The winner of the first season of NBC’s The Apprentice told a crowd of young professionals not to let people put limitations on them.

About 250 young professionals were gathered for the inaugural Young Professionals Summit, sponsored by the Greater Akron Chamber’s Young Professionals Network at the John S. Knight Center.

The summit’s keynote lunch speaker was Bill Rancic, an entrepreneur, author and television star who won a chance to be Donald Trump’s apprentice when the show first aired 10 years ago.

Rancic told the crowd he was chosen as the last contestant to be on the show, after trying out with 50 others and being selected from an initial field of 215,000 applicants.

He won, he told the crowd, for three reasons, which can translate to life:

•?Practical execution: Actions speak louder than words.

•?Agility: People don’t want to adjust or be agile.

•?Learning to manage and respect risks and converting those risks to success.

Successful entrepreneurs also have three traits, Rancic said: They’re good decision makers, they’re all creative and they have a never-quit-no-excuses mentality.

They also know how to get people to work together.

When Rancic was working for Trump’s construction company after winning the TV show, he remembers a guy at a construction site yelling at him “?‘Hey kid, be the conductor.’?”

At first, the comment didn’t make sense, Rancic said.

“It hit me later: be the conductor of an orchestra. A music conductor isn’t the expert in all instruments, but gets them to play in harmony. Check your ego at the door,” said Rancic, who owns two restaurants in Chicago and is about to open a third. He also has a company with his wife, Giuliana, that sells Xo, G wine, which is a bottle of wine broken into four individual servings and sold by Walmart and other retailers.

Rancic kicked off the summit, which was followed by an afternoon of panel discussions designed around three themes of “further your impact.” There were panelists discussing how they affect their community, themselves and their professions.

The summit’s closing speaker was Akron RubberDucks owner Ken Babby, a young professional himself, with a party afterward at Musica.

During a panel on impacting your profession, five young professionals discussed increasing their performance and finding mentors.

Everyone has unique strengths, said panelist Justin Hilton, senior associate vice president for university relations at Kent State University.

“The challenge is some are part of our core and some are learned over time. How do you discover your core strengths? The discovery process is from within and out,” Hilton said.

Hilton and other panelists also stressed the importance of finding mentors and a “personal board of directors.”

“Mentorship is critical. If you don’t have mentors in your life, you are missing a huge piece,” Hilton said. “Mentors will lend you their belief in you. Having someone believe in us is key to leveraging your performance.”

Having so many young professionals gather in one place is “really encouraging and energizing,” said summit attendee Jessica Knopp, an attorney at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP in Akron.

“It makes me hope people who have left Akron see this and come back and see there is a young professional scene here,” she said.

Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or