Episode with guests: Justin Jordan and Kris Maynard
President/Ceo and Executive Chairman/Co-Founder of Essential Ingredients
(This episode was recorded in August of 2022.)
Key Episode Take-Aways:
1. Essential Ingredients uses a Succession Planning Process to figure out who comes to the Great Game Conference. (click to jump to this topic below) In the early years, we were pretty intentional about bringing our leadership team and that was by default, we brought that group year in and year out. A few years ago, we made a conscious decision that things were starting to get a little stale. What we decided to do is spend some time looking at our succession planning process, looking at our watch list, and using that to influence the decision about who we would invite to participate. So more often than not, at least over the past couple years, we skip a level and I go with that next level of future leaders. And that's how we invest in them. They get to participate in The Conference, we get to see them and how they go about engaging in the game, what they bring home, how they play the game on the back end. And it's it's been an exciting, exciting approach.
2. The Great Game Conference is used to bring up emerging leaders. (click to jump to this topic below) We're looking at the future leaders. This idea of being an evergreen company, trying to build a company to last for decades, or maybe even 100 years, is something we're really passionate about. So in order to pull that off, we've got to continually invest in folks that we believe are future leaders of this organization. We encourage conversation around what you want to achieve and observe during the conference. It's not uncommon for a couple of people to be in the same breakout. But more often than not, we are seeing people just scattered about because we try to cover as many disciplines with our participants as possible. You may have somebody from finance, you may have somebody from our service organization, our logistics organization, or even our people organization. So naturally, they will be drawn to the portions of the curriculum that speak to them the most. But what we try to do on the back end of the day is then debrief, what did we learn? What's our opportunity to grow and learn from others experiences? Who did you meet? Who are you gonna stay in contact with lots of learning, once the conference is over?
3. Justin Jordan and Kris Maynard will be speaking on the panel at the Conference. (click to jump to this topic below) We're going to be talking about a number of topics, most of them are focused on people, the importance of not only growth and development of people. But I would suggest to you care for folks during hard times, during the unsettling times of the past 24 months. So how do you lean in and lean in well, to care for the needs of people, even if they're not always spoken? So that's what we're going to be talking about, how we grow and develop our people.
Continue scrolling to read the full episode transcription.
Welcome to the "Change the Game" podcast, where we share stories of open book management and highlight capitalism at its best. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the "Change the Game" podcast with special guests, Justin Jordan and Kristopher Maynard. In this episode, Kylie and Lolo talk with Justin and Kristopher about how they use the succession planning process to influence who will participate in the Great Game Conference with the Essential Ingredient President Justin Jordan, how they use this conference as a way to bring up emerging leaders, and what Justin and Kristopher will be talking about in their breakout session at the conference this year.
Lauren Haley 00:37
We have Kris and Jordan from essential ingredients here and joining us. Thank you guys for joining.
Kristopher Maynard 00:43
Thank you for having us here.
Kylie Jackson 00:46
We are going to ask you guys a couple of questions because you have an interesting development with how you bring people to the conference. And also you just are so great at building your team up and taking care of your team. And this year, we're really focusing on the importance of bringing your team to the conference and why that is, and we just wanted to hear it firsthand. So if you don't mind, well, first of all, how long have you guys been playing the game, Kris?
Kristopher Maynard 01:11
Oh, I was introduced to the game in 2014. I met Steve Baker at an ESOP conference. And we struck up a conversation and I got a free copy of the book because I answered a question and he passed one out, as he usually does. And it really struck me as something as a new relatively new ESOP company, a way to get our folks really to start thinking and acting like owners. So that following year 2015, we invited Steve in and we kicked it off full force, and I've been practicing ever since.
Kylie Jackson 01:48
Awesome. And then how long? How many? Do you know how many conferences you guys have been to?
Kristopher Maynard 01:57
7-8 I guess? Yeah.
Justin Jordan 02:01
We've been coming consistently ever since we we joined in 2015. So since the COVID years.
Kylie Jackson 02:11
Same with us. We also did not go to the physical conference. The digital one though we were there. We were there. Okay, So Justin, do you mind explaining to us your process in selecting who comes to the conference with you all? And then when why you do that?
Justin Jordan 02:29
Sure. Sure. In the early years, we were pretty intentional about bringing our leadership team and that really it was by default, we brought that group year in and year out. A few years ago, we made a conscious decision that things were starting to get a little stale. And what we decided to do is spend some time looking at our succession planning process, looking at our watch list, and using that to influence the decision about who we would invite to participate. So more often than not, at least over the past couple years. We skip a level and I go with that next level of future leaders. And that's how we invest in them. And they get to participate in the conference, get to see them how they go about engaging in the game, what they bring home, how they play the game on the back end. And it's it's been an exciting, exciting approach.
Lauren Haley 03:27
And can I ask do you bring a set number of people at each conference? Or does it change depending on the people you would like to bring each year.
Justin Jordan 03:37
It's not a static formula. We target about five people, but we flex, we flex based on who would benefit from playing the game, we can look at next year's assignments, growth opportunities for those individuals. So we will flex up, we may even flex down but we haven't done that yet.
Kylie Jackson 03:58
And so these aren't just leaders within your organization, these are potential leaders.
Justin Jordan 04:03
Oh, yeah, we're looking at, you know, the future leaders. This idea of being an evergreen company, trying to build a company to last for decades, or maybe even 100 years, is something we're really passionate about. So in order to pull that off, we've got to continually invest in folks that we believe are future leaders of this organization.
Kylie Jackson 04:27
You guys are so good at that too. Because I know we had a great talk prior to this, but and I remember Kris I think you said this where when you open your book so many other things open. Like it's an open door policy now and you get to know people a little more. And I know you said this a little bit but isn't the conference is also used as a way for you to get to know the people within your organization as well. Right.
Kristopher Maynard 04:54
Yeah, I mean, you know, back to your earlier point, when we opened the books, it was funny we were we're actually contemplating Um, you know, changing our office design. And, you know, previously we had offices and closed doors, and none of us have offices anymore, right. And we all sit on the floor together in a very open configuration. But yeah, when we you know, we're coming to the conference, like Justin said, You were watching how our folks interact with others are watching what they bring back. And, again, an opportunity to interact with other great gamers. And it's funny, we there's so many things we typically have in common with them. You know, there's also a lot of ESOP companies, there's a lot of evergreen minded companies, there's a lot of small giants minded companies, you know, so culturally, you know, all these things tend to weave together at certain points. And they get to learn a lot and rub shoulders with, you know, the best of the best. So I'm very proud of the community and the opportunity to interact with such fantastic other leaders in their inner companies in their communities.
Lauren Haley 05:59
I do want to ask, do you guys see any other benefits of bringing a bigger team, for instance, some people bring 5,6,7 People in split ways so they can get to as many breakout sessions as possible? Do you guys direct them on where to go? Do you guys have strategy to cover as much ground as possible, or is it up to the participant to learn what they'd like to.
Justin Jordan 06:21
So it's a little bit of both. We we encourage conversation around what you want to achieve and observed during the conference. It's not uncommon for a couple of people to be in the same breakout. But more often than not, we are seeing people just scattered about because we try to cover as many disciplines with our participants as possible. You may have somebody from finance, you may have somebody from our service organization, our logistics organization, or even our people organization. So naturally, they will be drawn to the portions of the curriculum that speak to them the most. But what we try to do on the back end of the day is then debrief, what did we learn? What's our opportunity to grow and learn from others experiences? Who did you meet? Who are you gonna stay in contact with lots of learning, once the conference is over?
Kristopher Maynard 07:14
Yeah, I think a lot of a lot of things we do, we sort of think about it, we don't do it intentionally. It just happens, I've seen it happen, or, you know, few people meet together and looking at the, you know, the, the venues and the opportunities gonna be like, hey, I really want to go to that one. But I'm really torn, I want to go to this one, you know, we go to that one to take good notes. And then let's compare on the back end. So it's really trying to gain as much knowledge as we can, you know, while there, so we tend to divide and conquer, I think a little bit more.
Lauren Haley 07:42
I think that's a great way to maximize your experience there.
Kylie Jackson 07:45
I was gonna ask you, so whenever you're taking a bunch of different people I love that you do this, because new people get to go every time. I always compare it to you know, when I went to Kanakuk, Christian Kamp, and I'd come back to all my friends being like, I love Jesus, don't you love them as much as I do? And they're like, disappointed, at least you can have a shared experience, even if it's in different years, but they can have that shared experience, like, Oh, when I went this, and they can connect on a deeper level. And I think that's such a great way to get them to, you know, what did you learn and get excited with one another when they come back?
Lauren Haley 08:26
Yeah. And I've had some wonderful memories of, you know, after the day is done, and just the team building outside of work hours is really, that's some precious memories I have with my team.
Justin Jordan 08:39
Yeah, one of the things that we did coming out of last year's gathering was that group of folks actually led our charge towards applying towards all star, the All Star recognition this year. So that team has maintained a bond and a connection. They applied for our all Star application. They defended our all Star application. So yeah, it was a gray or
Kristopher Maynard 09:04
they were super excited about that. That opportunity to sort of take that torch and carry it was really fun to watch, actually.
Kylie Jackson 09:13
Yeah. And that's intense.
Justin Jordan 09:18
Right? Right. But they they made that investment back into the business. Let me understand the origin story of how we got into the game. What led us there, that's just D, impactful learning that they're getting on their own journey of discovery. It's not just us preaching, but rather than wanting to discover
Kylie Jackson 09:39
Well, I think that's awesome. But I think, you know, it also gets them to start thinking about developing others because this is what we're in it for. And this is where our leaders do well. And I think the biggest fear of people that enjoy the game is who will maintain it. After you know that leader exits
Kristopher Maynard 09:59
you know, again, I mean, As evergreen organization, it's just an absolute critical component, you know, to the future, that organization so, and even as we think about spooling up new organizations, really a lot of what we're doing here is falling in your guy's footsteps in terms of schooling, that complementary businesses, you know, the opportunity to give folks, you know, different experiences of different organizations and see them grow and blossom. And as we invite new folks into these organizations, it's critical that we have, you know, our employee owners who have been exposed, you know, to the Great Game, and not only in our practice inside the or inside the business, but also at something like the conference and rubbing shoulders with other gamers. So,
Kylie Jackson 10:41
So you guys will be speaking on the panel at the conference, no spoilers, but can you give a little hint about what you're kind of talking about?
Justin Jordan 10:51
Well, we're going to be talking about a number of topics, most of them are focused on people, the importance of not only growth and development are people. But I would suggest to you care for folks during hard times, during the unsettling times of the past 24 months. So how do you lean in and lean in well, to care for the needs of people, even if they're not always spoken? So that's what we're going to be talking about how we grow and develop our people.
Kristopher Maynard 11:19
Yeah, and I think, you know, we talk a lot about sort of the Great Game community, or we use the word community, and we tend to use it a little bit loosely. And I think it's lost a little bit of its meaning. And I think the, I think evidence is out there that just the fact that how much we value community, when I say can mean, I'm talking about a very deep meaningful community where there's connectedness and remote work has, has made it hard for people to have that true sense of community. You know, so those, along with Justin's comments, I think just really emphasize the importance of being together, working together, accomplishing great things together, you know, with people you really admire or respect, enjoy, have fun with. So
Kylie Jackson 12:02
thank you for saying that. Because, you know we've been working on the community platform, but really, we're looking at it holistically as a community, and we want it to be even more exactly what you're talking about, Kris, is that we're all playing one big game, or our goal or critical number is just to do business a little differently. And with more morale, I would say, then, then some of the rest of America and maybe, but I hope we're doing business for good. And, as you all say, of being a blessing to others. So I think that it's just, I hope that's all of our critical number. And then we learned from another, but hive mind,
Justin Jordan 12:39
I'll pull the thread and what Kris had to say even more, because I do participate in one of the community groups in a peer group. And if you're not careful, you think about those comments of caring for one another limited within the walls of your business. What the community does, it gives you a platform to reach out and establish relationships and build those with people that work in different companies being exposed to how they think how they deal with issues and at times where we need to help pass a rope down and help pull one another up. And we all need that time. So the community creates a platform for just that.
Lauren Haley 13:16
So that is exactly what we're trying to duplicate is that feeling that you can get at the conference with the other practitioners and the other businesses with like minds and like hearts, but in the platform that we can get that all year long. So I'm so glad you said that.
Kristopher Maynard 13:31
No, and I really appreciate, you know, sort of the 20 or 30,000 foot view on that, you know, just indeed, we want to make our businesses better, we want to make them more profitable. And I know Jack's always been passionate about creating great jobs for people. But, you know, to me, that's just table stakes. You know, it's this idea of really using the power of business to change the world, you know, which is a very unique opportunity that we all have. So
Kylie Jackson 13:58
I'll do it together. Do you have any other words of wisdom that you want to part ways with?
Kristopher Maynard 14:06
Now do you know, I just would, you know, don't underestimate the value of this to those of people are on the fence, you know, should we go? Should we not go? You know, should we bring three people? Should we bring six, I mean, you know, it's a powerful event. And it's, again, I don't just think about it, I think from what your organization can come and take away from it. But I would encourage folks to think about what they are going to be able to offer to other people who are there too. So don't just come there as a consumer become there with the thought of being actually able to contribute and leave something with somebody else that makes them see the world a little bit differently a little bit better. The idea of again, being a blessing to others and inspire them to be a blessing as well.
Kylie Jackson 14:48
And it's our higher, you get what you give.
Lauren Haley 14:51
That's right, you get what I'm excited to see these guys in Kansas City.
Kylie Jackson 14:56
I'm so excited. Well, thank you guys so much. You're just I wasn't lying whenever I said you're some of my favorites, so and I could have heart to heart with you probably all the time. So I appreciate you. And I appreciate your hearts and you're just inspiring all the time. So I hope we see more of you on our videos. But I don't want to I don't want to take up too much of your time. So we'll see you in Kansas City. And thank you guys for everything. You're awesome.
Kristopher Maynard 15:22
You're welcome. Thanks for having us.
The "Change the Game" podcast is produced by the Great Game of Business. To learn more, visit greatgame.com