Thursday, June 30, 2005

And the winner is...

not us.

Nine of the senior and most tenured of staff at Product Partners joined me for the Los Angeles Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2005 Awards, for which Jon Congdon and I had been nominated in the Retail/Distribution category. (Jon was at the Electronic Retailing Association conference in Europe, and thus unable to attend.)

This was a black tie dinner in the same room where they shoot the Golden Globes. I had to go backstage early to rehearse the intricate staging for our on-stage introductions. (I kid you... we had to walk on stage when our name was called, then line up, single file.) It was fascinating and impressive to stand backstage and hear firsthand the success stories of the other entrepreneur finalists. I also got the impression that we were a long shot to win the award. Many of the finalists were there for their second or third nomination. But the process was interesting nonetheless. It was equally fascinating to see 16 executives (and our egos) try and figure out how to maintain the order of our procession to the stage. "Am I after you?" "No - you're after Fred" "Where's Fred?" "Wait - I think you're after Fred." "Who's Fred?" "There is no Fred."

The MC of the event was Christine Devine, a primetime news anchor from Fox-11 in LA. She was impressively personable for a prominent journalist in the #2 media market in the country. And her comic interludes about finding husband material among the finalists was genuinely funny. I especially appreciated how she acknowledged some of the civic contributions of winner Steven W. Streit. She brought a celebration of business innovation and success back around to the human story, and it was a refreshing contribution.

[My interview on screen with Amber Otto from customer service (left) and Heather Hanson from operations in the foreground]

As they set-up each category, they played a video interview and overview of each of the finalists. Surprisingly, Jon and I were the only entrepreneurs with our own bare chested before and after photos featured across the twenty foot TV's. And there was an unmistakable murmur in the room when Beachbody customer before and afters were shown: "There's no way those are all real". It never fails. But when it came time to announce the winner in the Retail/Distribution category, a twenty-six year old shrink wrap/logistics company got the prize.

My flash of disappointment quickly gave way to relief. It was indeed a great honor to be nominated by an acquaintance of Jon's who took notice of what we were doing, and I am very proud to have become a finalist. But as I watched the various winners go on stage to take the spotlight and give their acceptance speeches, I realized I don't like when the spotlight gets focused on me or Jon rather than on the customers or the staff at large. I much preferred sitting around that table with my team, brainstorming how we are going to approach a logistical challenge and a new production opportunity. Solving "the riddle of the day", that's what I enjoy, and this kind of stuff feels like a distraction to me. While I must admit it can have a very positive impact on creating new opportunities, it's just never been my thing to glorify ourselves. I much prefer doing the work than I do reflecting on how we did it. My "award" comes when customers tell us how well the product works and in seeing the dramatic growth and profitability of the business. And when a new concept like the "100lb Club" gets launched and in a matter of days gets over 14,000 hits, I get my real sense of accomplishment and pride in what we have built.

I suppose I might be singing a different tune if we had won. But for now, our focus is tuned on the real prize, and our resolve sharpened. It's back to the ongoing challenge of the job itself!


Mary Cecy said...

Carl, you and Jon are WINNERS. Everyone that works for you also. Yes I know it is not a perfect world and we all want to be winners but in the eyes of your customers, YOU ARE!! So if you want I can send you my YOU ARE A STAR award and you can share it around the office (hint hint). So even though it was a great ride, there is always next year, right?

XO Thanks for all you guys do!

AlfaSunshine said...

Hi Carl: I don't focus on you much as I do my workouts and get support in the community of other customers that you have created. It's late at night. I hadn't planned on being up this late actually, but now I'm a little upset because I was banned from chat because of a fitness celebrity/customer of yours. I consider it an honor and a privilege to have the chatroom here on beachbody to support others and be supported by them. I want to apologize if my behavior has been inappropriate in any manner. I consider myself a reasonable person. I would really appreciate it if you would look into the incident this evening. See if I was wrong. I'd really like to know. I would like an apology from whoever banned me or some reasonable explanation why I should be apologizing to someone. Again, I very much appreciate the incredible community of support and profit in building your company that you have created. I consider you a great entrepeneur. The service that your company provides is lifesaving and incredibly wonderful. That is why I must ask for your attention to the way I have been handled this evening. Thank you for your consideration.

Carl Daikeler said...

That kind of stuff runs pretty much without my intervention. I would suggest sending an email to or to follow up. Things are pretty liberal, but the overall tone is always about mutual respect, family friendly, with sensitivity to the pain that people can feel around body issues. Anyway, give Erick or Jason an email and they will look into it for you.