Welcome to The 6 a.m. CFO, where finance chiefs share how they jump-start their days and engage with the tasks that are in front of them.
Today, Cascade Energy's Kristi Calderwood shares how she starts her day in her nomadic office with a gratitude meditation before logging in for some people-focused meetings.
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Cascade Energy tackles energy waste and carbon reduction through projects, programs, technology, and training with commercial and industrial customers.
Size: 210 employees
Revenue Growth: 10-15%
Weekday wake-up time and the first thing I like to do: 5:15 a.m. I meditate before I get out of bed. I have some favorite guided meditation YouTube videos that I play as soon as my alarm goes off.
I will admit that sometimes this turns into an extra 15 minutes of light sleep, but for the most part, meditation focuses me on gratitude first thing in the morning. And then, I head straight into a strength-based yoga session.
Coffee, tea, or other morning beverage choice: Coffee. While I am not terribly picky about the brand (but it is generally organic and from Costco), I am a coffee snob from the method viewpoint. We learned of the “pour-over” method in our early camping days and I am still a fan! Oh, and I add cinnamon to the mix — a great way to start the day!
Workday start time: Usually between 7:15 and 8:00 a.m.
I still get an occasional giggle about the 3-second commute.
How I usually spend the first hour of my day: I set my priorities for the day the night before, so I often tackle the most important thing on my to-do list (right after reviewing email).
I have noticed that my company and colleagues are often quiet during the first hour of the day, so I use this time to dig deep into something that requires focus and concentration.
Time I send out my first email: Around 8 a.m. I try to clear any new emails that came in overnight if they are quickly actionable.
Best advice for writing an effective email: Keep it simple and short.
If I am requesting time-sensitive action, I bold requested dates for action and I place “Your Action Requested” in the subject line.
First dashboard I review: The bank texts me our cash balances daily — while not in a dashboard format, it is the first business numbers I see (usually I take a sneak peek right after meditation).
How I structure my morning meetings: While meetings are important, especially in a remote position, I try not to schedule an excessive number of meetings.
I like to start any meetings simply by connecting on a personal level or with something each person is grateful for. This is how I learn what good is going on in the business (or in each person’s life) and how team members are supporting each other.
Mid-morning snack of choice: Usually something with peanut butter — apple, celery, or sometimes, just a spoonful of peanut butter.
Leadership and Inspiration
Favorite quote or mantra: One quote that stuck with me was from Transformers: The Last Knight, which I watched with my kids before they flew out of the nest.
Sam and Mikaela are debating whether to get into a car (which happened to be my favorite transformer, Bumblebee), and Sam says, “Fifty years from now when you're looking back at your life, don't you want to be able to say you had the guts to get in the car?”
Listen, if it scares you just a bit — do it! Getting outside of your comfort zone will help you grow.
Favorite leadership lesson: So many to choose from, as I have been blessed with wonderful mentors and colleagues.
At the very beginning of my career, when I was a staff accountant, my CFO Erik Thompson showed me the power of meaningful relationships. He made time to know me on a personal level and he pushed me to further my potential through formal education as well as stretch assignments and varied responsibilities.
One of the most meaningful moments at CEI was when my brother unexpectedly passed away at a young age. The compassion and care I received from Erik and the company have stuck with me to this day as I knew I was more than an employee to Consultant Engineering — I was a valued human being.
Fast forward two decades and another leadership lesson that sticks in my head came from my role prior to Cascade. CEO Mark Knight showed me the power of servant leadership. One day, my husband dropped by the workplace to bring me a coffee early in the morning and he sees Mark out in the parking lot picking up trash before most of the team arrived. Wow — did that make a statement.
That was not the only time Mark rolled up his sleeves. He would serve team members at company lunches, stick around to clean up, and was a genuine leader in the boardroom and out in the warehouse. It was through these small, yet impactful, actions that team members see the commitment their leader has to the people they serve.
Something important to know about me that you wouldn’t know from my business bio: I love traveling and I love change. I believe that stems from my upbringing as a missionary kid to the Native Americans in the Southwest.
We traveled a lot through the Midwest and Southwest and I loved all the moving around. This likely contributed to the fact that I now live the nomad life — I have the privilege of traveling full-time, meeting new people, seeing new places, and playing hard on the weekends!
What was the last job you did at your company that fell outside your traditional scope of work: After our last leadership meeting, we went to a happy hour at a local place where orders are taken at the bar and not in the seating area. I put on my server hat from decades ago, took the dozen or so orders, and delivered appetizers and drinks to my colleagues. It felt great!
Can you share one way in which you have learned to manage work-induced stress: William James said, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
I pay attention to my mind and body and if stress is beginning to negatively affect me, I reframe my thinking, focus on the positive, and choose happiness or humor as my weapon of choice.
Favorite number: My favorite number just surfaced after this question. It is 2 for multiple reasons: I have 2 kids, 2 sisters, 2 brothers, and 2 RVs (although, one is just a small truck camper). Two of my favorite lines from movies in the 80’s are “Utah, get me two,” and “I want my two dollars."
Most noteworthy items in my workspace: As a digital nomad, my noteworthy item in my workspace is my workspace itself.
My “home office” is in the toy hauler portion of our Grand Design Momentum 29g. Living full-time in an RV, I try not to collect items because space is valuable for necessities. I did get a better chair for ergonomic support — safety first!
Do you have a pet sitting in your office right now: Yes — meet Hadley! She was very upset when she learned she is outnumbered by cats on our F&A team.
Favorite app on my phone that is not related to business: It’s a tie! Asana, a yoga app I use 3-5 times a week in the morning, and then the Bible app I use daily for morning devotions and guided prayer.
When do you take time for learning/reading: Both! I love to listen to audiobooks in the morning when taking Hadley for a walk, and it is typical to find me reading while enjoying my morning coffee.
The most recent book I just finished is The Trust Edge. I like to finish the day by reading something fictional before bed (usually a crime thriller of some sort).