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Welcome to The Third Growth Option, a podcast for and by business owners and leaders. We share ideas and insights that help you in your growth journey. In our podcast guests, we look for heart, curiosity, and the desire to share growth lessons. No platitudes and cliches, but stories about growth or tools that helped grow a business or improve the industry or become a better leader, and how they came to embrace an insight. During three decades as a merchant and entrepreneur your host Benno Du ...
 
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show series
 
This episode is a tour de force with George Chanos, author of Millennial Samurai, a current futurist and former Attorney General of Nevada. George talks about his “secular bible for the 21st century”, values and talents needed to thrive in the current and coming decade, about AI, singularity, and what the potential of 10x-ing of global GDP means fo…
 
Vic Clesceri is a uniquely well-rounded business leader, and we talk about helping people and companies to grow, by aligning corporate strategy and workforce strategy, by synthesizing both while translating confusing terminology into simple concepts people can rally around. 3:15 - “Strategy is a set of choices about winning.” - quoting A.G. Laffley…
 
In this episode two brand owners/founders and their sales agency partner share notes how they help each other to grow - by taking an informal yet intentional approach to grow, listen, and learn from each other to become better and stronger. Lindsay DeMyer is president of Darrah & Co, a large manufacturers’ rep agency across the Southeast USA who ta…
 
Curious how a mid-sized B2B wholesale business - established decades before the internet - embraced digitalization and added a B2C channel? Sushil Arora, CEO of Danica and Now Designs, shares Danica’s growth story of going Digital First, in both customer-facing and operations-facing ways, with curiosity, step-by-sometimes-uncertain-step, but always…
 
Priya Klocek moved to Cincinnati from India as a 20-year-old, so she is no stranger to managing change. Now she works with leaders of businesses and organizations to help with change management and DEI issues – diversity, equity, and inclusion. She brings a refreshingly “real world” perspective to how we view and are viewed differently, and how to …
 
How do you compete with commodity product in Big Box retail and direct to consumer? Sure, the glib answer is about vision and marketing and connecting the dots. But really, how do you get to 8- and 9-figure revenues, within years, not decades? Dean van Zyl moved to Virginia, USA from Swaziland, Africa and founded National Adhesive, selling caulk an…
 
Sumeet Nath has grown his 3rd generation business into a leading group of factories with 6,000 employees. Each generation worked to keep the business relevant by updating product mix, customer mix, organization and indeed ownership. 3:52 – after Sumeet walked me through a short historic overview how the Indian region of Panipat became a trade cente…
 
Jason Hauer co-founded the Garage Group in Cincinnati, OH a dozen years ago – to teach executives in big companies to hustle, innovate, and grow like small start-ups. I founded (re)ALIGN to work with midsized companies to grow into new categories, new channels, or grow faster with a cross-functional go-to-market approach. That is to say, Jason and …
 
Edgar Blazona is the real deal: he grew and learned as a punk-ass kid designer and furniture rebel, went to college in corporate America, continued as a serial entrepreneur and founded several successful companies, including Benchmade Modern, the folks who make and sell Rebellious Luxury by the inch. We talked about Edgar’s journey, changes in 21st…
 
Four consumer executives shared their thoughts on how volatile consumer spending (from lockdowns to supply chain chaos, increased demand and now 9% inflation) that affected 2020/21 is shaping up to affect the second half of 2022 and going into 2023. Real insights from real-world leaders: Allison Barrows (VP at Ganz, a designer/distributor of gift, …
 
Atul Vir is a study in opposites: an innovator and a CPA, an entrepreneur from a military school and family, an immigrant who came to the USA and built a global business. I found Atul’s insights on innovation, product development, risk assessment, and building a business to be thought provoking. 2:27 – talking about Steve Jobs’ influence on innovat…
 
What if developing people and teams in high pressure situations came down to being in the trenches with them, and food? OK, also about strategy, constantly evaluating yourself more than others, investing in them so they invest in you, and about food? Adding a dose of reality to what’s been said and written about leadership, growth, people, and winn…
 
I learned a great deal in this episode from Brian Beck, a leading 23-year practitioner, expert, and operator in e-commerce: we talked about the why, what, and how of growing revenue streams through B2B e-commerce. Brian also wrote the book on the subject – Billion Dollar B2B Ecommerce – and our conversation touched on breaking down the complexity o…
 
Scott Rollman is a deep thinker who listens, a strategist who is passionate about getting it done. In this episode, Scott shared his insights on e-selling (the intersection of digital marketing and personal selling), how digital marketing can best support sales efforts, and we also compared notes – from different cultural perspectives of Scott’s mi…
 
It’s fun to learn from fellow travelers on the growth journey. Cliff Farrah and I share a passion (some might even say talent) for envisioning the right growth strategy and guiding the process from concept to successful execution. Cliff founded The Beacon Group in 2001, a growth advisory for Fortune 500 companies and their organic and inorganic gro…
 
This episode is about how to bring the right people into the room, and how to facilitate the process to make better decisions. I learned not only about solutions to fundamental “people problems” in our democracy on this episode, I learned how Dani is approaching getting help from “everyday experts”: he took the business community’s “focus group” co…
 
Understanding differences in people outside of our “tribe” – maybe outside of our comfort zone – can be, well, uncomfortable and difficult. Nicole Armstrong, founder/CEO of Queen City Certified shared her insights with me, how her team helps executives to guide them with DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) challenges, as the nation’s first data-…
 
Jay Messner has built several businesses and helps clients improve theirs. Here we talk about inflection points, causes of failures and reasons for getting stuck, what skills can be taught or developed, vs. having to be recruited, and how to jump through inflections points by creating “trust, clarity, and alignment.” 5:04 – “organizations need to h…
 
Many of you know Warren Shoulberg the journalist, writer, editor, consultant, and singular source of home furnishings industry insights via HFN, Forbes.com, and many others. Here, Warren shares his Magnificent Seven of Retail. Important for manufacturers, vendors, and buyers to hear his thoughts the Good, the Bad, or the Ugly of retail (we talk abo…
 
Growing 10x from the ground up, instead of by edict from the top down, requires a magic combination of strategy, flexibility, authenticity, finding rock stars (and letting them be chess players, not chess pieces), and in Doug Cofiell’s example also well-integrated acquisitions. 6:39 – “you hire for talent, not necessarily for the exact position… as…
 
Amazon controls nearly 50% of online sales in the USA, with that comes being loved or hated, and often the latter. Jason Boyce has been an Amazon Seller for 17 years, a Top 200 seller (of millions), he shares successes worth emulating, and how to avoid certain failures and “speed bumps” selling on Amazon. He’s the co-author of Amazon Jungle, where …
 
Marvin Dejean removes a bit of mystery around the crucial topic of “digital transformation”, also personal or just “transformation”. We talk about his TIP-squared framework (technology and trends, innovation and insights, people and platforms), how to approach transformation, and avoid pitfalls. 3:36 – “learn to dominate your fear… if you don’t tra…
 
Pop-up stores come in all types, and both retailers and manufacturers launch them for different reasons. Andy Bailen has deep experience and “spills the beans” with us in this episode. 2:21 – “All Things Retail (a weekly newsletter) came out of my interest in providing guidance and help and actionable content for retailers (of all sizes).” This con…
 
If a bear roars in the woods and nobody hears him, did it really happen? Brian Burke the Mac Man shares his thoughts on personal branding, his entrepreneurial journey from a dorm room business to running a 20+ employee company that has purchased over $45,000,000 in used Apple equipment, and how he helps others with content strategy, creating a post…
 
Transportation is a fundamental building block of any economy – so dissecting the necessary ingredients for transforming transportation in the coming decades is key to creating a transportation system that works more efficiently and with less environmental impact. Evangelos Simoudis starts with Data and AI, and has written several books, one about …
 
Jay Steinfeld, founder of blinds.com (which he grew from $0 to revenues of hundreds of millions of dollars before selling it to Home Depot) shares heartfelt insights from his entrepreneurial journey and personal development in my conversation with him. If you haven’t read his book Lead from the Core, you’ll want to read it. Whether or not you have,…
 
Sharon Rowe founded Ecobags, the original reusable bag company, three decades ago, long before sustainability was as cool and certainly as urgent as it is today. She talks about the sometimes-hard choices, sometimes mutually beneficial relationship between conscious capitalism and naked profitability. Sharon authored The Magic of Tiny Business, as …
 
As co-founder of a now 20-year-old distribution company approaching the 9-figure revenue milestone, Yoram Weinreich opens up to share lessons learned, pivots made, and convictions formed during that growth journey: how it began from a direct import business to online/ecom sales, from less to more branded, no inventory to inventory, from a Canadian …
 
My guest Dr. L. Carol Scott spoke openly about slaying personal dragons, addressing patterns from childhood and her framework for developmental do-overs. I asked Dr. Scott to come on my podcast because I believe most of us limit ourselves, keep ourselves from growing and thriving in some way, due to some preconceived notion that requires introspect…
 
From ice-cream shopkeeper to executive at Pepsico, expat-CEO for LensCrafter in China, and author of several books, George Minakakis’ journey has been enriched by his curiosity and drive. He shares the reasons behind his mantra to “stay relevant, dismiss nothing, expect the unexpected and plan for the improbable”, and why he loves retail – hint: he…
 
Marisa Lytle has a secret weapon: agility. As VP of Consumer Engagement and Ecom at DEMDACO, she shares not only interesting insights from the world of digital marketing but overriding lessons about the importance of agility. 3:06 – whereas there used to be a clear start and stop with business initiatives “it’s no longer about achieving a set objec…
 
Innovating and growing a legacy company that has often played inside the conventions of an industry, is different from the proverbial outside disruptor crashing the party. John Toler, who worked his way up to CEO of Evergreen Enterprises, shares his thoughts on innovating inside the model. 5:39 – on personal growth “I’m part of development group YP…
 
Joe Motz started with a pickup truck and a dream, then built a 140-person company that builds sports fields for NFL teams across the country. After getting a wakeup call at age 34 that his command and control, hard-charging style was close to killing him, he changed his approach to life, people, and management. In this episode Joe openly talks abou…
 
Gary Hawkins grew up in the grocery store business in upstate NY (also on a farm, about 30 minutes from my parents’ organic venison farm) and became a trailblazer on retailing for global consumer products companies. He wrote a fascinating white paper on Retail 4.0 – and here he talks us through versions 1.0 thru 4.0, converging technologies, automa…
 
Tom Klaff shares his story of growth and learning, allowing us to learn from lessons he picked up building and exiting several businesses, and now building a new rocket ship, a relevant brand on the kitchen counter. 4:01 – “…I was struck by the level of introspection… when did you start articulating your personal building blocks?” – “… it’s like a …
 
When a team goes from $0 at launch to $21M revenue rate in 2½ years, and a few months later (at time of this recording) exceeds a $40M run rate, the term hyper-growth is not hyperbole. Eleanor Lynch is part of the leadership team at Kiaro, a Canadian Cannabis omni-channel business that launched shortly after legalization in 2018: her thoughts on gr…
 
Richard Degnan is a creative dynamo, building and reinventing big national and global brands. He shares his insights on several companies accessing creative energy, remotely. He distinguishes between working remotely and WFH/working from home, in isolation. 3:45 – “I could be in any number of locations… I love all that stimulus.” 13:53 – “How do we…
 
If you’re a student of collaboration, of different expertise coming together to learn each other’s language, this episode is for you. If you’re a student of the design process, and how different approaches lead to better outcomes, this episode is for you. Gary Pettitt, CEO Seasonal Living and Laura Muller, Owner of Four Point Design Build talk abou…
 
If you own a small to midsize business that you’re thinking about selling, Bill Goldberg shares a unique investment model. His firm, the W. Alexander Group makes minority investments in companies with $3M to $20M in revenues and helps them to grow to become more valuable. 4:31 – “I really enjoy smaller businesses… B2B service space… the ‘yellow zon…
 
Maulik Parekh talks about three mega trends in this episode, which he described in his best-selling book “Futureproof Your Career and Company”, and how they will change your company in the near future: 1) AI, 2) a workforce of digital natives, and 3) the gig economy. 3:20 – “when I first came to the Philippines in 2001, there were only some 10,000 …
 
The internet has changed the sales process, from the seller being contacted 20-30% into the buying process, to now much closer to the end of the process. The internet changed the dynamic and continues to shift it. Zach Murphy talks about how that changed people’s and companies’ behaviors, as buyers and as sellers. 2:08 – “The internet has democrati…
 
Asha Chaudhary, president of Jaipur Living (a socially conscious luxury brand of rugs and textiles), shares the fascinating story of a door-step entrepreneur model of 48,000 artisans in almost 600 villages in India, creating a beautiful product and a seamless customer experience for 1000’s of designers and retailers in the USA. 5:37 – “It’s all abo…
 
This episode is for C-level executives looking for a new angle on job search – Dave Marx provides a unique approach, combining his work as headhunter/recruiter with M&A support, providing job seekers an edge in resume writing, contact strategies with PE companies, and how to market yourself. 2:45 – getting a new job by finding a company for sale: “…
 
Let’s face it, sometimes pets are smarter than people. Shawna Schuh is an executive coach, TED Speaker, and self-ascribed pet wrangler. With her refreshingly open demeanor, Shawna shares important lessons she learned from her dog, her horse, and her – yes – goat. 3:21 – “This is your gift as a leader… every challenge holds with it seeds of growth.”…
 
Building a culture without being a cult is both important and difficult. Lance Hart, President of DEMDACO shares his real-world experience in leading a very successful, mid-sized design and distribution company. 3:45 – culture “is the customs and norms for our organization… and our mission and purpose, those phrases are the filter for everything we…
 
Making a living selling to retailers, during Covid, while adjusting to a recent divorce, is not for the faint of heart. Natasha Silver, founder of Community Service Showroom, a fashion business in LA talks openly about the business and personal angles of growing in adversity. 3:05 – “Covid was… an opportunity to say ‘you know what I don’t want to d…
 
Calm and rational conversations about racism, and its impact ethically and economically, are hard to come by. I learned a lot from Dora Anim, COO of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, who moved to Ohio from Ghana and France and brings an important voice to the conversation. 2:07 – on Dora’s early journey “I went to college at 16 years old... excite…
 
As CEO, are you ready to start or improve your board? Prepared to sell your company and maximize value? Mark Greenberg, Co-owner of Silverstone Capital Advisors in Cincinnati since 2009, a senior executive with over 30 years of operating and transaction expertise, offers valuable advice. 7:17 – “if a company has a strong board – advisory or fiducia…
 
Because there is no growth without change, Tony Martignetti (Chief Inspiration Officer and host of the Virtual Campfire Podcast) and I talk about different ways to face change. 3:10 – “when you start listening to what’s your soul’s purpose, that’s something that you have to get really quiet to hear… and when you listen, it points you in directions …
 
William Kyle moved his company from San Francisco, CA to Lexington, KY, and now runs it from Lisbon, Portugal. Along with a tour operator business in Italy. Curious about how to manage remote work teams, how distance can foster growth? Ask William, CEO of hydra Brands and Resonate Tours. 1:10-1:45 – sound of handbells… 6:45 – “It (COVID and hiring …
 
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