x

READY TO BECOME A MEMBER?

Stay up to date on the digital shelf.

x

THANK YOU!

We'll keep you up to date!

Interview

Webinar: Drive Organizational Change with Executive Leadership Principles, with Lauren Livak and Bob Land

One of the most challenging, exciting, and career igniting skills that come from being digital shelf leaders is the ability to drive the organizational changes necessary to propel growth across the business. It takes a very specific mindset, and that is what we are doing to focus on today. This is a podcast presentation of a Digital Shelf Playbook series webinar from August of 2021, we share it today because its strategies and tips feel as urgent and important as we head into yet another period of rapid business challenges and adjustments. Our guests are two experts who are deeply experienced in leadership in ecommerce and driving digital change. We have Lauren Leevak, who ran North American Digital shelf strategy at Johnson and Johnson and is now the Director of the DSI and the brains behind the entire Digital Shelf Playbook series. Also, we are so grateful to have longtime DSI collaborator Bob Land, then VP of Consumer Experience at Dorel Juvenile and now General Manager of Berlin Brands Group USA, to share his journey driving commerce transformation at Dorel.

Show Notes:

The Digital Shelf Playbook: Drive Organizational Change with Executive Leadership Principles
https://www.digitalshelfinstitute.org/drive-organizational-change-with-executive-leadership-principles

Transcript:

Peter Crosby:
Welcome to Unpacking the Digital Shelf, where we explore brand manufacturing in the digital age.

Peter Crosby:
Hey everyone, Peter Crosby from The Digital Shelf Institute. One of the most challenging, exciting, and career igniting skills that come from being digital shelf leaders is the ability to drive the organizational changes necessary to propel growth across the business. It takes a very specific mindset, and that is what we are going to focus on today. This is a podcast presentation of a Digital Shelf Playbook series webinar from August of 2021. What we shared today, because its strategies and tips feel as urgent and important as we head into yet another period of rapid business challenges and adjustments. Our guests are two experts who are deeply experienced in leadership and eCommerce and driving digital change. We have Lauren Livak, who you know, ran North American Digital Shelf strategy at Johnson & Johnson, and is now the director of the DSI and the brains behind the entire Digital Shelf Playbook series.

Peter Crosby:
Also, we are so grateful to have longtime DSI collaborator, Bob Land, then VP of Consumer experience at Dorel Juvenile, and now general manager of Berlin Brand Group USA. To share his journey driving eCommerce transformation at Dorel, and really the examples extend to his work today. I'm tagging along as MC.

Lauren Livak:
Thank you, Peter. And hello everyone, thank you so much for joining, really excited to continue this playbook series. So today we're focusing on executive mentality. We're going to cover what we mean by that. It can be kind of a broad topic, so we'll go into what that means. We're going to talk a bit about the focus of a digital leader, the mindset, how to think like a digital leader, how to think differently. Then what are the actionable things you can do next? What should you think about? What should you be figuring out?

Lauren Livak:
So before we get started, when Bob and I were talking and we were thinking about the content for today, we thought about executive mentality in kind of two different buckets. We would love to get a sense from you, where you think that you fit. The first bucket being this can help current executives who are in the digital space, and you're looking to bring your organization on the digital journey. You're trying to make sure you're thinking about everything correctly. Or it could be potential future executives who are looking to understand how to succeed. So Peter's actually going to pull up a poll here. We would love to get your thoughts on where you think you fit in those two buckets, just to help us as we go through the webinar, better tailor some of our content, maybe tell other stories that might apply to the audience. So if you could fill that out, that would be fantastic. It should be popping up on your screen.

Peter Crosby:
The answers are coming in fast and furious.

Lauren Livak:
Great.

Peter Crosby:
Yeah. This is great. All right, I'm going to close the poll in three, two, one. So Lauren, can you see it?

Lauren Livak:
Yes, I can. It's on my other screen here. It looks like we have about 73% who are current executives in the space looking to bring the organization on the digital journey, and 27% who are future executive leaders. So the good news is, for anyone who is identifying themselves as a future executive leader, this will all apply to you, as well. But really great to know that we have the current executives who are in this space and would love for you to participate as we go through this, as well. So this will help us.

Peter Crosby:
Yeah, and this way the future executives can avoid making all the mistakes that Bob made on his way along this journey.

Bob Land:
Exactly right. This was the first tip, by the way, which is know your audience.

Peter Crosby:
Exactly.

Bob Land:
You did that. Who's in the audience? Understand that first. So, that's it. I've made plenty of mistakes there.

Peter Crosby:
Haven't we all. Excellent.

Lauren Livak:
Perfect, I love it.

Lauren Livak:
All right, so to jump right in. So no matter if you are a future leader or a current executive, we really just wanted to highlight the fact that in the digital space, your leadership is leadership and change. The digital space, the digital ecosystem, eCommerce has changed so much specifically in the past year and will continue to change. So just always keeping that lens and that mindset that you are going to have to lead through change is really important to kind of keep that North Star.

Lauren Livak:
Bob and I talked about, what are some of the truths of digital leaders? What are some of the characteristics, whether you are a current digital leader or an executive leader, you're thinking about maybe potentially recruiting others to your team. Or you're trying to identify what skills you need to hone as you grow in your career. These are a few that we really came up with that we thought resonated. The large theme around it is being comfortable with change, being able to be agile and think quickly, and always be learning. Figuring out, what are things that are changing? How do I adapt to what's happening in the market?

Lauren Livak:
Always thinking about the broader picture, how do you work cross-functionally? You're going to hear myself and Bob say those words a lot today. What does that mean? How do you do that? Also making sure you're connected into the broader executive team within the organization. Those are really, really critical things to think about as you are leading through that change. Being a change agent, in general. Everyone who is probably on this call has gone through it. Sometimes you might say things and people might not understand it. Or you might need to frame it differently, or you might need to think about how you get the message across so that they understand or they change their thinking. So there are many different ways that you can do that. As we go through this presentation, we'll talk about a bit of those.

Lauren Livak:
This is one of my favorite slides, just talking about leadership and executive mentality and understanding that it's a balancing act. It truly is the balance between strategy and the specifics. What I mean by that is strategy, when you're thinking about what are your goals, what are your business goals, how are you building a strategy that fits into the broader company? But how do you also understand the specifics of the digital space so that you're making informed decisions?

Lauren Livak:
I always like to tell this story, I was once in an executive meeting and I had a CEO of a specific function ask me, he was like, "Oh, I heard that the Amazon titles for all of our product detail pages need to be 150 characters." To be honest, I was a little taken aback because I wasn't thinking we were going to get that specific. But the next thing that came out of his mouth was he was like, "Oh, I want ours to be 180." I had to just explain that that's just not the dynamic of how eCommerce works. That's a very granule specific example. But understanding in general, what a PDP page looks like? What is profitability on eCommerce? How do you think about working with an Amazon, working with a Walmart? What does that relationship look like? It's really important to at least know at a high level the specifics of the industry so that it can inform your strategy and you're making the right choices, making the right decision, and your team is empowered to do the same thing.

Lauren Livak:
Bob mentioned this a bit in terms of the eCommerce therapy inventing and being able to have that conversation. A lot of that comes down to the soft skills, too. How are you working with your direct team? How are you working with the rest of your executives? How are you going through that process of connecting people cross functionally? So those are all things to think about as you're going through your digital journey.

Lauren Livak:
Again, these words are going to come up a lot, cross-functional accountability. When you are in large organizations or small organizations. Sometimes it's really hard for each of the different functions to work together. And sometimes they work within silos. So thinking about what do shared goals look like, specifically with eCommerce and in the digital space, enables you to bring all of your teams together. So the example I put here on the slide is just an example, but if you had a shared goal for the sales team, the marketing team, eCommerce team, IT team, whichever functions that are involved in the process. That they're all responsible for supporting the delivery of 5% eCommerce sales growth through internal support. That means that the metric that they have is to support that broader picture. It does not have to be that specific, but just think about how you can keep each group marching towards that same overarching goal. That's one really impactful way to make sure that you have cross-functional alignment and everyone understands their part in the larger process.

Lauren Livak:
Then in terms of bringing the organization with you on that journey, these are kind of three categories that I found in my role and I know Bob also agrees with us, he's gone through his journey. To make sure you, as a leader, and also your team and your organization is able to do the work day to day and feels like they have the tools they need in order to do that. The first pillar of that is really education. Educating your organization on your goals as a leader. What are your eCommerce goals? And is that clear to the organization? But also, we talked a little bit about this already, educating on the broader space, what's Amazon talking about? What's Walmart talking about? What is the future of the product detail page? What is the future of profitability? How are you educating your organization on all of those pieces so they understand why their work is important?

Lauren Livak:
Then communicating that. And communicating that down to every level, making sure it's clear on what those goals are. But then also being able to support that with whether it be a headcount, whether it be budget. Just making sure it's clear that with that goal comes these tools or these team members or this amount of budget so that we can support it and so that we can grow. When I talk a little bit about the specifics, I think that applies a lot here. Because when you're talking about multiple different retailers that maybe you're sending content to or multiple different endpoints, whether it's D2C or social selling, there's a lot of complexity that goes into that. Understanding how much time that takes, how complex it is, what systems need to be involved in that, really go into the big picture to help you define what those goals are and what you're able to achieve.

Lauren Livak:
Then empowering. Empowering the people on your team who you've identified as change makers, who can really help lead the organization and can help educate them as well and go on throughout that journey. This doesn't end with just those three pillars, it's a continuous process. That's another thing, I think, Bob will talk about a lot in his section. It doesn't just stop after you've checked each of the boxes. You have to continuously educate and communicate and empower and go through this cycle as you're going through the change to bring your team along the journey with you.

Lauren Livak:
Bob actually came up with this, so I can't take credit for any of this. But removing the mental blocks. Bob has identified a lot of these in his next section. But how do you think differently when you're thinking about the digital space and you're thinking about leading your team through that change? How do you shift that thinking? Which might be a little bit traditional in nature and you might need to think a little bit differently.

Lauren Livak:
For example, what happens after the sale? Is there a process for that? Is there a team? Are you taking all that data and incorporating it back into what you're doing? How do you educate your organization? We talked a lot about that already, but are there programs in place? Is there a team? How does that work? How do you get your leadership buy-in? Who are the critical people that need to be a part of that? Value based planning, how are you focusing on what's going to drive the most value? Not what you've just done in the past. Then how you think differently about budgeting. I love that part that Bob is going to cover and he lays it out really well. So without further ado, I will hand it over to Bob as he covers each of those different mental blocks.

Bob Land:
Thanks, Lauren. So yeah, now start story time. So I'm going to share with you some emotional damage that I've incurred from my past 30 year career and some of the lessons and some of the turning points that made me change as a person and really accelerated my career.

Bob Land:
The big one here is organizational change, it's a team sport. If you're part of any sort of digital transformation, it is difficult for many people to get into this space. I hope I'm not alone, I've spoken with some people about this. Many of us have ADD or are actually somewhere on the spectrum, anyone want to raise their hands and join me in that? So some of us have two speeds. I'm either completely battery drained, zero, I'm done. Or I'm in this kind of hyper drive, super after burner type of growth where I can get a hundred things done. I can just crank down a list, work through the night, work through the next day. So these valleys and mountains.

Bob Land:
One of the best pieces of advice that I've heard, and you never hear this during digital transformation, is slow down. Usually you hear, speed up. But someone a while ago told me, "Bob, you're great at vision. You can see the mountaintop in the distance and you say, 'That's it. I know exactly where the company needs to go or these programs need to go. It's way out there.' And I just bolt toward it." I know a lot of us do that, we just want to make progress. Especially if we've been in a company where there's not a lot of progress and it's slow. I always think that the best situation you can be in isn't a slow company whose growth has slowed.

Bob Land:
You actually want a company who's hit rock bottom. So it's almost like alcoholism or drug abuse. You've got to hit rock bottom before everyone is now really desperate to grow. So let me know in the chat if you agree with that one. But the big one is you'll find people that have their hiking boots on already. They've had their hiking boots, they are waiting for you to join the company, grab the flag and start running. But a lot of times, you get to the mountaintop and you turn around and the rest of the team is not with you.

Bob Land:
So that is really something where instead of the person that runs up the mountain first, be the Sherpa, be the person ... if you're talking about ... like I was in the Navy a long time ago. But you learn that in any squad or any platoon, the leader doesn't stand in the front. The leader's not the one carrying the flag. The leader leads from two thirds of the way back in a group, and it's a strategic point where you can make decisions and steer that team. So I do that in my career, as well.

Peter Crosby:
Bob, just so you don't feel alone. I wanted to let you know, [inaudible 00:15:55] chimed in the chat and said, "Yes, I agree." So you are not alone, there's somebody else on the Sherpa journey with you, for sure.

Bob Land:
Beautiful. Thank you. It helps in the ability to just ... when you're told in 48 hours, you need to generate a hundred slides. Yep, I can do that.

Bob Land:
So getting leadership buy-in, Lauren talked about this, we all talked about this. We've got all the great ideas, we understand the playbook. There's a D2C playbook, there is a digital transformation playbook, there's 500 steps, just go through the steps. I wish it was that easy. For D2C, it's making the executive team not look at the shining object. For D2C, the shining object has always been margin. Imagine if we could sell this product directly and we didn't have to pay Walmart or Target their share. Wow, we'd have 70 points of margin, let's just go get that. The error is that you're not thinking about all the rich data that you're going to get just from sales. D2C sales oftentimes are disappointing, they don't just take off. There's lots of channel rules in place and it takes a long time to invest in the right area. It might not break even for a number of years.

Bob Land:
That sets the wrong tone. If your executive immediately thought they'd have a huge boost to their EBIT, they're wrong. I've had this conversation for years and years, and data takes a longer conversation. So is the conversation that once you establish D2C, you're making another very strong connection with consumers and you're using that data to fuel ... it'll raise all the votes. Meaning every sales channel will increase. Avoid the shining object.

Peter Crosby:
Bob, I noticed one of your digital leader truths was to have a direct line to the exec team. I'm imagining that that's a really important factor here because you need that cover and that investment.

Bob Land:
You really do. Yeah, what's interesting is ... and I don't know if there's data on this, I know there's a certain failure rate of all D2C projects and CDP projects, especially. But how many digital transformations are top down in their success rate versus someone in the organization who champions this. But I report to the CEO I have for eight years now and it's made all the difference. Because of his vision and a lot of things are just ... the barriers are just cleared. It's like, "Okay, you don't want to do this. You don't want to put parts online. Why don't I just talk to the CEO and see if he agrees with you?" "He doesn't agree with you. Okay, it looks like we're doing parts online." It's that level of partnership that you have to have with your CEO.

Bob Land:
Some of this, we've alluded to this here, is knowing your audience, understanding that the exec team, C level team, CEOs in the CPG world have not come up through eCommerce. Not yet. I think we're just seeing that now. But typically, our board of directors, our C level staff, every one of them came up through sales or product marketing. That's it. So you're talking a complete foreign language. They're all smart and they're all willing to learn, but it's just knowing how to understand what they want and what they consider a win might be different than what you consider a win.

Bob Land:
Slide, please. Yeah-

Lauren Livak:
Sorry about that.

Bob Land:
The great budget disconnect. How many of you are going through this? So it's budget time and you work at a CPG, everything is done by that top little model. How many doors do we have for this new product that's launching? We're going from 300 doors to 305 doors. So let's start some forecasting that way. Let's go through the ad drop process. What we're same store sales? Very, very retailer specific, has nothing to do with eCommerce.

Bob Land:
eCommerce is the bottom model there. How many orders times your average order value? How much traffic are you getting? Let's start with traffic, how many glances are you getting on Amazon? And how many are we willing to buy and budget for? Okay, so if we get 30% more traffic, we can expect maybe 30% more sales. So it's just two completely different worlds aligning. We still have this issue at Dorel, I'm sure you guys are having this issue too. Where sales tries to do the eCommerce budget, kind of the old fashioned way. So I'm not even offering a solution here. I'm just saying. Space solution has to be clear here.

Lauren Livak:
Would you say, Bob, that you've started to look at it at a SKU level? Or that's a way that you're trying to approach it to make it easier to budget for?

Bob Land:
Yeah, there certainly is a bottom up SKU based approach for eComm, absolutely. It's just funny how you've got to do some educating typically with the sales team because they don't know traffic, they don't know conversion rates, they're not accustomed to putting that into their planning process, budget planning, forecasting. It's just a different model altogether. So I think something needs to be done that either marries these two approaches into one, I haven't seen a system yet that really does it well. But it has to happen at some point. Now you've got two completely different thought processes here.

Lauren Livak:
And I think you'll hear a theme as we go through all of this, that context and education are very, very important. Because like Bob said, a lot of people just didn't come up through this. If you don't understand some of the complexities of it, you can make choices and decisions that might not align to no one's fault, just because there's no understanding of that space or why the questions are being asked for. So I think it's important to keep those couple themes as we go through, too.

Bob Land:
Absolutely, and this is a perfect example of the us versus them problem. Us is the new team, the new kids, the eCommerce people, the D2C people, the new people want to do things differently. But the rest of the company is just like, "I've done this job for 20 years. This is the way I do it." That's the theme here, too, is how do you get the model to be us versus them to convert to us? It's just us. We all have to learn from each other.

Lauren Livak:
I will give one quick little plug that the DSI did do some research on profitability that would be really impactful if you're thinking about budget and you want to continue this conversation. It's on the Digital Shelf website online. So that's a really great place to start for everyone on the call.

Bob Land:
All right. Another one of my favorite slides, the belly button conundrum.

Lauren Livak:
My favorite slide, Bob.

Bob Land:
You see how I like to have fun with a lot of these things. It's really just to keep people engaged and somewhat awake. All of you people who are multitasking right now. This is a tough one. From trying to do a digital transformation or setting up a D2C business, do you hire in new people from the outside? Do you take a special group of more agile employees? Do you separate them from the herd to go work on these at special projects? Do you retrain? Do you rehab people? Can I take the person on the left and they become the person on the right? I don't know. Is the person on the left just fine the way they are? Teams are a huge issue. I've found that I could do ... most companies can get the technology right. They experiment, they do enough due diligence, they do enough with the RFPs or enough agencies out there and enough history to get the software right. It's really this piece, who is going to do what in the organization? Internally versus externally agencies, all of that. I think this deserves more space on the strategic agenda.

Lauren Livak:
Bob, would you say from your discussions with potentially other people in the industry and in different companies, that there really is no definition for how it should be, but it really is specific to the company?

Bob Land:
I know people don't want to hear this, but a lot of times it comes down to individuals who are just ... they're a rockstar individual in this area. On paper we work with KPMG a lot and they say, "Well, on paper, your organization should look just like this." We're like, "Yeah, but this person actually has the ability and the background to cover this and this and do it really well. So that's how we're going to organize it." There's always but the most perfect way you can draw an org chart. That's where the magic is, if you're really trying to figure out where your super people are.

Lauren Livak:
I think taking the different areas we talked about in the beginning about being agile, always wanting to learn. Using those for yourself as a leader, but also when you're looking to hire people or you're looking to expand your team, I think it's a lot more important to have those pieces of it. There are a lot of other things you can learn, especially if you're growing someone who's a little bit junior and you want to help them grow in their career. They can learn a lot of the complexities of the eCommerce space and what's happening and how it works. But all of those characteristics we talked about are really critical in space at every level.

Bob Land:
Absolutely. Yeah. Great segue to a later slide, as well, when we talk about training and the importance of it. So direct to consumer, is it the goat or the duck? This is an interesting one about who you're communicating with, as I alluded to earlier. People on the C level, board level have usually vastly different backgrounds. They came up through organizations differently, they valued certain KPIs differently, success metrics differently.

Bob Land:
However, for something like D2C, and that's just one type of project, it could be any major initiative like D2C. But what I've found is really focus on in your face over communication of all your progress, all your wins. It is funny how even if you get a great kickoff to a project like this, like, "Hey, we're going to go D2C, we formed a team, we're off to the races." And you start communicating all your little wins on a regular basis, which is what you should do. Especially if you haven't hit your sales goals that you set for D2C. There's a hundred other wins that you should communicate. It's not just, "Oh, we missed our goal." Like, "No, but we're building a long term business here and here are all the wins."

Bob Land:
For a company, they'll say, if you go quiet for a few weeks, they'll say, "Oh, whatever happened to that D2C team? Did they get disbanded? I haven't heard anything." So some of this is just keeping the good news momentum constantly going. That can get exhausting, but it's absolutely worth it. Especially with senior team, they have so much going on that they need to just hear a little bit ... a pulse, right? Yep, D2Cs still alive, I heard the pulse, the heartbeat's still going. Yep, that sounds good." When they don't hear it for a while is when you typically might experience some trouble.

Bob Land:
The second one I love, too. Celebrating wins loudly. If you can do it on a legendary level. Every step towards making a digital transformation work is worthy. Probably more exciting than you might think as a D2C leader or digital transformation leader. You think, "Oh well, we just launched this, it's kind of a minor thing. It's not like we launched the whole new brand website with eCommerce. We just did this little tool." Not so. I'm finding that you celebrate every little win. There's people in the organization that have a different enthusiasm for magic ... or different understanding of what magic really is. As a jaded leader like myself, I'm interested in the really complex stuff that when you nail it like a CBP system, that's rocking and rolling. That to me is a big check mark, I'm going to talk about that all day.

Bob Land:
At Safety First, one of our brands that sells car seats. We just did a quick car seat expiration date checker, a little tool online. I was like, "Okay, that's nice. That'll shed some calls on my call centers. Great." That was met with unbelievable enthusiasm in the company. They're like, "Wow, that's not only our top call center contact. But I have been wanting to do something like that for years now." And you say, "What the heck? I totally misjudged that." So that's what I say, just throw it out there. These are all wins to different people in different areas.

Bob Land:
Finding the largest drum and banging it. That is my euphemism for the CEO. The CEOs will typically be the loudest voice in the company. So every director's meeting, every company meeting, every board meeting. I have bullet points ready for the CEO. He's fantastic, he understands the importance of all of this, and he's the biggest drum. So when he stops talking about something, I get concerned.

Bob Land:
So let's see, and be the voice of the consumer. For some of us, we're willing to get fired over that. I've been the voice of the consumer now at several companies, and people just don't understand, they keep thinking like a call center is a cost center. Until you start saying things like, "Oh, well now we just train them to cross-sell and upsell. Now it's a new revenue line on my chart. Oh, isn't that interesting? Not a cost center anymore." So a lot of people will just be doubters and the voice of the consumer will always win.

Bob Land:
I'm a huge fan of surprise and delight, as well. So if you're not doing that, do it. In some of our categories ... let's say, it's mostly baby gear that we deal with. There's a massive fight for market share. There's been less babies born each year since like 1971, and that accelerated in like 2006 or so. It's not looking good. In a diminishing market, you've got to do product plus services, you have to. You have to get word of mouth going. With CPC rates, they're not going to come down anytime soon. You have to combat that and I think it's through service. But you want to handle this one? I can talk about it.

Lauren Livak:
Yes, awesome. Sorry, I was not coming off mute as fast as I should have.

Lauren Livak:
So we wanted to interact with you at this point as Bob continues his talk track around training. So we've talked about it a lot, we would love to hear from you. Peter's going to pop up a poll to better understand if you have a training program in your company. So either you have an enterprise training program, maybe you have an ad hoc training program led by the digital team, or maybe you don't have a training program at all. We would love to hear from you where you fall on that spectrum. Then Bob's going to talk a bit about his experience with that. So hopefully everyone can see it.

Peter Crosby:
Putting it fast and furious.

Lauren Livak:
Perfect.

Peter Crosby:
I am going to close the poll in five, four, three, two, one.

Lauren Livak:
All right.

Peter Crosby:
Look at that.

Bob Land:
Wow. Wow.

Lauren Livak:
Bob, what do you think about that?

Bob Land:
Yeah, yeah. I think this is unfortunately typical. Especially when I start talking about training on the next couple slides here. So Dorel is this global $2.6 billion house of 26 brands, a very highly matrixed organization, very complex with no people management system and no central training system. An issue is that as we grow D2C and the more technical roles, we'll be lucky if we hold onto one employee for 18 months. That's a great SEO person or a great digital marketer, media strategist, all that. It's such a high demand. If you haven't worked on your culture and I think training, great training is part of culture, it drives culture. You can train for a culture. You'll be able to already tell the companies that just fail on that piece. They think their culture's just great. They don't know why people are just exiting the company and their most technical and important roles are just evaporating.

Bob Land:
This is what we did anyway. My advice is train like you've got an MMA fight and your trainer just quit. I kept thinking for years, HR is going to come, they're going to absolutely recognize the need for training. And doing employee surveys and acting on those surveys. Not really. I think a lot of people are attracted to the stuff that we all do here, the projects that we do. Because we're self starters. We know that nobody's going to come in and just rescue us, we don't have that kind of victim mentality. So with Dorel, we put in 185 software systems in eight years. Replaced just a ton of stuff, eCommerce systems, all sorts, you know all the systems we have to put in place.

Bob Land:
But one of the critical points in our growth was when we created this unified training platform. I just use Lessonly and we might grow into some other system, but for now it's fantastic. It's super cheap, you can bring in videos from ... a lot of these 185 software platforms have their own university. But we found that a lot of them are too general. They're training for everybody that has this instance of a DAM system or a PIN system or your call center software. But we pull the videos from them that are the 101 courses and then we create our next level, our 201 and 301 type of courses. That's made all the difference.

Bob Land:
Since what we used to do is say, "Oh, we did introduce new software today. We're going to do these big a hundred person training sessions and try to get the swath of the company covered." A lot of people don't learn like that. They're visual learners or self-paced learners. A lot of those people, you'll see, I've done this a lot and I'm a part-time adjunct professor and I know the kids that are sitting in the back there that I want to reach. I've driven to reach those guys because they're not really in tune with what's happening in the class. So the pace of the class. But I know we can go back later and I can do a one on one session with them later, and then they get it, they understand it all. It's just that there are different types of learners.

Bob Land:
So platforms like Lessonly helped and that's just two little screen grabs of it. I can see who's taking the courses, who my achievers are and who needs help. A lot of people on my team, they're like, "I want to be a director, make me a director." You don't really know what a director is. They think it's doing their same job, but maybe more of it. Or they get paid more, that's the difference. Like no, man. There's 10 or 12 things that you're going to need to learn that are part of that different role. We have people's responsibilities now, what does that mean?

Peter Crosby:
Well, Lauren, did we lose Bob?

Lauren Livak:
Did we lose Bob?

Peter Crosby:
He froze.

Lauren Livak:
He may have some-

Bob Land:
Did I freeze?

Peter Crosby:
Oh yeah, there you are. No, you're back.

Lauren Livak:
You're back.

Bob Land:
Did you lose me five minutes ago?

Lauren Livak:
I didn't know if it was just me or not.

Peter Crosby:
No, no, no. I think we got you on this one. You're good.

Bob Land:
Yeah, so hopefully takeaway here is, I would look into a training platform. Don't wait for HR. They have different responsibilities from recruiting, some of it's not training related. I started this in the call center because our call center agents need to learn every product that we've made, not just last year, but for the past 15 years. They have to be able to answer questions about it. I need to bring those people up to speed quickly, so they can get them into a call queue and not be searching for information while they're on the phone with a consumer, let's say. So implementing something like this can be used with OSHA, with your eCommerce operations, with all the certifications, black belt certifications.

Bob Land:
I'm a big fan of getting it all in one place and then watching as your teams progress, you can run any kind of report. Who's taking the lessons? How are they scoring on the lesson? If they get a bad score, are they the type of person that will go back in and say, "Ah, that's not good enough. I'm going to retake that thing until I get a hundred." That gives you a little bit of understanding on what drives your employees. You say, "Yeah, I might promote that person. If I had a choice and it was a coin toss, that person that I can see has the drive. That's the one I'm going to promote."

Lauren Livak:
And Bob, would you say from an executive leadership standpoint, or even since you're so directly connected with the CEO, is there any level of education ... was it just from you in terms of understanding what was happening in the space? Or how did you find that they also got up to speed on understanding some of the things that were happening?

Bob Land:
Yeah, that's a great question. I think is when we connected ... we would do a twice a year all employee survey. We'd get all this data back, what people are happy about, what they're not happy about. Then be like, "Okay, well what are we going to do about all of this? All the unhappy stuff." It's like, to me, it looks like the theme is training. Some people feel like they should have been part of the D2C team, let's say, or maybe they feel left out and that's what they're telling us here. We're like, "Well, if you want to be part of these initiatives, you can train yourself. This is a self training platform." And actually we did see improvements in employee surveys after we put this out because I think people just like, "Don't we all need to feel empowered? Maybe our boss doesn't treat us the right way. I have to prove myself some other way." Then, all right, be an A student. Kill it on all of these tests and quizzes.

Peter Crosby:
Hey Bob, I just want to do a time check here. We have a couple more minutes, so-

Bob Land:
Last slide.

Peter Crosby:
Yeah. Oh, perfect.

Bob Land:
Yeah, last slide for me anyway. But yeah, just quickly. Training, don't consider it a selfish act. I started doing an executive coaching service. I have a coach, kind of one on one support. They'll tell you, they really work like a therapist. They give you control of your emotions at work. One thing I highly suggest is doing something called the 360. Which takes all of the people or a good chunk of the people ... I think Lauren, I think we went through this too. But they'll just survey people around you, people that you report to, people that report to you. And you get some really good data, it's all anonymized. But you can certainly see themes coming out and it will help you.

Lauren Livak:
Great. Thanks so much, Bob. It was great to hear all of your stories and what you went through. And what we're trying to do on this last slide here, before we go to Q&A is how can we bucket some of these things into some actionable areas where if you're going through this digital transformation and change, you can try and double down on some of these.

Lauren Livak:
So the first one being, making sure you have really clear organizational eCommerce goals and the organization knows what they are. The second one being education, we've talked a lot about this. What is the context around eCommerce? What kind of systems do you have internally? So there's the internal education on what's happening in the company and how it's working. But there's also the education about the external space. Why is Amazon asking for what it is? Or why is your number one retailer asking for that specific information? And how does that feed into it?

Lauren Livak:
Then metrics that matter. How are you defining what success looks like? And is it realistic based on your goals? You have to make sure all of those things really connect together, so that you can also create those shared goals across your company. And then the cross-functional leadership team, we both talked about this a lot. It is not a solo sport, it is a team sport. Whether it be a monthly call, a bi-monthly call. Having a cross-functional leadership team meet to have discussions and make sure everyone is on the same page is really, really critical for the success of digital because it touches every aspect of your company.

Peter Crosby:
Thanks so much to Lauren and Bob for allowing us this crossover episode of the Digital Shelf Playbook series. If you would like to see or share the original source webinar, we have the link in the show notes or go to digitalshelfinstitute.org/digital-shelf-playbook. All the webinars of the Digital Shelf Playbook series are posted there. If you have any questions about any of this or hate using show notes, you can reach out to Lauren Livak anytime on LinkedIn or at lauren@digitalshelfinstitute.org. Thanks for being part of our community.