Craig Larrabee

Craig Larrabee, president and CEO, Jobs for Maine’s Graduates, Augusta

We pride ourselves on our culture. We’re one of the Best Places to Work in the state of Maine, one of the only nonprofits to receive that award. That really speaks to the investment we’ve made in culture, the importance that everyone in the organization does have a voice, how we’re all on the same team, we just might have different titles and that this is our organization together. It’s not just the CEO’s organization.

Those are all things we spend a lot of time on in our professional development. We bring people outside our organization into our organization to work on culture, and I think it’s really paid off for us.

If you don’t have ownership (by) and empowerment of staff, you won’t have an organization.

Emily Mitchell

Emily Mitchell, co-owner of Hemphill’s Horses, Feed & Saddlery, Vassalboro

We’re always trying to think of new ways of presenting things, to think of new avenues of attraction of business or taking our business on the road. There are three full-time employees besides me and seven part-timers, and some will pick up more hours after school gets out for the year. Very frequently, I say “yes” and figure it out afterward. We have staff gatherings so we can ask questions and see if we’re on the same page and if we have any ideas. I try to stay current on social media, and I look at what tack shops and sale barns are doing to stay current.

My dad always told my mom that I could get out boxes like a bunny. And I stay optimistic; that’s kind of a joke around here.

And sometimes I just step away from desk and get on one of the horses and go for a ride. That’s why this all started.

Andrew Silsby Photo by Dennis Griggs

Andrew Silsby, president and CEO, Kennebec Savings Bank, Augusta

I don’t have a lot of difficulty with creativity. I tend to have lots of ideas, so I think in many respects it’s leading by example in the organization. Ideas sort of bubble out of me. I am probably the creative person. I’m a pretty fast decision maker, so to keep motivated that way is not hard for me at all. The challenge for the staff at the bank is, “What do we do with all these ideas?”

My mother answered the phone for the IRS for customer calls, and my father was director for legislative research at the Legislature for 27 years, but he was also a self-taught artist.

I grew up around the dinner table and the breakfast table with my mother critiquing my father’s art. He would bring his latest painting out and put it on the easel, and my mother would tell him all the things he needed to correct on it. They had a great relationship and they still do. So I get a little bit of creativity, and my banker’s side comes from my mother. I’m a good blend of both of them.

I think creativity and problem-solving is really second nature to me. I think motivating the staff is leading by example.


Christine Pistole

Christine Pistole, president and CEO of Gryffon Ridge Inc., Litchfield

In the business that I am in, there are a lot of different avenues I depend on to get ideas. Thank goodness for social media and the internet.

Being in the food business, it’s constant change. What’s the new product going to be this year?

I do a lot of reading cookbooks and online blogs, and I try to cook a new dish every week, with Maine ingredients. I might revisit them and tweak them if I didn’t like how they came out, but I try to make one new interesting one a week.

I am in the Brunswick Winter Market and the Crystal Springs Farm Farmers Market, and I try to buy ingredients there to cook with.

And I have boundaries. By 4:30 or 5 p.m., I am done. I have animals at the house, so I have to get home to feed them.

David Tomer

David Tomer, co-founder, Sebago Lake Distillery, Gardiner

I always ask “Why not?” instead of “Why?”

I don’t look for reasons things will fail, I look for them to succeed. I’m not afraid of failure.

Here’s an example. I look at our labels. Early on, were told that 50 percent of the reason that people buy a spirit is that they like the label.

We put a lot of effort into designing our label and going back and forth. We’re still now thinking of redesigning the label. On one of them, I failed. There was something that went here and it should have gone there. I came around, but it took me six months.

You never want to stop trying to improve and trying to really take the comments of others into consideration. You are not always right but you should be willing to at least try and give them a fair shake.




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