CEO Growth Summit 2021: Five Quick Takeaways

Verne Harnish

We just wrapped our 2021 CEO Growth Summit, a terrific day that was overstuffed with tips and strategies from some very smart people. Here are five quick takeaways:

  1. Don’t compete with Amazon. Do this instead. It’s a fool’s errand, according to MIT senior lecturer Jonathan Byrnes, to go toe to toe with the Bezos beast. Look at your own business and find the “profit peaks, profits drains and profit deserts.” You’ll need a different approach to each to maximize profits. “You need to get the right info to understand what to do. Choose your customers, align your resources and change the company,” said Byrnes. Instead of trying to compete with Amazon, “try to be like Amazon. They found their niche, then stuck to their knitting and drove it.” Jonathan outlined his thinking for us here.
  2. Show up and dive in. Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint Inc., didn’t think she could keep her teams at home when the pandemic hit—they still needed to stock store shelves. But her team members were not happy to be out on the road. “Are you trying to kill me?” one even asked her directly. “So I immediately put on my Lululemon pants and Hint jacket and went into stores myself to make sure my team was safe,” she said. One way to do that: call on everyone to arrange to get into stores before they open. The bottom line, Goldin said, was to show up and be in the thick of things herself.
  3. Stay curious. Goldin spent time working in Silicon Valley and she credits that experience with helping her “embrace my curiosity and be a thinker”—qualities she sees as critical to her booming flavored water business. “Very few of our 200-member team came from the beverage industry. Instead, we focus on getting people who ask questions, are curious and innovate…people who are not afraid and willing to just go.” Kara shared some of her story with us, here.
  4. Invest in sales technology. As the pandemic hopefully winds down, “we will get back to face-to-face sales meetings,” says Bill Bartlett, senior VP at Sandler Training. But he also predicts companies will move to a hybrid in person and virtual model as they look to save travel costs and internalize what has been learned during the pandemic. “Don’t let what we’ve learned atrophy—build on it.” That includes teaching teams how to effectively use video, building a virtual sales engagement process and building a corporate dashboard with key metrics that all need to review.
  5. Don’t be resilient. “If I hear that word one more time, it’s going to make me throw up in my mouth,” said Verne Harnish. Being resilient means pushing through pain. Instead, “be anti-fragile. Benefit from the chaos. Find the lessons and thrive.” It isn’t an easy process, he notes, but a critical one. As we look at the potential for incredible growth post-Covid, Harnish urged companies to “be ambitious. This is the time to be as bold as you can be.” You can read more from Verne, here.
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