Ep. 6: Michael Aidan, Former Chief Digital Officer of Danone
By Exact Media
This week's interview was with Michael Aidan. At the time of our conversation, he was transitioning between his role as Chief Digital Officer at Danone, to joining a relatively newer organization as the Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer of DxO. Michael has incredible entrepreneurial tendencies, he's a true intrapreneur. This comes through so clearly in the interview, I'm really excited for you to hear it. This Podcast is brought to you by Exact Media, which works with brands to sample their products using the excess space in eCommerce parcels. Companies like P&G, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, L'Oréal, Coca-Cola and Pepsi have all used Exact Media to reach consumers in their homes. Learn more at www.exactmedia.io. These are just a few of the highlights from the interview: - To get his first international job in marketing, he had to get permission from the French government to go work in New York in lieu of his military service. He got rejected seven times and escalated his case to the French Foreign Minister. If it didn't work out he would have been shipped to Germany to serve in the army. - While at Cato Gobé and Associates, he helped design the Gillette Series razor that is still in stores today even though it was designed in 1991. What he took away from that experience was if you put different minds around the table, you will create something much richer and more sustainable. - While he had great mentors, they never officially had that title, or had a conversation where they said "Michael, let me be your mentor". These people were simply people at his company that inspired him. He spent time with them, observed their work and learned a lot from them in that fashion. - In situations where he had a bad boss, it was important for him to step back and spend time with peers in your network or mentors elsewhere in the organization to help him take a step back and focus on your own path. - To de-stress Michael goes on hour long runs, especially leading up to stressful or important meetings. He notices a significant difference in his performance when he runs versus when he doesn't. - He values spending time at conferences, and tries to attend one at least once every month or two. He finds delivering talks at these conferences to be really helpful as it helps him put his work in a broader perspective by thinking through how it could be valuable for others. - When looking back at his P&G classmates, he found the successful ones fit into one of two buckets. One group were those who you might consider the "perfect P&G employee" in the sense that they followed every rule and lived every value of the organization which helped them rise to the top at the company. The other group were those who approached their time at P&G as a learning opportunity, but had their own way of thinking and found success in adjacent industries. Those who fell in the middle of these groups found less success. - His approach to problem solving is Do, Think, Do, which he finds valuable as he's doing things twice and getting a lot of information from running more tests. Trust is incredibly important in building teams. If you don't have trust, you have nothing. In those situations, employees often question if they are even capable at their jobs. - His advice If you're ever in a situation where you're working for a manager where trust doesn't exist is to take a step back and focus on areas where you've been successful before (whether at work, or in your hobbies) and use that to rebuild your the confidence. - Michael's biggest failure came when his team created a new type of Evian water bottle, which passed consumer research tests, but failed when they actually got the product in their hands. The issue was that they had pushed go on producing 400 Million bottles, which was about half of their overall supply. - While he set the Guinness World Record for online views with the Roller Babies Campaign, a few months before he launched a similar initiative with Volvic that completely flopped and got ~30 views. There is a lot of trial an error before you can find success. - Even though he wouldn't change any thing about his life, his advice to his younger self would be to learn equally from the bad and the good moments in your life. You need to have room for both in your life. - He decided to leave Danone to join DxO as it gets him closer to the Do, Think, Do mentality that he enjoys so much. He felt he accomplished his major objectives at Danone and wanted a new challenge.