June 25, 2020
“A lot of entrepreneurs want to get into stores way too fast – before they have the consumer following… as quickly as they got on the shelves, they’re going to be off.”
Jane Miller, CEO, Lily’s Sweets
Consumer products companies are tough! For every home-started product like Bobo’s (PROCO360 episode) and Justin’s, there are tens, hundreds (thousands?) who fail. Lily’s is different. While its founder, Cynthia Tice, set out to create a product for herself (as most founders do), she set out to create a business at scale when she created a no-sugar-added product. With only three employees, including herself, Cynthia brought on Jane Miller, my featured guest. Jane is an experienced entrepreneur (including CEO of Rudi’s Bakery) with lots to share during our interview.
June 11, 2020
“It comes back to the science... I do think it comes down to credibility and trust.”
Deanie Elsner, CEO, Charlotte’s Web
The CBD business is exploding and Charlotte’s Web went from startup to $100 million in 3 years! Deanie Elsner, CEO, left a consumer foods company where she was named a “Top 50 Chief Marketing Officer in the World” to join Charlotte’s Web. I was eager to discuss sales and marketing for a line of products that people don’t understand very well, and that doesn’t stop them!
May 28, 2020
“It (effective marketing) isn’t about a consumer angle! It’s about razor sharp focus by the brand that triggers some tension that a consumer has.”
Christian Gani, Match Marketing Group
Christian Gani focuses on “experiential marketing” for his clients. Until COVID-19, that meant creating amazing experiences that customers would visit to be WOWED by a company’s brand and products with high impact. Christian gives some great pre-COVID-19 examples.
But, now what? We can’t bring customers together to congregate and enjoy a collective, high energy, massively creative experience. Christian and his team are figuring that out, flipping the approach and bringing the experience to the customer.
May 15, 2020
“The #1 thing going forward is going to be about hygiene… The thing that surprises me most?... with 125 shops, the importance of technology in the customer experience – I didn’t see that coming.”
Jamie Repenning, President, Floyd’s 99 Barbershop
I’m always curious about franchises. There have been some great success stories from Colorado, and some, less so. It seems to me that a key to success for those who make it is that they are owners and operators first, and franchisors 2nd. They great ones care most about building a business that serves the end customers more than about franchise sales. That’s the case with Floyd’s 99 Barbershop – and you’ll hear that as President Jamie Repenning describes operations during COVID-19.
May 6, 2020
“We are focused on a mission and a vision to truly disrupt product development and design... along the way we’re probably gonna step on some toes.”
Matthew Klein, CEO, Backbone PLM
Backbone PLM is a quintessential story of tech company success. The dominating and most intriguing point for me is that the company was created to solve a very painful problem in the market that existing service providers were falling short of solving. The problem was so painful that early customers helped Backbone refine the solution, and customer executives invested in Backbone to help them succeed. Lesson to be learned: when starting a business, find a really, really painful problem that when solved, creates massive value – then solve it.
April 9, 2020
“I believe the role of a CEO is to be that face, the smile, the heart and soul that the customer thinks of when they think about the company.”
Adam Contos, CEO, RE/MAX
Most CEOs of large public companies, no, just about ALL of them, seem to keep their private lives, even their personal personas, separate from their public facing CEO self. Not this episode’s guest, Adam Contos. Adam believes in “digital transparency.” I probed and prodded during this interview, because it was truly hard for me to believe that the CEO of a $500 million public company so easily and informally shares himself as the face of the company, using Facebook videos, a podcast, speaking engagements, and an accessible management style. Adam predicts this is the future for his peers, and he adds his perspective on the role of a leader during a crisis, such as the COVID-19 crisis we’re facing now.
March 24, 2020
“When there’s CHAOS all around you, and when things are moving SO fast… the best way to figure out how to balance competing interests… is look at your values…”
Paul Raab, Managing Partner, Linhart PR
Notice that while Paul and I were together in the studio, we were 6 feet apart!
Normally when we think of “crisis communications” it’s about a company that’s having to do emergency public relations because it did, or is accused of doing, something BAD (ie, an oil spill, harassment), and it has to defend its reputation. That’s NOT what’s happening here in the face of the coronavirus. In this case, something has happened TO everyone, TO every company. Still, while not at “fault,” leaders need to speak to the issue in ways that support their people, their brand and their values. It’s tricky, so I recruited a seasoned PR pro for this very important and timely interview. Even when we’re past this challenge, you’ll find the lessons in this podcast episode valuable.
March 11, 2020
Tory Bruno, President and CEO, United Launch Alliance – From aerospace engineer to CEO of the world’s most successful launch company, Tory shares his approach to management that has yielded 137 rocket launches with 100% success.
“Nothing trumps mission success... now, let's talk about the decision we have to make.” Tory Bruno, President and CEO, United Launch Alliance
There are recent and very high-profile examples in which notable companies have had product failures – air bags, helicopter fuel tanks, aircraft and more – which appear to have been caused by decisions to optimize speed or profits over safety and certainty. On its website, United Launch Alliance says it is CREATING VALUE THROUGH CERTAINTY. How one manages for CERTAINTY, and still can charge a price customers will pay, that’s the topic I couldn’t wait to discuss! You’ll enjoy the conversation!
February 27, 2020
Eric Gutknecht, CEO, CharcūtNuvo – Eric and his wife Jessica basically STOPPED the multi-generation business of Continental Sausage to remake the company and its products. The decisions, the branding, and the product innovation are the subjects of this episode.
“People try it at Costco and it’s, ‘oh my goodness’ – They’re so proud to have found us and they want to share it.”
Eric Gutknecht, CEO, CharcūtNuvo
This episode of PROCO360 is the story of a multi-generational business in which the youngest saw an opportunity to reinvent the business. Eric Gutknecht and his wife Jessica decided to shut down the deli and its small sausage making operation in the back, replacing both with a manufacturing company focused on product innovation and distribution. The decisions, the branding, and product creation are the subjects of this episode.
February 4, 2020
"The people with the best ideas were the least likely to share them… I set out to solve the problem of getting those people to speak up.
Anthony Franco, CEO, MC Squares
Anthony Franco’s company, MC Squares, is an earlier stage company than I typically feature on PROCO360. I wanted to interview him NOW, because 1) the company has gone from $5,000 in monthly sales, to $100,000 in monthly sales over a short period of time, and 2) because I’m intrigued at how he’s made the transition from a serial B2B entrepreneur to a B2C entrepreneur.