Easter Maynard Makes the World Better

This businesswoman has a passion for leading with purpose and integrity.

In the lobby of Investors Management Corporation (IMC(opens in a new tab)), there’s a plaque for William Quinton Carlyle Maynard, who served as chairman and CEO of the private equity firm until his untimely death in 2017.

His older sister, Easter Maynard, recognizes the daily influence Quinton has on her leadership with or without a plaque. Even redeveloping a former warehouse in central Raleigh into the open, modern and collaborative administrative headquarters for IMC was Quinton’s vision for this nearly 50-year-old family business.

IMC is the parent company(opens in a new tab) of Golden Corral Corp., Fleet Feet™, Hart Lumber and four other businesses. Its ChildTrust Foundation(opens in a new tab) also makes charitable grants in support of early childhood education. Easter and Quinton’s father, James Maynard, founded both Golden Corral(opens in a new tab), a leading family-dining franchiser, and IMC.

Easter Maynard serves as board chair at Golden Corral and she is director of community investment at IMC through ChildTrust Foundation, in addition to being a mother of three. Her other titles are many, but all relate to either her family business roots, her passion for philanthropic work or both.

Easter Maynard

Leadership details:

Maynard talked about all the ways she leads: as a corporate board member; a nonprofit grant-maker; and a mother, sister and daughter. 

Q: Growing up, did you plan to work in the family business one day?

Easter Maynard: My father knew there would be a lot of pressure on us to be a part of it, but he never wanted us to feel that pressure. I was in the management track for social work in graduate school, but, arguably, that’s not a business degree.

Yet you followed your passion and found a way to give back to the community within your family business.

I grew up talking about Golden Corral around the dinner table. To find a way that it made sense for me to be a part of Golden Corral has been very gratifying. It’s inspiring to be a part of board-level conversations about business growth and ways our businesses are helping their communities. For example, at ChildTrust, we have partnered with Golden Corral restaurants and customers to impact children in our country. That’s how we founded Camp Corral. Every spring, we raise money in Golden Corral store locations, and lots of stores get creative with raffles, bake sales. Our customers love it. Our campers love it. It’s a useful example of how a corporate culture that gives back can make a big impact.

Reflective but Focused: “Entrepreneurialism is a way of being in our family, so I work on being disciplined in how to engage with new ideas,” said Easter Maynard.

What characterizes the IMC leadership that you interact with daily?

Their commitment to being ethical business leaders. The other important trait I see IMC leadership exhibit is intellectual curiosity. They’re open to new ideas and willing to be challenged.

Do you have any goals when it comes to honing your own leadership skills?

I’m constantly working on not being distracted by shiny objects. Entrepreneurialism is a way of being in our family, so I work on being disciplined in how to engage with new ideas.

The BB&T Leadership Institute consultants often work with business leaders who are facing VUCA: volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. What VUCA conditions has IMC faced?(moves focus): volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. What VUCA conditions has IMC faced?

The company went through a tumultuous time while my brother was ill. The team was worried about him because they had personal relationships with him, but they also were worried about how things would work out with the business as a whole. Especially with Quinton’s very relationship-based management style, that could have caused a real identity crisis for the business. He was very tuned into the feelings of other people and was quite good at winning people over in a very genuine way.

Our new CEO and our COO were committed to providing stability and optimism, which allowed employees to trust that IMC was still going to be the place they wanted to work.

Quinton died in 2017. Can you talk about some of the leadership traits you share with him or learned from him?

He and I really were just very intimate friends and called on each other for advice pretty constantly. For me, hearing his perspective on a situation was always very thought-provoking. He was maybe the most intellectually curious person I’ve ever met, and he was also very tenacious. The two things together made him a force of nature.

He was willing to take big risks, and it served him well. Quinton was only with us for 38 years, but he lived more in that time than most people in twice that long.

How do those lessons you and the teams at IMC learned alongside your brother affect the company’s approach to VUCA now?

The CEOs of each of our businesses are really strategic thinkers, constantly learning and evolving their products and processes. Fleet Feet CEO Joey Pointer(opens in a new tab), for instance, has developed a digitally based custom-fitting process to identify which brand and style of shoe will work best for your foot, not just what shoe is the right size. And Golden Corral CEO Lance Trenary(opens in a new tab) established a very creative process that takes strategic planning beyond a routine activity.

For your own day-to-day work, how have you married the roles of board chair at Golden Corral and the executive director role at ChildTrust?

It’s very simple: We believe we’re in business to do good in the world. The foundation is just one strategic path to do that, alongside our efforts to be a good business owner and create meaningful employment for tens of thousands of people through IMC’s operating companies.

You’re devoted to all things related to education. Where did your motivation for helping children originate?

My parents were always very interested in the children in our family, in our community and in the state. They were founding contributors to the North Carolina Child Advocacy Institute(opens in a new tab). It would have been hard to grow up in my family and not conclude that children should be a priority. Data shows literacy can change the course of children’s lives. There’s no question that supporting education and literacy efforts have a great return on investment.

It’s been said you have a leadership style of quiet, unassuming humility. What do you think is particularly effective about this way of leading?

For me, leadership is all about relationships, understanding people’s strengths and helping them achieve their potential. You can’t effectively support their growth unless you’re primarily listening.

Creative Campers: Artwork by youth who attended Camp Corral is a colorful feature in the IMC office building.

Smart and Strategic: What do the diverse businesses that make up Investors Management Corporation have in common? They have leaders with intelligence and purpose like Easter Maynard.

Your Twitter profile(opens in a new tab) says, “Community investor, lover of things that make the world better.” What are some of those “things”? And how does loving those things move you to action?

It could be anything: learning about innovation, such as 3D-printed prosthetics that can be printed as kids grow, or small, anonymous acts of kindness, like when my kids and I pay for a stranger’s coffee. Innovation is inspiring because people are so creative and humanity is, by and large, good, so it feeds me to tune into that. But little, everyday things like acts of kindness also do a lot for my emotional well-being.

And you’re teaching your kids the same values your mom and dad taught you and that you saw in your brother.

I hope. I try.

By Jennifer Chappell Smith
Photography by Eliesa Johnson

 

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