Your Unfair Advantage in the David & Goliath World of Retail

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November 29, 2023

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Podcast Chapters

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Unfair Advantage for Small Businesses


Marketing Myopia


Advisory Boards in Business


Learning From Leaders and Making Decisions


Retailer Trust Building and Quick Wins


Podcast for Small Retailers

Click the links below to access podcast episode information.

Mike Maddock Founder of Flourish Advisory Boards Profile Photo

Featuring Guest: Mike Maddock

CEO, Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Consultant

It’s time to unleash your unfair advantage.

Could a smaller size be an advantage?

Are you a small-scale natural product retailer caught in the web of colossal competitors like Amazon and big box stores? Fret not! Our engaging chat with seasoned entrepreneur, Mike Maddock, unveils how you can transform your business size into your secret weapon. Today, we expose the power of intimate customer relationships and swift adaptability. These small business superpowers give you an unfair advantage over industry behemoths.

Ever heard of marketing myopia?

Here, we illuminate how this self-limiting approach can lead to missed opportunities. Plus you can bypass myopia by recognizing your unique skills. The tale of a friend who redefined his business during the pandemic serves as an example of leveraging your expertise. Next, we venture into the importance of a well-rounded advisory board. Imagine having a group of advisors who offer diverse perspectives.

And what about natural product business advantages over the big box retailers?

Wait, there’s more! We delve into low-hanging fruit for the natural products industry. The significance of honesty and transparency. You’ll see how these elements can solidify trust with your customers. We share insights on how you can set yourself apart through white labeling and convenience. Plus, we discuss the need for fearless decision-making, learning from leaders, and maintaining industry vigilance.

Our unfair advantage finale?

A compelling call to action for industry improvement and a reminder to foster creativity and freedom in your workspace. Whether you’re a David pitted against Goliath, this episode holds the key to your victorious slingshot. Don’t miss out!


Grab the Venn Diagram to help you find your Unfair Advantage in the David & Goliath world of retail.

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Guest Bio

Mike Maddock is an entrepreneur, a keynote speaker, a best-selling author, and a CEO Coach. He is the founder of Flourish Advisory Boards; virtual CEO peer groups, McGuffin Creative Group and Innovation Consultancy Maddock Douglas. Mike co-chairs the Gathering of Titans Entrepreneurial Conclave at MIT and is past president of Entrepreneurs’ Organization Chicago and Young Presidents’ Organization Chicago Chapter. Mike has been using words and pictures to create smiles and build ideas his entire life. He is the author of four bestselling books: Brand New, Free the Idea Monkey, Flirting With the Uninterested and finally, Plan D––his latest book about business Disruptors.

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Full Show Transcript

Mike MaddockGuest00:00

And what happens is that when you run a big company, you’re good at making small moves and you’re not as responsive as you should be. And so these little, tiny companies are what keep the big CEOs up at night. They’re afraid that they’re missing something and that they’re not going to be able to move as quickly as possible to get in front of it.

Tina SmithCo-host00:24

Welcome to the Natural Products Marketer podcast. I’m Tina.

Amanda BallardCo-host00:28

And I’m Amanda. We’re here to make marketing easier for natural products businesses, so you can reach more people and change more lives.

Tina SmithCo-host00:39

Mike Maddock welcome to the Natural Products Marketer podcast.

Mike MaddockGuest00:44

Thank you, tina, thank you, amanda. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Tina SmithCo-host00:47

We’re really excited to talk to you today because we wanted to dive into some critical problems that the natural products retailers are facing these days. Including going up against big box stores and online entities like Amazon, and we thought you might have a lot to say about that.

Mike MaddockGuest01:05

Yeah, so for the last few decades I’ve been in the middle of David and Goliath conversations. What’s interesting is it’s usually Goliath that’s afraid of David.

Amanda BallardCo-host01:16

Interesting. Explain that more.

Mike MaddockGuest01:19

One of my favorite phrases in an napster moment, and a napster moment is when someone with no business being in your business comes along and puts you out of business, just like a 16-year-old named Sean Parker did to the record industry. And what happens is that when you run a big company, you’re good at making small moves and you’re not as responsive as you should be. And so these little tiny companies are what keep the big CEOs up at night. They’re afraid that they’re missing something and that they’re not going to be able to move as quickly as possible to get in front of it. So usually I’m working for Goliath that’s afraid of David, and I like it because I’m an entrepreneur. I consider myself David, always taking on Goliath.

Tina SmithCo-host02:05

Yeah, so what do you find are the easiest tactics or ways that David can take on Goliath?

Mike MaddockGuest02:14

The unfair competitive advantage that a small entrepreneur has against a big company is, first and foremost, they’re closer to the customer. So they hear every day, every moment, what the customer wants. They’re not encumbered by these big corporate decisions and shareholders that demand profits, so that they can listen and change and move more readily than big companies. So you hear the phrase voice of the customer and if you’re a big company, you hire a research company and you do all kinds of qualitative and quantitative research and you focus in on one problem to solve and a year later you’re ready to solve it. Meanwhile, these little retailers or smaller companies have solved it 28 times already and they’re optimizing that solution. So they’re so far ahead of the big box retailers, which is why, if you look at these big companies, they’re constantly buying small companies because they’ve solved the problem that they haven’t even gotten to yet.

Tina SmithCo-host03:18

Amanda, does that give you any ideas for what some of our stores can do?

Amanda BallardCo-host03:22

Yeah, I mean it makes me sad almost to hear that, because I hear that I’m like, oh man, there’s so much hope. But also then you have basically what you said of oftentimes it’s Goliath that’s afraid of David, and it’s like I think that we have it all wrong, because I think there’s so many of these smaller companies that are like, oh yeah, amazon’s the bad guy, walmart’s the bad guy, and it’s like I don’t think that’s necessarily true, but how to get that in their heads of you have so much more mobility as a business when you’re at a smaller level than, like you were saying, it could take a year to possibly even make steps to solving a problem, yeah, so I think it gives me hope, but also it’s like wake up, yeah.

Mike MaddockGuest04:14

So being a retail expert does not make you a vitamin expert, a tool expert. I prefer to go to ACE hardware over Home Depot or Menards, or what do you all have down there? Is it Glows? Yeah, and the reason is because their tagline used to be ACE is the place with a helpful hardware man. Now it’s a PC version of that.


Ace is the place with the helpful hardware folks, and the reason is because they’re really good at hiring retired service people who know how to fix things. And so when you go to an ACE, you hear someone say can I help you with something? They actually can. You can go into the plumbing aisle and they know how to bleed a pipe, or you can go into the electrical aisle and they know which gauge of wire you need, et cetera, et cetera. And that is their unfair competitive advantage. They’re actually hiring people that are experts in what they’re selling, not in running a store. And so you see that again and again and again. Where, again, getting back to the voice of the customer, they know the language, they know the fears, they know the mistakes and they’re ready to help you.


And for me, time is the most valuable thing that I have. So I have to run back and forth to Home Depot 20 times, or I can go to ACE hardware once or twice. I’m going to choose ACE hardware, even though it’s more expensive. I don’t even think about that, because time is money. So what I see is A great retailers listen to their customer B. They hire professionals to work in their stores that are experts at what they’re selling, not at running a store, and that creates again a really amazing advantage for them because they can very quickly respond to the needs of the customer.

Amanda BallardCo-host06:09

Yeah, I think that’s interesting because I think where maybe some of our industry friends maybe struggle is they see this huge amount of American consumers that are taking natural products and they’re like the customer base just keeps growing and growing but they don’t know how to maybe get in front of those potential customers who are already shopping at these big box retailers. So then when they hear, oh, vitamin D is good for you or you should take a multivitamin, organic’s best. And then they go into their local target and they see, oh, this is an organic multivitamin, it must be good. I think that price is good. How do you get people to kind of pay attention to David when they only shop with Goliath?

Mike MaddockGuest07:05

So one of the mistakes that Goliath will make is they will benefit load. I love the story of Tevo. I don’t know if you all remember Tevo, but Tevo was the first DVR and Tevo became a verb. I’m going to Tevo it. They had a three-year head start on every other cable company, every other DVR, but the challenge was they weren’t using the voice of the customer.


The technologists started loading up the benefits so it can record, you can watch it when you want. No more blinking 12s, no more like all these different things, and people like me would go wait, what does Tevo do? And eventually I bought Tevo and I just loved Tevo and it became a raging fan. But they lost the battle because they, instead of figuring out the one thing that customers really wanted, the one benefit that mattered most no more blinking 12s, whatever that was it’s easy to identify if you’re listening to your customer they told you all the things it could do and they confused the market. I see that in vitamins, just by way of example. You know vitamin D. It helps you lose weight, it helps with hair loss, it helps you sleep better, it helps you like. What does this thing do? And I think that experts at the point of sale can say listen, this is the number one thing that you’re most interested in, and this doesn’t do it, this does, or this in combination, so that expertise using plain spoken language is where that advantage happens.


That’s not happening on Amazon. That’s not happening at Whole Foods. Well, maybe it is once in a while, but only if there’s someone in that aisle who can say oh yeah, I’m in this aisle for a reason you know. There’s all kinds of examples. I remember we worked with Essie Johnson many years ago on the pledge brand and customers are saying I just want stuff that works on multiple surfaces. And so we did this big brainstorm, yada, yada yada. We wound up naming a product multi surface pledge, because that’s what people want it, that’s what they were actually calling it, and so that connection is simple. As it is only happens if you’re listening to your customer, and you can only do that if you’re with your customer every day. So I mean I hope that helps. I hear a lot of benefit loading happening when it comes to things like vitamins and foods etc.

Tina SmithCo-host09:40

The big thing, though, that I’m hearing is listening is a skill, and then using the same language that your customers are using is a way to stand out online on billboards so that the customer sees the advantage that they’re looking for.

Mike MaddockGuest09:56

Right. So, tina, this is your expertise. You are a master at using plain spoken language and the questions that people are really asking quietly, not technical terms. These are the conversations people are actually having and that’s what they’re searching. That’s what they’re looking for, and when they search and they find you, the small retailer, they feel kindred. They’re like, oh, they get me and they’re local, they’re close at hand. I want to go talk to someone that can really help me.


Here’s the other thing. You know, health is a really intimate decision. It’s like money. You know these are things that you quietly want to whisper. You don’t just go telling everyone that. You know I’m worried, my hair is falling out, I’m losing weight and not sleeping, I’m like screaming at my partner because I’m so anxious. You, those are, those are personal conversations that you probably aren’t going to have with Amazon or pick a big box. You can have them with a friend and when you have that relationship, they’re going to come back to you again and again and again. And you know I, I also think you have to be really truthful, you know I mean there’s, there’s a. The slippery slope here is bullshit. You know it’s okay to say we don’t know, we’re not sure about this. Here’s the data we found. That’s way better than the treasure hunt that most people go on and, you know, confirm their biases, et cetera.

Amanda BallardCo-host11:26

Yeah, and I love that. And I think again, most of the retailers I know they they definitely lean into that transparency, or at least I hope they do. They say they do, so I hope they actually do it in practice. But I know, like multiple retailers, I’ve worked out where it’s like we had a computer on the sales floor where we could pull up let’s look at the clinical trials on this product and see, like, if you don’t take my word for it, here we go Like you know, walk over together, read through those studies, or oh, I’m not really sure, can we double check and make sure that this you know vitamin isn’t going to interact with your medications? Like, do those things to build that trust? And and you know, another thing that I found especially kind of when there might be some like questionable business Ethic type things.


I know we had this years ago with some brands that were selling to selling on Amazon for what we could, like we couldn’t even pay that price wholesale and we’re like this just isn’t going to fly for us. We would take those products off the shelf and customers would come in and be like why can’t I buy that anymore? And it’s like, well, we had to make a hard decision about just our business partnership. But you know what we found? That here’s a product that’s as good, if not better, with a company that we actually trust, and so then it’s like you can have that connection and explain you know why you’re making the decisions you’re making, being the gatekeepers of what comes in and off of your shelves. I think that speaks volumes to customers.

Mike MaddockGuest13:07

You just made me think that’s something else. Amanda, I love that you’re using a computer, real time, and saying, yeah, I don’t know, let’s check it. It reminds me of a story years ago. We were, my wife and I were looking to adopt a child, and it was an open adoption. And in open adoption you have to go through a list of 300 questions about like health stuff that you would be willing to accept or not. And I want to call my cousin, john, who is a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, and I’m like John. I don’t know what any of this stuff means.


Can you help me understand what these Latin terms mean, to know whether I’m willing to adopt a baby? With this Latin term and I remember he kept going, I don’t know what that means. Hold on a second. He goes, mike.


What you need to understand is when doctors leave the room, it’s because they don’t know the answer. They’re going to a computer and they’re typing it in because they’re trying to figure out the right answer. We don’t know the answer. So if doctors can do that, when it comes to a baby you can certainly do it at point of sale, and that kind of honesty is really refreshing. You know, again, it’s no BS, I don’t know, but I’m concerned and I know how to find out. I was having a conversation with Tina getting ready for this call and I said I looked at WebMD. And she goes hold on a second. I’m going to send you a different link, because WebMD is fine, but this one’s better. She had done the work and wanted me to be informed when I was trying to make decisions about that and I was really grateful for it.


That’s a big deal, so I love that. And there’s also, you know, there’s this term called marketing myopia or, depending on where you live in the country, marketing myopia. Have you all heard of that?

Amanda BallardCo-host14:55

I’m not familiar.

Mike MaddockGuest14:56

No, Okay, so there’s a Harvard professor in the 60s, his name is Theodore Levitt, and he came up with Marketing Myopia. His thesis was that people get so good at being in a business that they forget the business that they’re in, and so he used tycoons at the turn of the century. You know railroad tycoons. They own every rail car, every track, every. You know trading cars. They everyone on their team thinks about you know this how to get cheaper steel, how to lay tracks quicker, how to be safer in a train, how to get fuel for trains, et cetera, et cetera. And they wake up one day and they and if you ask them what their business they’re in, they’ll say, well, we’re in the train business, which is incorrect. If, instead, they had thought, well, we’re in the transportation business, those same tycoons today would own every plane, every ship, every railroad, et cetera. But they got myopic about the business that they were in.


And so I think the most important question that entrepreneurs can ask themselves is what business are we really in here? Or, said differently, what business do we have the right to be in? And if you think you’re in the retail business, you are competing with Amazon. You are, and you don’t want that fight. Amazon is in the retail business. They are in the disrupting retail business. You don’t want to pick that fight. So the question is what business are you really in, or what business do you have the right to be in and when? You can answer that question based on your unique abilities and the questions you’re answering to your customers every day, you have the right to develop parallel tracks of business that Amazon never would want to or never could. Does that make sense?

Tina SmithCo-host16:46

Yeah, and I think that most of the retailers out there that will be listening to this will believe and understand that they are health and wellness partners, not just supplement providers or retailers or that sort of thing. And the thing I love about that is it’s all about building trust and transparency and relationship with the customer that comes in the door. And at the same time they start to fight these battles. Sometimes whenever they’ve been representing brands as this is a brand you can trust and Amanda kind of hit on this earlier but they’re sort of hanging their brand alongside the brand of a manufacturer because they believed in the process and in the manufacturer, in their transparency and their trustworthiness, and then sometimes that brand starts to no longer deliver on their promise and then the customer can get confused because the health and wellness partner said this is something that you can trust, but now it’s not anymore. So what do they do when that happens?

Mike MaddockGuest17:50

Yeah, so I think that if you’re in the retail business, you’re totally screwed because essentially, you’re putting stuff on the shelf and hoping that someone else’s brand carries the flag for you and as soon as they drop that flag, you’re done If you’re in, how did you describe it?

Tina SmithCo-host18:09

Health and wellness partners.

Mike MaddockGuest18:11



So let me tell you a story. That, because that means something to me, but I’m not sure it’s direct enough. What does health and wellness partner mean? I have a friend, his name is Rick Jameson, and Rick is a Canadian and he is the Breakpad King of North America. What does that mean? Well, he’s been manufacturing breakpads for every major manufacturer, and his dad did for four or five decades.


And I called him just after COVID started and I said Rick, how are you doing? And he’s like, oh yeah, this COVID thing, hey, it’s nuts, huh. And I said, yeah, what are you gonna? How’s business? He goes oh, it’s good, it’s good, you know. But you know what I think I’m gonna do. Have you heard of these ventilators? There’s a ventilator shortage. I think I’m gonna build ventilators. And I said well, rick, you’re the Breakpad King of North America, what right do you have to build ventilators? And he said well, you got that wrong. Like, see, I don’t know if you know it, but breakpads are a regulated product because they have asbestos in them, and I’m a CPA and what I do is I negotiate contracts in a regulated industry. My expertise, the business I’m actually in, is in the highly regulated contract business, and ventilators. Medical products are highly regulated. I know how to negotiate contracts like that, so I’m gonna go win some. I just happen to manufacture breakpads. I just happen to sell vitamins. I just happen to sell organic foods. I just happen I’m in the highly regulated product contract negotiation business.


That conversation, 45 days later, I called Rick back and said how is it going? He had won a $500 million PO, he’d signed $500 million, he’d never made a medical device in his life but he knew the business that he was in and that opened up the possibility for him to go. Yeah, I’m just gonna do ventilators. And he did it. I mean, he manufactured ventilators because he knew the business that he was in. So I guess what I would press your listeners to do and there’s a process for this and if anybody’s interested, send me a note and I will send you like a cool Venn diagram to think about it in a quick process. But it’s what are your unique skills? What do your customers want from you? Forget about the products for a second. Think about what they’re asking you to do and what your staff can uniquely offer them. And that’s where the parallel businesses are.


One last thing we did a prediction market study just after the pandemic started, to figure out the future advice of advice or professional advisors. So it sounds like the people that listen to this podcast are professional advisors and a prediction market is like Wall Street or a Vegas gambling book. People put their own money in to make a prediction and they get paid more, like the robots, and algorithms pay them more money based on the data behind their prediction. How many people bet behind them, follow their prediction? Yada, yada, yada. We came up with 12 predictions.


The number one excuse me, the number two greatest prediction and it’s gonna happen in two to three years was that people will buy things. It was we called it the horizontal land grab that trusted advisors would be able to sell other products, other services, based on their unique place in the market. So insurers will be able to sell trusts, realtors will be able to sell landscaping and home repair, because why? Why trust my realtor to know who all those people are? So, based on the relationship and the knowledge you bring to the relationships you have. So again, I will say, the most important question that your listeners can be asking themselves is either what business are am I in or what business do I have the right to be in Once you figure that out. It won’t matter whether you’re selling brand A or brand B, because you will be the trusted advisor that can do all kinds of things with your customer.

Tina SmithCo-host22:35

Yeah, just as a note. We won’t wait for people to ask for the Venn diagram. We’ll get it up in the notes for the podcast.

Amanda BallardCo-host22:43

No, I love that Cause. I mean we talk about this all the time how you know if you are the health and wellness authority in your community people are coming to see you for you, not because of the products that you sell Like that’s just icing on the cake. And so it’s like, if you don’t feel like you have that authority, if you’ve, maybe you did have that, you know, 20 years ago when you started your business, but you’ve kind of lost, your kind of lost that wow factor that maybe you had back in the day. You know, maybe that’s not true anymore. So I think asking those hard questions I think is really important to do.

Tina SmithCo-host23:27

And one of the things that we were talking about yesterday, Amanda, you and I were it’s the online commerce piece and the fulfillment of customer expectations, because Amazon has really sort of set the table for what that expectation and delivery needs to look like and if you’re a smaller retailer, it’s difficult to get online and to fulfill in that same way and to meet all of those online expectations.

Mike MaddockGuest23:54

So I wonder how many of your retailers have considered going online or white labeling product themselves? You know, if it’s all about convenience, there’s no reason why your retailers can’t say, well, no problem, we can send it online with this other brand, but we can only get these brands directly to the store because they’re special. I mean you can differentiate. Here’s a dirty little secret. I have plenty of friends and clients that are selling B2B, but they went B2C white label version. No one needed to know, and their strategy for competing with Amazon was to be a smaller version of Amazon, and they did it secretly because they didn’t want to tick off their B2B partners. So you can be aggressive with that, and it does occur to me that I’m here going. You know, what business do you have the right to be in? You know it’s like I don’t know.


One of the challenges that I’ve faced over the years is I’m an entrepreneur, so I’m good at starting and really lousy at finishing. You know I’m your starter but not your finisher, and I noticed that companies that are really good at pivoting when things you know are, you know they’re being punched in the face by the future are equally as bad at finding a formula that works and sticking with it. So in my own experience, whenever everything was going really well, I just wanted to start a new thing and I should have been focused on no wait a minute, something’s working here. I should scale this and it’s an issue. And so having an advisory board that is balanced, like I wrote a book called Free the Idea Monkey it’s back there and it was about Roy Disney and Walt Disney like the operator and the visionary, the idea monkey and the ringleader and the paradox the partnership paradox is that if you get along really well with your partner, it’s probably the wrong partner. Because you want a partner that thinks differently under pressure. You want a partner that when you know I’m ready to put on the jazz hands and come up with the next big idea, the partner’s going no, we need to focus on what got us here.


You know, and to extend that, the greatest companies that I know have an advisory board or a board of directors and there are six characters around it. There’s the visionary, the idea monkey, there’s a strategist like Tina. Tina’s a strategist. There’s a rainmaker, there’s a visionary, there’s a tech futurist and there’s an orchestrator and, under pressure, each one of those people see a different type of opportunity. So, for example, if you own a retail store and you’re no longer profitable, the operator will say let’s cut costs, let’s look at the P&L and what will be profitable the next month. The strategist will say well, maybe we’re measuring the wrong thing. What are our goals here? The rainmaker will say we need more business.


The visionary will say we need to acquire or start something new or come up with some kind of term like marketing myopia. Maybe we’re in the wrong business. The tech futurist will say we should go online, we need a tech stack. And the orchestrator will say something like we have the wrong people. We’re just not getting along. We’re afraid to challenge each other, and the question is who’s right? And the answer is that they’re all right at different points in time. But unless you have each one of those characters who can look at a problem through a different lens, you’re going to be a hammer looking for a nail and said differently my buddy Marshall Goldsmith, what got you here won’t get you there. And so if you were great at starting a story and everything was going really well until it wasn’t, it’s probably because you’re out of bounds. You don’t have the executive team or the board of advisors that can say you keep trying to solve the same problem over and over again. It might be you’re working on the wrong problem, and so I’m a big believer in boards of advisors.


I started a company called Flourish Advisory Boards. It is turnkey just for this, and I love being in the room where someone that’s been trying to solve a problem just like this one over and over again all of a sudden shifts and go wait a minute. I’m thinking about this the wrong way, and that’s how you get unstuck. That’s how you scale, because I know how maddening it is to be in a situation and just nothing you’re doing is working anymore and people are depending on you To figure it out. It’s lonely. It’s a lonely spot to be in.

Tina SmithCo-host28:40

So when you say this is turnkey, you mean that you have a board of advisors that are ready to help people make decisions.

Mike MaddockGuest28:49

Yeah, I interview Entrepreneurs, ceos, P&L owners to figure out which seat which of those six seats they run to when their hair is on fire. We’re having their best day of their life. It’s the same seat. And then I’ll put together virtual groups that meet once a month that Bring their toughest personal and business challenges and they talk about them and they get to see how that problem is viewed through five different lenses. It’s really remarkable, actually, how Well, first, how good it feels to hear that many people have had the same issues and, second, to hear that maybe there’s a different way to look at it that is, that will create a breakthrough in your life or company.

Amanda BallardCo-host29:31

Yeah that’s that sounds awesome. I know this was one of the first things that Tina kind of helped me with Years ago when we started working together is like, well, what does your business do? And it’s like we do 50 things. It’s like no, like pick, like no more than three, like what do you really do? And it’s like get out of your head and think through like and what a customer see you do.


It’s like it’s so easy to get wrapped up in All of the things that you do and just be like, but how do you communicate it in one second? So, yeah, I think that that would be an incredibly helpful tool for these business owners to, just Because so many of the, the retailers that we work with, are like they’re just mom and pop, like you know it’s, it’s the, you know the, the founder of the company, and you know maybe they’re their child, or you know it’s a husband and wife team or whatever, and they’ve just been doing this for so long and it’s so easy to just get very just you, you lose sight of what’s going on outside of your four walls.

Mike MaddockGuest30:41

Yes, and building on that, amanda, the tendency is to be embarrassed and to hide. You know it’s, it’s Well, I can’t figure this out and I don’t want to talk about it because I can’t figure it out and that’s the wrong strategy. You know, I’ve been involved in these groups for 25 years. I’ve been in one of these groups for 23 and then another one for 15, and I’ll tell you what it is. It sustained me through some very, very difficult times because you know, you know not to get too soft or squishy, but when someone really understands you and like the good, the bad and the ugly, and still Mots to support you and loves you for it, it’s, it’s so, it just it’s such a lift, you know it’s.


There’s so much weight that comes off your shoulders and I think business owners all that share that in common. They, they, carry a giant burden. I had a friend, dave Kaplan God rest his soul who used to say the crown is heavy. I mean, who do you talk to about? I might need to let someone go, or this person that I’m working with is not working out, or Because you know everyone sees you as this, oh, that must be really hard. Business owner who doesn’t have a boss that can make their own hours and pays themselves Whatever they want. Well, it okay. It is hard because people are people and there aren’t a lot of people you can talk to about those types of issues. So it’s, it’s um, it’s wonderful if you can find a group like that.

Tina SmithCo-host32:18

Yeah, and what stands out to me is that I know organizations like sin pa and others are a great place for community among similar business owners, and yet there’s so much richness and depth outside of the natural products industry. So if you can find an advisory board that is not just in your industry or not just Retailers, then it’s. It helps you get a deeper perspective.

Mike MaddockGuest32:47

Yeah, and I thank you for reminding me I. My favorite saying is you can’t read the label when you’re sitting inside the jar. What does that mean? It means the longer you’ve been in a relationship, a Industry, a company, the more of an expert you become. You know it works, you know how, what people want to buy, you know what you can sell, you know what you can afford, you know you’ve tried in the past. You know, you know, you know, you know. And the more you know, the harder it is for you to see possibility when it’s walking right in front of you, when your customers keep asking you for it, and so you know.


My one of my companies has done work with 25% of the the biggest brands in the world, and when they’re gonna start an innovation group. My first piece of advice is for the love of God, please do not hire someone from me, from within your industry, because they’re experts and the Napster moment Happens when someone with no business being in your business, not an expert comes along and puts you out of business because they see possibility that you can no longer see. That happens in industry groups. You know I love industry groups because you can take shortcuts but you’re not going to find disruption, you’re not gonna find the best ways to pivot looking at what everybody else is doing in your industry, regardless of the industry.

Tina SmithCo-host34:08

I think that’s great, and the other thing that it brought to mind for me, amanda We’ve been talking about this. There are a lot of those husband and wife owners, or Just people who have started the business but they brought their children up into the business, who are owners and operators now themselves, and or aspiring to be, or someone on the team who’s just a great operator. That might be the next generation, and this sounds like an awesome opportunity for them to learn from other business owners how to run a store. So maybe you’ve found what you act, what your business actually is, but on top of that, you still do have to run retail. Well, right? I?

Mike MaddockGuest34:52

I have Four flourish advisory members that were referred to. They’re operating presidents Not family members, but operating presidents that were referred to by CEOs in other advisory boards that I run who said I want this person who is now running a division for me or a new company that we just acquired To have ideas that aren’t my ideas. I want them to be able to go out into the wild and come back and see things differently. Then we see them here. I need this person, needs that. So, whether it’s a son, a partner, a P&L owner, whatever, having being able to go out and bring in new perspective is where all the action is. You know it doesn’t diminish industry knowledge, but I’m assuming most of your listeners already have that. You know, they already know they’re successful at Doing what they did yesterday a little bit better today, but when the earth is shifting under your feet, usually that’s not enough.

Tina SmithCo-host35:53

All right. Well, this is all great. Where can people find out how to join a flourish advisory board?

Mike MaddockGuest36:00

flourish advisory boards, comm, is how you find the information about that. And you know I’m happy to help anybody. If you send me a note and you have a question, if I can connect you To people or possibility, I’m happy to do it. It’s, I think it’s what I was born to do, so don’t hesitate to reach out. And and everything I’m talking about is contained in a book, a Forbes article, an ink article, a white paper. So there’s, I talk really fast because I’m from the Midwest, but I assure you there’s more information that I can send you if you’d like.

Tina SmithCo-host36:37

Every interview e gets asked a few questions at the end of our podcast. So I’m reading you want to do the honors?

Amanda BallardCo-host36:46

Okay, so first question Um so, who do you kind of pay attention to follow? What books do you read? So you can kind of just stay at the top of your game In business.

Mike MaddockGuest36:59

I should have a better answer for this my mentor, rick Voron. He’s the chairman of Stagan Integral Leadership. I went to him and said I was just complaining I won’t mention the name because it’s mean, but there was a famous CEO that had written a bunch of books and I saw him on TV with his new mistress and I was so mad I’m like, oh my gosh, he’s not even divorced yet. I was totally judging capital J judging. I said I just have trouble learning from people that I don’t like or respect. Rick said, mike, you need to learn how to judge the medicine, not the vessel.


I tend to pay attention to people that I really like and respect, like Patrick Lenzioni, I really like Pat but and Marshall Goldsmith I mentioned earlier. But then there are people that are disruptors, that have a dark side. Like I pay attention to Elon Musk because he is ridiculous in how he thinks about the world and what he does, even though honestly, I think he’s a little cray-cray sometimes, much of the time, and I will admit to you that I’m like a mile wide and an inch thick. I tend to like pop from one thought leader to another and, if I can, my rule is if I can take one nugget that makes me go huh. That’s enough for me, so that’s a. I’m not sure that’s a long answer, amanda, but there you go. Good one though.

Amanda BallardCo-host38:44

So what do you think and this is probably a loaded question or just not easy to answer but you have a single biggest decision that has led to your success in business.

Mike MaddockGuest38:56

I have paid more attention to my dreams than my fears. That’s my decision.

Tina SmithCo-host39:03

Shortest answer.

Amanda BallardCo-host39:04

Was not expecting that.

Tina SmithCo-host39:07

It was a good one, though it is good I like it.

Amanda BallardCo-host39:10

That could be like a slogan on a coffee mug or something.

Mike MaddockGuest39:13

Total t-shirt. You were due for a short answer. You’re welcome.

Tina SmithCo-host39:17

No, I like. I like that because we sort of started the podcast around some mindset pieces and this just brings it all back to hey, this paradigm shift of David shouldn’t be afraid of Goliath, Goliath should be afraid of you and they are and also, don’t pay attention to your fears, pay attention to your dreams. So it all leaves so nicely together. I feel like we just need to close right there, Like if the musicians will come to their entrance.

Amanda BallardCo-host39:53

Forget the rest of my questions. Okay, so, since you are not inside the natural products industry, do you have anything that you think that we should change about how we market in the natural products industry? As an outsider looking in, I mentioned it earlier.

Mike MaddockGuest40:16

I think that, like every industry, it