I just picked up tickets to G. Love & Special Sauce for June 30! It’s a surprise for Jill Bear, she loves G. Love, and it’s been years since we saw him live. Early in our marriage, she got a kiss on the cheek from Garrett Dutton (AKA G. Love) after a show, and made a teasing argument that he should be on “her list”. “NO WAY!” - was my response, “Too attainable! He’s always touring through Colorado! We just celebrated our 20th anniversary and he’s still, ahem, not on her list, but he puts on a solid music show and it’s at the Mishawaka, and I’m excited about it as I start my June blog. Here’s a link to the upcoming shows at Mish if you want to see if there’s still tickets available, or find an upcoming show you shouldn’t miss - I bet it’s been too long!
While G. Love’s special sauce is his blend of blues and hip-hop, straight outta Philly, my personal special sauce is probably a mixture of ideas and relationship-building, plus the business insights gained from my years in banking and in chapter meetings at LoCo Think Tank. In this month's blog, I’m going to be a little less philosophical, and a little more introspective. The mix of ingredients that makes LoCo Think Tank special is foundationally a collection of individuals - sharing their own special talents and expertise with their chapters - as facilitators and as members. It’s a bit of a peek behind the scenes, and I’ll hope you’ll choose to join me as I reflect…
Introducing LoCo Hot Sauce
But first - big news! We Got Sauce! “Smokin’ Margarita Hot Sauce” - crafted and bottled by Zoe’s Bakery in Loveland, and primarily a gift for our guests on The LoCo Experience podcast. It’s a tomatillo base with tequila, lime, fermented jalapeno, chipotle, and a dash of ghost pepper: a lil’ sweet, a lil’ hot, perfect for tacos or even chicken wings. Kudos to Gabe Armstrong and his team at Zoe’s for helping us come up with the recipe and making it easy to say thanks in an interesting way.
Gabe is also the owner of the Crooked Cup coffee chain scattered around Northern Colorado, and he teaches classes at CSU. Gabe’s not a LoCo member (yet), but I think he will be one day and I stay on his trail because he’s got sauce, literally and figuratively! He’s a great systems and data guy, and has a wonderful servant’s heart that shows through in the way he interacts with his staff - and his clients. He’s already passed my smell test, and if he chose to apply for a chapter I’d gladly pass his application along to the facilitator of the best-fitted chapter.
The Right Spices in the Think Tank Mix
That’s one thing that folks might not understand about LoCo Think Tank, is that not just anyone who owns a business can join our membership. I know and love a lot of people, and yet some of those folks just won’t bring the right ingredients to a chapter's business discussion. LoCo is a place where smart leaders of good businesses come to forge themselves into wise leaders of great businesses - with a little help from our friends!
Once someone has gotten my thumbs up and applied for membership, and we’ve determined which chapter they’d be the best fit at, they connect with a LoCo Facilitator for a next conversation. If they get the second thumbs up there, the next step is a chapter visit. After the visit, the attending chapter members can extend an invitation to join by unanimous consent (the third thumbs up!), and if accepted - the prospect becomes a member the next month. We don’t do contracts because if you don’t want to be here we don’t want you to be, but we do hope new members give it at least a year for the special sauces to soak and show results!
Saucy New Video Coming Soon
OK, so let’s talk a little more about who makes up our unique mix in the LoCommunity. We’re releasing a new video soon that will feature several of our longtime members. Big thanks to LoCo member Josh Drage and his wife Emily at Ascend Media for their great work in capturing member testimonies and chapter meeting imagery. Josh began his video career with The Group, making real estate videos. He has a great eye for visual impact, and a knack for storytelling, (if you can make real estate videos compelling just imagine what you can do with a brand video!) Emily brings incredible talent in writing and community building to the sauce, and the Drage’s recently welcomed a new little into the world - Zara Jane. Congratulations and wishes of sleep-filled nights to them!
One of the members featured in the new video is Marc Torres - one of our longest-serving. Marc was in his 20’s and owned a pair of Cheba Hut franchise locations when we first met, but had also moved into the role of COO at Cheba Hut Franchising. He saw his role as laying the tracks to execute the vision of Cheba Hut Founder (and former LoCo member) - Scott Jennings. It was Scott who recommended Marc to our second LoCo Think Tank chapter and years later, Marc became a Founding Member of our first LoCo Next Level chapter. Marc is a natural integrator, with a knack for people and numbers and complex systems, and the energy and determination to pull it all together. Marc is now a partner and CEO of Cheba Hut Franchising, with Scott in a board role. They’ve experienced incredible growth, and are now boasting 54 locations in 15 states, with more on the way! Marc’s got sauce! (and amazing toasted sub sandwiches - yummm!)
We also featured a married couple in the video - Wally and Miriam Veigel - both of Wally’s Speed Shop in Loveland. Wally has been a member of a Thinkers chapter for over 5 years, and is currently with his 3rd (and favorite so far) LoCo Facilitator - Mike Gugliotto. Miriam joined the business in 2020, and became a member of a Catalysts chapter (for key employees) in 2022. Wally has great vision and leadership skills, along with a natural understanding of business, and Miriam’s special sauce is her eagerness to learn and solve problems and help others. Together, they’re building a great business that will serve the custom auto needs of our region (and afar) for years to come. Wally and Miriam share their business journey with me in Episode 63 of The LoCo Experience podcast, and if you give it a listen, you’ll understand just what I mean.
Facilitator Mike Gugliotto's Special Flavor
Can’t move on from this stop in the tour without saying a few words about Mike Gugliotto. I met Mike in the fall of 2019, on introduction from one of our facilitators at the time - whom he’d met on the golf course. Mike and his wife Janet had recently returned to Northern Colorado, after the sale of a family-owned news organization in Seattle where he’d long served as CEO. Mike was a CSU grad with a Journalism degree when he embarked on his business journey, which saw him rise through sales into operations and soon, to executive management. His special sauce is curiosity, along with strong empathy and communication skills, and a tremendous sense of responsibility. We launched Mike’s chapter in February of 2020, and then it was forced to go virtual for a season. It was a challenging launch but Mike saw it through, and has served an amazingly connected and growth-oriented chapter for over 3 years now. Last month, Mike gave me his 6-ish month notice. Life has changed and he has fresh grandchildren in faraway places and extensive bucket list travels still to attend to. He wants me to have the time necessary to find the next amazing leader of the Thinktastic chapter - If you know someone who I should talk to about facilitating our Loveland-based Thinktastic chapter, please email me at email@example.com. 🙂 Mike’s journey was early in The LoCo Experience podcast series, at Episode 5, if you want to hear more.
And More Where That Came From...
We’ve got a LOT of sauce within our facilitator corps, as a matter of fact! Drew Yancey leads our Next Level I and Next Level II chapters, as a side-gig to his primary role as President of InCite Performance Group. Drew’s special sauces include superior organizational abilities, a never-ending desire for learning, an incredible servant leadership background, and humility. Kim O’Neil came on as facilitator for our Next Level III chapter this spring, and brings incredible problem-solving skills, strong understanding of software development and technology, and both natural and developed talents as a team-builder and culture leader for Encompass Technologies. She came by way of podcast introduction, and was my guest on Episode 86. In our Next Level Catalysts chapter, Allison Seabeck brings incredible experience and integration ability - as evidenced by her rapid rise to leadership of change management firm ProSci as told in Episode 41 of The LoCo Experience podcast.
Kristen Trumen-Allen has a PhD in Organizational Development and experience as Chief People Officer for Banner Health, Pat Nicholson’s career moved from the mailroom to the board room at Apple, Inc. before he got his Masters in Philosophy from Stanford, and Moses Horner was a member for years before moving into the role of facilitator of a high-performing Builders chapter. He’s the owner of Horner Painting, one of the largest and most successful painting businesses in Northern Colorado, and brings great business instincts, strong team-building skills, and over 20 years of business experience to add to the special sauces within the chapter.
Jaime Cawthron built the largest independent veterinary business in Fort Collins while she was a member of the chapter, and then transitioned to facilitator after selling the business in 2021. Brandon Avery was a member of the Original Thinkers chapter going back almost to the beginning, and built one of the largest insurance brokerages in Northern Colorado before merging with IMA Select. Hunter Wylie built a 15-person marketing agency well before he was 30 years old, and remains both a member of Brandon’s Thinkers chapter and a facilitator for a Builders chapter. Jaime and her husband Bobby shared their story on Episode 57, Brandon was one of our early episodes at Episode 23 , and Hunter shared his journey (to this point!), on Episode 55.
Spread it Around
“Ask of Your Needs and Share of Your Abundance” is the motto at LoCo Think Tank, and even that phrase is part of our special sauce. I’m so grateful to be part of an organization served by so many people that are smarter and far more accomplished than I, and blessed that they feel welcomed and called to share of their abundance of expertise. Likewise, I’m grateful for the multitude of talents within our membership that complement and enrich one another.
If you’re a business owner or leader, and you know you’ve got some special sauces - AND - you realize that you don’t know it all yet - you might fit right in at LoCo Think Tank. We’re always looking for fresh ingredients that add to the wonderful stew of personalities, skills and perspectives that nourish our local businesses. And if you, or someone you know has a spicy business journey to share, reach out to me to see if the LoCo Experience podcast would be a good platform. You could score a bottle of our signature sauce! 😉