Join Dean DeBiase Host of The Reboot Chronicles, a popular no-holds-barred podcast on iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify and YouTube that has been bringing together CEOs, entrepreneurs, authors and global leaders, for over a decade, to discuss how organizations are rebooting their leadership-competitiveness of everything from growth, innovation and technology to talent, culture and governance.
Why DEI is Good Governance - Janet Foutty, the executive chair of the board of Deloitte
Deloitte as it exists today is not your father’s Big Four accounting firm. With over $47 billion in revenue and 330,000 employees spread across 150 countries, Janet Foutty and her Deloitte colleagues work with around 70% of the global Fortune 500 companies. On this episode of the Reboot Chronicles, I spoke with Janet Foutty, the executive chair of the board of Deloitte and chair of the Deloitte Foundation, to learn more about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and how Deloitte is helping companies improve their efforts to be more inclusive.
Building Agility and Equity to Thrive in a Post-Pandemic World
Those companies that have diverse and inclusive cultures provide a competitive edge over their peers. When you compare low and high-performing boards, those are that are high performing are more likely to exhibit gender balance and promote inclusive behavior.
Beyond adding value, it’s also about values. In Janet’s view, the more doors and opportunities that companies can create, the more that families benefit, the economy benefits and perhaps most importantly, the next generation benefits.
The idea of DEI is not just a moment, but a movement, and it is up to a company’s board to be accountable for fostering an environment where everyone can be included.
The Equity Equation
While much of the conversation over the years has been around diversity and inclusion, equity has quickly become part of the conversation. Deloitte was at the forefront of diversity in the professional services industry, as it was the first company to have a women’s initiative. That then evolved to be diversity and inclusion, where the organization sought out ways to create an inclusive workforce and promote inclusive behaviors. But what the industry learned is that focusing on just diversity and inclusion is not enough. Instead of being about an initiative or a program, equity is about an outcome. For Janet, this is about "lasting economic and social outcomes, and leveling the playing field."
In compiling their Racial Equity Imperative Report, Janet and her team determined that creating sustained change in the boardroom and C-suite starts with changing the questions that are being asked. For example, cybersecurity has changed the way boardrooms have conversations around technology, and the risks that come with it, so now that is part of every board conversation.
To help improve DEI efforts, Deloitte is working with its clients to start changing the conversation around a number of related topics. For example, when discussing mergers & acquisitions, the board should be asking questions about whether the move will be dilutive or accretive to diversity efforts. I agree with Deloitte on this, it has proven to to work well with the Dancing with Startups initiatives my group conducts with Fortune 500's, brining DEI directly into their partnership and acquisition target areas—driving both value and values.
From Farmer’s Market to Mass Market
Within a span of seven years, she went from selling her products at her local flea market to selling it to Unilever in a nine-figure deal. On this episode of the Reboot Chronicles, I spoke with Jamie Schmidt, the founder and former CEO of Schmidt’s Naturals, to learn more about how her products went from humble beginnings, to being sought after by all the major CPGs, to now being on the shelves of 30,000 retailers in over 30 countries.
Making Natural Products Mainstream
When natural products first showed up on retailers’ shelves, there was much to be desired. For example, natural deodorants offered by conglomerates like P&G didn’t really work and their smell was a turnoff to consumers. Inspired by her fellow creators in Portland, Oregon, Jamie sought out to solve this problem herself. She started researching different ingredients and how they interact with the body’s chemistry, eventually cracking the code to create something that worked and that people were excited to use. In Jamie’s view, she was successful because she kept an open mind as to who her customer was. Instead of thinking of a specific type of customer, she envisioned reaching people in Middle America who did not have access or exposure to natural, healthy products. As she scaled up her business, she tapped into distribution channels, like Walmart or Costco, where other natural products weren’t going and cornered the market. In doing so, she made natural products more mainstream and started making inroads in an area that was largely untapped.
Selling to Unilever
Having drawn the attention of mass market brands through her distribution channels, Jamie was in talks with a number of CPG brands to purchase Schmidt’s, including Unilever. While she was initially shocked by the attention, it was an incredible experience for her to think that her brand could join a family and have the backing of a large conglomerate. However, she had to balance the risks of joining a larger company, such as having to compete against other brands in its portfolio or pulling back on innovation. Ultimately, she decided that Unilever was the right partner as they did not have intentions of shaking things up among the brand team or in product development. Instead, Schmidt’s could continue in the spirit that it had always grown in with the support of a larger parent company. For Jamie, this was important as she wanted to ensure that her company was taken care of while still able to remain itself.
Rebooting Stuckey's Back to the Future
Stuckey’s Corporation which started as a roadside pecan stand during the Great Depression and grew into 350+ stores by the 1970s, has evolved itself under the leadership of Stephanie Stuckey, who brough the company back into family hands in November 2019.
On this episode of the Reboot Chronicles, Stuckey’s CEO Stephanie Stuckey discusses how her unique background translates into her leadership style, how the organization is rebranding itself for the new retail space and its goals of expanding further into B2B retail.
Restoring Stuckey’s Stuckey’s started out as a simple, family-owned Georgia pecan stand selling pecan rolls in the 1930s, eventually morphing into America’s favorite roadside oasis with over 350 stores in the 1970s. Like many companies experiencing tremendous growth, Stuckey’s was bought out by a larger company, leading to a “perfect storm,” where Stuckey’s fell out of favor with its owners, slipping into obscurity and decline. Seeking to turn the tide of the company, Stephanie took the wheel with a plan to reacquire the company, bringing it back into the family and rebooting it for the 21st century.
Incubating Indie Brands
As a founder of 1871 in Chicago, one of the largest incubators in the world, I'm often on the lookout for hybrid business acceleration platforms, and recently found one that looks like a rollup with an incubator on the side! On this episode of the Reboot Chronicles, I caught up with Chris Hobson, CEO of Rare Beauty Brands, who helps high-growth indie brands scale innovation, product and channel development—while empowering founders with access to new markets, funding, personnel, and highly relevant industry mentorship.
Dancing with Startups
In recent years, the indie beauty boom has presented a challenge to cosmetic conglomerates like Sephora, forcing them to rely on both partnering with and incubating beauty brands. Similarly, to grow at scale, indie beauty brands need funding to build out their tech and logistics teams, investing in marketing, new hires, geographic expansion opportunities, and even bringing in professional-grade management. Chris and his team set out to help young brands scale indie beauty startups through their friendly partnerships with prestige retailers like Sephora, Macy's, Neiman Marcus and Ulta, to place their products online and in-store.
Secret Sauce Blend
The chemistry of having a team of people on the cutting edge of the latest industry developments and consumer trends are what sets Rare apart from the rest. Their secret formula truly lies within its team of experienced scientists, innovative R&D and marketing experts that indie brands could otherwise not access themselves. As Chris states, “Our vision is, as we grow our capabilities, we also expect to grow our staff of scientists.” Unlike other incubators, accelerators and inno-labs, Rare’s’ approach is to bring the company in and keep the young brand’s unique culture.
The company has seen success so far with its first launch, “Patchology,” and its first acquisition of “Plant Apothecary.” They prefer to work with brands that are on a profitability track and active in the professional, direct-to-consumer and traditional retail segments, generating $500,000 to $10 million in annual revenue.
Rebooting Amway with One Million Entrepreneurs
With more than $8 billion in revenue and a team of 15,000 employees, Amway has helped entrepreneurs in more than 100 countries see success selling health, beauty, and wellness products through a program called “A Million Entrepreneurs.”
According to Fortune magazine, Amway is among the Top 50 privately held family-owned companies in the U.S. Founded in 1959, the company is still headquartered in the small town of Ada, Michigan, and today is the world's largest direct to selling company. I talked with their CEO, Milind Pant, on The Reboot Chronicles about how he is rebooting the future of the company.
Stumbling Into Action
Too often, new CEOs forget to take a step back and listen before taking action. As the first CEO to not be part of the founding family, Milind embraced what I like to call “the stumbling around phase” approach when he took the position, spending his first one hundred days traveling the world listening to and learning from colleagues, customers and partners. Milind's approach proved successful as he learned the business—seeking diverse perspectives from the one million entrepreneurs that sell their products to the trenches and fields behind-the-scenes.
Along the way, he also took a deep dive into better understanding the integration of holistic, wellness and sustainability ethos, which is at the heart of the company's culture. By taking the long-view, and asking hundreds of questions, he built lasting relationships and gained allies who helped him as he began to reboot the company—from its historical strengths of direct selling into the next-gen of personalized social commerce.
Global Entrepreneurial Ecosystems
About 90% of Amway's revenue is from outside of the United States. Though this points to numerous growth opportunities in North America, Milind points to massive growth markets in China, India and various Asian markets where they are strong. An impressive 75% of Amway's revenue comes from geographic territory stretching from Mumbai to Tokyo—not many organizations can say that yet. This approach has made Amway, like Amazon Sellers now, a company that entrepreneurs have looked to as a platform for their personal financial growth. Those of you that follow my Dancing with Startups programs know that tapping into entrepreneurial ecosystems is one of our secret weapons that creates sustainable competitive assets for large corporates. I think Amway's entrepreneurial network is one such asset which will serve them well into their long-view connected-economy journey.
The Art of Innovation
On this episode of the Reboot Chronicles, I talked with Matthew Putman, CEO Nanotronics, a dynamic group transforming a broad spectrum of manufacturing and processing industries, through artificial intelligence, science and other cutting-edge stuff. I don't say this often, but if you are involved in the manufacturing space, you should check out what they are doing to bring manufacturing into the 21st century.
Matthew and his team started out creating a platform that combined AI, automation, and imagining to find flaws in factories. The global Automated Optical Inspection market is a hot space, which promises to reduce waste and costs, while speeding up designs across most all industries. His vision evolved into a dynamic platform that tackles this whitespace bringing the next-generation of capabilities to a sector that has not experienced enough change in the last 100 years—manufacturing.
Thinking beyond the core of manufacturing Mathew and his Dad also began to focus on home healthcare innovation. In the depths of the 2020 pandemic they launched Nanotronics Health, and a new product nHale™, which quickly received EUA from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to assist patients suffering from COVID. It is a non-invasive approach designed to be used in non-life-threatening situations, without invasive ventilatory support. Next up, potentially producing personalized medicine to best-fit consumer needs through genomic sequencing. Nanotronics is currently working with some of the largest genomic sequencing companies to curate out-of-the-box thinking and create new products, services and ventures.
A talented musician, Matthew points out the parallels of playing jazz music to the art of innovation. When a musician plays, they must utilize different parts of the brain to create or play music. Like musicians jamming together, working together, either in person or virtually across the globe, is often about serendipity and improvising, so it is essential to trust your gut—because it's all that you may have in the spur of the moment.
We covered and eclectic mix of topics in this episode, you can watch Matthew here or tune in wherever you listen to your podcasts.About The Reboot Chronicles Podcast: Hosted by Dean DeBiase, The Reboot Chronicles is a popular no-holds-barred podcast on iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts and YouTube that has been bringing together CEOs, entrepreneurs, authors, and global leaders, for over a decade, to discuss how organizations are rebooting their leadership-competitiveness of everything from growth, innovation, and technology to talent, culture, and governance. Tune in wherever you listen to podcasts or at https://www.revieve.com/rebootchronicles