always lead with a sense of wonder: part i

Shana Gardner, CAS, Operations

Jodie Schillinger, Executive Vice President of Maple Ridge Farms, is leaving her mark on not only the company, but also the promotional products industry as a whole. Join us during Women's History Month as we get to know and celebrate her.

When you were a kid, what was the first career you wanted to have when you grew up?

  • A stunt girl. My brother, Jason, was my partner in crime and director, encouraging me to be like our role model, Evel Knievel.
  • A librarian. I thought librarians were cool with their quiet candor, controlling the environment in which they helped elevate imaginations without borders. In our playroom, we had an old library drawer and I had a stamp I would use to pretend to stamp the books my siblings wanted.
  • A writer. I remember thinking about things differently as a young child and not really fitting into a group. I liked to write. I remember writing a story in second grade and the teacher asking me to talk with her. She loved my imagination and wanted me to write more. I’m not sure that I even knew what she was asking me back then or even how I felt. I just remember that I felt different than the other kids. LOL, I guess I was learning what ego was.

What was your first position with Maple Ridge Farms? How did you progress from there?

Toilets, vacuums, and floors, oh my! I was a cleaning lady. There is such dignity and humility in cleaning someone else’s space. They trust you to see their most delicate of spaces. You take pride in performing the duty, so that they can rest in the space that you have prepared for them.

My mom was a single mother when she started at Maple Ridge Farms. She had us working in ginseng gardens for cash as early as 8 or 9. We needed money, and if I wanted school clothes or anything brand name, it was up to me to earn the money. She took out a loan for school necessities each year: $100 for each kid; that is what we got for supplies, clothes, shoes, jackets, etc. Anything more had to come from us. So, she asked Tom Riordan if her girls could clean at Maple Ridge… thus starting the cleaning frenzy for both my sister Joelle and me. We are really the best of the best when it comes to cleaning, but I have nothing compared to her ability to keep a tidy house these days!

I progressed from cleaner to receptionist (though I still cleaned, LOL). My mom taught me how to clean a bathroom at the age of 5. Chores were like a daily write-up for her, so there was never time to just rest the day away. The saying, “If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean,” was really something that started with mothers. (I only rage-clean now and do it in sessions vs. as a hobby!)

It goes to show that the sky’s the limit, no matter how humble your beginnings.

What qualities do you feel you bring to the position of Executive Vice President?

  • Ego (or lack thereof). I would have to say that while I felt selfless while I was growing with Maple Ridge Farms and working on growth plans for our teams and customers, it wasn’t until the past five years that I started becoming aware of releasing mine.
  • Passion. There is something internal that bubbles inside me when my eyes flit open every day. Even if it’s a crummy day…the passion still bubbles, just on low.
  • Resilience. I don’t really hear the word “no”. I like to think that maybe I asked the wrong question or need to ask the question in another way, or maybe I need to stop asking and simply listen. Either way, when I hear “no”, I hear opportunity!
  • Listening. As I grow, I like to hear the why’s vs. explain procedures and steps.
  • Try it! This is not something I was professionally raised with nor that I used as a parent, yet now I love saying it. Try it… tell me how it feels to say it! Now, tell a team to try it: a new idea, process, product, approach, etc. It creates growth, liberation, and empowerment and allows them to own their success. Reminder: failure is a success because you learn… and when you learn, you grow.
  • Shifting. Be flexible but fierce! The ability to shift with changing winds, tides, and times is impactful. Remember to be flexible as you approach topics, with the ability to shift quickly.
  • Growing and blossoming. Since I started in sales at Maple Ridge Farms, there was this insatiable hunger for ‘growing’ people into who they were born to be.
  • Vision. My vision is limitless; however, I only know what I know. Therefore, I try to continue educating myself every day, on several topics that I am unfamiliar with. Growing is my only constant.
  • Gratitude. I have genuine gratitude for all elements of our life wheel.
  • I am a forever hopeless romantic for most everything!
    • I am pretty sure I was a young hopeless romantic, I was always falling in love with the magic behind the moments. I still do! I believe we are free, vulnerable, and creative, in a space in which our explorative mindset captivates our contagious growing spirits.
    • I believe in inspiring people to do what they never thought possible. 😊
  • I like a clean bathroom. 😉 I believe that it sets a welcoming comfort and a healthy respect for how I want our team to feel when they walk into a company and into a personal space.

Stay tuned for part 2, coming soon!

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