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5 Reasons I Love Going To Strategic Growth Forum

Kari Warberg Block

by Earthkind Founder Kari Warberg Block

I’ve just returned from my 7th annual trip to The Strategic Growth Forum®, an invitation-only event for CEOs. SGF is a gathering of the country’s most prestigious high-growth, market-leading companies. In all, there are 2,000 of the nation’s top executives, entrepreneurs, advisors, and investors. The attendees that are nearest and dearest to me include the incredible classes of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneurial Winning Women – these ladies are my soul sisters and it was with them that I knew I’d found my tribe!

Being a part of any group, committee, board, team, or tribe makes us stronger. We become the sum of the groups we belong to, because we join the groups that most align with our values as individuals. Groups offer a powerful element in creating a climate for change, whether we’re talking about a soul’s journey, or a business journey.

There’s a lot we can learn about the power of networks and social groups. EY has found the secret sauce for making it easy, and now I’m sharing it with you! Here are my top 5 takeaways from this motivational gathering:

Be Brave!

Doing and trying new things increases my confidence, expanding my perception of what’s possible. Seeing others do brave things, and being better for it, motivates me to say ‘Yes!’ more often. We can take something from everything, even failure.

SGF is an invite only event for a reason. Being an entrepreneur takes incredible courage, and determination. There’s no shortage of bravery, and panels filled with lessons learned along the trail. My favorite panel this year was with Reagan Moya Jones, on the good and bad of growth capital partnerships. Next to that, it was hearing Lindsey Vonn share her insights about what going for the gold truly takes. Lindsey’s father played a key role in her reaching her Olympic dreams starting at a young age.  It was inspirational for everyone in the packed room, and for days afterwards, I overheard men talking about how they were planning to empower their own daughters to be fearless in life. Thinking about what I overheard still brings tears to my eyes. The future definitely got brighter for hundreds of young girls that week.

Be Happy!

Probably the best thing about going to Palm Springs each November is how happy I feel preparing to go, in being there, and in reminiscing afterwards. I’m thrilled to spend time with my EY Winning Women sisters and to see the global economic reach grow. I call it a ‘tribe vibe’ because it’s a community that grows through friendship, collaboration and shared wisdom. Taking in a yoga class each morning totally took it over the top this year, and I’m already giddy thinking about what next year will bring. 

See Yourself Differently!

I learn a lot when I challenge myself. Trying new things is a good way for me to better understand who I am and unearth skills I didn’t realize I had. Listening to Chuck Robbins, the top-rated CEO of Cisco (ranked one of the best companies to work for by Fortune!) speak this year about leading through rapid change, I saw my own leadership in a new light. During his talk, the hallway outside was lined up near the big screen, hanging on his every word. We were nodding heads in unison, each finding our own meaning in this community, and sharing it with one another. These are the special moments in life that ignite self-transformation; this is essential for leaders to proceed transforming the lives of those we influence. At SGF, these moments happen every day! 

Keep Growing!

Saying ‘Yes’ to growth helps me live life to the fullest, expanding my awareness of opportunities to grow my own potential, and for opportunities to help my company, EarthKind, reach hers.  

I’ve found 10M of growth capital at SGF. I’ve found customers, collaborators and advisors. I’ve seen where technology is headed, and what the ‘group think’ is around the best ones to invest in. This year I met with a large global CPG company, whom made an announcement this year that they’d started a new ‘nimbler’ business model, introduced within the retail shelves we share. We discussed how to be good corporate citizens in rough and tumble environments. And we had this conversation at a private outdoor cafe table, in travel attire, as the hummingbirds searched for nectar around us. Now, where else on earth could that happen? I’m better prepared, and my company is better prepared for growth as a result of attending. 

Be Optimistic!

Throughout life I’ve said ‘no’ to opportunities I wish I wouldn’t have. Just yesterday while speaking to a group of America’s brightest business leaders at University of Mary, I shared how 70% of business decisions are short term in nature, and don’t consider one’s values. The athletes paid the closest attention, as they were keenly aware of how missing an opportunity can feel like you’re letting yourself – and your team – down. The truth is though, whether in sports or in life, not having a defined decision lens from which to see opportunities, a lens that considers one’s values, goals and purpose, we’re less likely to seize the opportunities that align us with the end game. 

Since I’ve created my own decision lens – after an ‘aha’ moment at SGF – it’s helped me keep an eye on the future while empowering my team to do the same. Vision is a key component to growth, and when all team members see the vision – the why, how, and when, conversations naturally empower the diversity within teams to shine. And that’s when the real magic happens in any company. At SGF, I’m always reminded of the power we have as leaders to ignite our teams through opportunity. What networks create the ideal climate for opportunity in your life? I’d love to hear!

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