Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Calm and Confident in the GMC dealership Service Bay!



As is obvious from my last post, and from a slight change to the layout of the blog itself, I formally “retired” from Bolthouse Farms earlier this month.  The process of coming to this point of transition has been underway for months, but the actual steps of publishing a written announcement to the company, followed by a “Virtual Town Hall,” followed by posting and announcement on Linked In, then saying goodbye to a host of old friends and colleagues has been emotionally wrenching.  I knew that the final ACTS (“Hands/Feet”) of transition would be hard, but I totally underestimated how deeply I would FEEL (“Heart”) the parting.  I KNEW (“Mind”) that it was the right time to make a change, but regardless of that clarity, I was (and still am a bit) floored by the impact of this big change.


As the month of January 2024 played out, I had one more major ACT that needed to be take place in order to complete my Bakersfield transition and “come home.”  Most readers aren’t aware that since 2021 I have kept an apartment in Bakersfield and commuted there weekly from Atlanta. (not many of us doing the weekly Atlanta->Bakersfield-> Atlanta commute!!)  As my time at Bolthouse Farms came to a close, I also wrapped up my lease at the apartment and with the help of dear old friends and work partners (Cathy & Alan) packed up the apartment and packed as much as possible into a vehicle to drive across country.  The map above depicts the majority of the route starting in California and ending in Columbus Ohio at apartment of my daughter’s boyfriend.  We were dropping most of the “apartment goods” there, then finishing the journey by bringing the vehicle back for a final “drop-off” in Atlanta.  Marie and I did the trip together (which was outstanding and certainly fodder for a future blog for sure) and after 3204 miles, I was happy to be done with cross country driving for a while!


The ”GMC dealership” story came about on day 5 of our trek, in Columbia Missouri.  We had driven in deserts, crossed the rockies in a snowstorm and were now squarely in the plains when after a lunch stop one day, the check engine light came on… ugh!! We had had a few challenging moments with the car over the previous few days, but now the light was solidly on, and the car wasn’t running well!  I asked Marie to see if there was a GMC dealership ANYWHERE close by and in a flash she pulled up that there was a dealership literally around the corner, less than a ½ mile away.  Incredible!!  We limped into the dealerships’ lot and pulled right up to and literally RIGHT INTO the service bay.  Now I was tired, road weary and pretty freaked that we had a major problem on our hands and we were a long way from home…. or Columbus!  


I went up to the service counter and met Cole (no last names on the blog) who was working the desk and after a brief explanation he dove right in.  Marie was with me every step of the way and was upbeat and calm as we were dealing with Cole and kept reminding me that we were on an adventure, and that everything was going to be ok, and that we weren’t in any real hurry… all very calming comments that helped me settle down and not be so freaked out.  Cole on the other hand had identified a “mis-fire” in cylinder 4” and was swapping our spark plugs and coils to isolate the problem.  It took about an hour and the engine was running fine and after Cole took it for a test drive on I-70 (no mis-fires!!) we were literally good to go.  It was an incredible relief to pull out of that service bay, and head off to our stop that night in Effingham Ill.


I share this specific story because we all feel stress from many many sources.  Mine were coming from all the emotions of the January transitions, then the check engine light in Missouri!  In that “freak-out” moment, the combo of Marie’s funny/calming confidence and Cole’s quiet competence saved the day and totally put be back on track.  I am so thankful to both of them for their impact that day and will be thinking about ways to bring a “calming confidence” to stressful moments in the future!



Friday, January 5, 2024

It's official!

 Early today I posted the following on "Linkedin," after sharing the news with the company yesterday at a virtual town hall.  Filled with emotions, I wanted to share the posting here:

It is with great pride and gratitude that I share the news today of my retirement from Bolthouse Farms.  I need to acknowledge and thank so many talented and dedicated “Bolthouse People” that have been part of my journey at the company since I first joined almost 15 years ago.  Many thanks to my long-term business partner Jeff Dunn, who asked me in 2009 to be part of this amazing company, to be part of a leadership journey which drove dramatic business growth, a sale of the company to Campbell’s, and a repurchase in partnership with Butterfly Equity. Together, along with the Executive Leadership Team, we led Bolthouse Farms through a global pandemic, the acquisition of Evolution Fresh from Starbucks, and ultimately prepared the company for its next chapter of growth and success as two separate business entities.


I am very proud and excited to pass the business along to Tim Escamilla who will run the Ag- Centric farming business under the company name “Bolthouse Fresh Foods,” and Steve Cornell who will run the CPG-Centric Beverage and Salad Dressing business under the company name “Generous Brands.” These two “sister-companies” will create unique value and drive growth in their respective markets, and I am confident that Tim and Steve will have a strong impact in the next chapter of the company’s 100+ year history!


While I am “retiring” from Bolthouse Farms, my plan is to pivot my professional path towards opportunities where I can leverage my 35+year career in board roles, and to act as a “trusted advisor” to CEOs, foundations, and non-profit organizations.  I am humbled by my experiences at Bolthouse Farms, and I know the organization will continue to grow, overcome challenges, and thrive as it continues the next chapter of its legacy.



Monday, January 1, 2024

Finding a "Fresh Perspective" for the new year


I am not someone who spends much time or mental focus on New Year's resolutions.  For me, they seem like fleeting whims that after a few days or weeks are forgotten in the business of calendar invites, zoom meetings, hectic schedules and unseen challenges that lie ahead.  It's in that somewhat "cynical" spirit, that I share the following resolution for 2024... its high time for some "fresh perspective" and I am going to work hard to have it start with me!

As I reflect of the year/years recently past, it is hard to find hope and possibilities amidst the nightmare of wars actively raging in Gaza and Ukraine... hard to see the "light" in the darkness of dramatic climate change issues challenging all countries... hard to see cooperation/compromise in a political landscape that is more focused on radical partisan ideologies than creating progress for the average family.... and the list goes on.  It is in this context that I look at the start of 2024 as a time for a new headset, or a "fresh perspective" not championed by others, but by yours truly!

From a dictionary's point of view: 

The phrase "a fresh perspective" is correct and usable in written English. You can use it to describe a situation in which someone adopts a different point of view, such as when considering a problem from a new angle or looking at an issue with renewed interest.

I am inspired and "nudged" into action by this headset and am heading into the new year looking for ways to shake off my traditional way of thinking about things and "work" on ways to "consider a problem from a new angle."  I emphasize the word "work," because I know that for me, it will not be easy to slow down my traditional headsets/perspectives.... to quiet my inside voice that is certain that it knows the right answer to so many things... "considering a problem from a new angle, or looking at an issue with a renewed interest" is never easy!

For me, I find it helpful to try some "tricks/games" to push my thinking or habits and to get myself out of my traditional patterns...and one such trick or habit is a restaurant game I learned years ago called "two up/two down."  It's a "game" I have played at family or team dinners over the years as a playful way to "break the ice" and to change up our normal habits and to push ourselves to try new things.  The game is simple enough... imagine a group at a restaurant table, menus in hand.  Everyone selects their entrees as normal, and allowing for any food allegories, the game commences!  I ask someone to pull out a dollar bill, and someone to pull out a quarter, ( in today's cashless world, I often come with the bill and coin in my pocket.)  I ask the person with the bill to tell us the first digit of the serial number on the bill ( lets imagines its a "2",) and for the person with the coin to flip it ... heads or tails.  If "heads," then EVERYONE finds their entree choice on the menu and goes "2 up" from it and that's their dinner order... inversely if the serial number of the bill had started with a "5" and the coin had flipped tails, then EVERYONE'S dinner choice would be "5 down" from their original order.  Its always a bit of mayhem when the person wanting a burger gets a chefs salad and other than one "ill-begotten" dish of Tripe, ( ouch, that was a smelly mess!!) the game is always worth a lot of chatter/laughs and it ALWAYS pushes folks out of their comfort zones in a very "low-stakes" environment.

I share this "game" as an idea that helps push us to consider things "from a new angle," or to try something on a menu that might never have been considered.  While a simple playful "game," I know that I will need to push myself to explore fresh perspectives to the challenges of our world in 2024...monumentally more difficult and more significant than an entree choice on a dinner menu.  I wish all of you a very happy 2024 and encourage all of us to work hard to find "fresh perspectives" to the problems of our world and our communities in the year ahead!

p.s., the image at the top is a sunrise photo from this morning, January 1, 2024 at our cabin in North Carolina... a chilly start to a new year filled with "fresh perspectives!"

p.p.s., I found that I had written about this "game" almost seven years ago, and about bringing it to life in an ice cream shop in Highlands N.C. with some dear friends and work partners... take a look: