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Interview

Interview: Building Scalable, Sustainable Digital-First Omnichannel Brands, with Rich Simpson, Senior Vice President, Customer Development, North America & International at Maesa

What do Drew Barrymore, Mindy McKnight, Taraji P. Henson, and Priyanka Chopra Jonas all have in common, besides being famous, talented, and beautiful? They are building successful brands with beauty brand incubator Maesa. They also all work with Rich Simpson Senior Vice President, Customer Development, North America & International at Maesa. Rich is charged with building a repeatable, scalable, sustainable process to grow Maesa’s brands in a digital-first omnichannel world. It’s challenging, innovative, fun work, and Rich brings the discipline of his big brand experience with General Mills and JnJ and merges that with the agility and creativity demanded by brands built on personal connections and storytelling.

TRANSCRIPT

Peter:

Welcome to unpacking the digital shelf, where we explore brand manufacturing in the digital age.

Peter:

Peter Crosby here from the Digital Shelf Institute. What do drew Barrymore? Kristin asked Mindy McKnight, Taraji P Henson, and Priyanka Chopra, Jonas all have in common besides being famous, talented, and beautiful. They are building successful brands with beauty brand incubator Mason. They also all work with rich Simpson, senior vice president of customer development, north America and international at Mesa. Rich has charged with building a repeatable, scalable, sustainable process to grow Mesa's brands in a digital first omni-channel world. It's challenging, innovative fun work, and rich brings the discipline of his big brand experience with general mills and Johnson and Johnson, and merges that with the agility and creativity demanded by brands built on personal connections and storytelling, Rob and I dug into it all. And I think we're recording. So with that, let's dive in. So Rich, first of all, thank you so much for joining us on, on the podcast. We really appreciate you sharing your brain with the digital shelf Institute audience.

Rich:

Happy to be here. Thanks for having me. I know looking forward to doing this with you from all our engagement over the years. So looking forward to having a good chat today.

Peter:

Awesome. So let's start, you know, sort of right at the top. So tell us a bit about Mesa, the category that you play in and how you, how you take products to market. Cause it's a, it's an interesting, yep.

Rich:

Uh, it is interesting. And for the now 11 months I've been here, it's been definitely a good learned experience that I've been able to take some of my historical learnings as well as learn along the way. I would a tag us as a serial beauty incubator. And in it we're centered in this sweet spot that identify as clear incubation against consumer and retailer white space that ultimately we're developing with collaborately with the retailer and oftentimes a founder, which we'll chat about I'm sure in a bit. Um, and ultimately it's attached with a very creative approach where, um, our chief marketing officer Scott Asher, he talks about this idea of newer, better, different across all facets of what makes up a brand from the brand positioning through the delivery mechanism at shelf to the first moment of truth for what that shopping experience is that exists across beauty, as well as we've extended into personal care over this past year.

Peter:

I don't want to force you to name drop, but will you name drop for a moment about some of the, uh, creators that, that you have have made?

Rich:

Yep. Uh, and I'm okay. Name dropping out, but we have a meeting with one of those coming up shortly. Uh, we have brands right now with, uh, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Jada Pinkett, Mindy McKnight, Kristen Ess, Drew Barrymore. Um, that's probably covers the gamut of what the big name drop would be, uh, but in it, and there's this idea attached to the founder that our, uh, vice president of marketing, making fake talks about pretty continually as brands attached to the founder, have a soul and in it it's because it's, it comes out of their own personalized approach to it versus brands that inherently are developed as brand solely. But they're, it's a brand with a personal voice that obviously brings some authenticity attached to it. It is so cool. Yeah.

Rob:

So when our podcast goes absolutely huge and Peter and I are going to have a beauty brand name that absolutely nobody in their right mind if Peter had one, maybe people would buy it, but I don't know. I don't think I've got a chance, Rob,

Peter:

I'm looking at your shiny bald head right now. And I'm thinking what

Rob:

It's like, if you like naked mole rat style, then that's my brand.

Peter:

Yeah. That's something to take back to your team.

Rich:

Yeah. I will keep that in mind. You know, there was a, there was a while when I worked on Rogie and I was the brand manager and we were working on a campaign and, um, we were attached to, we were trying to pitch out someone large celebrity who had a bald head and, um, the tagline came down to, and they're, it's an aggressive personality using like action movies. And it was, um, uh, there are five guys who can pull off this, look in the world. Um, one of them, you're not one of the other four, so, um, there's always propositions that can fit three wraps. I don't worry. There's more of it. It's more accepted now than it was years ago. So

Peter:

Rich, you're part of the executive forum at the digital shelf Institute. And it's been such a pleasure to have you in that group. And once I heard you speak at that, I immediately went out to LinkedIn and just wanted to sort of check out kind of where you came from and, and your, your current title is customer development. And, uh, why did you make that the top line focused to your role? Like what does that mean and what does it communicate to your internal and sort of external?

Rich:

Yeah, so good question. And when I started actually was positioned as sales. It's one of the things I evolved to, um, I have a partner in crime by the mascot Kestenbaum. Who's also probably one of the most LinkedIn people on LinkedIn, I think I've ever met. And I think he posted my job. And in the first month there was like 30,000 views or something crazy. Uh, I talk about this idea in customer development, where we do our dog and pony and we're up meeting with customers. And I talk about the, he owns the dating phase of the relationship. So he met, he's a partner who manages all of our new business development as the chief growth officer. And I manage the marriage essentially, it's this a long gated part of our relationship where there has to be give and take. There's an idea attached to the gap, partnership in negotiation, where operating, where they talk about a clock on the right-hand side of the clock.

Rich:

It's tactical negotiation. It's very transactional. It's short-term oriented. Think you're, you're on a trip to a Caribbean island or someone's selling watches. You're in negotiate down for the best price on the left-hand side of the clock is negotiating to unlock value for both parties. So it becomes win-win. I am managing in that left-hand side of the clock to enable a long-term relationships where there's a give and take and an unlocking of value for both parties and not just negotiating for the sake of, or transacting on the widget that we sell. But it's on things, other things that are of value for customers, whether it be how we ship or investments in media or, or partnerships with some of our founders who participate in bringing a retailer to life. Um, that's some of what you've seen from someone like drew Barrymore highlighting some of the opportunities we have at CVS.

Rich:

So there are things we can provide a value that offer value back, and that is ultimately how it gets to a place where you have a joint value in our relationship to help unlock. And that's what development is about over the longterm. Um, it's additionally for us, it's been about developing clear strategies across the marketplace from brand development through the full market. So within our portfolio, we've launched largely exclusive brands with customers. The thing we have to be really diligent about is that's for the period of incubation, which helps create differentiation for the retailer. The question for us and all of that is what does that look like out of the exclusivity period and how do you create it in a way that you can fundamentally maximize the opportunity and leverage strategies across each customer and channel? So I should be thinking through and developing a new brand with a customer, what this could look like in the rest of the marketplace, because we have to build that into our P and L and know what the investment strategy would be.

Rich:

Um, the third thing for me, that I think about continually it's developing the, the scalable business practices to continue to accelerate the business, how you get to a hundred million dollars is not how you get to three, four or 500 million. It's about creating efficiencies and scale. Repeatable processes become easier. Um, making sure that when there's an opportunity to have one person do something for many, it's a whole lot more efficient than having all of those people do the same thing. So they're the three things I think about. Um, they become really important in coining what becomes customer development and it's, uh, a nomenclature I've lifted from other organizations, but ultimately it's about a long-term relationship to unlock value. And the thing I always talk about is the industry is a small one. Uh, don't make enemies that's much better to have a much more collaborative partnership that opens doors up down the line. Cause you never know who you cross paths with. Um, there's someone on my team by the name of Brooke, Willie, Brooke alum, who's the director of customer development for us in Walmart. She was a buyer for me at dollar general. So things like that, where the world is a small one, you never know who you're going to cross paths with.

Peter:

Rob, did you hear that? Don't, don't make, don't make enemies. Did that, does that sink in

Rob:

For me? Yeah. Too late. Can I make enemies again? It

Peter:

Takes a lot of gifts does.

Rob:

So what's so interesting about this journey for you is you're Jane Jay for 15 years. And it's one of the, one of the biggest companies on earth and one of the most iconic companies of all time. Um, and JJ does a lot of things to be admired, but you wouldn't look at J and J and think, you know, company that incubates hundreds of new brands all the time, right? It's a, it's a little bit slower moving and, and by intention. And so now you're incubating brand after brand, after brand, after brand, you're getting, you're doing the art of the start and then you're, and then you're putting in the scalable processes. Like you're like, you're talking about, wait, what have you learned? Like, if you can compare and contrast those two different modes of operation, uh, is there a, is there anything that the big brands can learn from the way that you guys are operating right now? Or are there things lessons from the J and J world that you're bringing into Mesa? Yeah,

Rich:

So it's interesting. The major CPG and a lot of big companies are going through this idea of agile methodology, which is about speed in decision-making. Um, we're in a place where we live and breathe agile. It's not like an idea. It's just how the company functions. So for me, it's been an amazing experience. And if I summarize it, it's, um, you know, you went from a place of where you have, you know, category leading brands, which inherently when you're at the top, there really is only one place to go to a place where we are the upstart. We are the challenger brand. And in that it's forced the learning and behavior based on the speed in which you make decisions. I mean, we go from concept to shelf in 10, 12 months. It's not out of question, whereas experiences at big CPG. And I've had a couple, uh, J and J plus general mills that experiences a whole lot longer.

Rich:

Um, and because you're going to have a risk aversion because, and then send this idea of, of playing to win versus playing, not to lose, um, in this, in the world of startups and challengers, you're, uh, you're aggressive in this effort to try and take share. You're trying to get exponential growth. So you have much less risk aversion when you're sitting at a, as a big Jane J CPG brand, and you're, you know, a 40 50 share of the category. You're going to be a whole lot more risk averse and, and the recipe and KPIs for what it is that you need to be successful. Look very different. Now you should be, pressure-testing some things like rebranding. Um, some of those famous stories in industry are brands that made massive mistakes and creating rebranding or restructuring their brand. Like I was with, uh, um, high-performance team, uh, work with, uh, Howard Guttman a couple of weeks ago.

Rich:

And we were talking about old experiences. So some brands and a conversation came up about clear Pepsi and new Coke, where it's like old ideas of brands that were really progressive and created tons of market cap exposure based on the decisions. We don't have that same risk, right? It is. We fell forward, um, that we were not as conservative. We don't have to triple check everything. And some of it is based on intuition and decisions. Um, we have examples within our categories where you're able to flex on the fly or make changes to packaging. Um, that would have taken me a long time before, and we probably overthink it my historical experiences, but really we probably had enough information to make decisions, to move quicker and not create as much business risk,

Rob:

The startup, having the ability to fail. And you basically have nothing to lose and everything to gain versus everything to lose. Like you were saying, it reminds me one of my favorite books on marketing and which is really a book on market strategy and product strategy is the 22 immutable laws of marketing by Al reason, Jack trout, and one of the iconic marketing campaigns of the 20th century that they highlight in the book that in terms of gaining market share was the Avis campaign of, I think the late eighties, nineties, we try harder because we have to. Yeah, because we have to, it's like Hertz, Hertz was number one, you know, far away, number one, they're the best of the premiere they're there, they're the expensive ones. And so Avis is a, it was just, we just try harder. And I think that's true for on some level, it's not so much about trying harder, but it's, you've got sort of existentially you're either zero or one. If you're, if you're in a startup plant, like this could absolutely fail and you're, and you're done and you pack up and you go home, you could launch a brand and it can be done. And it's a different kind of motivation and in different types of a structure for how you think about your, your decision processes. That's, I mean, it's real. I mean, it's really interesting the way that you contrasted those two. Um,

Rich:

Yep. And I mean, look, there's the balance, right? I mean, I believe fundamentally in this idea of playing chess, not checkers and playing out multiple moves ahead. Um, and whether you make decisions like that on your career or in business strategy for the same way, I was talking of developing a brand, but thinking about what the future looks like two, three years out, there's also the spontaneity of making some decisions. So we have a, uh, proposition in market now, um, we're not particularly happy with how the packaging turned out and the impact that has a shelf. This isn't overly complicated, and it shouldn't be an exercise that takes multiple years to bring to market, to make updates, to create an impact on shelf that you'd want. We made an assessment. We came up with new iterations of what we think in bruv packaging is, and on the fly, we'll be able to flow through what those new graphics look like, make sure they float a shelf, and it's something you would do collaborative with a customer, but making that decision and not resting and being comfortable is also part of it where there's, um, a symptomatic idea within larger organizations where people get comfortable.

Rich:

We don't have that opportunity because we go through exercises of making sure, how are we planning for cashflow? Do we have enough people in place? Are we shipping out every single opportunity that we have? You can't not be opportunistic. And that's part of what it's like to, to hunt yourself, right? Where historically, some of the things that happened within big CPG, you just replenish your normal orders and you have enough to keep yourself going. We don't because we need to keep the lights on. And that aggressiveness obviously motivates people a lot.

Rob:

No, what's another thing that's really interesting about that is if, if you're starting from zero, um, then, you know, getting to a hundred million is awesome and then getting to 300 million is awesome. Right. Um, and if you're the big CPG brands, like a hundred million dollar business, it's not an interesting, not an interesting business. And so if they were going to try to incubate on their own and get to a hundred million in sales, it's like, you know, kind of a almost forgettable line item somewhere, very deep in the P and L. And it's not a success that the business can really celebrate. One of the big themes that we talk about a little bit here, and that you are very squarely in the middle of enabling is almost a death by a thousand cuts on market share. So, you know, at the top you named a bunch of famous people. I'll say, like, I know drew Barrymore and me maybe not the others, but, uh, you know, also not the target audience, um, you know, rushy, Henson fan, come on, Rob. Even like, if you, if you name famous computer scientists, then I am all all over it.

Peter:

You get that famous computer scientist for a hundred Alex. Yeah. Yeah. So

Rob:

What's interesting here is that you, you could incubate a hundred of these companies and they could be a hundred million or 200 million each, and it's amazing for each of the sleds. It's amazing for you. Um, and it just takes off slices of market share here and there from all the giants. And that's a really interesting dynamic that that creates.

Rich:

It's also a place of the enables, the ability to create differentiation for the retailers as there's been price, transparency and price compressed in the market. When it was, you know, two customers who ran the price, where price was standard across the market price and the DLP and falling Walmart to now, you're in a place across the marketplace where retailers are looking for points of differentiation. It's not possible for big CPG to make that happen because of the sizable investment. It's the perfect place that enables all of these startups, which are happening across CPG. I mean, you watch literally what feels like weekly, a company gets acquired for a massive, multiple based on the growth. They've been able to drive, having experienced some of those at J and J where we've made some acquisitions and they go back a long time to things like Neutrogena and Avino.

Rich:

The opportunity is sizable because we're able to be nimble quick and accelerate a business. And in some of the behavior that big CPG is looking to lift and apply. Now, some of it is also comfort with risk, which ultimately they're not going to be. And some of it's just also restore resourcefulness and resiliency. Um, listening to some of the founders who started the company, went through periods of almost went belly up, like the tenacity involved to sustain that and know that you're really not sure where your next check is. Or you put your company in your, sorry, you put your house on the line to make sure your company kept going. That's a whole different mindset. And that's one of the things that's awesome to watch. Cause you've seen people that just have fundamental blood, sweat, and tears in a accompany. Nothing we talk about is a lot of people make a lot of different sacrifices to jump on opportunities like this, but it's part of what makes it exciting.

Rich:

And that's, as I think about career and development, you know, when I went through the exercise, when I was uh, making the jump to Mesa, for me, it's all about growth. Um, and what can I learn out of this? So you're, uh, you should be looking at your career in chunks and thinking through 3, 5, 7, 10 years down the line of what it is you really want and how you get there is never linear. And some of that growth comes from putting yourself in challenging situations that force you to have to learn. I went from a place where I managed the Walmart business to, I went in at J and J. Then I moved over into marketing. I was completely out of my league. Uh, but, and it was probably the six, most months of the most arduous work of my career. But I can tell you, I learned more in that period and I can look back and reflection and say, here's all the things I learned.

Rich:

I understand media and advertising, consumer insights and demographics things. I probably wouldn't have learned. Now. I could have learned them over a much longer period, but forcing me to be stunted in that environment. That's awesome growth. It's similar for me here. Right? Jumped in there's things I know that are applicable here. There's a bunch of things that I'm learning. I've learned on the fly and experiences that have been awesome things to lift and apply at this point in my career, where I'm able to share what I've learned and also garner learning from people. And ultimately that's what will help me keep growing,

Peter:

Which I'm so interested by you. Cause you talk about the ability to introduce differentiation for, for your brands. And I would imagine the starting point of differentiation for the kinds of brands you're talking about, uh, start with the creator, like having Jada Pinkett Smith or whoever as the face and the inspiration of the brands starts the differentiation, but I'm imagining a lot of what you invest in is what are the other areas of differentiation that you can add through the rest of the process? Can you, can you talk a bit about how you think about those areas of differentiation that you can drive differently than say, you know, a big, a big box brand.

Rich:

Yep. And some of those things are around, uh, elements that organizations kind of take for granted in the consumer shopping experience. Um, if you read about things like the zero moment of truth and first moment of truth, there are to consumers truly enjoy that. You can drive an impact that help drive purchase behavior. Packaging is one. If you run a, if you walk up and down the aisles and look across a major retailer, you'll notice there's tons of commonality. A lot of tubes look, the same packaging experience are the same because it's cheaper, right? It's more cost-effective and how the large CPGs drives growth. Some of the districts and by the ability to invest in businesses where they be able to create savings. Part of our differentiation exists in packaging. Um, if you walk through, we have custom packaging across all of our product portfolio that creates differentiation.

Rich:

So whether that be the TPH line by Taraji or Christmas line, you'll see differentiation how that package presents itself in this modern aesthetic that looks appealing this idea of shower art, right? So it ha it has a beautiful feel and texture to it. I also think there's experience in things like scent that are important to consumers that maybe, uh, you can take for granted and not realize that helped drive a point of differentiation. And some of it is, gets back to the soul. If you will, of a brand where there's an authenticity attached to people who drive a brand. If you have drew, who cares about color cosmetics back to your point, Rob, since that is the only celeb of the group that you have down, um, she loves color cosmetics. So when she's talking about it, there's an awesome authenticity to that. Or she's talking about a new palette or lip shade that you can't recreate because it's coming from someone who's not a paid spokesperson, she's an owner. And she cares about the proposition. She wants to be involved in the development. And that is certain things that you can't recreate that help with brand and product differentiation.

Rob:

It brings an interesting question though, on how you express that in, in an omni-channel world, in particular for the product strategies that, that I think you, you all are using. So when you've got a celebrity, a path to growth growth is you get a retailer exclusive. So you do, I don't know if this is a real example, but drew Barrymore through CVS and, and that's the retailer exclusive for a period of time a year or whatever. And, um, some, some I, some I got to imagine are going direct to consumers, their primary channel, at least to start off with, um, and so on and so forth. It probably varies by celebrity varies by where their audience is varies by all kinds of stuff. So they, all of them are going to start off kind of one channel ish as primary, but then spread out. How do you, how do you think about the Omni channel strategy as it comes to the packaging differentiation and expressing the soul, the founder and the keeping the brand consistency, but yet, you know, being true to the needs of, of each of these channels.

Rich:

Yeah. Good question. I'd say this is an area that we are, we are evolving quickly, but learning, I would say we were probably in the large disposition of big CPG, the thought of e-comm separately of in store. Um, and it wasn't a cohesive strategy and we have some DTC brands, w we're accelerating focus on Omni, but there's a cohesive opportunity. Um, I talk about this idea a lot around, it's not e-commerce, it's just commerce and how she shops or how he shops crosses over. Multi-facet multiple facets of their shopping experience. And we need to make sure that that experience is integrated. There's an opportunity to do better. And it coming from the experience I had and how I ended up with, uh, uh, spending time with Salsify, um, was in my last role, managing e-commerce at J and J and the opportunity to integrate it as a part of a behavior, not as the running joke of you have a business plan, and then you have one page on e-comm for what you're going to do.

Rich:

They need to be synergistic and cohesive. So, um, if you're not conscious of, you know, when they leave women's education on how she shops and involving some of that behavior, you start to run into a bunch of issues where there's integration gap. How I think about it is it's one shopping experience, how we action. It we're in our infancy, but it's one of the things we're learning about that we're working on continually integrating and making sure that that proposition that we talk about with flour has an extension into e-com. That isn't a one-off, but it's an adjacent. So it's social communication from her. That's integrated to what's happening at shelf. Um, we have great activations that make sure they happen in store. How are we cohesively making sure that there's a consumer angle, then make sure that that shopper experience is also mirrors what it can be online as well as in store.

Rich:

And then quite frankly, we need to think about it in a more graduated fashion. We need to get to a place where it's not just, are you managing search, is your content okay? Are you watching ratings and reviews? The shopping experience has to be more profound. Part of the benefits in a place where you have founders, if you can drive awesome consumer experiences, um, our brand heritage with Mindy McKnight, she's engaged directly with our consumers. They reached directly out. She can post questions and get immediate responses that engagement methodology, and that one-off which inherently is some of the benefit you get from DTC, which is you get consumer insights immediately is an awesome way to help drive differentiation because then you can actually feed with what the consumer wants and how they behave and making sure that's a part of your broader strategy. Answer your question.

Rob:

Yeah. I mean, it's, there's a core of it almost at the top, which is that, uh, we don't have the full answer. This is where we're learning as Miguel. And I think that's, I mean, who, who does right now, um, but you guys have a really interesting opportunity to do it differently, um, because you're starting from the beginning and starting in particular from the beginning with it kind of a fun way that, that, uh, celebrity brands have that are unique. You're starting from the beginning with a brand that's a household brand. Um, but as, but as small in this particular way, and how do you express it in all these different channels? It just seems to me like a really interesting and unique problem that there are examples,

Rich:

But it also requires almost starting from that vantage point. I would say we're in the process of doing organizational education on the importance of Omni. So it's where many organizations are struggle. As I think about Peter, all of our engagements that we had across these major CPGs, and we all sat in a room and talked about all the same struggles and it was a little bit cathartic and you commiserate why it's like, why can't we make this part of the focus we're in the education mode, where it's like, here's why you should understand this is what the value of content could be here. This is why your carousel needs to do XYZ. This is why you need to think lower in the purchase funnel to help drive conversion on brands that there shouldn't be as much of an obstacle to purchase. Some of that stuff is new. Now the cool part for us is we are so far ahead in the social engagement plan that you would think we would like get closer into purchase conversion a bit easier because so much of what we do, we build in house and that engagement, all our marketing effort is all led through our social team, who does an awesome job. Have

Rob:

You all experimented with the checkout on the social engines, you got to check out on Instagram, you've got the checkout on Google shopping actions. You've got tiktok and Pinterest that are playing with it. Given the name brand celebrities that you're working with and their presence on social, you would think that you could, you could shorten the transaction cycle by just completing the transaction on the social form that they're, that they're working with. And, and not that many folks are transacting there yet, but it's a super interesting channel, particularly I would imagine for you. I have you, have you done much experimentation there yet?

Rich:

I haven't, but it's been in the considerations I've given how important social is to us. I think there's a way to be much more accelerated in that I would tell you, it's also a place where driving to retailers is also really important because again, in a place where a brand might be only sold exclusively at one retailer, there's a benefit enabling the marketing activity to help drive conversion into Omni and or direct to store. And I think we can do a better job of it and making sure those brand plans are more cohesive, but honestly, good suggestion. Um, and if my econ teams listening, hopefully take that one as note a feedback.

Rob:

It's one of those areas that I'm watching in particular for the Omni strategies, because traditionally the social media has been top of funnel and, and use it to click, to go somewhere else, the trend. And so you can use it just like a traditional CPG would drive footfall for, for retail. It's almost like the social media drives footfall for the, for the.com to do the transaction or football and actual football. In some cases go to CVS to buy this thing. Um, I wonder, I wonder to what extent that social media companies capturing the transaction changes that dynamic quite a bit, you know, and, and to the detriment of the retailers, it's just something I, who knows how this is going to play out, but it's one of those things that is fascinating to watch in real time. For sure.

Peter:

I think about, um, you know, lifetime customer value. I read an article from Jason Bornstein who's, uh, uh, used to run. He was, he led acquisition at Bonobos and is now a principal at 4runner, uh, ventures. And he wrote a really interesting article, uh, that it was headline your CAC doesn't matter. The brands of the next decade will win with loyalty, not acquisition. And I was wondering how, um, a rich, if that makes any sense to you and then how you guys think of the post-purchase experience as how do I keep these people coming back? Is that a big area of investment for

Rich:

You? It is. And so yes. Understand it. Yes. It's a huge part of value. And I think that's where the intimate engagement you can have with consumers and direct with a founder that helps fuel that behavior, because the perspective from the consumer of not liking a formula as much or feedback on scent, not only does it become something that we internalize, but also the ability to create action against that becomes really important. So it's similar to, you know, mini McKnight doing a solicitation of feedback on some products or consumers, if you can get that feedback. And also that ends up being obviously some of the value for DTC, which is first party data, getting insights from that and help cultivating, not just product offerings, but consumer value, uh, investment strategies, communication plans, all of those things should be fed, making sure you're thinking about the long-term again, the Chestnut checkers and planning out using clear insights from consumers from that direct relationship become completely invaluable. And that's some of the places where this business model and the ability to have direct engagement consumers can differentiate. Whereas you're selling through a retailer only this live one-on-one discussion becomes so intimate and involved. It also is an awesome way to deliver insights and pull insights out and action them.

Peter:

Yeah. I'm super interested in this. Post-purchase, um, the potential for post-purchase and a lot of companies just aren't, you know, they're just get them in the funnel, get them in the funnel. And I think

Rich:

Trial it's like, there's no concern for repeat, but also it's like the behavior and making sure you're doing the things that drive, repeat, how are they shopping? What items are they purchasing? What else is in their basket? How do you accentuate accentuate what that looks like in their basket to other offerings that could satisfy them? That's where the one-to-one dialogue. I think it offers opportunity. Are we the best at it? No. Do I think we have opportunities? Yes. Are we doing some of the things that are fundamentally important? Yes, but I think being clear in those repeat strategies becomes critically important,

Peter:

Rich to close. Um, what's top of mind as we move towards the post pandemic holiday season, when things are, uh, please God that we continue on the track, things are opening, um, any major shifts in strategy or areas of opportunity that you want to share or can share.

Rich:

Yeah. Top of mind for me. Um, so we talked a little about agile, um, agile for me, doesn't remove the necessity to plan. I was reading some articles and some quotes over the last couple of weeks. So one stuck in my head, preparation prevents poor performance. Um, this idea of iteration there is really good. It works great, right? Uh, the why that's appealing is in all the things that enable speed, the value in planning, things out, everything from planning out what the meeting will look like, planning out what risk is, planning out the next two years on a business or three years, while it might not ideate perfectly or conclude perfectly to what it is that you formulated. It offers an, an awesome insight, enabling you to set things up appropriately. I know I love this adage and I'm sure a couple people laugh who are working with me while this chess, not checkers idea, but making sure you're thinking through a couple of steps, no different than how you plan a communication.

Rich:

Right? If you're talking with someone I've been laughing, teaching my daughters about this idea of, it's not about your action, it's about the reaction to your action. And if you're thinking through what it is you're looking for from the other party, from a plan it'll enable you to think work your way back from this is the outcome I'm seeking. How do I influence to get there? Same thing applies, whether it's personal communication through business strategy, um, w attached to that for me is it's playing the long game. You know, what you do now has long-term implications. Um, do you think that through and nearly every interview and not to tip my hand, I ask every person what they want to be when they grow up. I've been teaching my eight and six year old about the same ideas, you know, teaching them all this idea of planning out of what things could be in the future and how you set yourself up that removes anxiety, that removes pressure and your ability to plan that out becomes really important.

Rich:

Um, the other thing that's been top of mind, I've had this conversation a bunch of times over about the last three weeks where old colleagues have reached out on career advice is, and especially around my move from big CPG, the little CPG is your careers are really long. One learn as much as you can when the job has its toughest. As I was sharing earlier, you're probably learning more than you ever have. And you might not even realize what you're learning. Like sometimes I go through iterations now, I'm not sure I'm learning something, but I probably am. And if I take the time to sit back and reflect and say, here's the couple of takeaways, and some of it might be, here's what I won't do, or you're engaged with your manager. And they have a style that you're not the biggest fan of make note, and make sure that you built that in your toolbox, but that whole idea is important.

Rich:

Um, last thing for me is I try and live by this life is short, have fun and play the wind along the way. Either you objective in this, especially in industry, I'm in, um, uh, there's a gentleman I worked for me years ago, who retired. He always talked about this idea. You sell goop in a bottle. It shouldn't be that sophisticated. You shouldn't be able to have it. So a shout out to Ken Curtis and his old, uh, share of that insight, but there's an appreciation for this idea that don't overcomplicate it, have fun, laugh, keep things in perspective. Things could be a whole lot worse. You could have a lot more of a complicated life. If my difficulty is deciding on packaging color or what a future offering looks like, I'd say I'm in a pretty good situation and try and enjoy the ride.

Rob:

Yeah, there was a quote recently, I'm a mentor of Brad Feld who started Techstars and is a pretty iconic investor, um, was like stressed out of his mind, going through a breakdown. And this, uh, this guy that, uh, he really looked up to you even a big bear hug and said, it ain't going to kill you. And it ain't getting each year, which is, it's kind of, it's like, you know, you still goop in a bottle or whatever, and it's just a, um, on some level, there's have the perspective. This is, you're doing it on some level for the joy yeah. It's

Rich:

Perspective. And it's like in the end of the day, if you go home and for me, I'll see my three girls, my wife, and two daughters, life's pretty good. Um, you know, enjoy the time and do whatever it is you do off, off work schedule. Now, if you're not enjoying it, so obviously a whole different situation, but in this environment that has been fun for me. And it's been an awesome learning experience of turbocharging, the chase and being a challenger. Um, it's been a great refresh in some regards because it's energizing, but it's fun along the way. It's like, here's something new that you can tackle that is different than what it has been, because there's nothing more frustrating than the mundane of the same thing continually, even though I usually practice that in food. Um, but life and career experience should have some variability to keep things interesting.

Peter:

Sadly, my, my repeat meal is chicken parm, so it doesn't work out so well for me,

Rich:

That can be problematic. Yeah. I am not above eating a Turkey sandwich five days in a row. Uh, wouldn't hesitate. Uh, food for me is a means to an, if there was a pill I could pop to, uh, avoid the time spent eating that would work

Peter:

Soylent, Soylent, rich. I mean, that, that, that mindset is, is actually one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to have you on the pod. I just think the, the, the clarity, the, the drive, but also the sense of humor, the, you know, the putting it in its place. It's just a really valuable, um, valuable characteristics to have when you're in such a rapidly changing often pressurized environment. So I really appreciate you coming on and to, to share out with, with our community,

Rich:

Super happy to love to do it again. So if we want to do a check-in, as we talk to you more brand expansion, maybe there'll be new celebrities. We'll try and identify a couple that fit Rob's life experience. Don't know how many data scientists we're going to use the coin, the building a brand. But I guess you never know.

Rob:

I, you know, if I could recommend one, Dan, Bricklin the, uh, the guy who created the spreadsheet is, is here in Boston.

Peter:

Enriched did not lift up his pen to write that down.

Peter:

Yeah. Uh, rich again, thank you a real pleasure. And, uh, I will hold you to that. Um, rematch further down the line.

Rich:

I'll promise you I'll have a bunch more to share once I post a passing a full year here at Mesa. Terrific.

Peter:

Thanks again to rich Simpson for bringing his brand sustaining expertise to the DSI. Please share this with colleagues who share your passion for transformation and innovation. Thanks for being part of our community.