Episode 20 (Part 1 of 2): From Board Shorts to Billions: Justin Wilkenfeld, CEO of Kindhumans and Employee #4 at GoPro Shares the Secrets to Building A Billion-Dollar Company the Hard Way

In 2007, Justin Wilkenfeld left a stable corporate job in the Finance industry to help his college buddy sell wrist-strap cameras to surfers. Seven years later, he was a core part of the most successful US-based IPO of the year as GoPro reached legendary “unicorn” status.  What started as answering phone calls in the one-man customer service department and building furniture for trade shows around the country, turned into negotiating brand partnerships, scaling marketing teams, and signing iconic athletes – always with a focus on building real relationships. And throughout it all, Hoost was the glue that helped build and protect GoPro’s unbeatable culture. Today, Justin – in partnership with his wife, Suzi – has combined his passion for growing businesses with his calling to build community to create Kindhumans, a new platform to connect commerce with compassionate causes across the globe.

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

18:03 The value of relationships. “Building bonds like that ends up being more critical to my future than the schooling or the education, because I met people, I networked, and built a family of friends that has carried through for decades.” -JW

24:44 Leaving for GoPro. “It was an opportunity to jump ship from a path that I didn’t feel like was going to fulfill me. It was a critical move for me, and I feel like it was a pivotal moment, and it’s been a seminal moment that I couldn’t have anticipated. The beauty of it was taking a chance on doing something else. That’s one of my biggest takeaways – having the courage to leave that comfort zone. And at 32, taking a risk on something that on paper probably didn’t have much of a chance.” -JW

26:03 The different stages of the journey.  “In your twenties you’re just trying to figure stuff out. You’re just trying to have fun, do different things, explore different things. You’re not really thinking about purpose or passion, you’re just doing stuff. When you get into your thirties, you realize, ‘I think I can do something more. I think life is about something more. What is my purpose? What could be my impact? What could be my legacy?’ Then that’s when you start to ask the smart questions that lead you to the right answers – the tough questions that lead you to the right answers. In your forties, hopefully, if you did it right and if you were focused and you were blessed, then you know it, and now you’re full force into your path.” -KS

28:44 Failure vs. regret. “My biggest influence and inspiration in my life is my mom. She’s taught me a lot of things, but the piece of advice that she’s given me that has always stuck with me and rang the most true and powerful was that failures fade but regrets last forever.” -KS

45:47 Building with authenticity. “What made a difference for GoPro in the end – and still does – is authenticity. It’s a genuine connection and a genuine relationship with these different communities. We went vertical by vertical – crawl, walk, run strategy – and we built the brand by getting to know people. And that loyalty that you gain from those relationships can transcend the brand.” -JW

52:42 Working with friends and family. “When you come in as a friend and/or as family, it’s like having the coach’s son on the basketball team when you grew up who got playing time. You’ve been on the teams before where the son got playing time because his dad was the coach, and he wasn’t very good, so you always resented that fact. Or, he was actually the best player because his dad was the coach, coached him all the time, and pushed him. I always say, ‘I want you to be the latter, I’m going to push you, I’m going to spend more time with you, but I want you to be the best. I want you to be the top of the crop. Then that earns you credibility and it protects our culture.’” -KS

Episode 19: David Willbrand, Partner at Thompson Hine LLP, on the Dumpster Fire That Is Your Life, Why Venture Capital Isn’t for Everyone, and the One Piece of Advice He Would Give to Aspiring Entrepreneurs

After graduating from Harvard, David Willbrand was tired of working in jobs he hated. He convinced the University of Cincinnati Law School to admit him past the deadline, and spent the next sixteen years making his mark in the startup community. As a Partner at Thompson Hine, LLP, David chairs their Early Stage & Emerging Companies Practice where he has helped thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs figure out what really matters to them, how to get the deal done, and the true meaning of risk.

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

10:24 Kash on VC funding. “I don’t believe in seed stage funding because I believe growth capital is where you should be thinking about raising money. At that point you’ve already proved product/market fit, you already have a business model you believe in, the customer base, and the elements of a strong business. Then you’re just trying to pour some gasoline on the fire.” -KS

14:46 Defining your version of success. “When I sit down with entrepreneurs for the first time, I always try to ask the entrepreneur, ‘What is your definition of success? What are you trying to achieve? Why are you doing this?’ Nine times out of ten, I get the rote answer, ‘I want to go raise venture capital,’ ‘I want to build a unicorn,’ ‘I want an IPO,’ ‘I want to build a billion-dollar company.’ When I then ask some follow up questions, what I find is that’s actually the case truly with very few entrepreneurs. When you think about what’s involved in that and what it means from the perspective of meaning, lifestyle, the kind of company you’re creating, and what you’re trying to achieve – that’s a very narrow band of entrepreneurs. And most, if you press on them, you can say, ‘That’s not really what you want. Let’s talk about what you want because this is your life. Let’s figure out how to help you manifest your version of success.’”-DW

26:59 Luck. “You’ve got to do the work and put in the effort to put yourself in the position to have luck. Then you have to keep your eyes open and always be aware – pivoting back and forth and managing your peripheral vision – so that when luck appears you grab it by the throat, and you don’t let it go.” -DW

55:49 What makes news. “We do want to be on the stage and the plane of some of those hyper-growth companies. We just want to do it our way and take the road that you didn’t see on TechCrunch or in the headlines, which is the news out there of people raising money. Let’s have our news about the impact that we make, number one. Number two, the amazing culture that we built and co-created, and number three, the money that we make, not the money that we raise. I believe there should be a shift in glamorizing the part of entrepreneurship or the startup life of raising money and it should be more on impact, growth, financial independence, and things like that.” -KS

1:03:06 David’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. “It’s a difficult existence. If you’re going to undertake it, only do it because literally there is nothing else you can do to be happy. That’s what I would say to aspiring entrepreneurs. I love that you’ve got this idea, I love that you have this vision, but frankly, if you can be happy in a day job, it’s an easier life. You should only do this thing, you should only chase this thing if you can’t sleep, if it’s keeping you up at night, if it’s eating at you all day long, if you feel like you’re wasting time because you’re not spending time on it.” -DW

1:07:30 Kash’s One Big Thing. “In order to go down this road – whether it’s a dream that you have, a business you want to build, or something that you want to pursue – it has to be this burning fire inside of you. It has to be that thing that wakes you up in the morning, and that thing that stops you from sleeping every night. The thing that literally sets your whole being on fire, that’s the epitome of a calling. When I left my corporate job to go build Besomebody, Inc. that’s how I felt. I felt like every day was one day too late from me jumping on what my true purpose was, my true calling. I knew I was leaving a lot on the table; I knew I was leaving comfort, stability, money, and some relationships. I knew I was having to give up a lot, but the feeling inside of me wouldn’t let me let it go. I started to feel so heavy every day that I waited. When I finally made that decision to go for it, it felt like this release. The journey has been way harder than I could’ve ever imagined. I’ve had to give up a lot more than I ever thought I would. There’s ups and downs, but I still feel so in sync and so true inside with the calling.” -KS

Episode 18: Tai Morshed, Vice President at ONE Championship, Talks Ringing the Bell, Teaming with Heroes, and How He’s Helping Connect a Continent Through Mixed Martial Arts

When the startup he was working for went public, Tai found himself on the floor of the Stock Exchange and the center of the action. He thought he made it. Turns out, his career was just getting started. After taking a risk that led him to a job with Adobe in Southeast Asia, he found an opportunity at the intersection of his passion and purpose with ONE Championship. Now he’s empowering tens of millions of fans across Asia – and soon the world – to connect with athletes through storytelling and shared experiences.

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

18:24 When the risk pays off. “I took a risk leaving somewhere else where I was comfortable, and things were easy. I took a risk leaving Austin and going to New York. There were a lot of risks that I took, and that was really gratifying to see us IPO. I was there on the floor – I didn’t ring the bell, but I was a row or two right behind them, waving…It was a gratifying moment to essentially be able to own that space and say, ‘You know what, I deserve this. This is a hard-working team. I took some risks, and this is where it pays off.’” -TM

19:53 Believing AND building.  “It’s important to differentiate and to create that distinction between those who believe, but also want to build. Believing in the vision, mission, and principles is the price of entry – if you don’t believe, I don’t even want you to walk in the door of Besomebody, Inc. or BSB Group International. But believing isn’t enough – because you have to want to build. What does that mean? It means you have to be able to make the sacrifices, put in the work, produce the results necessary for the company to grow.” -KS

36:29 Building heroes at ONE Championship. “It’s not about the fighting. What they’re really trying to do is build heroes. They’re putting heroes in places where people need it the most. They need people who look like them or are like them to give them a sense of hope and inspiration that they can do more and be more in life.” -TM

42:31 The power of connection. “People want to be able to believe and see people and connect with people who look like them, who’ve been through what they’ve been through, who understand their history, values, and culture. I think that’s been one of the most exciting evolutions in marketing and advertising over the last couple years…When you think about now, the necessity for us to come up with – not just a white person, a black person, a brown person – but somebody who came up from your same neighborhood, who speaks your same dialect, who has the same challenges. That ability to connect at a niche and specific level is so powerful.” -KS

44:41 Uncovering the stories. “There’s some culture, there’s some adversity in life, and in all these places there’s these great stories. While we know if we just showed knockouts all day our numbers would be higher, but we’re not building the brand that we believe that can have an impact and that has long term value. That’s why we take the time to make sure these stories are unearthed.” -TM

59:04 Kash’s One Big Thing. “When you think about the ‘microstories’ that are out there that unify us and connect us, it’s way past the old school marketing days of ’45 year old white male’ or ‘single mom’ – it’s way beyond that. And when you can get deeper into those nuances of what makes people different, but also connects them, that’s when you can create that emotional bond with people. When you look at the future of content, the future of marketing, the future of storytelling – that’s where it is. It’s endless the amount of avenues and connection points that we have now on social media and digital. The companies that are going to be able to tell those ‘microstories’ in a personal, authentic, and relevant way, those are going to be the ones that are going to win.” -KS

Episode 17: From Punta Cana to Paris to the Florida Peninsula, Carlos Taveras Has Never Backed Down From a Challenge; Today, as Communications Leader for Johnson & Johnson Vision, He’s Setting His Sights on Helping Americans See

Started from Pepto Bismol now he’s here. Learning the ropes on the healthcare brands at Procter & Gamble, and growing to lead work at Abbvie Pharmaceuticals and now, J&J Vision, Carlos Taveras knows how to inspire the masses with purpose-driven work. He’s tackled everything from gut health to cancer to myopia. Today, Carlos is teaching America the importance of sight, especially during these unclear times.

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

3:33 Culture is number one. “There’s always challenges and issues that happen within every company. No matter how great your business is doing, no matter how awesome the culture, there are always things that come up, but typically those things are brushed aside, or looked past, or buried beneath the work that is happening. But at our company when something comes up between teammates or in a way that could affect or fracture our culture, we make it our number one priority. I literally personally stop every single thing that I’m doing to focus on it because we truly believe that nothing is more important than culture.” -KS

20:35 A career with purpose. “I started my career working in healthcare, in the pharmaceutical division of P&G, and I was just enamored by the dynamics of healthcare – how such a little tiny pill can make a world of difference in somebody’s life, and oftentimes is the difference between life and death. So, the time that I spent on that just gave me an entirely different sense of belonging, meaning, and purpose. Working in immunology and oncology, for blood cancers and then essentially leaving the team that was in charge of telling the company’s and the product stories, amplifying the voices of the patients, and telling our science and innovation story.” – CT

21:43 Lessons from living abroad. “You learn so much more about yourself and what matters to you, your beliefs and values and principles, and yet you become a lot more open and tolerant for things you otherwise would not have considered.” -CT

24:28 The beauty of travel. “The biggest thing that I learned during my global experience at P&G was that we’re all more similar than we are different. You go to all these places and at first, you’re hit with all the different diverse and varied things that you experience. Even getting in a taxi or riding the subway or going to the barber is so different, and you have to learn that experience all over again from start to finish. Once you get into the flow and meet the people, you realize these are some of the most enriching and engaging conversations. To be across the world in a place you never envisioned yourself to be and to be able to connect with a stranger, a colleague, or a newfound friend – that’s really the beauty of the opportunity to travel.” -KS

32:02 Prioritizing quality of life. “It doesn’t matter if you have a great job, are working for a great company, and you’re surrounded by great people if at the end of the day you don’t have a sense of fulfillment and a good quality of life.” -CT

50:10 Kash’s One Big Thing. “The one big thing is the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself. When you look at companies, entrepreneurs, and startups around the world, the ability to articulate a broader vision that inspires the organization to want to pursue something bigger than their individual effort, bigger than themselves is so important. When you get to be a part of a team, organization, movement, or a cause that is so much bigger than you, that you wake up every morning passionate about to fulfill, fight against, or fight for it brings so much meaning to your life and brings so much purpose to what you do every day.” -KS

Episode 16: Riding the Rollercoaster – Rex Jackson, General Manager of LEGOLAND Florida, on Rebuilding the American Theme Park and The Magic of Resilience

Rex Jackson has known action and adventure for two decades, beginning with his early days as a store manager at pre-Netflix Blockbuster Video. Since then, his wild ride has taken him from the most iconic brand at the largest CPG company in the world, to the (dining) table of some of American’s most recognized restaurants, and now, to one of the world’s most visited theme parks. Through it all, his recipe of resilience, belief, and kindness has carried him through the ups and downs.

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

15:10 Taking a risk for your career. “That was a risk that I took – to go ahead and lean in and take the risk to be at the company I wanted to be at, maybe not in the function, and see if I could earn my way into the brand management track. A year and a half later, I was able to make that transition.” -RJ

22:25 Don’t get left behind. “As business leaders, oftentimes we get those blinders on one or two metrics – whether it’s market share, household penetration, or stock price – that we use as the barometer for success. In your case, it sounds like what people were so focused on, that they didn’t see or weren’t thinking enough about the emerging trends and threats around them.” -KS

29:29 Merlin’s ‘we care’ value in action. “Closing the resort is one thing – that’s the business side of it, but the impact it has on the employees was the toughest decision…We ended up furloughing over 90% of our employees at LEGOLAND Florida. But one of the things I’m proud of is that there’s a Merlin value called, ‘We care.’ We took that value to heart from the very beginning of the process – even before we started talking about who was going to be furloughed and what departments. We outlined a set of principles that we wanted to follow as we went through this process – some of those principles were things like, being transparent. Not withholding information if we didn’t have to. Communicating it in a timely manner, and over-communicating when necessary. When we first furloughed…the CARES Act had not been passed yet, so we didn’t have visibility into what the government was going to do as a benefit for people. To our credit, to Merlin’s credit, we were able to take care of our furloughed employees. Our salaried staff we furloughed at 90% pay and our full-time hourly staff we furloughed at 50% pay.” -RJ

44:42 We’re all connected. “As things have evolved, I’ve seen that people want to rally together and want to support each other. Yes, there’s the fear and anxiety to some extent about going to some of these places, but it’s also like, ‘Yeah! LEGOLAND was the first to open in Florida of all the theme parks. Let’s go support them!’ That whole ecosystem feels more connected than ever.” -KS

45:23 Resilience & recovery. “Ultimately, there is an American spirit that is going to show through over the course of the next 12-18 months as the country recovers from this pandemic and comes back online, so to speak. I think you’ll see that American spirit shine, and the recovery will be a success story. I still think it will be faster than what people think but may not be as full as what people hope for.” -RJ

58:19 Kash’s One Big Thing. “They did something that just a couple months ago people said they could never do. When you think of everything that we’ve learned here on the Besomebody journey, and every time that we’ve been told we can’t do something. And every time every entrepreneur has said, ‘That idea isn’t good enough,’ or ‘That idea isn’t going to make it.’ All those negative things that people tell you about why you can’t do something, why you shouldn’t do something, why you won’t ever win when you try it. Rex Jackson and his team prove a lot of people wrong.” -KS

Episode 13: Creativity Will Never Die – Andrea Diquez, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi NY, Talks Global Growth, Working With Big Companies, and What’s Got Her Very Angry

Born in Venezuela, Andrea Diquez moved to New York City with a passion for theater. A few months later, she was in the throws at one of the largest and most successful Advertising Agencies in the world. Twenty-five years and numerous big accounts later – including Tide, Coca-Cola, and Toyota – she runs the company. She continues to lead with passion, optimism and positivity, and a contagious desire to do great work. 

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

8:31 Brands speaking up. “Sixty-eight percent of consumers say that they find it helpful when companies or brands are addressing coronavirus in advertising. Sixty-two percent of consumers say that when companies or brands are addressing the current crisis, that means that the brands have the consumers’ best interests at heart. Even though it’s a time when people, brands, leaders, marketing directors, and CEOs are a little nervous about taking these courageous and bold steps with their marketing and advertising, the data tells us that’s what people want. That’s what consumers want to see, what they expect. In a lot of ways, not saying something right now says more about you as a brand and a company than anything else.” -KS

17:58 Passion for the client’s brand. “You have to love the brand that you’re working on. I’m not going to come up with stuff that is going to destroy the brand or kill the brand. I’m actually on the same page as the client – when I work on a brand, I give it my all, as if it was mine. I really take care of it, and I get the team to take care of it and love it. Regardless of the brand. With all the brands that I’ve worked on, some are more difficult than others, but if you love it and you nurture it, then good stuff happens. Sometimes it takes two, three, four years, but it happens…I love the brands I work on and I really dedicate time to being part of the work.” -AD

29:46 Andrea on being herself. “I’ve never not been myself. My bosses have always been okay with that…I love that all my bosses have let me be who I am. Sometimes they’re a little scared, I think, but they’ve let me be who I am and that’s great. That’s why I’ve been successful. People ask me, ‘Was it hard being Venezuelan and getting to where you are?’ No – I’m here because I’m Venezuelan. I’m different. And people embrace those differences, and they were okay with it. They figured that by adding me to the mix things would become even better. I was very lucky with all my bosses, I still am.” -AD

32:19 Adding value to the client. “The last thing I wanted to be at our sister company, BSB Group International, is a “Yes sir, no sir” agency. I don’t want to just be executing what the client says to do. I always want to be able to have a point of view, have our personal passion, and expertise. I want to be able to say, as embedded strategic business partners, ‘Here’s what we recommend and why we believe in it so much.’ That’s something that I learned from you and from the Saatchi team.” – KS

38:34 Maintaining consistency with change. “When clients change, the first thing I do is try to understand a little bit what the client is – who the person is, where they come from, what they’re used to seeing. If it’s another company, it’s another company, if it’s the same company in another country or with another brand, I try to really understand a little bit of the background and understand where they’re coming from and what their forte is. That’s how we start our relationship in an orientation on what we do. It’s focused on what that person’s strength is. Or, I’m never scared of saying, ‘I don’t know too much about this, but this is a challenge we had and here’s how your people helped us.’ And always demonstrating that we love the brand, we know the brand, and we share the passion for growing the brand. And we’re there to build it with them.” -AD

44:08 The Triple Win. “For us, we always believe in the triple win: it’s a win for the customer, meaning it’s adding value to the customer; it’s a win for the business, meaning it’s driving revenue or profit; and it’s a win for the client, and for that in the corporate world it actually means that they’re ascending, that they’re getting promoted and getting recognized. Some folks on my team were like, ‘Well that means that we’re going to lose some of those clients that we have great relationships with.’ But that’s what we want – as long as we’re losing them because they’re going up and they’re ascending, whether it’s at that company or somewhere else, then we did something right and we’re on the right side of it. Then our challenge is to do that again with the next crop that comes in.” -KS

1:21:33 Kash’s One Big Thing. “You can’t talk about it unless you’re about it behind your own closed doors, inside your own company. A lot of brands are coming to the forefront right now saying, ‘We want to take a stance, we have an opinion, we want to join the conversation of what’s happening today in our society and our culture.’ There are so many issues that have been pushed to the forefront. But you can’t talk about it in a credible or authentic way if you haven’t addressed it within your own household, family, or company. You can’t talk about diversity if you don’t have a leadership team that’s diverse or if you don’t have a marketing strategy that connects with multiple cultures and multiple types of people. That’s so important. Before we talk about what we can do and how we can evolve our communications externally, we need to take this as an opportunity to look at ourselves and reevaluate how we’ve been running our companies, businesses, households, and families. That’s the opportunity we have today – use all the issues, conflict, and conversation that’s in front of us as a mirror to look at ourselves, what we control, and the fingerprints that we leave on everything we touch. And make sure that we feel great about that impact before we decide how we’re going to market ourselves. That call to action of authenticity and realness is so important.” -KS

Episode 12: The Biggest Battleground: University of British Columbia President, Dr. Santa J. Ono, Shares How Colleges are Leading the Way in the Greatest Challenge of Our Lifetimes

A son of academics and a student of both science and culture, Dr. Santa Ono has always fought the good fight. After years helping build the University of Cincinnati into a winning national brand, he’s now battling COVID-19 north of the border at the University of British Columbia as he works to ready his campus for reopening in the Fall.

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

5:31 Concerns with the state of education. Nationwide, 17% of students don’t even have a computer at home – according to analysis done by The Associated Press – and 18% of students don’t have broadband internet access. When you think about the expanding divide between ‘the haves’ and ‘the have nots,’ it makes this scary. I’m excited that we’re coming out with, and enhancing and elevating, all these online learning tools, but I’m also concerned about the folks who don’t have access.” -KS

23:08 A global learning from COVID-19. “The biggest thing that we’ve learned from this pandemic is the world has been unprepared. Japan is totally unprepared, the U.S. was unprepared, we’re unprepared. I don’t know anywhere that was really ready. One of the things that we have to take away from this is you can’t start investing in research, you can’t start investing in a pandemic response organization or infrastructure in a nation, when it happens, you have to be ready before. It can happen anytime.” -SO

30:20 COVID-19’s effects on universities. “It’s amazing to think about all the variables, all the impacts this pandemic has created across the board, across the line, from the smallest businesses to the largest corporations. I really believe at the university setting it combines all the aspects because it’s the human element, it’s the learning and the student element, it’s the business element, it’s the sports element. It’s crazy.” -KS

38:47 The coming mental health pandemic. “The next pandemic after COVID-19 is going to be the mental health pandemic. You can already see it…If you look at individuals that are calling into help lines, if you follow the number of women who are accessing support services from being battered, there’s an escalation. I think when you have such a hit to the economy, with the millions of people filing for unemployment or support from the government, that’s not a good situation. And you compound upon that the fact that people, families are isolated. So, they may be struggling with ideas of self-worth and self-confidence. They can’t get out, they can’t let off steam, that’s a real problem.” -SO

48:18 Dr. Ono’s message to the Class of 2020. “The moral of the story, which I hope means something to any of those people, high school kids or university graduates, is that sometimes struggle makes you a stronger person. Sometimes struggle makes you into a better person. My hope for them, and my belief in them, is that this struggle, which is very significant, will eventually be something that makes them stronger, more resilient. It will prepare them to be even better than they might have been. It’s hard to believe when you’re looking at your life from being a very young person, but I can tell you that it’s true. Whatever their challenges are, they will persist, and will emerge more resilient and even better.” -SO

52:24 Kash’s One Big Thing.  “I ran into someone one day and he told me, ‘Hey, I appreciate and acknowledge what you gave up to go after this dream that you have.’ But he said, ‘Just remember that sacrifice is the first step. After the sacrifice comes the struggle. After the struggle comes the suffering. And then after you suffer, then you’ll succeed. So, don’t stop.’ It still gives me goose bumps to this day because he gave the road map of how to build, grow, and succeed.” -KS

Episode 11: From Chemicals to Cannabis, Badal Shah is Flipping the Script on His Entrepreneurial Journey

After helping lead his family business to a multimillion-dollar exit, a tragic loss and a life-changing injury shifted Badal Shah’s perspective. His road to recovery led him to the forefront of the growing CBD industry, and now he’s looking to make his most meaningful mark.

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

4:30 Traits of a winning team player. “There’s winning leadership behavior, winning leadership characteristics that people can still display and show, even if they’re lower on the continuum of capacity and work. Even if you’re a 4, 5 or 6, which isn’t really good for our company, but you’re displaying winning behavior, myself as a leader can notice it. That’s the character of the type of person that we want.” -KS

11:11 Badal’s early experiences with entrepreneurship. “My father was an entrepreneur. Seeing him growing up and his grind, sacrifice, and never being around – not by choice but by necessity – to make it work for our family was just something that really became engrained in me. My first entrepreneurial experience was with him and the family chemical business. Myself, my brother and father built a business that taught me a lot of things. It was really the hustle of doing it from scratch and bootlegging, trying to make something out of very little.” – BS

14:02 The evolving definition of “success.” “We sold [the chemical company] in January 2017 – you think you’ve been waiting for this moment, put in all this blood, sweat, and tears waiting for the wires to come in. You think that’s the biggest moment of your life. Three minutes after the wire hit, my best friend’s wife passed away. It just hit me in terms of what is really important in life. From that moment I wanted to challenge myself to be highly passionate in what I was doing and then also have impact. That became very important. You always think about what success means, then you achieve some of it and you realize that definition was wrong the whole time.” -BS

16:17 Money as a motivation. “I finally realized money isn’t number one. It’s in my top three – it’s number three. Number one is to make a positive impact on the world – legacy, things like that. Number two is to build that mechanism that makes that impact with people that I love and care about – people I love going to work with, and I enjoy being around. Number three is to hopefully be successful and make some money doing it. That’s really helped me get my mind where it needs to be. If I didn’t have the number one, that broader purpose, then I wouldn’t be fulfilled in the work…but also if I didn’t have number three, the financial, then I wouldn’t be able to serve as many people. I always see money as a symptom, not a purpose. Being able to build a successful business enables you to employ more people, help more people, make some more investments, and grow. The balance of those three things – of the impact that you’re making in number one, the right people around you, and then strong business and financial success as well – has been pretty powerful.” -KS

33:28 Preparing for leading in the post-COVID space. “How do we end on the other side of this pandemic as a market leader? We’re doing things, making investments, continuing with our growth plans. For example, we’re adding some highly sophisticated technical capabilities to be able to come out on the other side of this to be positioned as one of the leaders in the space that can both serve the industry from the B2B side, but also with two brands that are scalable and ready for global growth.” -BS

42:25 Kash’s One Big Thing. “So many entrepreneurs have to make these quick, gut, strategic decisions that blend both art and science, without a ton of data. But you still have to take that risk; you still have to go for something. When it works, everyone is applauding you and telling you how smart you are, how you’re a genius. When it doesn’t, you’re an idiot. That’s why you can’t get wrapped up in the wins and losses. You can’t get wrapped up in the applause or ‘boos’ you get, the love or hate you get from other people. You have to believe in what you’re doing, believe in the decision you made at that time, and make sure you’ve made it for the right reasons. You take the result as it comes. The same people that are calling you a genius today, are going to call you an idiot tomorrow.” -KS

Episode 10: The Frontlines of The Frontlines: Kroger Health President, Colleen Lindholz, is Leading the Charge at the Intersection of Healthcare and Grocery

Kroger Health, the healthcare arm of America’s largest grocery chain (The Kroger Co.), serves more than 14 million people each year across 2,200 pharmacies, 220 clinics, and multiple telehealth solutions. As the country’s 5th largest retail healthcare organization, it sits in a space of its own at the intersection of food and medicine. Colleen Lindholz has been passionately guiding the company’s work in this area for years. Today, she’s taking on COVID-19 while also preparing the company for a world where healthy diet, immunity, and wellness will be more important than ever.

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

11:07 The opportunity of a lifetime. “It’s an honor to be given the opportunity to lead on the frontlines of the frontlines. I’ve been in the industry for 25 years and I’ve never seen a time like we’re seeing right now. I’ve never seen people come together like I’m seeing right now. The collective efforts of the 460,000 people that work for The Kroger Company across the country has just been amazing. Amazing to see people being a part of something bigger than themselves…Every decision that we make is grounded in our values and our purpose…to feed the human spirit. We’ve never seen it like we’re seeing it right now come alive, whether it be in our stores or beyond our four walls. The work that we’re doing with the government to expand the COVID testing locations has just been a true testament to who we are and what we believe in. It’s definitely been a whirlwind, but it’s an honor to be a part of it.” -CL

12:18 What companies need to be doing right now. “Now more than ever it’s so important for companies to really live and breathe their values, purpose, mission, and vision. Lots of times its words on a paper, but I’ve always seen it come to life in the work you’ve been doing and what Kroger’s been doing. But it’s so critical right now…People are looking for hope and inspiration during this time.” -KS

27:41 Colleen on the power of commitment. “It’s a lot about commitment, it’s a lot about where you come from, who you are, your purpose in life in general. I know why I’m put on this earth, and I’m not going to stop pushing for change, I think that there’s a lot of change that needs to happen in our country, and I believe in it. Commitment, when you commit yourself to something, and you say, ‘I’m going to go do this no matter who pushes back.’ When there’s adversity and doubters all around you, you just have to stay persistent.” -CL

37:54 Traits of great leaders. “I really believe the greatest leaders lead with integrity. They lead with passion, as well as intellect. If you just have the smarts but don’t have the passion and integrity, you’re not going to be a great leader. When you have all three amazing things can happen.” -KS

40:06 The most important value. “I think just being authentic and being who you are and not trying to be something different, and doing what you say you’re going to do. Don’t go say something and not go do it…I want people to say, ‘She’s real…what she says, she goes and does.’ I always put authenticity and trust up there. With my team, I tell them, ‘If I cannot trust you, it doesn’t matter how smart you are, it doesn’t matter how many letters you have behind your name…it doesn’t matter what your experience is, it doesn’t matter to me.’ It does not matter, what matters is that I can trust you.” -CL

47:57 Kash’s One Big Thing. “When you want to succeed – when you want to win – you want to have not only the best people that do great work, but people that you can trust. The people that you’ve already been in the wars with, that you’ve been in the trenches with. That you trust to have your left side, your right side when you’re going into battle. You have to have that shared mission, vision, and values. You have to be able to connect ‘on the court and off the court’ because if you don’t, you’re never going to make it happen.” -KS

Episode 9: David Callinan aka “The Boston Barber” Gives You 50 Minutes of Straight Fire

After laboring through job after unfulfilling job, Davey Callinan found his passion in the real and raw sanctuary of the Barber Shop. But along the way, this Master Barber from Black Label Barbershop discovered a greater calling that stretches far beyond the confines of his chair. And he shares that gift with everyone he meets.

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

21:15 How Davey became a barber.  “It was something that really taught me about finding security in myself. A confidence builder. You have to accept your flaws and that no matter how old you are or how mature you are, if you don’t know how to do it, you don’t know how to do it. So, the kid could be ten years younger beside you doing better than you, but you can’t have an ego because it doesn’t matter. Where does your experience lie?”  -DC

22:37 Keeping the right people around you. “People forget how important it is to find that person who can guide you through your personal and/or professional life. People always attach themselves to the wrong type of people. But you took a moment after ten years of grinding on things that you didn’t want to do, that weren’t fulfilling you, that you knew weren’t unleashing your full potential. You said, ‘This is a person that I see doing something and I want to follow in his footsteps. And maybe I’m not going to be a carbon copy, but I’m going to take some things, I’m going to learn some things, I’m going to make them my own, I’m going to go build something great.’” – KS

25:57 Our reason for existing. “I hadn’t been through it, I hadn’t experienced the sacrifice, struggle and suffering you need to go through to become humble enough, bold enough, and smart enough to be able to get over your fears and insecurities. That enabled me to finally love myself, believe in myself, and then start seeing people and saying, ‘I see something in you that maybe you don’t see. But I want to get it out of you, and I’m going to push you.’ I personally believe if we don’t get it out of you, what are you here for? If you leave something in the tank and the world doesn’t get to benefit and be blessed by the gift that you have, why the hell are we here?” -KS

30:20 The power of self-belief.  “When you truly believe in yourself, you stop considering what someone else is going to perceive you to be in the process of getting there. I feel like a lot of people all too often consider the thought of what they look like making the move because they’re thinking about the step they’re making and not the destination they’re going towards.” -DC

32:47 Expecting the punches.  “When I believe in myself, I could be down in the dumps, I could be knocked down on the ground on my hands and knees. But the thing is I know, personally, beat down, I’m going to get back up. So, if I see you give up on me, that’s fine, I just take inventory of that. I don’t let that weigh me down…When you make tribulation your tradition, you don’t get bogged down in a hardship. Because sometimes people get so bogged down…when you make it your tradition you accept it as the norm. Because I got news for you, and you already know it, when you’re going through a tough time, the universe doesn’t have any quota for you in your tough time…the next ones on the way. The quicker you get past it and accept it, and improvise, and adapt, and overcome, and move forward, the better off you are.” -DC

49:10 Kash’s One Big Thing. “The one big thing for me is that the universe is always talking. If you’re focused, faithful, and resilient towards your vision, the place that you want to go, and the person you want to become. If you keep believing you’re going to run into people all over that will help you get there. It might not be with money, a job, or with advice in the standard typical way. It might be with just one word, one look, or a high five. I’ve had that so many times in my life, if I look back at the road that we’ve been on the last ten years. Because I kept the belief and I was centered in where we wanted to go, I was blessed to run across these people. And you can’t overlook anybody…Be open, be willing, and be ready to take that inspiration and guidance from anyone and anything that you see because the signals and the signs are out there. The people, those beacons, are out there for you, if you’re willing to hear them. On the flip side, no matter who you are, what you do, what your job is, how young or old, you could be that person that’s inspiring someone, motivating someone, or pushing someone to go do the thing that they want to do. That’s a powerful thing. That’s a power that every single one of us have and it’s a power that we often forget.” -KS

Episode 8: Gym Studios Founder, Shawn Martinez, Lost 50% of His Revenue Overnight – Now He’s Planning His Comeback

After growing his company with a first-of-its-kind business model that pushed him to the forefront of Austin, Texas’ fitness scene, Shawn Martinez lost 100% of his locations when gyms were forced to close due to Coronavirus. Now, he’s balancing the need to recover with the urgency to evolve.

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

18:37 Shawn’s growth strategy. “It’s always been about relationships. Relationships have always been our currency…I didn’t want [the strategy] to be volume, I didn’t want to just be at every apartment in the U.S. We’ve always been very selective about what properties we partner with. We want to make sure the gym is hospitable to training, we want it to be top notch, we want to pick property managers that believe in the vision so we can work together and really be a blessing to all the people that live there by doing some really cool programs and just being creative in the space. We weren’t really in a rush to grow, we wanted more of the right partner.” -SM

24:36 The impact of COVID-19. “We make money two main ways. The apartments pay us a fee for our program and then we make revenue from our personal trainers. Without gym access we literally lost 50% of our revenue overnight. I wasn’t going to take a penny from our trainers if they weren’t going to be able to get access [to gyms]. I had to rethink how we were going to be able to hold on to our trainers.” -SM

28:03 Supporting the personal trainers. “One of the things I really respected about the Besomebody chapter that I was part of is that you guys took the time to interview and put together this really high-quality production of people talking about themselves, what makes them ‘them.’ I feel like there’s so much power in that, and that’s what we’re doing. What makes these people unique, and not as trainers, but as people. And we’re trying to pump that out to the world and trying to get [the trainers] some business.” -SM

29:18 The power of brand equity right now. “Brand equity, brand purpose, what your brand believes and stands for is so important right now. This is the only time – definitely in our lives, in this generation, most likely in the last century – that everyone in the world is experiencing the same thing at the same time. We’re all feeling the same thing, we have the same fears and anxieties. We also feel for our neighbors, our colleagues, our businesses, our friends that run local establishments that are going through this. Now is a time where people are rallying together, people do believe we’re in this together. The companies and businesses that double-down on purpose and values and show who they are in a positive way, are going to be rewarded with business after this is all over.” -KS

32:20 The value of vulnerability.  “All those times where I was very nervous to hit ‘publish’ or ‘post’ on the post because I thought, ‘I’m being so honest, I’m sharing my soul.’ Those are the posts, messages and stories that connected the most with people. It wasn’t about the likes and the comments, it was the fact that somebody said, “Thank you so much for sharing that. That really impacted me.’ There is so much power in being courageous enough to be vulnerable.” -KS

40:12 Kash’s One Big Thing. “Where I’ve seen the most value in our journey and in my personal life, is taking the time to really invest in those select few. All I need is a ‘starting five’ and someone to ‘come off the bench and shoot the three.’ That’s all you need – you don’t need a lot of people, you just need the right people. When you have the right people around you – the people that believe in you, that will push you, that will call you out, that will stand by you when times aren’t that good – then you have a powerful weapon in your arsenal.” -KS

Episode 7: What is the “New Normal” in Grocery and Marketing – HEB’s Ashwin Nathan on the Impact of COVID-19 and Meeting Challenges with Innovation

Ashwin Nathan leads the marketing & digital efforts for HEB, the largest grocery chain in Texas with over $20B in revenue and more than 120,000 employees. COVID-19 has impacted their marketing, operations and supply chain, and has forced them to innovate faster than ever before in order to serve their community safely today, and in the future.

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

11:49 The impact of company culture.  “Being at HEB the last three years has been eye-opening in terms of watching a company connect its purpose to what it does every single day from a business standpoint. We exist so we can take care of our community, so that we can take care of our fellow Texans. We’re essentially a public service…It’s humbling to be a part of this with 100,000 other people who are just committed to serving Texas.” -AN

21:52 Marketing amidst COVID-19.  “I think the most immediate thing is to pull a lot of marketing, go dark in a lot of instances. In the sense that the most important thing is to make sure that you are not putting messages out there that can make things worse. For example, when you have marketing for specific products, whether it’s ice cream or paper towels or certain brands in the store, all of that right now is irrelevant. Your job right now is to make sure you’re helping the company with whatever is necessary from a customer messaging standpoint to make sure they understand that we have the supplies, we just need time to put it up.” -AN

23:57 COVID-19’s lasting impact. “All of our screen time is up 50% – we’re on social more, we’re watching the news, we’re waiting for that 5:00pm press conference every night – I really do believe that those types of habits, as well as people’s comfort with e-commerce, delivery, and things like that – will have people venturing into that process that never had to do it before, never wanted to do it before. I think they’re going to become new members of that ecosystem. There’s a lot of habits that are going to stay long after this virus is over.” -KS

25:03 This is the time for content creators. “Overall there’s going to be companies that are born out of this crisis and channels that are discovered out of this crisis. For all the bad and all the struggle, there’s going to be some winners…this is THE time for great content creators. If you’re a content creator – a writer, videographer, photographer – this is your time to create the best content you’ve ever created. Because you have eyeballs – you have opportunity. There’s going to be people that gain awareness during this crisis that will maintain it afterwards.” -KS

29:33 Leadership lessons for the “new normal.” “For me, there are a couple of things in the ‘new normal’ that I really want to do. One, support local businesses as much as I can. That’s something that from a new normal standpoint, the new normal for those guys is a lot worse than folks like me who are in a different situation. All of us have to figure out how do we continue to support local entrepreneurs, local companies, local businesses, our community – I think that is going to be critical and hopefully that brings us together. From a business standpoint, it’s brought more clarity to me in terms of what are the things that are most important that I have to continue to do to drive success with my team and make sure that we operate as a team, and make sure that we are contributing to the growth of the business.” -AN

38:08 Kash’s One Big Thing. “This is the time for great content creators to step up. You’ve never had all this luxury to sit at home and create. We’ve all had day jobs we had to go to, we’ve had stuff to do. Even if you’re working from home you still have more time, no matter what someone tells you. This is when you should be writing, taking photos, making that video, starting that podcast, starting that blog. Whatever it is, now is the time. It’s not just because people want to consume it, it’s because this is when you can refine it and focus on it. If you’re great at it, figure out which channel is best for you and go all in on that one because then that will be a platform for you long after this is over.” -KS