If you’re a regular AO listener, you know that we’ve interviewed people from across the business spectrum - from first time entrepreneurs to CEOs of hugely successful multinational brands to scientists taking their cutting edge research to the market themselves. But there’s one business we just haven’t yet tackled. The family business. Thankfully Ginny Simon was kind enough to spend some time with us this week. Ginny is the founder and CEO of GinnyBakes, a Miami-based company that makes gluten-free cookie and bake mixes, and that sees itself as a “gateway” to healthier eating. GinnyBakes is also a true family business, with Ginny’s son Michael and husband Steve playing integral roles in the brand’s daily operations and growth.
Feedback seems like an uncontroversial topic. Most of us probably agree that accurate, timely feedback is critical to our jobs, no matter if we’re a junior team member or at the top of the organization. But in reality, our understanding of feedback is mostly one-sided - especially when it comes to leadership. While most leaders focus on techniques and strategies for providing feedback for others, only the top leaders focus on the right way to receive it. Why? Because even for the most accomplished among us, feedback is scary. When we receive feedback, often our first instinct is to put up our defenses. We are naturally averse to it. We bristle at the idea that we aren’t perfect, and believe that recognizing feedback will reveal our flaws and shatter our perception of ourselves. But as this episode reveals, to deny feedback is deprive ourselves of one of the greatest gifts in life.
When you get to know Dr. Joseph Antoun, you quickly realize that he’s deeply curious about the world in which we live. In fact, he’s a renaissance man of sorts. Dr. Antoun Holds a Master’s in Health Care Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, a Master’s in Public Health from Johns Hopkins, and an MD and MS from St. Joseph University. On top of that, he holds four separate executive positions at places like the Health Systems Reform, the University of Chicago, the Journal of Health Systems Reform at the academic side, and the Global Healthspan Policy Institute. (I’m exhausted just typing that.) But we were most interested in L-Nutra, the company for which he serves as CEO, and that’s poised to be the single most disruptive nutrition company in the 21st century.
Andrew Blackmon knows that pain can be the genesis for amazing things in business. That’s because The Black Tux - the high end suit and tux service he co-founded with longtime friend Patrick Coyne - was borne out of Andrew’s own frustrating experience renting his wedding tux back in 2011. While stressful at the time, this pain point helped highlight a market rife for disruption, and the pair haven’t looked back since. Together they launched The Black Tux in 2013, a company that designs and manufactures high end suits that grooms can rent on their big day. And not just any suits - we’re talking suits and tuxes that would retail for $1200, but that you can rent for just $95. Today the company has about 100 employees and rents more than 15k suits per month.
Ronen Olshansky knows a thing or two about awe-inspiring offices. That’s because Ronen is the co-founder and CEO of Cross Campus, a Los Angeles based on-demand workspace and business event venue that provides peak office experiences to a community of creative professionals. Each of the four Cross Campus locations is a highly designed, highly social experience where inspiration, productivity, and creativity thrive. Cross Campus is one of those places you have to see to believe, and if you live in Southern California, we highly recommend visiting one of their locations in Santa Monica, Downtown LA, Pasadena, or the South Bay. Featuring flex work spaces, a bar, and even meditations rooms, they often feel more like a high-end luxury hotel than a co-working space. We’re not the only ones who think CC is great - President Barack Obama chose the flagship Cross Campus Santa Monica location for his summit on LA’s Silicon Beach tech scene.
We’re back this week with another #SPKup episode, in which Sean answers the questions and breaks down the topics that you’re dying to know more about. This time Sean focuses on a topic that he gets asked about all the time – Negotiation. For a lot of us, negotiation can be a bit mystifying, and as a result artful negotiation remains a drastically under utilized tactic. But the truth is, negotiation is a skill like any other, and anyone can master it.
What’s up Awesome Officers, this week we’ve got a special episode featuring a talk that Sean gave at the recent SHFM National Conference in Arizona. In it, Sean describes what he believes to be the single most important thing - not just in the workplace, but in life - that we must focus on in order to live happy, productive and fulfilled lives. And we’ll tell you right now, it’s probably not what you think. As Sean admits, this episode is personal. In crafting this talk, Sean strove to be as vulnerable, open, and transparent as possible in order to connect with his audience. The talk was by all accounts a success in that regard, and we hope that you’ll connect with the ideas in this podcast too.
Awesome Officers, we’re back to answer your burning questions with another episode of #SPKup. This time out, SPK focuses on entrepreneurship, and shares the top mistakes that early-stage entrepreneurs make, plus how to fix them. He also opens up about what he’s struggling with professionally, the new skills he’s trying to cultivate, and how to maintain the relationships within your professional network. Again, we did this live smack dab in the middle of SnackNation HQ, so you can hear (and see in the video) some of our awesome team members taking care of business.
Megan Miller wants to know… why aren’t you eating bugs yet?? And for good reason - evidence suggests that protein sourced from insects just might be the key to fixing the world’s global food system. Luckily for all of us, the bugs in question come in the form of delicious BittyFoods snacks, which include chocolate chip cookies and Chiridos, their signature tortilla-style chips. Megan Miller is a digital strategist turned food pioneer, and the co-founder of BittyFoods, a company that makes a bevy of snacks made with their signature high-protein cricket flour.
The beautiful thing about innovation is that it almost always starts the same, humble way - with a person and an idea. Our greatest technological achievements - the iPhone, the electric car, the printing press - all started with someone who saw a problem and dared to envision a solution. It’s what Chris Powell calls “the art of the possible,” and it’s what has sustained his passion for the HR space for the last two decades. Chris Powell is the CEO of BlackbookHR, an HR software company that equips organizations to leverage workforce insights that impact productivity, performance, retention and culture.
Joe Cross is an Australian entrepreneur and filmmaker whose “reboot” concept empowers business leaders to take control of their health by making simple lifestyle changes. But before he was the picture of health and wellness and a beacon of hope for thousands across the globe, Joe Cross was on death’s door. By age 40, Joe’s health was in disarray, despite a flourishing career as a day trader and investor. As Joe explained it to us, he was focused on “wealth and not health,” and while he wasn’t looking his weight ballooned out of control. 100 pounds overweight, loaded up on steroids and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease, Joe was at the end of his rope. Enough was enough. Sick and tired of being sick and tired, Joe discovered that the power to change was within his control, and that he could “reboot” his health and his life by making simple lifestyle changes. He lost the weight, cured his own disease, and threw all the pills away.
What is happening, Awesome Officers and purveyors of optimism? We’ve got a fresh new episode ready for your aural consumption that we think you will really enjoy. This one’s a little different though. This is the first episode of a new format we’re calling #SPKup. It’s a Q&A with AO captain Sean Patrick Kelly (aka, SPK), and a chance for you, the listener, to ask Sean any question you want. In this one, SPK tackles the top questions we hear from our awesome audience, covering all manner of topics, from business and leadership to life lessons and Sean’s greatest fears. No topic is out of bounds. This was recorded live in the middle of our SnackNation headquarters (the original Awesome Office), so don’t be surprised if you hear a steady buzz of activity (and some aggressive high-fiving) in the background.
Happiness. Does it really matter? Ask most business leaders fifteen years ago, and you’d be hard pressed to find one who thought that happiness was a primary concern, especially within the organization. Work is about results, and happiness is incidental. Or so the thinking went. Then came along a little company called Zappos, with a visionary CEO named Tony Hsieh who realized that delivering happiness was a unifying theme throughout the business. Not only did delivering happiness sum up the ideal experience for his customer, but making happiness a primary concern internally actually drove results. There’s no one in the world who understands the power of Happiness better than this week’s guest, Jenn Lim.
Liz Guthridge is a Charleston, South Carolina-based coach, consultant and trainer who specializes in employee engagement and creating high performing teams. She runs the award-winning management consulting group Connect Consulting, where she uses Neuroscientific insights to help organizations unlock their true performance potential.
According to Ryan Holiday, there is an enemy within us. This enemy has derailed the careers of promising young geniuses, decimated great fortunes, and run companies into the ground. It's made adversity unbearable and turned struggle into shame. It's name? Ego. Ryan Holiday is a media strategist, best selling author, and the former marketing director of American Apparel. He has been in the trenches building brands and designing media strategies, and today is one of the most highly regarded thinkers and marketers of his generation. But by his own admission, he hasn't been immune to the dangers posed by Ego. In his new book, Ego is the Enemy, Ryan lays out a strategy for defeating the enemy Ego, and he was gracious enough to share some of this insight - and some incredible stories - with the Awesome Office audience.
In 2004, Mark Rampolla was sick of settling for low-hanging fruit. Sure, he had a comfortable life, a six-figure income, and was poised to reach the top of a Fortune 100 company. But he knew there was more to life than making money. Most of all, he was concerned about the example he was setting for his young daughters. Did he want their dad to be a corporate conformist, someone who settles for the status quo, or someone who could strike out on his own and change the world for the better? That’s when he decided to reach for the high-hanging fruit. A few months later he launched ZICO coconut water, a company that sought to transform the billion dollar global beverage industry by offering a healthier alternative to the sugar and chemical laden sodas that dominated the market. And he never looked back.
What makes an Awesome Office? Is it the culture? The leadership? Is it the office space itself? These are the questions that we set out to answer on this podcast from day one. You’d be hard pressed to think of a more qualified person to provide answers than this week’s Awesome Office guest, Sara Mailloux. As Hulu's Director of Workplace Experience, it’s Sara's job to provide the company’s 1,300 Hulugans with an environment that supports their culture and empowers them to perform at their best, day in and day out. While Hulu does have an incredible, open workspace, Sara contends that it’s the people in that - not the space itself - that make an office truly awesome. The office is there just to empower the people in it to do great things.
Sometimes, our brains are our worst enemies. It's true - our biology predisposes us to react emotionally and perpetuate negative self-talk. For leaders, this leads to self-doubt, tension, and dysfunctional teams. So what’s a leader to do? Simple: outsmart your brain. That’s according to this week’s awesome office guest, Dr. Marcia Reynolds, a world renowned organizational psychologist and leadership coach, and the author of the books Outsmart Your Brain and The Discomfort Zone.
There's no doubt that today, Marcus Buckingham is a master communicator. The entrepreneur and best selling author of First, Break All the Rules and Discover Your Strengths is one of the foremost experts on the topics of employee engagement and performance, and is a sought after speaker on these topics. You’d probably never guess that he grew up with a debilitating stammer. It's true: for the first eleven years of his life, this master wordsmith and public speaker couldn’t speak. So what changed? That’s precisely what we dive into in this week’s episode - overcoming the challenges that hold us back from becoming exactly who we want to be. Marcus tells us the incredible story of how we was able to overcome his speech impediment, and the lessons that he carried with him throughout his life and work.
When you think of innovation hotbeds, you might think of places like Austin or LA. Ten years ago, maybe it was San Francisco or Brooklyn. I’m guessing the words “Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada” don’t immediately come to mind. Well, not yet, anyway. Especially if this week’s Awesome Office guest Daniel Matishak has anything to say about it. Daniel is the co-founder and CEO of Mindable, a marketing optimization company that specializes in activating niche communities in the personal development space. The company has been able to grow into a massive, 8-figure marketing juggernaut based out of - you guessed it - Sherwood Park, Alberta. How have they pulled this off? One strategy that has paid off is a mostly remote workforce, that enables the company to attract top talent not just from their own backyard, but from across the globe.