Tribal Thoughts: If your employees or team awarded you with a plaque, what would it say?


“I would like to be remembered as someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.” – J. K. Rowling


I have a wonderful mentor who recently shared with me a way that she periodically audits herself as a leader.

She said, “If your employees or team awarded you with a plaque, what would it say?”

If the words on the plaque match what you are striving for as a person and leader, you are on the right path. If they don’t, it’s time to pause, reflect, and potentially correct your course.

At the end of the day, if your team doesn’t recognize the same strengths in you that you are valuing in yourself, then you will ultimately fade.

I am going to use this Tribal Thought as a challenge for my Tribe to respond to me with what they would put on my plaque.

What if they don’t even want to give me a plaque?

I am nervous, but ready… Tribe?

Inward. Onward. Upward!



by Derek J. Coppess

Derek J. Coppess is a developer, designer, community advocate and the founder of 616 Development & 616 Lofts. His mission: to inspire community by rehabilitating underutilized urban spaces. Derek and the 616 Tribe have developed notable projects such as 1 Ionia and the Kendall building.

Currently, Derek Coppess is working with local city planners and developers to achieve critical mass downtown. He also sits on the board of directors for Sunny Crest Youth Ranch in his hometown, Lake Odessa. Derek is happily married and lives in East Grand Rapids with his family of four.



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Tribal Thoughts: Your biggest strengths can also be your biggest weaknesses.

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy

Unlike many companies who encourage their employees to work on improving their shortcomings, 616 takes the exact opposite approach by choosing to operate in our strengths. This means that we gauge our personal strengths by taking the StrengthsFinder assessment, in which its creators have discovered that people have several times more potential for growth by operating under this model. Following, we learn how to collaborate with one another based upon these individual aptitudes.

Fatefully enough, my top strength is ‘Strategic’, which emphasizes the quality of examining the past and discovering why certain things transpired based upon that. “Mindful of these patterns, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking ‘What if this happened? Okay, well what if this happened?’ ” (strengthsfinder 2.0).

While I appreciate my mind’s ceaseless ability to analyze the past all in the hopes of creating a better future, it often stays there longer than it should.

I have drawn a considerable amount of sunshine out of many of my days by focusing on something I previously did wrong, or could have possibly done better. Undoubtedly, this never has been able to change the outcome of the former events, nor will it ever be able to in the future. While it is important to realize mistakes that had been made, do not dwell on them – learn from them. You have control over constructing a brighter future for yourself, but not a better past.

With all that being said, it is very important to find people that balance out your strengths – professionally and personally. After all, your biggest strengths can also be your biggest weaknesses. I refuse to miss out on the future due to my inclination to analyze the past.

– jenna



by Jenna Morton

While Jenna Morton’s official title at 616 is that of Office Manager, her role encompasses much more. Beyond providing critical administrative support to the Tribe, Jenna leverages her creative talents to support 616’s marketing department. She is also Resident Liaison for 616 Lofts at the Kendall, where Jenna and her two feline roommates have made their home.



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