EL Summit Diary

alex gretchen and charlotte

This post was written in real-time on site at the Entreleadership Summit (April 28 – May 1, 2019). The purpose of the post is to share how beneficial Summit was, share interesting nuggets of wisdom, and what my takeaways were from the experience.

April 28, 2019

I have arrived in San Diego, checked-in, worked out, and am about to depart for the opening reception. My goals this week are the following:

1. Grow my relationship with my sisters.

2. Connect with my sisters on pertinent succession related topics at HP.

3. John Felkins (my Executive Coach) would say “have fun.” Yes, have fun!

4. Strategy: I want to take away a strategy related nugget that I can apply to our upcoming commercial strategy sessions. My guess is this may come from Dave Ramsey, Dr. Henry Cloud, or Chris Hogan.

5. Corporate Culture – I also want to take away a culture related nugget to apply at HP. We have some awesome new team members on our team, and I want to continue leading in more positive energy. I know my sisters are on the same page here, yet we can always use another nugget or piece of advice.

April 29, 2019

5:10 p.m.

Day one is a wrap. Whew. My first inclination is to write that none of this is rocket-science, but it is all doing-science. Leadership is the art of doing something, or moving from here to there. Most of what was talked about today is to a level common sense, but it is talked about because it is not common doing. Leaders act.

To this end, Patrick Lencioni challenged me about addressing behavior problems within the organization. The leader doesn’t have time not to address these issues, and these are exactly the kind of issues that we (or I) don’t feel like I have time to address. But it is MY JOB to. Period.

Dr. Henry Cloud defined accountability as “answering to a trust,” with emphasis on a “future state” and getting to that desired outcome. My accountability partner John, for instance, hears my “accounting” of how I am living because he and I are committed to each other becoming more Christ-like. So, I am answering to a “trust” and not a “boss” because John is invested in my getting to that desired state. I share because I found this distinction helpful and believe focusing on the “desired future state” is helpful.

Overall, I end the first day encouraged to lead more passionately, positively, and intentionally. I felt 90% of the day was wrapped in culture pieces and found the “break time” discussions with my sisters on these pieces very beneficial. I’ll close with two reminders (and personal applications for me) from Carey Lohrenz, the first female F-14 Tomcat Pilot: “Leaders need to show up, put a smile on their face, and no chip on their shoulder. Everyone is watching.” And,”a negative attitude kills your ability to adapt.”

April 30, 2019

9:25 p.m.

Trying to capture all that happened on day 2 at this time of night is foolhardy. But as Dave has so unapologetically reminded us the last two days, leadership without courage is not leadership. So here goes…

Simon Sinek smacked me square across the forehead with his talk on the “Infinite Game” when he reminded us that the goal is to “stay in the game and become the best version of yourself.” That might not be the exact quote –Simon talks fast –but the gist of it struck me. My sisters and I are in the midst of succession planning and staying in the game is our mission. Period. We don’t stress about “beating the competition” (that’s playing the “finite” and not the “infinite” game). Rather, we desire Hoffer Plastics to become the best version of itself. And we want to be a company that lasts.

Chris Hogan reminded us that our team is the family that some of our team members have never had. Meanwhile, Marcus Buckingham convinced us that believing people have potential is a lie because it infers that others don’t (he also talked about 8 other powerful lies, including how awful we are at rating others, which is a blog post for later!). Finally, Ken Coleman talked about “The Power of Proximity.” As powerful as that talk was, he closed it challenging leaders to rest from inputs. Without rest, he said, our capacity to serve others gets diminished.

This brings me to my Executive Coach, John Felkins. He really challenged me on this end last January. Since then, I have followed a 24-hour weekend sabbath that has positively impacted me in ways that I cannot fully describe here. While his challenge was not prescriptive, and while I was only following God’s prescription, his challenge to rest played a role in me getting to where I am at today. Thank you, John.

May 1, 2019

4:09 p.m.

The closing session just wrapped up 12 minutes ago. Today featured more Dave Ramsey, Peyton (freaking!) Manning, Jesse Itzler (dude makes me want to run through a wall), and Sara Blakely (whose sweet smile hides a tenacity that is second to none). “I wasn’t going to let my success be determined by the work of others,” Sara said. She then told the story of how for 21 days she sold Spanx up and down the coastline of California, all after she had Neiman Marcus as an account.

That’s right, there are no accidental billionaires.

This post has gone on long enough, so here are my biggest takeaways from this week:

1. I need to lead boldly and passionately.

2. I need to ruthlessly PROTECT the Hoffer Plastics’ culture. And when issues arise – and they will always arise – I have to deal with them.

3. I need to REPEATEDLY tell everyone where we are going and why we are going there.

There are countless takeaways (and actions) from the last three days that fit into these areas.

My concluding thoughts are these:

This year has been hard. While we have a lot of success right now, there is also a lot of change. And frankly speaking, there is a lot more change that needs to happen. I can’t look to the left or right anymore. That ship sailed a few years ago. And while I am proud of where we have come already, we have a long road still to travel. None of this is going to be easy. I hear the doubters, the complainers, and the critics. Louder than them all is the self-critic inside my soul that I have to continue to get past.

RISE UP, Dave says, and he’s right.

Despite all this, maybe because of all this, I leave this conference surer of one thing:


I want to lead, with my sisters, Hoffer Plastics. I don’t want to quit, sell, or cave in.

I don’t want to move.

I hear people advising all that. Look, I get it. Our state has a LOT of challenges. Seriously, it does. Its being run by people making some very questionable decisions and people advise that we should be running our business in other “more friendly states.”

Plastics are also under attack… maybe we should sell?


We might fail, but I want to do this.

So do my sisters!

We want to keep serving our customers. In fact, this conference challenged me to do it more uniquely in the future.

We want to keep serving our TEAM. I am still chewing on what Chris Hogan said yesterday – we are family to some of them.

We want to keep serving our community – in this town and even this state!

I want to spend my life using whatever leadership gifts I have in making a BETTER corporate culture.

NO, it isn’t going to get easy. And NO, it won’t ever be perfect.

But this is a manifesto that I want to STAY IN THE GAME AND WORK ON GETTING BETTER.