The LoCo Experience

EXPERIENCE 73 | Ginger Graham, Owner of Ginger and Baker

July 25, 2022 Season 2
The LoCo Experience
EXPERIENCE 73 | Ginger Graham, Owner of Ginger and Baker
Show Notes Transcript

Ginger Graham is the Owner of Ginger and Baker. They are one of the finest cafes in town that also serves as a steakhouse and bakery. 

Our conversation journeys through a high-impact career that culminated in her becoming CEO of a medical product company known as Advanced Cardiovascular Systems. We then discuss her transition moving to Fort Collins and building her own cafe. 

Ginger is a highly intelligent, remarkably humble, and incredibly kind person. She can be an inspiration to many young women in the world, so I hope you'll tune in and learn something new! 


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Curt:

Welcome back. This is your host Kurt bear, and I'm honored to share with you today. My conversation with ginger Graham known locally as the founder of ginger and baker, and as the wife of former CSU football star and later athletic director, Jack. Long time, Boulder residents, ginger and Jack fell in love with Fort Collins and own and operate the finest coffee, shop pie, shop cafe, fine dining and event space in the region. However, ginger has an expansive business journey that will come as a surprise to many of our listeners born to humble beginnings in rural Northwest Arkansas. Ginger took a leap of faith early in her career and got an MBA from Harvard business. Our conversation journeys through a high impact career that culminated in her becoming CEO of a medical product company known as advanced cardiovascular systems at a time when women and especially young women never got such jobs and taking it public as guidance corporation, growing it from 1900 people to 14,000 employees across the globe, along the way, ginger is a highly intelligent, remarkably humble and incredibly kind person for sharing her. An inspiring story with me and our listeners. And I hope you'll tune in. Welcome back to the local experience podcast. This is your host Kurt bear, and I'm just honored to be here today with ginger Graham. Ginger is the founder and owner along with the, her husband, Jack of ginger and baker here in Fort Collins. And they are happy and joyful Fort Collins residence of about 11 years now. So right. Ginger, talk to me about, when Jack first indicated he was gonna be moving the family or at least himself initially to Fort Collins, what was that like for you and where were you coming from?

Ginger:

Well, we lived in Boulder for 15 years. Oh wow. Before Fort Collins. And before that in the bay area, and both of us have lived in many places, I've lived all over the us and Jack's business career had him in London a lot and Bermuda. Mm wow. So we've had the opportunity to be in many beautiful cities and wonderful places in the world. And we just love Fort Collins, but Jack had sold his business in Boulder and the president of CSU had approached him about. Potentially taking over his athletic director at CSU. Yeah. So, you know, Jack was a football player, had a great experience here. Their team was number one in the country in passing yards that year that helps get the donors reengage and things like that. And, uh, eight of them were drafted into the NFL. Oh wow. Leading Jack. So he always had very fond memories of his time here kept in touch. You know, we came to football games occasionally. Yeah. And then he was approached to come and help, uh, generate interest to see if they could have an on campus stadium, which was kind of fun because Jack played football when it was brand new at Hughes. And then, you know, 50 years later, plus you come back and the concrete's broken. It's sinking into the earth out there. There's no hot water in the bathrooms. It's a very old facility, not well maintained, unfortunately, and was not a good tool to recruit or to excite people about being a part of CSU. Yeah. And so he really came with a passion to help CSU wow. Continue on. It's a big project,

Curt:

right? Like no guarantees when you take a job like

Ginger:

that. That's right. And of course, everything in college athletics is so high profile. And so contentious, unfortunately when it's really all about the students and their education and their great experience. Uh, that schools support for them to see how far they can go athletically. Yeah. So he loved that job. We enjoyed it very much and fell in love with Fort Collins. And so we're still here.

Curt:

Awesome. Well, we're so glad to have you, and, and I'm honored, uh really that you had share time. And, I saw a little video that you shared with me about your career in medicine and in corporate and tech. And I just had no idea you were such an accomplished business veteran, and I think you keep that a secret so much, and I've, I've had more than a handful of people recommend that you be on the show. And so, um, that's nice. Yeah. Thanks for sharing your time. You bet. I want to like maybe meet. Young ginger. Tell me that. Oh yeah. And is that close to your natural hair color? Are you use that ginger?

Ginger:

Yes. Uh, I am fortunate that ginger was my name. My mom's name was Virginia. Ah, so I was going to be ginger, no matter what, and I was born bald, so she used to tell stories that she would use Karo syrup and stick a bow to my head because I didn't have hair, but, uh, there's redheaded jeans in the family. So lucky me.

Curt:

Yeah, no, it's, uh, it, it becomes you quite well. Thank you. It's uh, it's a blessing of a name to have it that way. Nobody ever forgot your name.

Ginger:

Well, it's, it's really true. And I loved my name. My whole life. I've loved my name because it's unique. Mm-hmm and there aren't other people. And now I get a big kick at ginger and baker because we chose to use my name and the ingredient as part of the name. Uh, people will have this moment of reckoning where I meet them. I tell them who I am. They look at me, they look at the sign, they think a minute and you can see it all unfold for them that, oh, you are a person. You are ginger. You are ah, ginger. You're an extra ginger. Yeah. And then it's the business. So it's very fun to watch people. Yeah. Put all that together. It's funny.

Curt:

I just saw somebody today at the coffee shop over at, uh, Genesis coffee. And he was in a staff meeting with four people and he was, Hey bar, how's it going? Introduced me to his whole staff. I have no idea who he was.

Ginger:

Oh, but it's well, you famous Kurt. Well, well, I'm

Curt:

support Collins famous a little bit, but, but bear, you know, everybody like it's easy name recognition. Just yes. Like, like your ginger for almost everybody that's ever met. You I'm, even though I go by Kurt, I don't go by bear, but everybody reminds, remembers bear.

Ginger:

Yes. Well, it's actually a great aid in my career that a first name basis. Yeah. And so I've always been. Known by my first name, which is fine with me. And it does have a lasting memory attachment easier for people. They remember my name. So

Curt:

where was this little bald baby

Ginger:

born? well, my, uh, parents raised their family in Arkansas, so I'm from Northwest Arkansas, the Ozarks, a beautiful part of the world. If you ever get to go there, love to you. And they were, uh, rural America. So my dad was a mailman. My mom. Kept books for the Ford motor company dealership in town. Mm-hmm she also babysat children. She made birthday cakes for people for money. So they were just trying to make a living. Yeah. And, uh, there are two of us, uh, born in Springdale, my older brother and I, and then my family had a way of gathering. So my, uh, four cousins lived not too far away. My mom helped care for them and she babysat children. My dad's oldest, um, sister is 20 years older than his youngest sister. Right. So the younger. Aunt and uncle lived with us when I was a child. My aunt lived with us for almost 13 years. Wow. So it was like having an older sister. My parents also kept foster children and, uh, my younger brother is an important addition to our family as, uh, He was adopted when I was in oh, grade school. Wow. And so the tent was very big yeah. In my family, the best people coming in. Yes. And my parents fed everyone. Wow. Cared for everyone. Uh, really committed themselves to the community in so many ways. Yeah. So I grew up in that small town, America, where being on a farm, you always had food. Yep. And you could always share food. And that really forms a lot of my commitment to community and hospitality is that idea that we share what we have and we're all in it together. When the

Curt:

Matthews house was building their community life centers, they toured some of the country and they looked at these like community models. And I can't quite remember the, the name, but it's almost like that was a, a spontaneous community house of sorts. Like have. Come here would

Ginger:

get a more better. Yes. My parents were good at that. They loaned our vehicles to people that were in trouble. They, you know, gathered up clothes. My mom took food to everyone. If you had a baby or you were sick yeah. Or you moved, or any kind of event happened in your life, we were packing up food to take to someone else. And that's a large part of the pie story for me is my job was to make pie crust on weekends and freeze them for mom. So she could take a pie to people. Yeah. And that sense of extending yourself, helping others and whatever fruit is in season, it's local, it's seasonal, it's handmade. It's made with love. It's an extension of sharing and it's a community food. Yeah. So I consider pie to be a metaphor for building community and investing in those around you.

Curt:

Yeah. I think that's. Wonderful. And I'm sure you share that here and there, and it's been part of your drive, but I just hear you tell it as part of that deeper story. It's just really lovely to share. So tell me about young, young ginger. Like, were you with all this? How about going along or were you always extroverted? Were you high achiever? Were you into athletics or school? What kind of community was this overall like the county or the city nearby and things?

Ginger:

Well, it's very much rural America. So we lived on a dirt road way out in the country. Now it doesn't seem so far, but back then, it seemed like a long way we bused to school. So there was a very large school system in Springdale, Arkansas, and all the country, kids from small towns all around. Went there to school and it was a great school system. They had every kind of activity you could imagine. So I did do everything. I could, I was a junior miss. I was in honor society. I was a cheerleader. I was on the gymnastics team and lettered in high school and gymnastics, but a big part of our life was the rural American life. So it was a family farm. Mm-hmm we grew a very significant portion of what we ate, including the beef cattle and the chickens. Wow. That kind of thing. Alongside

Curt:

being a mailman in a bookkeeper. Yes. All these things.

Ginger:

Yes. My dad would get up at some crazy hour in the morning, in the dark and go to work. And then when he got home, he would work as a farmer. Wow. And so we canned like crazy in the summer. Uh, it was really, you know, the hard life yeah. That my parents lived, but I did not understand how. Fragile our economic situation was as children because we always had food mm-hmm and our parents were in the community and sharing is part of that. So I really grew up, you know, small town, rural America, dirt road, grow your own food, make your own own clothes, husbandry. Yes. Alls responsibility and a big part of rural America. Of course, with agriculture are animals mm-hmm And for me it was horses. I was a. Addict from day one I had Shetland ponies when I was a kid and then graduated to full size horses and four H was a big part of our lives. Yeah. My mom helped organize four H and my dad was a big leader. And so we as children. Were four H participants, which meant you could learn to groom cattle for showing or compete with a horse. Yeah. Uh, canning sewing. I competed in all those things. I just had Anne

Curt:

Hutchinson on and she, uh, did judging

Ginger:

with four H I bet. I bet. Yes. Well, it's a big part of rural America's sense of helping children see the world and experience different things and learn new skills. Yeah. And so four H was very important to our family as was church camp. It was very, my parents were very involved in a small community church and camp was a big part of that. Uh, and just in general rodeo. So rodeo was four HS. Can you name them? Oh, head, heart, hands and health. okay.

Curt:

Boom. That was easy. I, I was like head

Ginger:

heart yes, but it is, um, framework. For children to engage. Sure. And to learn, to compete and to learn skills. I thought it was a very valuable activity.

Curt:

Well, and think about how profound those are in your head is, you know, get your head right. Uh, be logical and reasonable hands. You know, that's your, that's your actions, the heart, you know, how you care about each other and health is the, the only thing that you can't really buy.

Ginger:

Yes. That's true. You cannot buy, you can't invest in. Yes. But, uh, you do get a set of cards dealt to you and then you make choices your whole life. Yeah. But I do feel like that. Integration in community, you know, because of course, four H were bands of kids that lived in proximity to each other. Yeah. So out on that dirt road, all the neighbors, kids were in the same four H we rode horses together in the summer, bare back down the dirt roads, and we rode the school bus together to school and we went to four H together. So it was part of your community building. Yeah, for

Curt:

sure. And was Springdale itself, was that a large

Ginger:

community? No, it was very small. I think when I was a, a very young child, it was about 5,000 people. Okay. But it's always fun to be a mailman's daughter cuz everybody knows who you are. but it grew. And today it's the home of Tyson's chicken. Oh, the Tysons are from there. And it's also next door to Waltons and Sam and Walmart. Wow. It's next door to, so this will become kind of a commercial hub region. So Northwest Arkansas now is the home to a number of fortune 500 companies. Sure. And we knew all of those families, but of course, a long time ago, uh, they weren't considered to be the icons. Right. They were just members of the community. Walmart had

Curt:

seven stores in the Western or Northwestern part of Arkansas at the time

Ginger:

or whatever, right? Yes. It was really still small town America. And so I like to tell the story that, you know, my dad bought his truck the same place Sam Walton did. That's what communities were built of it wasn't about your income or status. Yeah. You went to church, you attended the parade, you supported the rodeo. Yeah. Your kids were in four H we all went to public school

Curt:

together. Yeah, we can. And yeah, that's an interesting thing. It has. definitely that I guess the social media element of the world has magnified that status seeking kind of behavior that has always existed.

Ginger:

You know, I am, I'm not a social scientist, but I have been struck by a book called coming apart that is written to describe what's changed in many ways, socially, since the fifties and sixties, where we all did live in every socioeconomic rung in the same community. And we all participated together. And how over time in this country, we were beginning to come apart. We moved by gated communities and certain people go to certain schools. And, uh, I, for one love Fort Collins because we are still a community. Yeah. We still have every socioeconomic, uh, range. We have every profession we have. Uh, many generational local businesses. We still have investment and commitment to our community, regardless of our means. Yeah. And I hope we work really hard to keep that I

Curt:

agree a hundred percent and that's actually one of the key reasons I, I moved to Fort Collins in 99 and then my wife and I moved to Windsor and then to Colorado Springs and came back in oh seven. Um, and one of the notable differences, and one of the reasons we came back was Colorado Springs was like, you know, here's the Broadmore district, here's the fountain or here's Fort Carson. Here's the, the tech where the tech people live. Here's where the, you know, the Christians live around here. and it was just all these segmented elements of it. Wasn't one community of color of Springs. It was adjacent people groups.

Ginger:

Um, well, it's a challenge. I think. For human nature, you know? Yeah. We, we love to be with people like us who reinforce us, who think like us, who support how we think. And one of the great gifts I think in my raising and in my life is I've repeatedly been in situations with people where I am not like them. Yeah. I've never heard of them. I didn't know that existed. And I didn't live there before. I don't know anyone. And I hope it's, uh, you know, made me a better person. I feel like it has. And I hope Fort Collins continues to be that community where everyone's welcome. Yeah. And everyone plays a role and everyone is called to give back because that's how we stay

Curt:

together. I think that's, uh, one of my kind of special things and I suspect yours as well. Is that not just willingness to. Desire to engage with people different than me.

Ginger:

Yes. It's more interesting. So much more. Sure. Yeah. And I, I say to so many people who come to ginger and baker that are new to town, moving here, just moved, thinking about moving. I, I try to enthusiastically describe what Fort Collins means to us, but say to them, but if you move here, you have to join in. You have to show up, you have to be engaged. You have to meet other people. Yeah. You're gonna be seek to learn. Yep. You have to learn Fort Collins. Don't bring where you came from with you invest in this place and be it because we definitely don't want to over time be separate. We want to be Fort Collins. Yeah.

Curt:

I agree with that. Um, so tell me. Post high school, you were involved in a lot of four H doing these things, community building along the way a little bit. And your, your family was of course, um, you head off to school and I remember you have an agricultural economics degree, which is the same as my

Ginger:

own. Oh, how fun I do. And it was unusual for a girl to do that at the time, but I was born, I think thinking I was gonna be a veterinarian. Hmm. So I did pre-vet school, which required I had to go out of state was very expensive for my family. And then I spent a year working for a veterinarian. It was at the same time I was miss rodeo Arkansas, which is a, was a fun time in my life to be an ambassador for a sport. I loved. So I took a semester off and worked for a vet and did the rodeo thing, and I realized I didn't really wanna be a veterinarian that wasn't, uh, professionally going to be. Gratifying for me. Yeah. It's a struggle. I think back then, farmers didn't expect that women should be on the farm doing and seeing certain things. Mm. So there was a lot of pushback about participation. Oh. And it was economically very challenging as well. New veterinarians were literally living in the vets office on the couch and making 300 bucks a month. And so I knew that that wasn't gonna work for me, sustaining a life. So I decided to switch and went to the university of Arkansas, which was just next door from where I was raised. Okay. They have a land grant school just like CSU, a giant agriculture school, just like CSU. And, uh, I loved it there. And of course had the benefit of being able to live at home and commute to school, which was economically doable for my family. Yeah.

Curt:

Made that wasted year of prevet.

Ginger:

Uh, yes. I know. I always felt guilty about having asked my parents to send me out of state. But you don't know. Yeah. Until you try. Yeah. And I think that's an important lesson for young people of all types is you can't possibly know what you want to do. Yeah, because you haven't done it yet. And so many careers today didn't exist. When I came out of college, how could we have known all the choices and all the opportunities yeah. That people would have. So the idea of embracing the opportunity and saying yes to opportunities and jumping into things you don't know, I feel like is a very important life skill. Yeah. I very much agree. I was lucky, you know, that, uh, my family really supported that. Yeah. They were always saying, you can do anything you want. Their only expectation was they would like for us to be good people. So they didn't care what we did. My mom always told people I was gonna be the first secretary of agriculture which did not work out. But I didn't this the time maybe. Yeah. well, there's already been a woman's secretary of agriculture. So that came. So there's

Curt:

the joy in that? Yeah.

Ginger:

yes, but I did get a lot of encouragement to. Pursue things that excited me. Yeah. And ended up in the school of agriculture and an advisor recommended the economic side of the industry, which I had never, uh, experienced, didn't know anything about. And I fell in love with it. So that yielded a great degree from a good, good school. And they worked very hard to make sure that you got job interviews and you had opportunities. So that worked out great. I got a wonderful job offer from company called Elanco coming out of college. Okay. Which was at the time, the largest agriculture chemical company in the world. And they put me to work selling herbicides to soybean and cotton farmers.

Curt:

Ooh, I wanna linger back in the college days, just a little bit. Were you, did you remain involved in four H were you kind of had to transition more to the miss rodeo kind of obligations and that circuit, was there horse riding contests or different things that you still did during that time? You

Ginger:

know, I didn't compete as much. Uh, I was really trying to get an education, so I took very heavy loads. I had two or three part-time jobs all the way through school, uh, because it was a burden on my family. My brother was also in college and he was getting a pharmacy degree. And so we, uh, benefited from our parents. Being very committed to the fact that we would have an education. Neither one of them had the opportunity yeah. To go to college. So they were committed that we would, and I think we over participated, uh, he has a phar D and I have a master's degree. We really did buy into the education. And it has been life changing for both of us. Yeah, for sure. For sure. But I was involved as you know, in a, a limited number of things I wrote, uh, in the journalism department for the, what they called it, an internal house organ. It was all of the custodial and facilities had their own newsletter. So I wrote their newsletter. Oh. Uh, I worked part-time for a radio station. Oh really? Uh, I did some writing for a newspaper, so I had a journalism minor. Okay. That really interested me. Uh, and you know, along the way, just whatever I could to, to contribute to my education. And then I was a member of the honor society. I worked at the football games. We were so, uh, big back then in the Southwest conference. Mm-hmm and it was. Eddie Sutton and Lou Holtz were the two big coaches, one for basketball, one for football, both were NCAA coaches of the year. So sports were huge and I worked concession stands and that kind of thing to help out at the university. But a lot of my effort was to really get an education and work. Yeah.

Curt:

Yeah. And obviously get good grades and things like that too. It seems like, yes, you're the, uh, overachiever that every teacher and every parent is hoping for. Um, so you said you started your career. Was it Landco Elanco Elanco selling chemicals and fertilizers? Yes.

Ginger:

It was herbicide herbicide for soybean and cotton farmers. So I had the opportunity to move to the Mississippi Delta area, the Northeast part of Arkansas and call on some of the largest soybean and cotton farmers in the world. And that was a real education because I had no. Row crop experience, only animal health. And my degree of course, was biased with prevet toward animal health. Right? So it was a huge learning curve for me.

Curt:

Yeah. Well, I'm a dirt farmer's kid. We didn't really have animals to speak of on, on our farm when I was kid. So I come more from that side of, of understanding the soils and things. And I, I love my dad, uh, has a pretty decent farm. Now he started at also kind of nights and weekends when he had a full-time job. And now he gets like trips because of how much chemical he buys and things like that. Probably the similar thing when you're in those days.

Ginger:

So interesting because it's such an economic model difference. So being raised in a world with animal husbandry, you, you are very, uh, strapped. I think mm-hmm to the production aspect. So you have to buy your chickens, you have to buy the feed and then you have to sell your chickens on the market. And you're at the vagaries of. That. And it's not much land it's intensive farming. Yeah. So you put, uh, you know, for good and for evil, we do intensive food production farming. If you are a row crop farmer, you have to have a lot of land mm-hmm because the equipment is so very expensive that if you can't spread it over a lot of acres, the economics don't work. So it was really an education and a model difference between intensive farming and giant capital farming. Which really causes very different behaviors by the farmers, the amount of risk they take, how much debt they incur. Sure. And so that in a way was a living manifestation of my agriculture economics degree. Yeah. And one of the great things I got to do for Lanco was at the time president Reagan before had, uh, launched what they called national agriculture week as a way to recognize the importance of the family farm and farming in our country. And I was asked to produce the national television show that was called, uh, that was in honor of ag week. And it was called who will farm the land. And we really did an expose on the loss of family farms in this country. Well, even their skills

Curt:

and things like

Ginger:

that. Yeah. Yes. Well, in the economic impossibility of being a family farm yeah. Because large scale farming. Is so different than what a small family can ever undertake. And, you know, for many debatable reasons, agriculture has moved to be a corporate enterprise in this country and not so much a family enterprise anymore. And that was made very real to me in my, uh, years right out of college.

Curt:

Well, I was reflecting on another difference in that husbandry versus land farming, is that in, in raising animals, you're almost always just kind of working on a small margin, you know, prices go up and prices go down, but there's just kind of a, a value add. Thanks for creating more chickens, SU fattening, the cows, whatever that question is. Whereas with dirt farming, you might have, you know, a whatever, a $2 and 50 cent wheat crop, and only in our area, 20 bushels to the acre would be $50 an acre and you're losing money, or you might have a $7 wheat crop and a hundred bushels. And that would be $700 per acre. Mm-hmm right. And so just the difference. It could be windfalls or losses. It's highly leveraged with all that capital costs. It's a lot of

Ginger:

leverage to model those fixed costs are not altered. And this year makes me really think about those challenges. We have a small hay operation here in Fort Collins and, uh, Jack and I were talking about the cost of fertilizer is exactly two times what it was a year ago. Mm-hmm uh, the cost of diesel is. Of almost three and a half times. Yeah. What it was. And so what does that mean about the cost of a bail of hay? It's got to go up, right? Because you can't manufacture that unit for the same

Curt:

price when you take that to a farther conclusion. So maybe you buy less fertilizer yes. To compensate. So you don't have to charge too much more and maybe you're Europe and everybody buys less fertilizer because it's too damn expensive. And then the food production goes way down. And then guess what happens to the price

Ginger:

of the rest of the food? Yes, it is a, it is a integrated cycle and our ability to think strategically and long term as a society, maybe even as a world is not as, uh, well honed as we might think it is as we would all like for it to be. And I also think about the current times, you know, with Ukraine and it's very predominant place in. Uh, wheat production and grain in the world. Sure. And now you can see the wheat farmers, the wheat is just beginning to come ripe. Right? And so wheat farmers this year will. Benefit from the constrained supply. Sure. And people at the grocery store will pay more for bread and not like it. Yeah. And I think the reality of those economics don't get all the way to the American table and we should talk about

Curt:

it more. Yeah. I agree. Well, obviously you paid attention to your agricultural economics classes better than I did.

Ginger:

I loved it. So talk

Curt:

about, uh, kind of some of your career progression and, and if you think about. Things that were really meaningful to you, that you learned along the way that are that empowered kind of a next step of leadership, uh, feel free to draw extra light on

Ginger:

those. Well, there are so many people that have had a dramatic influence on my personal development. My professional development I'll tell a story from that very first job. I was the first woman they hired in that company for the south, because it was new. I am struck today thinking about with Ruth Bader, Ginsburg's passing, uh, if it had not been for her and women like her, but the time I graduated from college, I would not have likely gotten a job in the fields. Yeah. That I did because they had to hire women. And actually they told me on my interviews at college companies said we have to hire diverse people. And so you're one of our candidates. And, uh, you know, I always took that as an opportunity, not as a negative. Well, that's good, but it did open doors for me that. Five years earlier would not have been possible. So I came out of college, went to work for Elanco, which was a wonderful company, but it was shocking for them. Uh, you know, I was a girl. I

Curt:

mean, it was shocking for some of your clients. Oh, very. You kept calling up on the farm and you're this shocking, bright red haired

Ginger:

gal. Yes. There were many stories that, uh, you know, one could call developmental opportunities, but I'll tell you one in particular, because it was such a lesson in leadership for me. So my biggest customer was a big co-op in, uh, middle. Of my territory in rural Arkansas. Okay. And he refused to talk to me. He did not want a woman calling on him and he had some legitimate points. I was just outta college. I'd never worked row crops. I really did not know what I was doing. So I used the expression. I was a green bean. I literally didn't know what I was doing. I was in training. I was working hard. I was studying, I was trying, I knew everyone in his business, the guy on the dock, the woman in the, uh, reception area. I knew all of his farmer customers. I worked for months. Oh, so you were there, like, I was trying hard Mr. Jones, but he would not speak with me. And he called my district manager, who was an incredibly talented district manager and had been in the business for three decades. And when he called Charles, he said, you know, I'm not gonna buy. Any TRF land, which was the largest product we sold. Yeah. For and the largest herbicide in the world at the time for soybean and cotton farmers, he said, I'm not gonna buy any, unless you give me my old sales rep back, who was a guy. And they had golfed together and been duck hunting together and were friends and who knew a lot more than me. And of course you can imagine the district manager had pressure to hit his quota. Uh, there's definitely pressure from your customers to do what they want. Mm-hmm And so, uh, that moment was critical because Charles could have said, oh, okay, well Tom's in the same town. Still I'll send him by. But instead he said, gosh, Bob, that's a shame. Your farmers are gonna miss TRF land. If you change your mind called ginger And that's, I. Took a lot of courage. A courageous yeah. Moment. Yeah. And it was a courageous moment. Well, and he had your back

Curt:

that had to feel pretty special.

Ginger:

And think about the time, you know, it was 1979. Yeah. So we're talking about a long time ago before it was cool. right. But he made that stand and by making that stand, he gave me a chance to actually be successful on my own merits. Yeah. I kept working eventually. Bob did see me and when I got promoted, he took a lot of credit for how successful I had been, which I love It should be. But it, you know, it was a life changing moment because it could have been, oh, well you can't make quota or everyone knows, we shouldn't have hired a girl. It could have been all those stories. Yeah. But it wasn't. And that was very important to me. And by that support, I did learn, I worked really hard. I got promoted and went to Indianapolis to the headquarters. And that's where I had the opportunity to learn marketing and advertising and promotion and the financials behind a business and all of the things that make a business run. Yeah. Uh, and realize how much, I didn't know. Which really opened the door to the next opportunity for me.

Curt:

How was Indianapolis as a community, uh, compared to what you had experienced before that I've never been, but

Ginger:

I'm, well, it's a wonderful place, but I have to tell you back then it was really different. Uh, we used to laugh and say they rolled up the sidewalks at five o'clock and put them indoors. it you know, it was a town without, um, activity, but Indianapolis in a, an amazing few decades later with a public private partnership leadership from the local business community, outstanding city leaders, the investment, it's now a vibrant, exciting community in sports, in symphony, in art, in music. Uh, it's a wonderful town and it's Midwesterners, you know, so they're the nicest people for sure. So I, I really loved Indianapolis. I actually ended up living there four times in my career in and out for various reasons. But it was a challenge. I was, I'd never been there. Uh, you know, I drove my little used car north of the Mason Dixon line by myself with some plants in my car and, uh, rented a place and eventually found a little place to buy in Indianapolis and went to work for a headquarters, which yeah, I had never experienced, but I learned a ton and I got to travel and I got to learn a lot about the economics from a business perspective of agriculture. I ended up. Uh, being asked to run a program all over the us for farmers to teach commodity trading, because it was a new idea. Mm-hmm at the time that farmers themselves could hedge their risk. Right. And try not to be exposed to the very things that you described, these wild swings up and down, right? So we ended up going all over the us and hosting tens of thousands of farmers and to teach them wow, to encourage them to think about how to manage their risk going forward. So they weren't exposed to wild swings in all the prices for the inputs or all the prices for their product. And this

Curt:

was really just a, a, a giving of knowledge for your organization. Yes. Because, and just to kind of brand building, I guess, in a way of, Hey, we get you

Ginger:

back and yeah, it was very much an investment by the company in agriculture as a community, because. At the time it's when commodity marketing was really growing dramatically, it's when larger scale agriculture was happening. Mm-hmm a lot of these, you know, farmers from all over the country were when NAFTA was kind of new back then AMA seen more acres. Uh, it was before the big embargo that Jimmy Carter put on Russia mm-hmm so there was a lot of debt being taken by farmers to expand mm-hmm because there were so much market opportunity. And as with all economic swings, I was in hardened fast. Yes. When I was in Lanco, when the embargo happened and commodity markets crashed in America. and unfortunately that has a huge impact on rural America, not just, yeah, a farmer, but if a farmer can't buy seeds, the seed company goes down, right. If a farmer doesn't buy fertilizer, the fertilizer company, and then the bank who loaned all those businesses, their money, and pretty soon rule America lost its economic stability. Yeah. And this happened, that's kinda the farm age in the early eighties. Exactly. And so, well, Allison, my first memories of Willie Nelson. Yes, exactly. Trying to help farm families. And it's when a lot of family farms went bankrupt. Yeah. And they went, uh, families were thrown off their farms because that's not just their business, it's their home. Yeah. And it was a huge lesson in the global politics and how it affects local farm families. And

Curt:

so if you were sitting on the shoulder of the deciders at that time, were there S. Mistakes and errors that really contributed to the crisis.

Ginger:

Oh, Kurt books have been written books and books have been written. Uh, there's no doubt that our interface with Russia over my entire life yeah. Has caused it continues today. Yes. Has caused dislocation and disruption. And I think it, it doesn't come home on a daily basis except every now and then. And it certainly came home when I was a young marketing associate and all of our customers were losing their homes and their farms. Yeah. Yeah. And their children were facing the reality that they would never be farmers. Uh, it's come home to us again today. When we're looking now we can see it on TV and social media in a way that is almost overwhelming to watch. Yeah. And it's hitting our economic fortunes and. Supply chain issues in general, our lifestyle. And I think hopefully it sobers us and remember it helps us remember we're part of a global community and we also need a strong America where we can feed ourselves and take care of ourselves. And we won't lose sight of agriculture. As part

Curt:

of that, that's a fair statement I've been, uh, and we shouldn't get too many squirrels chased, but I've been thinking lately and, and even writing in my blogs that. Energy is almost more like money than money is these days.

Ginger:

It's amazing how commodities actually are the value, whether it's right, whether it's gold, rare metals, oil, or oil or wheat grain, uh, we must not forget that all of the superfluous benefits of today's age can't make up for survival. I might

Curt:

feel like I could die if I don't have an iPhone, but I won't actually, it probably won't So did you get tossed out of the industry then rounds

Ginger:

and things? Oh, it's inside of it was, it was worse than being tossed out. I was not. I had no outlet to contribute, you know, so I was a very junior member of the staff, uh, the company downsized by half. Mm. All of our customers were upended. The world was in chaos, interest rates spiked. You may remember 21% interest rates. I was five, but yes, you don't remember not very good. Well, it was a very tumultuous

Curt:

time, but my dad lost his first farm at that time as well. He bought a farm on a, a contract and, and had to give it

Ginger:

back a personal memory about that. And so it was a time where as a young. Person in a business, they had much bigger fish to fry than me. So I was looking for opportunities. I was not able to really, uh, contribute in a big way. And so I went to, they had a company shrink and I had, 'em do a whole battery of tests about my aptitudes and abilities and interest thinking, maybe that, what should I be when I grow up? Yes. Maybe that will help me. I can't watch

Curt:

these people

Ginger:

suffering longer. but he had some great advice. He said, you know, you love business. Uh, you have an aptitude for business, but you don't have the skills. You, you don't have the training. He said, you should go to business school. Oh. And I had never had an accounting course or a finance course or a marketing course. I was an ag kid. I took science and math. So I decided to go to the library, such an antique idea and read about business schools and. I did. And I found a brochure about Harvard business school, which really intrigued me because of the Socratic method for teaching. Huh. And I was,

Curt:

that's what we use at local think tank is basically the Socratic method for pulling problems apart and challenges. Mm-hmm

Ginger:

it. I was enamored with the concept that people from all over the globe would get together and debate and discuss and bring perspectives. And you would solve problems based on that collection of insight and passion, as opposed to a more narrow decision process or being lecture to and told right. What the answer would be. So in my naivety, I didn't, I didn't know where Harvard was. I didn't know anybody who'd ever been. Uh, I had a brochure in a library I applied and the miracle was I got in. So I literally sold everything I owned. Including my car and my furniture and my place. And I packed up in an old car that my brother gave me that in a true metaphor in life was on cinder blocks in Arkansas

Curt:

and let me think we can, we can make it to Connecticut.

Ginger:

Yes. Well, we, I is summer. Harvard is it's in Boston, Boston. Yeah, mass. Sorry. So I went to high school with a guy who owned a mechanic shop and he offered to try to make the car run for me. So we put new tires on it and he made it run, Dennis, fixed it up. And my mom got in the car with me and I drove to Boston

Curt:

and you're like maybe 27 or something like that.

Ginger:

Yes. 26, I think at the time. Okay. And um, so intimidating

Curt:

and yeah. How about your folks? How did your folks feel? Well, your mom went with you at least to

get

Ginger:

drive by. She drove with me. Yes, because it's a very long drive, right? From rural Arkansas to Boston. I think they were worried. And afraid I had a great job, a great paying job. I had a company car, an expense account. I had traveled the us. I had been promoting she's on top of the world. What is she doing? And I ended up, you know, selling everything, quitting, everything, moving to a place they'd never been. And it was, it's very sweet, still as a memory for me, because I remember when they talked to someone who knew what Harvard was. Mm. And that person changed, you know, their fears. Right. I think because when that person explained to them, what it meant for me to get into Harvard business school, Then I think their anxieties dropped yeah. About was I making a huge mistake in life, but it was very challenging. I couldn't afford Harvard for one thing. And I was very blessed to get a scholarship that paid my second year of tuition. Wow. Because I don't know how I would've done it. I came out with a huge amount of debt anyway, but you know, my friends from Indianapolis sent me jars of peanut butter and it was one of those things that the opportunity was life altering. So

Curt:

when I got to college, I had come from this kind of very rural background. I graduated with a class of five and, uh, I was sure that I was gonna be kind of quote, unquote dumber than these city kids and stuff that were gonna be at North Dakota state university. And honestly, I, I acted in such a way that I kind of tried to prove it for a couple years before I realized that I was just as smart as them. I can imagine maybe being intimidated when you're going to Harvard business school, even though you'd been to college and been a high performer, there was that scary in that

Ginger:

fashion, it was completely intimidating and overwhelming just pulling into the parking lot. So I had this 1972 90, 98 olds, mobile that was rusted around the wheel covers. And I pull into the parking lot with Lamborghini and Ferrari and me Mercedes. And so I knew day one, I was in a place that I'd never experienced and maybe didn't fit and they do something at Harvard or they did back then. That also was very intimidating. They published a resume book. So your first class at Harvard, you're put in a chair with 90 people. You stay in that room for a whole year. So you and 89 other people sit in the same seat in the same room and there faculty comes to you. So you debate every topic. Every class, every case study with that same 89 people. Wow. So you really in depth experience their experiences and their lives and that one seat in that room with that resume book completely blew my mind. I knew I didn't belong. There was no way I was gonna make it. I was scared to death. I would stay up all night long studying. I was so worried that I was gonna fail at Harvard business school and all of the things about, you know, quitting your job and taking a risk and all that would've been wrong. And the good news is at the midterms. I made it. I got good grades from my midterms. Did

Curt:

you ease

Ginger:

up a little bit on yourself then? Well, I don't think I ever cared less. But I began to learn over time that I could compete. Yeah. And have the confidence to speak and compete because at Harvard, half of your grade is your verbal participation. Mm. So you must speak. Interesting. So your confidence in speaking your ability to clearly state your thoughts to argue your viewpoints. So present your ideas is critical to your grade at Harvard.

Curt:

So how was, uh, your acceptance by the other blue bloods that were part of those classes and that 89 other people, did they welcome you as quickly as you welcomed yourself?

Ginger:

Well, there's no doubt that there was awkwardness for me, who knows what they thought at the time. I was a little bit older than most classmates. I had worked for five years before I applied to business school. I definitely was different than everyone else there. And. I did meet for the first time, what I call other women like me. Yeah. So two of my best friends to this day are women that were in that classroom with me, because I began to see that other women had big interest in business and also spoke out and had a lot of, you know, engagement, some verb, yes. About, uh, ideas and about competing. And that was a great confidence builder, but it was an amazing education because I did get to be with people from every country in the world, every walk of life, every experience, what truck, multilingual, incredible families, you know, people that are not like me and I learned to appreciate, and sometimes appreciate less certain viewpoints and certain lifestyles. And it also taught me that I had to engage with every one of them. It didn't matter what I thought about their life or what they thought about mine. I still had to engage to be successful and to get my thoughts across. And I think that was an important lesson in its own, right? Yeah, no,

Curt:

I can, I can definitely see that. Um, I lost my passing thought it was going to be about, I better just move on. Um, so talk to me about like the, the environment there, like, are the connections that you made at Harvard? Were those, some of the things that, that just propelled you from there? Was that like part of the rest of the journey or did it, was it more the education?

Ginger:

Well, there's no doubt. There was a lot of education, but it's very experiential in the classroom. So first is you get exposed to things that. You know, we're never in my Twilight zone, uh, up to that point. So every major company CEO in the world comes to the classroom. You are exposed constantly to full case studies, maybe 40 or 50 pages of detail about a business problem. Oh, interesting. You, you consume enormous amounts of information.

Curt:

No, these aren't just like fake case studies. These they're real hard problems based by these CEOs.

Ginger:

And I believe so many things came from Harvard, but maybe not as predictable as one would imagine to me, I learned the importance of the debate and the diversity of everyone in the room to come to better solutions. Uh, I learned so much about how. Mistakes happen all the time, bad decisions. People come at it wrong, wrong reasons. The world goes on. Yeah. Uh, life doesn't end when you make a really bad decision and a bad mistake, you may have to pay for it for a long time. Yeah. But you can keep going. I learned that my ability to consume enormous amounts of information and then figure out what matters was good. Yeah. And it got better over two years. That is a skill you build at Harvard because of the required reading and work there. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, and the self confidence realizing that you can compete with. Yeah. You know, in my class 900 people from around the world at Harvard business school, that is a big vote of confidence. So it, it definitely opens doors, putting Harvard business school on your resume either makes people like you more or like you less I'll tell you a quick story. Sure. I ended up going to work for Elizabeth Arden after business school and they were having a lot of issues. And one of the tasks was I was involved with the strategic planning to figure out how to fix Elizabeth Arden. It was, it was this a,

Curt:

is this like a brand like a fashion? Yes, it's

Ginger:

a cosmetics company. Cosmetics. Okay. Mrs. Arden was a very, if you think about, uh, Charles of the Ritz or Elizabeth Arden or L'Oreal, or, uh, there were many famous brands sure. In the sixties and seventies and Elizabeth Arden. Was in trouble. Yeah. And so one of the first things I have always done and still do to this day is I go to the front line. So ride with the sales rep in that business, stood at a cosmetics counter in New York city with a very senior sales rep. and it's very funny, cuz I spent time with him and he took me back to the airport after I'd been there for a few days. And one of the things he said to me is thank goodness. They didn't send some Harvard MBA to try to tell me how to do my job. And I went back home, but I had to call him back and say, I just have to let you know, I actually am a Harvard MBA but it's this image that people have of that degree that you're arrogant or that you think you're better than everybody else. Yeah. So of course it can get in the way, but that's superficial because it does help you get someone to pay attention to you. Yeah. Yeah. Well, and I think my whole career, I benefited from having succeeded at Harvard

Curt:

business school. This is really our like third limited interaction, you know, uh, aside from asking if you would want to be on the podcast a few weeks ago, but you've, you're a humility first. You, you kind of wear it as part of your person. And I think that's probably that Socratic method in action, like seeing. my one perspective that I have is not the full picture and the more we can mix all of us together and understand each other, the, the more robust our solutions are gonna be

Ginger:

well it's, it's so big that, uh, we, we are human. We like people like us it's comfortable, but having the chance to have traveled the world and worked now in, I don't know, nine or 10 different industries and working, working always with people who were not like me, because I was always the youngest, the only girl. Yeah. The first time ever, never done it before. And that has been a gift I believe to me in my life.

Curt:

I remember the question I wanted to ask. Um, My, my neighbor previously was from Arkansas, a little farther south, but she had a very strong accent. did you have an accent at this time and you worked at off during college or

Ginger:

after that or in Harvard? Yes. Remember I mentioned I was on the radio for oh, right. A while

Curt:

learned to talk like the woman

Ginger:

on the six o'clock news. I listened to my, myself and I did not like it. I thought it didn't sound professional. So I worked on my accent, but you can ask anyone who knows me. If I'm tired, it's all out there for a little while called home or been back to visit. I used to work for a guy who was from the upper Midwest, a brilliant economist and highly published and competitive strategy. And he would not talk to me after I'd been home for the holidays. He would just put his hand up and stop. And he'd say, don't talk to me. I can't understand a thing you're saying it was just our joke that I redeveloped my accent when I would go home.

Curt:

Does it nibble at you if you have a cup of glasses of wine or always

Ginger:

anything? Always, always it's always lurking.

Curt:

So, so you fixed up Elizabeth Arden? Well, we

Ginger:

ended up, are you selling Arden? Okay. Uh, FHA acquired it. It was a very heady time on wall street. It's. Michael Milken and junk bonds were huge. The market crashed in the middle, the wall street and all that kind of stuff. The market crashed in the middle of the deal. We lost it. We had to refinance it. It was really an incredible learning experience. Interesting, because I worked, you know, for a little over a year and a half pulling a company apart around the globe, trying to fashion it, put it up for auction, find the right bidder, go through the legal process, survive the black Tuesday market crash. It was a life experience.

Curt:

And were you like leading this charge

Ginger:

in a sort or were you? I was the project team manager. Okay. So I wasn't an expert in anything. It was my job just to keep it all going and bring all the experts in. And I was way over my head way, way, way over my head, but it was another one of those great opportunities that. You know, you can't make up. I got to learn so much at the feet of experts.

Curt:

Well, when you get stretched, uh, you're kind of bigger after that, right? Indeed.

Ginger:

And it doesn't pull you apart too often. Yes. Well that that'll saying that which doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. Uh, I love doing something I've never done before because I learn. Yeah. And I'm, I think I'm a better person when I'm learning than when I'm executing what I already know how to do, because then the, the energy, the enthusiasm, the zest for learning is, is a contributor. It's a positive aspect. Yeah.

Curt:

Once I've already figured out how to do it, then it starts to get a little. Less exciting. That's one of the beautiful things about having a community space like you have, uh, built and we'll come back to ginger and baker, but like there's new experiences every day. Uh, and, and new people coming through the door and things. So I wanna kind of move relatively quickly through the, the early career into your first kind of senior leadership kinds of roles and, um, feel free to, to grab some notable moments along the way, but kind of take me through your career a little bit. And then to the, I think it was a device manufacturing.

Ginger:

Yes. Yes. Well, after, uh, Elizabeth Arden, I went to the pharmaceutical division of Eli Lilian company. Okay. And they had. What they called economic studies, which is market research. And that was a great way to learn the business because it's all the data around what the market is, what it wants to be, what isn't happening. What's changed. Yeah. So I was able to, what are many needs out there? Yes. I was really able to learn the pharmaceutical industry and I worked for a company who's president of the pharmaceutical company also was president of the trade association. So I had the great opportunity to study at his feet and also write all of his speeches for the trade association and really learn the global pharmaceutical business as a student while I was working just, uh, from people who really were making the global pharmaceutical work. So that was a great experience. They asked me to be a director of sales. They'd never had a female director of sales, so that was a good experience. I learned a ton traveling with sales reps when it comes to helping physicians, offices, and dealing with the difficulties of primary care in the us. And then from there went to. Run a medical device company. So Lilly happened to own the largest angioplastic company in the world and they sent me out as CEO of that angioplastic company. Wow. So the next 10 years

Curt:

I wanna think about this. I just heard you say, uh, did more writing. And so you've got that kind of particular kn and I like to say writing is thinking you're clearly a numbers girl and understand economics and finance and then sales, like you, were you intentionally trying to get kind of multidisciplined and broad sculpt, or is that your nature? And cuz that's kind of what a CEO has to be is a little bit fingers in a lot of things and understanding, but not too deep anywhere.

Ginger:

I don't know that I was conscious as a young professional that. I never had the aspiration to be a CEO. So I wasn't gathering wasn't intentional. No, I wasn't gathering a skill set. So I could be a CEO. I love business. I'm fascinated by what it takes to make it work. And it doesn't matter if it's agriculture or cosmetics or pharmaceuticals or medical devices or hospitality, the value chain, the need for people, the human interaction, the creativity, the discipline of execution. Every one of those industries, something is more important than others. And it might be different among all of those industries, but it's a business. Yeah. And it takes people to make it work. So I love business. I love the complexity and the chaos and the creativity of business. Yeah. And I think in that sense, I had a quest to learn more and more and more and more about businesses and every job I had. I purposefully would meet everyone in that company at my level, I would try to buy them a coffee or take them to lunch and say, how did you get here? And what do you do? And how does my job affect your job? And is there something my group could do better that would help you be more successful? Because to me it was learning how a business worked. Yeah. And that excitement for me, I think drew attention for my career. And then it both helped me say yes to taking jobs. I didn't know how to do, but also I think showed to the corporate executives that I would and could take risk and could generally be successful taking that risk. Yeah. And that's a partnership and having worked for great companies was my good fortune. Yeah. Well,

Curt:

and they had seen you. Be what either a sponge or maybe even a vacuum cleaner of curious topics and learning and growing skills and training you, you said just a moment ago that you were sent to be CEO. Yes. Uh, tell me about that was that like you didn't apply for the job. You were just like, Hey, strap your boots on your head at

Ginger:

duke Cincinnati. Yes, I did not apply for the job. No one was more surprised than me to get that job offer. And it actually came at a payphone in the Dallas Fort worth airport. Okay. So I was director of sales and had the whole middle of the us and all these district managers and I was supposed to call in. To the corporate headquarters and they offered me the job. They owned 10 medical device and diagnostics companies. Okay. So they were wholly owned private companies into this big public company. And the executives of Lilly decided that they wanted me to go have the experience to run my whole company. There wasn't a

Curt:

CEO that there, there

Ginger:

before were all. Oh, there was a CEO, but they were pulling him back into the corporate headquarters. And so they were using, let's see what ginger

Curt:

can do. Exactly. You, this little, exactly got this little $10 billion training ground or whatever these companies were. It

Ginger:

it's really remarkable. I, today I still am amazed that they did that, that they put me in that job. I clearly was not prepared fully for that job, but it was a life altering, wonderful experience. I suspect it wasn't filling quotas anymore. No, it was not. But clearly, uh, cardiologists were not expecting a woman's CEO. Right. Uh, in fact, and plus you're not even 40 by this time. No, I'm not. And the guy who was the CEO set me up before I got there, he told the executive team that, uh, new CEOs coming in and it's a former bull rider and a Harvard MBA. And both of those are true but of course they weren't expecting me right when I got there. So there was not necessarily an enthusiastic reception and I didn't know anything about angioplasty. I didn't even know how to spell it. I'd never seen one. So again, it was this great fortune to have people believe in me and put me in roles where I could demonstrate that I could do it over time. Well, in

Curt:

the, that fresh eyes coming from outside of that sphere, I bet even though there was things that would've been valuable about having experience with angioplasty, some of the questions that you could ask that they couldn't see would really help to, to make that come

Ginger:

together. It is important. I think, to be able to, to learn again, to ask all the questions again, and everyone who reported to me had enormous experience in the field mm-hmm so there was great leadership. Technical capability, uh, business abilities in the organization, huge talent. It had been the number one company in the world. So there was resident expertise. Yeah, it was in trouble. When I went a mass Exodus of R and D declining sales product recalls. So there were lots of issues when I was sent out there but

Curt:

so not just a CEO role, but

Ginger:

a turnaround CEO role and you know, in the end. So for me, I've told people many times, I think one of the great gifts I got as I was sent many times into troubled situations, and you can look better, uh, when you fix a problem, you know, you, you do have the benefit, if you can turn things around of getting credit for something. But in fact, it took the whole organization to do. Of

Curt:

course. Yeah. Were, were any of those failures too?

Ginger:

Oh, we made tons of mistakes for sure. Yeah. Uh, I, I don't, you know, what, how do you say that? I don't mark it's hard measure things. It thing to a failure. I learned, I, I made huge mistakes. I made a 50 million mistake once. Thankfully we recovered from that, but I, I don't feel like they were failures. Yeah. Because they were true. Uh, efforts at trying to do the right thing and working hard to be up to the task, but I've made plenty of mistakes. Fair

Curt:

enough. Now, were you married to your work this whole time, or did you fall in love or have children or any of this stuff along the way we've been really business focused?

Ginger:

Yeah. Yeah. So I was, uh, in love with my work for a very long time. I did meet Jack when I was running the angioplastic company. Okay. So he and I have been together 25 years now. Oh, congratulations. We've moved and relocated and both run companies at the same time and both traveled the globe and seen each other in various airports in Paris or Dallas or name a place. So we both are very motivated to contribute and make a difference and build things. And we enjoy that about each other. And what was

Curt:

he doing? Uh, when you guys

Ginger:

first met? Well, Jack was one of the premier, uh, reinsurance intermediaries in the world when I met him. Okay. So he took risk, like earthquake and hurricane risk. Yeah. And he laid it off into other markets so that if the big earthquake happens in California, All these houses are lost. It doesn't collapse. Bankrupt, the California insurance. Exactly. The whole insurance world. Yeah. Warren buffet did a lot of that kind of stuff too. Yes. He worked with wart and aji Jane a lot. Okay. And so he was a financeer basically for the world's biggest disasters. Interesting. Had done that in his whole career. And then he started his own company and had a Lloyds of London syndicate, the first one that they ever allowed in the us. And he had a Bermuda reinsurance company and he built in Boulder, a claims business and a managing general agency. So he had a very large, um, portfolio of insurance based products. Interesting. And he traveled the globe raising money. Singapore and China re and Berlin and Paris and all the places to finance big disasters. Wow.

Curt:

Well, I'll have to have him on to

Ginger:

tell this journey as well. Yeah. His stories are amazing. he's done things that no one else has ever done. So

Curt:

talk to me. So not only did you turn this angioplasty firm around what's the, was it a separate

Ginger:

name division? Yes, it was called advanced cardiovascular systems. Okay. And, uh, Lilly then put us up for sale with the other medical device and diagnostics companies and a group of us decided to take it public. So we went public as guided corporation. Oh, okay. And we had an, was a learning experience probably too. Yes. An incredible ride. Taking a company. Public is its own adventure. Yeah. You, uh, do the same presentation a hundred times all over the globe trying to get people to invest in your business. And we. Really ended up with the number one selling stint in the world, the largest defibrillator market participant. Wow. In the world, a very significant pacemaking business, a lot of other cardiac surgery tools. Interesting. Uh, it was a, a business that I'm very proud of. I know we can claim literally that we saved millions of lives. Wow. And it was, uh, an amazing group of people

Curt:

to work with. Well, the tech has probably changed, but actually my staffer is getting a

Ginger:

stint. Oh, is that right? Well, actually the stent technology is the same, pretty much same technology that we launched in 1998. Interesting.

Curt:

And that was, were, was there competing technologies in that

Ginger:

marketplace? Yes, we were the fourth to market. Oh wow. So, uh, the company that I took over ACS had not invested in new technology. So we brought in, you said the R D was kind of floundering. And so we brought in a program, I named it, a woman who is amazing, um, as a leader and we, a few years later launched the Multilink stent, which. Has been was nine straight years. The world's leading stent wow. In the world, uh, market. And it, it really changed interventional cardiology so that you could get a stent in more remote places. They could go in more easily, they were more reliable. And that is what life saving technology does. Is it, it, it changes the procedure so that you're in and out of the hospital in a

Curt:

flash. And how do you market that? Is there like a few big hospital supply companies and you just gotta say, Hey, I got these stints, they work really good. Or you have to obviously like educate doctors and stuff like that, too.

Ginger:

You do understand you do devices are different in. It, I describe it, uh, like playing golf. If you're a golfer, you have your own inherent physical attributes and skills and capabilities, mostly limitations. Yeah. for most of us not good skills, but we have a few and then you have a golf course which might be long and cold or windy or pouring rain, or, you know, really rough, a lot of tall grass. And then you have your equipment, you have your golf balls and your golf clubs, and it's that combination of your skill, the terrain and the equipment. That sets up a procedure. So in interventional cardiology, you have your heart, your anatomy, your vessel size, your particular genetics. You might use my equipment or one of my competitor's equipment. And you have a doctor who has done 10,000 or 10, who has skills or not so much. And it's that combination. And the industry is responsible for making the technology as easy to use as possible and as safe as possible. But we don't train doctors. We train them about our equipment, but we're not allowed to train them. We're not allowed to interface with the patient. We're not allowed to tell the doctor what to do. Mm-hmm so the doctor makes all those choices and it's really. Hopefully over time, you know, a responsible relationship that industry provides better and better tools. Mm-hmm and doctors learn more and more about the tools at their disposal and which ones are best for which patient. Yeah. What

Curt:

an interesting model. And I was just thinking to myself, you know, America's one of the few places that pharmaceutical companies can advertise on the tele still. And, uh, I don't know if you've watched any broadcast television, but it's like almost a third or half anymore, you know, until political season comes the, is that right? That's all that's really on.

Ginger:

There is like different. Yes. Well, I was actually managing a pharmaceutical company after the device company, a biotech company that's in diabetes and was on the board for the pharmaceutical manufacturer's trade association. When all of those debates were happening about. Should we talk directly to the public. Yeah. And so it's a, it's a very interesting philosophical debate. There clearly are egregious examples on both ends of good and bad. But if you think about it, how does one educate the American public on symptoms or conditions they might be having? Yeah. And what options are available to them. And so we, you know, we all believe as Americans, we have a right to know, we have a right to investigate our own health, to pursue our wellbeing. And at the same time, uh, physicians. Are inundated with, I think now it's 875,000 scientific publications a year. Right. An unlimited number of products and technologies it's like worse than the tax code. How could they possibly, uh, be the most knowledgeable person on every aspect? Yeah. So we see specialization happen. Mm-hmm and that's really what the device industry deals with is we dealt with specialists mm-hmm so an electrophysiologist cardiologist and interventional cardiologist, and those people spend their whole careers learning these procedures in this technology. And you don't see that advertised really on TV because it's very specialists they're seeing

Curt:

most of the heart patients anyway.

Ginger:

Yes. But isn't it conceptually a good idea that everyone with diabetes learned through advertising, what the symptoms are that they should be doing something that there are different kinds of solutions and maybe something could help them. Yeah. So at the highest level, I think it's a very appropriate, the question is, do we execute well? And do we hold ourselves accountable? Yeah. To fair disclosure and appropriate communications. And that's always the

Curt:

challenge. I just know that my life will be perfect if I take, uh, most of these wonderful, happy pills, these pills So, um, what was the exit from this? Once you went public,

Ginger:

did you, oh, no, I was there for another, uh, eight and a half, almost nine years. Okay. So we built the business, uh, had an credible,

Curt:

how scale, how, like, talk to me about like people and revenues and,

Ginger:

well, when I started with ACS, we had, I think 1900 employees. And when I left guidance, it was almost 14,000. Wow. So it. You know, quite a growth over time in technology and employment base, we put factories all over the world. Wow. Uh, we expanded access dramatically to these technology procedures. How

Curt:

do you decide where to put a art stint, factory or

Ginger:

whatever? You know, it's such a great question. It's very complicated. It has to do a lot with talent. and, uh, trade laws. Can you get product in and out? Mm-hmm are you close to a market? You can imagine that shipping everything. We had a factory in Temecula, California, so shipping everything from Temecula to the world. Isn't as smart as it's Temecula, like way north or something like that. It's south it's down by San Diego. Okay. But, you know, it's a great place to have a facility, but it's not efficient to ship every stent for the planet out of a factory where the earthquakes live, Mexico, California. So we ended up having a European factory and then eventually in other parts of the world. And it has a lot to do with access to markets, regulation, tax code, uh, protection for intellectual property. Mm-hmm so we never put a factory in some parts of Asia because the risk for intellectual property was too high. Right.

Curt:

Fair enough. Um, and what was that transition out of, uh, guidance?

Ginger:

Well, I had been there 10 years and I really felt. There were, we had been building young talent to succeed us. The three of us at the top had planned from day one about how we would sustain the business and the talent that would be below us and how we would prepare them to run the company. And I thought it was time for that succession for me and I had other interest. And, uh, so I ended up then at a bio company in San Diego.

Curt:

Fun. Yeah. Okay. Talk to me about, not as, not necessarily my business, but were you able to participate in the growth of that aside from your CEO salary? Did you guys get to have a stake in that early? Yes, we went

Ginger:

and things like that. Yes. We went public. As employees, we could buy stock at the, what they call the IPO, the initial public offering. So I bought some stock at the IPO and held it for 10 years. Yeah. All the way to the end. And then most public companies grant some form of equity, a stock option today. Sometimes it's not options it's actual shares or restricted shares, but back then it was all on the risk of the company as an option, whether we would grow in value or not. Yeah. And so I was granted stock options over my time as an executive there. Yeah. And you know, all of that at the end, you're forced really to liquidate some of your positions when you leave publicly traded companies. Sure. So I held some and had to get rid of some, but yes, it was obviously financially very rewarding for me personally, professionally intrinsically in so many ways well and

Curt:

rewarding for every other shareholder as well. Right. Like, you know, Lilly had this kind of broken. Toy that, that you fixed right up for 'em and turned it into some that probably made them a huge. Chunk or not them, I guess they,

Ginger:

it was business wasactually financially very attractive for Lilly. The shareholders of guidance did very well over a decade. I believe the employees were rewarded handsomely. We also gave equity to every single employee in guidance. So we engaged them as owners of the business and reported to them every quarter, just like the rest of our shareholders. That's great. So we tried to build a team there that really all of us were focused on the same thing, which was having a huge impact on human health when that

Curt:

was leading edge kind of

Ginger:

thinking at that time. Well, it was very novel at the

Curt:

time. Tell me about that before I move along, because that seems like, like, was that your idea or like how, how I don't introduce

Ginger:

that to the board. Don't anything in particular, but uh, all of us at the leadership team of guidance, we worked for a guy named Ron dos who was CEO. And Ron, I do believe was one of the most progressive thinkers in business. He, he had diversity. As a pure foundational concept we had. Essentially all the women and all the people of color and all the international people who worked in cardiology at the time worked for guidance. Oh, that's cool. Because Ron told view was you can be green and two feet tall, but if you help make a difference, you're in And that was not the culture of the device industry at the time. So it was a very diverse, very young, very bold plan. It also was the strictest compliance standards. We did a lot of things that other device companies didn't do. We wouldn't let, uh, our products be named after physicians. We wouldn't let inventors be primary investigators, which are kind of technical issues in the industry, but it meant that we had a separation. You can't grade your own work. Exactly. It sounds like we wanted. Objective third party scientific review. We did the first randomized trials in the medical device industry. We did the first NIH partnership trials, uh, as a company in the industry. So we tried to raise the standard dramatically. We were very diverse and inclusive. We had the first affinity groups. Uh, we had something called grow guidance, reaches out to women. We had other affinity groups. The first in the industry, it was, um, a very bold and future based business that was built on the idea that if you know everything that I know and you and I both have the same goals that we will. Things that no one else can do because we are committed to the same cause. Yeah. And I still believe that as an operating principle to this day, I think that's

Curt:

lovely. So you started, uh, moving us to San Diego in a biotech firm after that guidance experience. Uh, talk to me about

Ginger:

that. Well, Amlin was the name of the company and it was a very passion driven company. Amlin was founded. By a group of people who were primarily either experiencing type one diabetes themselves, or had family members who did, and the original inventions and ideas, uh, were a brilliant guy in the biotech industry who at that time had started maybe 15 or 18 different biotech companies today. I have no idea what the number is. Ted is a remarkable individual, but it was based on the idea that, uh, people with type one diabetes have very specific physiological issues that have to be dealt with in a way that no one else ever experiences. And so they were working on a synthetic replication of a human hormone called amylin. Hmm. If you don't have insulin, that means you're pancreas, quit producing something that's critical for your life. Mm-hmm if you don't. Insulin. You probably also don't have Amlin and they're partner hormones. They work together. So when you eat all the sugar, doesn't dump into your bloodstream all at once, it slows down how your nutrition, calories slows it and slow release kinda style. Exactly. And so when you eat, if you're a diabetic that's insulin dependent, you have to have an insulin shot. Right. But if you also take amylin as a hormone, then you don't need as much insulin because it slows out the release of those calories. Interesting. And so we were trying to get approval for a drug called, uh, Simin, which was a. Yeah, synthetic version of amylin. Right. And unfortunately, because the FDA had never evaluated a drug for type one diabetes, if you think about it, insulin was before the FDA. Sure. So there wasn't a drug for just people with type one diabetes. It was a very difficult process. It took over 16 years for Amlin to get approval for that drug, but they believed they were going to get approval and they asked me to come to help commercialize the business. Ah, so to build sales and marketing and customer service,

Curt:

and you started doing that, uh, we're still kind of stuck in this compliance.

Ginger:

Yes. And we were stuck for quite a while. It took, how long did it take? It took, um, another two and a half years to get the drug approved. We thought I was coming in in time to get the drug approved and launch it, but it took another two and a half years. Yeah. But it was a, a wonderful experience to work with people. So passionate about helping people with diabetes. We ended up launching two first in class medicines for people with diabetes, one with type one and one with type two. Great. Uh, we partnered with a big pharmaceutical company cuz we were a little biotech to make sure that it was available around the world with contract manufacturing, basically. Yes, yes. And also sales. We had to have more help to educate primary physicians because if you think about it, when you went to med school, you never heard of GLP one or you never heard, OFin sure you don't know they exist. And so someone has to help you understand that we now in science have learned there's the new that there are new hormones that. Uh, we didn't understand before. And there's a reason that you should think about giving these hormones to people with diabetes, cuz it will help them get back to almost a physiologic state instead of a deprived physiologic state. Right. And yeah, and it made a, a big difference. And that was a, an exciting and you know, very, and in many ways, um, emotional kind of job because young women who have type one diabetes, uh, society has put a lot of pressure on them to not have children. Oh, because of the risk. Oh, uh, of their own health and the ability to take care of their child, if they have trouble with their health. Right. So we worked with a group of young women across the country that were mothers with type one diabetes and oh wow. You know, helped them learn how to be reopen that door more in control of their diabetes. There were just many wonderful things about that job and it was, uh, an exciting time to be in biotech. What a cool

Curt:

thing. Let's take a short break and then we'll come back and head towards the ginger and baker story. Okay. Time in Fort Collins, things I'm hearing a lot is your, why is so important to you? And it's been super important for the, I guess, performance and alignment, the clarity of these teams. Can you talk to me about just a minute of that or two? It seems like the, the why of this diabetes company, the why of the stents and, and what if the purpose is strong, you're willing to really give it a go.

Ginger:

Yes, it's true. I'm very drawn to things that have meaning that matter. And, and especially if no one's ever done them, or most people think they can't be done, I'm even more drawn, which maybe says something really sick about my personality, but the idea that, uh, everything's possible, everything is possible. It has cost. Yeah. You know, whether it's a hundred hour work week or. Traveled 260 days a year, or, uh, you know, ridicule of others or naysayers or risk. There's a cost to doing things that are hard. Yeah, for sure. And I'm drawn to those, if they have meaning not difficulty for difficulty safe, right. Exercise for exercise. But if you can change the entire practice of medicine for the better yeah. If you can give people more control over their own. If you can build something that allows people to have experiences that, you know, impact them their whole lives. What a great thing. Why don't we do that? Yeah. I

Curt:

love it. I love it. I, I saw meme the other day that you might resonate with. Uh it's uh, uh, go ahead. Underestimate me. This is gonna be fun.

Ginger:

yes. I think there's a lot of my girlfriends who have that t-shirt, uh, you know, almost as a gender bias kind of statement, like underestimate me. That will be fun, but I think it's a great idea. For self worth mm-hmm and you know, let's, let's employ that idea with our children, with the young people, with our college students is be what, you know, you can be. Yeah. And if you're underestimated find satisfaction in helping people think bigger, not punish them because they underestimated. Yeah. Well, and to

Curt:

believe bigger about themselves. Mm-hmm I think there's too many people that really hide their specialness and their unique talent under a basket kind of, and, and it takes somebody special sometimes to, to help 'em pull the basket off or recognize

Ginger:

that they're doing that. Amen. And you know, how many times in my career someone saw in me more than I knew about myself, for sure. Thank for sure. Thank goodness for them. I'm so appreciative. Yeah. Of the people who could look at me and say, you are more than, you know, you are. Yet. Yes. And I believe in you, so go for it. I love it. I've been blessed by those.

Curt:

Talk to me about, uh, when that old feed store became an Annapolis, your

Ginger:

I Yeah. That old feed store. It's, it's really an accident in a way. Uh, Jack was here at CSU, says it's the best job he is ever had. He loved the student athletes. He loved working with them, building something that could be amazing. You know, CSU ended up number one in the country, in the four major sports in wins. His last year there, uh, every single student athlete was academically eligible while he was there. The first time in CSU that's history. Oh, that's cool. So, you know, Jack was vested in and what was his run? Uh, he was, uh, 20 11, 20 11 to 2014. Okay. And. He loved the job and we fell in love with Fort Collins. You bought the little farm that he found. Yes. We bought a farm and I was commuting teaching at Harvard business school at the time. Oh. So every week for 15 or 16 weeks a semester, I headed to Boston and taught class and then came back. And so when Jack first started at CSU, we had horses and our home in Boulder and he was in a hotel in Fort Collins and I was commuting to Boston and it was just crazy. So I agreed in 2012 to decline my appointment at Harvard. Wow. And help Jack raise money, meet the community, work on the athletic department, work out the horse stalls. yeah, exactly. Take care of the critters. So, uh, I thought I should have something. To do too. And I started looking around to find a place to do this little dream I've always had, which was to have a pie shop. So I looked at a bunch of old buildings in Fort Collins. We actually made an offer on a couple of them. Didn't work out. There were many challenges with a lot of the old structures in old town. You can't get a grease trap under them. They don't have the power you need. You know, there are so many requirements for

Curt:

restaurants. I actually walked your space. Oh, did you with Doug Don when I wanted to do a restaurant? Yeah. And, uh, with John pouty who owned it the time and, and, uh, Doug afterwards and I was boots strapped, and I had, you know, find a, I had to line up every penny I could find to get financed. And, and Doug says, well, you know, I don't think we're gonna take the trouble of doing a full estimate or anything, but somewhere between $750,000 and seven and a half million And I was like, I think I'm gonna have to keep working.

Ginger:

Yes. Well, uh, I wish we had hit that range, but it, it definitely,

Curt:

you built a fancier place

Ginger:

that I was planning. We did a little more, but when we, when I couldn't find a building, I, it took me a year and a half. I was looking, looking, looking, and then we heard that the building was for sale. And that's the problem, the whole story. I fell in love with that old building. Mm. To me, it's very much a memory set. So when we were kids, you know, you'd get in the back of the truck. Dad would go to town to the co-op and. That's where farmers talk, the weather commodity prices, uh, kids run around a co-op is a, it's always a pot of coffee on it is it's a central part of an ag community. And I think it's a fun idea to understand, you know, it was where commerce happened between townspeople who bought goods and agriculture people who sold goods. And that building speaks to me for that reason. It's a part of how I think of my life growing up. And it's something Fort Collins cares about. Yeah. They love that building. it's been witnessed to 120 years of history and that also mattered to me a lot. So we went about the process of investigating. Could we do something. And the idea originally was just the old building. I wanted a little farmer's market garden in the empty lot next to it. And it was gonna be a pie shop primarily. Right. And, uh, unfortunately I guess, or fortunately the. Building is on the national register of historic places and the state register, which means it's highly regulated, what you can and cannot do to that building. And one of the big constraints is you can't alter the exterior, which means you can't poke holes in it and vent it and all of those things oh wow. And you can so really forbids

Curt:

putting a kitchen or a oven or a bakery,

Ginger:

whatever. Yes. All the mechanical electrical plumbing can't go in it. And all the commercial kitchens, you can't. Like the ADA ramp that's required today for access. And the three story elevator that we had to put in, we couldn't put in the old building, but you had to have them and the fire riser room that has to have external access that has to support that old building, but you can't put it in it. And we could just go on. So we were left with the prospect that we had to build an adjacent building that would house all of the modern conveniences and requirements for safety and egress. Right. And it would have to adjoin the old building and they allowed us to cut one hole in the building. And if you walk in the front door, either place, you'll find that there's a way to pass between old and new mm-hmm and on all three levels. There's only that one opening. So like

Curt:

even the heating and stuff is just kind of pushed in from the new side of everything. That was a good challenge to regulate

Ginger:

temperatures and stuff, engineering and the architectural work that had to happen to make it possible is remarkable. I still am in awe of how they manage to fit it all in. If you walk into, uh, the front door of the cafe and you look right to the coffee shop, there's an opening there that big door. Yep. Above and below that door, all of the mechanical electrical, plumbing, air, everything that runs the old building passes above and below that door in the floors. Wow. So it's an engineering miracle and it's the only way we were ever able to open the old building was to build

Curt:

the new. So gimme the specs on the building. You've got a restaurant downstairs, upstairs, and how many square feet you got

Ginger:

bakery? 22,000 square feet. Oh, wow. Okay. Two restaurants, the cafe, which is home cooking, uh, breakfast all day lunch and dinner, the cash, which is nighttime only a little more upscale, casual, so steaks and tuna tartar and lovely sea scallops and those fun things and a wine spectator award of excellence every year we've been open, which I'm very proud of. Then we have three outdoor patios. So the cafe has a patio. Mm-hmm the coffee shop has a patio and the cash has a patio, which we've recently put a glass house on top of that can be opened completely, but provides some oh protection. Oh, I haven't been out there yet.

Curt:

Oh's openable. Yes. Well, my rotary club meets there in the morning, but of course

Ginger:

the patio, the windows are Yeah, the windows are closed. And then it also has a teaching kitchen, which to me is the soul of the building. This idea that three generations, grandmother, daughter granddaughter make apple pie together, or a bridal shower girlfriends. You know, celebrate together or a bachelorette party, they make their own cocktail. Or we had a family recently do a five course meal in Paris. It was the grandmother's birthday. And she wanted, uh, something of big memory for her, a meal meal in Paris. And we use it for nonprofit groups. We use it for teaching kitchen classes, public and private team buildings. Fun of all sorts. Uh, we have a bingo night. We have a book club love. It's really a place where people can come together, learn, have fun, meet new people. I love it when I see them passing contact information back and forth because that's community building. Yeah. Yeah. That's people getting to appreciate each other. I have to

Curt:

say you've really cut traction. Like I feel like it was kind of a new thing and it was sometimes kind of quiet in there and stuff, maybe pre COVID, but you guys were faithful throughout the. The pandemic kind of season and, and your, your momentum just keeps growing and growing. And the number of groups I see using it and people that are in there every time I go. I'm so

Ginger:

glad you feel that way. I mean, obviously it is very important. It's about 550 seats and 22,000 square feet. So if we don't have a lot of heaters

Curt:

yeah.

Ginger:

If we don't, the mortgage is too high on, oh, there's no hope for us. And I am just thankful to be open still. Yeah. The last two and a half years have been really difficult on our employees, economically difficult. Yeah. And stressful with the public's response and the, you know, government intervention and the uncertainty of all of it. Yeah. It has been a very difficult time. So I'm just thankful to be open,

Curt:

which job is harder. Like the, the CEO of this turnaround, uh, Medical technology company, or like pulling together this real estate project in a, a downstairs restaurant, an upstairs restaurant at a pie shop and coffee shop. And

Ginger:

you know, it's such a great question. Obviously, each of them have unique challenges. I do believe, and this is watching Jack too build his own business and I've consulted for a lot of CEOs. First time CEOs building businesses. The challenge with small businesses is you don't have resources. So when you run a big company, you can assign projects, you can put a team on it, you can hire a consultant, you can get the world's expert, but when you have a small business, it's kind of you and the person in the mirror. and that is a unique challenge for survival, especially in the last two and a half years. When you couldn't have guests, you couldn't hire employees. You didn't know if you were open. It's very difficult to imagine what success looks like in that framework. Mm-hmm And so we are very fortunate. We have a core group of employees that have been with us the entire time. Yeah. And I'm so thankful for them. They're amazing. They're dedicated, deserves, uh, some props for taking care of us in the morning. Yes. And it's, they're exhausted, you know, they've carried the business the last two and a half years on their shoulder. Yeah. So they're exhausted and we are rehiring. So we had 120 employees. The day we shut the business and we laid most of them off. We kept a core group. We fed people. We tried, we had $40,000 worth of food in the building. The day we closed. So, you know, we, we froze it, chopped it, it actually caused some new ideas. That's why we have a ginger and Barker menu. We made dog food. We started doing whole meals to go. That's why we have a taken baker menu. This idea in you is mm-hmm, this idea that we were trying to find some way to feed people with the food we had in the building. Right. And sustain the business. And so it is, uh, very difficult, I think for any small business owner, because you're always the one that has to show up if no one else does. You're the decider, that's it? Yeah, that's it. But we are blessed with a great team and employees who really care and a very supportive community, or we still wouldn't be here.

Curt:

Yeah. Well, we're so glad you are. It's my favorite or one of my top, top few coffee shops in town, for sure. Um, we always talk about faith, family and politics in this, uh, podcast. Is there any of those that you'd like to, to take on first? Gosh,

Ginger:

they're also charge these

Curt:

days as much as little as you'd like to share. I'm not here to get anybody in any trouble.

Ginger:

Oh, well, I definitely believe that. Faith and family are critical to your core and good times and bad, uh, you know, sickness and health, all those things you say that faith and family are critical to Jack and I, yeah, during those times, and we have both been blessed in our professional careers. We both had great parents and I know not everyone gets to say that. Yeah. And that I think is an enormous blessing in life. Well,

Curt:

and you've had all these diverse experiences with all these leading edge, in many cases, cultural things. You're kind of, I would say, I mean, you're kind of a rural person. I gathered that you're a conservative and faith oriented, but yet you have this love for. diverse people, groups, and even diverse thoughts and lifestyles and things that can't be, uh, understated as

Ginger:

well. You know, I grew up in a place where a lot of people didn't have an opportunity for education. Mm. And many, many, many of my high school peers still live in my hometown. Yeah. And it's true that over time our worldviews have diverged. And I credit that to the chance that I've had to stand on the ground in India and in China and in a, you know, I've just, I've met people in Rio and in Paris and, and their worldview is different than my rural Arkansas worldview. Yeah. And I've learned a lot or your Harvard worldview or my Harvard worldview and even, um, as much as all of us, I think. Want security and safety and familiarity and comfort. Yeah. We're human. Uh, those are not necessarily things that feed your soul. Yeah. You know, that, that risk taking, facing a hardship, dealing with a diverse viewpoint, being somewhere, you don't belong and finding out what in, you can be part of that system. I think those things, at least for me, they feed my soul. Yeah. And I'd like to think I'm a better person because of it. And hopefully can contribute in different ways than if I hadn't had those experiences.

Curt:

I like to think of, um, kind of the, the progressive and the conservative realm of our society as being kind of necessary for one another kind of like a yin and a yang, for sure. If we just wanted to stay little house in the Prairie, we'd be there. And if we. Let go of everything from the past, then we're probably gonna throw ourselves into cast that we don't wanna, you know,

Ginger:

Kurt think of it about a sunshine. And I felt this way, running businesses too, a lot of people in the healthcare industry think the FDA is difficult or they're too hard. And yes, there have been many times when I felt like the regulators were not unbiased or not scientifically driven. And I don't think that's good for any of us, but I welcome regulation. Yeah. I welcome a third party voice at the table in running business. I do believe capitalism unfettered is ugly. Mm-hmm uh, our social conscience, our need to be in a community, our interest in others. Yeah. Those are elements of success and sustainability that are very important. So I, I do believe that that both sides of the coin I would say are critical to our wholeness. I don't support. What I would call the extreme position in any field, in any topic because extremism doesn't seek to learn. Yeah. It doesn't seek to solve it's punishment oriented. Yeah. It's, it's righteous for a cause as opposed to a purpose. And I personally believe we're worse off when we appeal to extremes. Yeah. And that is a tough time for us as a society right now. You see, and I'm hoping we find our way back to talking to each other and appreciating that the world is not one topic or one decision or one, cause the world is humanity and we're all in it and we could be better at it.

Curt:

well, and, and you're hinting at that. And I think that's one of our common notions is the, the desire to understand other people's perspectives and people don't. Try to understand other people as much as we ought to. I think,

Ginger:

well, and it's easy. It's easy not to want to right. You know, it's so much simpler if you don't have to listen to that other viewpoint. But, uh, I mentioned that book coming apart and one of the things in it that really, uh, I heard the guy speak who wrote it and he said that. And is that, do you remember? Um, no, it'll take me a minute. Okay. I'll think of it. But he talked about the fact that it used to be, and this was true when I was young that your parents cared a lot about who you married based on their religion. Hmm. We had bias based on religion. Sure. Yeah. Catholics and the Lutheran. Exactly like each other, where I came from, you know, and cross marrying in religion. When I was young, was unsettling for everyone involved. It caused a lot of problems and today. His information suggests that the litmus test is what's your political affiliation. Interesting. Yeah. And I'm a gap and horrified, right. That, that would be how we would draw lines. And, uh, I'm hoping we, as a society can get ourself out of this corner. We've painted ourselves in. Do

Curt:

you have any ideas for that? Like a aside from just listening to understand and all that kind of, is there things that you. Term limits. Is there,

Ginger:

uh, whatever. Yeah. You're talking about very little. Yes. I, I am an advocate for term limits. I think, you know, this country was built on people serving, uh, not people living as a form of employment. Right. Uh, I think there could be some rational discussion about government servants then not being able to, uh, make career decisions, trading that service afterwards or becoming lobbyists later. Yeah. Yes. I think there are some things we could do about campaign finance. I, you know, I do feel like. There are levers we could pull redistricting is one of those hot button topics. Yeah. There's a lot of things that we've kind of done that make us more contentious, but in the spirit of it, in the humanity of it, there has to be a willingness yeah. To get ourselves back to community discussions that I can respect your opinion and you can respect mine and that's leadership, in my opinion. Yeah. The absence of leadership. In those kinds of debates it's hurting

Curt:

us. Well. Yeah, a lot of politicians, they, you know, based on what the surveys are saying and stuff, they tack their sail to that, which way the wind is blowing instead of leading and saying, this is why I think what I think, and here's

Ginger:

what we should do. Well, you know, we, we do get the leaders we deserve and I think that's one of the, the things we have to be accountable for as a population. Oof. That's hard. Uh, I would ask every single person. Today, have you voted? Because the primaries, very few people vote. Yeah. Very few. The people that are most anxious or most activated about a cause or a topic or an issue. And so when they go to the polls to vote and they're the only ones voting, it makes more difference. You accentuate that issue as being the number one thing people are concerned about, but all the rest of us are sitting home going, oh, well, you know, I don't wanna have that discussion and we allow it to happen. Yeah. So I would just implore everyone. Be educated and vote and bring that, uh, voice to the table. Bring the moderate voices. That is all of the rest of us who are saying, well, there are pros and cons. I know how I feel, but we could talk about it. We should be at the polls, not just the people who

Curt:

won't talk. Yeah. Yeah. Fair enough. Um, this is brushing on political and on your, your career background. But one of the things, as we were kind of fast tracking the vaccine for the COVID situation and all that, it made me, and I'm kind of a libertarian leading, but it made me be like, well, if we can fast track this in a year, maybe we can take that 15 year timeline off of the throat of all these companies that are trying to innovate and make it so that small companies can maybe once again, try to play in this game of, of medical or even food drug, uh, innovation.

Ginger:

Yes. It's a really important topic. Innovation. By its nature is messy. And one of the things that I am really sad about with the whole vaccine debacle was the sausage making. That is the pursuit of science and medicine was put on trial and politicized in my opinion, during the vaccine process. So the mRNA technology has been advancing for over 30 years. There's enormous learning and technological expertise and data that came to a moment. They're pretty sure this is gonna work when unlimited funding by government and public sources could take down all barriers and for the global good, the FDA put that review above all others. Mm-hmm mm-hmm we should all rejoice in that, that science and medicine. In the face of economic collapse and maybe millions of deaths across the globe could be ready and could find a way to make it happen. Actually do a pivot like that. Yes. Uh, on the other hand, would you want every medicine that's in pursuit of objective clinical data? To be at the top of the list. Well, that's not possible. It's it's not possible that every single medicine sure. All the timelines get broken and the reviewers review it first, we have to have a rational process and the FDA is not perfect by a long shot, but it does have peer review. It does have randomized and blinded trials. Yeah, it does have ethics. And what's called in, uh, investigational review boards, IRBs that are third party reviewers. It has many checks and balances built into it. And as a public safety message, you know, I've always been an advocate that, uh, just like you shouldn't buy your medicines on the internet. If you don't know where they came from. Why would we want medicines in this country that haven't been reviewed by the body that we believe is our scientific advocate for safety and efficacy. And if we don't believe in that anymore, then let's fix the institution. Let's, don't say we don't care about effect effectiveness or safety. We'll take anything from anybody. Just do it fast. We all know we don't want that. We don't wanna, we don't want our mother to take a medicine that no one knows what it does or where it came from. We don't wanna give our children a medicine that we have no confidence in. And that of course is what happens when you go fast. It reduced our confidence. It made us suspicious of the methods and the means and the intent. And so why would we want. To accentuate a system that reduces our confidence in what we believe is a scientific method that helps us be better over time. And I don't wanna see that happen because I spent my whole career in human health. Let's don't lose the scientific credibility and the clinical discipline that makes us able to have the most amazing technology in the world to live a longer and healthier life.

Curt:

So you wouldn't say that there's too big of a barrier that that's kind of whatever, that timeline that 10 years kind of thing is. Well, it's

Ginger:

really hard. It cost a fortune. It should go better, but if you're gonna give a medicine, but we should just get rid of that a hundred million people wouldn't you wanna make sure that you've tested

Curt:

it really? Oh yeah, no, what I was, I guess my question is more. Are we over testing the rest of the things? Yes. And, and costing too much. If, if we could make one go through that fast.

Ginger:

Well, your comment about it's always good to have a progressive and a conservative. Yeah. I think it's always good to have a tension between speed and safety and in the world, like when Jack was at CSU, his motto was do both, you know, win and be great students. It's, it's do it. Don't give up on quality and safety to go fast. Yeah. Learn to be better at how you do it. And hopefully that's what our commitment is as a society is learn. Yeah. Yeah.

Curt:

And learned, I think I've heard a lot of, uh, kind of principles of like what might be described as conscious capitalism. Is that part of what informs

Ginger:

kind of you haven't yes. I don't think I know that term in its definition. I believe capitalism fuels innovation. I believe capitalism unconstrained. Is a recipe for a train wreck, big clubs and revolutions and all that checks and balances are important. Yeah. And weighing the pros and cons and having a mind for perspectives and needs that are not your own. Those are to me human principles that should be employed everywhere in our lives, friends, family, church, the PTA, you know, the downtown development authority and building Fort Collins. Sure. That we ought sit together and weigh the pros and cons and know that you don't always get what you want. Yeah. But the discussion will make the decision better. Well, and

Curt:

that's the beauty of, I think that rural environment that we both share is that. it was small enough that you could almost have the whole community in the conversation. Yeah. And as even, you know, a city like Fort Collins, 180,000 people or whatever, and only a few of 'em are dropping in to have the conversation. So get out there and, uh, meet each other for coffee, meet with people and have authentic conversations with people that you disagree with. Yeah. And, uh, we can do that at ginger and baker. Um, your local experience, the craziest experience that you're willing to share with our listeners here in

Ginger:

Fort Collins. I'll tell you that no,

Curt:

your, your experience, whatever your whole life, any experience. Oh, it could be here in Fort Collins.

Ginger:

Well, that's an idea. I have to tell you an experience I've had here in Fort Collins. That is so meaningful to me. So the whitewater park was decades. In the implement. Yes. And it had, you know, uh, a toxic site. It has all kinds of encumbrances because of the water. It's a huge topic for environment and for recreation and for safety and all those things. And the day the white water park opened to me will always ring in my memory because every walk of life of Fort Collins showed up that day. It was a beautiful day. All of the powers that bee had worked together to make sure that the river had rapids, that there was plenty of water. There were, uh, families with children in strollers. There were people walking dogs. There was music on the river. Uh, a huge community turnout kids, everywhere, people in the water and kayaks and kids playing. There was even a group of people on horseback who showed up that day. And I felt like this is exactly why we love it here. Yeah. Is everyone can enjoy the natural resources that are present in Fort Collins. And we can work together to meet the environmental stewardship, the recreational desires, the economic benefit, the safety constraints. We can make something happen. Federal government, state, government, local. We do hard things we can do if we put our minds to it things. And then we all can enjoy it and look at each other and high five and say we did something really hard, but it was worth it. Yeah. And I love that about Fort Collins and I just want it to continue.

Curt:

Well, I think that's great. I think that's a great place to end. Um, ginger, would you care to share like how people can find, we may don't wanna have them find you, but find ginger and

Ginger:

baker? Definitely. Please find ginger and baker. It's at 3 59 Lindon. It's the very heart of the new emerging river district in Fort Collins. And we welcome everyone. Whether it's with your dog, your computer, your grandmother, your business, your family, your wedding party, your wedding party, your team competition, or just to chill out and have a great meal. We would love to see you at ginger and baker.

Curt:

Well, we're loving seeing you here at the look O think tank offices, and thank you so much for being my guest today, ginger. Oh,

Ginger:

thank you. Cart. It's been a great time.