written by Bryan Mattimore who is Cofounder and Chief Idea Guy of the Growth Engine Innovation Agency in Norwalk, CT, and author of the books, Idea Stormers, and 21 Days to a Big Idea.
A recent CEO Trust dinner-event in Connecticut, sponsored by Milford Financial at the Stonebridge restaurant in Milford, CT, featured a compelling talk by entrepreneur Mario Leite. Chief Executive Officer of the five-year old CT ice cream company Tea-rrific!, Mario, along with his wife and cofounder, Souvannee Leite, shared some of the hard-won lessons, along with the tremendous satisfactions, in starting a new business based on a combination of personal passion and creative persistence.
If you don’t know Tea-rrific! and its products, it is tea-infused ice cream. Flavors include such exotically named products and ingredients as: Matcha Green Tea, Chunky London Mist, Ginger Matcha, London Mist, Masala Chai, Chamomile, and Lavender's Blueberry.
Yes, at first blush, it seems like an outlier, even crazy idea, right? Tea in ice cream? Turns out, it’s a wonderful combination… as all the CEO Trust members can now attest from their own personal taste-tastings. Comments included: “absolutely delicious,” “light and refreshing”, “tastes more natural and healthier than other ice creams,” and “the tea adds such extraordinary flavor!”
Mario’s willingness to share the inside story of the significant challenges: including financing (from friends and family), product development, packaging, production, sales, and marketing... and the solutions he and his wife conceived to creatively address them, made for a fun and fascinating look at their five-year journey to success. Here are five key takeaways/lessons learned from Mario’s talk:
Quality is King (and Queen)
In these times of quick hits, short new product development time frames, and occasionally shoddy product quality, it was clear that Mario was passionate about creating quality products, and taking the time necessary to do it. He and his wife experimented for a full year to get just the right combination of ingredients and blends to create a delicious, healthier all-natural ice cream. His undergraduate major in molecular biology (before embarking on an investment banking career with RBC) clearly was invaluable in helping him create his innovative products. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the care that Mario and his wife put in the development of their products can be tasted in every bite.
A Unique Offering Goes a Long Way
In the supermarket industry, retailers are: a) “cutting the long tail;” that is, limiting the number of products they offer in order to maximize sales and supply-chain efficiencies, and b) championing their own private label offerings. This creates a particularly tough environment for new brands to get distribution, especially for a start-up like Mario’s that didn’t have the start-up capital to pay slotting fees.
What made the difference? How was Mario able to get distribution in Whole Foods and other national chains – and not pay slotting fees? Quite simply, it was by having a unique, high-quality product. Once the buyers tasted his product, they were sold.
Listen to Your Market… Continuously
One of the challenges in launching original/truly unique products, is that if the product is premium priced, the barrier to trail can be high. Consumers are reluctant to buy expensive or large sizes of products, if they aren’t sure they’ll like them. Mario’s solution: Offer a line of lower-priced single-serve offerings (priced at $1.95 versus a pint priced at $5.95) that allow consumers to try different flavors, and discover the flavors they are most passionate about before trading up to a full pint.
Be Flexible in Your Distribution and Marketing
As supermarket chains get more sophisticated in analyzing the weekly and even daily sales performance of the products they carry – and ultimately the return per square foot -- there is a constant pressure to get the “turns” they are looking for. If a product doesn’t sell well day in and day out, retailers are much quicker now to de-list the product.
So, Mario explored other channels of distribution including shipping containers of frozen ice cream to Brazil and Japan. Two of the more surprising – and most successful – channels he developed are corporate and college cafeterias where his single serve packages have achieved a passionate following, including in the Facebook and LinkedIn corporate cafeterias in California.
Be Aware of Trends… and Never Stop Innovating
What trends are emerging now in new food products? Heathier, more natural ingredients? Bigelow Tea, and their highly-successful new Benefits line is a good example of this trend. Cleaner, simpler labels/fewer ingredients? Consider Jolly Time’s successful new Simply Popped line of butter popcorn. The importance of single serve/on-the-go offerings? Entenmann’s mini versions of their classic cakes has been a big hit. Cleverly, Tea-rrific! has leveraged all these trends in its current line of products.
What about the future? How about an allergen-free offering? Even dairy free ice cream? Mario and his product development team; that is, he and his wife, Souvannee, are currently working on new products in both of these areas.
So, what are the most important lessons learned from Mario’s talk for corporate innovation leaders? Simply put: Be passionate about the products and services your organization is creating, don’t take the easy road of developing a me-too product, be relentless about quality, make it easy for potential customers to try your product… and never stop listening to, and innovating for, your customers!
We were thrilled to join Jeremy Cage on January 17th 2017, the official night of his book release, for the NY Chapter’s most recent event. During “All Dreams on Deck – Charting the Course for your Life and Work ” Jeremy shared his adventures of sailing around the world with his wife and two young children and the life lessons he took from that experience.
Jeremy used his story to challenge all of us to be courageous and to follow our dreams as he had. He said that taking this step changed his life and gave him and his family great fulfillment and confidence to pursue other dreams.
During the interactive discussion, Jeremy shared the insights that allowed him to successfully plan and achieve his dream. One of his insights was to "dream specifically" (which is to say that the clearer you visualize your dream the more likely it will be successful), and to "dread vaguely" (which is to say you need to understand that most things keeping you from pursuing your dreams are not the insurmountable obstacles you first believe they are).
Jeremy noted that the lessons can be used to allow people and companies to become more creative, successful, and satisfied by unleashing their true potential. The session definitely gave us all great pause to think about our dreams and how to think and act differently in order to realize them.
Photo: Stephanie Grayson, Twitter: @Critiques4geeks
Unless you have been living on a remote island for the past decade, you have seen or experienced the impact of major innovation in the Media Industry due to technology. Not surprisingly, McKinsey http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/digital-america-a-tale-of-the-haves-and-have-mores shows the extent to which this phenomenon, in the form of digitization technology, is affecting 22 sectors. With Media second on the list and having personally lived through those changes, I offer some hard and fast lessons to prepare CEOs for your company’s inevitable crash with technology.
Lesson 1 — You have a lot less time than you think
Whatever lead-time you think you have to pivot or be ready for tech’s impact, cut it in half. For complete article go to Ray Carballada's Blog _ Don't be Blindsided
Article by Ray Carballada
Wednesday night’s Voila Chocolat event was a thoughtful tour through the mind and business of the entrepreneur and chocolate visionary, Peter Moustakerski. The evening began in the private room of the chocolate atelier where wine and canapés were served by the in-house master chocolatier Christophe Toury. Then Mr. Moustakerski gave an insightful, honest and compelling presentation about his business, the world of chocolate and his plans for future growth and national presence.
The night was punctuated by a chocolate tasting led by by Chef Toury. The participants tasted 5 uniquely delicious truffles, and learned about the process of making truffles using premier cru ingredients. Participants learned about the Voila Chocolate experience but also gained insight into the multi-faceted chocolate industry, the principles of chocolate making and the challenges and opportunities of scaling a successful business. As many of the participants are entrepreneurs themselves, the event resonated in a personal and inspiring way.
-- Written by Kate Edwards, Photos by Jia Li
Friend and fellow CEO Trustee Joe Tait passed away in March of this year. He was a husband, father, brother, son, and friend to many. The entire Tait family appreciates all the support, outreach, and offers to help.
Joe loved helping people. He was an avid networker and mentor. He made time for everyone, but he especially loved helping students. Joe’s family feels the best way to keep his memory alive is to continue helping and mentoring students.
They have established the Joe Tait Networking Fund through Temple University which will go directly toward mentoring students and helping them network with alumni and area professionals.
The goal is to have this fund reach endowment level ($50,000) so Joe’s legacy will continue in perpetuity with no further fundraising. The Tait family is asking friends and family to take this one opportunity to donate to the fund by clicking the link below:
Joe Tait Networking Fund
If we all do our part toward helping students, we might just equal the work Joe would have done.
Joan, Josh & the Tait Family
You may also donate through the CEO Trust. Simply go to donate on the site. That will make CEO Trust's donation more impactful. We will combine your donation with previously received donations and submit to the fund before the end of October.
by Tim Askew at Inc.
CREDIT: Getty Images
Management savant Peter Drucker supposedly said, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it." The only problem with this frequently cited quote is that Drucker never said it. In fact, he actually said things quite the opposite. Like "Culture eats strategy for breakfast."
Last week I attended a fascinating all-day seminar at NYU's Stern School of Business titled "Ethics by Design: How to Use Nudges, Norms and Laws to Improve Business Ethics," sponsored by Ethical Systems.org, the Behavioral Science & Policy Association and CEO Trust. There were over 150 attendees, mostly top-drawer academics with a sprinkling of executives and entrepreneurs. I found it thought-provoking, useful, and even startling.
The day covered many topics, but the general trope was cautionary concerning our ubiquitous business emphasis on quantification, measurement, and goals. While acknowledging that goals can encourage persistence and performance, almost all seminar participants emphasized the caveat that rigid goals will have deleterious effects on corporate culture and long-term corporate health. While historic studies point to the positive impact of goals on increasing business performance, more recent research, including by many of the attendees and presenters, pointed to the the fact that overemphasis on goals encourages unethical behavior. The symptoms of this include increased moral disengagement, decreased individual self-regulation, and hazardous risk-taking.
for complete article: http://www.inc.com/tim-askew/the-slippery-slope-of-goals-and-incentives.html
Included in the article are quotes by Lisa Ordonez, Vice Dean at the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona and by Marc Hodak, Managing Director of Hodak Value Advisors and professor at the NYU Stern School.
by: Jerry Dilettuso
Why is it that individuals sometimes behave in ways that deviate from their values and aren’t even aware that they are doing so? How important is context to ethical behavior? How is it that conflict of interest disclosure often leads an adviser to offer biased advice more freely? Why is it that managers will tend to manage the measure rather than focus on the activity or event measured? Why are employees often reluctant to speak up about problems and concerns? How can organizations create climates more open to employee input and honest upward communication? Has the corporate search for “best practices” in reality become a drive toward common practices as cautious boards gravitate toward a safe norm?
These are just a few of the questions contributors explored in Friday’s “Ethics by Design” Conference at New York University’s Stern School of Business. The event was a partnership between Ethical Systems and the Behavioral Science and Policy Association, with CEO Trust and support from NYU Stern School of Business.
The conference played to a packed auditorium. I was joined at the conference by fellow CEO Trustees who, like me, signed up and stayed for the entire daylong conference, which I thought was a testament to the importance of the topic and the quality of the content. Several Trustees spoke about their experiences, and many volunteered to facilitate lunch discussions. More than 20 of the most noted academics and practitioners in the field of ethics shared their research and insights, including Nick Epley, Professor of Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business; Ann Tenbrunsel, Professor of Business Ethics at Notre Dame’s Mendoza School of Business; Linda Trevino, Professor of Organizational Behavior and Ethics, at Penn State’s Smeal College of Business; Carsten Tams, SVP of Ethics and Compliance at Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA; and Brian Beeghly, VP of Ethics and Compliance at Johnson Controls, Inc.
Jonathan Haidt, Professor of Ethical Leadership at the Stern School, states, “Business ethics today is like medical practice was 50 years ago. It’s not based on evidence.” With the help of Ethical Systems and its collaborators, Jonathan believes we can design an ethical environment that makes moral behavior easy, automatic, and habitual, and thereby, “change the world.” I was proud that CEO Trust was a contributor to the discussion.
One of the things CEO Trust speaker Sydney Finkelstein learned about great leaders while researching his latest book Superbosses is how they are very particular in what they’re looking for when they hire talent. According to Sydney (Steven Roth Professor of Management and Faculty Director, Tuck Center for Leadership at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College), working for a superboss is one of the best ways to turbo-charge your career, so it’s worth paying attention. And not just for CEOs, but for your kids, students, mentees... anyone trying to figure out what it takes to get a great job. His new BBC column outlines the three traits you’ll need to get hired by the best bosses.
By a CEO Trustee (member)
The Philadelphia chapter of the CEO Trust held a terrific breakfast event on March 22nd, hosted at the Clemens Food Group in Hatfield, PA, in their high tech Customer Experience Center. Participants enjoyed a private culinary breakfast along with a compelling presentation by Dr. Sydney Finklestein, Steven Roth Professor of Management in Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and the author of Superbosses.
Sydney addressed a group of some 25 Trust members and employees of the Clemens organization, focusing on why a very select group of high profile CEOS tend to spin out more talent than all the other CEOs in a given industry. His groundbreaking studies have shown time and again that these Superbosses have a common set of characteristics that drive the highest levels of motivation and performance in those within their direct sphere of influence, and he conveyed a few wonderful stories to demonstrate this thinking.
In the fashion industry for example, Sydney talked about an evening where one executive and his colleagues were dining out, and one of the members started up a discussion with three women at another table. The executive began to ask one of the women a series of questions about her rather unique (and attractive) attire, and at the conclusion of this particular executive’s dinner, he walked over to her table and offered her a job. He then handed her his business card and she was stunned to see that she had been talking with Ralph Lauren. Superbosses are always-on talent spotters - they don’t follow convention, they act.
In another example, Sydney described how the leader of one of industries largest investment funds, Julian Robertson, motivated his team. When one of Robertson’s particularly hyper-competitive and young rising stars closed a multi-million dollar deal, the young star expected immediate and enthusiastic praise from Robertson. When that didn’t come for days, the rising star became frustrated until finally several days later, Robertson walked by his cubicle and gave him a very subtle “nod” as he walked by. This infuriated the young star who vowed to “show” Robertson that he could do more. Robertson understood precisely how to motivate this young star and he understood the value of adjusting his interactions with his other employees to accommodate their passion and style. Needless to say, Robertson has spun off countless stars.
Sydney categorizes Superbosses into three primary categories: Iconoclasts (single-minded passion that motivates others - think Ralph Lauren), Nurturers (coaches, teachers, mentors - think Mary Kay Ash), and Glorious Bastards (single-minded focus on winning - think Larry Ellison). Do you know one of these types?
Ironically, the location for the event was totally appropriate given that another Superboss is Phil Clemens himself, the Chairman of the Clemens Family Corporation. He has a long history of developing not only a world class business, but also world class leaders, while exemplifying the characteristics of a servant leader. The business is one of the nation's oldest family-owned marketers of value-added pork products and related customer solutions. Sitting in their Customer Experience Center, it was easy to see that Phil and his team “get it”.
The group enjoyed a lively Q&A session with Sydney and received an autographed copy of his book. Can’t wait to read it cover to cover!
Special thanks goes to our gracious host, the Clemens Food Group, for welcoming us to their site.
by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
Relocation among job seekers, which reached a post-recession high in the second half of 2014, fell back down to Earth in 2015 as widespread economic improvements reduced the need to move for employment opportunities.
The latest data on relocation rates shows that, on average, 11 percent of those finding employment each quarter moved for the new position. The data released Tuesday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. is based on a quarterly survey of approximately 1,000 individuals completing the job search.
Last year’s relocation rate was down from a four-quarter average of 13 percent in 2014 and 2013. Relocation reached a post-recession high in the second half of 2014, as 15 percent of job seekers pulled up stakes for new opportunities during the final two quarters of the year.
“It is typical to see these small windows of relocation surges. They tend to occur at the beginning of recessions and then again as the economy moves from recovery to expansion,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
“Last year definitely marked a turning point in the recovery. We finally regained all of the jobs lost as a result of the 2008-2009 recession and, by the end of the year, the national unemployment rate fell to 5.0 percent. Even with the struggles in the oil industry, the number of metropolitan areas throughout the country with unemployment rates below the national average continued to grow,” said Challenger.