of spring:

Website Redesign Launching at the end of April: We’re thrilled to announce that our re-designed website will be launching at the end of April! Get ready for a fresh new look and enhanced user experience as we strive to provide you with valuable resources and seamless navigation.

Upcoming Events:

Leadership Application Course Series (LAC) – Weekly Starting Wednesday – April 17th: The Leadership Application Course, instructed by George Karavattuveetil of Psyched LLC, is a 6-week program designed to improve team communication, performance, and culture. Join us for weekly sessions beginning on Wednesday, April 17th, from 8:00 AM – 10:30 AM.

HR Roundtable April 11th: Join us for our HR Roundtable where we’ll delve into current hot topics such as Emotional Intelligence and its impact on work, as well as Executive level conflict and its implications. This interactive session promises to provide valuable insights for HR professionals and business leaders alike.

From the Carpet to Concrete: Navigating Client Interactions with Expertise April 25th: Join us for an insightful roundtable discussion facilitated by industry experts from our valued member, Carbit Paint Company. In this session, we’ll delve into the world of technical guidance, focusing on strategies for navigating diverse customer interactions and expectations.

Signature Event – Unlocking Potential: The Highest Form Of Leadership May 16th: Save the date for our EFBC Spring Flagship Event on Thursday, May 16, 2024. Prepare to be inspired by renowned speaker, Sam Silverstein, as he shares his powerful message of “No More Excuses.” This event is not to be missed!

As we enter the month of April, let’s embrace the spirit of growth, renewal, and possibility. Together, we’ll continue to support each other’s aspirations and celebrate our collective achievements.

Thank you for your continued dedication and participation in our EFBC community. Your contributions make our community vibrant and dynamic.

Warm regards,

Dave Horvath
EFBC President 2023-2024


Advocacy vs. Inquiry: How to Use Them Effectively at Work

When to Advocate, and When to Inquire?

Chances are, at some point in your career (maybe even in school), you were probably either told to speak up and voice your opinion more OR to make room for others to speak. Maybe since then you’ve discovered the perfect line between the two, but the truth is that most of us are still more comfortable with one communication style over another. Those who are comfortable with inquiry are likely those who have been told to speak up in the past, but the superpower of these individuals is their ability to listen and ask the right questions. Inquiry-based communication is all about inquiring to understand the position of the other side before attempting to change minds or do any influencing yourself. On the flip slide, those who are more comfortable voicing their opinions are said to excel in an advocacy-based communication style. These individuals tend to enter a conversation with a set opinion or goal and base their communications around convincing others to see things from their point of view.

So the question is: which of these communication styles are found in successful leaders? The answer, of course, is both, though there are outliers. For example, men tend to be rewarded more for advocacy, whereas women tend to be rewarded for inquiry. Moreover, statistics vary across industries: while professionals in fields like law may see higher incomes by excelling in advocacy, those in creative or collaborative sectors, such as entrepreneurship, often thrive by fostering inquiry. For instance, in family-owned and entrepreneurial businesses, leaders who prioritize inquiry-driven communication tend to cultivate stronger team dynamics, innovation, and adaptability, resulting in sustainable growth and success. However, in most management and leadership roles (especially as they relate to running small businesses), a balance of advocacy and inquiry tends to lead to the best business outcomes and the highest happiness quotients for employees.

Achieving the correct balance of inquiry and advocacy is possible, but it does take some self-reflection. Start by asking yourself which of the two communication styles is your go-to. If you don’t know, you can ask a colleague or even a family member. Once you’ve identified your preferred communication style, work on building competencies in the other one. Not sure how to go about doing that? Here are some tips:

To Improve Inquiry

  • Avoid “leading the witness” and asking questions that guide your team members to your line of thinking. Instead, ask open ended questions: “What leads you to that conclusion?”
  • Find out as much as you can about why someone is saying what they’re saying by asking them for data and examples.
  • Explain why you are inquiring: “I’m asking about the potential outcomes of this choice because I want to ensure it aligns with our long-term vision for the company and our family legacy.”
  • Check that your understanding is correct: “What I’m hearing you say is…”
  • Remember to genuinely listen for any new ideas that may emerge and not just wait your turn to advocate for the idea you walked into the room with.

To Improve Advocacy

  • Practice stating the explicit reasoning behind a conclusion or opinion: “I believe we should market this product exclusively to seniors because…”
  • Include data and examples (even hypothetical ones): “Studies has shown that 72% of family-owned businesses struggle with succession planning. As an example, a fellow EFBC member faced challenges during the transition of ownership.”
  • Encourage others to ask you questions and be prepared with thoughtful answers.
  • Refrain from defensiveness and be transparent about any drawbacks to your position or idea.
  • Even when advocating, encourage others to speak up and voice their opinion: “Can anyone think of an angle I’m not considering?”

Once you’re competent in both communication styles, you can read a situation and decide which one to use. If something needs to get done quickly and without discussion, advocacy might be called for. However, if you need to generate a lot of different ideas, inquiry is probably your better bet. And when in doubt, there is a bit of an order of operations to ideal and effective workplace communications: first inquire, then advocate. Remember: the purpose of inquiry is not just to make others feel heard, but to truly hear ideas and synthesize them into your plan, or perhaps decide to go a different direction entirely. Then again, maybe you team will have some of the same ideas as you do. Once you’ve fully inquired and heard everyone’s ideas, then you can advocate for the best ones (even if those end up being the ones you walked in with in the first place).



Which of the 12 competencies of emotional intelligence do leaders need to be successful?

How Emotionally Intelligent Is Your Leadership Team?

Emotional Intelligence. It’s an essential quality for anyone to have, but it is absolutely vital for leaders in business. Managing teams requires not only managing your own emotional wellbeing, but that of your employees and sometimes your clients, which isn’t an easy thing to do. In fact, a study published in Great Place to Work indicates that only 16% of American employees feel that they are “flourishing” in their jobs. Now, that number looks grim, but in companies that value Emotional Intelligence in their leadership roles, it increases significantly, to over 50%. These numbers show that leadership teams who make employees feel cared for and valued give their employees a greater sense of meaning in their jobs, which in turn increases productivity and employee retention.

But what is “Emotional Intelligence,” and what do you do if you feel like it’s not something that comes naturally to you? The Harvard Business Review breaks down the concept of Emotional Intelligence into four domains: self -awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Those domains are then further broken down into 12 competencies: emotional self-awareness, emotional self-control, adaptability, achievement orientation, positive outlook, empathy, organizational awareness, influence, coaching and mentorship, conflict management, teamwork, and inspirational leadership. Ideally, a leader would be competent in all the above, but realistically, most everyone is more skilled in some aspects of emotional intelligence than others. For example, if a leader is a strong conflict manager, she might be skilled in giving people unpleasant feedback, knowing she can seamlessly handle any fallout. However, if someone is more of an influencer, he may prefer leading by example. Neither is incorrect, but increasing your competency levels in BOTH will help you recognize the situations where one strategy might be more effective than another.

But before you can work on improving your emotional intelligence, it’s helpful to take stock of where your current strengths lie. Simply reflecting on the categories above can be a good metric (if emotional self-awareness is already one of your strengths), but more quantifiable options exist as well. Probably the most widely available of these options is the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence test (often called MSCEIT), but a quick google search yields dozens of other choices that you can use to suit the specific needs of your business.

So now you know what emotional intelligence is and how it breaks down. Maybe you’ve even reflected on your own strengths and weakness or taken an assessment that highlights which areas you need to work on. Your question now is, “how do I do that?” Well, much of it begins with reflection, and a lot of it. Reflect on your emotions and how they affect your actions, reflect on the feedback you get from others, practice active listening, empathize, and try to be as open-minded as possible. These things sound simple but doing them continuously and skillfully in the midst of trying to hit deadlines and other workplace goals is tricky. And that’s where we can help too! Elevating the emotional intelligence of our members is one of the core missions of EFBC, we believe that developing EI skills is essential for personal and professional growth. We’re committed to providing opportunities for our members to enhance these competencies in every aspect of our programming. This includes everything from our Forums both Full and Flex to our workshops, seminars, curriculum, leadership series, roundtables, and committees. Thus, if you’re looking for a more involved (and fun!) way to beef up those Emotional Intelligence competencies, come out and join us!


Join the Journey: EFBC Committee Opportunities for Every Member

July 2024 marks the beginning of EFBC’s 35th anniversary year. The programming committee is hard at work finalizing the details of our programming plan for next year. We have so many great events in store, and I’m excited to see each of them come to fruition. It’s fun to work with the committee and our very hardworking staff to put the plan together. It’s rewarding to fulfill a mission of business education and social connection for people I hold so dear and an organization in which I believe so strongly. So it is in that spirit that wholeheartedly extend an invitation to all EFBC members to consider committee participation and join in giving back to EFBC.

We need you. It’s important to understand EFBC is not a high-priced heavily-staffed peer group with teams of employees developing programming and impersonal content for members to consume. By design, EFBC is an organization that asks its members to be involved in creating the membership experience we all share. Aside from our very hard-working staff of three (yes, three), our members and strategic partners create, curate, or arrange each of the blog entries, programs, keynotes, round tables, panel discussions, and every other aspect of the EFBC experience. As it is with Forum, the cornerstone of EFBC is shared experiences, from member to member, and the only way to achieve that is to have members involved in creating the experiences we all enjoy. Committees are where members make EFBC come to life. As members, we need your help to keep creating the magic of EFBC. We need your expertise, experience, and wisdom to help drive our fantastic and unique member-driven organization.

Most committees meet 2 or 3 times per year. The actual time commitment is small, but even in a short amount of time you can make a big difference. Committee members lend their expertise and leadership, or sometimes their connections (know any great keynote speakers?) These are invaluable contributions that may not take much time. Also, EFBC draws from the committees for its future leaders. Most committee chairs sit on the Board of Directors. The board leadership (Vice President, President, Past President) are rotating positions that have to be filled with new people each year.

In addition to the Board of Directors, the EFBC has five organizational committees that cover all the major aspects of the organization, our members, and strategic partners. Here is a basic rundown of what each committee does and how you might get involved:

  • Forum Chair Committee – This is often the first committee many EFBC members encounter when they find themselves as new members after becoming Chairs of their respective Forums. As the name suggests, the Forum Chair committee provides a venue for the chairs of each Forum to meet as a group twice a year and discuss Forum best practices, raise concerns, share experiences, and learn from one another. The committee also provides a direct connection between each Forum and the EFBC Board and Staff It represents an excellent opportunity for you to represent your Forum to the broader EFBC family, effectively communicate and advocate for your Forum, and to share your knowledge and experiences to help other Forums provide the best experience for their members. If this interests you, you need only volunteer to be your Forum’s Chair next season.
  • Forum Protocol Committee – This committee is also dedicated to delivering the highest quality forum experience for every member with a focus on how the organization can support that experience. This committee is the keeper of the Forum Protocol and provides protocol training for new and exiting members. They also assist in onboarding and placement of new members within forums. More than anything this committee concerns itself with the forum experience as a whole and enabling each forum to provide the best experience for each member. The question of what makes a forum experience great is important and complex. The members of this committee are well-suited to answer it and support EFBC’s Forums every step of the way. If this is the kind of work that interests you, you may be interested in the Forum Protocol Committee.
  • Programming Committee – The programming committee brings to life all of the educational and social events for the organization outside of Forum. Everything from keynote speakers, to leadership courses, to HR roundtables, the programming committee is responsible for creating and planning the events and assisting our incredibly hard-working staff with the execution. These programs are how we deliver the EFBC mission of educating, empowering, and providing social connection to our members as well as how we introduce future members to who we are. We play an outsized role in shaping the impact the EFBC will have for our members and strategic partners as well as the legacy of the organization overall. If this sounds interesting to you, we need your experience, expertise, ideas, and enthusiasm to join us!
  • Marketing and Membership Committee – As business leaders, we can all appreciate the need for a well-planned and well-executed marketing program. In a nutshell this is the role of the Marketing and Membership Committee. The committee is responsible for design and implementation of the annual marketing plan, membership outreach, recruitment, and retention initiatives.
  • Strategic Partner Committee – Our strategic partners our vital members of the EFBC family. The strategic partner committee fosters dialog, collaboration, and shared experiences among strategic partners, enhancing their ability to support the EFBC members. The committee also ensure strategic partners derive professional and personal enrichment from their commitment to the EFBC.

I hope this article has helped illustrate what a vital role committees play in EFBC and what an import role you can play by joining a committee that interests you. Whether you are a new or long-time member, a past committee member or someone who has never joined, I hope you will please consider giving the gift of your time and talent to the EFBC.


President’s Letter: The Art of Business Growth

Dear EFBC Members,

March brings with it an opportunity for introspection and reflection on our growth strategies and the health of our businesses. Recently, I had the privilege of reading an insightful article in the Harvard Business Review titled “How Fast Should Your Company Really Grow?”. It raised thought-provoking questions about the true measure of a company’s success and the implications of rapid growth on internal components such as company culture, customer relationships, innovation, and capital.

1. Right-Sizing Growth is a Vital Consideration

The article prompted me to ponder: In our pursuit of growth in revenues and profits, are we neglecting the foundational elements that truly make a company successful? Can these internal components scale effectively alongside rapid growth? As business owners and managers, it’s imperative that we consider how to “right size” growth to ensure the long-term health and sustainability of our organizations. This involves striking a delicate balance between expansion and maintaining the integrity of our company culture, talent pool, customer relationships, innovation capacity, and financial stability.

2. Crafting a Great Business Growth Strategy

What does it take to develop a great business growth strategy that aligns with the core values and capabilities of our organization? It’s about more than just chasing numbers; it’s about fostering sustainable growth that enhances the overall health and vitality of our businesses. It requires a strategic approach that takes into account market dynamics, internal resources, and long-term objectives. As we navigate the complexities of growth, let’s remember the importance of thoughtful planning, adaptability, and a commitment to excellence in all aspects of our operations.

Upcoming Events: Mark Your Calendars

  • Breakfast Club: Cybersecurity – Thursday, March 21st
    Join us for a collaborative workshop on Cybersecurity best practices, presented in partnership with strategic partners PSM Partners, Wintrust Financial Corporation, and our partner Alera Group. This event will equip you with valuable insights to safeguard your business against cyber threats.
  • Hybrid Roundtable: Demystifying Key Person Insurance – Wednesday, March 27th
    Facilitated by our Strategic Partner, Marcus Newman from ALERA Group, this roundtable will shed light on the importance of Key Person Insurance in business planning. Gain a deeper understanding of its significance, costs, potential challenges, and how it can protect your business from unforeseen circumstances.

Thank you for your ongoing dedication and participation in our vibrant EFBC community. Together, we will continue to thrive and evolve in pursuit of our shared goals.

Warm Regards,

Dave Horvath
EFBC President 2023-2024


The Value of Surrounding Yourself with “Like-Minded” People

At this point in your career, you’ve probably heard the advice “surround yourself with like-minded people.” Perhaps you’ve heard this wisdom from a business course or a trusted mentor, or even found it in another online blog — a simple search of the term “like-minded” on LinkedIn yields pages and pages of posts on the topic.

Like many cliches, this advice is ubiquitous for a reason: it works. Just ask co-founders and CEOs Luis van Ahn and Severin Hacker. As expats who met in Silicon Valley and were English language learners themselves, both men saw the utility in gamifying the language learning experience. This led to the creation of Duolingo, the number one worldwide language learning application, with 74.1 million active monthly users.

There’s no doubt that the shared backgrounds and mindsets of these men contributed to the success of Duolingo, and countless other CEOs have cited the teams and peers they surround themselves with as instrumental pieces in their successes. But you don’t have to go to Silicon Valley to meet the Severin Hacker to your Luis van Ahn. In fact, you can find your “like-minded people” right here at EFBC! Our forums offer unique spaces where individuals can connect with other business leaders in small settings. They also provide a space in which those leaders can delve into impactful discussions on shared challenges, find solutions, and receive support in every step of their leadership journeys. But as you network at our forums and beyond, it’s also worth keeping in mind exactly what CEOs mean when they say “like-minded.”

Because the unfortunate truth is, too many business leaders take “like-minded” to mean “people who think exactly like me.” This can, in turn, lead to CEOs hiring workforces whose backgrounds, personal identifiers, and even educational experiences all align. Not only does this actively work against the stated diversity missions that many companies have, but it can be detrimental to bottom lines. In fact, 85% of CEOs cite diverse workforces as a factor in driving both innovation and business growth.

So if we agree that “surrounding yourself with like-minded people” doesn’t mean surrounding yourself with clones who talk and think exactly like you, what does it mean? The answer is: different things to different people. But what most successful CEOs have in common is the stated mission of surrounding themselves with the people they need to succeed. And when they say “like-minded,” here are some qualifiers on which they tend to align when pressed further on the topic:

  • Like-minded people don’t always agree with you, but they share your goals and values.
  • They want to see you succeed. They celebrate and share your wins.
  • They want to elevate themselves. They believe that rising tides float all boats.
  • They are often smarter than you or have already accomplished your goals. They can serve as mentors and role models.

Another tip that many CEOs shared on this topic was another tried and true cliche: “If you can’t play tennis, watch the game.” Perhaps you can’t make your role models your peers just yet, and that’s okay. But in the world we live in, you can consume their blog posts, podcasts, books, and YouTube videos. The beauty of the modern age is that “surrounding yourself with like-minded people” doesn’t have to be a physical act. Often, their tips, tricks, and innermost thoughts are available with just a click.