(A Farewell to our Spiral Table Program)

Last week marked the final call of our Spiral Table program – a mastermind group for purpose driven leaders of the new economy that wanted to go further together. The metaphor of the ‘spiral’ was that we can be expansive and we can also go deep. We managed to do all these things over the last 10 years, over multiple tables.

The original group consisted of Bruce Martin (Community Natural Foods), Charles Chang (founder of Vega – now Lyra Growth Partners), Ian Walker (Left Coast Naturals and Hippie Foods), Stewart Brown (Genuine Health), Matt Breech (TallGrass and Botanica), and Ryan Benn (Alive Publishing). This group expanded and condensed over the ten years, eventually including other members such as Randy Whitiker (Ontario Natural Foods Company), Shaun Daniels (Nature’s Fare Market), Robert Craven (MegaFood) and Rob Horricks (Blush Lane Organic Market).

Locally in Calgary, we had 4 different in-person Spiral Tables that included local business leaders in both the for-profit and not-for-profit space – Stephanie Jackman from REAP, Aviv Fried from Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, Pat and Patty from Sunnyside Market, Christian Schmidt of Black Sheep Mattress, Lisa Shelly from Neal’s Yard Remdies, Barb Davies MRU Change Makers Studio and so many more..

Despite various efforts, the program was challenging to scale and articulate value as it was really something that needed to be experienced.

There have been so many learning’s over the years – too many to put into one post (though perhaps we will delve deeper into more specific insights down the line… stay tuned for more on that.) But what I do know is that there is immense value in connecting with peers on a regular basis in a formal setting, something beyond just grabbing a meal or coffee. The co-discovery of self and our role within an organization becomes crystal clear, and being held accountable by a group of peers ensures that things get done.

I have experienced leaders moving beyond vulnerability, sharing with the group deep fears, true emotions, and unconditionally support for one another. I’ve witnessed competitors collaborating on programs that benefit the industry as a whole, and leaders rallying to support one another in ways that have been genuinely inspiring.

The original group pioneered talks at the Canadian Health Food Association around sustainability, and created and sponsored the CHFA Sustainability Award.  We also, pooled resources and created a contest to promote sustainability to younger generations called ‘Youth 4 Sustainability’ that awarded $25k of funding to various sustainability projects across Canada

If you have been anywhere close to the Natural Products industry in the last 5 – 6 years you have seen what has been happening around consolidation and acquisition.  Depending on who you talk to, this can be both good and bad. But in my opinion we are a product of our own success. (I intentionally didn’t use the word ‘victim’ and choose ‘product’ as I see this as an evolution.)

In the strategy work we do at Conscious Brands we rely heavily of the Theory U frame-work.  (I highly suggest diving into this if you have an opportunity.) 

The left side of the U is about review and letting go, acknowledging and giving reverence to. Once we let go, we can then begin to let come in. By keeping an open mind, an open heart and open will, we begin the transition through the Theory U.

As I wrote the previous sentence, I realized that it isn’t just ‘good’ things that must come to an end – all things, good, bad or other, eventually come to an end as well. So, over the next few weeks, I will be going through the Theory U process as it relates to Spiral Table, and as a fan of  ‘Co-creating’ I invite you to ‘bare’ witness (I know that grammatically it is correct to use ‘bear’ in this situation rather than ‘bare’, but I intentionally used the word ‘bare’ as it means to fully expose oneself – and I hold a space to have this level of vulnerability in this situation.)

We have all heard the term ‘Conscious Consumer’ and the idea of ‘voting with your dollars’.  I have volumes of insights to share from the last 10 years of Spiral Table facilitation, all outside the confidentially and safe space we honoured at Spiral Table. So I propose the idea of Conscious Consumer with a twist of ‘voting with your eyes’ – if you would like to have further posts on my insights in working with leaders of purpose driven businesses for the last 10 years, please leave your comments below – Once we reach 100 likes or 25 comments of support or 25 shares of this post I will write the first of my 10 insight posts, 1 post for each of the 10 years of the Spiral Table program.

Lastly, I would also like to deeply thank Miriam Karell for co-founding Spiral Table with me, and holding such a strong place for vulnerability, trust, and higher purpose; And I would also like to express my gratitude to Matt Mayer for partnering on facilitating and bringing a new framework and structure to the Spiral Table program

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