Symposium Features Top Presenters

Independent grocery operators, wholesalers and supplier partners from throughout California recently gathered in Hawaii to relax, recharge and listen to informative international speakers provide new perspectives on building their businesses.

The presentations were part of the 2018 CGA Independent Operators Symposium, CGA’s annual gathering designed specifically for independent grocers, held this year at the spectacular St. Regis Princeville Resort on the garden island of Kauai.

Headlining this year’s Symposium were three inspiring presenters that explored how to create a  positive team culture, understand the entrepreneurial process used by start-ups and define, develop and celebrate leadership everyday.

“This was another profoundly impactful Symposium,” said Ron Fong, CGA President & CEO. “That was evidenced by the tremendous involvement and enthusiasm of attendees in each presentation. Each speaker was incredibly inspiring. Everyone definitely left with new ideas and approaches they can implement immediately with their teams.”

Inspirational Speakers

The Symposium’s educational program kicked off on Tuesday with a lively, engaging and entertaining workshop featuring Galen Emanuele, president of Shift Yes, and trained improviser who has toured with the likes of improve legend Ryan Stiles of “Whose Line Is It Anyways.”

Applying the techniques of improvisation, Emanuele enlisted attendees in a series of enthusiastic communication building exercises that revealed the skills to listen, be present and positive and embrace change and failure to drive team culture to higher levels of performance and involvement.

“Galen was fantastic in drawing everyone into engaging in his communication-building exercises,” Fong said. “It was obvious everyone was having a great time while learning new ideas. Several attendees came up to me afterwards and said they want him to speak to their companies.”

On Wednesday, Aaron Montgomery, co-founder & COO of CarLotz, a car consignment company on the East Coast, challenged attendees to tap into their start-up spirit and apply a systematic approach to testing, analyzing and refining new concepts. In sharing his journey as an entrepreneur, Montgomery was able to share the tools and techniques he used to build a successful business.

“Aaron really challenged our folks to examine their operations and to tap into their entrepreneurial spirt that is the cornerstone of independent grocers,” Fong said.

The educational program culminated on Day 3 with an emotionally inspired presentation by Drew Dudley that centered on defining your value as a leader and communicating and acknowledging those values with your team. Recognized as one of the most dynamic keynote speakers in the world, Dudley captivated attendees with his stories and messages of “everyday leadership.”

“Drew perfecting united all three presentations into one cohesive message,” Fong said. “His thought-provoking remarks were straight from the heart and I believe inspired everyone to focus on what leadership really looks like which “has nothing to do with position, wealth, or prestigue” where we as leaders can have a powerful impact in encouraging our employees to reach new heights, both professionally and personally.”

Great Networking and Social Events

Along with the educational program, CGA’s annual symposium also allowed for plenty of opportunity for attendees to network and socialize.

“Independents are unique because they are so willing to share information with each other,” Fong said. “It’s a camaraderie that is really unique to independent grocers and a huge part of this event.”

The Symposium schedule also allowed for plenty of time for rest and relaxation in what many consider the most beautiful of the Hawaiian Islands.

“We promote this event as the perfect opportunity for independents to step away from their day-to-day operations in an effort to gain a new perspective on leading their businesses,” Fong said. “I think we successfully accomplished that.”

Fong added that the Symposium could not have succeeded without the generous support of its sponsoring companies – Bimbo Bakeries USA, C&S Wholesale Grocers, CGA Educational Foundation, Kimberly-Clark, Post Consumer Brands, Retail Marketing Services and SuperValu.

Independent grocers and industry suppliers are encouraged to mark their calendars and plan to attend the next CGA Independent Symposium on January 6-13, 2019. The location is yet to be determined.

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