Emilio Risques – Impact Talks Episode 2 Transcript
OK. Welcome to the new podcast. Today, we have Emilio with us, who is heading Asics V.P. Innovation. If I understand correctly, for Europe, Central Africa, Africa and Central… What was it…
Europe, Middle East and Africa.
I’ve seen that you were responsible for getting Asics to 18 from 18 place to third place in Spain. A lot of background, a lot of experience and Asics as well as innovation articles that I’ve read.
I don’t want to go too deep into it because I want to hear your story, of course. And I would like to start this way with asking what I always ask, which is how is your childhood like? Where did you start? How what led to the mindsets that you have today?
I think all in life will have a lot of things that bring you to that place. I think. Long time ago with my family, I was travelling abroad and that opened my mind.
But maybe one of the things studying journey or studying and based things can open your mind. But they think what really bring me to this is being in position, that let me be a startup inside the corporation sometimes.
What do you mean?
I’ve been in when I was joining Asics , it was the they hired me to take this distributor business that moves to the multinational means they buy the rights to the distributor and they went to Convertino Multinational and the company before I was doing the same.
Then in fact, this kind of position is you have to be startup inside the corporation. You have to follow the rules of the corporation. You have the guidelines. But you have to move like in a startup.
So you… What was a company before Asics. What did you work on.
Before Asics I was working life fitness. It’s a fitness of women, uh, company.
It was an American brand.
Yes. And before that, I was with my family creating our own business also.
You were in the family business?
Before that? Yes. I’ve been in all spectrum of ranges and sizes.
I would like to actually go deeper into the family business so… Can you maybe shape a little bit of the story of how you first entered it and then maybe the history of the family business.
I think long term of all, we it’s it’s the time that the steel was not a startup because the startup name is very thing. And we we create a company for recycling bottles of water. And from that, it came a second company that trades with a product of the recycling flooring systems. And we create flooring that we sell created with recycled material.
So you were sellingthe bottles and the flooring?
Was with bottles and with the covering of the cables then were several seconds with with these recycled materials we were producing.
And who came up with it?
I was a idea of my father then it was, uh, the guy on the back selling and doing the marketing.
So you joined at 18 years old or how did it go?
No, before I work in another, uh, corporation, but I was, uh, run twenty six or twenty five.
So to give context for the listener. So what year was this all happening.
Long time ago, let’s say. A long time. But I don’t remember. I think I saw the 90s
Could be or something like that. Yes.
So you’re working you because I think at that point you just graduated and then you worked at this corporation and then your dad just comes to you and says, hey, I need your help for what happened. Yeah.
He was creating that company. You help. And it was opportunity.
So usually my experiences with family business is again, that’s me. I spend three days and then I need a break. So what is your perception like?
I think that’s real. It’s I think it’s it’s nice to work with family. Sometimes it’s good to work with the family and you need to demonstrate yourself. One of the reasons that I was out is that because I need to think for myself that they can do things outside. But but it’s also important. And I think I could be more used there because we create two companies Each one was in one company and then let the space.
And how did the growth go once you joined? And
The growth was really good. I think the challenges you have when you create a company, it’s always the same. You have to have a good quality. You have to have a good finance. And this kind of things is what is tough when you create the company.
So let’s hdive a little bit deeper into that, because to me, that’s very broad. Yes, good finance has good quality. How did you know the quality was good? How did you make sure the finances were good?
I think the first thing you have to thing is that the years that we’re speaking doesn’t exist. That we seize on this kind of things is something that came much later. And I mean, finance wise, what you need is all business that you create almost. I cannot tell all but mean of the business that there’s a creation.They have some years that they need a cash flow negative to create the business. Then you have to cover that. And on the other side, quality wise is a thing. We all know what is an MBP, we all know what. But sometimes there’s a minimum that you need to be able to launch things properly. So sometimes you make mistakes.
Can you give an example?
For example, in in in the company will make some mistakes on the quality was a good product, but sometimes was not giving the right standards.And these make you learn.
How did you know?
When our customers are not happy? That’s the main indicator of any business, I think.
So how did you track that? Customers were not happy because nowadays there are reviews online. But back then, there were no reviews.
I think in marketing, in sales, nothing is invented. Always the same. If you go much two years before I was born, it was the shop in the small village. And that they know everybody knows everybody was happy or not knows all the gossips, knows everything. Then things that has changed with the time is the way and the and the rich. Nowadays anything is in a second. There is a review, but a long time ago also was the option to listen customers to speak with customers. There was much more complicated.
So you would call them up or you call them up. You follow up. If you really focus on customers. You do it. That’s in the Internet era or the before Internet era.
So. So let’s say now you look back at what you did back then to now. Do you still use some of the older methods?
I think their let’s say their bases, their bases are the same. The methods are different.
So did you?
I give you an example. In that time, instead of email newsletter, you you make Brinn newsletter. Instead of customize, you make blocks of customization that you bring different things. Then the things are the same. The way that you do it are much better, faster, whatever. I give you an example of one thing that you will see is the glasses were invented before Gutenberg in Venice. And the market was only the monks that they used in the market was not there. And suddenly it came to Gutenberg 200 years later. And then suddenly it was a big market of glasses. What I’m telling you is glasses were invented 200 years before, but there was no market then. Lot of ideas. All of the ideas are already invented. Is the way that the educated, the way that you do it, how it’s how it’s done.
I mean, that’s partially what the job is of innovation, you know, to make sure that you innovate in a way, but also communicated to the masses somehow because he said the glasses weren’t there, but they weren’t really suited for the market. Some type of innovation must have happened also in the mindsets of people to eventually want glasses right? and the example that comes up to me nowadays is Tazewell, like electric vehicles are really old. But then now it’s cool to have, like, electric vehicle. So using the example glasses, which, you know, we can eventually look into like mature business did, but. Considering your position innovation, how do you feel you do innovation, then that really creates products for fitting markets?
I think the first thing is you don’t know have to assume and assume, I think is the biggest problem of all companies. First thing is you are speaking about electric cars, electric cars. The biggest limitations before was the batteries. Still, there are the Chargers because the motor is older than the gasoline. But but things are changing. And I think one of the things that we have to have an innovation is do not assume because one thing that did not work two years ago today is the same thing. Every day is changing things. Technology is changing and things are different. For example, with the 5G model, things will completely change. The assumption is that we are doing and and these kind of things, I think is one of the roles of innovation is will have to match two things. One thing is, if customers are willing to buy it, the most important thing is the one that pay us. And second thing is technology is ready for that. And then you have to adapt both things.
I want to still keep for a second with the family business because to me, it always is intriguing, the family business. How… How long did you stay there?
If I’m not wrong, in two periods, it was two periods of three years, around five or six years.
How has the relationship with your dad evolved? Has it become better because of it or worse?
It has been always good. The key thing on this kind of thing is you have to be very clear. What is the barriers? The limits? Where you being work at home or not at home? This kind of things. But this is the same with a lot of the stuff that nowadays, some of the founders, they lived together because they are doing the business and they have to know the barriers. And if it’s not a barrier, it’s when people get burned out, when people has illness and a lot of things, then that’s the same thing.
So how did you do that with your dad? Was it your dad who decide these are the limitations?
i think it’s a mix of both. And I think that’s that’s, uh, depends on the personality of the people. If you know how to express yourself. And you know how to tell what is good or bad. Then you have an advantage.
So can you give an example of one barrier that you implemented that worked really well?
I think at the end, you have to think that, uh, in job, it’s really important that you feel that you can do your things, meet, and nobody likes to feel that they are obliged to do something or whatever. And sometimes when you have trust with the other, you forced to do something. But this is a place for multinationals, for starters, for everybody.
Then I think it’s good to understand the motivations of the others and to put barriers where the limits of what they say to what.
Uh, so you can give an example of what you did
I give an example. If I was in charge of sales and marketing and he was in charge of production and finance, it was good to share, was not good to blame, was good to decide what it is good to understand, what is the role of each one. And the same applies for any startup nowadays. You have a CEO, you have a CTO, you have. And sometimes the definitions are so tight that could be fights because it’s good to share, is good to make a joint position. But then somebody is taking the lead and is not good to have somebody in your neck that you’re doing a good job.
So clear role.
So OK then from my perspective, a little bit the question, what if you’re the CEO and let’s say I mean, I see quite a lot of space to our program. So you’re the CEO and you have a career CTO completely in charge of the app or platform, but you still seem like you want, you know, something different implemented than you want and you want that and you want discussions around these things based based on what you just said, role allocation. The CTO would say to the CEO know, like that said,
I’m not telling exactly that. What I’m telling is there is a time to challenge, a time to agree and a time to execute. What is not good is that you see something as a team. You agree this is the direction and and then you challenge that position. Then always good to challenge. And I give an example when you create teams is people that like to surround it of people exactly the same that the same person. That’s very convenient in the way that nobody challenge you. It’s scum, whatever. But that’s not advanced anything. When you are around with teams that challenge you, that’s much more uncomfortable for you. But to make you evolve. But to control, this has to be an agreement, a moment to discuss, a moment to everybody, put their opinion and then as a team agree what is good for the company. Once you agree that and it is not another change that makes something that change on that position. You can not tell I was standing. I was telling. I was telling. No, we agree this we know this is what we agree. It’s any change. Let’s see. Discuss. We change this. But this was the agreement. What you can not do is try to win always in your opinion.
Yeah I agree with that. So then we move on from the family business. So what did you do after?
After that , I joined Life Fitness. Life Fitness was like with Asics. They just bought the rights. They used to have a distributor in Spain in bought oil and they bought the rights of this to do to get back to the multinational.
What does that mean by the rights of the distributor?
When you are a distributor you have the right to sell the product in the country. Sometimes the headquarters want to keep control of that. Then they buy the company and tell me you are not anymore distributor. Now, as a multinational, you go.
Why would they give the rights in the first place if eventually they will buy them?
Because normally in the stage of a startup or a state of a corporation is that of any company, there are moments that it’s needed to have headquarter or subsidiary or in a country, and there are moments that is easy to have a distributor or an Asian or whatever. Then you make a contract. That contract last five years, six years, two years. If you want to finish it before that has a cost. But that’s any startup in the world has that challenge. They do not have money to put offices all around the world, but they want to be all around the world. And sometimes our business that with Internet is not enough and you need physical locations. And that’s one of the choices.
So… So pretty much if you’re scaling, you don’t have to have offices everywhere. You just make a contract with the distributor and then it looks as if you’re everywhere.
And they sell for you and they get one percentage of that.
That’s like an Asian if you go to US. In Europe. You decide a lot of times to have people employee as a salesperson. In US you have Asians and an Asian is somebody that you do not pay. You pay a percentage of the sales. But that percentage of a sale, they are protected with a contract. You cannot cancel that contract. If you can’t say you have to pay. This is the same when you go to countries, whatever. It’s impossible for startup nowadays to go to all the countries in the world. But could have sent in some countries that are a priority to have presence and growth.
So I have an idea how to hire agents and teams abroad. You can most certainly use recruiters like multinational recruiters to do that. How would you for physical products like assure something? How would you get a distributor? Because I’m assuming you don’t just go on like a recruiter website and just type I want a distributor. So how?
this is that much depending on the industry and the business that you are. I mean, each industry, they have their companies that they are selling and they are really good on that. Then that’s if you’re on the industries that so complicated to find it. And then research, which are the good ones. But there are easier ways to do this. What is true that these kind of decisions can not be done. This is like a marriage. Because they they they are the reputation of your brand.
So it’s pretty much you go to trade shows and/or Google and you search the leading distribution agencies in the country and then you talk with them and then you have to treat it almost like an investor relationship where you really
Something like that. And you have to think that there are two kind of business, the business that can be scale up a hundred percent online and that zero of these kind of things. And the business that there’s really still need the the hard base to be really close to the consumer. This kind of business always will need to have offices or to have somebody or persons. And then you you have to have this like imagine hiring a CEO in a country is the same importance because they can affect your image or they can or they can make you earn money with good image.
So you said something really interesting, said there’s two types of business that goes online and then the one that needs to be closer to the consumer. So why and that is maybe you’re skipping a little bit. But let’s go now to Asics. Why… I feel like that could be a business that is fully online. Why take the choice to create stores and closer to consumer? Why not maybe create like a hype online or something or get influencers?
You have to. Once again, you have to differentiate two things. Hundred percent digital means the day that we can bring in a 3-D printer issue in your home. What you’re telling us is going to be a hundred percent real. You will need no shops. But that’s very far away. But any business that you need, physical products, even Amazon now is putting some physical shops.
Amazon has opened some supermarkets, some political shop. They need showrooming because still people need to have an experience and touch and they give an example. If you are a runner, which is the right shoe that you like and you can be recommended. But at the end, it’s a it’s a feeling that you need to feel and know and and you have to test the product. Then you have to receive the product. You have to test it. You have to validate it. And you can do it. Shipping product up and down. Or you can go to shop tested and knowing which is the right one for
What is. I feel like Zalando really like figured that part out, which is the shipping part.
With a huge cost for them.
Is that actually the interesting question for me. Is that cheaper or more expensive than having a shop like Asics has?
Depends the business. They’ve been where you have the shop. Depend the product. If the product is very heavy or very volume, the transport is higher, then bleeds are higher. I think it’s can not be relying on everything. I think it’s very, very the good thing is I remember one Internet game they told Divvies when these appeared teams are still there on is moving to Internet. More radios are still there. It’s moving. What I’m telling is e-commerce is here forever, is not going to change. Everyday Is going to be more. But people still need experiences. People still need some touch some feel. Whatever. We’re persons and the mix of both things is we have to find where it is. It is not black and white TV. It is not the only under man. It’s a mix of things there. When you see a football game, it doesn’t matter if it’s on TV or online is the same. You see it at that moment, not when you want them. There are things that are going to happen in one place, the other. Then I think that we’ll have to put in context. I think in in this time, we feel it’s only one way. There are a lot of ways anybody can do everything. It’s how you do it in the… You do it. The result that you have. Yeah, I agree.
So, okay, back to Life Fitness. So you went from family business there. So tell what will happen.
It’s a completely different business. It’s a multinational American with a roof like that was SOX. Sarbanes Oxley. That means that you have a stock exchange company. You have to control a lot of things, rules, procedures, whatever. But at the same time, you have a really small company because sales are really small because you just bought it and you have to grow it. And it’s interesting because you have the two sides. You have, let’s say, the knowledge of the big corporations, that they’re really good on procedurea maintaining resources, knowledge and on the side, they are managing a really small company…
That have to roll as well as a team.
We create the team from zero because we start from zero. We have two West two three persons. That was from the previous one. We have created from zero, then created from zero to make it the reasonable business.
So again, how long did it take you?
I was, uh, three years on something until I moved to Asics.
And what happened in those three years?
Growing in double digits every year, increasing on people on sales and profit and learning a lot.
So by the time you left, how big was it?
There amounts that, uh, you cannot tell because, you know, in this you have confidentiality agreements, but less so millions
No no no not the revenue I meant. The people
and people side, I think we finish with 20 something person.
So you built everything from zero in three years. And then. So what were the biggest learning lessons?
I think the biggest learning is first thing is first, it’s not the good or bad, the strategies, the strategies that you can apply play. Because what I mean is when you think big company, you are going to do things. But the reality is you’re a small company in a big company, then you have to adjust your strategy. Second thing is the importance of people. I mean, when I speak, suppose later, but when I see now a lot of startups, I think they feel for the people side and not because they are bad, but because they do not taking account two criteria that they put them. First thing is the role of the founder in each phase of the startup is complete, different, and sometimes they do not realize. Initially they really broke focus raising money in the second phase they agreed to create that team. They have some traction. And another phase they have to be leaders. And it’s completely different from make a product, raise money but be a leader. Some of the stuff that’s fails for that because the founder is not evolving. And second, big failure on the people side in a startup is because they do not realize the importance of the people. They just receive the money and they start hiring. But people change the culture. If you don’t hire. Correct, change culture.
Change ways. Change the company.
So how do you how do you hire?
I think the first thing is you have to know very well. And we for example, in Asics, we hire basing basing three criteria. The first criteria is does it mmatch with the culture of the company. And this is important. If you’re CV, your experience is really good.
But how do you know what the culture of the company is?
And can we use psychology for that? We use our long time interest. But the first thing you have to have very clear, what is your culture? If you do not know it, very clear, proven what it is you can not find or not.
And so how do you what are some basic steps? Some of our listeners,
I think the first thing is what do you want to be as a company? I give an example. Asics means Anima Sana In Corpore Sano. We are not about winning. We are not about… We want to make better people then in our culture we want to grow. Yes. Want to. Yes. But with rules, we in our corporate culture, following the rules, being good with your colleagues, learn from Ferrugia improve. It’s very important in other cultures. It’s only important to be the first to win whatever.
If you kill the others, you don’t mind is good or bad. Is your company culture. Each one will be… Will feel that their culture is better then the first thing is you have to define very well. What is your company culture, what do you want to be. You want to be a charity or do you want to be a company? If you’re a company, what is your aim? What is you propose? What? And with this, you have to hire people that met these values. I give you an example personally. If I change of Asics , I will not be able to go to the tobacco company. I was at the at the smoking at the tobacco
Why? Because I don’t believe on unhealthy life. Then if they want to hire me, it will be not a matching culture. In others I will be hundred percent open. But this is an example. Then culture is the first thing. Second thing is how we’d match with a team. There is people that could match with the culture, but the way that they they interact with the others could damage the rest of the team. A clear example, if you have a football team, they are really good players. But there are some players that add more value to the other players. And there are some players that they played really well, but they killed the other players. Then this is really important. And for that, you need really to understand what does the strength or weakness on your team and what this person complements.
So how do you spot people like that?
I think once again, you have to make a lot of analysis of your people’s strengths. Weakness. What? I’m starting for yourself. What are you good at with your battles?
You’re saying analysis. Are these psychology tests like what are you doing?
We are doing psychology test. We’re doing a lot of working dynamics, a lot of team work where you can see how people work.
So like workshops,
I think there are a lot of nowadays, there’s a lot of ways to analyze. How is your personality. There are basic things from like the colors, the red, the blue way. That’s one example. But there are a lot of things. Is whatever you use, you have to use it in a way that you’re consistent all around. You can not compare with you with red and with the other with another system. Is use a system that you believe, check that is right. And then use it
to choose a personalities. And then, OK, I get that you you implement, which you find works. And then based on that, you look at complementary skills that fit the team. What happens if you do that recruitments and like a bad person slips, then
you have to make for the fairness of the company. You have to make a fast decision.
Can you give an example? Has that ever happened?
I think that I give you an example on Asics. Unfortunately, we make some mistakes. Yes. And it was one case, one guy that the first day was doing one illegal behavior. And we have to execute very fast because the company don’t allow illegal behaviors. Then. But all the rest of the people were reinforced because we were following our same mission vision and we were really thinking our culture we didn’t accept that. That reinforced the theme.
So, OK, so he did something bad. You say execute fast. Are we talking like hours or 10 days? Weeks.
I mean, if you see something that these really strong hours, if you see that something that he can improve, you have to give feedback immediately. You have to improve and give the choice to people to do it. What they’re telling is at the end is first thing is you have to have a strong process and all this compression to start because we were telling they make mistakes that way. They make mistakes because suddenly you have to hire hundred people. And when you make hundred people hired without processes, without role-play, a lot of things that you can make in a person and you hire all these series knight, I hire this person. The consequences can be really high. But what I’m telling is may not the grow the stage startups. They have to be prepared to be in growth. Means they have to decide how is their hiring process to avoid these mistakes. If there is a mistake. What is the process to solve this person, to make them on the right track? Or if it’s not possible, how to be out of the company. Then for me, this is crucial to think that is not having the money, is not hiring the people, is how you do it. It’s even more important that these two factors.
Do you advise founders to then do it themselves or hire someone experienced or external?
I think there are two things on this area. The external experience and unprocessed not the strongest side, it’s really, really highly needed. At the same time, it’s your company. In my two four roles in Asics, I had been in the last meeting getting the yes or no of each person because at the end that could change the culture of the company. That means that you have to be no processes, means that with the time your team is able to do all of this. Yes. But in a startup that at the beginning there are so many new persons, founders has to be involved. It’s part of the company on his part. That’s why their role is also changing. They have no so much time if they have to hire. They have less time.
So have you see… I can imagine as innovation, you’ve probably seen a lot of startups go through. Have you seen any really good stories and really bad stories that you could share?
I think that the bad stories always is, uh, Founders’, uh, battles within them that they they broken. They have to split the company. That’s the worse.
Why do you think it happened?
I think because this is like a marriage before marrying, you have to know who you’re going to work with and you have to see if they complement. You have to understand what is a strength on the weakness. And it is the same that I was telling for hiring a person even is the most important. If each one if they do not have let’s say they have personally these that cannot match. This is going to happen. And you have to think that in a startup, it’s extremely stress.By definition, startup equals stress. That’s right. Definition. You cannot change that even for because this standard is going well or because the stuff is going but is a stress. All of us, when we are put under stress, we our personality goes to the limit. Then we do not have to hide this. This is like people only making contracts or not. These are the same as you may contract for work, for where things go wrong, for part for or for founders the same. You have to analyze when things go wrong. How is going to have both and then it will happen. Then you have to be ready for that.
So you pretty much advise to do something. Team building activity maybe where people are put in the highest amounts of stress before you start the company.
That could be one choice. Another typical two professionals that they put on the table. When you’re under stress, what’s gonna happen? And don’t lie to yourself. Means are you willing to receive. Always. Always. There are things in life that you will not like. But if you know it and you don’t like yourself and you accept it when it comes, you have to tell. OK, I know that I accept it is not that they like it, but they have to accept it. Then I think the worst thing is feel that is when to be honeymoon. Every every time is going to be nice. We’re going to be in love. That’s not life. Then I think startups has to make first this first commitment. This is my weakness. I will try to solve it. This my weakness. I will try to solve it. But just engage you have to be patient on that side. Okay.
So, okay, back to you. You finish your three year stand. What happened? Did you finish it or did Asics recruit you?
I was approach. It took me a while to make that change. Because it was not active looking then.
What do you mean you were approached like somebody on LinkedIn messages, you or…
A headhunter approached me and then, uh, um, for me was starting again from a scrap northwest scrap because it was a bigger company. But starting to creating was okay is like creating a new startup. But, uh. Okay. That that’s a little bit my role sometimes.
So weren’t you. I see this a lot and I have to be honest. For me it’s also a little bit harder because I’ve started my company six years ago now and then became the scale up. And then we started this event and it became really big, really fast as well. But after a while, it kind of gets tiring. Then after a while, you’ve had, you know, the family business and it is. Weren’t you tired of doing it again or how? What was your thought process?
I think he’s not tired. The word is that you learn and you know what you want to do and what you want you don’t want to do. I think there is in any job in the life, there’s good things and bad things. That’s not the perfect thing. But there are things that for you unbury as you know it and you try to avoid it. I think that’s what will give experience. I think one of the problem of the society nowadays is that all young guys has so much knowledge, even more, than older people. The only difference is experience. Experiences is like a machine learning. You have a lot of data or not that the older people has more sets of data. and algorithm has evolved a little bit. But knowledge wise is not the issue. But data experience gave you knowledge what you have to do and you don’t have to do.
So you are more eager to use that new acquired knowledge to implement into Asics?
Yes. And I think the key thing on this kind of things is your mentality. And my mentality is always is if I like the project, I put all my skin on the game and and I do it. But that’s for me. It’s important to choose the right.
Right. Oh, is it about Asics that attracted you?
I think Asics funny things and personal things is when I was really young, I have a T-shirt from Asics, but when I was in, in, in, in Spain people was calling all O-asics instead of Asics and I was thinking, oh these brands in Spain is not represented in the way that they deserve.Then I like this challenge, then I take the challenge and we were lot of years growing double digit and moving from the third rand to the third brand has been very interesting until I moved to the new position that even has been more amazing.
What were the steps you joined Asics because you weren’t yet. What were the positions or were you doing to get promoted or to get it from 18 to third?
I mean, basically is in Asics eight best four positions. The first was managing only Spain. After managing a Spain, I took Portugal. Portugal was a country that was losing money.
Was it Spain and Portugal or just
For Spain and Portugal? And then what we did is put in one year to make profit that that country.
So. But what’s your position then?
I was general manager of a Spain. Then I took general msanager for Spain and Portugal. And then, uh, after, uh, several years, then four years ago, I think also France as part of the business, it was a country who has interesting and different culture, a much more bigger subsidiary than Spain and Portugal. But for me was very interesting again to learn things, learn different ways to the things learn how you. When, uh, their organization is much, much bigger. How you can, uh, maximize the knowledge around the people. How you can make use
using the senior people in the way that you can to maximize that. And that’s not easy. But I think that the first thing is understand different cultures. And that’s not the basic assumption. It’s not the same working with Japanese, that working with French, that working with Portuguese or with the Spanish is very different. And I give you a personal example. When I arrive France, I was perceived to be a bit aggressive with their spend and not as perceived as aggressive. And the reason is because they are a culture that when you start meeting, you start making an informal five, 10 minute. How’s the day? How was work? And I was out of my home three days and I want to go very efficient. And I was perceived as aggressive. Then I started to realize these make meetings much more efficient because that five, 10 minutes make them connect. And then they were more more active to work. Then I think he’s not good or but he’s understanding what is the others. Understand how do people go and then tried to use all resources and what was all these games. Because what we are telling, how you make more efficient this. And I think the good thing on having three countries is that you have really good people in each country. How you can use the brain of the people on the other country on what and how you do it without losing the local knowledge. And I think that was the key thing.
How is it personally managing three countries? Because you start with Spain, which is already a pretty big task. And then you add Portugal. You just you pretty much say the challenge is I just added Portugal to that and then just added France for them. Your schedule must have been crazy.
I think the first thing is you need to have a good team without a team. That’s impossible, isn’t it? One person is one team and then that makes a difference. Second thing is this is like making a sport. You can run 5k, then 10k, half marathon and a marathon. The more you train, you can more save the first day you take that size. Maybe you can do it. But for me, team is the most important. And with a good team, you can do whatever it is in life. Second thing is training help you to to be more ready. And what you’re telling me is I do not agree with The thing I think, is a mentality thing easier if what is your role to do everything or your role is to lead people, to help people support people and to make a good distressingly to help them. Well. That’s the red. The change in the role of the leader. I mean, if you want to do everything like you were doing before. Check every ad, check every offer a check. That’s not possible. You have to trust new people. That’s why you have to have good people. And you have to make them direction. You have to help them. Then your role is different then. I think if I hear what you tell me, I can perceive that it’s a person that do not make their change on what is their role.
So what do you look for in your team? Personality wise or skills?
I think it’s silly. The first thing is I look that they’re good persons. Because there is one thing that goes bit of trust. If you don’t trust somebody you are protecting yourself, then you’re not speedy. Then I need to trust my team. That’s the most important because that gives you speed. And that led me a lot of free time. The second thing is the skills, of course. And on personality, both things are important because complementary of personality. There is people that is very detail oriented people that is visionary people that like repetitive task. You need all of these join. Of the knowledge that they have.
And then how do you keep those type of high profile people interested in working with you for a longer period? Because I can imagine for them, because this is now a trend that is happening every year or two. The new generation, my generation is trying to find the next thing, the next thing. So I noticed that job hopping is a common trend to experience the same. How do you keep the your people engaged? I you will see I always try to put in three because it’s my secret thing. But the three boxes, the first thing is you need to have an interesting job and what it means is no money or we follow a process that the first year we learn. Second year we think on third year we start to be boring. Then this cycle, I think it’s in life and you have to think how you’re going to give more motivation to these people. Second thing is the company itself. If it’s a company that they really appreciate people inside must be good excitement you make. It keeps also. I give you an example. In Asics, we have gym, we have psychology, we have yoga. We have thousand of small things that make their life more comfortable. But this is a double site first. They are blessing because they are less stressed. But they want to keep because they feel happy to come to work. When these you… When you do not have this far of let’s say normally if you analyze the hours that you have in your life, you are… More hours in the work that you hope. Because when you are in your home, you are sleeping. And rest of the hours. I had so many and you have the weekend. Then if that hours are really bad for you, that’s not good. Then having a job that is compelling. Having a place where you can feel comfortable, feel like home. And knowing that it’s not a charity that is a company means that you have to be a company. And third is make challenging an ambition and direction. All of us. I was telling myself, I motivate myself because I have a clear target. I have a clear direction. People has to have an ambition to do something. And I think with these new young generation, if it’s no sense, if it’s a company that it’s only for money they will not do, it has to be a sense on the back. In our case, that is anima sana in corpore sano, very… We want society to be better for sport. That’s a good thing.
So then how do you. So now we’re obviously in Asics. So how do you implement that in Asics where you really I mean, that’s a bold statement. And if you look at the other companies that are the other big brands, I can’t imagine all of them are trying to do something similar. But for me, Asics , I remember my first memory of Asics is my uncle who was like a big brother to me, said if you’re buying running shoes, drop all the rest, you gotta get Asics . So that’s my earliest memory. No less than ten years old. So my mind is like Asics is always a good running shoes. But you’re saying like you’re implementing all of this for your employees. This new generation isn’t just about the running shoes. Are you doing charities or like? I can assume only the yoga isn’t enough for them to come. Everybody’s doing yoga. No
Reply. Yes. We’ll have some actions that we give shoes and we’ll have some shows in the UK that we’re doing. But I think what is important is that’s for me, that’s a personal opinion, not a company, a personal opinion. I hate when companies does things for marketing purpose. I think if you really do things because you’re really doing with good sense, it doesn’t matter if you do it in a charity, you do it internally, whatever. I give you an example. If you really want to be perceived as the best company in running, you have two ways to do it. One ways to make a big marketing. make me feel that you are the Coca-Cola because you have a brand here or really make a good product. I believe if you have really good proof that you believe even you do a bad marketing sometimes, you have more. more aligned with what I think. For all the rest is the same. If you do things you do not have to the things because it’s a marketing or a bluff, you have to believe it. And sometimes there are some companies that make clean washing and they do a lot of charities or lot of things. And after they would make things that are not legal, then I think you have to align everything and do things that are authentic and real, because with the society, everybody will find the reality.
Yeah, especially now with the whole PR disasters are happening every year
Is better not to the things that do the things to cover what you are doing wrong.But that that’s my personal opinion.
So let’s go deeper into then your ASIC experience. You started you started growing. What happened after friends joined?
We were growing and then Europe was making a changing. The former Italy want to organize and they were proposing me several positions. But I was very clear that they want this new position. I think Asics , as you said, has been amazing. Developing the best shoes in the market, no doubt. But the reality of the market is different. The reality is that even Google says that they have more good engineers outside Google, inside Google, because the wall is so big that you have to look outside. Then my vision was, I want to look outside. We’ll have a good department inside. That is the best use. But we’ll have to look outside of what is going to bring us consumer preference in the future for the sound mind. Somebody and I was lucky that we have a CEO that believe that and we create this department. So it’s basically what we are doing is one of the things that we’re doing is we’re collaborating with the startups. We didn’t know we finished just the second batch of taxation burden costing and then containing Japanese mean the tipping point. And we want to be the tipping point of the startups that they’re on and they want to have a growth face.
See, you started pretty much an acceleration program within Asics and you attract sports startups.
What weattrat is everything that is inside our name. Anima sana in corpore sano means everything that is inside the mind, we are not so focused on shoes or whatever, but we focused anything that it’s a sport and health and wellness.
And then they go through an acceleration program and then they can roll out internally through your employee.
Yes, basically what we make is three areas of working. One idea working is the stand the one of social. We work with our business for that. We have entrepreneurs in residence that used to be successful. Is that the founders that help all of us to do? Plus mentors plus on the business side. Second parties, we focus on the people side to our experience in growing business. We really focus on them, on the founders, how they have to evolve, understand the face and what they need to be prepared to scale. Hiring methods, blah, blah, blah, blah. They are not… We do not tell ours. We make them think what they need to do to make it happen. And the third, not least, is working with Asics and working with Asics could be using the knowledge of Asics, could be using the distribution of Asics , could be that Asics is a it is a customer of them. Could be that Asics sales their brother. Could be that depends.
So both question why would you do that if… Why not just create challenges where startups can just sign up and work with Asics or something. Or why not just have a venture fund that invests in startups. Why create an acceleration program.
OK, good question. And it’s not a perfect answer for this. But I will tell you, my, my, my, my logic behind first thing is as a corporation, you have to understand what you can help on what you can help. I will put three areas and then I will develop. Second thing is you have to make a collaboration with a corporation is extremely difficult. And third, is there so much data that they have a good product but they finance on the back or the business model is not ready and they can fail? If I mix all of this, what I mean is imagine for a corporation that they put you money. Okay, I can lose the money. That’s a problem. But I put my reputation, my image and your startup close, broken and in the middle of… That’s a problem. And the first thing is, as a corporation, we are highly interesting that the startup belongs as much years as we can. Not for buying the startup. But if we make a collaboration. If the startup is successful, we’re going to have a long term collaboration. Then that’s number one of the acceleration thinking. Second thing is, and making a project with a corporation is not easy. I always tell the same, but there are two. Theoretically to make successful a project with a startup, a corporation, you have to make two things. You have to reduce the speed of the startup. You have to increase the speed of the corporation. Because if you try corporation toward the speed of the startup or start with the speed of the corporation, these are going to be a disaster. Because start corporations by essence cannot go at the speed of other startups. If they go at the speed of the corporation, they will not be a startup anymore then doing this it’s a lot of psychology, a lot of… And you can do that during a session working within four months. You can make like the Google translator of the corporation and understand that. And you can speak both languages and you can tell this side and this side and try to connect. If you make a challenge, they can one day they see every one week and they speak different languages.
So the accelerator program is actually that’s thing where you slow down startups and speed up to the core. That’s one part. And the last but not least is you have to think on what you can help. In our case, what we saw is we can we don’t one or we try not to help too much on the problem. We want to start ups with product market fit that they have. But we have contacts, we have network, we have experience in the sector and we have reach. And then these in that challenge, you cannot do it normally when you make a challenge. It’s a very early stage thing. And if you want to do marketing, it’s incredible. Would you make a lot of noise. You make a lot of marketing, and that’s really good. But from until it happens, it does not match. In our case, what we thought is where we can help. Okay, you’re almost ready to scale. We can help you. That’s not the challenge that because a challenge normally is an early stage. Second thing is this process is very consuming, time consuming for both sides. Then let’s make it work. And third on the list is we want discolouration to last a lot of years. Then it will help you to have the right finance, will help you to have the right business model, will help you to be ready for growth with people. That’s welcome to the logic of this.
That’s why so many corporates are rolling on accelerator program.
That’s that’s assuming they assume. I don’t think they’d make these analogies, I think each one may go on as this is our analysis. This is my point of view. I don’t think so, because if you see taxation program a lot of companies, what it does is they hire to a third party and they use it as marketing. In our case, what we did is we do a team that has knowledge of both parts and then we hire people external that help us with the start the ball.
Then I saw a lot of programs. If you analyze, they are not so many successful on the wall. But the main reason is because as as I was saying very well in the beginning, you have to make the strategy that is good for you. And in our case, we saw, OK. It’s very difficult to make a collaboration. We don’t want to make it as marketing bluff, because if not, that’s very easy. You bring but that’s not the proposal.We really want to find the long term view.
So what is the most exciting startup there with, uh, that came through the program?
I think we have to understand how we did it. Is the logic on the on the acceleration program, because they are where…
Do you equity invest as well?
We have a small small business, but we’re really a startup friendly.
So. So you take a small equity do you also give money or no.
And we are able to make full up. But this is not the most important for them. And we have to be careful because sometimes we can be a barrier. But if we take the logic of a normalization, is what they need is to have a lot of startups, because by this, this takes five will die. La, la, la, la. We try not to be in that statistic. And now our ideas, which is five to six per batch until now we make five. But we have a limit of six. And we really customize it. And we put a lot of effort. But it’s like hiring. Yeah. We make the same concept is the business of hiring is really, really demanding. We check the people side. We check the business side. We check the product, Croatian side. And we take the ones that for us as more probabilities to succeed. Sometimes you have the fascination. We have really no motive. But it’s more difficult to make a project. Sometimes it’s more up to market. You don’t see it’s so innovative because they’re in the growth estates and AirBandB, be 10 years old, does not exist in the mind of the people here. And now it’s common. Then… But you can’t help more an AirBandB than that 10 years ago. Then what is important is to understand corporations. They have to understand why they want it. It’s a marketing would proposed. Composition for young people that are innovative. That’s good. But if you really want to innovate, you have to think which tools you have and how you use it to make it happen.
Okay, see that now we are getting into the story. So that’s your current position, right. And you do that in all the regions that you mentioned in the beginning?
Yes, we have the office here in Barcelona. Now is the second year. And we are like in a startup means that we can be here or tomorrow we can stop and do another thing and and change because that is the role that we decide. Startup is one of the things that we are doing. And second thing is we make to test for the corporation. The first test is we are testing business models that in a normal corporation you can test, for example, subscription and things like that because they are using we create external internal team and we put it estimates that in the program to test with work. That is one of the things that we were doing. And the last test that we did is even more different is normal in corporation we have divisions with a one small division. We take it from the normal business and we put it looks right there. That why we did that, because when you are as more division in a big corporation, nobody cares about you. But sometimes they do not have the flexi that. Then what we are trying to make that mentality of making things happen in things, then they are test and we know which way to work. We don’t know. We don’t know if we’re going to live for a lot of time or we are a startup and maybe tomorrow with a group in the boardroom or maybe tomorrow we decide to change of job. That’s life. And we’re on the roll and we accept it.
So we’re almost coming to the end. And then what is your biggest lesson out of all this?
I think you can learn from every side. I learn a lot from my startup and a lot of things that can be applied in corporations. And they learn a lot of things that from corporations that the startups can can leverage and take. But what I realize is main of the problems that people is not taking the time to analyze and is neglecting. They’re like no no. I cannot work as a corporation. No, no, I cannot work as a startup. I think willing, is willing to change is the first step to doing it. Then I think these two years with the Statham’s, I see that companies with one zero zero zero one percent of our resources are able to do things. And on the other side, they see that as a corporation, we can give a value that we have to rent it. Our brand is rented and we do not realize how much value it has. I have a brand value of working in Asics . I will have another brand value out of Asics. And that’s a reality whena startup collaborate with a brand. They really can. It’s more important than the money that the project be able to use that credibility. That’s the most important thing that could have a startup from a corporation.
I agree. And I think that’s actually a really good closing statement to give. Any last words towards founders or startups in the factory?
I think they they they. I’ve been now two years dealing with them. I admire the energy they have. I admire what they do. I think they have to take if from what they learn. Three big things. The first thing is keep pushing. It was one guy that was telling how many times you have to try one thing to make it happen. And he was telling until you achieve it. The second thing is, listen, a lot. Don’t think that you know everything and then make your own decision. That’s the third thing, is it will come a lot of people that will tell you that the clue, whatever, but they’re not doing their consultants for you. You have to decide. But first, listen. Then if you persist, you listen and then you make your own decisions. I think that will succeed.
Thank you. Thank you so much.
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