Kerry Siggins: Ownership Mindset
Play • 43 min

Nothing creates team buy-in more effectively than the “ownership mindset” espoused by our guest on this episode of Gratitude Through Hard Times. What’s the secret sauce? Kerry Siggins, CEO at StoneAge Inc., shares with Host Chris Schembra her powerful building blocks for cultivating workplace cultures rooted in accountability. It’s about caring – for colleagues, customers and ourselves – and ensuring that everyone feels seen and heard as well as empowered to act. She explains how StoneAge, an employee-owned manufacturer of waterjet tools and equipment for industrial cleaning based in Colorado, instills a sense of community and the safety to fail among its 250 employees (all of whom Kerry hopes to see become millionaires one day, thanks to their Employee-Owned Stock Plan, or ESOP). You’ll also hear all about Kerry’s latest passion project, her recently released book, "The Ownership Mindset: A Handbook for Transforming Your Life and Leadership." In it, she highlights her personal “hero’s journey” as well as hard-won lessons about how to conceive and execute corporate strategy. The formula includes several ingredients, the most important of which is learning how to formulate the right questions. Then ask, ask, ask again! Says Kerry: “You learn so much and quickly get to the root of what’s really going on if you’re curious. So that’s my superpower: Questions!” Find out how to find and foster an “ownership mindset” in your workplace by prioritizing gratitude, empathy, agency and curiosity. The show wraps up with a reminder from Chris that in today’s business global environment, these aren’t just soft skills, “they’re the hard skills needed to instill an ownership mindset within your team!”

Click here if you’d like to grab a copy of Kerry’s just-released book, "The Ownership Mindset: A Handbook for Transforming Your Life and Leadership."

Or check out her podcast, Reflect Forward: Conversations on Leadership, at this link.

If you’d like to learn more about Chris and his 7:47 Virtual Gratitude Experience or subscribe to our newsletter, please visit this link.

Click here to hear more fascinating conversations with Fortune 500 CEOs, professional athletes and entertainerswho have shared their human stories on Gratitude Through Hard Times.



  • If you could give credit or thanks to one person in your life that you don’t give enough credit or enough thanks to – that you’ve never thought to thank – who would that be? So many people, but above all her first boss out of college, whom she “did wrong” and disappointed but who taught her so much nonetheless.
  • It’s Never too Late: About the power of bringing shame out of the shadows.
  • Why Now and Why This Book?
  • For starters, Kerry loves to write!
  • It provided a creative outlet and alternative to her day-to-day tasks as CEO.
  • A compelling need to give back by sharing her personal story. 
  • Changing One World at a Time: How Kerry’s journey – both personally and professionally – is a reflection of the “ownership mindset” she exemplifies.
  • Defining “Ownership”: Why taking full responsibility for everything that happens in your life is transformational, empowering and foundational to leadership. 
  • Leaning In: About what it looks like to take full accountability, even when the future is unclear and outcomes unpredictable.
  • Building an Ownership Mindset Culture:
  • Ensure everyone feels like part of something bigger than themselves.
  • Cultivate engagement and self-motivation.
  • Encourage an ethos of caring – for co-workers, customers and ourselves.
  • How StoneAge Team Members Learn to Take Full Agency:
  • Training in both how to give and receive feedback.
  • Teaching strategies for collaborating with people who hold differing viewpoints.
  • Making it easy for people to admit mistakes and learn from them.
  • Infusing the workplace culture with a communal sense of purpose, commitment and accountability.
  • Modeling behaviors that reinforce an “ownership mindset” across the enterprise.
  • You Must Act: Why all the best intentions in the world will not make things happen.
  • Three Key Components to an Ownership Mindset:
  • Take ownership: 
  • Lead yourself: 
  • Lead others.
  • Curiosity is Key: How a growth mindset depends on asking questions.
  • Kerry’s Superpower: Giving people the space to open up and brainstorm valuable ideas!
  • Best Advice for Leaders: Learn how to ask good questions!Then ask, ask, ask!
  • Research Shows: Managers who demonstrate empathy by asking their direct reports questions are viewed by bosses as better performers in their jobs.
  • Gratitude & Recognition: Why people excel and businesses thrive when leaders foster workplace cultures in which everyone feels seen, honored and empowered.
  • Look Inward: How problem-solvers and champions can (and must!) come from up, down and across the corporate structure.
  • Two Questions to Check Imposter Syndrome and Quiet Self-Doubt: 
  • What’s the best things that can happen?
  • What’s the worst thing that can happen?
  • The Power of Reframing: What it looks like to move from a place of fear to a “posture of otherness” that focuses on bringing tools like empathy and gratitude to others.
  • What’s Next for Kerry?
  • She can’t wait to get started on her next book, about transformational change and the power of purpose in the workplace of today – tomorrow!
  • Leveraging a culture of ownership, growth and innovation to create a thousand millionaires through StoneAge’s employee stock ownership plan.
  • Speaking about and inspiring others to build an “ownership mindset.”




  • “When you feel shame, regret or guilt, the action urge is usually to hide, avoid, withdraw, shy away, be meek and small and that doesn’t help. Then we just ruminate on the guilt and shame.” (Chris)


  • “It was really important for me to get back in touch with the creative, free spirit that is within me. And writing is a way to do that!” (Kerry) 


  • “If (my story) inspires even one person to overcome their own shame around choices they’ve made in life or show up differently as a leader and be the very best version of themselves … then I’ve done my job.” (Kerry)


  • “(The ownership mindset) is the idea that things don’t happen to me, they happen because of me and I’m willing to lean into the responsibility of my choices, attitude and the way I show up.” (Kerry)


  • “(The ownership mindset) is really a tool to help people feel like they’re more in control of their work, that they have autonomy and are trusted, that they’re cared about.” (Kerry)


  • “The only way to own it is to act, but you have to create the safe space for people to act.” (Chris)


  • “People want to share their stories, their opinions and ideas. So, if you ask really good questions, you can find out all kinds of information and get all kinds of new ideas.” (Kerry)


  • “You learn so much and quickly get to the root of what’s really going on if you’re curious. So that’s my superpower: Questions.” (Kerry)


  • “The economic potential of any successful team or organization lies not in the strength of individuals on your team but in your ability to help them connect, collaborate and champion a shared vision.” (Chris)


  • “When we’re feeling Imposter Syndrome and fear, we’re really focused on ourselves ... (but) you can make it about somebody else and turn that negative self-doubt into a positive impact on someone else’s life.” (Kerry)


  • “The power of questions, empathizing with those around you, giving gratitude around you – these are not just the soft skills that were once avoided in the boardroom. They’re the hard skills needed to instill an ownership mindset within your team.” (Chris)



  • Learn more about “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss, at this link.
  • Click here to find out about “the hero’s journey” and work of Joseph Campbell.
  • More about the Gallup Organization’s survey work and CliftonStrengths here.



Kerry Siggins is the CEO of StoneAge, Inc., a global leader in designing and manufacturing high-pressure waterblasting and sewer cleaning tools and equipment used in the industrial cleaning industry. StoneAge sells and supports its products throughout the world and has over 170 dealers in 45 countries. She is also the Vice President of the Waterjet Technology Association (WJTA). Kerry joined StoneAge in January of 2007 as the Director of Operations. In 2009, she was named CEO by StoneAge’s Board of Directors and has since led the company in building a robust global presence resulting in double-digit growth year over year. She recently acquired Breadware, an Internet of Things (IoT) product development firm based in Reno, NV. 





Chris Schembra is a philosopher, question asker and facilitator. He's a columnist at Rolling Stone magazine, USA Today calls him their "Gratitude Guru" and he's spent the last six years traveling around the world helping people connect in meaningful ways. As the offshoot of his #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling book, "Gratitude Through Hard Times: Finding Positive Benefits Through Our Darkest Hours,"he uses this podcast to blend ancient stoic philosophy and modern-day science to teach how the principles of gratitude can be used to help people get through their hard times.




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