Every year at Social Venture Institute a select few individuals are chosen as Case Studies, bravely getting on stage and sharing with the community a strategic challenge facing their enterprise. Led by a panel of experts, this is peer learning at it’s finest. It’s a vital part of our program, with the audience learning from the interaction as much as the Case Study participants themselves.

(If you haven’t yet, apply to become a Case Study or register for the conference to benefit from the incredible peer-learning environment this September 10 – 14).

Recently we caught up with Daniel and Theo Terry of Denman Island Chocolate. The father and son duo co-presented at Hollyhock in 2013 and met up with us to share what’s new with their business, how SVI impacted them, and words of wisdom for future presenters.

Daniel and Theo both come cycling in to the interview (from separate locations), full of spark and feeding off each other’s stories and experiences. Daniel shares with me his interest in bringing Theo to SVI: having attended two times before, when his youngest son formally joined the company Daniel wanted to bring him to what he had found to be an energizing experience and absorb in the peer-learning environment.

Although it was Daniel himself that had a new experience by being a Case Study Presenter. After sixteen years as the head of the family-run organic chocolate company, Daniel’s lessons from SVI straddled the personal and professional.

“You can just feel no one knows your business like you,” he says, reflecting on years of unsolicited advice about his business. “You learn to tune it out. Standing in front of the panel you have to learn to listen.”

And listening paid off. Difficult thought it may have been to hear the musings, questions and prescriptions from a panel and crowd of peers, Theo credits it as a “clarifying” experience. More substantively, a recent partnership with Left Coast Naturals has shown the company their largest purchases to date, with 50,000 bars alone in April. This partnership was cultivated at SVI, and typifies the important connections that are often facilitated. Building connections like these are also part of Daniel’s proudest moment of Theo at the conference.

After gathering his thoughts through some meditative alone time during a break at the conference, Daniel wondered where his son had gotten to. Searching around the Hollyhock grounds he finally called his son, only to discover he was off with new friends in a float plane over the island.

“Only at SVI do you not question when your son is off in a plane with a complete stranger,” laughed Daniel, clearly proud to watch Daniel’s natural social charisma gain further confidence. Theo was clearly coming into his own, and channeled those lessons into his role as Vancouver Sales and Distribution Manager.

This fall, however, will be a new chapter for Denman Island Chocolate as Theo begins schooling at Emily Carr, focussing (pun intended) on photography. But the lessons learned by being Case Study presenters, particularly about learning to listen and explore new avenues for your business, will stick with Daniel and the company.

“It’s not about intensifying your beliefs. It’s about changing your mind – because we can all use a little more of that.”

For more information on Theo and Daniel’s excellent chocolates check out Denman Island Chocolate.

Apply to be a Case Study or register for SVI 2014 today!