The LoCo Experience
By LoCo Think Tank
The LoCo ExperienceJun 09, 2021
EXPERIENCE 58 | Mike O'Donnell, Former Executive Director of Colorado Lending Source and Candidate for Colorado Secretary of State
Mike is the founder of Prairie Rose Development and the former executive director of the Colorado Lending Source and is a candidate for the Colorado Secretary of State. He is from Australia and studied at the university of Melbourne, he got with Ford Motor company and later went back to school, got his MBA with an economics focus and found his way to America.
We talk about all kinds of economic topics and sparking business development and loan programs. We also talk about his family and his journey and ultimately what let him to run for the secretary of state position. It's a really interesting conversation with a really interesting guy, Mike's got a great business journey.
BONUS Episode #2 | March 2022 Blog | What's Your Story, Anyway?
In this month's blog, I’m going to dip into some business stories, including my own, and enter into an examination of the role that story and narrative play in our lives. How do the stories we tell each other provide clarity and understanding, and how do the stories we tell ourselves impact our direction and habits? Finally, I’ll share some tips and observations on how we can help ourselves, and each other, write a story with a happy ending.
EXPERIENCE 57 | Dr. Bobby & Jaime Cawthron, Former Owners of Aspen Grove Veterinary Care & The Cabins at Aspen Grove
Jamie is a LoCo facilitator and a former member of LoCo Think Tank, she's also the founder of Path Forward business consulting. Dr. Bobby remains as chief of staff for Aspen Grove veterinary. They sold their business last year and we talked about the purchase of that business back in 2006 and the growth of the business through the 15 years intervening the challenges of COVID.
We also discussed the vetting process of deciding who should be the person that employs your employees and accepts your values and the things that you've come to create as far as a business.
Dr. Bobby is part of the yang gang, which is kinda cool. And we just really had a lot of fun sharing stories about finding those critical moments in business. Making the best out of what seems at one point to be a tough situation. So I hope you'll tune in these guys were a lot of fun.
We laughed more than probably almost any of our podcasts so far, but we also shared a lot of really smart business guidance. So tune in and enjoy.
EXPERIENCE 56 | Heidi Ganahl, Founder of Camp Bow Wow & Candidate for Governor of Colorado
My guest on today's episode was Heidi Ganahl. Heidi is a Republican candidate for Governor of Colorado, a Regent at the University of Colorado and she's the founder of Camp Bow Wow, as well as other ventures. She's a mom of four and married to the top barbecue guy in the state.
We dig into Heidi's story with this one. Before founding Camp Bow Wow, Heidi suffered the tragic loss of her husband in a stunt plane crash, and was a single mom with two dogs after a failed 2nd marriage. The idea for Camp Bow Wow was sourced from a stack of back-of-napkin business ideas sketched out with her first husband. Heidi shares their launch story, why they decided to franchise and what was involved, and some of the principles and values that she instilled in that organization to help it become one of the fastest-growing franchises in America for many years!
And, there's so much more - as always we get into faith, family, and politics, and she shares a bit about her why in regards to running for Governor - watch out Colorado, Heidi Ganahl is a mom on a mission!
EXPERIENCE 55 | Hunter Wylie, Co-Founder and CEO of Beyond Blue Media
My guest today was Hunter Wylie, Co-founder and CEO of Beyond Blue Media, a full service digital marketing agency here in Fort Collins. They've grown the business in five short years to 16 full-time employees, and have a full service spectrum, including SEO, web development, apps, videos, social media,. etc.
Learn tips on how to do your own digital marketing, if you're not in a place yet where you can hire an agency. We talk a fair bit about his transition to becoming a local facilitator here for LoCo Think Tank and the value he's received both as a member and as a chapter leader.
Hunter's got a great journey, he shares a lot of good information about marketing and sales and just finding your place, finding your lane as a business owner and, finding your path a servant.
EXPERIENCE 54 | Brad Piepenbrink, Owner of Recycled Cycles
My guest on this episode was Brad Piepenbrink, the Owner of Recycled Cycles in Fort Collins. He purchased the business in July of 2021. After 43 years of being owned by Dave Hudson, a long-time LoCo Think Tank member. Brad's had an interesting journey. He grew up in Illinois, went to college in Florida, and then really fell into politics. He moved into ever-increasing roles of responsibility, culminating and becoming the chief of staff of the governor, Rick Scott at that time in Florida. And Rick is of course a national Senator for the state of Florida now.
Brad worked in a little bit of politics since then, but mostly was looking for a good business to buy. Near the mountains and ideally in his passion project with bicycling. So he found Recycled Cycles in early 2021 and is now a transplant with his young family to Fort Collins.
EXPERIENCE 53 | Sarah Lukemire, Founder and Lead Strategist at Brindle Digital Media
My guest was Sarah Lukemire, Founder and Lead Strategist at Brindle Digital Media. Sarah tells a lot about her story of getting into the marketing industry, where she earned her chops early after college. How her dad talked her out of dropping out of college to open a tanning salon.
She shares her top four tips for self marketers. We share a good conversation about the most important things in life, like family. And this one is just chock full of a really authentic person sharing a lot about what she does to make her clients succeed in the world of marketing.
BONUS EPISODE #2 | February Blog | Who Do You & How Do You Love?
EXPERIENCE 52 | Aaron Everitt, Real Estate Expert and Entrepenuer
My guest today was Aaron Everitt. Aaron is a realtor at Resident Realty. He's a partner in a delivery services provider and he's the owner of a startup, a local delivery business called InMotion. He was educated in Canada and married a girl from up there.
We spent a lot of time talking about the Freedom convoy, the trucker strikes up there. We talked a lot about real estate, water availability here in Northern Colorado to support our continued growth, and just giving back to a community that's given so many blessings.
Aaron's a good friend and a great realtor, and he knows more about real estate and Northern Colorado than probably anybody I know. So if you love Northern Colorado, listen in.
EXPERIENCE 51 | Greg Petri, Founder of One Business Connection
Today's episode was with Greg Petri, the founder of One Business Connection or 1BC. They have over 60 groups virtually meeting every week.
Over 40 groups meeting live every month. And they've been in business for 25 years and have over 600 members. One BC is a networking and connections organization. And Greg does that better than anybody I've ever met. He recognizes me every time I visit a chapter. We've only been a member for a year and he is a savant and knows how to keep pushing toward that victory that your business deserves.
We learned a lot about Greg, his philosophies, and we find a lot of connections in this conversation. So listen in, listen up. Greg's a great guy that's built a great business and you'll enjoy it.
EXPERIENCE 50 | Sean Nook, Founder and Owner-Operator of Black Bottle Brewery
My guest for this episode was Sean Nook. Sean is the Founder and Owner-Operator at Black Bottle Brewery, which recently celebrated its 9th anniversary! Black Bottle was the very last business start-up loan that I funded before leaving a 15-year career in banking!
Sean has grown a passion for homebrewing into one of the city’s favorite brewpubs. We talked about the challenges of managing the brewery through the pandemic, reflected on the exciting earliest days of the business, and we discussed changes to the industry and the challenges of hiring and managing in today’s labor economy - as well as his love for cool sneakers. We chased a lot of squirrels, and drank too much bourbon, and had a whole lotta fun. As Sean would say, “Buckle Up, Buttercup” and enjoy!
EXPERIENCE 49 | Stephen Morris, Former World Cup Yacht Designer & EOS Implementer
My guest today was Stephen Morris. He is an EOS implementer and business coach, and a covid-transplant to Colorado. EOS is short for the entrepreneur's operating system, as first outlined in the book Traction by Gino Wickham. Stephen's journey includes a season as a designer and crewman in world-leading yachting teams and a design firm, and eventually ascended to be a second-generation leader from the founders of that company. After that chapter, Steve became passionate about building teams and viewing business as a means of human flourishing. We talk a lot about the principles and philosophies of life and business, as well as general principles of traction and how to find accountability and fitment and a shared vision with your team. There's a lot about yachting too, because this was a brand new area of understanding for me. Good stuff in this one, and an interesting and unusual journey of a New Zealander to America, via the art and science and enterprise of yacht-building.Stephen is also the presenter to our upcoming webinar, Six Strengths to Maximize Your Business Execution, on February 22nd, 9-10 AM MT. Learn More
BONUS Episode #1 | January Blog | Inflation for Dummies
Bonus Episode #1 - In this episode, I read my monthly blog post from The LoCo Perspective Newsletter. I will take you on a high-level flyover on the topics of money and prices and supply and demand, finally zeroing in on inflation - what is it?, where does it come from and how does it behave?, and what actions can we take at the micro and macro levels to confront this dragon who consumes?
If you prefer to read your blogs than to listen, please head over to the blog page on the LoCo Think Tank website and sign up for a once monthly newsletter featuring my blog plus many community events and useful links for the small business owner or enthusiast!
EXPERIENCE 48 | Emily Kincaid, Co-Founder & Managing Member at Elevate Energy Services
My guest today was Emily Kinkaid, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Elevate Energy Services. She's a killer, managing a team of over 150 employees at the ripe young age of 33, and she's showing the old dogs some new tricks when it comes to innovation and customer service in the completion business. She's a frackwater expert, and a natural leader, and I think you're going to love her. Our conversation revealed the importance of industry expertise in launching an enterprise, and you'll learn a lot about building culture and teams in an oily-blue-collar industry.
EXPERIENCE 47 | Jeff Jensen, Multi-Journey Business Veteran
On this episode of The LoCo Experience my guest was Jeff Jensen, multi-journey business veteran and among the newest LoCo Facilitators. I would characterize Jeff as an engineer-type whose passion is making businesses work better through a focus on individual growth and team cohesion. This episode is chock full of business tips, tricks, and deep nuggets. We discussed Jeff’s journeys into and out of the military, his love for business sparked while with Caterpillar Corp, the foundations for his passion for mentorship, and the many twists and turns that led to his own entrepreneurial journey.
EXPERIENCE 46 | Successful Small Business Transition with Elizabeth LeDoux, Founder and CEO of Transition Strategists
My guest today was Elizabeth LeDoux, the Founder, and CEO of Transition Strategists, an international succession and transition planning company headquartered right here in Fort Collins, Colorado. We talked about her early days in business and relatively young transition to consultancy - where she now tallies more than 25 years of experience! Elizabeth shares principles from her newest book, It’s a Journey, and throughout the show, she shares abundantly from her special knowledge and experience. We also spent time discussing best practices for peer advisory groups - like LoCo Think Tank! Elizabeth was also a longtime chair for the Women Presidents Organization and currently serves in the same role for TIGER21.
If you’re like me, you’re going to love Elizabeth, and this episode is full of golden business nuggets in a super-crucial area - successful leadership transition.
EXPERIENCE 45 | Josh Guernsey & Greg Roeder, Co-Founders of Waypoint Real Estate
This episode features Greg Roeder and Josh Guernsey, Founders and Managing Partners at Waypoint Real Estate in Fort Collins. Josh and Greg founded the firm five short years ago, and have grown to become a leading full-service firm in the region, with a staff of 35 providing commercial and residential brokerage, property management, and investment services. They attribute their success to attracting great people, who attract great people, who attract great people! We spend a lot of time talking about how marketing real estate has changed, the varying needs of clients, and some of the big changes ahead for our region and the greater industry.
This was a fun conversation with a pair of smart, focused, and community-minded business leaders. Tune in to learn more about this fast-growing real estate firm and the principles and values that help them find true north with their team, their clients, and the community!
Experience 44 | Season 1 Wrap-up and Get-to-Know with Alma Ferrer
On today’s episode of The LoCo Experience, I sat down with Alma Ferrer, our Everything Associate at LoCo Think Tank - master of most things digital, and my super-helper on the show. Alma and I discuss some of the highlight moments from Season 1 of the podcast, and we share some of the changes coming up for Season 2 - as Little River Band would say, it’s time for a cool change. The latter part of the show is my favorite - when we get to know Alma a little better.
This is a change of pace episode, but I think you’ll love it! - Alma is a thoughtful, funny, and courageous young lady who I’m proud to have on the team. She shares wisdom beyond her years on big topics like change and acceptance, as well as an inspiring loco experience!
EXPERIENCE 43 | A Leadership & Wellness Journey with Jennifer Watson
Jennifer Watson is the Founder of Jennifer Watson Leadership and Watson Wellness in Fort Collins, Colorado. The businesses allow her to pursue her twin passions of wellness and leadership, and provide her the opportunity to help her clients become their best selves - at home and in the office. Jennifer shares her journey of building a physical therapy practice starting right after college, and moving on from that venture and evolving to focus on leadership coaching and consulting in Colorado (and nationally!) in more recent years. This episode is full of healthy nuggets - Jennifer unfolds her GUT Leadership Method, shares tips on finding truth in perspective, and the importance of stretching both body and mind regularly! Jennifer is a natural entrepreneur, an adventurer, and I think you'll fall in love with her and more in love with yourself if you listen in and put her tips into action in your life!
EXPERIENCE 42 | Mechanics and Mindset for the Business Leader with Jeff Schuster
Jeff Schuster is the Founder and owner of Mechanics & Mindset Business Coaching, and also the author of Business Mechanics & Mindset - How Your Thoughts Create or Sabotage Your Business Success. In a previous chapter of life, Jeff founded and grew an energy services company called Ennovate.
We discuss Jeff’s business journey with emphasis on key moments that empowered the growth of the company to over 30 employees, and we spend some time on the sale process and his later decision to get into business coaching. Jeff is a Core Energy Coach, and helps entrepreneurs - especially those in the engineering and energy sectors - identify their challenge points both individually and on an enterprise level. Jeff shares freely about how he helps clients shift their thinking to shift their business results, and along the way we talk of the importance of family, and how sometimes closed doors are a blessing.
EXPERIENCE 41 | Linguist, Integrator, Innovator, and Warehouse Business Accelerator with Allison Seabeck
Allison Seabeck is a bit of an enigma - and a most enjoyable enigma to be around. She’s a linguist by education, met her husband while both were teaching and editing English in Japan, and moved to Fort Collins after researching “places we might really want to live” in 2007 - recently married and unattached in the world, save for family in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia (Allison) and in Laramie, Wyoming (husband, Dave).
Allison answered a classified ad - like, in a newspaper - and got an entry-level position as a Training Associate with Prosci in Loveland - then and now a leading change-management organization, now serving an international marketplace of mid-size, large, and Fortune 100 companies - as well as those in Colorado and all across the USA. 5 years later, she was the President! - having been selected by the Founder to succeed him in management of the company after private equity acquired a majority stake in the enterprise! She stayed through another acquisition in 2016, and left the company to pursue other interests in 2018.
In 2019, Allison was recruited to be the Executive Director of the Warehouse Business Accelerator in Loveland - a non-profit dedicated to connecting scaleup companies with mentors, connections, and community resources in order to scale and create value in the world and jobs in the community.
SHORTS 21 | Fatherhood Is The Mother of Invention with Heather & Eric Stenner, Co-Owners of Porch Box
A warm summer afternoon, Eric was looking for something to do while their son was napping. He and their 4-year-old daughter found some old scraps of wood and after a few hours of sawing, hammering, and nailing, the first-ever Porch Box® was created. The idea was to replace the ugly cooler on their front porch that was being used for dairy deliveries. Now, a creative, innovative, hand-crafted box that can store package deliveries, gardening tools, kids and dog toys, patio cushions, and more. The couple took a simple idea to solve a problem, their pride of building something with their own hands, and turned it into a growing business.
EXPERIENCE 40 | From Brazil With a Purpose with Betina Pflug, Founder of Wity Coaching
Betina Pflug is a difference-maker and has made amazing impacts at every station. Betina made her way to Fort Collins from her native Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2015 - with her husband’s transfer to the JBS offices in Greeley, along with their two daughters. In the years before that, she worked in hotel management, brought the first Hooters to Brazil as part of the nuclear team, founded a food service industry marketing agency (while pregnant with her first child), partnered in another marketing agency, and grew to 13 employees before selling and taking steps toward her heart’s work in coaching and executive development.
Betina intentionally focuses on encouraging excellence in life and business with female business owners and leaders of non-profit organizations, but also with any purpose-driven organization. This episode explores her life journey, explores her tips and best habits to defeat overwhelm and build process, and also unfolding the essentials of the Hallos Relationship Intelligence methodology. Curt & Betina are co-hosting an upcoming Hallos Certification Workshop, presented and led by the founder of Hallos, Marco Antonio. Check out the LoCo webinar hosted by Betina and Marco here for a Hallos overview.
EXPERIENCE 39 | Talking Bourbon and Business with Mike Root, Founder of Copper Sky Distillery
Mike Root is the Founder of Copper Sky Distillery, Axiom Consulting Group, and the non-profit Kingdom Advancement Project - all based in Longmont, Colorado. He’s also the author of For God & Country, a Discussion on Servant Leadership, especially directed toward the public sector class. Mike learned organizational development with many years of government service, first in the military and then in OIS - the Office of Intelligence Support. This episode pulls back the curtain on the distilled spirits industry, and has lots of tips and best practices for building a team that has culture and responsibility and owns their roles in the organization - give it a listen over a glass of Copper Sky 5-year Bourbon, you won’t regret either decision!
SHORTS 20 | Valued Employee Takes Over with Amanda Frost of ProCopy Business Center
Amanda Frost of ProCopy Business Center in Longmont Colorado loved her job so much that the original owner of this thirty-three-year-old company offered to sell it to her! She took over four years ago, and has grown the business significantly ever since! She attributes some of her growth to their “clients are family” mindset. ProCopy strives to be the “community favorite” by always trying to provide options, services, and ways to make the customer experience better, or “easy” as Amanda describes it. Her adage, “never ask a friend, family member, or employee to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself”. Get to know Amanda Frost in this LoCo Short Episode - you're gonna love her too!
EXPERIENCE 38 | Building an Icon into a Brand with Louann DeCoursey of Panhandler's Pizza
Louann DeCoursey worked at iconic Fort Collins restaurant Panhandler's Pizza in Fort Collins as a youth, later spent time as a manger and then GM, and was a major Pans Fan throughout the intervening years of raising a family and building a career in non-profit. In the summer of 2017, the opportunity to purchase the business came to her radar, and her offer beat out 13 others!
In the time since, Louann has navigated many twists and turns, from finding a new location to activating pizza pop ups in other communities and creating "half-baked" pies for mail order delivery! Louann is an idea-machine, with a strong drive and plans to build a series of Panhandlers locations to serve the entire Northern Colorado region in the years ahead. My sense is she's gonna do it, Pans Fans and everyone should listen in to hear her plans to build an icon into a brand.
EXPERIENCE 37 | Healthcare pioneer Jason Rogers, Founder of Starlight Health
Jason Rogers is the founder of a Direct Primary Care practice called Starlight Health, based in Fort Collins, Colorado. DPC represents a change in the business model of medicine, with a membership model providing access to a physician who can take the time to learn about patients and better care for their health.
Jason's journey into medicine began in college, as a negative and challenging turn in his own health eventually created a desire to help others find positive health outcomes. His engineering mind and his love for people-powered his journey in health care, but he found roles ranging from emergency medicine, pediatrics, surgery, and general practice shared one commonality - no time for patients and too much red tape!
This episode unfolds and dissects many of the challenges in the health care industry, along with the challenges of starting a new business venture - during the Covid lockdowns and in a city where he knew almost no one - you're gonna learn many things health care and entrepreneurship in this one!
EXPERINECE 36 | Stronger Together - Jerri Schmitz, Founder of The Matthews House in Fort Collins
Jerri Schmitz is a hero of mine, and an amazing example of putting faith in action to create lasting community change. Jerri founded The Matthews House in 2005, a non-profit organization that now ranks (per CSU research) as among the most impactful in the state and region. The Matthews House mission is to Empower youth and families by building trusting relationships and providing resources to disrupt the cycles of poverty and abuse - and they do it well. They have grown into a leading human services voice in the nation, and have more than 50 staffers doing good in the communities of Larimer County every week.
The Positive Futures Pathway holistic approach created and developed by Jerri and her team doesn't attempt to fix one challenge and send clients on their way. Instead, they help clients build a foundation for future success by addressing Housing, Well-being, Education, Employment, and Life Skills needs so they can imagine and build sustainable futures for themselves - regardless of the amount of abuse and neglect they've endured. God loves you, and so does Jerri and so does the team at The Matthews House.
Jerri retired from the Executive Director role in 2019, and is now writing grants, providing support to the leadership team, and traveling the American West with her husband Matt in a 5th Wheel camper. I was blessed to share some time on her last trip through town, for the podcast and a lovely 4 hour backyard dinner double date with out spouses. If you know Jerri - likely you already love her - but listen in and love her even more because the who TMH story is unfolded in this episode! If you don't know Jerri - you should.
The annual gala fundraiser for The Matthews House is known as Cultivate Hope, and it will be held live and virtually on September 18, 2021. We're always looking for more sponsor, donors, and attendees!
SHORTS 19 | Creating Emotional Intimacy In The Workplace With Kris Boesch, CEO and Founder of Choose People
Kris Boesch is the CEO and Founder of Choose People and author of Culture Works: How to Create Happiness in the Workplace. Emotional health and intimacy directly correlate to the context and the culture within which your company’s team works. With over 1000 hours of research conducted with the Industrial Organizational Psychology Department at Colorado State University, she created Choose People 360° Culture Audit which literally measures if your employees feel good about coming to work and evaluates the emotional health of your organization.
EXPERIENCE 35 | The Wild West of Small Businesses with Marchel Morningstar of Consolidated Resource and L&L Fabrication
Marchel Morningstar is the Owner/Operator of Consolidated Resource in Greeley, Colorado, and L & L Fabrication in Douglas, Wyoming, and he's traveled some wild and crazy roads along the path to building his successful enterprises. He's been a key employee in a fast-growing supply business, a partner in a pipeline construction venture, and is now the owner of both a comprehensive facility construction and service business, and a fabrication shop that supports the needs of Consolidated Resource and other industry clients. Lots of lessons for those working to launch or grow a business, especially in the Oil & Gas industry!
This one is a quick tour of an interesting journey, with plenty of twists and turns and insightful commentary along the way. Though Marchel has been a LoCo Think Tank member for many months, this was our first time meeting in person - so you'll get a glimpse of some genuine "getting to know" in this episode. Truly a LoCo Experience.
SHORTS 18 | Normal Is Boring with Jane Brewer
Dr. Jane Brewer is now in her 6th year of owning Precision Chiropractic who focuses on NeuroStructural Correction. Jane believes that this area of the neck is one of the most important things to take care of as it supports your head and the spine that holds everything together. She is a big advocate for taking care of yourself, “depositing health into your bank” as she puts it.
Jane prides herself as being a life-long learner, giving credit to one of her professors that said, “Once you are ripe, you start to rot”. “If you stop learning, you stop growing” is probably the best advice that Jane can give to other small business owners or anyone for that matter. One of the biggest challenges she and other business owners face is “getting out from between your own ears”. “You need a support system that knows what you’re going through, someone that has walked in those shoes”. Finding and leaning on mentors and collaborating with other business owners is key to getting past yourself and understanding yourself.
EXPERIENCE 34 | For Such a Time as This - G.L.O.B.A.L. Justice with Founder Sosamma Samuel-Burnett
Sosamma Samuel-Burnett is the Founder and President of G.L.O.B.A.L. Justice - an NGO based in Loveland, Colorado but impacting organizations and individuals around the world. G.L.O.B.A.L.'s mission is profound: To extend Geopolitical Learning Opportunities for Biblical Advocacy & Leadership (G.L.O.B.A.L.) for local, national, and international communities to pursue justice ethically, creatively and collaboratively. Simply put, they aspire to inspire leaders from every tribe and nation to do justice upon one another, to understand what justice is, where it is lacking, and how to do it well.
Sosamma has lived a fascinating life, immigrating from her native India to Canada with her family as a young girl, navigating community and racial acceptance as a young lady and teen, and rising to become the #1 graduating high school student in the state of Minnesota - earning scholarships and prestigious internships and roles on her way to and throughout a high-impact career. After a mid-career period of focusing on her family, Sosamma moved to Loveland, Colorado with her family in 2014 and founded GLOBAL shortly thereafter. She and her team have grown the organization in scope and impact ever since, and if you want to understand justice at a different level and on a global scale - you'll want to tune in!
SHORTS 17 | Andrew (AJ) Lyle, Owner/Partner of Solar Sandbox
AJ is a CSU engineering grad who went from working in bars and custom car restoration to a draft engineer to starting a solar company. Understanding that what we were doing yesterday is not going to work tomorrow, AJ takes us through the struggles of starting a business. Make optimal decisions versus quick ones. Planning, streamlining operations, and learning not to hire too soon, along with engaging employees with the company's plans for growth are all part of their success. Creating a strong company culture is realizing that none of this is worth dying over. They encourage quality and accountability as well as understand and support the "work hard, play hard" philosophy. "We only get one chance to do it right".
EXPERIENCE 33 | Blake Craig - Helping Laborjacks (and Jills!) Find Their Match!
Blake Craig is the Co-Founder and Chief Labor Officer at Laborjack, LLC. Probably best understood as the Uber of Labor, Laborjack matches a flexible and ambitious labor force - mostly comprised of college students - with those needing stuff done. Initially conceived to become “The world’s largest moving company! - that doesn’t own any trucks”, Laborjack clients have now found hundreds of ways to engage a flexible workforce! Laborjack offers everything from event set-up and tear-down to garage clean-outs to landscaping projects and festival staffing, and many more business clients than initially imagined.
This is a bootstrapped startup story at its best, with an idea birthed as a college side-gig, incubated through several years of a commercial real estate career, and now taking on private investment en route to a Series A down the line. It’s a story of taking small risks, with a direction in mind, and making the sacrifices necessary to allow an enterprise to grow to a sustainable venture. Godspeed, good sir! - I’ve learned much from you, and we’ll all be cheering for your strong success!
EXPERIENCE 32 | Navigating Change & Transition with Award-Winning Author and Consultant Cheryl Benedict
In this episode Curt sits down with Cheryl Benedict - owner of MORF Consulting and the author of The Wisdom of Transition, released in January 2020 just as the nation was (unknowingly) preparing for the abrupt transition of Covid lockdowns. For this work, Cheryl received the Sound Advice Book Award as the Best New Author of 2020.
Throughout her career, Cheryl has helped hundreds and now thousands of people navigate transition. We talk about the process that she followed to write her book, highlight some of the wisdom within, and unfold a life journey full of twists and turns and learning opportunities.
If you are going through a transition in life or in business, or preparing for one that you know is upcoming, this is a must listen episode. And if you’d like to know a little bit about an author before you buy their book, you are going to love Cheryl!
EXPERIENCE 30 | Craig & Molly Secher - No Child Forgotten at Realities for Children
Craig and Molly Secher founded Realities for Children in 1995, which serves the otherwise unmet needs of thousands of abused, neglected, or at-risk youth in Larimer and Weld County, Colorado every year through direct services and emergency grants to over 30 nonprofit partners.
This innovative organization boasts over 250 give-back minded business members (of which LoCo Think Tank is one!) who receive marketing and networking opportunities through their membership, but also underwrite the administrative costs of the organizations so that 100% of donations go to serve kids in need!
This episode blends so many amazing elements of a great business journey - and it’s one that’s only just getting started after over 25 years of service to our community! Woven in are a founding story, a love story, and a passion for continuous improvement and innovation that you don’t often find in a non-profit (or any!) organization - and Craig and Molly are like the nicest people ever!
You’re gonna love it!
EXPERIENCE 31 | Jim Rohrer - Win-Win-Win Leadership (Before it was Trendy)
Jim Rohrer began his career as a young man in the Sears organization, and quickly rose through the ranks as an innovative thinker, new programs leader, and turnaround specialist for underperforming divisions. Among his accomplishments were helping to turn around the auto services business for the company, and both building out and disposing of 10 regional call centers that supported the catalog.
In the time since he ended his career at Sears, Jim has worked primarily in small companies, again often as a turnaround or improvement specialist, or in some cases as an operating manager during seasons of change. The main thing that stands out in this conversation is that Jim’s success has been built upon never being the smartest one in the room, and knowing that the secrets to business improvement are often known by those that serve the customers at the ground level. Jim is a win-win win kind of leader, and we are hoping to build a chapter around him in the west Denver region in late 2021.
EXPERIENCE 29 | Jeff Beyle - Co-Founder & CEO of Sticker Control
Sticker Control makes Industry 4.0 tools accessible to small and medium size companies using RFID-powered analytics and optimization algorithms to drive efficiencies and system integration tools to break down data silos, all backed by AI-powered data preparation tools so our customers do not need a team of data scientists to adopt and use our systems.
I don't really know what all that means, but I know Jeff is an awfully smart and kind fellow that I met at a manufacturer's conference a couple years ago. We've stayed in touch, and I think it's fair to say we're each intrigued by the others' journey - and I hope to serve him as a LoCo Think Tank chapter member when we get into Boulder County.
Jeff took a background in software and law to craft an executive career with Fortune 500 and 50 companies, including Coca Cola and Getty Images. After moving to Colorado for a quality of life focus, he's begun a new chapter as Co-Founder of a bootstrapped startup, where they've been making a strong go of it and have a suite of new products that could be game-changers in the nursing and assisted living center industry.
Lots of great twists and turns in this one, and great insight into the decision criteria of a leader of a bootstrapped startup.
EXPERIENCE 28 | Getting Real with RealWare Founder & CEO Ali Davachi
It’s the coveted win-win-win-win - 1) Ali would win because he’s working to down-size his role in his company RealWare, is a recent Colorado transplant from “back East” and would love more community connection, and has already come to be an advocate for LoCo Think Tank 2) The Longmont business community wins because they’d gain access to his special talents in a highly-leveraged and durable fashion 3) LoCo HQ wins because we’ll have attracted yet another overqualified and undercompensated business veteran to Team LoCo, and 4) The world wins because I believe by learning the role of our true clients (the LoCo Facilitators who power our chapters) that Ali would help LoCo Think Tank grow smarter and stronger faster than we otherwise would. (there’s probably more wins if I try, but you’re bored already).
Now I’ve just got to ask him proper, have him say yes, and we have to decide together whether to work on launching a Thinkers chapter (5 - 25 employees typically) or a Next Level Chapter (25 - 250 employees usually). He meets all of the criteria to be a LoCo Facilitator, and has worked with everything from startups to turnarounds to Fortune 50 companies.
OK, enough with the “should be kept inside your head” conversation - here’s a bit about Ali: He’s a patriotic American, of Persian descent, who started what came to be a market-leading computer company at 19 and exited at 24. Then he built a dial-up ISP company - and exited again. Then he started RealWare, LLC in 1999 as a kind of Smart SaaS consultancy - but he kept getting more and more clients who kept asking more and more of RealWare so he kept growing his international team. Ali loves people and challenges and good conversation, and especially his children and beautiful wife Liz who grabbed him and made him hers before these crazy business journeys all started.
EXPERIENCE 27 | God's Business - Planting and Growing a Church with Pastors Aaron Santini & Daniel Smith
In today's episode, I'm joined by Pastors Aaron Santini and Daniel Smith of The Crossing Church in Fort Collins. The Crossing was planted as a life group of Crossway Chapel in Greeley in the fall of 2009, and officially launched in March of 2010. This episode details the very entrepreneurial journey of church planting, and shares the life stories of a couple of regular guys who've responded to God's distinct call on their lives.
Aaron was a multi-sport athlete throughout his high school years, and in his words majored in "eligibility" during college in New Mexico. After being drafted into the Minnesota Twins organization, Aaron found himself with a lack of purpose and direction when injuries cut short his professional career. It was all he'd been pursuing, since he was a child! Daniel's journey takes him to CSU from his native Texas as a Marketing major, during which years he was also a partner in one of the earliest social media marketing agencies - promoting House of Blues concerts all across the US via My Space, Facebook, and eventually Twitter. Club hockey and chasing girls were Daniel's big pursuits, and you're going to flip when you hear his LoCo Experience at the end! (psst - it involves an off-campus riot near CSU!)
There's so much good stuff in this episode, ranging from the business of church planting to the process of sanctification, with a pair of open and humble servants of God.
EXPERIENCE 26 | Finding Your Path & Building Your Tribe with Jeff Willy & Noah Kline - Loveland Laser Tag, Laserforce International & Time Emporium Escape Rooms
Jeff and Noah are "business neighbors" to LoCo Think Tank, and operate the Time Emporium Escape Rooms in Fort Collins and Loveland.
Jeff acquired Loveland Laser Tag in 2011 after a pair of false starts to his entrepreneurial journey, departing a stable career with Hewlett Packard which had moved him to Northern Colorado from his native Texas. His experience with software and systems soon led to a role with their laser equipment supplier, Laserforce International, based out of Australia. Jeff now serves as COO at Laserforce, helping to design features and implement systems in other laser tag centers across the US.
Noah Kline started his first job was at Loveland Laser Tag at the age of 16, and within the first year his eagerness to learn all aspects of the business convinced Jeff and his wife to invite Noah to join them for an out-of-state conference - for which he had to ask his parents permission for the time away from high school classes! In the time since, Noah has developed continually in the role of Jeff's right hand man, and in 2019 he successfully lobbied Jeff to pursue an escape room concept as an addition to their entertainment offerings. Given the opportunity to become an partner in the escape rooms enterprise, Noah jumped in with both feet, and the partners took the opportunity to acquire a second location in early 2020.
This episode covers a lot of ground, and helps to demonstrate the often-winding journey of becoming an entrepreneur. Our conversation draws out the value of having long-term and fully-engaged teammates, and finding new ways to add value for clients, suppliers, employees, and the entertainment industry at large.
EXPERIENCE 25 | Every Business is the People Business with Peter Melby of Greystone Technology
In this episode, Curt enjoys time with Peter Melby, CEO of Greystone Technology, only one week removed from their 20th birthday! Peter shares important lessons from Greystone's founding and first years in business, and reflects on a business journey that has seen them achieve quarterly revenue growth for 50 straight quarters!
Greystone is unusual for an IT company, first for its' size (~100 total employees in 4 locations at time of press!), but also for its' commitment to team principals and philosophies. They're a people-first culture in a world of software and technology, and they put their best problem-solvers on the front lines. Though they've built a great reputation and achieved consistency of growth only dreamed about in most companies, Peter also gets real about some of the missteps and learning along the journey, and the challenges and imposter syndrome leaders often face.
This episode is chock full of sound business and tested leadership principals, shared by a humble guy who brought me a nice bottle of Irish Whiskey for the occasion!
EXPERIENCE 24 | The Business of Politics with Jacob Leis of Wintermind Group
Jacob Leis and his partner Brian Oaks are "a couple of farm kids from Eastern Colorado" who've been involved in political marketing almost since college. They founded Wintermind Group in January of 2019, after their employer "went a different direction" on an internal project that they'd been working on together. The partners' theory behind the project became the foundation for their new venture, and they grew Wintermind Group to a staff of 8 persons and revenues of over $6 Million in their 2nd year of business!
I've run across a lot of unusual business value propositions and growth trajectories over my days, but this is one of the most fascinating! Their website says literally nothing about them, and the description of Wintermind Group on LinkedIn is intriguing though ambiguous -
"Wintermind Group delivers digital messaging to highly engaged and tightly targeted consumer groups. Our newsletter subscribers and website readers stay closely engaged with our curated and custom content. This allows us to deliver your message to engaged consumers with a proven track record of interest and intent. Interested in learning more? Contact us here on LinkedIn."
Are you interested in learning more? - then give this episode a listen, 'cause I can't explain it in the space of an episode description. It's about leveraged data and direct marketing messages that the receivers want to receive.
I can say that I've been friends with Jacob for over 10 years and have never really understood what he does, but after this episode I'm closer. And it's pretty cool, and you'll get a kick out of our conversation, and hear a story about how WIntermind Group is doing great business in politics by heavily disrupting "the way things are done".
SHORTS 16 | Eric Coet, Getting Real with Business Strategy
Sometimes YOU are the greatest block to your success, that’s why identifying ways to grow beyond yourself is critical, even if you are a solopreneur (psst–Eric is!). Eric details his professional journey and lessons learned from working at Hensel Phelps, to working in a distillery, to starting his own consulting firm.
He’ll make you think about your business trajectory differently, like the idea that you’re either in a crisis or preparing for one. Or when you try anything extraordinary, you likely get your butt kicked and you’ve got to be ok with that.
Listen in to this episode to catch questions like:
“Are you a good leader or are you leading good people?”
“How are you leading the next generation?”
“If your competitor would take you down in 3 moves, what would they be?”
“Is this in alignment with my values?”
Learn more about Eric here.
EXPERIENCE 23 | Making an Insurance Business Journey Cool with Brandon Avery
Brandon Avery is a VP Risk Advisor for IMA Financial Group, heading the Commercial Insurance Division. Sounds pretty boring, and Brandon would tell you that insurance isn't very exciting overall.
BUT - Brandon's business journey is very exciting! Brandon formed a partnership in 2013 with Josh Fyhrie and together they built Colorado Insurance Advisors into a regional brand and 10X'd their revenues in just 7 short years. We explore his life and business journey, much of which was spent as a member of LoCo Think Tank, and reflect upon the critical skills needed and decisions made along the way.
Brandon is passionate about business & family, dedicated to excellence in golf, and he's all about making no excuses and working hard every day to be your best. He's recently become a LoCo Facilitator, serving the Thinkers Too chapter based in Fort Collins. This is a fun and useful conversation with a good friend and business mentor, B-Money he prefers to be called. (not really!)
EXPERIENCE 22 | Gavin Kaszynski & Todd Welter - HOW TO FIX THE PROBLEMS OF THE HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY
Gavin Kaszynski (ka-shin-ski) and Todd Welter joined me on the LoCo Experience podcast to share their respective business journeys, and especially to discuss the challenges and their suggested fixes for the health insurance industry in America.
Gavin has newly transitioned to the role of CFO for the Orthopaedic & Spine Center of the Rockies - at the time of recording he was CFO at Associates in Family Medicine which you'll hear referenced in the show. Todd is the Founder and CEO of RT Welter & Associates, an organizational development consultancy serving physicians groups across the US. Todd is also an Affiliate Faculty member with University of Denver, teaching courses on Healthcare Macroeconomics and Innovative Strategies & Change.
This episode ranges from health care to economics to politics, and includes plenty of philosophy along the way. The punchline on how to best maximize health care outcomes for all, at the lowest overall cost?: Get the federal government out of it, and allow market forces for large population groups to drive health care pricing and outcomes.
I like to say sometimes - "I don't know if it's so that the smartest people agree with me, or that I find people to be more intelligent when they share my opinions!" - and it's relevant for this one. These guys know finance, economics, and health care, and their awareness of the unintended impacts of well-intended solutions is impeccable. If fixing health care matters to you, educate yourself and give this one a listen.
SHORTS 15 | Ben West, Creating Your Dream Company & Great Culture
In this LoCo Shorts episode Ben West, Owner & Operator at Radial Development Group, shares his journey to creating a company he always wanted to work for. One with flexible work schedules, ample training, and great culture. Ben shares his motivation to create Radial from his own experience with burnout (and how to prevent it). He also highlights ways to create a great culture that can support the company when you’re not there.
Listen to this episode with Ben to get good tips to consider, like: get your priorities in order, make clear on commitments priorities that matter (not those that are easy), and make a “priority budget.”
At Radial Development Group, they help people who don’t know a lot about technology understand and use it to their advantage. Learn more about Radial Development Group here.
EXPERIENCE 21 | Examining a Life of Purpose with Zach Mercurio
Zach is an expert on purpose, on purpose. He's studied it, trained it, studied it more and shared what he's learned abundantly. He's a Ph.D., further informed by a lot of elbow grease, research, and intentional thought.
This episode is different than most of the podcasts that feature Zach, on purpose. :) He shares his tradecraft a good bit, you'll get tips and inspirations on how to find more purpose in your own work and how to spark it in the people you lead. More than that though, this episode is about Zach and his journey and philosophies and his why. We range from how he met his wife in a shoe-tying pub trick to an intense bit of conversation around whether one can reasonably claim both mantles (as does your host) of being both a Christian and a Libertarian.
It's another good 'un, and I think most anyone who listens will come away with a nugget or two that they can apply and share, because that's what The LoCo Experience is all about.
To learn more about Loco Think Tank, the producer and sponsor of this podcast, please visit our website at locothinktank.com!
SHORTS 14 | Ann Baron, Creating Community in Northern Colorado
Do you remember the moment when you made your passion your business? Ann Baron, Founder of Northern Colorado Community shares her business journey of creating a space for local business owners to convene.
Ann’s passion for people, sharing of resources, professional (& personal!) support, and connectivity paved the way for this continually growing multi-city business group. She shares stories of diversity, empathy, and opportunities of coming together to build something greater for business owners.
Learn more about Ann and Northern Colorado Community here.
EXPERIENCE 20! | Passion for Music, Adventure, and Business with AJ Fountain & JJ Fountain | A Brother's Fountain (Band) & Stoked Ember Productions (Videography)
AJ Fountain & JJ Fountain are Band Managers, Songwriters and Bandmates in A Brother's Fountain - a popular "Campfire Folk Music" band based in Fort Collins, Colorado, as well as the Founders and Producer / Director / Videographers for Stoked Ember Productions, a Videography company built to stoke the embers of passion-first businesses through video and story production.
The intro and outro music for the LoCo Experience Podcast is borrowed with permission from the song "Soul" from ABF's 2017 debut album, Pine Needles & Streams.
This episode is a hoot, with a whole lot of storytelling and philosophy, a little bit of music, and the introduction of the "LoCo Experience" segment - "What's the craziest story you're willing to share with our audience?" Before his ABF and Stoked Ember days, AJ was a part of another business journey, as the first key employee and eventual partner and GM of the popular natural soap company Dr. Squatch, and we pull a lot of business lessons out of that chapter also. It's a great listen, and you'll wish you were in the room with us - :)