By Karen Robbins, President

Last year I asked our team to hold “connection” as their inspiration for 2019. My hope was that they would look up from their tablets, computers and phones more often and put more emphasis on making meaningful connections with everyone they encounter. For 2020, our team will continue building connections through mindfulness.

Both concepts are centered around awareness. Without awareness there are no meaningful connections and without mindfulness we cannot achieve awareness. Awareness is also a principle of Servant Leadership, which is an integral part of the STS foundation. Only when we become aware of self are we able to be aware of the needs of others.

“[Mindfulness] Is the simple direct practice of moment to moment awareness, first by training our attention to focus on one single chosen object like the flow of the breath and then repeatedly letting go of distractions in order to return our attention to that object.” -Sharon Salzberg

In an effort to introduce the team to the theory of mindfulness through the practice of meditation, we asked Lori Kahn, a meditation coach and owner of Om Laguna Beach, to work with our team one morning during our business retreat. Lori led a “Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation” for our team and I think it’s safe to say we all walked away from the experience much more relaxed! (Maybe too relaxed…)

My hope is that our team continues to practice mindfulness meditation throughout the year and their lives. I want them to be more aware of their own presence and how they interact with one another. We are all human beings and we all want the same things – love acceptance, freedom, respect. I hope that in some of our most difficult moments, we can be more gentle in our approach to each other and ourselves. By practicing this intentional self-care, we will become better individuals and therefore a stronger team better equipped to serve our customers.

15 Lessons from CEO Eddie Stewart (Okay, 16 lessons)

  1. A person who is nice to me but not nice to a bus driver, is not a nice person.
  2. Character and cultural buy-in are far more important than raw talent.
  3. Leaders don’t panic in difficult situations. They must be calm in a sea of chaos.
  4. If you dread coming to work on a Monday, you probably need to look for another job.
  5. I’ve learned a lot of what to do by observing what not to do.
  6. When communicating, practice the KISS principal – Keep It Short and Simple. Brevity and accuracy with your message is all anyone wants to hear.
  7. A simple “thank you” goes further than insincere compliments.
  8. You don’t always have to wait for permission – just get it done and ask for forgiveness if necessary. If you ask a lot of people, someone will probably tell you no.
  9. A successful business leader must be a servant first.
  10. Never skip an opportunity to have lunch with your team.
  11. In business, hoping tends to be an excuse for not trying hard enough.
  12. Keep your office door open as much as you can. Be approachable to your team.
  13. Don’t step over a dollar to get to a nickel. In other words, the cheapest way is not always the best way.
  14. Don’t give people a job. Give them a career.
  15. Believe in yourself, even when no one else does.
  16. Get the right people on the bus

15 Lessons from President Karen Robbins

  1. Everyone loves to win but not everyone loves to compete in the same way in order to win.
  2. In business and in life, don’t take offense; play offense.
  3. It’s okay to cry when situations or people are more than you are able to cope with.
  4. Laugh at yourself with others but never laugh at others.
  5. Never, ever stop learning. Be curious and ask questions.
  6. Stop asking “why did this happen tome?” Instead ask, “Why did this happen? What do I need to learn?”
  7. Being the smartest person in the room sometimes requires you to be the quietest person in the room.
  8. Always keep a box of Kleenex on your desk. Human beings cry. It’s normal and okay!
  9. Earn respect in business by being accountable, knowing your stuff and not faking it.
  10. Surround yourself with people that see something in you that you don’t always see in yourself.
  11. Speak up and out more often but always know your audience.
  12. Never try to check in 250+ buses on 2 hours of sleep and not expect to make a few mistakes. Lesson learned!
  13. Let your mistakes make you better, not bitter.
  14. Sometimes people have trouble performing because they are in the wrong role. The people who work really hard in the wrong position are the ones you keep. It’s your job as a leader to help them find a role that amplifies their strengths and make changes.
  15. Pay attention to the things that bring you joy then figure out how to apply joy to create a more purposeful life.

We’re lucky to have some incredible people on our team (if we do say so) and they’re the wheels that keep this bus going. As we look towards toward the future, we are thrilled to announce the promotions of four of our staff.

Jessica Brinks // Senior Program Manager

Since 2016, Jessica has consistently taken on new programs. She has demonstrated a willingness to learn and lead that will serve her well in her new role as Senior Program Manager. Jessica will begin to take on larger and more complex programs. Her future is bright!

Beau Carter // Logistics Manager

Beau began his career at STS in 2016 and has demonstrated his commitment to the company ever since. As he moves from Logistics Coordinator to Logistics Manager, Beau will continue to utilize his skillset to procure vehicles for the Program Management team. In addition, he will work with the team to ensure proper pre-event and on-site execution.

Colleen Chase // Director of Operations

Colleen has a proven track record of training and guiding a new generation of Program Managers. In her new role as Director of Operations, she will continue to provide the level of service clients have come to expect, while also formally cultivating and managing the Program Management team. Her attention to detail, commitment to the company and willingness to lead others will serve her well as she continues to grow at STS.

Kym Thomas // Director of Executive Services

We are formally launching an Executive Services division of the company in the coming months (stay tuned!).  Kym has not only taken on this growth with eagerness, she has excelled at providing clients with top-notch high-touch service. The decision to transition Kym from Senior Account Manager to Director of Executive Services was an easy one. She will lead this new department with the same dedication to excellence she has shown since she started with STS in 2006.

Each year, we decide on a theme for our team to focus on throughout the year. This year’s theme is “connection.” We are committed to seeking out deeper conversations and connecting with the people in our lives. Whether they are people we have known for many years, people we have just met or people we are yet to meet, we strive to remember that connection is what keeps us together, growing and strong.

We want to connect to stay in touch, to impact the lives of others and to serve using the principles of Servant Leadership. Most importantly, we want to look into people’s eyes and faces instead of down at our screens.

Real connection is a process that can be hard in today’s world. However, our team is committed to reclaiming connection in its many forms.

Cheers to 2019!

Anyone who knows anything about us knows we are not at all shy about singing the praises of our team. After all, our exceptional team is the not-so-secret ingredient to our thriving company culture. And that leads us to what this blog post is about – personal goals, professional growth, and our company culture.

We took a hard look at what company culture actually is and what it means to us. If you subscribe to any business publication, you’ve probably read an article or two about company culture. But have you ever stopped to wonder, “what the heck is company culture?” We did.

We did a lot of research and settled Matt Blumberg’s definition:

“Culture is the collection of business practices, processes, and interactions that make up the work environment.”

If you look at culture from this perspective, it is an inevitable aspect of any company, regardless of whether it’s intentionally nurtured or passively observed. One thing is for sure – our team does not sit on the sidelines. We make things happen! That’s why we decided to take an active role in cultivating and developing our people and foster personal and professional development.

Our goal is to build a culture founded on continuous learning. We asked each employee to set 3 personal and/or professional goals, and we helped fund a portion of those goals. We’re pretty proud of what they accomplished. Check it out.

2017 Team Goal Highlights:

Bethany Arthur (Sr. Logistics Manager) knew that she was most at peace when she was gardening but was unable to maintain one because of her travel schedule. So, she brought the garden to work. She and Liz DeJesus (Marketing Manager) combined their budgets and enlisted the help of Beau Carter (Logistics Coordinator) to make the first ever Stewart Transportation Solutions community garden.

Surprise outcome: Beau discovered he actually has an interest in gardening! And just last week, as we began preparing the 2018 garden, Beau could be found collecting worms in the parking lot.

Jessica Brinks (Program Manager) set out to get her Group Fitness Instructor Certification. And great success! She received her certification in November 2017.

Kym and Roman Thomas (Sr. Account Manager / Program Manager) pledged to live life more fully outside of work, and with their schedules it nearly seemed impossible! But they took a whirl at a cooking class as a more experiential date night and took two proper vacations together to Costa Rica and Cancun.

Jazz Godard (Sales & Marketing Coordinator) read over 55 books in 2017, just 5 books shy of her 60 book goal.  She also set the ambitious goal of buying a rental property and accomplished that goal in February of 2018.

Colleen Chase (Sr. Account Manager) felt a calling to become more of a culture beacon. In doing so, she decided to work on building her coaching and mentoring skills. She is responsible for mentoring several people on the team!

Liz DeJesus set out to get back into running by signing up for a 5K by April 30, 2017. She crossed the finish line on April 15, 2017 and hasn’t stopped running since.

Anke Bieler (Program Manager) is one of those people who wants to learn…and then learn some more. She decided to take MIT’s “Introduction to Computer Science and Programming using Python” and received her certificate of completion in 2017.

Lacy Dainwood (Finance Manager) wanted to grow into her new role by enhancing her knowledge of Quickbooks. She passed her QB course with an A and is on to the next course!

Al Fernandez (Sr. Field Manager) took strides at being more organized at work and home. He even got a personalized planner to help him along the way. He is staying committed to this goal in 2018!

Brandon Terpstra (Director of Nat’l Accounts) had high hopes to read a book a month last year. Instead, he found a love for educational and informative podcasts! We say, FAIR TRADE! He’s now entertaining the idea of audiobooks in 2018.

While 2017 was focused primarily on personal goals and individual growth, we’re designating 2018 as the year of professional development and company growth. Although some individual missions and objectives have continued into this year, we are excited to transition into a new chapter of goal planning: setting SMART goals & KPIs.

Company perks like our garden, afternoon run club, and goal-setting assistance certainly contribute to a healthy company culture and that’s why we offer them to our employees. The evolution of our goals program and an emphasis on continuous learning helps us keep that culture spark alive. So… what does your company culture say about your organization? We want to know!

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By Connect Staff, May 4, 2017 for Connect Association

Colleen Chase, 30, works in Seattle as senior account manager at Stewart Transportation Solutions Inc. As a 2017 40 Under 40 honoree, Chase discusses her passion for the events industry.

What I do: I plan, coordinate and execute transportation logistics for conferences and events all around the country for up to 50,000 attendees. We bridge the gap between event planners and the transportation industry. Our success is built upon strong and authentic relationships with our clients, vendor partners and staff. It’s my goal to make the attendee experience better through thoughtful transportation planning, as it is the first and last impression of an event or conference.

How I got here: I stumbled into working for this company and ended up falling in love. Since then, I have gone from contactor to program manager to senior program manager and, most recently, senior account manager.

My greatest career accomplishment: I came into this business nine years ago with no experience in the events industry. I was very shy and introverted. Today, I am managing event budgets of over $1 million with teams of up to 125 people at a time.

Impressive stats: Last year, I saved our clients $90,000 on four large programs. The transportation component on an event is fluid, so I always try to find creative solutions to save our clients money.

A specific improvement I’ve made: A few years ago, I worked with one of our contract staff to develop a live ridership tool for our clients. They were blown away we could capture attendee bus ridership as it happened and watch it on their smartphones or laptops. Next, I was tasked by leadership to work with our web developer to make our beta Live Count program even better. Today’s version is amazing, and our clients love it.

What I’m working on: I am excited to manage several complex conferences over the next year with 20,000 to 30,000 attendees. Moving them from hotels to multiple venues is a challenge, but I love a good puzzle!

What I do outside of work: I love to do jigsaw puzzles, play board games and travel.

Senior Account Manager, Colleen Chase, with Brandon Terpstra, Director of National Accounts, at Connect Association’s 40 Under 40 Breakfast in New Orleans, LA. #ConnectMP

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Nashville, Tennessee 37204

Toll Free 888-292-6040
Seattle Office 425-502-8018
Fax 615-292-4887

sts@stewarttransportation.com