*Emblematic* #14 – Oh Canada! CEOs tell CEOs to act with greater purpose and commitment plus wework Boston gathers experts to talk COVID relief and a visit with Talley and Twine CEO Randy Williams


This is *Emblematic* #14. For Issues 1 through 13 Click here. We are shining a spotlight on stories of inspired leadership in the coronavirus crisis. The idea is to inspire greatness in all of us. Now is the time. To see our schedule of Emblematic Live! Events you might want to be part of – Conversations (zoom) about leadership in COVID times – click here.


On Thursday, May 14 from 2:00 – 3:00 pm, WeWork brought together some of Boston’s key stakeholders and community leaders including First Lady of Massachusetts, Lauren Baker; Rosalin Acosta, Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development; Natalia Urtubey from the City of Boston’s Economic Development team and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s Director of Small Business; and foundation executives Glynn Lloyd from the Foundation of Business Equity and Mike Durkin of the United Way. To watch the hour-long program on-demand (it is loaded with information and insights) please visit HERE. By the way, Emblem Strategic is proud to be the public affairs firm utilized by WeWork in the Boston market – and this is the kind of “bringing people together” they have become known for in the city in good times and now in these times too. Kudos Dave McLaughlin (boss of the Atlantic Territory but a Boston man) for your inclusive and generous leadership and great job on this webinar.


Two leading Canadian chief executives grabbed headlines with a headline of their own. In an opinion piece published by the National Post, Joe Natale (CEO, Rogers Communications) and Lisa Kimmel (Chair & CEO, Edelman Canada) wrote, “Canadians need more from business going forward. They expect the leaders of big business to think bigger, to consider a bigger purpose.” Citing a recently completed poll, the communications executives reported a finding that “trust in both government and business — as well as the media — were at record highs in Canada in late April.” The study suggests that citizens expect big things and business needs to rise to the occasion with partnership, collaboration, sensitivity, innovation and more. The piece calls the question – literally – by saying, “CEOS – are you with us?”


Emblem Strategic’s Andy Tarsy had a chance to put a few questions to Randy Williams, Founder and CEO of Talley and Twine Watch Company (pictured below, to the right) about leading in this crisis and staying focused as an entrepreneur with a commitment to the community.

Andy; What are the vision and values behind Talley and Twine Company? 

Randy: Our vision is to be a company the holistically supports our customers. Not only do we want to sell great products but we want to make a significant community impact as well.

Andy: What were you most excited about for the company when this year began – and how much have your plans been disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis? 

Randy: We were most excited this year about streamlining our processes and really having the opportunity to grow our team. Because we have always operated with a lean structure, we haven’t been affected or disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, we’ve added three new team members this year.

Andy: How is Talley and Twine expressing who you are and what you stand for in such a difficult time? 

Talley and Twine is partnering with Direct Relief to help prepare healthcare front line personnel for the hazards of caring for patients in the pandemic.

Randy: One the first things that we did when the crisis became severe was to seek out ways to assist with the fight against the virus. My sister is a registered nurse who works in the Washington, DC area and she told us about the lack of supplies early on, so we partnered with the nonprofit Direct Relief and we are donating a percentage of sales over the next few months to help medical professionals get the supplies that they need as they serve on the front lines.

Andy: What can you share about what makes this time most challenging for an entrepreneur?

Randy: The most challenging aspect of being an entrepreneur during this time is dealing with uncertainty. There is no roadmap for how to handle a crisis like this, nor do we know the long-lasting effects it will have on the economy. That being said, it’s been a challenge navigating between making decisions that will grow the company versus taking steps to ensure that we are prepared for an economic downturn. 

Andy: Why does it actually matter customers choose you over one of the incumbent powerhouses in your categories? 

Randy: I’d suggest that people choose a company that shares the same DNA as them and not simply shop with a company based on popularity. Having the same DNA means choosing a business that shares your values, a business that treats you like an actual human, and a business that embodies the true spirit of entrepreneurship.

Emblem Strategic Principal and Founder Andy Tarsy has written about Talley and Twine before and is a happy customer too (loves his orange banded watch and a nice piece of luggage too.) Just to be clear – they are not a client.


We have posted a whole month of new opportunities to get into the conversation. Special guests in every session all listed at the link below. We are about to hit a milestone – twenty great conversations of leaders 10 or 12 at a time in 55 days – it’s been just amazing to get good people together in this crisis. Governors, CEOs, Entrepreneurs, Government, Social Justice Advocates, Funders, Founders, Parents…You name it. So many people are finding it meaningful and useful – making new connections that are continuing off line and leading to productive stories about collaboration and commerce. Please sign up! This is no webinar. It’s candid, connective, peer to peer. We pick different topics to enter the discussion but always circle around these questions – Can we lead in the COVID crisis – whatever we do – in a way that is emblematic of our core values and vision? How do we get through this time? Here is the line-up – and remember these are not speeches plus Q&A. Our guests set the table for everyone to get into the conversation.

Emblematic Live! Session #17 featured special guest Doug Rauch, CEO of Daily Table and former President of Trader Joe’s and a stunning array of leaders in food and in many other sectors – talking about innovation and collaboration.

Ellen Clegg, former Editorial Page Editor of the Boston Globe
Friday May 15th, 3 to 4:15pm Ellen led the editorial board and previously had a three decade career in the newsroom in various roles. She will prompt a discussion of an anti-science and anti-expertise strain of political discourse that seems to be gaining credence. We’ll try to get at what this is all about and crowd-source ideas of how to combat it.

Jenny Yang, former Chair of the EEOC & Urban Institute Fellow
Wednesday May 20th, 4 to 5pm Jenny will ask “How can we rebuild our systems in reaction to what COVID has revealed to focus on workplace equity and rebalance systems that perpetuate extreme asymmetry of power between employers and workers?”

Dave Friedman, SVP of Legal and Government Affairs for the Boston Red Sox
Friday May 22nd, 3 to 4pm Dave will talk about what COVID has meant for baseball but more importantly how the crisis has affected the communities that surround and are important to the team. It will set up a great conversation about the power of sports and the way forward in a very unusual season.

Kenn Turner, Director of Diversity and Inclusion/Compliance for the Massachusetts Port Authority
Wednesday May 27th, 4 to 5pm Kenn is a seasoned executive, a willing truth-speaker and a decorated US Navy officer (retired). He will prompt a discussion about leadership, mission and values in a crisis and what COVID-19 has revealed and confirmed for him.

Shannan Elaine Clarke, CEO and Founder of Queen and Baby Box
Friday May 29th, 3 to 4pm Shannan is start-up CEO “paving the way to encourage and support moms in reaching both their breastfeeding and career goals by curating the best products and providing genuine support.” and her prompt is “Returning to the workplace as a new mother – what might the pandemic have revealed, advanced, exposed and what does it mean for the workplace?”

Chris Jones, PhD,  Executive Director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub & former Executive Director of Boston’s Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI); and former MIT Dean
Friday June 5th, 3 to 4:00pm Chris relocated back to his former home after a long stretch of greatness in Boston and Cambridge. He will tell the story of the Arkansas Maker Task Force and we also want to hear about the model for accelerating innovation he is leading in Little Rock so we can reflect on what it might take to use this period of crisis to prepare for a new era of progress

In the US, for the most up to date information about Coronavirus health and safety, please contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Elsewhere please contact your local and national authorities. Stay safe, be smart.

Emblematic is a publication of Emblem Strategic LLC. For more information contact info@EmblemStrategic.com. Andrew Tarsy is Principal and Founder of Emblem Strategic LLC. We can help you make sure your choices in this crisis are emblematic of the core values and the vision that drives your organization even in the best of times. Let’s talk!

No Comments

Post A Comment