What does turning a billion people on to chewing gum teach you that will help you successfully manage an organic, good for the Planet brand? We sat with Linda Lee, CMO of Stonyfield to find out.
1- Boxes are good
We are often encouraged to think “outside of the box”, to the point that we come to think that boxes are the enemy. They are not, argues Linda. When we are asked to think “out of the box”, what we are really being asked to do is to engage in creative problem solving. Understanding, instead of avoiding, “the box” or real life limitations that are in play is actually crucial if we are to succeed at solving the problem.
2- Experience is over rated
We typically chose who should lead a high profile business challenge by looking at the candidate’s experience. Linda admits that she actually went into major challenge of her career not having done the job before and thus learned that “naiveness”, or the lack of experience, is what actually allowed her to ask dumb questions, bring fresh thinking and ultimately succeed as a leader.
3- F@*k security
Anyone who wants to achieve something big must show up to work ready to be fired. Being concerned about your job security is actually a major impediment to taking the necessary risks that are stopping others from taking action and ultimately doing the right thing.
Of course you may fail and get fired, but considering what you set out to do, that’s OK. Because that’s the only way you might achieve something really, really big.
Prior to joining Stonyfield and in just five years, Linda grew Mondelez’s North America savory business to $2.6bn and successfully launched two $100mm+ new businesses in 18 months – Stride gum in China and Good Thins snacks in US.
She received her BS in Chemical Engineering from Cornell in 1996.
This in interview is part of Chaco’s 90 Seconds Of Wisdom series: our mad attempt at countering oceans of information with drops of wisdom.
Small firms can find it hard to match the energy, world class talent and diversity that make larger companies so competitive. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Start a business with less than 10 employees and you’ll soon discover how quickly your co-workers can seem dull. No matter how much you like them, walking into a small office with just the 6 of you feels as eerily quiet as church on a Tuesday morning.
Smallness can eventually work against you, as talent migrates out to rival firms with a mailroom bigger than your entire office and opportunities pass you by because you lack the scale and diversity needed to solve complex problems.
Realizing that we were not the only consultancy facing this challenge, we launched Kongo: our opportunity to surround ourselves with some of the brightest independent professionals and start-ups in the media and creative industries.
We opened over 5,000 square feet of beautifully designed loft-space to a small group of world-class designers, researchers, writers, producers, motion graphics experts, innovators and foreign correspondents. Some of our colleagues include FireFish USA (research), Positron (experiential design engineers), A Different Engine (UX design), Messaging Lab (biotech), QuesttoNo (product design), SmartAssDesign and Machine (innovation and design)
Based in Dumbo, the heart of New York’s most vibrant start-up community, we now collectively enjoy the resources of larger Madison Avenue agencies, with none of the politics.