Fear, Risk, and Trust: Three Takeaways from my CES Fireside Chat with RXBAR CMO Victor Lee

It’s not often you get to share the stage with leaders who are shaping their industry, but that’s exactly what I was able to do at this year’s CES Brand Innovators Summit. Victor Lee is the CMO of RXBAR with years of agency experience to back up his in-house work. While the theme of the summit was “Brands Bet on Digital,” Victor reminded us that digital marketing isn’t its own separate discipline. It’s just one of many tools in the marketer’s toolbelt. In our fireside chat, we explored insights beyond the strictly digital, but there were three takeaways from our time together that most stood out.

1) Unlearn Your Fear of Failure
Fear of failure has held us all back from doing something at one time or another, but when this fear creeps into our professional lives, it has the potential to keep us from exceptional creative work. Victor called out the fear-of-failure culture that haunts so many organizations and prevents employees from trying something new. In a moment that reminded me of that famous Michael Jordan quote, “I have failed over and over and over again, and that is why I succeed,” Victor noted, “But I tell you, I’ve failed far more than I have succeeded.”

In my years of leadership experience in CPG and now at OH Partners, I can attest that embracing failure is the only way to create work worth remembering. After all, the greatest baseball players in history enter the Hall of Fame batting .300. If elite athletes are considered legendary when they fail 70% of the time, why should marketers be any different?

2) Go Ahead and Take the Risk
Taking risks is a natural extension of unlearning the fear of failure. In our chat, Victor said, “School made us worry about getting things right. Career should have us worried about doing something good.” Marketers can often find themselves infatuated with data, digging and fine-tuning for hours to find the answer they want. But we can only rely on data so much before it becomes a crutch and we become obsessed with perfection.

Nothing in this world is universally loved, and that’s okay. We have to become comfortable with betting on things that might not work or that the data might not support, because every risk we take, whether it pays off or not, has something to teach us. And in the world of marketing, it’s not about whether we were right or wrong. It’s about if it sold.

3) Game-Changing Ideas can Come from Anyone
Victor recounted a story about listening to an agency pitch, and at the end of the presentation, he decided to ask to see the ideas that wound up on the cutting room floor. “There were some real gems in there,” he said, “and chances are, they were the work of a junior employee who thought that it would be their big break.”

Ego can lead us to axe suggestions and input from junior team members and those who aren’t “specialists” in the discipline, but, brilliance, insight, and game-changing ideas can come from anyone. So, the best advice for marketing teams who want to produce great work? Honesty, trust, and leave your ego at the door.

Bringing it Home to OH Partners
Accepting failure, embracing risk, and banishing ego are far from being strictly digital principles, but they certainly are the foundation for an outstanding marketing business. I remind our team at OH to be confident enough to fail, brave enough to take that next big leap, and thoughtful enough to recognize the input of peers across the agency. And thanks to Victor, we’ll be sure to hold on to more of those ideas that ended up on the cutting room floor.

About the Author: Brad Casper is Chief Executive Officer of OH Partners Advertising in Phoenix, Arizona. Brad is leading OH through a transformational agenda that has seen OH morph into the largest agency in Arizona over the past two years. OH has also been on the Inc 5000 list of fastest growing companies for six years, moving up 1000 places in August 2018.

Casper is no stranger to leadership and growth challenges on the client side. He worked at P&G from 1995 to 2001 and progressed through a variety of brand management and general management roles in Cincinnati, Japan, Hong Kong/China and Global business units. He then served as President of Church & Dwight in Princeton, New Jersey for three years, until he was recruited to become President and CEO of the Dial Corporation in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2005.

Following more than five years at Dial, Brad embarked on an entrepreneurial path, holding down leadership roles in two private equity-backed companies, President of the Phoenix Suns, plus serving in Board of Director roles in various public, private, and non-profit entities.

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