2024 Education Program + Speakers

Monday, January 8, 2024

The Independent Exchange

Our week begins with a meaningful opportunity for retailers and other attendees to sit down and explore essential topics to guide the success of your family business. Relevant and emerging subjects will be explored in a free-flowing format offering plenty of opportunities to get your most pressing challenges discussed.  Preliminary topics to include:

  • Marketing & Merchandising Trends
  • Community Engagement Programs
  • Labor and Employment Challenges
  • Leadership & Talent Development
  • Loss Prevention and Asset Protection Issues
  • What Bogs You Down
  • Top 5 Compliance Questions
  • GroceryTech

Information and dialogues from this share group will improve your business efficiencies and profitability, while also providing a conducive atmosphere to share best practices and explore new concepts with fellow California food retailers. Session facilitated by Ron Fong, President and CEO of California Grocers Association.

Ron Fong
President & CEO, California Grocers Association

Ronald Fong assumed the reigns of the California Grocers Association (CGA) as President and Chief Executive Officer in 2008. Ron joined CGA after 12 years with the California Credit Union League (CCUL) where he was Vice President of State Government Affairs. He was responsible for the League’s 10-person Sacramento office and directed its advocacy program.

Prior to that, he was Corporate President for United Market, Inc., his family’s independent grocery company operating neighborhood stores in the Sacramento region. He grew up working in his family’s stores and understands the grocery industry from the backroom to the boardroom. His grandfather started Carmichael Supermarket in 1941, the first grocery market in his home town of Carmichael.

During his tenure at CGA, he is credited with overhauling the government relations program, including the appointment of a new veteran lobbying and political team. Ron oversees and leads the strategy of the Association’s senior management team, which has made significant and well received changes to CGA’s government relations, member services, conferences and communication programs. He also serves as President to the CGA Educational Foundation.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Connect for Keeps

Attract, keep, and build thriving talent, teams, & organizations

People don’t leave companies, they leave management (and really bad jokes). Often people trudge along in jobs where they feel unseen, and where their best efforts go unrecognized. They feel invisible. The tools you’ll learn in this keynote, clinically proven through various therapeutic modalities and self-compassion research, will teach your people how to make others feel understood, connected, and valued. Layer on truly memorable mind-reading moments and a few solid Dad jokes, and this keynote will be the signature event for your people to refer to again and again.

Key outcomes:

  • Stop employees from “clocking out” when they clock in 
  • Learn 3 easy tools that build lasting relationships
  • Inspire employee discretionary effort, from meets expectations to exceeds expectations
  • Combat employee erosion, quiet quitting, and rage applying
  • Build empathy muscles for effective leadership in a diverse workforce
  • Laughy tears, because it doesn’t hurt (it actually really helps)

Sean Bott
Speaker, Entertainer, Mind Reader

Spending much of his early life growing up in Saudi Arabia, Sean developed a scorching sense of humor. He began his journey into the art of magic at age of 12 by learning and then performing hypnosis, psychology, and stagecraft at his local library. One quirky magic shop and a degree or two later, he can now say he’s been blowing minds and making people gasp and laugh for over 15 years. Sprinkle on some pit stops at Second City in Chicago to keep his funny skills on point and you’re left with a one-of-a-kind mind reading experience. Sean combines his knowledge, personal experience, and mind-reading, to show us how to create warm connection with other humans quickly and authentically.

Whether building deeper relationships as a leader, working with clients, onboarding new employees, or retaining great talent, the tools he provides creates spaces of belonging faster and easier than ever before. Working with over 1,500 associations, corporations, and universities worldwide including companies like Dell, Google, and Disney, Sean has brought curated content, mind-blowing moments, and bucketfuls of laughs (not chicken) to thousands.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

FMI Consumer Trends Report and Understanding Federal & State Politics

In this two-part session, FMI President & CEO, Leslie Sarasin will share the latest research regarding consumer food trends and unpack their implications for food retailers. For 45 years, FMI has partnered with leading research agencies to develop the touchstone U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report and delivered its findings at their annual conferences. This year, Independent Operators Symposium attendees will get an advance peek at how consumers are dealing with inflation by employing new value-seeking approaches, hear the latest trends in healthy eating, and gain a useful perspective of generational purchase characteristics and online versus in-store shopping behaviors.

Following this presentation, Leslie will sit down with CGA’s Ron Fong to discuss federal and state politics with updates on emerging issues including credit card swipe fees, WIC & SNAP benefits, theft legislation, California’s PAGA ballot initiative, minimum wage, and recycling updates, to name a few.

Leslie Sarasin
President & CEO, FMI

Leslie G. Sarasin is the president and chief executive officer of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the trade association that serves as the voice of food retail, assisting its food retail and wholesale members in their role of feeding families and enriching lives, as well as the companies that supply goods and services to the industry. FMI conducts programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education and industry relations on behalf of its nearly 1500 food retail and wholesale member companies in the U.S. and around the world, including more than 40,000 retail food stores, nearly 25,000 pharmacies and combined annual sales volume of some $770 billion. Under her leadership, FMI has emerged as a member centered organization helping food retailing venues find new and future facing ways of feeding families and enriching lives. A committed collaborator, Sarasin has infused FMI with a vision of cooperative action that amplifies the association’s ability to assist its members in addressing the critical industry issues of the day.

Prior to joining FMI, Sarasin spent 19 years at the American Frozen Food Institute, serving as president and CEO for the last nine of those years. She also held positions at the National Yogurt Association, Frozen Potato Products Institute, International Frozen Food Association, National Food Brokers Association, Crest International Corporation and Salomon Brothers. Sarasin holds a JD from the University of San Diego and a BA in economics from Smith College.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

The 5 Rules

Leaders want results, but only 5% have plans in place to develop their teams. It doesn’t take a complex plan to create transformation — it just needs The 5 Rules. Based on over 45 years of leading thousands of employees, Steve Black has distilled essential principles that produce results into this one book.

Unlock the potential within yourself or in others by introducing these five rules into all aspects of life — you won’t regret it! For families looking to strengthen generational bonds or individuals searching for personal growth, these five rules can revolutionize any life they’re applied to.

  • Do Your Job: This simple rule is important to not skim over. There’s more to it than you may think.
  • Be Kind: How being kind is important to your success as a leader and the success of your team.
  • No Surprises: The importance of communicating to solve problems faster and make progress faster.
  • No Drama: How exaggerated facts or feelings can do harm within your team.
  • Protect the Brand: In everything you do, you represent the brand. Learn why.

Steve Black
Author, Coach, Leader and CEO of A Brighter Day Life

With 45 years of expertise in the retail grocery arena, Steve Black has had a remarkable career. He’s been an integral part of companies that are true innovators and trailblazers, such as Rouses Markets, Lucky’s Farmers Markets, Sprouts Farmers Markets, and Sunflower Farmers Markets.

His leadership-focused mindset and hands-on experience have enabled him to contribute valuable insights at every turn-impacting businesses through coaching & training teams dedicated towards personal growth on both individual & organizational levels.

Steve Black and his wife, Melanie, along with their daughter Taylor live in Colorado and enjoy spending time outdoors on their four – wheelers, trout fishing, photography, and traveling to see their two sons, daughters-in-law, and six grandchildren.