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
6. I Wondered If Karen Felt The
Internet Was A Plus Or Minus To Her
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
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
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
If you are looking for more on Frieda’s,
check out the full-length documentary
film Fear No Fruit (www.fearnofruit.com )
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
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