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Tugboat Institute Gathering of Teams 2023

Tugboat Institute Gathering of Teams 2023

Chauncy Gardner
Tugboat Institute
February 14, 2023

Last week, we hosted the fourth annual Tugboat Institute® Gathering of Teams. This extraordinary experience was significant in a number of ways. For the first time, we celebrated Gathering of Teams in its fabulous new location, Nashville, Tennessee. It was the first time we were able to host the event 100% in-person since the very first year, in February 2020. Turnout was fantastic; we were thrilled to welcome hundreds of Evergreen® leaders and their teams, from Evergreen companies across a broad range of industries, sizes, geographies, and generations.

Our three days together offered both structured and unstructured opportunities for attendees to connect, learn, explore, and celebrate. Energy was high throughout, as key team members got to engage and share with other leaders from Evergreen companies.

The formal centerpiece of the experience was our six TED-style talks. Two Tugboat Institute members were joined on stage by three distinguished friends of Tugboat and our own resident researcher to share their Evergreen insights into business and life.

Don MacAskill, Co-Founder, CEO, and Chief Geek at, which owns the brands SmugMug and Flickr, kicked off the talks by sharing his insights on Pragmatic Innovation. As they built their company in the highly competitive technology industry, they learned powerful lessons about innovating wisely, and not falling into the trap of constantly chasing the wrong, flash-in-the-pan trends.

Ann Rhoades is credited with shifting the way people think about Human Resources. Through her work as Vice President of People at Southwest Airlines, Co-Founder at JetBlue, and now PRES of People Ink, she is largely responsible for establishing the people-centric mindset that a growing number of companies are now adopting. Her profoundly People First perspective has changed the way many business leaders think about how they treat, honor, and support their employees.

Jim Weddle served as Managing Partner at Edward Jones for 13 years, after a long career in the company. One of the most influential clients that he served in his time as a personal Financial Advisor at Edward Jones was Peter Drucker, creator of The Drucker Principles and author of The Effective Executive. In his talk, Jim shared some of Drucker’s important lessons on effective leadership, through the lens of his experiences as a leader at Edward Jones, and he added some of his own hard-earned wisdom as well.

Dr. Gary Kunkle is VP of Consulting Service and Research at Tugboat Institute and has built his current practice on mountains of private company data collected over many years, first as the leader of a company in Rotterdam that advised companies on geographic expansion strategies, and then as a researcher on projects for the states of Pennsylvania and Maryland as he earned his doctorate. In his talk, he addressed some of the most pervasive myths around growth.

McCarthy Holdings, Inc. is led by Chairman & CEO, and Tugboat Institute member Ray Sedey, who delivered a talk about the work he has done at McCarthy to bring about an important culture transformation. When he stepped into leadership, Ray realized that while McCarthy had always been an excellent performer, the culture of the company needed an overhaul. He shared the process they went through to become a healthier, more People First company, and importantly, he connects the shift to concrete and vastly improved results.

Our final speaker was the New York Times bestselling author Daniel Pink. Daniel’s important work includes the widely acclaimed WhenTo Sell is HumanA Whole New MindDrive, and most recently, The Power of Regret. With our ability to accurately predict and forecast even for the near future severely hampered by the increased pace of change in today’s world, Daniel focused on some strategies that will help us shift our perspective and better prepare for the future by doing our best to focus on improving our position, both personally and professionally, today.

Outside of the talks, most of which will be made available through our Evergreen Journal® in the coming months, attendees participated in a variety of smaller group discussions and spent time celebrating together as well. Whether the focus was professional or personal, the centerpiece was intimate and authentic connection.

Beyond the numbers, the less measurable ways in which Gathering of Teams 2023 marked its significance were perhaps the most wonderful and the most important. Being an Evergreen leader in today’s world can be lonely and challenging and can make you feel like you are swimming upstream. But when we come together, everything changes. To a person, we collectively gained strength from the knowledge that every member of our tribe, which is growing in numbers and in momentum, confirms our shared commitment to building companies that will last and that will contribute, in many different ways, to making our communities and the world a better place. If, in the beginning, it seemed like our vision was shared by a select few, it is becoming increasingly evident that our tribe is, in fact, significant and powerful, with Evergreen companies in every industry and geography. The Evergreen movement is gathering strength, and as we grow, so does our hope and belief that together, our impact that will make a dent in the universe.

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