Feb. 28, 2024

Leadership and People - Episode 41 - Mary Crafts



Published May 13, 2023, 9:20 p.m. by Liam Bradley


In this episode of leadership Crafts, we're joined by Mary Crafts, President and CEO of Corporate Alliance. We discuss the role of leadership in people's lives and how it can be used to improve the workplace. We also explore the different types of leadership styles and how they can be used to create a more effective team. Finally, we talk about the importance of setting goals and achieving them.

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[Music]

welcome to leadership in people this is

a series that pulls back the curtain on

leadership by interviewing CEOs senior

executives and entrepreneurs who had

large exits we asked these experts about

how they built trusted networks to

rapidly grow their companies and what

advice they wish they knew if they could

do it all again they on the show I've

got Mary crafts home earth it comes more

just actually from life and living and

joy and sharing joy and lifting others

then actually from food food all these

years has been my medium and I've used

that to bring people together to bring

them fun to bring them connectiveness to

feed them to give them adventure thanks

for making time oh my pleasure I was

excited to be here so for people who

don't know what you do tell us all about

it well I do a lot of things but for a

career for the last 35 years I've been

the CEO and president owner founder and

creative person behind culinary crafts

catering and special events so I see a

lot of awards out here yeah when I

retire and I take those awards home

they're gonna have to start over it

it's awards are one of those things I

think when you start out you don't go

for that that's not why you're in

existence but if you do something long

enough and you decide that you're gonna

be an expert at it eventually the

community your state and the world

actually start to take notice you know

this person's actually pretty good at

this and you win one and then another

and another and you know probably the

ones that are the most notable out there

in that case are the 16 gold medals that

hang there for best of state and three

statues for best of all hospitality but

there's a lot of awards in there that

signify other things like in 2005 when I

was awarded one of Utah's 30 women to

watch I no more thought that I was a

woman to watch them fly the moon I was

surprised that I got that but

somebody thought I was that and you kind

of lived then towards that point twice I

received outstanding businesswoman of

the year from the chamber and I thought

wow really me but back when I first

started there weren't a lot of women in

business and so if you wanted a woman it

was you know I was a better choice

because there weren't a lot of us to

choose from now it'd be much tougher to

win that award I'm sure another one of

my favorites is one that I won ethics in

business and I loved that one because

it's what I wanted to focus on really in

my entire career based on integrity and

to be recognized for that was super fun

and then my all-time favorite at age 60

to receive one of Utah's 10 coolest

entrepreneurs I love that I had a photo

shoot done with me and my black leather

Harleys in a chef's knife and my cowboy

hat and you know dang I was cool so I

think it's pretty obvious that you enjoy

what you do thank you even a couple

events we've been to like you you're

like it seems like you're in your

element when you're in a crowd is that I

am in my element when I'm my crowd and

that passion that you feel for me comes

more just actually from life and living

and Joey and sharing joy and lifting

others then actually from food food all

these years has been my medium and I've

used that to bring people together to

bring them fun to bring them

connectiveness to feed them to give them

adventure all sorts of different things

I've done with food but it all comes

back to something else that you are

giving people joy that in a year from

now they may not remember what they ate

but they're going to remember how they

felt and that's always in the forefront

of my mind yeah so for people who's here

catering business and they're thinking

of like their friend's mom and like a

little offering can you give people who

are not seeing this a little bit more

vision of a scope sure well that's

exactly how I started in our

condo kitchen baking breads and cookies

and pulling my two little baby boys

around in a wagon door-to-door selling

cookies and breads and whatever I could

I then I went to doing birthday parties

for children sold my own clown costume

and the big rainbow wig and went and did

the games and the whole nine yards

anything that was necessary I was

willing to do anything within my realm

of integrity didn't matter how humbling

it was if I knew that I could put food

in my children's mouth that for me was

the bottom motivation for me you know

that necessity is the mother of

invention yeah I didn't know how to be a

caterer I graduated in Social Work and I

had been a social worker but that for me

meant putting my children in daycare if

I went back to that field and I knew I

was going to be the chief bread earner

and so well what could I do

I sold Avon for a while I took my kids

in a stroller I taught piano lessons and

voice lessons and that wasn't bringing

in much money well maybe I can hear who

knows you know and I did like to cook

and I was a good cook but not what I do

here those things were learned from a

different kind of school called the

school of hard knocks and what I've

realized is now that I'm at the end of

my career if I can share some of this

information some of the insights into

business leadership building teams being

financially stable with people who are

on that you know lower end of the

spectrum and trying to get to the top

that for me would be my legacy to reach

down and give back all that's been given

me now we started from most humble

humble beginnings we are 16 times best

of state we were the international

caterer of the year we are the largest

catering company in the state of Utah

and certainly the most awarded one and

we have a reputation and that reputation

certainly focuses on good food without a

doubt but it also focuses on trust

people know who they use us that they

trust us to provide what we say and I

tell my team every day my sales team

we're not selling food here

we're selling trust

can get food anywhere okay but it's

trust trust that we're gonna show up

trust that we're going to present

fabulous food trust that if something

does go wrong I'm willing to be

accountable for it and stand up to the

plate and make it right and that's what

I'm selling

so that driving idea of being

trustworthy of having integrity

permeates this content company and I say

to my staff please don't steal for me

don't sell out your integrity for what I

would gladly just give you if I was

asked and I've had these group I mean we

have about 200 staff we have 55

full-time plus 200 part-time in the best

homes in the state and I never think

twice about are they in there stealing

from somebody do I have to watch them

should I have cameras they have my back

because I have theirs yeah I will say

this is like kind of the ultimate

startup story from 150 bucks that was it

that's all I had to start this company

yeah from a red wagon to multi-million

dollar business it's been an adventure

well tell me this sure you've learned a

million lessons what's what is something

you would have you wish you'd go back

and tell an earlier version of yourself

ah

okay um think just a little more before

you leap I tend to be very much a person

of intuition I go on my gut feeling a

lot and over the course of the years

most the time that's played pretty well

for me

but not always and I could have avoided

that by simply doing some of the things

that I know are right when somebody

comes in the front door and they have a

resume for me and I fall in love with

them I'm like oh they'll be so perfect

dear so what I don't call the references

and the resume and find out I just hire

a man

and then come to find out nope I really

should have called and they were a

better actor than I thought they were so

there are some things that you do in

business that really need to be done

that's a piece I would go back and do I

tried to carry too much of this on my

own shoulders

without trusting my team enough in the

early years I felt I had to do all the

take lists all the cooking serve every

single event cleanup design every menu

design I mean really it was so

overwhelming I learned this lesson

during the Olympics 2002 we set up 17

events a day and I had it in my brain

that I was gonna go to one get that set

up and ready and then let's leave of

them to serve it and I grow another one

and go to the next one go to the next

one and I would I had them all timed out

so I was gonna be able to get to

everyone and make sure they had the Mary

touch and by the first day on the first

day by the time I got to number three it

was over and I said well what happened

here what I mean like what did you do

without me like we served it duh I don't

like without me

uh-huh it was a huge wake-up call that

if I had trained at them if I train them

and trusted them they would have been

fine in fact they were fine

and it allowed me to begin to grow this

company in a different you know kind of

mega sort of system way instead of

personality and that's the piece that my

two sons have brought to the company

I sold 49% of that of this to them

well now nearly five years ago because

in August they get the last fifty one

and the piece they brought was that

everything did not have to be held in

Mary's head there are things called

Google Docs experts there's a profit and

loss statement I mean there are all

these things that always have just been

in my head but by putting systems in

place and by writing an SOP for every

single procedure here and putting that

in a document that I had not realized

the value of that I wish I had

early on I could have been doing this

all along now they've taken these five

years and done that and it's amazing I

mean somebody asks well how do we take

care of the coffee maker there's an SOP

on that how do we handle the call that

comes into the front desk there's an SOP

on that how long do we have to turn

around the proposal there's an SOP on

that crazy stuff like that huh and I

didn't have to hold it on my brain and

what that meant was I got to take a few

trips no and then I didn't have to be

here 24/7 so it's great I wish I had

known that earlier on it is interesting

how I think it's not as intuitive to go

back and simplify and write it all down

and yet you see those businesses that

are enormous because they can be

duplicated because they don't need

Superman or yeah superwoman to come do

it all right exactly

yeah and that was a huge wake-up call I

would advise anyone no matter how small

their business to begin writing down

those processes because eventually

there's going to be two of you

any eventually there's gonna be eight

and then a hundred and then a thousand

yeah right now I'm you know managing

close to 300 employees I couldn't do

that on the old way yeah so let's talk

about that for a second so thinking

about these folks where it's become more

of a system mm-hmm what are some of the

leadership principles that you feel like

have been the most valuable in you know

getting people to the point where you

can have faith that you don't need to

watch my [ __ ] okay two books that I've

loved one is good to great and that's

kind of an old fan favorite it's been

out for a long time now but a lot of

people still love it and there are a

couple things in there I didn't agree

with everything but there are a couple

things just that idea of getting the

right people on the bus and when you

meet someone and find someone that you

know is a fit for the culture of your

company you'll find this right spot for

them and when once again on the bus

don't be afraid to change seats

I some I'm like for example I had this

baker and she was amazing she was became

my executive Baker and she could do

wedding cakes and she could formulate

anything from scratch just by me giving

her an idea hi I wanted to this

marshalene I went blah blah blah and

she'd be like okay I got that after

working in the bakery five years she

came to me and said hey I want to be a

wedding planner I went I'm sorry

no you're not allowed you you must stay

in the bakery you must always be in the

bakery cuz that's where I put you and

she said okay you know and then about

six months went by and she came and she

said Mary I really feel like this is

what I want to do can I have a shot at

it I said you know I can tell it's it's

a passion for you and you really want to

do this so I'm going to trust you enough

to let you out of that seat and into a

new one and she has become our number

one wedding planner she's now planning

the weddings that I'm leaving behind

when I step out they belong to her and

if I had to try to keep her in that spot

on the bus we'd been missing out on one

of our best employees so for me that's

been really allowing people to shine

within their own talents and not where I

think they need to be and if you want to

be someplace else find another job

yeah that's not where I operate from

anymore I walked back the other day and

I saw one of our dishwashers cutting and

chopping on her I'm like whoa wait wait

what are we doing here and he said well

we found out he actually has gone to

culinary school and I go what they go

yeah and we need some extra hands and

now he's on the line one of our chefs

and so I was just that willingness to

let that go the second piece comes from

the book the advantage that I yeah

that's the one

and where he really talks about the

culture and no matter what else I do

here no matter how many SOPs I write no

matter how much business I sell no

matter how many trainings I create for

the staff whatever it is the most

important thing is the team I must

always keep that in mind

sometimes I've kept people on board too

long who were who were poisonous to the

team because I either didn't have the

courage to let them go or I felt sorry

for them or whatever the reason was and

I watched them poison the team and I've

learned that lesson now I don't wait so

long I do work with people try and move

them out of that space but when I see

that they are stuck there move them on

because the most important thing I'm

protecting always is this culture in

this team we had a training meeting just

this week on how on building confidence

confidence as you lead an event as you

pass the hors d'oeurves whatever it is

that you do it in confidence and how you

feel about working here at culinary

crafts and different things we did I did

some role-playing and it was it was a

really fun training but afterwards I

awarded two awards to people who I saw

had come the farthest and I talked about

one who was just only eight just tell me

what to do and I'll do a person to now

managing and another person who the

first time she worked had to go home

because the work was too hard on her

back now she's managing our work house

and to see the distance that those two

people had come and they have them give

their really their testimonies is how

that happened what that was about and

all the blue then I called on Rachel and

I said Rachel you were with us last week

when we received the best of State

statue for the best of all the

hospitality companies in Utah and you

went up on stage with us I want you to

share how you felt and as she started to

cry she said I was so proud to be up

there to be part of this team to be part

of something that was the best that had

been built from the ground up that sweat

and equity had gone in it and as she

talked I realized that that was a piece

of the confidence knowing that it's not

just working for the team it's working

that the team is part of somebody who's

committed to the best so in leadership

great companies don't flow from the

bottom up it'll start with great

employees and then the CEO becomes great

greatness flows from the top down and

when the CEO and the executives and the

management are clear about their vision

their principles what they're going to

live by and what they're about the rest

of the team gets it

they come on board and you protect that

no matter what if someone comes on board

who doesn't want to live in abundance

then I can teach them about it I can

show them a home about it I can give

them examples of how it works and if

they're still living in scarcity then

then they can't be here you know we live

in a culture that likes to be so nice

there's such a you know everybody gets

it everybody gets a trophy and whatever

but talk about making those hard

decisions you know so many so many of us

that run organizations we do the exact

opposite we'd like you know we hire

quickly and then we take forever to like

fire yeah tell me about this you know

this idea of what it is time to move on

how you how you approach that and you

know especially for advice for the rest

of us who either we don't like you know

we don't like conflict like me nobody

like okay you're just you know I lie to

myself about like no it'll probably it

could work itself out I'm gonna get

better the eternal optimist yeah yeah it

is a true principle this this idea that

what we call the law of the harvest in

every culture in the world

this principle exists whether it's known

as the golden rule karma what goes

around comes around you reap what you

sow do unto others as you would have

them do unto you

playing win win the law of abundance

it's all the same principle and so when

people play out of an abundance they

play out of win-win and when you have

someone on your team who is not in

alignment then you're playing win lose

and sometimes lose lose so by bringing

them in and they this will not be the

first time they've heard this thing on

the law of the harvest or a bunch of

times but so they'll know what I'm

talking about and I and I will tell them

this is not working for us and because

of the law of the harvest I know it's

not working for you if you were to

really look inside the best thing I can

do for you is to turn you loose so that

you have an opportunity to find a place

well you can play win win and give your

all and put it in there and maybe you'll

learn and listen from being here about

what you can do differently but

continuing this path doesn't serve

either one of us it doesn't serve me and

I'm not serving you and out of the love

for our culture for me and for you we

need to end this so you can go on and

truly be who it is that you're meant to

be I said that speech over and over

again and people don't get it

you know they're like they starting with

those excuses and that kind of some

people do get it and then they're like

okay I don't put my and some people

leave with the well I got how are you

our words and but some people leave

understanding and the light bulb comes

on and I know that in the next position

it will be different for them but the

one thing I do promise everyone before

they walk out that door even if you

don't understand it today I promise you

the day will come when you will and you

will look back and you will say thanks

Mary for having the courage to teach me

this lesson there you go I think that's

a great place to start stop for part 1

of the episode okay everybody make sure

to tune in for part 2 we're gonna get

more wisdom from Mary

[Music]

hi my name is Logan Wilks I'm the CEO of

corporate Alliance a few years ago I

moved to San Diego to build a new market

for us they're the biggest deterrent I

had to success was I didn't know a soul

I often thought to myself if I just had

a thriving networker influence this

would go a hundred times faster to be

honest with you I had never felt so

alone in my life because a I didn't have

an influence and B I didn't know anyone

that was going through the same thing

that I was if you have ever felt like

this and you were looking to grow your

influence join us in one of our upcoming

events you can check us out at corporate

Alliance net and request an invite to

one of our upcoming experiences

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