After a two-year hiatus, our team was grateful to be able to host our portfolio company leaders, investors, and strategic partners in person at our annual S2G Summit. On Day One, we had the unique opportunity to bring together many of our incredible entrepreneurs and CEOs for a day of networking and conversations focused on leadership development, branding excellence and community building.
“In today’s dynamic environment, it is more important than ever for leaders to have a growth mindset. Be a student. Stay lifelong learners. Keep deliberate about developing your leadership skills.”
- Chuck Templeton, Managing Director at S2G Ventures
S2G Managing Director Chuck Templeton set the tone for the day with a discussion about the importance of being a life-long learner, embracing mistakes as opportunities to improve and reflecting on leadership principals. Our philosophy is to expose our portfolio company leaders to new and different leadership tools and tactics. In past years, we have hosted speakers ranging from Arctic explorers, navy seals, storytellers, public company CEOs, CEOs who have sold businesses, visionary leaders, philosophers and other successful entrepreneurs. The goal is to help each entrepreneur find the leadership style that is right for the time, their business and what they bring as individuals.
This year’s agenda included a series of fireside chats focused on different aspects of leadership, with each speaker bringing unique perspectives. Throughout the day, our team noted valuable takeaways for entrepreneurs and CEOs who are looking to create purpose-driven brands, develop successful teams and cultivate empowering and resilient company cultures. We are pleased to share a few of those highlights.
Tried and True Leadership Principles: Outward Bound’s “To Serve, To Strive, and Not to Yield Framework”
S2G’s Managing Director Cristina Rohr, spoke with Laura Kohler, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Stewardship, and Sustainability of Kohler Co., about building successful mission-driven teams leveraging Outward Bound’s programs, which range from local education programs to remote expeditions - all with a purpose to cultivate a passion for learning.
Be comfortable with the uncomfortable
Let your team have ownership over their work and resist the urge to step in. This is necessary for team members to learn, improve and be able to think independently. And it expands your influence if they are successful.
Use purpose as a motivator
People want to change the world. Bring them together around that mission. Every person is essential to getting the team up and over the mountain.
Have an enterprising curiosity
Foster an environment of continual learning; For most people that means learning through experience. Implement a 70-20-10 framework that encompasses 70 percent challenging day-to-day work, 20 percent learning from a coach or mentor, and 10 percent formal learning.
Building Great Brands in the Digital Age
Tonya Bakritzes, S2G’s Managing Director of Marketing, sat down with Kara Goldin, Founder of fruit-infused water brand, Hint, to discuss the power of CEO-centric, honest, purpose-driven storytelling for connecting with today’s consumers.
Speak from a place of authenticity
Be genuine and vulnerable in sharing your why. Today’s company stakeholders (employees, consumers, suppliers, community and investors) seek organizations they can connect with and perceive as authentic; starting from a place of honesty. And a brand must emerge from that. Leveraging storytelling to champion your mission will lay the foundation for building a loyal and engaged customer base and engaging media who are eager to cover the personal stories behind your brand.
Seek out your customers and learn from their feedback
By opening up a dialog with your customers - as Hint did through multiple channels including an email address right on the bottle and via social media - you can learn valuable insights into the role your products play in their lives and how to optimize your product for their needs.
Too Social (or Not to Social): The Increasing Expectation of a CEO to Engage with Their Stakeholders on Social Issues
Chuck Templeton sat down with Suzanne Muchin, Co-founder of Bonfire, an organization that aims to ignite the power of women to change the rules of the modern workforce, and Clinical Associate Professor of Management Communications at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. They spoke about staying engaged, developing your voice and navigating controversial topics publically.
Do a little, learn a lot
Do not aim for shock and awe when sharing your personal or company position. Put something out to your team and get feedback. Mistakes are made when we try to say something big on a hot subject. While it is important to lead on controversial topics, it is also important not to alienate your stakeholders. Find opportunities to engage.
But have a point of view
Go a layer deeper from mission statements. A point of view is not an opinion but it is a lens through which you see the world. It is a working hypothesis that you publicly state, and can be proven wrong, but you own it.
Embrace vulnerability and humility
Just because you feel you must say something doesn’t mean you should. Be willing to take a moment of pause and reflect on your position as an organization. Be open to learning, but also open to hearing other positions.
Raise the altitude
When faced with having difficult conversations with stakeholders with widely varied opinions on a topic, learn to raise the stakes up to an altitude of the conversation that is bigger than the one people are expecting to have. This encourages a broader dialogue and leads to more engaged and inclusive discussions.
Our team is thankful for the partnerships established among our portfolio over the years and for opportunities like our S2G Summit to connect with incredible leaders and innovators who are advancing positive change across our food systems. We look forward to more opportunities to come together and reflect on these important topics with our community in the coming months.