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7 Questions with Wyatt Taubman
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7 Questions with Wyatt Taubman
Name: Wyatt Taubman
Current title: CEO & Co-Founder
Current organization: Vive Organic
Wyatt Taubman is a serial entrepreneur with more than 10 years of experience, having founded two angel and VC backed startups. Taubman is currently CEO and Co-Founder of Vive Organic, the leader in fresh-pressed immunity.
After an illness drove him to take a proactive and holistic approach to his own health, Taubman was inspired to start Vive Organic, a company now on a mission to spark the wellness journey for everyone. Born and raised in Hawaii, Wyatt rediscovered the same plant-based remedies that had been part of his island childhood, and wanted to find a way to make earth's most powerful ingredients more convenient and accessible. Today, Vive offers a line of ten cold-pressed, doctor-crafted wellness shots that support immune function and overall health.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
The early stages are often the most challenging. There’s always the fear of running out of money. Some months you may be low on cash, but you still need to make sure you’re achieving certain deliverables and goals in order to secure the next round of funding. That level of pressure or stress can be extremely challenging.
There’s also challenges that come with rapid growth and the evolution of a founder's role. At the beginning you’re involved at the ground level in so many different areas, but in a year or two, you need to let go of different roles, and find the right people to fill them so you can focus on the bigger picture.
When you start to become a larger company with more people on the team, you need to start to think about interpersonal communication differently than when it's just a group of founders at the early stages. Those early years often have a lot of growing pains.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I am the Co-Founder of Vive and naturally became CEO following the founding of the company. I came up with the idea for Vive after dealing with my own health struggles. In 2014, I was on a business trip and feeling run down and I came across a ginger and turmeric shot over ice. I was blown away by the boost I felt, and couldn’t believe this wasn’t something that was more readily available. I’ve always been a big believer in the benefits of superfoods, and was inspired to bottle that power, making these powerful ingredients accessible to more people.
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and have a natural ability to see an opportunity, and to organize the right people and resources around that opportunity. For Vive, I saw a gap in the market -- no one else was offering a fresh, potent, immunity boosting shot like what I had experienced -- and I was able to bring that to life. I am a generalist, so at the early stages of Vive that allowed me to do a lot of things at a 7 out of 10 to get it off the ground, from financial modeling to packaging and networking. And from there I was able to organize the funding and the right people -- the people that can do their function at a 10 out of 10 -- that allowed us to grow the business in the right way. I’m now able to think about business strategy and opportunity in a big way in my role as CEO.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
This has changed quite a bit throughout the growth of the business. There were times where we were in a constant sprint, and from 7am to 12am I was making sure that we were executing against the business plan we had put into place. We needed to move faster and smarter than our competition to make sure we continued to lead the category. Obviously, that schedule can lead to burnout and isn’t sustainable long-term.
Once that sprint was over and once we had raised the right amount of capital and hired the right people, I was able to shift into a more balanced and sustainable routine. In the morning, I wake up, get coffee and get on my computer to start moving through my list. I manage my calendar pretty rigorously to ensure I have time to work on the big projects that I need to stay focused on. I also make sure that I wrap my day up in the late afternoon to allow for free time and all the things that keep me healthy. For me, a big part of staying mentally and physically healthy is being out in nature as much as possible -- I love to surf and to do bikram yoga.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
I pay very close attention to our team -- what are their strengths, their weaker areas, their blindspots -- to ensure we’re able to organize people in the right way to really cater to each individual’s greatest strengths. But what I learned recently is that I wasn’t actually doing that for myself. I was spending the majority of my time thinking about the team and making sure they were hiring the right people to allow them to focus on their strengths. Because I am a generalist and a problem solver, I found that I was filling in a lot of gaps out of necessity, but that doesn’t drive passion and wasn’t allowing me to focus on the two to three areas that I’m most passionate about. That was a big realization for me, and I’m now making adjustments to make sure that I can focus on what will drive the most value for the business.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
American Icon, the story of Alan Mulally. I have always been a big plan person when it comes to business, but I was so inspired by the way that Alan went about implementing a business plan at Ford when he was turning the company around. He made sure that plan was being tracked in their weekly business plan review and that they were always improving that plan with a better plan. That is what ultimately led me to create our weekly business plan review at Vive and is part of the reason I’m such a big believer in having a solid plan. I actually got the chance to ask Alan Mulally a question at a conference -- he came on at Ford just before the financial crisis, and I asked him how he was able to stay so positive during that time. He said that it was because they had a plan that they believed in and that they could rely on, and that has stuck with me.
The other book that really inspired me was “Creating Passion-Driven Teams” by Dan Bobinski. Pretty much every chapter was an “aha” moment for me. It led to us establishing well defined roles and responsibilities with very little overlap so that we could divide and conquer in an effective way. A huge takeaway for me was how important it is to make sure everyone understands how their individual role fits into the bigger picture, and how their work is helping us to achieve our goals and our mission.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
To build leadership capacity, it is extremely important to empower your team members to take ownership of their work and the area of the business they work on. By ensuring everyone understands how their individual role ladders up to the larger goal and to the company’s success, it helps to keep them motivated to do their best every day because they can see the impacts of their individual grit and determination.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
It’s been really meaningful to see all the different people we’ve had join our team, really taking ownership and having so much passion and dedication to not only the business and the brand, but the mission. We’re on a mission to spark the holistic wellness journey for all and that is something our entire team really cares about and values. We’re very lucky to work with a team of advisors and integrative medicine doctors who advise us on that mission, and it’s been very meaningful to work alongside them and our entire team to bring these shots to market.
Seeing the impact our wellness shots have had on people’s lives is so rewarding. We know the power of these super roots, but seeing our shots change people’s lives and perception around wellness has been amazing.