Speakers and Agenda Preview

Take a sneak peek at the speakers who will share their expertise and the sessions that will inspire you at the 2021 Small Giants Community Summit. 

Magie Cook

Magie Cook is a CEO, business coach, and author. After growing up in poverty in an orphanage in Mexico, Magie went on to build a multi-million dollar salsa company that she ultimately sold to Campbell’s. After selling her company, she returned to Mexico and rescued 31 orphaned children from a drug cartel.

Ari Weinzweig

Ari Weinzweig is CEO and co-founding partner of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses.

Carlecia Wright

Carlecia Wright is Vice President of Business Development for BiasSync whose mission is to create better outcomes for organizations by using science-based tools to reduce the negative impact of unconscious bias

Arturo Lomeli

Arturo Lomeil launched Clase Azul Spirits in 1997 and learned how to produce the best tequila, how to work with ceramic, and how to create the unique and beautiful bottle designs that tell the stories of his beloved Mexico.

Carla Young

Carla R. Young is an administrator, faculty member, diversity champion and Director of Community and Multicultural Programs at Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills, MI, where she herds cats and extinguishes fires.

Rob Dube

Rob Dube is President and Co-Founder of imageOne, a Document Management Company recognized for its award-winning culture and ranked by Forbes as one of the Top 25 Small Giants in America.

Wynne Odell

Wynne Odell is a co-founder and the Board Chair of Odell Brewing Company. She retired from her decades-long CEO role at Odell in January of 2019.

Zach Mercurio

Zach Mercurio is one of the leading experts on the role of purpose and meaning in organizations, work, and life.

Ben MacAskill

Ben currently runs SmugMug alongside his brother Don. He started at SmugMug more than 16 years ago in front line customer support, a focus that has helped him remain totally committed to the passionate photography community.

Jon Dwoskin

Jon Dwoskin is a business coach, author, and speaker. Throughout the Summit, he will offer coaching sessions for attendees.

Vivian Lee

Vivian Lee is SVP of People Innovation at Arkadium, a global tech company with offices in New York and Russia.

Jay Wilkinson

Jay is the CEO of Firespring, a Nebraska-based Certified B Corporation that was featured as one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 50 Places to Work in America.

Bo Burlingham

Bo Burlingham is the author of Small Giants: Companies That Choose To Be Great Instead of Big (Portfolio, 2006) and an editor-at-large of Inc. Magazine. He subsequently wrote two books with Jack Stack, the co-founder and CEO of Springfield Remanufacturing Corp. and the pioneer of open-book management.

Deanna Walker

Deanna serves as Venturity’s Chief Revenue Officer (CRO). In her role, Deanna oversees all aspects of the company’s go to market sales, marketing and client experience strategies. Deanna is also responsible for identifying and implementing new revenue channels for the firm.

Paul Spiegelman

Paul Spiegelman is the co-founder of the Small Giants Community. He is the former chief culture officer of Stericycle, the co-founder and former CEO of BerylHealth and the founder of The Beryl Institute.

Matt Hoying

Matt is the second generation President of Choice One Engineering where their focus on everything beyond the numbers has perennially made them the Nation’s #1 Best Civil Engineering Firm to work for.

Kris Maynard

Kris serves as the Chief Executive Officer & Chairman of the Board at Essential Ingredients. His favorite thing about Essential Ingredients is helping to create and shape a work environment that provides a pathway for employees and stakeholders to utilize their giftedness and bring their best selves to their callings.

Bill Flynn

Bill Flynn is the Founder of Catalyst Growth Advisors and is part of Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches. Bill advises on strategic planning, providing clarity and improving direction of the business, scaling and growing, leadership teams and vision, purpose and values.

Loren Feldman

Loren Feldman is founder and editor-in-chief of 21 Hats, an online platform for business owners. He hosts the 21 Hats Podcast, which has been tracking the experiences of seven business owners in weekly conversations throughout the pandemic crisis, and he edits the 21 Hats Morning Report, a daily email newsletter for entrepreneurs. 

Tanja Boness

Tanja Boness is an Integrative Enneagram Practitioner with 30 years of business experience. Tanja advises on people development, personal development, women in leadership, company culture, and building better teams

Brandon Vestal

Brandon Vestal is quickly establishing himself as the funniest Brandon Vestal in the country. Brandon was recently named “Comedian of the Month” last December on Sirius/XM Radio. Brandon’s low key, observational style has made him a fast favorite in the comedy world. Brandon’s mom will vouch for all of this. 

Jean Pitzo

Jean Pitzo is the CEO of Ace Metal Crafts. Jean advises on emotional intelligence, conscious leadership development, culture, purpose, and collaborative relationships.

Loren Rodgers

Loren Rodgers is Executive Director of the National Center for Employee Ownership. Loren works with companies on plan design, operational issues, assessment, governance, communications, and ownership culture and he also consults internationally on employee ownership as public policy.

Agenda Preview

At the 2021 Small Giants Community Summit, we’ll spend both mornings together as a full group, exploring business and leadership topics that are relevant to founders, CEOs, and the emerging leaders who will carry on the organization’s purpose. In the afternoons, we’ll split up into different tracks with sessions catering to the distinct roles of Founders/CEOs and emerging leaders. Expect plenty of break-out sessions, one-on-ones, and opportunities for meaningful connection — more to come soon!

⚫ = Full Audience   🔵 = Emerging Leaders  🟠 = Founders/CEOs


Opening sessions on Tuesday, April 27, and Wednesday, April 28, will take place with the full audience from 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM EST.

The Power of Beliefs in Business
Ari Weinzweig

What we believe about ourselves, our organization, our co-workers, and even the work that we do will significantly alter the outcomes we are seeking to achieve. In this conversation with Paul Spiegelman, Ari will explore how becoming more mindful of our beliefs allows us to change the way we see our work and the world, significantly altering the outcomes we get from our efforts. 

All attendees will also receive a copy of Ari’s pamphlet on this topic prior to the Summit and have the opportunity to pose questions during the session. During this interactive session, attendees will:

  • Understand the link between your individual beliefs and your daily actions in the workplace
  • Learn how to transform your organization by embracing the power of and leading with positive beliefs
  • Explore other leadership and business topics through a moderated question and answer session

From Salsa Making Success to a Life of Service:
The Power of Finding Your ‘Why’
Magie Cook

After growing up in poverty in an orphanage in Mexico, Magie Cook went on to build a multi-million dollar salsa company that she ultimately sold to Campbell’s. For Magie, her salsa company was a stepping stone that allowed her to uncover her ‘why’ and fulfill her larger purpose in life. After the sale, Magie personally worked with every team member from her company to help them find a new job, before she returned to Mexico to pay it forward and help rescue 31 orphaned children from a drug cartel. 

In this talk, hear Magie’s inspirational story of resilience and the lessons she’s learned along the way, such as:

  • Finding your purpose in life – and being open to redefining it
  • How leading from a place of love, not fear leads to more success
  • How leaders can fulfill their legacy through a purposeful exit

Mindful Decision-Making
Rob Dube

Entrepreneurs are known for making decisions with their minds (data) and/or gut (experience). But what if you made decisions with your mind, gut, and heart aligned? In this session, mindfulness expert and entrepreneur Rob Dube will lead a session on how to make mindful business decisions on a day-to-day basis. Using real-life examples of both a big decision you’re facing in your business and a smaller task on your to-do list, Rob will walk you through the elements of mindful decision-making and demonstrate how to apply the process to the most pressing challenges you’re facing today.

How to Create and Maintain a Speak-Up Culture
Zach Mercurio

Psychological safety is the belief that it’s okay to ask for help and speak up with ideas, questions, struggles, concerns, or mistakes. Psychological safety is everyone’s responsibility. All individuals in the organization must know how to create a space for others to share their feedback, ideas, and perspectives free of fear.

However, while everyone is responsible for creating the space, positional team leaders have the most influence in maintaining the space because of their unique power. Cultivating psychological safety is a skill that can be learned and is a set of habits that must be consistently enacted. In this interactive workshop with Zach Mercurio, a leading expert on the role of purpose and meaning in organizations, work, and life, participants will: 

  • Learn what psychological safety is and what contributes to it
  • Know how to implement key practices for creating a space that encourages vulnerability, team learning, and innovation
  • Learn the high-impact leadership skills for maintaining a psychologically safe climate
  • Learn how to assess psychological safety on your teams

Guided Meditation on Resilience
Shanté Gordon


Refuel and connect with your fellow leaders from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM EST on Tuesday, April 27 and Wednesday, April 28.

Meaningful Connections Over Virtual Lunchtime

Speed Mentorship & Coaching Sessions

Need a like-hearted mentor to bounce ideas off of? The Sounding Board mentorship program pairs you with a tenured Small Giants leader for a year of one-on-one, purpose-driven mentorship. Now’s your chance to experience a Sounding Board mentor and bring your burning issues to the table for a fifteen-minute, one-on-one speed mentoring session.

Looking for a coaching experience instead? Bring your business challenges to a speed session with domain-specific coaches from around the Small Giants Community for a fifteen-minute, one-on-one session. Read more about the coaches and mentors and click their sign up link to reserve a spot — spots are extremely limited so act fast!

Once you sign up, you’ll receive an email confirmation and link to the Zoom room to join at the time of your speed mentorship session.


In the afternoon on Tuesday, April 27 and Wednesday, April 28, we’ll split up into different tracks with sessions catering to the distinct roles of emerging leaders (🔵) and Founders/CEOs (🟠). Session with () are open to both tracks. These sessions will span from 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM EST.

Emerging Leaders

Building Great Virtual Culture


Laying the Groundwork for a Successful Succession


How to Design a Better Hiring Process
(Even in a Virtual Work World)


Hiring isn’t easy right now, and leaders are facing complex challenges when it comes to recruiting and hiring in a virtual work world. Plus, Small Giants leaders know that hiring the wrong person is costly and time-consuming — and it can do serious cultural damage. In this practical workshop, Vivian Lee, SVP of People Innovation at Arkadium, is sharing her toolkit of practical strategies for keeping your hiring on track through these uncertain times and beyond. 

The interview process at Arkadium is thoughtful and strategic: all hiring managers follow an interview guide that is anchored in the position’s scorecard and defines what success in the role looks like. In this workshop, learn best practices you can take back to your organization right away, such as: 

  • How to adjust your hiring process to recruit and hire top talent in a remote setting
  • How to train your managers to lead the hiring process
  • How to use the secret weapon of scorecards to keep interviews consistent and unbiased

Virtual Roundtable:
Is Employee Ownership Right for Your Business?
Matt Hoying, Kris Maynard, Wynne Odell, Loren Rodgers


There are more than 7,000 ESOPs in the United States, covering more than 14 million employee-owners. Beyond that, there are countless more organizations that have pursued their own models for employee ownership, and when you consider the benefits on company culture and business outcomes, it’s surprising that more companies haven’t followed suit. So, is employee ownership right for your business? 

Employee ownership is a thoughtful exit strategy for Small Giants leaders to consider, but the sale of any company is complicated. This roundtable will share real examples of employee ownership in three Small Giants companies (ESOP and non-ESOP), plus include information on which companies should consider employee ownership and when, how to finance an ESOP, and whether employee ownership really works.

In this interactive roundtable discussion, participants will:

  • Learn from four CEOs and founders representing multiple modes of employee ownership and hear their distinct experiences
  • Pitch their employee ownership questions to the panel and participate in a live conversation with other attendees interested in employee ownership
  • Learn how employee ownership can help leaders gain liquidity, preserve their legacy, boost productivity, and drive future growth of the company

Marketing Cents: How to Get the Most for Your Marketing Dollar


Are your marketing dollars getting the most bang for the buck? Now is the time for small businesses to get their digital marketing house in order. There’s so much that teams can do to maximize the ROI of their marketing, and many are overlooking simple steps that help you optimize your marketing efforts. In this practical workshop, 829 Studios co-founder Peter Ross delves into strategies that every small business can employ to:

  • In-house their search engine optimization (SEO) efforts
  • Use data to understand how your marketing is really doing
  • Build strategic systems that allow you to market without money

Do More Good: Uncovering Your Personal Path to Purpose
Jay Wilkinson


Jay Wilkinson is founder and CEO of Firespring, a marketing firm with thousands of clients in all 50 states and all over the world. Firespring became Nebraska’s first Certified B Corp in 2014, was named by Inc. Magazine as one of America’s 50 Best Workplaces, and is a 2020 Forbes Small Giant. Which is why you may be surprised to learn that a couple of decades ago, Jay found himself being fired as CEO of his own company. 

The experience inspired Jay to go all in on building a purpose-driven business and ever since, the power of purpose has fueled Firespring’s growth and success. In this talk, Jay will share:

  • His personal path to purpose and how it has evolved in his company
  • How the principles of stakeholder capitalism have moved Firespring forward
  • How to create a game plan to identify the core areas of your personal path to purpose

Mental Wellness in the Workplace


Tequila on a Mission: Clear Purpose, Full Glass, Can’t Lose
Arturo Lomelí


When Arturo Lomelí first ventured into the spirits industry in 1997, he was selling a pomegranate-tequila punch from the trunk of his car. He’s come a long way since then — today, Clase Azul is known for its high-end, luxury tequila and beautifully handcrafted bottles. 

But the magic of Clase Azul’s tequila really comes from the mission that drives their work: to initiate and reinforce a deeper appreciation for the beauty of Mexico and its traditions. 

Clase Azul has deep partnerships within its community, and Mexican artisans hand-sculpt and hand-paint every single decanter. For Arturo and his team, the luxury strategy is not about possessions: it’s how they bring to life their dream of a better world for their team members, families, and community. 

In this talk, hear Arturo’s inspirational story of growing with purpose and the lessons he’s learned along the way, such as:

  • How staying laser-focused on the organization’s purpose has clarified their business strategy and fueled growth
  • How to care for employees in the totality of their lives in the moments when it matters most
  • How the goal of building a multi-generational business guides decision-making

Breaking Bias: How to Combat Unconscious Bias in the Workplace
Carlecia Wright

Fair and equitable organizations embrace diversity and reap the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace. But left unchecked, unconscious bias can have a harmful and negative impact on your culture and on underrepresented and marginalized individuals and communities. Leaders need to proactively address unconscious bias and develop a strategy to consciously manage their own biases and interrupt bias on their teams.

In this interactive workshop, award-winning diversity, equity and inclusion strategist Carlecia Wright will provide a practical, hands-on and sensory experience that helps participants: 

  • Explore why people have biases
  • Deepen their own understanding of implicit bias and how to mitigate it
  • Develop a bias pivoting strategy

Beyond Diversity: How to Cultivate an
Inclusive Mindset in Your Organization

Many people find talking about race and identity uncomfortable — we’re going to talk about it anyway. Dialogue is key for understanding why these issues are so important, and understanding one another’s experiences is a key step in enacting meaningful change for our employees and organizations. 

In this actionable talk, Carla Young, Director of Community and Multicultural Programs at Cranbrook Schools, will share a practical framework for cultivating a mindset of inclusion in your organization, starting with yourself. Drawing on her expertise in several nationally-recognized methodologies for conversations on diversity, equity and inclusion, participants will learn:

  • Sustainable practices for building diverse and inclusive organizational conversations
  • How to cultivate safe, respectful dialogue around identity and race in the workplace
  • How restorative practices can help repair breaches of trust in the workplace


Celebrate the connections you’ve made and lessons you’ve learned over virtual social events from 3:30 to 4:00 PM EST on Tuesday, April 27, and Wednesday, April 28.

Laugh Together with Live Comedy
Brandon Vestal

Happy Hour, BYOB, and Wrap Up

Closing Celebration

Register for the 2021 Small Giants Community Summit

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