In this episode of The Optimized Mind, Dr. Kate brings Gina Schaefer back for the one-year anniversary of the show. This is particularly special as Gina was Dr. Kate’s very first interview on the podcast.
The discussion focuses on Gina’s next chapter after retiring from two decades at the helm of 13 hardware stores in the greater Washington, DC area. Dr, Kate and Gina take a deep dive into the lessons learned through building a successful hardware business focused on human potential and doing good in the community. The conversation also focused on Gina’s plans moving forward and the ways in which she will continue to focus on fostering human potential and giving back in a meaningful way.
Gina Schaefer is the Founder and Co-Owner of 13 hardware stores located in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, MD, and their suburbs. She and her team of 300 have helped millions of customers shop right where they live, in their urban communities, despite continuous pressure from bigger, stronger competitors.
Gina is a professional speaker and storyteller, engaging audiences on topics that include competing in a male dominated field, building a strong corporate culture, business succession planning, and all things small business.
In her book, Recovery Hardware, Gina chronicles her experiences building a business while learning from non-traditional teachers like folks from the recovery community and returning citizens. She serves as an advocate and spokesperson for causes directly related to raising wages, anti-monopoly legislation and small business development.
She draws her inspiration from fellow entrepreneurs who strive to be creative, think differently and help make a difference. People like Judy Wicks, founder of the White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia who inspired her to use her voice as a force for good; Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig, founders of gourmet food group Zingerman’s Community of Businesses in Michigan, from whom Schaefer learned innovative business strategies and Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, who taught her that nonprofit organizations need to think beyond simple charity.
Gina serves as board chair for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and is a member of CCA Global Partners’ Board of Directors. She spent 9 years on the corporate board of Ace Hardware and 12 with the House of Ruth. She relaxes by making greeting cards (she’s a big believer in the power of the written note), kayaking, traveling, and reading.
Gina’s guiding principle comes from a treasured quote “I always wondered when somebody would do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody”.
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