Melyssa Barrett: All right. This week, it is my pleasure, I am so excited to have Eric Goldman here with me. And so I just like to jump in. I’m one of those people that when I get somebody on the phone, I just want to jump in and hear about your story. How you got to be where you are today. And then maybe we can talk a little bit more about what you’re doing, what EOS is doing and really in a DEI construct.
Eric Goldman: That sounds great. Thank you for having me. I’m excited to have this conversation.
Melyssa Barrett: Yes. So tell us how you got to be where you are today, because I know you have a whole career path that has brought you to where you are.
Eric Goldman: Yeah. It’s been an interesting one. A wild ride from early in my career working for companies Esprit and Levi Strauss. Moving to big corporations like Disney and ESPN, and then going out on my own as a consultant. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the last gosh, 14 plus years.
I guess, to start in my, what I call the early years at a college, I was very idealistic and wanted to work for the right company that had the right kind of core values. And spent quite a bit of time and decided that Esprit was the company that I wanted to work for. They were here in San Francisco and I’m born and raised here.
So they were home and they were doing all kinds of really interesting. So I started there in the late ’80s and not too long after I started, Esprit was doing advertising and running campaigns to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS. And this was back in the late ’80s when that wasn’t a very popular thing to do. And it’s one of the things I really liked about working there.
Esprit had no qualms with forging a new path and talking about things that for many are taboo. And it was really the ethos of the company. And I enjoyed that quite a bit. And I actually became the person that managed their corporate sponsorship of the AIDS walk in San Francisco. And that was the biggest of the AIDS walks in the US. I think it still is actually.
And we would do slogans. I think the first one we did was, “Don’t Just Talk, Walk The Walk”, something like that.
That was a great experience. And working with folks like Wells Fargo and Visa and a lot of different corporations. But we were the creative folks behind it and did a lot of that work. And it was very meaningful to me personally, just growing up in San Francisco.
I remember too, I was there for a while into the early ’90s. And that’s when Esprit launched the, “What would you do to make the world better?” This was the first real people campaign. This was even before Benetton. And we sent out 200,000 questionnaires to customers and they all wrote back answering the question, “What would I do to make the world a better place?”
And I’ll never forget some of these campaigns. These were full page spreads in major magazines. And there was even a TV campaign I believe. And I remember some of my favorites. There was one about a woman’s right to choose. And what it said on the print Ad was, “Keep a woman’s to choose unless George Bush is free to babysit.”
And there were serious things like, “Give back the land stolen from Native Americans. And, “I’d find a cure for AIDS, I couldn’t stand losing another friend.”
So, lots of really, really cool work around corporate responsibility. And I remember because we had stores and we had shop-in-shops in the major retailers and we would do all the visuals. And I remember many of the stores wouldn’t put up some of the campaign Ads because of the content. And we refused to send them a replacement. So we stood our ground.
So that was led with my ideal perfect, wonderful live in the core values at work days. From there I moved to Levi Strauss and that was me growing up a bit and starting to understand what corporate responsibility was and how that functions as an integral part of an organization.
And back then, this was mid ’90s and Levi Strauss was really forging ahead with corporate responsibility around manufacturing, especially overseas. So trying to develop a code of conduct and understand and really research what was going on there and what they needed to do to support the folks working in the factory. And it was not an easy task.
I remember it was a multi multiyear project there. And for me, I was there in a marketing capacity, launching the Dockers brand. So was it able to create business casual from launching that brand. That was exciting.
And so that was the first 10 years of my career. Mostly in marketing summit operations. And one day I got a call from Disney. I think it was a recruiter that found me. I had no desire to move down to Los Angeles. I loved San Francisco. I loved Northern California and the Bay Area. But it was a really exciting opportunity to build a sales and marketing team for their consumer products business, which back then was about 3 billion.
I think now it’s 30-40 billion. And that’s all of the merchandise that you see. It’s everything except the entertainment itself. So it’s the toys, the games, the clothing, the home fashion stuff, consumer electronics. And it was all licensing.
So I had an opportunity to work with retailers across the globe. I first started in the US, building that team out for sales and marketing. And then the model worked really well, so then they asked me to roll that out globally.
So spent about five years there working with the teams in the 20 top markets. So working in Europe and Asia and Australia, south America, Mexico, Canada, and then of course the US. But working with each of the teams in those countries and helping them to understand what sales and marketing was. And specifically how to work with retailers.
So I worked with the top 100 retailers globally. It was then an $11 billion business. And amazing creative, amazing company and a commitment to creative excellence, which I learned. That was the big learning part of my career then, was what that meant. When you get to a certain size, how do you make sure that your brand communicates what it needs to and how to hold onto its essence?
After Disney, I then moved to ESPN, which was owned by Disney, part of the purchase of ABC when I started there. And worked on the ESP brand, building out brand extensions in their enterprises group. So working on franchises like College GameDay and X Games.
Melyssa Barrett: Nice.
Eric Goldman: Learned a lot. I never thought I’d be working on a sports brand. But understanding about the fan was really interesting, and the fanatical fan at the core of your marketing target. And then working your way out to more casual fans and what their experience is and how to talk to them and bring them products that make their whole fan life experience more exciting.
Melyssa Barrett: Well it’s so interesting that you mentioned some of that because, I think a lot of times when people think specifically about diversity, equity and inclusion, they don’t necessarily think about, they just go, “Oh, that’s a new audience.”, or something like that. But they typically don’t truly understand how marketing can be used to create such good in the world.
Eric Goldman: Absolutely.
Melyssa Barrett: And so it’s wonderful that you’ve had this experience from the beginning, where authenticity and a focus on the customer is really core to who you are and where you’ve taken your career.
Eric Goldman: Yeah, it is. And you bring up a really good point. I love the word authenticity because that was something that has been true in all the brands that I’ve worked on. And especially the first 20 years of my career, Esprit was dedicated to it. Levi Strauss was dedicated to it. And then Disney and ESPN in their own way, as mega corporations.
But as you and I were talking about earlier, now what Disney does with their brands and their entertainment, and their commitment to talking to different communities and different populations. And understanding how to do that in a way that’s truly authentic.
And I remember, because I used to work on the Pixar products. So we would start seeing the film when it was just black and white sketches. And before it actually moved into CGI, because we’d be developing products along the way. So we learn about their travels and their commitment. They would go into the region. They would spend time with the people. So they definitely walk the walk.
Melyssa Barrett: They invest. They truly invest in educating, not only the world, but themselves before they even make any film, which is pretty awesome.
Eric Goldman: Yeah, without question. So the first 20 years of my career, I learned a lot. I learned about branding, I learned about how to talk to different audiences, what that means for diversity, inclusion and inequity.
And as a sidebar, I was on the advisory board for our child’s school. And I led the diversity, equity and inclusion committee there. So I did that for about five years. So very specifically, that was working in an educational environment. And I remember pushing really hard about what diversity meant in terms of the student population and the parent population.
And everybody can talk about it and say, “30% or 40%…” I think at that point, this is a Quaker school in San Francisco. It was technically 50% if you count all of the non-Caucasian population.
But within that, I mean, you really have to look at different cultures and what those people need and what it means socioeconomically, and what it means in terms of the type of support that they need. So that gave me a lot of insight into how people talk about diversity and inclusion and equity and what they actually do.
And you can tell how committed they are based on things like outreach. What does that mean and how do you do that? And how is that different for every different group of people? How do you meet them where they’re at and then create a real environment that supports them?
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah, I mean definitely universities, academia, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done in that industry, for sure.
Eric Goldman: Yeah, absolutely.
Melyssa Barrett: So now we’re traveling with you through your career. You end up at EOS, I think is where you are now. And so you’re doing consulting specifically for organizations and within organizations. So talk a little bit about that and how that process worked.
Eric Goldman: Sure. So after I was doing my big corporate brand stint, I decided to come home, decided to come back to San Francisco and go out of my own. Built a small consulting firm. There were, I think, seven or eight of us at one point. And basically working on building businesses primarily through brand extensions.
So, building businesses within larger organizations. If it was an entertainment brand, we might be doing products. If it was a spirits brand, we might be working on some promotion and then building product lines out of that. So I worked on brands like Cosmo and Popular Mechanics and Sesame Street.
I even did some work for a video game brand, BANDAI NAMCO. And the thing that I enjoyed the most was that I got to work on all these different brands and across every industry you can imagine. So from CPG to consumer electronics and manufacturing. And even spent a couple of years working with cannabis brands and cannabis companies. And that was around the time that California legalized recreational cannabis.
Fascinating, fascinating industry. There isn’t an industry like that, that’s growing as fast and as big it as it is. I think so far in the US, the industry’s created something like 500,000 jobs. And it’s a multi, multi-billion dollar industry. But lots and lots of difficulties, especially around taxation and regulation.
And one of the things that’s real troubling about that now is, they’re a dozen really big companies are buying up licenses and space and retail around the US, operating in each state, they call them multi-state operators. And they’ve got the deep pockets so they can afford to take the losses.
And a lot of the small folks are losing out. They’re either getting bought up or they’re going bankrupt, especially in California.
Melyssa Barrett: Interesting.
Eric Goldman: So about the time COVID came around, I decided that I wanted to focus more on coaching and facilitating, which is my favorite thing to do. I love working with groups and facilitating. I love working with individuals too.
And what I decided was, I wanted to be a solo entrepreneur. I wanted to work as a consultant, but I wanted to be a part of something bigger than just me. So during COVID, I spent a lot of time thinking about what that meant and how I could achieve those goals. And someone introduced me to EOS, which stands for the Entrepreneurial Operating System.
And essentially, I work on three different things with my clients. The first one is their vision. And that’s really about understanding what it is they want and where they want to go. And figuring out and putting into place a system that helps everybody know how they’re going to get there and the part that they’re going to play in that.
The second piece is around traction and then making progress, so that’s really putting a simple set of tools into place, discipline and the processes so they can get there. And that includes everything from running weekly meetings, there’s a structure to it, to how they do their hiring and their people, how they recruit operations, measurement, performance, all that stuff.
And the third piece of it, which for me, is actually one of the more enjoyable pieces, is helping them to be a healthy organization. And working with the leadership team to make sure that they’re healthy and highly functioning.
And at the end of the day, my clients enjoy their work. They enjoy the people they’re working with. They feel they’re making a difference. They’re getting compensated appropriately. And they still have time to enjoy other passions in their life, so that’s the success picture when everybody in the organization has that outlook.
It’s tough work. It takes a couple of years to get there. But there’s no silver bullet, there’s no magic in it. And it’s not difficult to understand. It just takes a lot of grit and commitment to get there.
Melyssa Barrett: Well, and it’s funny because, I have found that there are folks that have a vision when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, but maybe they don’t have traction or they’re struggling with leadership. Or they think they have traction, but they really don’t, because they don’t have the measurements in place.
So, it’s interesting that you talk about it in that way, because I think there’s a lot of folks out there trying to do DEI work, but the vision, I think in some cases may be challenging. But it’s like getting to the traction is really challenging as well, because I think folks struggle with, “How do we put the vision in place? And do we actually own the vision or are there other components that we have to bring in order to connect that vision, to get some traction?
So I love the fact that you’re bringing that along with leadership health, because I think lot of times we look at leadership but they’re working to death. And maybe they’re not really getting the success that they want. So are there tips or tools that you want to pass along that might be helpful?
Eric Goldman: Sure. You bring a really good point because one of the places that we start in building their vision is defining their core values and everything that we do has those core values at its heart.
And there’s always a component of that around diversity and around building a more diverse, stronger team, which we all know makes a better team. And even when we go through what we call the people analyzer to figure out who embodies those core values, we wind up with folks, even on the leadership team, we call them, Right people, right seats.”
So similar to what you were just saying, we’ll have the right people in there, but they might not be in the right seats. Those aren’t their core competencies. And then we’ll also have the right seats, but the wrong people.
So you might have somebody in there that’s doing an amazing job in their function, but they don’t embrace the core values and they’re truly undermining what the company’s trying to do. People don’t want to admit it, they’re like, “John’s over there, he’s getting the sales, he’s getting the new clients, but he doesn’t really embrace our core values.”
So he’s picking away at it day by day by day. And those are really, really hard conversations. And to try and get the leadership team and especially the chief executive to let that person go because it’s about their core values. So we work really hard on that. It’s a big component of what we do.
Melyssa Barrett: That’s awesome. I literally was talking to somebody yesterday and they were telling me that somebody got let go specifically because of the disconnection to the core values. So I felt good about the fact that I was like, “Wow, that’s pretty big improvement.”, because I think a lot of times people are let go, you don’t necessarily why. But to actually say, “They didn’t really center around our core values.”, is really creating a different culture at the company.
Eric Goldman: Absolutely.
Melyssa Barrett: So then traction, when you talked about the operating principles and all of the things, I’m assuming that’s where you really see the measurement for, or some people dashboards or whatever, in terms of the health of the business. And are there specific ones that you focus on for diversity or when you think about the function or organization, is it similar?
Eric Goldman: Well, one of the things that we build out with each client that I work with is called a vision traction organizer. So a lot of companies will build out their vision and core values and business plan. And there’s a 40-50 page document in a binder sitting on a shelf somewhere that no one sees. And the vision traction organizer that we use is literally two pages.
And the first page is their vision, their core values, looking at a 10 year picture. Where they want to be, what their marketing focuses, their point of difference. Getting all the core components of their business on paper. And then the second half of that is all about measurement and goals. So there’s a three year picture. There’s a one year plan.
And then the way that we work with the client is on a 90 day cycle. So I get each one of them working in a 90 day world. And part of that is putting measurements in place. And even if it’s just one thing for somebody, everybody has some type of measurement or KPI. And we call them rocks.
It’s funny because that comes from the idea that if you have a pile of rocks and pebbles and sand, the core stuff, things should be working on the medium type. And then the small things, if you fill it up with sand and then pebbles, there’s no room for the rocks. But if you put the rocks in, the pebbles in the sand are going to find their way in there, but the rocks are going to fill up that glass the most.
So we get them on that 90 day cycle. And apart from the financial metrics, there’re always people metrics, diversity metrics, and those flow throughout the whole organization.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. And it’s funny you mentioned they flow throughout the whole organization, because is when you think about DEI, there’s a lot of folks that when you talk to them, one of the first things they think about is retention or HR. A lot of DEI is sitting in the HR function. But it actually does permeate throughout the organ.
And making sure that you have diversity metrics throughout the organization, I think can also be somewhat challenging for folks to understand how that looks. Not just from a equal pay or diversity metrics or anything like that, but really to understand how diversity is making the business work. And the positive benefits of showcasing diversity and really tapping into the audience, as you mentioned before. A diverse audience that I think sometimes gets left out of the picture.
So what are some other things you can share in terms of how you have been able to take some of those organizations and make them work in a way? Because at some point I’m assuming you have to step away and they are off to manage it on their own.
Can you share any success stories in terms of how that process has worked for folks?
Eric Goldman: Sure. I mentioned before that it’s typically a two year journey. Some do it in less than that. Some want to keep you on forever. My goal is for them to graduate essentially. So there’s a point at time where they’re using all the different processes and disciplines, they’re using all the tools, there’s a core toolbox of 20 different tools.
Ranging from things like the people analyzer to things like how to run your, we call them L 10s, level 10 meetings, which is a 90 minute meeting every Monday for every group. But you know how many people hate staff meetings? They don’t work, they’re not learning anything. There’s people politicking. We get all of that handled and get it all out of the way with a really simple discipline.
So to answer your question, the general success story for all of my clients is they’re happy. They enjoy working with the people that are there. They like what they’re doing, because they’re in the job. Not only because it’s something they do well, it’s something that they enjoy doing. And they feel they’re making a difference. They’re getting paid appropriately and they’re not working 60 hour weeks. So they have time to pursue other passions and other goals.
One of the things that we do early on is help companies to discern between them running the business or the business running them. So typically we’ll move them from the business running them. They’re pushing hard against the ceiling. They’re working as much as they can. Nobody understands what I’m trying to get them to do. That’s common for the CEO.
No one’s hitting their metrics. We’re growing, but we’re not growing profitably. And we help them shift all of those things to a positive place. And they start working on a 90 day cycle and people are seeing progress. And we heavy up in the early part. I’ll do five, one day sessions with the leadership team over the course of the first year. And that’s mostly about teaching and facilitating and implementing.
And then we move them on to a 90 day cycle. So then I come back and work with them quarterly to see what they’ve done in the past quarter, what’s working, what’s not. And then, what do they need to do over the next 90 days and how are they going to get there and what are the measurements?
And then we get them into annual, which is usually twofold days. So over the course of the two years, it’s essentially 10 full day sessions. And at the end of that they’re graduating. And if I’ve done my job well, they don’t need me.
Melyssa Barrett: And I love the fact that, I mean, you have this model that I think obviously can work at an organizational level. But to be able to take it to a smaller department level and really take a more specific focus and really allow that particular department to get the traction they need. The vision, the traction and the leadership around that specific function or functional area is pretty awesome.
When you think about how you work with folks utilizing that toolbox, because I think personally in a lot of cases you have people that struggle with their career paths, they don’t know exactly where they’re going. They know they want to go up at some point, but they don’t necessarily know what is the job that I actually want.
I mean, I think I started, I was like, “Hey, I’m going to be the president of Visa for sure. And then I realized later when I got older, I was like, “Yeah, I don’t want that job.”
But I’m so glad that the people that want the job are in the job. And so I think it’s interesting because when you talk about the leadership, and even if it’s within that departmental function, is it their passion? Do they carry that vision, those core values and the traction for even that functional area? Which obviously I would think would flow down from the organization as a whole.
Eric Goldman: Yeah, without a doubt. And one of the practices within EOS is looking at individuals to understand if they get it, if they want it and if they have the capacity to do it. Three very, very different things. We all know the get it factor. You know whether that person gets it or not.
Then you got take a look at whether they want it. Is that the job that they want? Are they happy in that position? Or they get it, they can do it, but they’re just dragging themselves to work every day. And then capacity. So great person loves it. They’ve even, they want it and can do it, but maybe they just don’t have the capacity there.
So it’s really looking at those three different components for each person. And whether it’s a sales organization and you’re talking about your VP or EVP of sales and that leadership team if it’s regional, regional VPs and directors. Whether you’re talking about a marketing team, you can use the same tools and the same process and discipline.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah, that’s awesome. So then turning this back onto you. So having worked with in this capacity, are there specific pitfalls or things that maybe you would even tell your younger self as you were coming through, when you were managing your own career?
Eric Goldman: Wow. It’s a great question. The broad answer is all kinds of stuff. I think back to my time at Disney and how much I didn’t know. And to be quite honest, how much opportunity there was all around me. But I was in my mid-thirties, and I knew what I knew, and I did a good job and I was committed. And for the most part, loved what I was doing. But boy, if I knew what I knew today back then, I wouldn’t even be working right now.
Melyssa Barrett: We’d all be just in a state of leisure, right?
Eric Goldman: Exactly. I’d be at my beach house somewhere.
Melyssa Barrett: You know you have one of those Eric.
Eric Goldman: On my tenure plan.
Melyssa Barrett: Nice. Nice, awesome. So are there any pitfalls you want to highlight in terms of people that are going through this process? Or is it more about engagement?
Because I think at one point when we had talked, I think you stated some people think they can go through this themselves, but there is a benefit to actually having someone come in and walk them through the process.
Eric Goldman: That’s a great point because you can self implement. And there are companies that do that and do it successfully. The difficult part, and I think the best way to think about it is, most of the times, the reason you bring in a consultant is because they’re coming from the outside, they have a different perspective, they can see the things that you don’t, and they’re not running your business on a day to day.
So self implementing is hard, because you’ve got people that are already doing their job and now you’re asking them to think about running the business in a different way. That’s one of the benefits of working with an implementer.
Melyssa Barrett: And seeing their own blind spots, which is challenging.
Eric Goldman: Yeah. One of my favorite things to do is when facilitating any part of the EOS process is, you’d be surprised how much people know, but they don’t know that they know.
So a big part of that is, working with them, using different tools, different evaluations, different assessments, different kinds of conversations, team building, you name it, but is getting to that point where people can get really, really honest and talk about how things are working for them, how they’re feeling about things.
And it’s such an amazing thing to see people open up. And then to hear them talking to one another saying, “Oh my God, I had no idea you felt that way.” Or, “I had no idea you were struggling with that, how can I help?”
And you wind up with these teams that go from dreading their job or feeling like they’re just working so hard and they’re burning out to, “How can I help you? How can we make this happen together?” And just a real sense of comradery.
Melyssa Barrett: That’s awesome.
Eric Goldman: You get rid of a lot of the politics and people are just real honest with each other. It’s okay to say, “Hey, this is my career path. I want to be in this job for another year, maybe two. But my expectation is to move into this.”, or to move up as you had mentioned. And it’s okay to have those kinds of aspirations and be able to talk to your peers about it.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, in a way then, you’re actually creating safe spaces for people that have those conversations that typically they wouldn’t have before, which is great. I mean, because I think a lot of times, that’s what we miss. It’s like we think we’re doing the right thing, but somebody is silently over their suffering.
Eric Goldman: When I work with teams, one of the things we do that gets real very, very quickly is, so let’s say six people on the leadership team. CEO and then five VPs we’ll call them.
So let’s say that we’re all looking at the CEO. So the five people, they pick one thing that they want the CEO to continue doing and they pick one thing they want them to either start doing or stop doing. And then you go around.
So each person gets that review from five other people. And each person when they do it, I coach them you have to look at the other person, you have to ask for their permission to give them this feedback, but it gets real really fast.
And after we go through that exercise, we do another exercise just around feelings. And in a recent group company that I was working with, I mean, people were saying things like, “I’m really anxious.” Or, “I’m feeling really sad.” Or, “Disconnected.” And people are able to start talking about how they feel.
And it’s amazing when people start doing that and opening up and other people are able to receive that, it’s transformative. And that’s when I get most excited about the work that I do.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. It’s like getting the layers below why we’re actually in business and doing things for this company in the first place, which is awesome. That’s awesome. I love it. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.
So then with, I mean, I know you said you launched this in the height of the pandemic because I imagine there’s, I mean, I would say I’m probably part of the great resignation. But are there things that you see, even in terms of the pipeline of people?
I know there are lots of folks that are struggling to bring people in and keep them and focus on leadership and having the right people in the right position. Any tips or tools you can give us there or?
Eric Goldman: Yeah. One of the things that I encounter sometimes is, I’ll be talking to a potential client and they’ll say, “We can’t start this because we’ve got two critical positions that are open. And we’re just having a hell of a time filling them.”
“We’ve talked to all these people and they’re just not a good fit or they just don’t have the capacity.” And one of the things that I tell them is, “Wouldn’t you like to be recruiting those people with a really good understanding of your vision and how you’re going to get there. And the discipline and processes you have in place to do that and your core values.”
And oftentimes they don’t think about it that way. Let’s get the people that are there on board and then be really clear about who you want to bring on. Makes the hiring process a whole lot easier. Much, much less laborious, because it’s pretty easy to find in the first five minutes of talking to somebody, whether they’re going to be a good fit, based on your core values.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. I love that. That’s awesome. Oh my gosh, Eric, I could go on and on and on. Thank you so much for joining the Jolly Podcast.
Eric Goldman: Sure.
Melyssa Barrett: We should probably help people know how to reach you if they’re interested in getting information or connecting with you directly.
Eric Goldman: Yes, yes please. So there’s two ways. You can give me a call. Do you want me to tell people what my number is, or are you going to?
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah, feel free.
Eric Goldman: So it’s, (415) 845-7475. Call me anytime. (415) 845-7475. Or you can send me an email to eric.goldman@eosworldwide. Either way, I will get back to you. And one of the things that I will do with any of your listeners is, I will do a free 90 minute meeting, consultation, just to see if it’s a good fit.
If you’re a good fit for EOS. If EOS is a good fit for you. If I’m a good fit for your organization or not. And if I’m not, they’re over 400 folks worldwide that are doing what I do, that are implementing EOS. And will put you in touch with somebody else that maybe is a better fit.
Melyssa Barrett: Awesome. Well, I can’t imagine someone being a better fit.
Eric Goldman: You’re too kind.
Melyssa Barrett: You bring such a wealth of information with you and I’m always so appreciative of your perspective. We have connected on many different levels along the way, so I appreciate you and your support. And I look forward to continuing these conversations.
Eric Goldman: I’d love to come back, just let me know.
Melyssa Barrett: All right, sounds like a plan. Thank you Eric.
Eric Goldman: Take care. Bye, Melissa.