Industry Magazine Get JACK'D Magazine Fall 2017 | Page 29

a member of the CEO group Vistage since 1999, and she employs an outside coach for additional personal accountability for herself. plays better over the phone. The key here is to leverage tech tools as appropriate for the business rather than catering to the person or age grouping. 4. With Karen Being A CEO For 30 Years And Counting, And Leading A 55-Year-Old Family Business, I Was Curious About Her Current Challenges. Karen Highlighted Three: 7. How Do You Keep “CEO Current”? a) Succession planning. Marrying the care for the success of the company, and the history of a family business—and ensuring the best decisions are made for both. b) Disruption. It is always top of mind, not just for her business but just as importantly for her customers’ businesses as well. c) People. Does she have the right skills and people in the company, especially given the speed of change and what will be needed in the future? 5. I Asked Karen To Talk To Me About The Impact Of Tech On Her Business. Number One On Karen’s List Is “Everything Is Mobile,” And The Need To Leapfrog Regularly. The key is to turn the changes into a competitive opportunity rather than a threat. Frieda’s launched its website in 1996, making it the first in the industry to do so. Another key is to always be asking “What’s next?” and moving toward the opportunities. A current theme is the desire to “go paperless,” with one approach being two computer screens on each desk. It’s less about the paper and more about the best use of people and avoiding wasting people resources on handling unnecessary paper. 6. I Wondered If Karen Felt The Internet Was A Plus Or Minus To Her Business. She answered “both.” On the plus side was leveraging LinkedIn and other social platforms in terms of networking and monitoring clients and studying trends to stay abreast of the overall market. On the minus side was the trend toward less phone interaction and a default to text/email. With a business where prices are moving like the stock market, such a fluid environment Beyond her involvement in Vistage, Karen emphasized that she reads a lot including business magazines of all nature, looking for applicability to her business as well as for her customers (this customer- oriented theme was continuous throughout the interview). When I asked about the two most important books she had read lately, she graciously mentioned Hyper Sales Growth as well as Patrick Lencioni’s The Ideal Team Player. As Verne Harnish is fond of saying, “Leaders are Readers.” 8. To The Question Of Life Balance, Karen Recognized It As Challenging. I did like her deeper response: be easy on yourself, focus on those things you have control of, and don’t stress out. She takes it a day at a time and views each day as a pie, to be divided between business and personal. No two days will ever be the same. 9. As For Karen’s Top Three CEO Tips? a) “MBWA”—Manage by walking around. Make eye contact each day with as many people as possible and “walk” the business (whether it is at work or at a trade show) with eyes wide open. b) Figure out your “Superpower.” Karen sees hers as being an “Awesome Networker.” Also, figure out the Superpower of each person on your team and leverage that power. c) Get a coach for honest feedback and accountability. She threw in a bonus response here: certainly rely on information and data, but pay attention to your gut on key decisions. It’s often overlooked yet has great value. 10. Frieda’s If you are looking for more on Frieda’s, check out the full-length documentary film Fear No Fruit ( ) whose grand premiere I had the pleasure of attending. And if you enjoy unique, healthy, fun food, their website—www.friedas. com—offers hundreds of recipes and photos. 29 ABOUT KAREN CAPLAN A well-respected leader in the produce industry, Karen was the first female chairperson of the United Fresh Produce Association, a national trade organization representing the produce industry. Karen also served as the first female president of the Southern California-based Fresh Produce & Floral Council. She has been chairman and vice chairman of the USDA Fruit & Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee and a board member of the Federal Reserve Bank, Los Angeles chapter. Karen currently serves on the board of Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County.