Becoming a leader is no easy task. That’s why Denise Morrison, the CEO and President of Campbell’s, created Camp Campbell, a program that is empowering the next generation of female leaders by inspiring thought leadership and fostering creative collaboration. Last month, I had the opportunity to launch Camp Campbell’s Austin chapter by participating in an engaging discussion during a family-style dinner with a group of smart Austin ladies, Denise Morrison, Dave Stangis (VP CSR and Public Affairs), Chuck Vila (VP Consumer & Customer Insights), and a few others from the Campbell’s team. I thought the event was successful and the following elements in particular made it shine.
The Campbell’s team did a great job with branding the private dining room at Olive and June. Red pennant banners with ‘Camp Campbell’ on them were hung, relevant hashtags and Twitter handles were displayed in the middle of the table, and every seat was personalized. A poster with the company’s purpose – Real Food that Matters for Life’s Moments – encouraged attendees to start thinking about the discussion.
There was no need to fuss about placing our orders and subconsciously, I think the passing of plates gave guests an extra connection to each other. Olive & June served a lovely Italian dinner of fried ravioli, crostinis, brussel sprouts, arancini, rigatoni, roasted carrots, spaghetti and roasted acorn squash. We ended the meal with chocolate budino and goat cheesecake (see photo below), which were delicious! The dinner service was seamless.
I hadn’t heard about Jeffersonian Dinners before this event, but I thought this format was smart. Based on what Thomas Jefferson did at his dinners, these dinners include a small group of people who share a particular interest. The main rule is that all guests participate in a single conversation so that everyone is listening and engaging instead of engaging in multiple side conversations. Guests are asked to prepare an answer to a pre-given question and everyone gives their answer at the start of the dinner. Moderators introduce new questions throughout the dinner and at the end, all attendees shared their big takeaway from the dinner. This format gave us the opportunity to hear all perspectives and responses and helped us get to know each guest better.
Our discussion centered around how brands and organizations are creating authentic presences in the marketplace and how to be leaders. We discussed our favorite food-related traditions, how food has changed from generation to generation, and brands that are telling their story in an authentic way. As a woman who has worked her way up to become a CEO, Denise had some great insights and reminders on personal and professional development. Here are some of the insights:
- If you know who you are and what you stand for, you can authentically lead others and have more impact.
- Declare where you want to be and who you want to be, then find the steps to that goal. Find people to help you get there. Be strategic about your journey.
- Service is an example of leadership.
- Ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness. Ask for exactly what you need and don’t forget to ask what you can do for them in return.
Before and after dinner, we had some time to chat with our fellow attendees. It was very interesting learning about each other’s lives and passions.
As we were leaving, favor bags full of Campbell’s goodies were handed out. Favors are a great way for guests to take home the experience, and in this case, it was also a good way to introduce attendees to Campbell’s products they may not be familiar with currently.
I think one of the biggest take-aways for me was the subtle reminder of the power of face-to-face meetings and thoughtful discussions. As the coasters in our favor bags say, “to slow down over a meal and converse in the art of conversation is a gift.”
While this was the only official event planned and attended by Campbell’s in the near future, Camp Campbell‘s Austin chapter is looking forward to planning its own meet-ups. Camp Campbell’s Austin chapter is the program’s ninth, and chapters have launched in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago and Dallas.
Have you ever participated in a Jeffersonian dinner?