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Takeaways from the 2022 Small Business Success Summit Keynotes

SBSS Takeaways

March 29, 2022

At the 2022 Small Business Success Summit, keynote speakers Nick Sarillo and Dima Ghawi shared advice with small business owners in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Sarillo, author of “A Slice of Pie” and founder of Nick’s Pizza and Pub, touched on the secrets to turning a small business into a high-performance organization. Ghawi, founder of Dima Ghawi, LLC and author of “Breaking Vases: Shattering Limitations & Daring to Thrive – A Middle Eastern Woman’s Story,” offered tips on elevating morale during turbulent times and how to transform your entrepreneurial vision into something empowering.

Nick Sarillo Nick Sarillo

Sarillo’s hope for Nick’s Pizza and Pub was to create a meaningful place to work where people can get their own raises, something not so permission based. In order to make this happen, Sarillo sought advice from a consultant named Rudy Miick and looked for new ways to take care of his employees and ensure they enjoyed coming into work. Sarillo said that defining the culture of your business — the behaviors, the team — and understanding why your business exists and the impact on your community will lead to high performance and retention. Leadership should train employees and:

  • help them feel accepted
  • help them feel supported
  • set them up for success.

Once you set them up for success, follow a leadership model where you trust your team – and remember, 98% of people want to do the right thing.

At Nick’s Pizza and Pub, Sarillo uses purpose and values to make decisions and encourages employees to do this, too. When an issue comes up, team members come to solutions on their own without needing to go through the manager/owner. When it comes to a team member’s career path, Sarillo uses the Trust and Track Institute to help train employees for where they want to go within the organization.

Watch the full keynote speech below:

Dima GhawiDima Ghawi

Ghawi reflected on leaving her job to start her own business. She believed in the Mark Twain quote, “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” The day she resigned to become an entrepreneur was the day before her 40th birthday. But then, March 2020 happened. Now, she says there is a third day, the day we realize that everything we have worked for can be taken away from us. This is when you need a renewed purpose and desire to go above and beyond what you might have done in the past.

When it comes to challenging times, like the pandemic, Ghawi said that leadership must create a sense of togetherness, an unbreakable bond even if employees are offered better pay or benefits. By ensuring everyone rises together, including clients and suppliers, companies can thrive past turbulent times.

Ghawi also touched on creating a personal brand by asking yourself these six questions:

  1. What words do people use to describe you?
  2. What do you bring to work that others do not have?
  3. How do you differentiate yourself?
  4. What are you known for?
  5. How do others perceive you?
  6. How do you communicate your brand?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you guide how others perceive you and your work, helping you to reach your career goals.

Watch the full keynote speech below:


You can find information on future Small Business Success Summit events here.

Looking for tools to help grow your startup or small business? Visit the Small Business Resources Hub to find the information you need or sign up for Mentor Connection to build relationships with a trusted group of mentors.

Meg Schneider

Meg Schneider is a member of the Forbes Nonprofit Council, an invitation-only organization for senior-level executives in successful nonprofit organizations.