Ep. 21: Jim Stengel, Fmr. Global Marketing Officer, P&G & CEO at The Jim Stengel Company
By Exact Media
It’s one thing to be the Chief Marketing Officer of a large business but another thing to be the CMO of the world’s largest advertiser, P&G. I really enjoyed my latest interview with Jim Stengel who is the founder of The Jim Stengel Company and prior to that had a very successful career as the Global Marketing Officer (GMO) of P&G. In his seven years as the GMO, the company doubled its revenue. In today’s terms, the revenue he brought in during his tenure is equivalent to the revenue of approximately 30 AirBnBs. He has received more awards and recognitions than one could ever dream of. From being named onto Fortune’s Executive Dream Team to being the number one power player in marketing by AdAge through 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007. If there’s anyone who has reached the pinnacle of advertising and marketing, it’s Jim. What I took away from my interview with Jim was not all of the things that he accomplished professionally, but the importance of being a good human being. He’s incredibly humble and down to earth. He admits to the mistakes that he made in the early days as both a husband and a leader. He emphasizes the importance of his wife (who is #1) and the value he places on building relationships. Jim could have stopped after his career at P&G to relax and retire. Most people would have been more than happy with what he achieved. Instead, he’s continued to make it it his mission to help businesses and people reach their full potential. Here are some of the highlights from our conversation: Jim hustled as a child. To get a job delivering the local paper, he had to lie that he was 12 years old when he was only 10. It was the only way he could get the job. In addition to delivering the paper, he mowed lawns, shoveled driveways, worked at a pizza joint and did a lot of other scrappy jobs to make some money. His first grown-up job was with Time Inc. where he was hired into the books division. To my surprise, Jim was actually rejected for an internship at P&G. He didn’t make the cut but he didn’t give up and eventually got hired. It was a good thing that P&G didn't make the same mistake twice. On his first job, he was tasked with the launch of a new product, Duncan Hines. He was given the task to find a way to sample to every household in the US. With a $60 million sampling budget at his disposal, he managed to hire every delivery truck in the country to help him deliver the cookies. On rookie leadership mistakes, he talks about the importance of seeing what’s around the corner and what’s ahead of you. Too many leaders fall into the trap of tackling daily operational activities but fail to deliberately spend time thinking about the future of their business. On other business advice he would give, it would be that you can never fire too fast. When it comes to people related issues, you usually know in your gut as to what the decision should be. One bad apple on a team can infect many people and it’s important to remove those people immediately. The only time he ever considered leaving P&G was after his first year. Time Inc. called him back and offered him a job that would triple his salary. What kept him at P&G was the opportunity to learn and grow. From then on, he had a principle to never speak to head hunters. He’s a big believer that the key to life is resiliency. People who have bounced back from setbacks in their careers or personal life. These people are often the happiest people and have lived the most rewarding lives. His WFIO (We’re F&cked, it’s over) moment happened in the second year when he was running the business in Czechoslovakia. He was the only one on the team who didn’t have share growth that year. It was the moment when he thought that his job was on the line. But John Pepper, the CEO of P&G at the time, spent five minutes with him and provided a few words of assurance that the company believed in him and that he believed that he would get through it. Jim never forgot that conversation and it changed the way he viewed his situation. He encourages leaders to never underestimate the impact that they can have on their people. And yes, the business he ran turned around and the rest is history. Jim met his wife and proposed to her only three months later. To help seal the deal on his proposal, he made her a physical scrapbook documenting their experiences together. He’s what I call a “closer”. On mistakes he made as a husband, he talks about the times in his life when he didn’t always put his wife as number one and took her for granted with work, children and other obligations. Life gets in the way but one should always put their spouse as number one. On routines, exercise is a non-negotiable. He might sacrifice sleep or eating, but he will never sacrifice exercise. He tries to change it up all the time and will do water aerobics, tennis, yoga, a HIIT class, or something different. On the bucket list, he’s hoping to still play Roger Federer a game of tennis. He recently played Ana Ivanovic (the former number one ranked female tennis player). I took that as a humble brag. =P There’s a lot more from this interview so make sure to listen to the full interview. Either go to the SoundCloud link below or subscribe to our iTunes channel.