The Garage Group is excited to organize and host another Courageous Minds Only chat on Operating Like a Startup in a Bigco, this time with leaders from AB Inbev, Citi, and Viacom, on August 21, 2018, at 6 pm at Joynture (48 Wall St.) in New York City.

 

Over the past year, we’ve been listening in on lessons from corporate leaders from PepsiCo, Tyson Foods, CME Group, Worldpay, and more as they discuss their first-hand experiences on the challenges they face when enabling their Bigcos to operate like startups. These battle-tested leaders are courageously trailblazing the way forward. They’re under tremendous pressure to keep their organizations relevant and growing in the face of increasing market uncertainty.

We’re all learning, failing forward, identifying and solving problems, and figuring out the right path. Let’s learn from one another. 

On August 21st in NYC, listen in for battle-tested lessons learned from top corporate leaders from Ab InBev, Citi FinTech, and Viacom on strategies and tactics they’ve personally used to allow their organizations to search for sustainable and bold new ways to add value in the face of increasing market uncertainty.

Join us at Joynture (48 Wall St.) on August 21. Register below:

 

Below is the event agenda:

Event costs have been covered by The Garage Group so it is free to attend the event. Refreshments: There will be beer, wine, and snacks provided.

A few months ago in Chicago, we hosted battle-tested Bigco leaders from Gatorade, Pepsico, Grainger, and Mondelez as they spoke to how their large organizations are operationalizing startup approaches. Here are a few of our favorite quotes from March’s panel:

“From an innovation standpoint, you don’t want to sprint for the sake of sprinting.” –  Chris Hintermeister, Senior Manager, Innovation, Gatorade

“Get things off of paper into the real world.” – Tharius Sumter, Director, Global Portfolio Insights, Pepsico 

“Within startups it is do or die. How do you create do or die within a big company, because that’s what’s needed.” – Barry Calpino, Senior Innovation Leader, experience at Conagra, Mondelez, SCJ, Newell, Wrigley, & Kellogg’s

“It’s about finding the right people, at the right time at different points in the journey. That’s what real collaboration is about.” –  Erin Overly, Head of Brand Communications, Grainger

Thank you to our hosts, Joynture!

Our two courageous summer interns have deep passion for all things creativity. Building on their experiences in and out of the classroom, Lizzie and Turner decided to dig in to learn more. Follow along as Turner interviews David Eyman and Jim Friedman, two creativity professors from Miami University’s Institute for Entrepreneurship.

For the last 10 years, Miami University’s Institute for Entrepreneurship has been ranked among the top 10 public schools in the nation. Leading the creativity track for the institute are professors Friedman and Eyman. They are two very different manifestations of teaching creativity. If you want to talk to Friedman, you’ll likely have to wade through a pack of students huddled in his office discussing their latest breakthroughs and failures. If you walk into Eyman’s office, you’ll be greeted by an ever-changing landscape of toys, creative tools, school projects, and a smiling professor. The reason students line up at their door is both their innovative teaching methods (which got Friedman the ASG Outstanding Professor Award in 2016) and their long history in business, design, and content creation. Their different styles are to achieve the same goal: push students out of their comfort zone to do what they once thought was impossible, becoming creative. We decided to sit down with these two educators to understand how creativity can improve BigCos, the lives of their employees, and understand why some companies are more innovative than others.

How do you define creativity?

Friedman: My definition of creativity is tied to birth. You are bringing something into the world that never existed before. That doesn’t have to be a book, song, or painting; it can be an idea. You birthed an idea or concept. It’s as simple as looking in your refrigerator and saying, “I’m going to cook something that I’ve never made before just to see what happens.” That’s creation…

Eyman: The thing that I’ve been working on is the difference between being creative and doing creative stuff. Anyone can do creativity. If I tell you “Make up 100 ideas for new tennis shoes” it can take you less than 10 minutes. Anyone can do that. Being creative on the other hand is more of a personality style. The confusion between the two keeps people from saying, “Yes I can make up new ideas.” So what we’re teaching students is that they are capable of doing creativity, because if you make up 100 ideas, by default, some of them are going to be highly creative ideas.

What is it like teaching someone creativity?

Eyman: I had a coaching client back in the day–a kid who thought he was dumb. The truth of the matter is this kid was brilliant. One week I gave him homework to take apart this VCR. He comes back on the next meeting and he starts showing me all these parts of the VCR. This kid was making up what parts do, and how they function together without having any engineering background or knowledge of how a VCR works. When I asked him what kind of person can just figure this out without being an engineer, he said, “Well a smart person… Oh my god you got me! You’re trying to make me see that I’m smart because I told you that I don’t think I’m smart.” In essence that’s exactly what we’re doing with Miami students. We’re showing them by doing. So they do creativity; they do it, they do it, they do it and then at the end of the semester we turn them around and have them look at the path that they left. They look at this wake that they left behind them and we ask, “What kind of people make those new ideas?” And by default they just answer “Yeah, creative people. You got me.”

What stops people from being creative?

Friedman: Everybody has a level of fear; we don’t want to be wrong. If you go into a kindergarten, and you tell a kid “draw a car for me,” they will excitedly grab a crayon and just start to draw. If you say to a junior in college “draw a car for me,” they’ll pull out their cell phone, they’ll Google “car”, they’ll choose one, and they’ll copy it, so that they can get it right. It’s fear of being wrong and not valuing the connection and vibrancy that creation brings. A creative is a child who didn’t grow up.

From your experience teaching students, how do you think  BigCos can give their employees more opportunities to be innovative?

Eyman: You have to provide that venue, and in the corporate world that’s culture. It is an expectation that people will come up with ideas and share knowledge. The hard part is when there is a culture where you have to have the right idea the first time you open your mouth. If that’s the culture, innovation will never happen. Culture always starts with the leader. If the leader is willing to say “I need 5 ideas, or 10 ideas” and knows that not any of them are going to be the answer, that’s an innovation culture. There is certain failure if the leader comes in and thinks they have the one answer.

Friedman: If you punish failure, then you’re only going to get safe, stale ideas. One of the things I do in class, which works in business as well, is reward spectacular failure, and punish mediocre success.

Eyman: Exactly! When someone has a spectacular failure, you should say “That’s great! Let’s talk about it! What can we learn from this? How can we turn this around?” However, recognizing what a failure looks like, what a success looks like, and what a mediocre success looks like is hard to do in real life. It’s easy to talk about on an academic level, but for a person in a company to recognize what that means is a big deal. That’s part of why companies like The Garage Group are so important because we not only teach people through doing stuff and reflecting, but we also give people knowledge through language that sticks around.

Friedman: We need to get people to change their relationship with the word failure. If they can understand that success is made of a million tiny failures, that’s huge. If you never fail you never really tried anything of value because you haven’t pushed yourself. It’s the difference between jumping off the high dive and jumping off the side of the pool.

How do you define success when it comes to creativity?

Eyman: Creative success to me is when people stop doing what they’re told and what’s expected. The minute they stop doing what’s expected and start doing what’s right, and what they’re capable of doing, and thinking about what might be possible, that’s success. Let’s say you go into a company and there’s an issue or a crisis and you say, “Well what should we do?” If the first answer is “Well, let’s look at what everybody else has done,” to me that’s a failure. If they respond “Well, let’s look at all our options, and let’s look at some more options, and then some more options,” then I think we’re on the right track. That’s success.

What’s your elevator pitch for creativity?

Friedman: Creativity is the only true, legal, unfair advantage. It is the thing that will take you to the next level quicker than anything else. It will help you make more money. It will help you have more choices. It will improve the quality and the opportunity in your life.

We’re Lizzie and Turner (better known as Tizzie around the office), and after spending the summer interning at The Garage Group we wanted to share the top things we’ve learned. We spent a lot of time learning the processes, the correct lingo, as well as the ins and outs of the office culture. Beyond that, we’ve come to realize that The Garage Group is always on-brand. So we decided to show our learnings through the lens of how The Garage Group lives out their brand. We have detailed the things we’ve learned that will influence our future in life, business, and school.

Chipotle (Approach): We’re suspicious that one of the The Garage Group’s hiring requirements is a fierce love of Chipotle. At The Garage Group, Chipotle is an on-brand source of fuel and a metaphor for our work. Like Chipotle, our work is customized, organic, and (of course) GMO free. The Garage Group is unique in that it has various ingredients it can use to serve its clients. Like how a hungry customer would go down the line at Chipotle creating a bowl specific to their tastes, The Garage Group crafts a new approach for each challenge it faces from its tried and true methods. Let’s say the rice is like The Garage Group’s define phase, the base on which all things are built. The protein is what gives it flavor–the explore phase where ideas can run wild. Finally, the toppings (cheese, salsa, guac, queso) are the Build, Test, Learn phase of our process, where creations are refined to perfection. But not every client needs guac. Some just need the substance of a lot of creative ideas, so we give them double barbacoa. We spent the summer learning how to customize our Chipotle order, but more importantly how to tailor The Garage Group tools to a client’s specific needs. But Chipotle is not a buffet; it takes a team in the kitchen to make the food, and a thoughtful interaction with the customer to make the perfect burrito.

Foosball (Collaboration): Foosball and The Garage Group have more in common than just their mutual love for one another. Strategy is required in both foosball and when approaching problems. A cornerstone of that strategy is to work in teams and collaborate often. Collaboration is necessary both internally at The Garage Group and externally with clients and the startup ecosystem. This summer has illustrated how to approach and collaborate on problems in a strategic and authentic fashion.

Lärabars (Authenticity): One of the most important values The Garage Group holds is authenticity. It’s so important that the team eats it nearly everyday because — as we all know — you are what you eat. Lärabars are all about authenticity. They are all natural and only use a handful of simple ingredients that they proudly display on the outside of the packaging. The most humbling trait shared by The Garage Group-ers, and taught to us, is being true to yourself and sharing all you can with those around you.

La Croix (Ambiguity): What is that taste? Did someone put a single pomegranate seed in my drink? Is this actually water? Despite being exposed to it all summer, we still aren’t totally sure what’s up with La Croix. It’s a little uncomfortable, and very unclear what exactly this stuff is, but The Garage Group makes it work. One of the amazing things about being an intern here is dealing with ambiguity. Not knowing exactly what’s happening and what we’re doing every second at work has been an exciting experience. It’s given us the freedom to build new things, to test them, and to learn. We haven’t learned how to deal with ambiguity this summer, we’ve learned to embrace it and use it to propel our work in new directions.

Alexa (Feedback): Amazon’s Alexa is the most difficult employee at The Garage Group. She is stubborn and requires constant coaching, but the TGG team treats Alexa with a shocking amount of respect and understanding for an inanimate object. Feedback is an important aspect of human work at The Garage Group, too. The team is always willing to give great feedback and insights, regardless of how busy people are. As we’ve worked on various projects, we’ve been able to iterate with each piece of feedback. Iterating and understanding why changes need to be made has helped us understand the why behind everything, a critical component to success at The Garage Group. Not only have we learned how to grow from feedback, but we’ve learned how to give it, and when to seek out our coworkers’ input.

This summer has given us an amazing place to try things, fail, and develop meaningful relationships. Through The Garage Group’s approach, collaboration, authenticity, feedback, and  ambiguity, we feel more prepared than ever for whatever challenges we take on next. The Garage Group exemplifies an entrepreneurial company culture, and we are sad our summer came to an end so quickly. We are leaving this internship with a better understanding of the world and what we want in our future. It’s nice to know anytime we order at Chipotle, shoot a goal, taste a Lärabar, drink La Croix, or get in an argument with stubborn AI, we will reflect on our time here and all we have gained from this experience.

Tizzie out!

Bigco leaders who want to stay relevant in an increasingly turbulent market are faced with a choice: to rely on the same old processes to drive growth, or to fully jump into entrepreneurial methods that embrace uncertainty and change.

Last year we published our 2017 edition of 50 Resources for Building a Lean Innovation Foundation, enabling teams and leaders to jumpstart that entrepreneurial path forward. We’d captured 50 resources to guide you and your team through understanding what Lean Innovation is and how your organization can begin to adopt it. It included startup favorites like Lean Startup and Sprint, and our favorite resources to guide teams working to apply tried and true theories like Jobs to be Done. 

Over the last year, the foundational resources have remained, but as thought leaders have come forth with new perspectives and new methodologies have emerged, it was time for an update. And as we release this 2018 list of 62 resources, we recognize the many challenges that Bigco leaders are facing as they not only work towards establishing that Lean Innovation foundation, but as they begin to push their organization towards continuous lean growth.

Follow us along the way as we share these resources weekly via social media, accompanied by more context and advice to get you started.

If you’re just getting started, definitely spend some time reading and reflecting on both this updated list along with the 2017 list we’ve assembled, but note that the real learning comes from when you roll up your sleeves and hustle to start applying these approaches to your tough innovation and growth challenges.

THE BASICS 

There are some must-haves when it comes to practicing lean growth (i.e., Sprint, The Lean Startup, and Value Proposition Design). Beyond just the resources, there are also credible thought-leaders to follow. Here are a few of our favorites, as well as some resources they’ve created to help you in your lean growth journey.

ERIC RIES

1. The Lean Startup: This book is often referred to as the start to the Lean movement. If you haven’t yet read it, definitely start here.

2. The Startup Way: Ries’s newest book that takes the methods and ideas from The Lean Startup and applies them to businesses of all stages and sizes.

3. The Startup Way Book Talk: Eric Ries shares his experience working with Beth Comstock, Vice Chair of General Electric as they applied Learn Growth to a corporate company; a movement that changed the company in more ways than one

4. Lean Startup Co Podcast: A great way to stay up to date with the latest news for all things Lean Startup, even on the go. This podcast includes advice, but also success stories and lessons learned from those pursuing Lean Startup methods.

5. Lean Startup Co BlogFollow the main thought-leader of the lean movement for guidance in your own journey, including how to seamlessly integrate Lean Startup into your every day work flow.

ASH MAURYA

6. Running LeanThis book provides systematic guidance on quickly vetting products and ideas to ensure the most efficient process is followed for lean growth

7. Scaling LeanA follow-up to his first book, Running Lean, this book takes it a step further and shows readers how to continue growth past the first stage of the product idea

8. Ash Maurya Facebook Live with TGG“What I’m focused on these days is this notion of loving the problem, not the solution. You may have the best idea in the world, but if you can’t find evidence that others are either struggling with a job to be done, it’s going to be an uphill battle.” – Ash Maurya

9. LeanstackThis continuous innovation platform includes everything from quick growth hacks to printable canvas templates

AJ&SMART

10. Design Sprint 2.0 Process ExplainedGreat for quick tips and tricks for running your own Design Sprint

11. Design Sprint 2.0 Monday – Long Term Goal & Sprint QuestionsThis video is especially helpful when you’re in the process of establishing a goal for your design sprint, as well as questions to keep focused on.

12. Innovation Hackers FB GroupRequest to join this group to get the inside scoop for all things innovation.

ALEX OSTERWALDER / STRATEGYZER

13. What Leaders Need To Do To Boost InnovationOsterwalder shares the four elements he considers critical for leaders who want to make innovation happen in their organizations

14. Strategyzer BlogAlex Osterwalder founded Strategyzer–the company responsible for the business model canvas, lean canvas, and value proposition canvas. Follow the blog for habitual learning opportunities

15. Business Model Canvas vs. Lean CanvasA short blog on the difference between a business model canvas and a lean canvas, and why a lean canvas is better for quick, valuable feedback and growth

16. Value Proposition CanvasIn the lean growth mindset, it’s important to convey your value proposition rather than just product offerings. AJ&Smart provides a quick overview of how to utilize a value proposition canvas

DAVE KNOX

17. Predicting the TurnIn today’s business world, disruption to Bigcos happens at the blink of an eye. Knox’s book discusses the risk that Bigcos are facing because of this and how they can foresee the future.

18. Predicting the Turn Book TalkKnox discusses themes from his book, as well as takeaways from his time in corporate venture capital at High Alpha, an Indianapolis-based accelerator.

19. Hard Knox LifeKnox’s blog that takes a look at the intersection of corporate brands, startups, and marketing.

SEAN ELLIS

20. Hacking Growth: Growth Hacking did to market share growth what Lean Startup did to product development. Want to grow your business? This is a must-read.

21. How to Transform Your Business Through the Growth Hacking Mindset: An interview by Inc. with Morgan Brown and Sean Ellis, authors of Hacking Growth, to get down and dirty with what it takes to truly growth hack

TODD HENRY

22. Herding Tigers: Leading teams to be creative can be challenging, but in this book, Todd Henry sets a blueprint for enabling your team to take bold, creative risks.

23. Todd Henry Facebook Live with TGG: During our Facebook Live, Todd Henry shared an incredible amount of insight on leadership challenges creatives, entrepreneurs, and intrapreneurs are faced with. Watch our discussion and review our top four takeaways most applicable to Bigco leaders and teams.

24. Accidental Creative: How to be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice: In the fast-paced world we live today, it’s not enough to just go through the motions of your job. We’re all now required to spit out brilliant ideas at a moment’s notice. This book shows you how.

25. Todd Henry Newsletter: Henry discusses creativity, leadership, productivity, and how to have a passion for work in all different mediums. Get first peeks at his latest writing samples, podcasts, and recommended reads by signing up for his Newsletter.

STEVE BLANK

26. Taking the Lean Startup from Silicon Valley to the State Department: In this podcast, Blank discusses the difference in innovation between startups and large organizations/governments, how Lean concepts can apply to everyone anywhere, and how to overcome a few motivational challenges

27. The Art of the MVP 2 minutes to find out why: MVP testing is something of an art form, according to Steve Blank. Watch this video as he walks you through the key areas to iterate on as you test out your prototype

28. The Lean Launchpad: Over the span of a month and at no cost, you can learn from Steve Blank how to rapidly develop and test new ideas, saving you both money and time.

DAVID BLAND

29. 7 Things I’ve Learned About Lean Startup -David Bland: After a few years of researching and testing Lean methods, Bland is reporting back his findings

30. Precoil: Bland is an early adopter of the Lean movement. Follow his blog for regularly updated content on his learnings over the years, as well as tips and tricks to pursue your own lean growth adventure.

WORKING MINDSET

About a year ago, we released a blog about our Hustle Handbook, a training we use to get teams embracing the proper mindset for growth. Because embracing the Growth Mindset is the first step, here are a few more resources to help you along the way:

31. The Learning Pit: Keep in mind, we’re all students of something. And just as any student, you will struggle. It’s important to remember to squeeze the juice out of the resources you have available, and push yourself to climb out of the pit toward success and understanding on the other side.

32. The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations: Backed by decades of research, James Kouzes and Barry Posner have put together this book that shows how leaders are made, not born. It’s filled with great reminders for anyone looking to make change in their organization. We definitely recommend reading the whole book, but for those of you with minimum time capacity, here’s a quick overview.

33. Mindset – Carol Dweck: In this book, psychologist Carol Dweck explains the power of having a fixed vs. growth mindset; that it’s not just our abilities or talent that makes us successful, but our mindset. This is a must-read for those who lead people, including parents, CEOs, supervisors, and teachers

34. How I became an entrepreneur at 66 – Paul Tasner: It’s never too late to become an entrepreneur or intrapreneur. Hear it from Paul Tasner who courageously took a leap into the unknown at 66 years old, and encourages other seniors to do the same.

35. HBR Emotional Intelligence Series: Empathy: It’s no secret that empathy is the key to great product development and organizational growth. This book helps you navigate just what it means to be empathetic, the importance of it, and how to overcome challenges to an empathic mindset.

36. HBR Emotional Intelligence Series: Mindfulness: Not only does mindfulness create better peace of mind for yourself, but it leads to heightened creativity, self-awareness, and charisma. This book walks you through incorporating it into your daily life, as well as how to avoid the downfalls

37. Prioritize Your Tasks & Reduce Stress at Work: A lengthy to do list can be overwhelming and almost more inhibiting than no to do list at all. JR&Smart walks through a quick and easy way to prioritize your tasks and start your work day with less stress

LEAN RESEARCH

Getting rapid feedback to make quick pivot, perish, or persevere decisions on products and services is crucial to lean growth. Here are some of our top resources to enable smart, affordable and efficient consumer feedback

38. How-Tos for Validating Product Ideas: hint, this isn’t traditional market research, concept-based stuff: Head of User Research & Metrics at Goldman Sachs, Ex-Google, Ex-WeWork researcher bringing all of his tried-and-true assumption-based, transactional research tips to life in book-form

39. & 40. Mixed Methods Podcast: This user research podcast says to “expect to test assumptions, examine methods, and engage in some old fashion experiments.” Well-known user research experts are featured. Two of our favorite episodes: Tomer Sharon of WeWork (now Goldman Sachs) on Rethinking the Research Report (the second half is the best) & Michael Margolis of GV on Building Rapport

41. Product Death Cycle: When you’re starting your path toward lean growth, keep this image in mind and remember not to fall victim to the Product Death Trap

42. Elaboration on Product Death Cycle: Andrew Chen elaborates on David Bland’s Product Death Cycle to explain why it happens and how it may be escapable

43. The One Biggest Error in Customer Interviews: Mistaking Opinions For Facts – Alex Osterwalder: Mistaking customers’ opinions for facts is the top error when trying to get some scrappy consumer insights. Osterwalder provides some tips for digging into the facts instead of focusing on opinions.

44. JTBD, a lens to understanding consumer problems: Jobs To Be Done helps product developers how to identify consumer wants and needs in order to design products, services, and businesses that meet those wants and needs

45. Schools of Thought on JTBD: Our Jobs to be Done approach has evolved over the years, and now integrates the tried and true principles of Jobs theory, but also takes into consideration specific challenges that Bigcos face. Learn more about the history of Jobs to be Done and about our TGG take.

46. Why Customer Feedback is Killing Your Innovation Efforts: Bryant Cooper, cofounder of Moves the Needle, explains the definition of true feedback and its role in innovation

47. 6 Scrappy Ways to Find Consumers for MVP Testing: Just a small group of consumers can give you a wealth of insights into what’s working and what’s not. But, where does one find these consumers? Do you just pick them up off the street? Read this blog to learn some effective nontraditional ways to get feedback.

48. Testing Leap of Faith Assumptions: Tools that fit into our Lean Innovation, Leap of Faith Assumption testing toolbox must fit 3 criteria: cost-effective, transactional where possible, and quick. These provide for leaner testing overall (instead of an all-your-eggs-in-one-basket approach).

ASSOCIATIVE THINKING

Associative Thinking–the ability to connect previously unconnected dots is a trait found in truly innovative thinkers. We’ve outline our tips for enabling associative thinking in a blog post, but here a few other places to collect stimuli and connect dots across categories

49. How Much Noise is in Your Life?: Todd Henry, author of The Accidental Creative, explains how to absorb the stimuli that’s important and cut out the rest

50.Trendhunter: Get lost browsing this site that’s filled with the latest trends and products hitting the market

51. Springwise: Subscribe to this newsletter to receive daily emails of the latest trends and innovative products solving problems all around the world

52. TED Talks: There’s a TED Talk on just about every subject, from Alzheimer’s to Glaciers to Sustainability, you’re bound to find something that sparks a connection.

53. Biomimicry: How has nature solved a similar problem? National Geographic and this TED Talk category are great sources to learn more.

54. Lean Startup Conference: Lean Startup Conference brings the big ideas from Eric Ries’s books off the page to show how organizations are making them real around the world. Alongside thought-leaders and followers of the movement, dig in, ask questions, and learn more

55. ExpoWest: Our Breakthrough Innovation Report from Expo West 2018 includes brand examples for human to pet probiotic migration, beauty greens, natural oral care trends, and more.

56. CES: Jump into the Consumer Electronics Show and be among the first to discover new technologies hitting the market

57. Front End of Innovation Conference: The FEI conference enables corporate companies to merge with innovative ideas and prepare to take over the market

REAL LIFE APPLICATION

The proof is in the pudding when it comes to lean growth. But don’t just take our word for it. Here are some case stories, podcasts, and blogs to learn more about what it takes to grow successfully lean.

58. Darex MVP Story: From New hire to Product Launch in 4 weeks: Keith Romer, a former Associate Strategist, has been an absolute powerhouse since he joined the insights team at Darex. Within a few months he led some scrappy research and launched a high revenue generating product.

59. Lean Growth Bootcamp for b2b Financial Services Company Case Story: Hear the battle-tested story from Tara Newboult, VP of Product Planning & Strategy at Worldpay, on how her team partnered with The Garage Group for a 10-Week Lean Growth Bootcamp.

60. How I Built This Podcast: Hosted by Guy Raz, this podcast walks through the stories behind today’s most well-known companies, as told by the trailblazers themselves.

61. Innovation Leader: This site is focused on providing tools and resources, including research reports and networking events, to corporate innovation executives

62. Fireside Chats: Check out one of our Fireside Chats to hear more from Bigco executives about their journeys toward lean growth.

We’re excited to announce our new VP of Lean Growth for Cincinnati, Fadia Perez Cruz! She comes to us with a knack for consumer empathy and 17 years of experience to back it up. She’s held leadership positions throughout her previous career at P&G in both consumer insights and brand management. Early in her career, Fadia’s contributions completely revamped the way R&D teams used human-centered insights to create substantially more exciting innovation. Her obsession for going beyond the insight and connecting learnings with business plans made her a critical contributor to Downy becoming the fastest growing brand at P&G. Just before coming to TGG, she assisted in launching VF Corporation’s innovation ecosystem, helping them to establish methods for research and commercialization, as well as cultural changes necessary to capitalize on white spaces.

In the short time she’s been with us already, she’s showcased tremendous hustle and a stellar growth mindset. Those two qualities are what we look for in team members, so we wanted to understand a bit more of how they came to be so prominent in her work ethic. Read her story on the two people and the experiences that have shaped her into the hustler she is today:

 

I recently read a book called “Talent is Overrated”. The title was intriguing to me and after I read the book, I totally got it. The book talks about the concept of “natural talent” being a myth. There are two key ingredients in every history of success (from Mozart, to Tiger Woods): One, hard work (or “hustle”, as we like to call it at TGG); the second one is to have someone that either teaches you or gives you the first opportunity you need to start a journey of success.

As I take this leap and start my role as VP, Lean Growth (Cincinnati), I am reminded of those who’ve given me opportunities for success. My role models are critical to shaping me into the person I am today: I would not be here without them, it’s as simple as that!  

My mother is my first role model. She grew up very poor in Mexico, but against all odds, she hustled her way through working since she was 12 years old, and ended up being the first person in her family to finish college. When I was a little girl, my mom climbed the corporate ladder at the times when most women in Mexico did not work. I remember her taking me to the office over the weekends: she had to work and I “worked with her” (playing in someone else’s desk). I did not realized at that time that she had to work and the only way we could spend time together was bringing me to the office. Many times, she would not be home for dinner (she was a single mom, but we had my grandmother at home, watching after us). She made it to CFO of a large healthcare conglomerate and then decided to start her own business so she could spend more time with us, her two daughters. She then opened a textile factory, which was very successful because of her hustle, hard work, and passion. After some years of success, she went bankrupt and we lost everything. But with her courage and determination, she demonstrated one more time it was possible to recover from failure, going back to corporate life and ascending to the ranks again.

I learned from my mentors to be courageous and do the right thing (even if it was hard). One of my most difficult challenges was the move to Panama as an expat with P&G, newly promoted to Associate Director. My team was disjointed, demotivated, and everyone felt undervalued. I knew it would not be easy to transform the culture of the team, but we hustled together, casting a vision for who we wanted to be. After 3 years, we were recognized as the best performing insights team not only in Latin America, but around the world! I give my mother a lot of the credit for showing me how to connect and motivate people. She was always the one organizing family events or cheering up her team when things started to go downhill. A combination of my cultural background and all the wonderful leaders around me helped me discover my biggest passion: develop, grow and support people to be what they want to be!

I also had another important role model who trusted me when I was a young manager at P&G. He moved from India to the USA and through hard work and dedication, became an Associate Director at P&G. He was super smart, demanding, but caring at the same time. He was the best role model of a manager! I can recall a time when we were presenting the results of a very important research to top management at one of our top customers. I built 100 slide presentation and he told me: “we need to bring this down to 10 slides.” Needless to say, I spent a long night working on it! The next day, I had it ready for him–he traveled all the way from the USA to Mexico to present it. Then he told me, “You will come with me, and you will present it. I will be there to support you, but you can do it!” I was freaking out! How was I, a 24-year-old junior manager, to sit in front of Walmart VPs to share the work? I had so many doubts but he told me: “You got it, and if something does not go well, it is not the end of the world.” We moved forward (along with a group of anxious sales directors that were a bit uneasy about having me present), and he gave me so much confidence that I crushed it! Not only did the customer agree to our join business plan, but this sparked the beginning of me becoming a regular attendant to top customer calls, which accelerated my learning and career progression. This is just one example of the way he pushed me to excel, but he was like that all the time. There was nothing too important that I could not do. He pushed me when I needed it and stood behind my back when I failed, encouraging me to continue to hustle to achieve my goals.

I have learned from my mentors to work hard every day, to believe in people just the way they believed in me. I have failed many times, but from my mother I learned that failing is an opportunity to grow, to re-evaluate options and to develop more compassion and understanding for others. From my long term mentor at P&G, I learned that the best and fastest way to learn was to take risks and jump into new experiences. I joined TGG because it’s a place where I feel I have permission to learn, to teach, to hustle and celebrate wins, and most importantly, to be part of the great legacy that the team has already created!