Episode 173
August 29, 2023

From CPA to CEO

with Curt Vander Meer, CEO of Endangered Species Chocolate

About this episode

Endangered Species Chocolate was a mission-driven company long before it was cool. CEO Curt Vander Meer joins us today to share the story of his career and impact, the five key duties of a CEO, and how he came to own the Endangered Species Chocolate brand. Join us for an insider’s look at Curt’s unexpected journey to protecting wildlife and continuing the legacy of his founder, mentor, and friend.

This episode is sponsored by

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Description:

Endangered Species Chocolate was a mission-driven company long before it was cool. CEO Curt Vander Meer joins us today to share the story of his career and impact, the five key duties of a CEO, and how he came to own the Endangered Species Chocolate brand. Join us for an insider’s look at Curt’s unexpected journey to protecting wildlife and continuing the legacy of his founder, mentor, and friend.

In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

[01:03] Curt Vander Meer’s journey through the world of finance to becoming the CEO of Endangered Species Chocolate.

[16:40] His unexpected initial experiences of the business and how his vision differed in comparison to his focus today.

[22:07] Goals to donate a million dollars a year and create moments of joy through abundant giving at Endangered Species Chocolate.

[23:59] The behind-the-scenes process of pairing animal facts with chocolate flavors.

[28:59] What it was like to transition from financial lead to CEO at Endangered Species Chocolate.

[31:43] Expectations versus the reality of occupying the CEO seat.

[33:29] The five duties of a CEO: setting direction, speed, risk, resources, and culture.

[34:30] Becoming the sole owner and CEO of Endangered Species Chocolate.

[36:00] How Curt’s leadership style has changed and how his role has promoted personal growth through hard lessons.

[44:30] What surprised Curt most along the way despite his classical training in business.

[49:55] How he intends to continue the legacy of Endangered Species Chocolate, Randy Deer.

To Find Out More: 

Curt Vander Meer on LinkedIn

Endangered Species Chocolate

Lee Greene on LinkedIn

Stairway to CEO

Stairway to CEO on Instagram

Quotes: 

“There are a lot of things I haven’t scripted that have turned out way beyond and far exceeded the expectations of the plan I created.” [0:18:25]

“When you put an accountant in charge, what’s the first three things they do? They cut people, they cut places, and they cut things, and that’s a little bit of what I did.” [0:20:19]

“I had a different idea than our previous CEO of what we wanted to do. I wanted to really explore the roots of the business.” r [0:20:32]

“Being in the chocolate industry is very fun and there are so many different avenues that you can go.” [0:20:57]

“I wanted to, and still want to, magnify the impact of our brand promise.” [0:21:52]

“I’ve heard it said that being CEO can be a lonely position. There’s some truth to that so I would encourage people to find those that they can lean on. ” [0:31:44] 

“I really have five duties as a CEO that I need to do. I need to set direction, speed, risk, resources, and culture.”  [0:33:30]

“Being CEO is one thing. Being owner is another whole mindset that you need to have.” [0:34:39]

“I really want people’s input before a final decision needs to be made.” [0:35:19] 

“Really [make] sure you get the right talent in the right positions, and that is easier said than done.” [0:36:07]

“You weigh in so that you can buy in.” [0:37:21]

“We’re all called to use our talents to the best of our ability, so don’t assume that I can think about everything that’s necessary. That’s why you have trusted advisers on your leadership team.” [0:40:26]

“It’s so important to stay quiet and let people talk. That’s the best strategy that’s worked for me.”  [0:40:40]

“Grandma Vansingel always said that mistakes only happen to those people who do things, and I try to use that mantra here as well.” — Curt Vander Meer [0:43:04]

Read the transcript

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