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Jan 23, 2024 By Vasia Rigou
mA Leaders Breakfast Roadtrip
Reflections on the transformative power of IIDA Leaders Breakfasts from the event’s biggest fan: IIDA member Craig Shultz
By Vasia Rigou Jan 23, 2024
Published in Articles

“Design found me through DNA,” says Craig Shultz, IIDA. His influences are deeply rooted in his personal and family history that includes skilled carpenters, general contractors, and machinists, and his 4th-grade art teacher who introduced him to perspective drawing through Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture. Was it destiny? Considering his career in design, Shultz, now a sales director at Fríant, says simply, “I guess it worked out!”

Clearly, Shultz is a design world pro. But imagine our surprise when we happened to bump into him at a 2023 Leaders Breakfast … again, and again. We had questions. Why was one dedicated design stalwart traveling the nation via Leaders Breakfasts? How did events in each city compare? Was this all an elaborate ruse to get his hands on multiple breakfast bread baskets? Turns out, it’s Shultz’s clever scheme — supported wholeheartedly by Friant, a Leaders Breakfast Bronze Sponsor — to get inspired, make amazing professional connections, and have fun doing it. We found out more!


How many IIDA Leaders Breakfast events have you been to (and where)?

Houston, Dallas, Chicago—this is my third this year!

Which keynote speaker left the most significant impact on you and why?

Wow, difficult question! I have been to so many of these and always have great takeaways from the keynote speakers. I’ll stick with two from this year:

One: In Houston: Maria Brito said: “Are you paying attention to what’s happening in the margins of your business?” I found this very impactful, because oftentimes business leaders and our teams focus on the here and now—what’s directly in front of us—and don’t look left and right. This lack of peripheral vision can lead to missing out on opportunities for growth and improvement. Such a great reminder to keep our eyes and ears open. This also tied into another comment that she made: “Let everyone speak and listen to them. Otherwise you stifle creativity.” So many people listen to respond, and not to understand. This is a skill that needs to be emphasized by mentors for the new generation.

Two: In Dallas, Minda Hardt said: “People always benefit from your courage, but never from your caution.” Certainly not advocating for unnecessary risk taking, but careful evaluation of the situation and weighing in all the options for how your words can encourage and impact the lives and careers of those around you. The best mentors have the courage to support the lifting up of their team members.


If you could choose any person, past or present, to be a keynote speaker at the next IIDA Leaders Breakfast, who would it be and why?

I love music and I will pick one of each!

PAST: Tina Turner. A woman who finally found the courage to sneak out of the hotel room in Dallas, with almost no money in her pocket, and only the clothes on her back, and was able to create a life beyond her wildest dreams, without regret or remorse over the days when she didn’t have that courage. She was able to regain control of her life, and experience mindfulness and joy and share that gift with the world.

PRESENT: As a young man, Willie Nelson was a rising star in the traditional country music scene, but realized the truth for him did not fit the Nashville business model, so he became one of the originators of the outlaw country music scene. He has lived his life authentically, doing what he thought was best for himself, and his audience, regardless of what his fan base’s views are, he is one of the most inclusive, open-minded musicians in that genre to this day.

Tina Turner and Willie Nelson, embody courage, spirit and authenticity that’s oftentimes absent in today’s business world.

What are your top three reasons we should all attend IIDA Leaders Breakfasts?

  • Show respect to our industry colleagues who are being celebrated.
  • Connect with career-long colleagues.
  • Connect with new people in our community.

Can you talk about the event as a networking opportunity?

CS: Leaders Breakfast participation has always been a great place to connect. When I was newer in my career, it was a great place to meet new people, and as my career advanced, it was a great place to connect with people that I’ve developed relationships with, and become introduced to their new colleagues and teammates, and continuing the process of building a strong network for business and lifelong personal friends.

What was your favorite breakfast item?

CS: Well, given that I’m a gluten-free vegan, it’s usually the fresh fruit

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