Gathering of Teams 2022

Chauncy Gardner, Tugboat Institute

February 15, 2022

It took both perseverance and a dedication to purpose to make the 2022 Tugboat Institute® Gathering of Teams possible, but last week we managed to pull it off, and it was outstanding.

At this hybrid event, over 60 people virtually joined the 300 in-person attendees. Between challenges presented by the lingering Omicron surge and supply chain issues that threatened to delay the delivery of materials, we had our work cut out for us, but the dedication and extraordinary care of our entire Tugboat community overcame it all. We are so proud of the efforts of all attendees, and of the fact that our event was such a safe and joyous one. For two and a half days, our members and their teams shared learning, ideas, experiences, and fun and emerged inspired to pursue their Evergreen® goals with renewed passion and energy.

Throughout the event, which was comprised of a mix of TED style talks and smaller, group workshops, we structured our learning around the framework of the Evergreen 7Ps® principles.

After an evening of exploring mini-games and the philosophies behind the Great Game of Business with Steve Baker, Dave Whorton opened the series of TED style talks with a reflection on Purpose. Dave’s talk built on the conversations about Purpose from our visits to Edward Jones and Clase Azul last fall, as well as Hubert Joly’s book The Heart of Business about the improbable, and very Evergreen value-aligned, turnaround of BestBuy.

Borrowing from data shared at Edward Jones, Dave showed the powerful cultural trend of employees working for and customers buying from, referring to, and protecting companies with an authentic Purpose. He spoke to why he believes non-Evergreen companies--whether public, venture-backed, or private equity owned—might state an explicit, noble purpose, but in practice cannot truly be driven by Purpose due a number of dynamics, including their ownership’s expectations of high returns when push-comes-to-shove. His belief is that authentic Purpose can only be protected and honored through all seasons and over decades in a company that remains forever Private with aligned, concentrated ownership.

Dave used his presentation to unveil our new definition of Purpose, grounded in our collective learning as a community over the past eight years: Having a compelling reason for existing--a north star above all else.

 Having set the stage for the learning for the rest of the week, Dave introduced five more TED style talks that further expounded on the power and importance of high performance teams, Pragmatic Innovation, leadership lessons, communication strategies, and the Evergreen 7Ps principles. 

First, Bryan Papé shared his powerful personal journey founding and scaling MiiR, a company driven by Purpose and undeniable proof that a great consumer products company can be built and scaled without venture capital. Kristi Tacony Humes, 3rd generation CEO of Tacony Corporation, spoke to the importance of continually asking why and seeking ways to continuously improve oneself and one’s company. Rorke Denver, a former US Navy SEAL commander and acclaimed author, actor, and leader shared wisdom on the dynamics and qualities of high-performance teams. Rich Ledbetter, CEO of Guarantee Electrical, shared Simple Tools for leadership and business success gleaned from a variety of thought-leaders throughout his career. And finally, David Bradford, Lecturer Emeritus at Stanford’s School of Business, encouraged us to be more honest than we might have thought possible with our teams, families, and all important relationships. 

The afternoon and the morning of the next day were dedicated to workshops that brought together peers from across many different industries. The conversations were rich and offered insight and ideas that energized and inspired the participants. The enthusiasm and energy of the groups, fueled by new connections and the opportunity to share and brainstorm together, were palpable.

 One evening, the group headed to the River Ranch Stockyards for a night of festivities. The venue, which included a paddock of long horn steers, cowboys swinging lassos, and burros offering refreshments in their saddle baskets, was the perfect place to enjoy new friendships, reconnect with old friends, and make some memories.

The two and a half days were full, busy, and inspiring. As is the case every time Evergreen company leaders come together, the energy and joy that fuel our unique Evergreen paths exceeded our hopes and expectations. There is no doubt that our movement and our collective commitment to the Evergreen 7Ps principles are steadily gaining momentum, and that our trusted community is profoundly important to our members and their teams.

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