From left to right: Chris Lyng, Kathryn Dickel, Trent Derby, Heather Hansen, Debbie Landon. 


A couple of years ago, there was a TV show called "Undercover Boss." I found it very entertaining but a bit disheartening that so many CEOs were out of touch with the inner workings of their businesses. What's not surprising is that this is the model.

Entrepreneurs are routinely told when they start a company that one of the milestones to look forward to is being successful enough to have a workforce that's so competent that you can work "on" your business instead of "in" your business. 

However our summer season at MIDWESTIX provides me the opportunity to do just the opposite. We ticket a lot of big events with mobile box office deployments, and this time of year brings me a special opportunity to be in the trenches of my business.

Here's where I find the benefits of that experience and you may too:

1. Staying in touch with the product. Our platform is upgraded quite frequently, and being on site at events gives me an opportunity work with the technology and see how the upgrades perform. I can grow it and sell it better.

2. Staying in touch with my employees. Being in the hot sun for hours on end is a bonding experience for our team no doubt, but being in the trenches also keeps me in touch with my employees' real experience at our company which makes me a better boss.

3. Staying in touch with the clients. Having the CEO on the ground says a lot to our clients about our commitment to their operations. I also get a holistic view of their experience so I can provide better advice and solutions for them.

4. Staying in touch with the customers. At the end of the day, we all want the customers to be happy. When you're engaged in the process they go through, you know whether you're doing all you can to make that happen and where to change when you need to.  

I take all these experiences back to the table when we go through our yearly strategic planning. The real-world experience is invaluable to building vision, understanding capability and making good decisions for your business. I encourage you to stay in the trenches, at least some of the time, no matter how big you are or you get.  

Kathryn Dickel has been a part of growing creative communities for 14 years through her business, MIDWESTIX, which serves the event needs of clients throughout the U.S. from its home base in Des Moines. She has presented numerous workshops and panels on entrepreneurial life and has worked with dozens of startup clients as a private consultant. You can reach her at

CONNECTION POINTS: She serves on the board of the Des Moines Water Works Park Foundation and the Civic Music Association and is a founding member of the Greater Des Moines Music Coalition, the Des Moines Social Club, KFMG-LP and the Iowa Entrepreneurs' Coalition.