Connections Leadership Series Podcast

We created the Connections Podcast to help you connect to some of the most admired leaders and legends in the marketing, media and advertising industry. Many of the people who we look up to all started somewhere and this podcast aims to help connect the dots that got them to where they are.
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Connections Leadership Series Podcast




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May 16, 2019

Today’s guest is a former Shark Tank competitor whose idea was rejected and business name was teased. He didn’t give up, though, seeing a real opportunity to disrupt the flower industry and has successfully done so – even having one of the Sharks return, invest in his company and have him do the floral arrangements for this Shark’s wedding. 

He is John Tabis, the Founder & CEO of The Bouqs Company.

John believes so strongly that in order for a consumer brand to get off the ground you have to have a great story and a lot of hustle – two things he has an abundance of.

Starting the company with a co-founder half-way around the world – communicating by WhatsApp, Skype and email – John built a brand with consumers at the heart of it, simplifying the flower-buying process and telling a wonderful story of where each stem come from and who are the people cultivating them.

John shares many of his personal tactics that have helped him scale the business to success, his passion for big picture ideas and much more.

May 7, 2019

Today’s guest started literally in his garage, fulfilling orders made on an app he developed himself with his partners. He is Chieh Huang, CEO of Boxed, a membership-free wholesale retailer that offers direct-to-consumer delivery of bulk goods.

Like every startup, Chieh had to be very selective of what areas to scale and when, eventually coming up with the idea to hire robotic engineers to innovate new and exciting ways to fulfill customer orders.

Though highly automated, Chieh has always believed in giving the customer a personal touch and so he ensured every order was sent with a hand-written thank you note.

Chieh shares insights into his management tactics – having a very strong opinion against micro-managing, speaking as a former micro-manager – and how he takes the time to be present for his team members from the bottom to the top.

His energy is quite infectious and I hope you enjoy listening to Chieh as much as I enjoyed chatting with him.

Please welcome, Chieh Huang.

This podcast is brought to you by Exact Media.

Apr 30, 2019

Today’s guest is in constant pursuit of helping other entrepreneurs reach their goals and for consumers to live healthier, happier lives. He is Gautam Gupta, Co-Founder of snack subscription service, NatureBox.

Gautam set out to disrupt how people consumed snack food, by creating healthy options and delivering them in a simple way.

Given trends towards healthier eating, he felt the business model was going to be an instant success but quickly discovered he first had to build a thorough understanding of how consumers purchase snacks, as well as the retailer buying journey in order to get placement on store shelves.  

Since successfully growing NatureBox, Gautuam continues to advise other entrepreneurs on how to create a unique differentiated product and a compelling customer experience – both of which, he believes, are the biggest drivers to success today, over and above location and marketing.

He shares his personal tactics on how to approach entrepreneurial problems and his love of teaching really shows.

Please welcome, Gautam Gupta

This podcast is brought to you by Exact Media.

Apr 23, 2019

Today’s guest on the Podcast (brought to you by Exact Media) is an avid outdoorsman, entrepreneur and wine aficionado. His approach to business is very matter-of-fact, he doesn’t mince words when it comes to big pivots like rebranding and he’s quick to learn and adapt. He is Geoff McFarlane, Co-Founder and CEO of Winc.

Geoff’s story definitely suggests entrepreneurship was woven into his DNA, with both his dad and older brother starting successful ventures, Geoff starting a mobile DJ company in high school that he later sold for a profit and realizing very early on that he was ‘unhireable’ and more passionate about paving his own path.

He shares insights into some of other early ventures, including a real estate development company which he’d doubled-down on right before the economic crisis of 2008, forcing him to make some serious shifts in what came next.

While searching for a wine gift for his friends, Geoff saw an opportunity ripe for the picking, finding many other wine clubs and subscription models too restrictive or pricey – so he set out to create an ideal club that catered to everyone.

He shares his tactics for success, how he built and scaled a brand from the ground up and some suggestions on wine varietals you may enjoy. 

Please welcome, Geoff McFarlane.

Apr 16, 2019

Today’s guest is a real treat, who brings a real passion to what he does – that started from a very early age with a hilarious game of hide-and-seek – he is Kristian von Rickenbach, the Co-Founder of direct-to-consumer mattress company, Helix Sleep.

 In a crowded marketplace, with several large competitors all launching around the same time, Kristian saw an opportunity to differentiate himself by not offering a one-size-fits all mattress, but rather a personalized experience for each customer based on their sleep preferences.

He wasn’t always an entrepreneur – without a real plan after college he explored finance for a bit, before settling into a career in consulting for a variety of businesses.

Ultimately, a chance encounter with one of his co-founders during a networking event sparked the idea to tackle an under-serviced, slow-moving industry. 

Kristian shares his personal tactics that have helped him scale the business to success, including how many hours of sleep he gets each night.

Please welcome, Kristian von Rickenbach.

Apr 9, 2019

Today’s guest has disrupted the home security industry through a unique D2C model that started by targeting the apartment rental market. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of SimpliSafe, Chad Laurans.

Hailing from a long line of entrepreneurs including both grandfathers and his dad, it was always a high likelihood he’d become one as well.

From a very early age Chad loved to tinker with things, take them apart and re-build them, like remote control car engines to make them faster, or teaching himself to code at the age of 12 in order to build one of the first online forums back in the days of dial-up internet.

After college, he went into a career in finance that ultimately helped him build an understanding of what it takes to sustain a business, leading him to the decision to bootstrap SimpliSafe.

As he got off the ground, he had many learnings as entrepreneurs do, including the discovery that he could scale the business even quicker, by including home owners as part of his target market – and now SimpliSafe is on track to expand internationally.

We talk about some of his personal tactics for success, including how he focuses on delivering real value to his customers, growing a business with his wife as his founding partner and more.

Please welcome, Chad Laurans.

Apr 2, 2019

Today’s guest is an incredible leader: the CEO of kids’ clothing subscription service, Kidbox.

Her entrepreneurial hustle was carved out from a young age, where she took on a newspaper delivery route at just 9 years old.

Since then she had a varied and successful career, getting her start by running eCommerce for Tween brands in the late 90’s and early 2000’s and, in spite of the internet bubble burst, she saw a that there would be a real shift in consumer purchasing decisions, from retail to eCommerce.

She climbed the marketing and eCommerce ladder for luxury retail at Ralph Lauren, Tory Burch and then Chicos, eventually meeting the Founder of Kidbox, Haim Dabah, to whom it was clear she was the right fit to lead Kidbox's growth.

Miki immediately bought into their social mission to impact the lives of 1 million children in need and learned over the course of her career to trust her gut and speak up for causes she believed in.

We talk about her tools for success, including using data science and personalization to deliver a unique customer experience with Kidbox and how standing for a social mission helped her build a thriving brand from the ground up.

Sep 19, 2017
This episode is brought to you by Exact Connections. Acquire customers by partnering with online retailers and placing an offer in their outgoing parcels. Visit and click “Get Access” to launch your first customer acquisition campaign within 5 minutes.
Earlier this summer I had a chance to interview Bonin Bough and couldn't be happier to share his story as our first episode of our newest season of The Connections Leadership Series Podcast.

Visit our website to find links to listen to it on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play or listen to it on SoundCloud below.

A little bit about Bonin Bough...

Bonin is a man of many titles, he's the Host of LeBron James' TV Show on CNBC, Cleveland Hustle, Author of Txt Me: Your Phone Has Changed Your Life. Let’s Talk about It and -- in partnership with Michael Loeb (Co-Founder of -- has become a leading seed-stage investor in Messaging startups.

Prior to all of this, Bonin was the Chief Media & eCommerce Officer (a Title and role he created for himself) at Mondelez where he led global media buying for the $25 Billion + organization.

For someone with so many responsibilities, he's surprisingly accessible.

You can text him any time at 646-759-1837.

Give it a shot. It might just take a little while for him to reply.

On Career Management

Bonin optimized each step of his career for Title and Span of Control. The money simply followed.

Title was incredibly important as it gave Bonin additional weight and influence in the organization. A senior title became a stepping stone to even bigger opportunities at new companies.

For example, because he was a Senior Director at Pepsi, he was recruited as a VP by Kraft and was given control of the organizations entire media buying organization.

Later, Bonin leveraged this VP title into a C-Suite title he created himself at Mondelez, creating his own seat at the table as the Chief Media & eCommerce Officer at Mondelez.

With a senior title came a larger span of control, which was particularly important for two reasons:

  1. The CEO has the largest span of control of an organization. If you aspire for that title one day, having a large span of control will give you the required experienced in building a team and trusting others to eventually one day meet the requirements of being a great CEO.
  2. When you have a large span of control, you inherently have the ability to make a much larger impact on an organization because of the breadth of resources you have access to. The larger your impact, the more likely you are to be noticed by senior leadership and promoted up the ranks as a result of your great work.

Bonin took this a step further by focusing primarily on the "innovation" side of the business as often put him in a position to deliver breakout successes.

Like great Rockstars, "you have to produce hits". Bonin had lots of them.

On Great Leadership

Bonin's mission as a leader was to be a platform for the success of those on his team. In his eyes, success as a leader was for the people on your team to become better than you.

He particularly called out key members of his team such as Cynthia Chen (now Managing Director at General Mills China), Laura Henderson (now SVP of Marketing at BuzzFeed) and Farrah Bezner (now Head of New Business Ventures at Mondelez) who have all progressed to making a major impact in their respective organizations.

Jul 11, 2017

It’s one thing to be the Chief Marketing Officer of a large business but another thing to be the CMO of the world’s largest advertiser, P&G. I really enjoyed my latest interview with Jim Stengel who is the founder of The Jim Stengel Company and prior to that had a very successful career as the Global Marketing Officer (GMO) of P&G. In his seven years as the GMO, the company doubled its revenue. In today’s terms, the revenue he brought in during his tenure is equivalent to the revenue of approximately 30 AirBnBs.

He has received more awards and recognitions than one could ever dream of. From being named onto Fortune’s Executive Dream Team to being the number one power player in marketing by AdAge through 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007. If there’s anyone who has reached the pinnacle of advertising and marketing, it’s Jim.

What I took away from my interview with Jim was not all of the things that he accomplished professionally, but the importance of being a good human being. He’s incredibly humble and down to earth. He admits to the mistakes that he made in the early days as both a husband and a leader. He emphasizes the importance of his wife (who is #1) and the value he places on building relationships. Jim could have stopped after his career at P&G to relax and retire. Most people would have been more than happy with what he achieved. Instead, he’s continued to make it it his mission to help businesses and people reach their full potential. 

Here are some of the highlights from our conversation:

  • Jim hustled as a child. To get a job delivering the local paper, he had to lie that he was 12 years old when he was only 10. It was the only way he could get the job. In addition to delivering the paper, he mowed lawns, shoveled driveways, worked at a pizza joint and did a lot of other scrappy jobs to make some money. His first grown-up job was with Time Inc. where he was hired into the books division. 
  • To my surprise, Jim was actually rejected for an internship at P&G. He didn’t make the cut but he didn’t give up and eventually got hired. It was a good thing that P&G didn't make the same mistake twice.
  • On his first job, he was tasked with the launch of a new product, Duncan Hines. He was given the task to find a way to sample to every household in the US. With a $60 million sampling budget at his disposal, he managed to hire every delivery truck in the country to help him deliver the cookies.
  • On rookie leadership mistakes, he talks about the importance of seeing what’s around the corner and what’s ahead of you. Too many leaders fall into the trap of tackling daily operational activities but fail to deliberately spend time thinking about the future of their business.
  • On other business advice he would give, it would be that you can never fire too fast. When it comes to people related issues, you usually know in your gut as to what the decision should be. One bad apple on a team can infect many people and it’s important to remove those people immediately. 
  • The only time he ever considered leaving P&G was after his first year. Time Inc. called him back and offered him a job that would triple his salary. What kept him at P&G was the opportunity to learn and grow. From then on, he had a principle to never speak to head hunters. 
  • He’s a big believer that the key to life is resiliency. People who have bounced back from setbacks in their careers or personal life. These people are often the happiest people and have lived the most rewarding lives.
  • His WFIO (We’re F&cked, it’s over) moment happened in the second year when he was running the business in Czechoslovakia. He was the only one on the team who didn’t have share growth that year. It was the moment when he thought that his job was on the line. But John Pepper, the CEO of P&G at the time, spent five minutes with him and provided a few words of assurance that the company believed in him and that he believed that he would get through it. Jim never forgot that conversation and it changed the way he viewed his situation. He encourages leaders to never underestimate the impact that they can have on their people. And yes, the business he ran turned around and the rest is history.
  • Jim met his wife and proposed to her only three months later. To help seal the deal on his proposal, he made her a physical scrapbook documenting their experiences together. He’s what I call a “closer”.
  • On mistakes he made as a husband, he talks about the times in his life when he didn’t always put his wife as number one and took her for granted with work, children and other obligations. Life gets in the way but one should always put their spouse as number one. 
  • On routines, exercise is a non-negotiable. He might sacrifice sleep or eating, but he will never sacrifice exercise. He tries to change it up all the time and will do water aerobics, tennis, yoga, a HIIT class, or something different.
  • On the bucket list, he’s hoping to still play Roger Federer a game of tennis. He recently played Ana Ivanovic (the former number one ranked female tennis player). I took that as a humble brag. =P

There’s a lot more from this interview so make sure to listen to the full interview. Either go to the SoundCloud link below or subscribe to our iTunes channel.

Jun 15, 2017

Very excited to bring you our latest episode with Philip Krim, Co-Founder and CEO of Casper.

Read the full Episode Summary at CNBC:

This Podcast is brought to you by Exact Media. Learn more about how companies like Procter & Gamble, HelloFresh, Unilever and Coca-Cola have worked with Exact Media to drive revenue growth and customer acquisition by visiting


Jun 5, 2017

On our latest podcast, we interviewed Douwe Bergsma, CMO of Georgia-Pacific. He shared his unique background with us, including growing up in a low-income family in the Netherlands, and his journey from P&G to Georgia-Pacific. Listen to the interview now to hear his thoughts on being an agent of change, why continuing to climb is so important, and how he decided to move to Atlanta with his wife.

May 22, 2017

We interviewed Karen Flavelle, CEO of Purdy’s Chocolate, in our latest podcast. Listen now to hear her thoughts on managing a team and what she’d tell her younger self early in her career.

May 8, 2017

We interviewed Esi Eggleston Bracey, President of Coty Consumer Beauty Division, in our latest podcast. Bracy shared her amazing journey from engineering to brand management at P&G working on the Comet brand. Listen to our podcast to hear her thoughts on leadership, work-life balance, and finding time to disconnect.

Apr 10, 2017

We interviewed JuE Wong, President at Elizabeth Arden, in our latest podcast. Wong shared important tips on managing your team, handling personal tragedy, and insight into how she handled raising a family with a fast paced, international career. Here are our top four favorite highlights:


On good management advice

When asking JuE Wong what advice she wished she received when she was a first time manager, Wong mentioned that the most important lesson she learned was to actively groom a #2 that can support and grow alongside her in an organization. She reinforces this lesson today be ensuring her 8 to 10 direct reports have a #2 that they feel confident can represent them in executive meetings, and can speak on behalf of that overall function.

Wong also advocates for giving your team a lot of leeway to succeed or fail on their own, but in the case of bad outcomes, always ensuring that you’ve put in place a safety net so that the entire team can fall and bounce-back together.

A memorable example for her was when she was a trader at Cargill, she had a $200MM position in the market that she was very enthusiastic about. However, she was in over her head with that choice, and eventually was in a spot where she was facing massive financial losses. But unbeknownst to her, her boss had taken an opposite position to limit the overall company losses. This ensured that she still had a chance to learn and figure out stuff herself, while still not having long-term negative effects on the company.

On having an owner’s mindset

Regardless of your role in a company, Wong advocates that you should always think in terms of a P&L. Even if you are in PR or are an Office Assistant, you should think through what costs are you incurring for the organization and what kind of ROI are you getting on those investments. You can use budgets and a P&L this to stay disciplined in your role and to prove your value to the organization.

On setting targets

Wong always had great respect for sales people in her organization, and ensured that she only set targets which she herself could meet. She was proud to hold the record at Strivectin for having the most sales per hour while working the sales floor with individual customers.

On dealing with personal tragedy

In 2009, Wong’s husband passed away a few weeks into her first stint as a CEO, leading Astral Brands in Atlanta, Georgia. She’s become very comfortable talking about this tragedy in her life as she feels like, by sharing the story, more people can benefit from learning how she handled the situation.

She reminds us all that we have choices. It’s up to us on how we view and move forward from situations -- good or bad. This time in her life ended up being very pivotal for her career. She believed the lessons she learned about how to work better with people as a result of this tragedy accelerated her career trajectory as CEO of Strivectin, and President at Elizabeth Arden.

Apr 4, 2017

We interviewed Michelle Peluso, Chief Marketing Officer at IBM, in our latest podcast. Peluso shared how to stay motivated as a leader, how to handle challenging discussions, and being CEO and mom. Here are our top three favorite highlights:

On Staying Motivated as a Leader.  

"I think a few things. First of all, surround yourself with awesome people, with friends, with partners, with people you work with, with colleagues, mentors, with bosses, because all of us are on this constant journey of improving. And so there's never a destination in leadership, you don't get there. You know, you can always be better, as a founder, as a mom, as a leader. And so, to have the sort of grace to accept that, that this is's just a journey, and there's always tomorrow, to learn and to improve.

And to be surrounded by people who will call a spade a spade and help you think strategically about decisions you're making or actions you want to take, or things you've done. I think that is really, really powerful. But then it's also all about that support network to keep propelling you forward. I mean, who doesn't occasionally think that they're... If you didn't occasionally think you were in over your head, then you wouldn't be dreaming big enough, you wouldn't be taking enough risk, that getting outside of your comfort zone, that feeling, however you want to describe it of like..."

On How to Handle Challenging Discussions.

"I think humanity is most important. I think really being clear about what do you need to convey. Who's on the other side of this conversation and what's their story? What are they likely gonna hear? Which may be very different than what you're trying to say. How do you think about the whole picture? You gotta be direct, you have to be transparent, but you also have to be human. There's another place that's great to have grace on the journey with you.

I learned, over my career, you can't avoid those conversations. It's really critical to have them. As a matter of fact, if anything, if your instinct is saying something, you gotta listen to it and move quickly. But I think that having them with clarity, with data, with humanity, with a real care and thought to the person who's receiving the news is very important."

On Being CEO and Mom.

"I was CEO for like five or six years before I became a mom. Six years. So I had been CEO for a while. But then I got pregnant as the CEO. And that was hard. And all of a sudden you have a baby and you think, "Gosh, my style, which has really been about hanging out with the engineers late at night as they're trying to figure out tough problems, or taking teams out for dinner to celebrate." I was living in New York and Dallas. I was kind of back and forth. And all of a sudden you're like, "That all can't work."

When my daughter was born, I just realized I didn't want to be on the road as much as I had been on the road. And I really wanted to have...obviously, be with her and have her with me in New York. And so I spent a long time working through different ideas, but I did ultimately say to Travelocity that I needed to have a long succession period. So over six months, we found a successor and I left Travelocity.

But part of it in retrospect was I didn't know how to change the means with which I was leading, and I felt like I just needed to shake it up and go somewhere new where I could say, "Okay, this is my...I'm still as passionate, committed, team-centric, etc., but I can't do it by being on the road every week." I had to come up with new ways of doing that. "And I want to leave the office at 5 every night but I'll be online from 8 to 11." I just needed a change to figure out how to balance being a mom I wanted to be and being a leader I wanted to be."

Mar 13, 2017

 We interviewed Peter Horst, former CMO of Hershey Company, in our latest podcast. Horst shared his biggest challenges, his thoughts on finding balance, and his best advice to the next generation of marketers. 

Here are our top three favorite highlights:

On facing challenges.  

“Well, I'd say the most challenging might have been the last one I had, which was Pop Secret Popcorn, and that had been for years, I think something like 10 years running, the most successful new product. It was just, you know, an absolute darling of the company… And about 10 minutes after I took the job, a whole bunch of things came together to just bring all that growth to a screeching halt.
“The penetration of the microwaves as an appliance in the home tapped out, penetration of microwave popcorn tapped out, the patent on the technology they gave at a product superiority expired, price brand… changed the world from this wonderful glorious place with 35% growth every year to absolute dead halt, flat.
“That required not only figuring out what was going on and developing a strategy for what to do about it, but it also meant convincing everybody around me who had built their careers on the strategies that had gotten to the brand at that point, gotten the brand to that point, convincing them that it was time to really shift gears and let that go and do something else because the world was a very different place.”

On work-life balance.  

“I put through this filter of the value by being there physically versus what's it going cost, not just from a family perspective, but every trip you take means you're not with your team back at the home office and, you know, that has a form of cost, too. So I just try to make sure that every time I jump on a plane, it was for a clear and obvious benefit that couldn't be achieved some other way.”

On what he’d say to a 30-year old.

“This is the time to be bold. You’ve got some good experience under your belt. You know what you're doing. You've got some expertise but you're young enough that you can swing it for the fences. Whether that means being bold, and wherever you are think big, take risks, push the envelope, or if that means jumping into something that feels the nobody's making and the sweaty palms kind of opportunity. That will be a time to don't overly self-edit and don't play it too safe.”

Feb 27, 2017

In our latest podcast, we spoke with Howard Handler, Chief Marketing Officer of Major League Soccer. Handler shared his marketing journey, how he defines leadership, and the power of having a mission. 

Here are our top three favorite highlights:

On leadership.

“At summer camp, we would do wilderness trips, canoes, packs. We would be out in virgin wilderness and we would have to read maps, make our way, find campsites, [and] figure out how to protect ourselves from the elements… Sometimes the weather could be pretty troubling and we were just kind of there and were in a position to try to figure it out… You would learn who was going to lead, who was going to follow, [and] what role everybody was going to play… I learned what effective leadership might look like, who showed grace under fire, who was flexible, who was creative, and I tried to model some of my own decisions after that.”

On having a mission.

“[T]he people that distinguished themselves to me were the people that had the greatest leadership skills, the most imagination, and honestly the most magnetic personalities. They just were the type of people that other people wanted to be around because they were hungry, they were curious, they were on a mission, they were fun, [and] they knew how to solve big, complicated problems.

On going into marketing.

“[M]y heartbeat, my pulse was really more driven by music and media and pop culture and the closest thing that seemed applicable in business was marketing. Because marketing was essentially about demand and about dealing with consumers and solving problems within that context. And so that's what energized me in that way.”

Feb 13, 2017

In our latest podcast, Ray Cao spoke with Jeff Smith, Company Group Chairman for North America, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies. Smith reflected on his career and shared his best advice for rising sales and marketing leaders.

Here are our top three favorite highlights:

On schedules.   

“[I do] simple things like always making sure I scan my full week on a Sunday night and understand [that] what's in front me still exists. But the ability for it to shift and change during the week is increased by a factor of a hundred-fold from my early days. So you tend to learn that while what might look like something on a Sunday night, by Wednesday it could look very different.”

On work-life balance.

“I tend to walk out and whether my boss is still there or not. It doesn't really matter over the years. You just keep up with whatever works in your different pace, I think. The whole concept of work-life balance doesn't exist as a macro level; it exists as an individual level. And you need to figure out what works for you individually.”

On his best advice.

“Have more patience. It's interesting because you look back on it and you think of all the things you sweated that just weren't sweatable. It just didn't matter in some ways and yet, at the moment, it was like the most important thing. How did Mary or Fred get promoted before you, or whatever. And that ability to be able to believe just in yourself and what you're doing and stay focused on that instead of all that's going on around you. And it's hard for human beings. We see things, we experience things, we have feelings, etc. But if I could go back in time and say, literally stop sweating it. Be less stressed about it and stay more focused on what you're doing.”

Jan 23, 2017

In our latest podcast, Ray Cao spoke with Phil Thomas, CEO Ascential Events, parent company of the Cannes Lions. Prior to his current role, Thomas helped run both Empire Magazine and FHM.


Here are our top three favorite highlights:


On finding your career path.

“[W]hen you look at young people leaving college, so few of them really know what they want to do, and it always takes a bit of experimentation and working around things and trying new things and jumping and changing before you really find your path. And as it happens, photography wasn't quite right for me. The thing about photography is you've got to be exceptionally talented. It's very, very, very competitive and you've got to be exceptionally talented. And I was reasonably talented, I wasn't exceptionally talented. So, I kind of worked out quite quick that photography was not gonna be quite right for me.”


“[When] I started writing those articles and I realized actually I seem to be better at writing than I am at photography. I mean, I think one of the things when people are trying to find their ways, you've got to be honest about what you're good at. You've got to be clear not only what you enjoy but actually what you are good at as well, and I compared my photos to my writing and I realized, you know, I'm much better at writing.”


On the power of in-person events.

“[The] strength of events is the face to face human need, and the interaction, face to face, and the serendipity of bumping into people, talking to strangers, getting to know people, human beings being with human beings in a physical way is very hard to replicate, it's very, very hard to digitize around that. And a lot of people have tried it. It's amazing in this day and age where you can have videoconferencing and there are all sorts of tools for people staying where they are and not being together, that despite that, airplanes pull every single day of the week with people flying to meet each other and to be in the same room as each other. So, I think the need for human beings to be together is very, very fundamental and primal need.”


On his best advice.

“I try and get as much sleep as I can. I know there's a big thing at the moment with this fight between macho people who think you only need four hours sleep and all this scientific evidence that seems to be pointing to the fact that you need as much sleep as possible. I happen to believe you need as much sleep as possible. I'm with Arianna Huffington on that one, so I try and get good quality sleep as much as I possibly can. And then the other great piece of advice I was given once was worry in segments, worry in sequence, because if you worry about everything all at the same time, your head will explode. You've got a load of problems to worry about, loads of things to think about, just do it one at a time and plow through it one at a time, which I find very, very useful as well.”

Jan 9, 2017

In our latest podcast, Ray Cao spoke with Steve Sadove, former CEO of Saks Fifth Avenue and Board Member, Colgate-Palmolive. Sadove started his career at General Foods, became the CEO of Clairol (which he helped sell to P&G), and then took over as CEO of Saks Fifth Avenue which was sold to HBC just a few years later.

Here are our top three favorite highlights:

  1. On failure.

That was one of the great lessons I learned... if you're a baseball player and you hit 333, you're in the Hall of Fame. So you can't hit 100%, and part of the cultural lessons that I learned and I still teach people is… "It's better to try and fail than not try at all." And that you can't have a culture where people get shot if they stick their head up… We want our people who are trying things all the time and learning and saying, "Ah that worked and that one didn't work." And that you have a culture that you support that where people feel that they can do it.

  1. On leadership.

I firmly believe that the role of a leader, that there are two things that they do. One is making sure that everyone's around, aligned around the strategic direction of a company. And the other is around building and establishing and reinforcing a culture that you want. And if you do the two of those things, well, then you can drive some real results.

  1. On the changing career path.

Careers are so different today. If you think about it, I spent 40 some years and worked in three companies. My kids, my son's probably been in as many companies in five years as I was in 47 years, and that's what's true with most millennials… Don’t think [that] the job that you're getting [as] your first job is going to be your career. It's going to be one of many. And so you want to be doing things that you enjoy doing, working with people you enjoy, doing things where you're going to learn a lot because as early stages it's about learning and formation.

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