162: Working like a Spartan
What comes to mind when you hear “Spartan?” Probably some version of the imagery found in 2006’s blockbuster, 300. Scenes of great battle, troops acting in perfect unison to overcome odds in a gritty, ticket-selling fashion. While the Spartan brand we’ll be discussing in this episode doesn’t boast life-threatening battles, it does feature some dramatic challenges, the kind that help to build teamwork. And given the importance of building and sustaining teamwork for the success of just about every organization, you’re going to want to hear how the CMO of Spartan, Carola Jain, pulls this all together.
On this episode of RTU, Jain discusses the importance of a great team—and not just a supportive CEO or an understanding CFO; Carola emphasizes the importance of the people you work with, the people in the company trenches, not the owners or executives. She discusses how commitment to a purpose can help motivate employees, and how they can boost the effectiveness of internal rollouts. Beyond that, Jain explores leadership, collaboration, purpose, highlighting the Spartan women, and adds in what might be a piping hot take in the business world: “don’t email.” Tune in for more!
Is there anything that drives the whole business? What are some crucial elements of your operation, marketing or otherwise?
I think nothing works without a great team. And oftentimes you forget: It’s the people that are not necessarily in the board-level conversations. And you really need to spend time and understand what makes him tick. Why do they believe in the company? They don’t own the company. They don’t necessarily own all the shares. So, how do you think about translating what makes me come to work every day to everybody in the team? And I recently devoted more time to these informal sessions where we explore that. I love working in a way where I can do a lot of interesting things—how do I bring that same opportunity to everybody on my team?
Can you share any big or surprising learnings you’ve encountered in your career thus far?
I think one of the biggest learnings, as well as something I’m continuing to learn about, are the fast lanes and slow lanes on projects. How do you create a fast lane where you can always tackle issues, and really drive forward? When is that the right move? I recently got advice from a mentor to always have these stand-up 10-minute meetings. There’s only one topic that can be discussed. And everybody goes away and does something that gets implemented immediately. Looking at those moments where speed and efficiency are priority, as opposed to moments where a slower deliberate approach may be crucial.