If a New Year’s resolution sounds blah, the Rocking Chair Test may be the inspo you need.
Picture yourself many years from now, sat in your favorite chair and sharing memorable stories with loved ones. This is the premise behind The Rocking Chair Test – an ethos our CEO Gordon Seabury lives by that also shapes Toad’s perspective. We ruminated with him on what the test is and how it can help shape goals and perspective.
Toad: Thanks for “rocking” with us! Let’s start with the basics: what is the Rocking Chair Test?
Gordon: When you have retired to your rocking chair on the porch and look back on your life, you are filled with humble pride of your professional accomplishments, your fulfilling personal relationships with family, friends, and colleagues, and the positive impact you had on the planet and people you touched.
Toad: So, how does this connect back to Toad&Co?
Gordon: In the spirit of passing my own Rocking Chair Test, I embarked on the Toad&Co adventure because I felt it could lead to that multi-dimensional outcome and hopefully inspire many other like-minded people, both on our team and brand/product fans we touch over the years. I set out to build a truly responsible and meaningfully successful business that is a force for good. Our culture would hopefully allow our team to love their careers and have deep pride in the positive impact we strive to have each and every day. In doing so, we can do our small part in making the world a better place.
Toad: We love and feel that mindset. With that in mind, how do you personally connect to the Rocking Chair Test?
Gordon: While it sounds obvious, balancing your career, personal relationships, and giving back is not easy. It takes a thoughtful approach and more hours than probably is healthy to be awake. Thankfully, I feel like my path to-date remains on track for that porch reckoning:
- Professional satisfaction and success: Leading Toad&Co for over 25 years is so rewarding, including being listed on Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work for 13 of the last 14 years.
- Deep and rewarding personal relationships: Married to Karen for 27 years with two incredible post-college daughters pursuing careers in sustainability and climate change science. These are just the first of a long list of important and meaningful relationships I have enjoyed throughout my life.
- Giving back and minimizing our footprint: Continuing to lean into best-in-class sustainable business practices, our social venture partnership with Search that supports people with disabilities, and the many other not-for-profit organizations we support with volunteer hours and charitable giving. All of these have given us far more heart-warming rewards than sacrifice.
Toad: The work-life-giving balance is difficult! How do you stay on this path daily?
Gordon: I try to be the best example for our team and people we touch; that doing the right thing can be a viable and rewarding path to success.
Toad: With that in mind, how do you hope to inspire joy in others?
Gordon: By sharing our experiences and the stories of the many inspiring people and partners we connect with in our own pursuit of joy. Over a decade ago, I read this quote from David Brooks on a flight home from a rewarding visit with one of our long-time vendor partners. It really struck me; I think it summarizes what we are trying to inspire in everyone we touch:
“Happiness usually involves a victory for the self. Joy tends to involve the transcendence of self. Happiness comes from accomplishments. Joy comes when your heart is in another. Joy is the present that life gives you as you give away your gifts.” – David Brooks
Toad: On that inspiring note, in the last year, what would you put high on your list as a “rocking chair” qualifying experience?
Gordon: At Toad, this was my most inspiring year in over 25 years. I saw our team thrive through the last few challenging COVID years, achieving record sales, profit, and charitable contributions, exceeding our annual sustainability goals despite the supply chain headwinds. Toad leaned into our social venture Planet Access to develop a “2.0 Vision,” building a plan to launch our circular resale business that is scheduled to launch in 2023, as well as many other new not-for-profit partnerships.
On the personal front: seeing my youngest daughter graduate college and my oldest thrive in her sustainability career, celebrating my 26th wedding anniversary, several epic powder days, and the post-pandemic reboot of my annual steelhead flyfishing adventure on the Dean River.
Toad: What a year! Inquiring minds want to know: how often do you “take” the Rocking Chair Test? And do you usually pass?
Gordon: I am waiting until the end to take the test, as that keeps us appropriately humble while we continue to be a work in progress and try to make the best choices every step of the way. We are far from perfect, continuing to learn and hopefully gain wisdom on how to create the greatest positive impact in the end. Jury is still out for passing.
Toad: One final question – what advice would you pay forward for the New Year?
Gordon: As an optimist, I like the phrase, “You can sleep when you are dead.” It both reflects how invaluable time is and how you intentionally use it. But, at the end of the day, life is good if you make it so. Think about every day as an adventure filled with joy.