Last week marked the culmination of Junto's fourth cohort, celebrated by our annual JuntoNight event. The evening featured a panel of founders and leaders from the six companies - five of them CEOs and the other a COO. Below is a summary of their reflections and shared experiences from their company's participation in Junto's Apprenticeship program.
Chris Campbell, CEO of ReviewTrackers
Truthfully, I don’t know if we knew what we signed up for. We knew we wanted to become better, we just didn’t know how. And Junto provides that framework of learning and experience, through clarifying questions and stories, that helps guide you along the way. And I think, as a result, we’ve become better leaders.
As a leader, you always have this iron clad suit that you have to wear. But at the same time, you need to be authentic, you need to be genuine. That wasn’t easy for me, but I think I got a lot better at it, whether it was being vulnerable or getting constructive feedback.
My business partner and I both progressed 10x from where we were at the beginning of the program. There’s still a lot of work to do...we’ve still got a long to way to go.
Katharine Hebenstreit, COO of Link Capital
It was an incredibly stabilizing experience. In an early-stage company, you often feel isolated and alone, like you don’t have a support network to go to. And to me, Junto felt like this giant, extended family who gave their unconditional support and even, at times, would tell me things that I didn’t want to hear. It provided tremendous personal growth and, at the same time, provided a safety net.
Junto helped me realize that, professionally and personally, I was living with this paralyzing fear of failure. Just because Link isn’t following the script that I had written for it, didn’t mean that it was a failure and, more importantly, I should enjoy the ride and learn from everything I was experiencing along the way.
Deborah Jackson, CEO of Arrow Payments
Junto gave me the structure, the support, and this team to build the company I want.
Thinking that I had to be a different person as a leader than I was with my daughter, or with my friends. I thought that they all had to be these different people. Through Junto, I realized that, no, I want to be the authentic ‘me’ everywhere I am, and Junto gave me that support and love, and ability to speak from the heart.
Andre Janus, CEO of Cristaux International
I’m impressed that we were able to get, in one sense, an MBA program in nine months and actually keep the damn company afloat, let alone actually exceed expectations. It’s been one unbelievable journey.
Junto has taught me nothing and then everything at the same time.
The concept of “no shoulding” and the concept of “no giving advice”... wow, that’s deep shit. For me, to not have people say “you should do this, you should do that” has been really empowering.
Hunter Riley, CEO of Schlep
The overall experience with Junto surrounds the development of our team. Not only did my co-founder and I have the opportunity to learn, but our team members got to come and be a part of the experience, and learn from the business leaders in the room just as much as we did. From the emotional intelligence side, the business analytics side, and to be able to wrap that into the growth of our team was a very special opportunity.
When it came to understanding the language of business and the language of business finance, I started the program at a level 10 and am probably at a level 30 today.
Culture matters. And all of the small things that my cofounder and I do to make this business all that it is actually has this effect on the employees we have. And in thinking through all of that, knowing that we have that impact, is a huge moment of truth.
Kathy Steele, CEO of Red Caffeine
We knew something had to change. But what I didn’t recognize, in entering the Junto program, is how much I had to change. I didn’t recognize how un-emotionally intelligent I was until we had to go through the experience.
We had two people come back from a session and said, “We really got real, Kathy, we got so real.” I think about a new employee who said, “This was such a gift, spending the day at Tasty Catering was such a gift, and how great it feels to be part of an organization that does this for its people.” And, of course, our board who said “you guys don’t have a plan” so now we have a five-year strategic plan!