Monday, April 23, 2012

The Role of the President/ Vice President Forum Session

Wes Herman, President of The Woods Coffee, a chain of fine coffee shops in Whatcom County, spoke to our session sharing his thoughts about leading a business.

He spoke regarding the requirement that a leader must have full command of the business rules and understand the competition in ways to make a business stand out and become memorable. One key trait for him, his business leaders and employees is the notion of being in service. (This trait is an excellent tip for board leaders.)

Wes discussed becoming an integral part of the physical community as he described the development of their Boulevard Park location. Key here was his ability to envision what was possible with the site. (Finding ways for common ownership communities to support and fit into the larger physical community is also a key tip for board leaders.)

Wes spoke about budgeting projects according to funds available and told stories about demonstrating trustworthiness to his investors as a way to encourage additional investments. (Being trustworthy with owners' monies -- assessments, special assessments, insurance payouts, settlement awards, etc., and how they are spent, is key for all board work.)

Being a natural visionary and innate entrepreneur, Wes discussed the requirement that leaders take the time to 'take the long view'. He mentioned that early on in the development of The Woods Coffee organization, his mantra boiled down to '12in10' -- the goal to open 12 locations in 10 years. Keeping the long view top of mind helped Wes make decisions all along so that recently, The Woods Coffee was able to celebrate its 10-year anniversary with 12 open locations.

Finally, Wes admitted that it is lonely at the top. Leaders make decisions that not everyone agrees with, but because of the leader's perspective, these decisions must be made, and some of them are hard. Knowing where to look for others in the same position, where to go for peer relationships, whom to trust with confidential conversations during the tough times: these are all critical for leaders.

We are deeply indebted to Wes for his comments and his willingness to share his well-earned leadership skills with us.

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