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“The pandemic was everybody’s chief digital officer accelerant.”– April Siler
This week on the Gooder Podcast I had the pleasure of talking with April Siler, the CEO at 8Greens. We discuss the history of 8Greens and how their product first entered into consumer’s visibility. We also learn about the trends that have come up in the supplements industry, accelerated due to the pandemic. Along the way, we learn the story of an experienced brand builder who incorporates the lessons that she learned as a professional athlete into the corporate world and running a business.
In this episode we learn:
- The legacy of 8Greens and the taste innovation of their first product.
- How the supplements industry has shifted and been impacted by the pandemic.
- How, as a supplement brand, 8Greens leveraged an alt-channel strategy on the front end of the beauty supplement trend to become a dominant player in this growing consumer category.
- About April’s emphasis on diversity, inclusion, and the importance of creating a collaborative culture.
- How marketing and creative experience in a CEO role produces a different organizational growth mindset than that of a traditional MBA approach.
- The advice she finds herself consistently giving Gen Z mentees.
About April Siler:
April Siler, the CEO of 8Greens, is a globally experienced brand builder specializing in driving health and wellness innovation. 8Greens, a digitally native brand, is experiencing triple digit growth by delivering exactly what consumers are seeking in this moment, an easy and convenient way to build immunity and boost overall health.
Prior to joining 8Greens April was the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Global Development for Califia Farms. During Califia’s most intensive 3-year growth period April spearheaded all USA marketing in addition to executing all operational aspects of the brand’s internationalization. April previously led marketing and sales at The Chia Co. From the brand’s creative inception through to development of a world first innovation – Chia Pod, where April partnered with world champion surfer Kelly Slater for brand communications.
April also led marketing initiatives for Australia’s largest food and beverage packaging manufacturer, Visy, a $6.7bn privately held company. At Visy, she developed packaging innovation for the top ten accounts — including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Fosters, Diageo — and developed the company’s consumer insights platform.
April has a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Marketing and Economics, from Monash University in Melbourne. April played professional basketball in Australia and Europe, rowed for Melbourne University Boat Club and has a passion for nutritious foods.
Guests Social Media Links:
At Califia Farms, we’re all about creating delicious, plant-powered foods with natural ingredients. Because we believe the world needs a healthier food system.
8Greens is an effervescent dietary supplement tablet, packed with enough superfoods to give your healthy diet a green boost.
The Chia Co are the largest producers of Chia seed in the world. Founder and CEO John Foss, discovered the benefits of Chia while researching natural solutions to modern diet related diseases such as obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol.
Amazon.com, Inc. is an American multinational technology company based in Seattle, Washington, which focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence.
A dot-com company, or simply a dot-com, is a company that does most of its business on the Internet, usually through a website on the World Wide Web that uses the popular top-level domain “.com”.
Nordstrom, Inc. is an American luxury department store chain. Founded in 1901 by John W. Nordstrom and Carl F. Wallin, it originated as a shoe store and evolved into a full-line retailer with departments for clothing, footwear, handbags, jewelry, accessories, cosmetics, and fragrances.
Bluemercury.com is a leading luxury beauty retailer offering the best cosmetics, skincare, makeup, perfume, hair, and bath and body.
Goop is a wellness and lifestyle brand and company founded by actress Gwyneth Paltrow. Launched in September 2008, Goop started out as a weekly e-mail newsletter providing new-age advice, such as “police your thoughts” and “eliminate white foods”, and the slogan “Nourish the Inner Aspect.”
Target Corporation is an American retail corporation. The eighth-largest retailer in the United States, it is a component of the S&P 500 Index. Its largest competitors, Walmart and Amazon.com, are the first and second-largest retailers, respectively.
Slack is a proprietary business communication platform developed by American software company Slack Technologies. Slack offers many IRC-style features, including persistent chat rooms organized by topic, private groups, and direct messaging
Bluestone Lane is an Australian cafe lifestyle in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, D.C., Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Toronto.
Rosé Water is a refreshing combination of pure, sparkling water blended with dry rosé wine, produced in the heart of Bordeaux, France. Based in Wilmington, North Carolina. Produced by Boutique Beverage Company, LLC.
SodaStream International Ltd. is an Israel-based manufacturing company best known as the maker of the consumer home carbonation product of the same name. The soda machine, like a soda syphon, carbonates water by adding carbon dioxide from a pressurized cylinder to create soda water to drink.
Diana Fryc: Well, hello, welcome to the Gooder Podcast, I am your host, Diana Fryc. As partner and CMO of Retail Voodoo, an award-winning branding agency, I have met and worked with some of the most amazing women in the natural’s industry food, beverage, wellness and fitness. As such, I decided to create the Gooder Podcast to interview these great people and subject matter experts and have them share their insights and expertize to help businesses all around the world become gooder. I’m very excited to introduce my guests today April Siler. Correct Siler?
April Siler: Yeah, that’s right.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, that’s right. Who is the CEO of 8Greens, a globally experienced food and beverage brand builder specializing in driving health and wellness and innovation? The 8Greens brand is experiencing triple digit growth by delivering an easy and convenient way to build immunity and boost overall health. Prior to joining 8Greens, April was the senior vice president of marketing and global development for Califia. Or it’s Califia, I get this mixed up, which one.
April Siler: Califia like California, Califia.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, Califia Farms spearheading all U.S. marketing in addition to executing all operational aspects of the global business startup. April previously led marketing strategy and sales at the Chia Company, where she provided creative direction for brand identity conceptualized in Design World First Innovation Chia Pod. April also played professional basketball in Australia and Europe Road for Melbourne University Boat Club and has a passion for nutritious foods. Welcome April. How’s New York today? How are you?
April Siler: New York is great. Spring has arrived in New York today. So, things are looking up and yes, spirits are definitely higher in New York with the weather change which we haven’t seen for a while.
Diana Fryc: Yes, and I’m curious at this point now we’re at that one-year mark of the pandemic, are people tiptoeing around? Are people out on the streets a bit more? Is there a sense of ease with things right now?
April Siler: Yeah, definitely. People are out and about more with the weather change and outdoor dining has been really popular. And I think there’s a lot of young people out and about in New York at the moment. I think they’ve either had Covid or working in industries where they’ve been able to access the vaccine. But yeah, we’re certainly seeing even today yoga studios are opening up and things are getting back to being a bit more active.
Diana Fryc: Wow, I can’t even believe it. Well, before we get into some of the good stuff, not that this part isn’t good, but why don’t you tell us a little bit about 8Greens? What is the brand about and why does it exist?
April Siler: 8Greens was founded by Lady Dawn Russell and the genesis for the brand came around. She was unwell in her 20s. She had cancer and actually discovered that the thing that had the biggest impact on her return to health was changing her diet and in particular the consumption of grains on a daily basis and really making a dedicated effort. And the 8Greens that became the brand with 8Greens that she found, she could really, when she was at her weakest point, could really feel the impact that it had on her ability to get through a day. So that was the inspiration for the brand and the product. And when she got to turn it into a company really was focused on okay, so there are other greens supplement products out there, but none of it taste fantastic.
So she really focused on taste innovation and the format being the effervescent tablet, which is our first product format, and able to get to that taste, great solution that also offers the hydration because it’s dropped into eight ounces of water. So yeah, that was the unique difference for 8Greens and I came into 8Greens just a year ago at the start of the pandemic and just saw great brand, great tasting product being the genuine innovation and then access to digitally 90 friend. So having the dotcom and having them Amazon Channel, they were a really great opportunity to accelerate growth.
Diana Fryc: Well, I want to explore this;
Mostly about entry and how the product first entered into kind of consumer visibility and then how you guys have leveraged it, especially now. So my not so secret within my own little community of people is my husband is a huge fan of 8Greens, and we originally found 8Greens at Nordstrom and at the time that was alternative channel for a supplement type of product and so that was the original strategy. Was that identified or was it kind of luck of the draw or was it a relationship and what’s really changed?
April Siler: I think Dawn was certainly ahead of the curve there and really thinking through beauty and wellness, not kind of how I would approach it from a category perspective, but really just from a consumer perspective and saying that in her life, the biggest impact that she saw in the benefits driven impact was people were asking her why was her skin so vibrant? And so she was actually really innovative in this very early stage beauty from the inside.
And back then it was 2015, 16 where we were just starting to see makeup coming down in priority and skin care coming up and I think all of that that saw it with shelf space, you saw it with the trends and how people were preferring less makeup and looking for more of and natural look and then Dawn was right at the start of that will be the next phase of skin first makeup, second is actually wellness on the inside first, then skin results and then makeup as a third after that. So yes, she was really alien and actually I believe she was either the first or one of the first few to really launch this whole new section, which is now beauty, wellness, or beauty supplements.
Diana Fryc: And that category is certainly changing. First of all, there’s a retail brand called Bluemercury that carries your product line. Now I see it in there. There’s a whole section for that now and then we also have some I don’t know if this came first or is following behind, but you’ve got Goop and you got push kind of the same thing where that beauty and wellness are no longer split apart. They’re absolutely in alignment. And is this just how the market is going? Is this where you see your consumer at this point?
April Siler: Yeah, definitely and I think it’s just going to continue to evolve with the consumer really thinking through their daily ritual of what they’re consuming, how that makes them feel, and then the effect that that has on their appearance as well. It’s just going to evolve. I see a future where you walk through retailers like Sephora today and you see that the store is pretty much now 50/50 makeup to skin care. It didn’t used to be that way. It was makeup. Skin is smaller and then beauty. So I think where five years ago with skin care was I think you’d be think in another five years we’ll see it a third, a third, a third, if not makeup being further reduced and wellness increased.
Diana Fryc: That’s very interesting. Well, so let’s switch a little bit here away from the product just a little bit. Last year was a big year for you in many ways. One of the first, of course, being the pandemic and then you became a CEO during the pandemic and I’m sure there were other elements, too. But I just kind of that one two punch big moves in your world. How’s it going? How did it go? Talk a little bit about that. Share with us what that journey was like?
April Siler: Yeah, look, I really felt fortunate at the start of the pandemic to be presented with an opportunity to really grow my career, look around and a lot of us are in the same boat, whether it’s through the beverage or supplements, where we’re just really fortunate to be in an industry that’s growing. So I just really was grateful for the opportunity and then just really leaned in to execute and just execute on the growth that was there;
Because we were exactly at the right time of people looking for anything they could get their hands on that was going to improve their general health. Do you remember when the pandemic first sort of broke and these early articles about don’t look to supplements and supplements, let’s not get carried away. And then the World Health Organization actually reduced and removed any of that messaging because as we got into the pandemic, we saw that people who had generally better health were actually faring better. And so they actually removed any advisory saying let’s not take supplements to actually recommending vitamin D.
So it was a huge shift in a really compacted short amount of time and we saw the results of that with all of us seeing the supplementation space, having increased sales and just trying to keep up with the consumer demand, which then there was a lot of supply chain issues and flow on effects to ingredients availability and just working through all of that. But I’ve just really embraced those challenges as how lucky we are to be facing them, and I think just that attitude with the team of these are good issues to be having. Let’s just keep working through it, has seen us as a young company, fared pretty well this year, and just tackle the challenges as they come in a very practical way and just try and make the most of the Grossman sales on opportunity.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, I suspect, I don’t know if this is true or not, but I want to say in the last year was the fastest that as a human population, at least in modern time, in modern memory, where we saw science changing most of the time for the government or an NGO to go take supplements, don’t take supplements, often years of recommendation. Here we were seeing changes one right after another and I wonder for you, in the supplement industry or in the wellness industry, was there a bit of whiplash, were you guys communicating with each other more than you usually would have just to kind of get your bearings straight? Or was it just treading water, trying not to go under because of the demand?
April Siler: Yeah, I think all of the above. I think that the pandemic, it was like everybody’s sort of like chief digital officer accelerant, right?
Diana Fryc: Yeah, right.
April Siler: And we just saw things such a dramatic shift in the right of people’s awareness and demand for products shifting and then that had before an effect of things that we thought would take us X amount of time to execute, just really bringing it back in and saying, well, we need to increase. How can we do this as fast as possible? We’ve done things in our business that would be unthinkable before, like all that pack let’s just switch the pack.
Let’s just go with something that is available and get it out there and make the sales. It’s not like I am from a marketing background, just hoping and change the brand’s appearance like that. But when you have that flexible attitude and how quickly you can make things happen to capture the opportunity. So, certainly we’ve also been facing such a terrible health crisis. I think that it’s definitely changed the business world forever and it’s certainly the things that we’ve achieved 8Greens and then me personally in my role have just been very eye opening to how if you rethink things, what you can achieve.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, I think that we’ve all, as marketers and brand owners, businesses have seen that the consumer is a little bit more flexible, at least at least they have been this last year. I know for myself there’s a few products that I ordered that were DTC and the form changed and the label changed a handful of times over the last year and there was a little tag that came along with it and said, ‘Global demand is creating a little bit of a mess here.
Please bear with us while we get our hands on our normal containers.’ And I was like, ‘The product still works the same. I’m fine.’ So, it’s a black container this time or black with a white cap or whatever. It was pretty funny…
April Siler: Yes, we had exactly that; a 10g for a short period of time. We switched to a 15g and we were doing the thing that people got to 15 packs instead of three ten packs and they were fine with it. I don’t think we’ve got one complaint. People got it. And I think that’s one of the benefits of now people being more tapped into supply chains and understanding how brands do their sourcing beyond just the olden days of going and buying in the supermarket, people really thinking through supply chains and so we’ve seen that understanding there and that’s allowed us to just have this super flexible mindset for sure.
Diana Fryc: Now, your role with 8Greens as a first time CEO and I want to kind of tap back into sports here, this might feel like a non sequitur, but you played competitively, basketball and when you think of this last year or and maybe it’s your entire career, do you feel like there are any lessons or skills that came with you from the court into this last year or into the corporate world that said differently, is it helping you? Do you feel like you have a different way of looking at opportunity and working?
April Siler: Yeah, absolutely and I think it’s changing too. I think I sort of had this professional career in basketball for a number of years and then when I started my business career and made that first transition, definitely the team focus and team and actually enjoying a team environment that comes from the sports background. All the analogies about how to win had to stay focused and disciplined. All of that in the early stages of my career were super important. And then it’s actually changing now that was sort of in my late 20s and in my 30s and now, I’m moving into that next phase of my career and taking on the CEO position, it’s all happening again.
I think that I saw in basketball that I got to the stage after playing competitively at a high level for ten years. Towards the end of my days in basketball, I became a lot smarter. I could read the play a lot, but things seemed to slow down. I felt like I looked back at myself in basketball team and I used to waste so much energy into the running around and just not being able to read the play. And I feel like now in my career, I’m getting to that point that I’ve got to in basketball where I could read the play better and things slow down.
And now I’m there in my career and I look back to myself 10 years ago and I feel sorry for myself back then and I feel in some ways, like very reflective and how I was in my late 20s and I think I did things. I did feel like everything was coming at me and I did have those times you all felt a bit too much. And now I definitely have that same feeling of really slowing down. I can read the play, but I know what’s going to happen. I can take shortcuts. I can circumvent things happening before they do. So, yeah, it definitely has helped me and continues to help me evolve how I reflect back on my sporting career to now my leadership position.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, there’s some of that when you look back on your 20s, I think of for me, I would better describe myself as a little bit more of a spaz, I don’t know how to explain it. I was constantly trying to prove myself and I’m in my now be 50 here this next year. And so 25 years ago, business was still run a little bit more untraditionally and the only women that I saw that were at least where I was working at the time that were making any headway into the C suite and the VP level, were the ones that had approached business more like a man did. Sports definitely helped.
But there was this kind of way that you had to be. And so I was trying on the hats. Does this style work? Does this style work? And while I was in constantly trying to prove to myself and everybody else that I was working with it, I brought value to the organization or the project. And sometimes I look back and I go, “Oh, that poor soul.” And then at the same time, the amount of learning that I got from that, nobody can tell you that learning. You kind of have to go through it.
April Siler: You have to go through it. And I totally hear what you’re saying about back 20 years ago in my career, I definitely saw that sign being around. We were still trying to navigate in a business world around traditional stereotypes of women. And back then it didn’t make sense to me. And I just didn’t have the language. I remember very, very early on in my career having a negotiation skills workshop and the instructors and my colleagues talking about how it’s great to have women in negotiations for their feminine qualities and how you can use it. I’m like, “What the hell are you talking about?” It’s great to have women in negotiations because we’re great negotiators.
And so, 20 years ago, the way that they were talking about women was make me uncomfortable. And I just didn’t have the language to be able to try and dismantle those stereotypes and actually call them out for what they are and look, to some extent, we’re still there. It’s improving, but we’re still we’re still dealing with it, that’s for sure.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, for sure. So when we kind of go back to this, how you got here, there’s a little bit of how you got here. You entered the CEO world from a marketing background. That’s a little bit different than what we traditionally see. We tend to see people coming from a finance or operational background or they come in with a traditional MBA master’s and their master’s in their business, their charts and graphs, people a little bit more marketing can be charts and graphs. But I think from your perspective, you come in from a little bit more of the creative and the strategic side. How do you feel that helps you in this role?
April Siler: Yeah, I think it has really helped me because as marketers, we’re obsessed with the consumer. Consumer feedback, consumer data and the rate in which business is changing now, we’ve been obsessed with the consumer back when we only had TV and print and we had to, like, find all these clever ways to understand them. And now we have all of the data at our fingertips. And so I just think that actually, when I look at the way that business has changed in the past, even five years in particular with Instagram and Facebook and what we’ve been able to achieve through these merging of paid and media and social media that is actually equipping marketers to become, in my opinion, some of the best people to drive business forward and drive strategy forward, because the rate of change that you can influence a business with when you’re in touch with these tools and in touch with that consumer feedback, it’s just so, so, so powerful.
And I think it’s not that long ago that we were depending on consumers, panels of one hundred thousand people scanning what they bought at home. And this is how we’re getting our insight to where we are today. So, yeah, I think that we’re going to see more and more particularly coming out of the pandemic where there’s this increased opportunity. I think that creative mindsets have actually been undervalued in the past cycle of business. And I think that coming out of the pandemic boards are going to really realize that there’s this opportunity even for businesses that are doing well to really reinvent themselves according to where the consumer is in this moment. So I think that having this marketing background was actually a great cadetship into my role as CEO. And I had a lot of people, sort of, oh you must be overwhelmed or there must be a lot to take on.
I was pretty well versed from kind of being at the table, at the same table as my operations colleagues and my finance colleagues and my sales colleagues. And I’m really working through problems that drove the business with that consumer lens, I think was a great training ground for it, to be honest.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, our firm does brand strategy, we often are told that we approach it quite differently because we go all the way down into the business, obviously, because from the operations standpoint, you can only push so far on margin and you can only push so far on productivity and then there’s no more movement. So where is your biggest opportunity for growth? It’s for reaching out and finding a new consumer or innovation, which is also very consumer centric. And what we typically find is sometimes we see that the operational people are a little bit handicapped because they’re not necessarily looking at the bigger picture the way that you’re articulating.
So it’s fun for me when we get to work with CEO or a C-suite that has a really great understanding of marketing in its global world and not just like design. Design is a very specific component within all of branding, and it’s a very specific talent to be able to translate strategy into something that communicates effectively with the consumer. It is a skill set for sure, but it is very small in here. So I love that you came from sort of here and then it’s just grown this way and that’s your foundational knowledge base, so to speak.
April Siler: Exactly, as a marketer, we know how to drive growth. Absolutely, we know how to drive growth and create growth opportunities with the consumer and then translate that into what our product offerings are. And I think that that’s the part that a lot of CEOs struggle with, to be honest, is how to create growth. So in this environment that I’ve kind of found my home in, which is wellness products with there’s just so much opportunity for growth. I think that if you’re not growth oriented and you see it, you see it with certain finance teams and certain operations expertize, they’re just not oriented towards taking the risks involved to create a growth environment.
So, yeah, it’s really important. And I think having that balanced approach of, I’ve over my career, pushed the needle too far beyond the line and taken too many risks and driven growth in a way that then becomes challenging to the sustained operations of the business. But you have to go through that pace to then understand how to deliver sustainable growth and grow at a rate that is always coming to the end of the quarter and making sure that you’re in balance and things are going to go wrong, but the things that go wrong, you get ahead of them so that you may have a bumpy month, but not a bumpy quarter and certainly not ruining your whole year. So yeah, I think that having that experience of being able to drive sustainable growth, I think is just key.
Diana Fryc: Agreed. Well, I want to step back into this leadership role we touched on and a little bit of, we’ve come a long way and there’s still some ways to go in regards to kind of the traditional roles of leadership within our industry. I feel like we were going in a good direction and then natural’s exploded. And we have this shift of people from conventional into natural’s and a lot of the old ways came into our industry along with it. And that is kind of a little bit more male leadership at the helm, so to speak. And we talked about this briefly when we were kind of planning this call.
And on the topic, we were kind of talking about some tools or some ways our best allies of men are using to help promote us women, people of color and underrepresented groups.
Can you talk to that a little bit? For those that want to be doing better and may not know where to start, do you have any tips?
April Siler: Yeah, absolutely. I think that I’ve just seen all too many times in my career, my colleagues preferring for one reason or another, whatever the intentions are, just preferring whether it’s the company of men or just kind of reducing the Decision-Making down to essentially a group of guys that all look the same. So I think the first thing to do would be to really focus on not excluding the women at any point in the business development. And I think that I’ve learnt so much from Gen Z, they have these terms exclusion and favoritism. We didn’t have these terms. We just accepted the boss had their favorites and the women didn’t get invited to certain meetings.
And we just kind of like put up with it. And I think learning this language from Gen Z, they do not put up with it for one minute. They’re calling you out, they’re calling everybody. And I think I’ve really learned from that. And I just ask our male colleagues and allies to really kind of pull this mindset in and also learn from Gen Z and not exclude women from the discussion. Don’t exclude us from the dinners. Don’t exclude us from the opportunities to travel together when that opens up and the opportunities to be involved in the chat before the meeting and the chat after the meeting. So just don’t exclude us. Bring us in, bring us into the table. And if we’re not there, pause and say, “Hang on, let’s go and get these other people around the table, because it’s going to be a much more robust and rich discussion if they’re here.”
Diana Fryc: Yeah, I agree with that and that’s the primary goal, of course, of this podcast and the secondary goal is diversity just in general. We can’t take care of consumers at large if there’s only one or two types of people in these major initiative conversations. I think that’s just a really great POV is, to our point of view, is to just always look around and go, “Do we all have the same point of view? Maybe we need to have somebody else come into this conversation.”
April Siler: Yeah, that’s just it. And I’m just seeing retail partners take great steps in this area, actually, and be a lot more of it with asking because it’s a whole improving the status quo. And it’s a whole of team effort. It’s retailers, it’s us as suppliers, it’s us as consumers. We all have to do better. And I’m actually saying retail customers being a lot more of it in how we as a brand owner are considering black guests, how we’re considering minorities in our product offerings, how we’re communicating. Are we being inclusive in our marketing and actually making sure that that’s part of our communications back to them and our ability to increase our business. And they’re being very deep prioritized brands that are not taking this seriously or thinking that kind of in the all lives matter type of ground.
Diana Fryc: Are you at liberty to disclose maybe one or two of these retailers that you think are just really doing an absolutely amazing job in this regard?
April Siler: Yeah, absolutely. Target. I think Target have been ahead of the curve for a while in terms of multicultural marketing, multilingual marketing. We look to them when I was at Califia and we looked at Target as really, they were definitely ahead in having a greater diverse offering across different regions in America, having bilingual advertising and making sure that black guests in Target were considered, whether it’s with greeting cards and representation of black families in greeting cards in these types of things.
So I really recognize that Target has been ahead for a number of years. And I think that that certainly accelerated over the past year. We’ve seen a greater call for diversity across the board.
Diana Fryc: Well, popping back to this generation Z, I too, are very excited about this cohort. Frankly, I think they’re going to keep us all on our toes. I know that you’re keen on mentoring this group. Is there any guidance that you find yourself giving consistently to this cohort? And is it different than any other cohort?
April Siler: It’s interesting you say that guidance. I always find myself giving guidance to more my peers in older age group about how to almost get out of their way. How to learn from them. Don’t teach them to be like us because we didn’t get it all right. I’m constantly giving advice, people are like, “Oh, this generation. They don’t understand. They don’t work hard enough. They want it all.” Well, actually, I was privy to an amazing conversation of people in their mid 20s about how they don’t ever want to be workaholics, how it’s not great for their mental health. And they were almost sort of like bragging to each other about how good their sleep is and their REMS. And this was kind of like I was listening to it like a Gen Z diet going on. And I just thought, how fantastic. This is amazing. And we can actually learn a lot from this generation.
There’s definitely that. And but I do think in terms of paying it forward, I had in my mid 20s, I had some great leadership opportunities and just being given more responsibilities. So I think that that’s something that I’m really passionate about, is when I see people in their mid 20s really trying to start to take initiative in the career, it doesn’t have to look a certain way. They don’t have to promise to be working till midnight and what have you. Are they finding ways to be smarter and getting their work done? Just really lighting up the responsibility on them. And they want to take on more and have more opportunities to learn.
And I think the other thing about Gen Z that’s so different from millennials is they love feedback. What I found is it doesn’t matter, and they want it immediately and frequently. Millennials, it was kind of like dance around the feedback a little bit and make sure that it was really positive all the time. Gen Z kind of miss the market. We’re going to need to do this again. And they’re totally fine with it and actually really hungry for that feedback. I was reading something that comes from being of the Internet age where everything you’re putting out there, if it’s getting likes, feedback, comments, they’ve been raised in this way to really be mindful. We were all told that the Internet was going to make us antisocial and not considerate of people. But I’m actually with the Gen Z now first entering the workforce. I’m seeing the complete opposite. I think that they’re more socially aware, more conscious of their colleagues than any generation before them. So, I love them.
Diana Fryc: I think another part that we see there is with technology they grew up in. They grew up in a world of imperfection and Rev’s, meaning, think of how much technologies would get launched. And then there’d be revision a month later, a week later, a day later, six months later, because we could do it better, faster. And the goal was not perfection, the goal was to iteration. And I think as I’m listening to you talk, I wonder if they’re accustomed to that.
They’re accustomed to you get to the finish line through a series of iterations. You don’t start at the start and end at the end. There’s one hundred million stops in between. And each of those are iterative goals.
April Siler: Yeah. And also just that constant kind of feedback and communication. You roll on slack and I love Slack and how much you can progress with that quick, quick, quick, instant feedback and we made that complete shift that we don’t do any internal communication on email and that’s been an absolutely game changer.
I’ve found that I can just help drive the business forward so much quicker because it’s these little tidbits of — and they kind of see emails as like faxes. It’s just lack of like letters or something. Email, they don’t even get it. And so by me adapting away from email using slack, there’s not a person on my team that I speak to several times a day on slack and it takes no time at all versus email was way too time consuming and just ate up too much time. So if you’re not using slack in your business, whatever similar system, really encourage CEOs and leadership to make that switch and use the tools that younger people are more comfortable with because you can just get so much more done.
Diana Fryc: Adaptability of a CEO, that’s very interesting, usually the organization adapts to the CEO, but I’m seeing you suggesting maybe slightly going the other way.
April Siler: Absolutely, I’ve just found it as a total game changer. Back at Califia, we tried we kind of did a half switch, we got Microsoft teams going and then some little fractions of the business we using. And then they told us, like, don’t use email internally, but then no one listened to that because they’re like, how can you touch that? We just never got there. And we still would have that problem of having 150 to 200 emails a day that you just can’t ever quite feel like you’re on top of and we suck. You just don’t get there. You get through it and you’re up to date. Even if I’ve got meeting cornflakes on, like, can see what’s happening in the Slack channel and keep up to date.
So I’m going to two meetings at once with Slack. So anyway, I promise this is not a paid ad for Slack, just sharing.
Diana Fryc: Oh for sure. I think email is so much more formalized. It’s almost like anything you need, sort of somewhat documented, formally documented versus Slack. I think especially during quarantine, allows you to kind of just it’s almost like a shout over the, hey, what do you think about this thing? Great.
It’s so informal. And you can do things in bite sizes. And email requires you to kind of, oh, I need to format my sentences and my spelling needs to be right. And there’s just some I think Headspaces there that slack allows you to shed all of that. That is some holdover from texting. I think slack is almost like texting.
April Siler: And look, we talk a lot about it’s an informal method of communication, but that it’s business. And for the young people, we really make sure you have the meetings about what’s appropriate to share work and what’s not. And we do all of that training just to make sure that it is a business tool and used appropriately as such. But business is changing. And, particularly now when we’re in people’s homes and we’re seeing their backgrounds and in and out, and I think that a more casual approach actually feels entirely appropriate at the moment. And I think that, as I said, it’s changed forever. I realized I had a bit of a preference for bums in seats and I definitely did. And I realized in the pandemic it was because I enjoyed the social side of it. It wasn’t about the team, it was about me.
I love having people around me. How you draw your energy, I never cry on time alone, ever. I don’t like it. It’s not because there’s something wrong with me. I just I love having people around me. So I realized I wasn’t really thinking about the team and what the team needs. I was thinking about myself. I’ve realized now with the pandemic that it’s just not necessarily, we didn’t really rethink the workspace since the advent of the Internet.
We didn’t really rethink it. We kind of did. And we talked about flexibility. And I’ve been fortunate that because I had global roles and was managing teams in the UK and US and Australia and a lot of travel, that my traveling forced me to stay in mobile, but then when it was kind of back in the office, I definitely have a preference back in the office and now I still lack it, but I don’t believe that it’s necessary.
Diana Fryc: Yeah. Love it, I love this kind of checking yourself as a as a leader. I think that more of that can be heard. And I think we’ll just kind of continue to maybe push back on some of those badges. Even I love walking around telling everybody how busy I am. It would be pretty great if I could get to the point in my life where I walked around and said, I worked 40 hours this week.
April Siler: Bragging about how much sleep I get. I think what a goal. But I do. I just think that it’s just going to increase this connectivity with your colleagues in an informal way. I think it’s great. And I think also to the benefit from and I think that people used to have this sort of like, I’ll wait till I get in the office to do it. And I used to say that when I was managing a pretty large team in Califia. And I think just because people how I would be sort of I’m going to London for three days, but just treat me as if I’m here, don’t fight till I get back sort of thing. And I think that people still had that tendency to sort of put things on hold until they’re back in the office. And so I think that that’s a positive that people don’t do that anymore.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, I totally agree. Well, our time is almost up. I’m really good with the words today. My goodness. And I love everything that we’ve talked about. I have a few questions that I always like to wrap up with. So these tend to be quick. The first one that I have for you is, is there anything interesting about your industry, whether it’s 8Greens or Califia or Chia Co, that you want to share something that’s kind of cocktail ish like the did you knows, anything fun you’d like to leave?
April Siler: Yes. I don’t know how fun it is, but my husband loves, he eats like he’s potty Chicks he’s like, tell them, tell them, tell them. So I tell people that in the UK, if you put red food color in something, you must write on the front of the pack that it may cause attention and behavioral problems in children. And so just think about that and seek out these products that have the Red 40 in them, because I just think that the awareness across the US of that is just going to need to continue.
Diana Fryc: Yes, agreed. Okay, check, I love that. What other women leaders or rising stars are out there that you would like to elevate or simply admire for the work that they‘re doing right now?
April Siler: Yeah, I am very, very fortunate to have met a lady called Denny Post. I’m serving on the board of Bluestone Lane Cafes and coffee business with her, and she’s just been a fantastic inspiration to me and a great reminder. It’s probably been a good sort of 17, 18 years since I’ve had a woman really kind of pay it forward, shout out my ideas and be really overt in her support for other women. So shout out to Danny Post. She’s definitely someone that I’m learning from and just see then into encouraging me to pay it forward to other women.
And then there’s another lady, Lauren Egan, who I worked with at The Chia Company, and she’s been over at Sonoma Brands for quite a few years now, worked on an incubation brand called Peckish. And Lauren is, I remember reading a Harvard Business Review article that kind of referenced how much outsized impact superstars have versus just kind of the rest of the team.
And it was kind of like, is it two times? Is it three times in this article referenced that really great performance can have a five times impact versus somebody else doing that. And that’s a Lauren. Lauren is a five times the amount of work that she can generate in the same hours a day is just huge. So I think Lauren’s definitely one to watch in the natural products industry and Peckish actually just went through an acquisition. So I’m keen to see where she ends up next.
Diana Fryc: Yes, I have my ear to the ground on them for a few months now. Now I have two degrees of separation away from that. So probably will be a little bit more visible for me. Tell me, what brands and trends do you have your eye on and why?
April Siler: So I’m all about beauty ingestible at the moment, so really closely watching that space. And I think that this kind of hydration and I think there’s been some brands that have traded in that area and done quite well. And I do think it’s a really enduring proposition. I think when you look at the packaging involved in the beverage industry and when we’re looking at this sort of way to have supplementation, flavor, we saw carbonated water explode out. We had a car and everything like that. But I think now when people start to consume, it’s a lot of packaging there and if I can just do it in another way, I love the SodaStream. I’m all about the SodaStream and doing my own sparkling. And so I just think this hydration space and supplementation through that hydration is a real category to watch at the moment.
Diana Fryc: Oh, there’s a Rose Water that’s just coming into the market place, I’m going to send you the link on that. Rose Water sparkling beverage that’s right smack square in that space. I’ll send it to you. How are you keeping yourself centered these days?
April Siler: Good question. So my family is definitely, I have a great husband. I’m very fortunate to have a great partner. And he and I truly 50, 50 in the household and with our son Malcolm. So, yes, I definitely keep me centered. And I also bought the Soul Cycle Bike for my house. I did. And I’m a bit more of the kind of conservative on the purse strings in our house and my husband’s like, let’s go for it, let’s buy a three. And I wish that I bought it at the start of the pandemic. Now I absolutely love it. I love it. So I definitely am a big fan of the soul cycle bike.
Diana Fryc: We bought a peloton tread, same.
April Siler: Yeah, very pleased with your investment.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, my leg’s not so much, but yes. I’m trading for my first marathon, so my legs are probably not happy with me because I’m pushing a bit harder than I have been for a long time.
April Siler: That’s huge. Marathon’s a big thing. I’ve never done one. After basketball, I had two knee reconstructions. So I think, I’m more of a bike and back in yoga this is running but big admiration for everyone who does some.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, well, my body’s built for plowing fields, so we’ll see how I do afterwards as a body builder in my 20s and my body took to that was running through…
April Siler: And I think that’s your natural the body type. And that’s amazing seeing how you go pounding the pavement instead.
I might be disabled afterwards and it’ll be all my own doing. Oh, my goodness. Hey, last question before we leave. If somebody wants to reach out to you, what’s the preferred way? Is LinkedIn the best way?
April Siler: Yes, I’m a big fan of LinkedIn these days, so yeah, definitely please reach out on LinkedIn. That’s great.
Diana Fryc: Excellent, April, thank you so, so very much for your time today, and I really appreciate all the things that you’re doing. Love the insights on how you approach leadership, particularly with Gen Z. This has been a new POV, point of view of anyone that I’ve spoken with.
So I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.
April Siler: Thank you Diana, I think it’s been fun.
Diana Fryc: This episode is sponsored by Retail Voodoo, a creative marketing firm specializing in growing, fixing and reinventing brands in the food, beverage, wellness and fitness industries. If your natural’s brand is in need of positioning, package design or marketing activation, we’re here to help. You can find more information at retail-voodoo.com. And so there you go. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Thank you so much for hanging out with us today. And if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to this channel and share with your network. Until next time, be well and do gooder.