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Swift leadership: Navigating the path to innovation

Fail Faster

Episode 447


49 minutes

Chad Niemuth is the Global Vice President of Marketing and Sales Technology within the IT organization at the Campari Group. 

For the past 24 years of his career he has led single and multi-brand organizations in developing technology solutions and platforms, grounded in process, data, integration, and tangible KPIs and reporting. This stems from an unrelenting passion for technology, but grounded in the impact it has in connecting people. Building upon a foundation developed in university through a degree in Advertising and Sociology, He continues to search for the perfect execution, which drives the most organization value internally and externally impacting employees, customers, and consumers – people and groups. In his most recent 11 years he has spent leading the sixth largest CPG and the sixth largest spirits companies globally in developing platforms of capability for over 80 household name brands. Touted as the PnL equalizer across the brands he serves – whereby leveraging large investments to create innovation and experience for consumers and then re-engineering the same capability across a portfolio of brands, his solutions have contributed to driving a double value share growth for the Manpower Group and the Campari Group.

Podcast transcript

Mark: How are you doing today, Chad? 

Chad: Good. Thanks for having me, Mark. 

Mark: It’s a pleasure having you. How was your weekend? 

Chad: You know, it was good. It was, you know, spent preparing, and we’re having an American Thanksgiving in Italy. So we’re inviting a bunch of our friends over that we met through where our kids go to school. And this weekend was the prep so that we’re all set to go to have them over and give them their first fried turkey experience. I’m looking forward to that. 

Mark: Oh, that’s amazing. So is the fried turkey like your favorite dish you’re looking forward to? What do you like to eat? 

Chad: You know, Thanksgiving has a special place in my heart because, you know, when you consider time with family and friends, and ultimately, more than the food, it’s the gathering of those people that are closest to you to realize all the things that you’re thankful for over the course of a year, even more so than at New Year’s Eve. But yeah, I’ve been doing it for the last 15 years with my family back in Wisconsin, and carried that through to New York when I moved there three years ago, and then carrying it through to Milan here as of living here for a year now. 

So yeah, the turkey in a deep fryer, it’s the best way to experience turkey. And then my wife is managing the other fixings like stuffing and mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. So and then obviously the finishers with the pumpkin pie, and the apple pie and the effervescent whipped cream on top. So looking forward to it. 

Mark: I love that. You know, every year during the holidays, I always feel so happy. You know, your family, everybody says goodbye. Personally, I never tried the fried turkey, but I heard good things about it. 

Chad: So man, I started with an oven baked turkey, but that would usually take seven, eight hours, and you’d have to get up really early. Then I threw the turkey in a bag in order to retain the moisture in the meat so that it wasn’t so dry after eight hours of cooking. And once I went to the fryer, you know, 45 minutes of 17 pound turkey is done. It’s magnificent. Once you try it, you’ll never go back. 

Mark: I could definitely I give it a try. I could talk about food all day. But I know that’s not what the audience is here for. So, you know, I want to kick it off with some questions regarding your background. You know, where were you born and raised? What was childhood like? What was your family dynamic? No, feel free to answer them in any order. 

Chad: Yeah, so I was born and raised in Waukesha, Wisconsin, just west of Milwaukee. Um, you know, second generation removed from a farming family on my mother’s side. And my father was a city boy, you know, born and raised in Wauwatosa. And I appreciate you asking because I think family obviously with Thanksgiving is incredibly important to me. But more importantly, because my father passed this year, so family this year has been incredibly intertwined into my life. Growing up, I have one brother who’s eight years older than me. 

He’s in a similar line of business, specifically in e-commerce and supporting Wine Country gift baskets. So shout out to AI. You know, in my family, it was, um, mom would get up at 5am and she would leave the house at six, would work for Milwaukee Electric Tool and gave her life to that company and taught me at a very early age, the importance of a work ethic. And my father taught me, basically, imagination, right? As an engineer, industrial engineer, by education and trade. I think my experiences with my mom were instilling that work ethic. And with my dad, it was how to leverage your imagination and use it, use it in your everyday life. 

So that was the grounding, I guess, of my family growing up. Went to college at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, so very much a Wisconsin boy. Born, raised, education, upper education, graduated with a degree in journalism, specifically focused on advertising with a minor in sociology. So the study of people in the groups, groups of people segments. So for me, it’s funny, I took one class in HTML before I graduated college. 

And that kind of set me on my path to being in IT, which is hilarious, because most of my, my academic career was media planning, how to develop campaigns, how to execute brands, how to look at marketing from business value and connecting that to consumers. And then one class in coding and HTML. And that was my first jump straight out of college. So, a little bit of my background. 

Mark: So in terms of, it sounds like you started getting interested in technology innovation during that one class in college, you know, is there a point in time where you started to think, like, you know, you started to have doubts, like, what’s this for me? You know, was this the path I really want to go on? 

Chad: You know, I never really doubted the path of IT. And I’ve always looked at it as being at the right place at the right time. So when, when I graduated from college, it was just before the year 1999, right, the 2000 bug. So technology was at the forefront, and the internet had only been around for six or seven years. And companies were beginning to realize how to leverage technology for both marketing and communications. Very few people in the organization understood what that provided. So I never really looked at my career as technology. 

Technology was always the vehicle to enable value and solving problems for a company. When I started doubting it is as I got further in my career, you know, I, I would say there is a stigma to those individuals that are within it, a stigma that’s, that’s placed on individuals that they are only technology focused, they can’t see the value or the purpose or the process, all they can do is see the zeros and ones. So I would say, later in my career, it has been a challenge to simplify my thinking, to adapt to my audience, that may be doubting what I’m saying and in the position that I’m in. 

Mark: I get that, you know, a lot of times I’m talking with individuals, and like something that comes across is, you know, there’s not really a passion there, you know, majority of time people just get jobs because there’s no responsibility, things they just have to do. Would you say you’re passionate about your work? Like, are you happy to wake up every day and do what you do? 

Chad: Well, I love it. I love it. Um, you know, I think that was a turning point in my life, and specifically in my career. Early on, I and I still to this date, just not to the level of focus have a passion in music, whether that be singing, performing, most of my good friends from college, come from that genre and that focus and passion of my life. And I would say for the first 10 to 15 years of my career, I struggled with my passion for music and my job and career. Because my passion when I was at work, I wanted to be at home writing music when I was at home writing music. I got stuck, right. 

So I think for me, understanding that I could give myself to my passion and my passion was given to my work, the things that I’m good at understanding people, the problems understanding end to end, being humble enough to break down borders and verticals within an organization. That’s when I really started to thrive. So I put the music passion aside, and I threw my full passion into my career. But I will say this, it wasn’t until I joined SC Johnson 11 years ago, that it really started to have a deep heart to what it is I was doing. Because I connected with the brands and company I was with. 

And equally so six years ago, when I joined Campari, I didn’t make the choice to go for the job, I made the choice first, do I believe in the core fundamentals of what the company is predicated on. And in that I find the desire and the, the strength each day to continue forward, beyond just being good at what I do, or being knowledgeable of the area that I support. So for me, passion, first and foremost, is the motivator that continues to push me forward every day. And that is finding that personal meaning in the organization that I work for. And then more importantly, understanding that your job is not a job, right? 

You are a custodian, especially in an organization like SC Johnson and Campari, your role is to make the company better for the next person that walks into the position that you have, whether it’s through retirement, departure for another organization, but you are a custodian. So you’re not only doing a job for yourself, you’re doing it for the others that around you, and you’re doing it for the next person. So they come in and say to themselves, yeah, what was done, was done with reason with purpose, and has moved the organization forward. And ultimately, I think that’s what motivates me at my core, it’s its finding that why inside you, and how to connect that and make that happen through your work. 

Mark: I love that, you know, finding meaning within your work or finding that why, and essentially, you know, trying to make the organization that you’re at better for the next individual. I think a lot of times people are kind of like focused on them, and they tend to not focus on the why. So the fact that you already understand that is, I think is great. Oh, you know, looking throughout your career, you definitely have done a lot. Talk to me about some of your biggest wins over the course of your career, you know, and what exactly makes them your proudest moments? 

Chad: Well, I’ll talk to you about my most recent proud moment and win. I think when I joined Campari, the organization and I remember it succinctly in my interview with Bob, our current CEO. And when I asked him, what is it you want me to accomplish? His words were being evangelist, right? Don’t just do work, but evangelize to the company what it means. And in that starting with a very small budget pennies, right? One individual within the team, to today, six years later, having 12 people in the team globally, and then an additional eight people in the regions, building out an organization structure that is also mirrored into the company. So we have over 50 digital channel, omnichannel, marketing individuals supporting our brands globally. 

And then also putting forth key principles right on the consumer, on the channels, on the content, so that in a multi brand organization, you can operate as efficiently and effectively as possible. When I think about the wins in my career, those are the elements most recently that I look extremely highly on. And more importantly, it’s developing the people inside the organization to be your successor, right? It’s the concept of when you get to the top floor, send the elevator back down to bring others with you along the trip. And quite frankly, I am extremely proud of that. 

Mark: Were there any, I guess, challenges throughout that whole process, you know? 

Chad: Oh, yes. There are always, there are always challenges. There are always challenges. I’ll never forget, we had presented the scope of what it is we do today. In my first, say, four or five months, after going to many of the markets, meeting with the marketing directors, understanding where the money was being spent and what they were doing. And I remember presenting a vision, a goal, and it was a three-year goal to achieve what I just articulated. And it had a price tag on it. 

And I remember at the time, our CEO was also the CMO. And the CEO looked over at the CIO and said, you’ve got this right, budgetarily. And Chris said, yes, absolutely. We got this. We go back downstairs to his office. And he looks at me, and he’s like, yeah, can you do it for one 20th of that budget? I looked at him and I said, Chris, you brought me into this organization. If that’s what I have, then we will scale what we’re delivering through that context. And we will build credibility pragmatically and deliver capability that the business needs. And ultimately, that’s what brought us forth to today. 

Obviously, through the first two years, it was the pragmatic approach that gave trust and value in the organization to then invest heavily in a specific year for digital transformation. So I think the one lesson is always be prepared with a plan B in your mind. Do not oversell externally or internally to yourself that this is the only option, right? Be prepared that if that option can’t happen, whether it’s financially or the organization isn’t ready for a maturity landscape, be adaptable and be prepared. So I would say that the biggest challenge is, you know, they’re not large challenges if you have the right mindset when you face them and that you’re prepared for the other answers. 

So there isn’t a moment when we put forth a viewpoint without understanding, okay, what if, what if this happens? What do we do then? What if this happens? Because we are the sixth largest and very similar to SC Johnson, not the largest. So we don’t necessarily have unlimited resources, unlimited people. And therefore being pragmatic is the appropriate approach. And also being ready to say, you know, it’s okay that it takes longer. It’s just making the right choices along the timeline in order to achieve what you ultimately set out prior in a shorter period of time. 

Mark: I like that. You know, a lot of times people are, they’re so focused on plan A, you know, there’s nothing wrong with having a plan B and like how you were open-minded, even though, you know, initially that wasn’t the budget you were thinking of you, you guys were going to work with that you still kept an open mind, like, Hey, you know, you brought me in, you know, we’re going to do what needs to be done with what we have. Um, you know, this podcast is called Fail Faster. So, you know, we have to talk about your failures in your career. But the way I look at it, you know, failures are never really a failure. So what would you say has been your top failure in your career? How did you learn? 

Chad: You know, I would say that failures are the baseline by which you know, success. So when I consider my failures, and I have, I have three in my career, unfortunately, they’re all linked to technology. So one specific circumstance, when I was with Manpower Global, a candidate acquisition program for the company, and we built a war room with approximately 30 individuals across network across application across programming, across the business to be able to troubleshoot the situations that we were that we were having at the time it was SharePoint 2003, or I don’t even remember, we set up a war room site, we did daily standups with the CIO communication troubleshooted to the point when a problem occurred, we had a triage level one, level two, level three, level four support. And then we would connect with the UK based technology firm that was supporting the technology underneath, which was Java based, in order to troubleshoot the code and correct the issue. 

And I remember it, not because of the situation or how stressful it was. I remember it because of the relationships that were gained during that timeframe. Many of those people, I still would pick up the phone and call today, even though they’re at different companies around the world, because of what we experienced during that timeframe. And that being one of those failures, a failure that ultimately was an organization failure, but taking it personally, with a group of individuals that are committed to resolve it, a failure of a company is a failure of yourself, whether it’s something that you made a decision to do or not. 

The second example is a failure that had a direct, I would say direct impact because of the fact that it revolved around decisions and areas that I supported, most specifically in the near, in the near past that just occurred. And that again, a solution provider, a technology approach, where ultimately, money is being spent by the organization. People are adapting to new methodologies. Agile was new to the organization, new to the people working with different cultures. The technology provider was an India based technology provider. Our core team was Italian based. And we had obviously myself American in the mix as well. 

And it was the patience to listen to the team and understand their struggles. The ability to navigate those struggles together, both with all of the different cultures, the changing model that was being applied, and understanding the value of what was being spent. But then finally, and you could outwardly it’s a failure, right? But inwardly, another baseline to measure success is the ability as a leader to say all stop, it’s a breakdown. There’s this one concept that I hold very dear to myself. And it was a session that was done by insignia met SC Johnson. And it was all breakdowns early and often, right? 

There’s the phrase save early save often coined by Salesforce, so that you don’t lose the work that you’re that you’re trying to accomplish. I view breakdowns as important as saving, right breakdowns need to be called early often open lines of communication. And in that circumstance, when the team was at an exhaustion point, the vendor wasn’t maturing. Nobody was maturing, calling the breakdown, full stop, right, we need to take a new approach, we need to step back, we need to do a 360 of what occurred, and understand how we move forward effectively, even though money has been spent, in order for us to drive success in the organization, we need to take a new approach. 

So that would be my second. And, and quite frankly, I have a third as well. But it’s still brewing at this point in time. But I honestly, each one of those failures are not failures. They’re baselines to success. So you have to have those moments. Because it builds you as an individual. It builds your teams. And it also builds your ability to understand failures faster in your career and make the right choices faster to bring success for whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish. So that would be my experience with failures. 

I like that something you said a failure for organizations a failure for oneself. Did you always have that one mindset, like in terms of we’re all one? You know, how long did it take you to get that mindset? 

Well, I’ve had that from a young age, I think it’s part of my competitive spirit. I’m born and bred in in sports. And fortunately, or unfortunately, I loved American football. And the the ability to come together as a team, a group of individuals to achieve a goal, not necessarily the football being the part of it, but the process of going through that the pain of what you experience in the wins and losses. I think that’s what sticks with me. 

And today, I apply that mentality in my passion for my work, because I think being able to do that, and being able to present your whole self in that, and, and having the ability to do that is is such it unlocks so much potential and opportunity. Now, whether that works in the organization you’re at today, or it’s better suited for a different organization in the future. If you can’t come to work with your whole self, and you can’t present that. And part of that for me is that competitive one team, integrity, honesty. I think you’re doing yourself a disservice. And more importantly, for your career, you may be holding yourself back from what you could achieve. And more importantly, opening your mind to the opportunities that the world provides. 

Mark: I get that, you know, switch on switching gears here for a bit. You know, when you hear the term digital transformation, what does that mean to you? What comes to mind? 

Chad: So I wrote this down earlier, you know, it is developing the DNA of an organization. For the next 100 years, it’s codifying decisions into operational automated insight for me. Now, parts of that you can take away. So you can take away automated, you can take away codification. But at the end of the day, it’s truly understanding what it is that the end-to-end processes that is in between what it is your company is trying to achieve, what is the service or product it’s trying to do, and what it is the consumer or customer expects of that product and or service. And digital transformation is the codification of that DNA of an organization in between. 

Different areas, whether that be sales processes, marketing processes, HR processes, impacted by the scale of your organization, whether you’re one country based, you’re multinational, or you’re global, what’s your customer basis, all impact the different ways that digital transformation can be implemented. So digital transformation to me is that it’s the omnichannel approach to an internal organization’s operations, and making them effective and efficient. So people can focus on those really important aspects. You know, their perspective, their ideas, their innovation that they bring into the walls, that can be then plugged into that codification. I think so many organizations struggled, you know, seven years ago, well, why is meta on top, right? Facebook at the time? Why are all of these technology based organizations at the top of the stock exchange? Well, that’s because they were drinking the Kool Aid. So they were born and bred in what they wanted to achieve. And they had a technology to codify it immediately. 

And they were able to achieve operational efficiency and effectiveness and what it is they wanted to do. So many legacy organizations don’t are now starting to shift, right? And then they’ve been shifting for the last five, seven years. But when they’re looking to shift to this digital transformation, it’s okay, what’s the biggest value? What is most important to us? What do we need to measure? Where are we putting most of our effort, our investments, our decisions that bring back the best results? So for me, that’s what digital transformation is. I think a lot of people get hung up on digital. 

They get hung up on transformations, whether that be organization structure people or it be technology. But for me, I guess at the end of the day, I simplify it to do you know what it is you do? Have you mapped it? And have you connected it to where data is created, augmented and moved? Is it moving from point A to point B, the fastest possible? And what are the decisions that you make between point A and point B that people make on that data? That ultimately is why your company is where it is today. So for me, that’s digital transformation. 

Mark: I got that. And, you know, right now, there’s a boom in AI machine learning. People are using programs like Chat GPT to really change the way they do business. You know, what are the trends you’re noticing within your industry? Along with, you know, are there any upcoming emerging technologies that you’re closely monitoring that you plan on utilizing to improve your customer experience? 

Chad: Yeah, I appreciate the question. I think, you know, two years ago, we would have been talking about AR VR, right? Now we’re talking about AI. I, when I think about AI’s practical use, in our environment, I don’t think about AI as a game changer, I think about AI as an enabler. So when I talk about the codification of the DNA of an organization, AI sitting on top of well mapped processes, well documented data, call them ponds, within the applications that support those processes, become the unlocking force of AI. So many of our conversations, I think, over the last 10 years started in data lakes and data pools, and visualization of data. 

Now AI unlocks the codification of the decisions that are made on top of that data. So many of our conversations revolve around, alright, we don’t want to hire people that are data focused, we want to hire people that are model focused. So how do you take what it is, especially in the spirits industry, it’s a very gut oriented, relationship based, customer based scenario, or what is it that your gut tells you? And how do we turn that into an algorithm that we can then unlock with a tool like AI to bring forth more proactive measures that we may not be monitoring or maintaining when we are a very lean organization. So I think about AI as an accelerator and an enabler. And the sooner you have your processes map, so if you, if for us, or for me, it’s okay, cool, where are we on the marketing landscape of end-to-end processes? We’re not very strong on the brief side, but we’re strong on the operational side. 

Cool. So we got a ton of data there. Well, what are the unlocks that AI can provide on top of that? What are the enablers? And then secondarily, how can AI be leveraged not to automate the human aspect of communication and touch points, but how to take AI to enable the scale of human interactions globally, right? So what is it? What is it that is core to our experience that can be automated through AI? And what is it that’s the manifesto of the heart of the brand, that ultimately, we’re going to need to massage with a model within AI in order to provide the right relationship? Because at the end of the day, a consumer doesn’t want a robot, constantly barraging them with messages that don’t resonate that aren’t set in their decision path, or, quite frankly, building an experience, when they go out to their local pub, or their local bar or restaurant, they don’t want AI in that space, right? 

Well, what they would appreciate is if AI can unlock an experience, where that frontline server or that bartender can give an experience to that individual, based upon the fact that the AI can look through the purchase patterns of that individual, that establishment, and potentially look at, in the spirits world, what are their interests? Is it gin? Is it vodka? Is it something else? If it is, have they thought about these different options? Are they looking to explore? Are they looking to expand? So it provides, in my mind, that unlock of potential to expand experiences beyond the knowledge base that we may have as individuals at that moment, or we may be able to unlock for that customer or consumer in that experience. So, and done thoughtfully. 

So that’s where I think about AI as an enabler. But at the end of the day, if you haven’t mapped the processes, if you haven’t thought about the data, if you don’t have the data to put AI over to unlock, you’re going to be spending a lot more time thinking about what’s the best experience? How do I use it? How do I leverage it? And getting stuck. Instead, thinking about it first, well, what’s your liquid delipse? What’s your path to purchase scenario? What are you trying to accomplish in each of those touch points? And then how does AI enable that at scale in the different touch points with communication with next best offers, things of that nature. So when I think about AI, I think about that way. To your question on technology, I guess for me, I’m always thinking about technology through the lens of utility. So when, when Microsoft had their AR glasses, the name of it escapes me at this point in time, you know, it was perfect for the service industry, right? 

So think of an air conditioning repairman, right? Having the VR AR glasses on can immediately get access to manuals, understand what he’s seeing, or she is seeing in relation to the parts, and be able to be more effective and efficient immediately. For me, and in our scenario, whether it was at SC Johnson or Campari, it’s okay, cool. So Meta released the new partnership with Ray Ban and the new glasses. And the first generation had a megapixel level that really was granular at scale. So if I’m walking through a store looking at shelves, if I’m in a bar restaurant, and I’m looking at the back rail versus the back shelf, with a pair of glasses that have a low megapixel camera, I can’t really pull a lot of data, right? So I can’t enable image recognition at scale. 

Those sort of technologies, I think, are what I’m constantly watching. How do I leverage a piece of technology to accelerate what I can’t do at scale based on the amount of resources? So when I think about technology, I’m thinking about that, obviously, the new AI pin was just presented, and that also has a high megapixel camera in it, a higher price point, a monthly price point as well. And that one doesn’t resonate as much yet. Because it’s obviously at its infancy, it’s being implemented, it doesn’t have a screen, but it has a lot of those capabilities. So what are we doing with those sort of technologies that can become a utility that’s part of the toolkit that I give to our sales representatives, to our brand ambassadors, that integrate into our technology landscape, and that become an enabler to automate processes that today are done by people with surveys that are done by people with phones and iPads with questions. 

And so if I look around a room with a pair of glasses that I hit a button on the side, immediately, if that’s tracked back into a system, it can pull pricing, position, shelf, it can pull what is the environment of the establishment that they’re in, all of that comes immediately, which today we get in surveys and responses and capabilities in that area. So I’m always thinking about technology through that lens. You know, we’ve, we’ve looked at, all right, how do we look at stock, right? Corporations are implementing drones to do stock checks and management of that. So a lot of the technology that is out there is what is the right utility? What is the right level of implementation? And how does it take our process and make it even more efficient and effective? 

Mark: I got it. So things like AI, you know, these upcoming technologies essentially, it’s just like a tool to back up your players and processes. 

Chad: Um, you know, looking at your role right now, at Campari, what does next year look like for you guys? So let’s say 12 months from now, you’re like, Oh, my gosh, we did this, you know, what would that look like? I think if you look at the trades today, a majority of them are identifying fashion and spirits as coming into some headwinds. So when you ask that question, what does success look like for us? 50% of our growth is based in organic, 50% is in acquisition. So what does success look like next year? I think it’s understanding and implementing the right portfolio and the right mix for the consumer. What does that mean? Right? For me, it’s, I look more internally than externally, creating a safe place to share ideas, building an environment that drives performance, while finding ways to realize the experiences that last, are those that incorporate a mission. So I’m spending a great deal of time with my team. 

Obviously, high fashion and spirits are up against some headwinds, as we move into 24. And as a result, you have to double down on for me, it’s, it’s not the projects or the innovation. It’s the people within the teams that create the new ideas that drive us forward and how those ideas can be leveraged through the solutions and capabilities that we have today, done more efficiently and effectively. So we’ve spent a great deal of time doing digital transformation, specifically around our execution. 

We’ve done a really good job of, of bringing brand awareness and more importantly, consistency of brand experience for consumers. And now for me, it’s accelerating that at scale in growing markets. We’ve got a great deal of work to do in our Asia Pacific regions. And I’m excited that those growth markets are growing exponentially from a resource standpoint and a brand awareness and brand fitness standpoint. So how do we take what we do in those markets and grow them more rapidly? I think we benefit from a global landscape where we can have hardships in Europe as a result of the geopolitical situation that’s occurring, both in Ukraine and what’s occurring in the Middle East. 

We can have hardships with inflation in the US and specifically in South America. But ultimately, at the end of the day, the consumers experience and the choice that they make, is our message there? Is it consistent? Does it resonate? And our platforms and technologies and solutions do that. And doing that at scale with the investments we’ve done thus far, how do we reuse and reapply those solutions more effectively and efficiently? So for me, success at the end of 24, really, if we achieve those goals, and we’re doing things tomorrow more efficiently than we were doing things today, that’s success. 

Mark: I definitely get that. You know, since you work in various types of projects to help launch numerous successful products, you know, I’d like to know your opinion on what makes a great product, you know, what are some of the factors that contribute into giving it that wow factor? 

Chad: Yeah, to answer this question on what gives it the wow factor, I think it’s different for every person and every product. When I think back to my days at SC Johnson, so much of what I loved about what we did there was we started to codify from the moment of idea, what are the different experiences that a consumer may have that drive the decisions of why they choose the product or service that they choose? So for me, when you think about that, you think about it through that path to purchase, right? So if I get up in the morning, the first thing I do, I may check my phone, I may go to Instagram and Facebook to see how my family’s doing or if my friends have posted anything. I have my coffee, I may look at a couple news sites. I jump in the car, I drive to work, I see some display, I may stop for gas, get an experience when I’m paying for the gas. What are the different decision sets of the end cap? What things do I see when I get to work, focused on work, but I’m, you know, you have moments where you, you need to break away, and you think about what are you going to do for dinner? What are you going to do this weekend? And each one of those scenarios drives a decision set, right? That sets in motion, what it is a person chooses as far as products or services to support, I mean, what, what it is they want to achieve or the experience they want to have. 

And through verticals, and I’ve, it’s hard for me to answer because I’ve supported services, from B2B professional services, I’ve supported technology companies trying to provide B2B services, I’ve supported products, both fast moving consumer goods, air care, pest control, home storage, home cleaning, now to spirits. And it’s unlocking what it is those different paths are, and what are the choices and how individuals make those choices. And then finding the commonalities, I do enjoy spirits, because it’s so much about the experience, right? It’s where do you toast life together. And for us, that first experience, whether it’s your friend has an incredible knowledge set to pour you the most amazing Negroni or Aperol spritz you’ve ever had in your life, or the experience of the bartender that first suggests that to you and gives you a great experience, or maybe it’s a trip you took to Italy. Each one of those is a resonating moment that requires the implementation of the appropriate knowledge base to fulfill that experience. 

So when I think about the wow factor, are you in the right position at the right time? Are you giving the right experience? And do you have the right heart to connect with the heart of the consumer of that product or service? If you’ve mapped that, and you understand that, then you can connect that scale. I love that, you know, it’s all about giving the consumer that good experience to have them want to come back. And the fact you know, you put your heart into is something I think people are able to see, they’re able to see when somebody is being genuine. 

Mark: I think that’s great. You know, sadly, we are approaching my last question, sadly, you know, Chad, what is one piece of advice you like to leave the audience with? 

Chad: Find your talent, align it with your passion, and surround yourself with people who inspire, teach, and can advocate for you and your abilities? When I think about answering that question, that’s how I answer it succinctly. 

Mark: That was beautiful. Chad, it’s been absolutely amazing to have you on today’s episode. You know, thank you to the viewers. Thank you for being. Thank you to you, Chad, for joining this podcast. 

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