The Wildly Important: T.Lake’s Weekend with a Rockstar Tree Farmer

Sometimes, we are lucky enough to stumble upon experiences that transform the way we work. These opportunities come in the form of people, events, or pieces of knowledge, and have the power to fine-tune and amplify our sense of purpose. 


In January 2021, the T.Lake leadership team found ourselves face to face with one of these precious opportunities.  We grabbed it with both hands. 


Meeting Chuck Leavell


You may already know the name Chuck Leavell. A musician, author, and world-famous conservationist, Chuck knows a thing or two about hard work. The Georgia-native shot to notoriety in the 1970s as the keyboardist for the blues-rock band The Allman Brothers, and over the next two decades went to on play for The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and John Mayer.  Chuck is widely known as "the Fifth Rolling Stone", and aptly so.




Alongside his wildly successful music career, Chuck somehow also found time to manage a 2500-acre Tree Farm, which would go on to win countless awards. Chuck and his equally brilliant wife Rose Lane have been nurturing the Charlane Plantation in Twiggs County, Georgia, for almost 40 years, transforming the historic site into a haven of sustainability and conservation.  As well as being a well-known hunting spot, the plantation offers myriad conferences and retreats, many of which are focused on environmentalism and forestry.


Chuck and Rose Lane have observed and studied methods of conservation in Germany, Sweden, Canada, the United States, and a host of other countries. Their continuous effort to improve life for wildlife through ethical forest management has won them multiple awards, including Georgia Tree Farmers of the Year and National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year. Chuck's research has earned him respect across the industry, and his work was cited in studies by the National Arbor Day Foundation, the Georgia Conservancy, and the FFA.


The pair’s dedication to sustainable forest management caught our eye from the get-go. As long-time practitioners of environmental  design, we are always on the lookout for opportunities to broaden our horizons, and a visit to Charlane Plantation seemed like an ideal way to do just that in conjunction with our annual Strategic Planning Retreat. 


T.Lake CEO Tim Lake had crossed paths with Chuck years earlier on a small venue stage, and knew that the two shared a passion for conservation,  making music, sustainable land management and quail hunting.   When considering an inspiring place for his leadership team retreat, Chuck and Rose Lane and Charlane came to mind.  Tim left a message, and a day later had secured the T.Lake team a place on a two-day retreat at the plantation.  "I was surprised when Chuck himself called me back," recounts Tim.  "The level of humility was equalled by the level of hospitality he and Rose Lane and their staff showed us.  He's a big deal, and made us feel like we were too.  It was a great time."


Focus on the Wildly Important

Six of our key company leaders attended the event, which was facilitated by our friends Ben Gandy and Ken Thomas at Envisor Co. Headed by business leaders with decades of experience in the world of landscaping, Envisor has educated and inspired a broad range of companies to drive necessary change in their organizations.


Here are our top takeaways from the rigorous but relaxing weekend:


  • Focus on the Wildly Important - Identify the few simple things that will make a difference.  By focusing on less, you can accomplish more. Choosing a wildly important goal identifies the most important objective, which will almost always require special attention.


  • Act on the Lead Measures - what gets measured gets managed, right?  So dig in deep to determine what the leading measures are that indicate success in those wildly important drivers.


  • Keep a Compelling Scoreboard - People perform best when they’re emotionally engaged in a project, and the highest level of engagement comes when they can track their score in real-time. Good leadership empowers employees to create their own scoreboard, one that they can engage with and influence. Or, in the words of business guru Chris McChesney: “Great teams know at every moment whether or not they are winning. They must know, otherwise, they don’t know what they have to do to win the game.” 


  • Create a Cadence of Accountability - Commitments are not just made between leaders and their teams, but also within those teams. If team members keep their weekly commitments, the lead measure is predicted to be successful. Execution (and accountability) is more important than perfection.


We are grateful to Chuck and Rose Lane for sharing their space and insight with us, and offer a multitude of thanks to Ben Gandy (aka BigAndy) from Envisor  for keeping us out of the weeds and helping us bring our thoughts coherently together. 




Meetings like these are just a few of the ways the team at T.Lake is always aiming to grow and improve.  If you know someone who wants to join our team - check out our current career opportunities


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