Kevin Konkel

CGA catches up with recently-retired Kevin Konkel to gather his insights from 44 years in the grocery industry.

By Kevin Konkel

Former Chief Operations Officer at Raley’s & Former CGA Board Chair

Seek first the most important and meaningful things in life.  Then the trials, tribulations, joys, and victories may be kept in perspective. The eyes of man are never satisfied. If more “stuff” is what we want, we will never have enough, and gratitude will elude us.

Find the right partner. Leadership is hard, and the right relationship at home to ground inspire and challenge makes all the difference.

You are the “goose that lays the golden eggs.”  Take care of yourself and continue to produce golden eggs long-term. Focus on spiritual & physical health; otherwise, it’s difficult to serve others and tend to responsibilities. Neglecting this fact catches up to us more quickly than we realize.

If you want to be a great leader, have the heart of a servant. It’s a life-long journey, and we never fully arrive, so above all else, be humble — lookout not only for your interests but for the interests of others.

Intense competitiveness and kindness can co-exist. I’ve seen and experienced this time and time again in retailing. Daily, we set out to beat the competition yet cheer each other on simultaneously. Go figure.

Learn from those who have done it before us. No matter what we’re going through, someone else has been in our shoes and persevered. Seek them out.

After doing the research, it’s ok to trust our gut/heart. There are tons of cliches out there from “experts” that have never been in our shoes, and at the end of the day, we own our decisions. Seek advice, but question it ruthlessly to ensure it’s a path to go down.

Prevail over self-doubt. Imposter syndrome is often a natural byproduct when we’re persistently leaning against our comfort zone; push through it.

“I’m sorry” and “I forgive you “ are powerful statements for the workplace too. Nothing is more powerful than admitting mistakes, forgiveness, grace, mercy, and love. Never take a genuine connection for granted. True friends and trusted colleagues are hard to find. Honest conversations are rare. Moments of vulnerability are special. Soak these up.

We are human beings, not human doings. Love, care and serve, knowing people are not widgets.  People need leaders who provide trust, compassion, stability, and hope to achieve their best and that entails treating others with respect and dignity who are wonderfully and fearfully made individuals.

Be a good steward. Return the business to the owner in better condition than where we found it.  Optimally, much better.

The graveyard is full of indispensable people. We will eventually be replaced. We will move on someday. Don’t be threatened by up-and-coming superstars within our organizations. Build a bench of talent better than us and start today.

This article originally appeared in California Grocer Issue 1. For more Issue 1 content and stories, visit here.