Deep Dive with Aimée Lapic

Media Thumbnail
  • 0.5
  • 1
  • 1.25
  • 1.5
  • 1.75
  • 2
This is a podcast episode titled, Deep Dive with Aimée Lapic. The summary for this episode is: <p>Today on The Daily Bolster, Matt interviews Aimée Lapic, a friend of his from college and the CEO of Hanna Andersson. The two discuss the value of her time as a consultant, what she’s learned about playing to one’s strengths, and her first CEO role.&nbsp;</p><p>Aimée focus on driving businesses through optimal customer experiences sets her apart. Tune in to hear her perspective on leadership and the future of retail.</p>
🧐 Starting out in consulting
02:21 MIN
➡️ Making the move out of consulting
03:42 MIN
🔍 Keeping the focus on the customer
02:02 MIN
💵 Thoughts on FinTech today
02:11 MIN
👗 Moving to retail at Banana Republic
03:28 MIN
👩‍💻 CMO of Banana Republic and then Pandora
03:34 MIN
⚖️ A sustaining brand versus an ascending brand
03:23 MIN
1️⃣ Becoming a CEO
05:46 MIN
🔮 The future of retail
02:18 MIN
👪 Balancing being a CEO and a parent
01:40 MIN
🤝 Thoughts on being an independent board member
02:54 MIN

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Daily Bolster. Each day we welcome transformational executives to share their real world experiences and practical advice about scaling yourself, your team, and your business.

Matt Blumberg: Welcome to The Daily Bolster. I'm Matt Blumberg, co- founder and CEO of Bolster, and I'm here today with my friend, Aimée Lapic. Aimée Lapic and I went to college together. So we've been friends for, what does that make it? Five, six years, right?

Aimée Lapic: Just five or six years, exactly.

Matt Blumberg: And Aimée is now the CEO of Hanna Anderson. Very cool, I don't know how you describe it, clothing company.

Aimée Lapic: Premium sustainable kids clothing.

Matt Blumberg: Premium sustainable kids clothing. Okay. I have been in a Hanna Anderson shop and bought stuff online for my kids over the years. And Aimée is also a former CMO of a couple of great brands, GoPro and Pandora, and she's also a board member at public company, Cardlytics. Aimée, it's great to have you here. I've been really looking forward to this conversation.

Aimée Lapic: Matt, I'm so excited to be able to just chat with you. Thank you for inviting me.

Matt Blumberg: Well, you're welcome and let's dive in. So you have had a phenomenal career and your current chapter is CEO. And it's always easier to look at these things like in the rear view mirror as opposed to the windshield, but you've had a string of experiences over the five years since college, as we said, that really I think prepared you incredibly well to take the reins of a brand like Hanna Anderson. So I'd love to just walk through that with everyone.

Aimée Lapic: Excellent. I'm so happy to do it. I wish it had been as easy to predict that it was all going to happen when we graduated from college, but of course these things are completely unpredictable. But I do like that as you and I are going to talk about, I've had such a diverse set of experiences, but they've all built in some way upon each other. And so when you look back, it looks very planful, but to all the folks graduating from college now, don't be worried. It will work out and each experience you have will help you get to the next experience. You don't have to have it mapped out for the next 20 plus years.

Matt Blumberg: And it won't be what you expect, whatever it is.

Aimée Lapic: That's exactly right.

Matt Blumberg: So you, like me coming out of college were a management consultant, and I remember you worked at Maricon, then you worked at McKinsey, I can't remember if that was before business school or after business school. When you think about the sort of the consulting chapter before you moved into operating roles, what's the biggest thing you got out of that and what was the decision to move into an operating role as opposed to staying in services or doing banking or something else?

Aimée Lapic: Absolutely. So honestly, I learned how to spot trends and pull insights from data as a consultant. That then allowed me to then think about, at the time as an advisor, recommendations of how the business could change. So I can remember very distinctly, honestly working in the wine industry as a consultant and looking, doing an analysis of the number of stars of the rating of the wine versus the price points and seeing literally there was no correlation at all between wines that did really well with Wine Spectator and where they were priced. And then thinking, well, there's got to be another reason why some of these wines are really selling really well. And so I had to look for more data, et cetera. And that drive to understand how the data then shows up in the results of a company is what I learned from consulting, frankly. And I have been a data junkie ever since. So that was a really great chapter. The second thing I learned from consulting is I learned how to, number one, pick a recommendation. Go through all the options and pick something and be hypothesis driven because it does help you prioritize in the end. So that was really helpful for me.

Matt Blumberg: Yeah, for sure. I always tell people that I should have paid them to be a consultant. I got so much out of those years.

Aimée Lapic: I totally agree. I mean, I was lucky enough, and I know you know this because you had a similar experience of being able to go to Harvard Business School and Learning Business administration on the ground at HBS. But I feel like I got so much more out of my five years as a consultant in terms of working across I think 12 different industries, 20 different companies all in. I mean I have just so many different diverse experiences.

Matt Blumberg: For sure.

Aimée Lapic: Really, really helpful. So your second question of how I decided to leave consulting and go into an operating.

Matt Blumberg: Yeah, what was the spark?

Aimée Lapic: So my last stint in consulting, I was working mostly in retail and consumer products function for McKinsey out of the Atlanta office. And I loved understanding consumer brands and what made the difference of one brand versus another. And at that time, remember I'm just a year or two now out of college, this is in the way back machine, the dot com thing was happening. So there's this big thing called the internet that was coming along and for someone who liked data and wanted to understand what made consumers tick and how to drive demand and literally how to understand everything you could about customers, understanding and working for an internet company was a thing at that time. And so I left to go work for a little startup, also founded or founded by a McKinsey alum called Home Shark at the time, and we provided online mortgages. And my job, actually one of my first jobs was to rebrand it to something that wasn't scary. So we rebranded it to I own. com, like I own my own home. And I had just a wealth of experience learning lots of things like how do you do deals and how do you do business development deals and how do you add ancillary products and services that customers are actually going to want and how do you read the data of what customers want and don't want? It was amazing. A great-

Matt Blumberg: Yeah. Well, it's so funny that I forgot it was called Home Shark. That was the classic dot com name. And there was some website that was the name your company machine where it was like the first word is a whatever and the second word could be an animal.

Aimée Lapic: So true. Then there was a shark on our actual homepage, which was horrible. Like take a bite out of your mortgages and I was like, we're literally turning off more people than we're attracting.

Matt Blumberg: So you worked in a couple of things that were in the financial services space before it was called FinTech.

Aimée Lapic: Yes, I did.

Matt Blumberg: And I think you ended up with something that was purchased by Citi or Chase, right?

Aimée Lapic: Well, I Own was purchased by Citi and became the online mortgage portal. And then I went to work for a company called Providian Financial, which was literally purchased by Washington Mutual, which was then purchased by Bank of America. I mean went through multiple iterations. And my first job there was actually working for their online mortgage portal, which was called Get Smart. So again, these clutchy names, you'll be smarter if you could do your own financial services. So my job at Get Smart was to be that era's version of a customer experience officer or chief customer officer until I own the email channel and I own online product development and I actually owned the customer service folks too, the folks who were answering emails of customers. And that was an amazing experience because it was holistically everything having to do with the customer journey, which was very fun.

Matt Blumberg: Yeah, and what's interesting about that, that was a long time ago in the scheme of how organizations have developed and it was working at a startup. I think that philosophy of the customer experience is king and lots of stuff feed it and can be organized around it. Was not really an intentional theme then so much as like, well you were the person that was there and you were doing a bunch of jobs.

Aimée Lapic: Right. I basically owned everything that no one else owned basically.

Matt Blumberg: Which is kind of what I had at movie phone. I was running the online business and whatever there was to do, including customer support emails and everything else was just there. How has that shaped your view over your career of the role of the customer experience or the owner of the customer experience on the executive team?

Aimée Lapic: I have such a deep respect and admiration for people who bring that holistic mindset to the table of truly thinking about all things customer- related. And I've come to expect that from every executive, whether they're the head of the... The CFO, how much does the CFO really appreciate customer experience to obviously the head of in kids and baby merchandising and product, it's all about the product. And so how much does the head of product really think about the whole customer experience from soup to nuts to the head of marketing as well. And I think when companies fail is when they don't keep the customer experience and the customer center focused. It should not be owned by just one person or one executive. There are elements that should be owned by one executive, but everyone should be thinking that way. And that's a hard jump for a lot of executives to make.

Matt Blumberg: Look, it's hard for a lot of executives to think cross- functionally, let alone thinking about something that's outside of their function.

Aimée Lapic: Yes, exactly. And I guess in my last X number of roles, I have tried to teach it by asking a lot of questions honestly. And by I'm always coming back to what does the customer see, who is the customer, how are we appealing to them? Either through product offering or through everything from in my current job it's time to receive a package. If you order pajamas for Halloween, you want it before Halloween. Are we going to be able to fulfill that on that or not? For example. And so I ask a lot of questions that get to what is the customer actually experiencing through everything we do.

Matt Blumberg: All right, so before we move to the next chapter of your career-

Aimée Lapic: Yeah, keep going.

Matt Blumberg: Which is the retail chapter. What are your thoughts on FinTech today? What does FinTech today look like relative to what it looked like in the late nineties?

Aimée Lapic: In the late nineties, I feel like we were, I hate to say this, I don't want to crush anyone's feelings, but we were winging a lot of things. So we were operating with very little data to make decisions and we were offering off the shelf traditional financial service products through a website interface. That was basically-

Matt Blumberg: That was Web 1.0.

Aimée Lapic: That was Web 1. 0. Today it's, think about personalization at scale. Like today, an individual can receive a rate... Depending on what the financial product is, the rate that's very customized to them, the product that's very customized to them, and they'll be cross sold and upsold, literally everything that they might need and more. But all coming back to what does the company know about that person based on the data? We didn't have any of that back in the day. And so it's a very different model today and it's evolved so much more. I actually think it's... The idea of personalization is positive in my mind because I think it does fulfill what customers actually really need. I mean Providian got its claim to fame by actually selling to folks who couldn't necessarily afford credit, credit. And exorbitant interest rates. And luckily I didn't have to participate in that side of the business, but that's how they made their money. And so it was the antithesis of personalization because it was basically trying to ram one product on everyone's throats versus I know you, I see you, I see your credit history, I can respond, in kind.

Matt Blumberg: Yeah, I mean the explosion of FinTech in the last few years is just amazing.

Aimée Lapic: It is amazing. I am no means an expert in it, Matt, at all. So I've kept my focus on the consumer products and services as opposed to financial services.

Matt Blumberg: Yeah. Well, all right, so that's a good bridge to the next chapter of your career, which was retail, Banana Republic Gap, and then moving into Pandora and GoPro. I don't know in your mind if you put those together or if you have the retail and then the digital separate.

Aimée Lapic: I feel like I grew up at the Gap. I was at the Gap almost 14 years and my very first job, so talk about kind of this, everything sort of builds upon each building block of your life. I went from online mortgages to for a stint at Providian. I owned co- branded credit cards, and I did partnerships with different companies like Home Shopping Network to come up with a co- branded credit card for them. And then I went to work for Banana Republic initially running the P& L of the credit card program. So you were a Lux credit card member or you were a basic credit card member and my job was CRM or customer relationship marketing through credit cards. That was before we had what we finally called at the time, multi tinder loyalty and what everyone calls today a loyalty program. And that was my next step. And I entered Banana Republic as this financial services person within the brand. And then I quickly took on more around brand management, around partnerships and started to build my career within all of marketing versus just a small sliver of marketing. And I was lucky at the Gap. I learned a lot about customers from the stores aspect first and then eventually the online aspect. So I had a couple different chapters within Gap in my career, and I went from Banana Republic to the actual outlet division, both Banana Republic factory stores and Gap Outlet. And my job was to run marketing for A) to create a marketing division for the outlet division and then to actually run the international business to all of outlet as a GM of the international business. And that was a great stint because we turned around a, in the industry was a five- year traffic decline to the outlet business and it became the true profit driver for all of Gap and Banana, the outlets. That's a little known fact that they're so high margin that they boost the specialty brands and then-

Matt Blumberg: And that's true generally in retail, like the outlets-

Aimée Lapic: Yes, it depends on the size. Depends on the size of the outlet channel, but in general, they're much more profitable than the regular price brands and you can see why. So A) they make less quality product and sell it for a lower price than the specialty brands, but not that much lower. And they pay far less in their leases and their rental agreements and their operations. They don't have to have the same level of customer service or experience. But if you could give customers a little bit more than what they were experiencing at your competitors, it was easy to gain share. Because the outlets in general are just not really well run. So that was a fantastic experience for me and then I got to do it internationally in all through Europe and Japan and opened up China, phenomenal experience on the global side as well. So love that chapter and I feel like I became a retailer mostly because I was focused on the stores and how the stores worked. And there was a ton of learning there all around, again, customer experience, but really around profit and loss and how do you drive a profitable operation.

Matt Blumberg: Yeah. Well, and obviously leading into your current chapter quite a bit, but what's interesting is the things in between those two, so Pandora and GoPro, right? Super interesting businesses, not clothing retail and outlets at all.

Aimée Lapic: At all. So my last few years of the Gap, I was the CMO of Banana Republic and the head of the e- comm business at Banana. So I owned Bananarepublic. com, which was a $ 380 million business at the time, so it was a substantial business. From there, I went to be the CMO of Pandora, the digital radio company, and I ran the subscription business for Pandora and really grew the subscription business. Everybody thinks of Pandora is free radio with an ad- based model. And we started selling paid subscriptions and that became very quickly the main profit driver for the company. That leap going from retail stores predominantly and then a little, two years back in e- comm, but truly retail to an app- based company was a big leap for me. And one of the things I have learned in my career is play into your strengths as you take on areas that you're not as strong in or maybe new to you. So first time I really overtly did that was in the outlets when I leaned into marketing, but then I took on the GM capabilities of running the international stores. I did the same thing at Pandora. I leaned into marketing. I had been the CMO of Banana Republic, so I knew a lot about marketing. I leaned into marketing, but I didn't know a lot about app- based marketing or how to drive a subscription business. I knew how to drive a loyalty business because I had done that earlier in my career, but subscriptions are different. And so I leaned into the marketing aspect while I took on these other areas and just frankly asked a lot of questions. I think if I had to give one piece of advice from when you make those transitions, don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Many times the people who are running the businesses, they haven't even asked that question because they think they know the answer because they're so used to the business.

Matt Blumberg: Or they think they're supposed to know the answer.

Aimée Lapic: Or they think they're supposed to know the answer. So every question, everybody says this, there are no dumb questions, there truly are no dumb questions. You really can learn something from every question. So I asked a lot of questions and I leaned in hard and amplified what I had experience in. And then great things happened. We were able to position the company to get bought by SiriusXM. That was a positive thing for the company financially. I stayed on for eight months, but my job had moved to New York and I was very much a Bay Area person. And so I then looked, I took a mini sabbatical of five months to reconnect with my children, which is very important to me. More on that later if you want to chat about that. And then I took a job at GoPro serendipitously at the right time. I took a job right at the beginning of the pandemic and GoPro at the time had about a hundred million dollars e- commerce business. And literally over two years we grew it to over$ 400 million. And we took our subscription business, which was pretty small and grew it to almost 2 million subscribers. So I knew how to do, again, knew how to run e- commerce, knew how to run subscription businesses for my previous two jobs. So I took it to something I knew nothing about, which is action cameras. I had never worked in hard goods before. Luckily I had a GoPro. I liked the customer experience, so I believed in the product. It's amazing. GoPros are incredible for what they do. So I had a lot of passion for it, but I basically had never done hard goods. And it is a different business model.

Matt Blumberg: It's very different. And so the question I have, if you think about all of those things and the retail and digital and hard goods chapter, one of the things that I was reflecting on as I was preparing for this was you worked for a number of years, 14 years for what you would call as a sustaining brand, right? Banana and Gap were around a long time before you were there and a long time after you were there. And Pandora and GoPro were ascendant brands. As a marketer, how do you reflect on the difference between those two types of jobs? Customer experience is obviously important to everything, lots of things are the same, but what's the critical difference?

Aimée Lapic: There is something about trying... When you're in ascending brand, there is something about trying to figure out what the true need that that brand is fulfilling in a different way. So there are a lot of executives, to your point, who have been in marketing at the Gap and Banana Republic and they've all done a wonderful job and the company has been around a very long time. And the need of what each of those brands was solving isn't all that different. People need clothes and how are you fashionable? So your take on it might be different for the time period, and maybe that your take on it is more about relevance for this cultural moment. But specifically for Pandora, Pandora was a brand that very well known, like 90% brand awareness, super well known. But Spotify had been this challenger brand who had come in and started to take a lot of market share. And so Pandora's biggest opportunity was, hey, we have to pivot and go after what all of these customers are saying they need. And they don't want ad- based radio anymore. They want playlists, they want to be driving what they hear versus listening to what we want to serve them. And Pandora had this unique take, still has this unique take. I'm still a Pandora listener and subscriber on being able to serve you, Matt or Aimée, your next favorite song based on what you've listened to in the past. And that's a brilliant thing. I love it. I always find out new songs that I love from Pandora, but they could do it in a way where I could also build playlist based on my four favorite songs and then easily get to the next four favorite songs and I can pay money for that. And they had three different tiers of subscriptions and that business was nascent when I got there and we had to figure out how to take what Pandora was good at and meet where the customer was really quickly so that we didn't continue to lose market share in the same way we had been losing it before. And so as a marketer, it was all about what need are we trying to solve that customers are telling us they have because they're not getting it from us, and then how do we use our strengths to basically have a differentiated position to meet that need. And that was pretty cool, honestly, to be able to do that so effectively at Pandora.

Matt Blumberg: And a very different challenge than the outlet business, the international business at Gap or the outlet business.

Aimée Lapic: Yes. Honestly, very different challenge. Yes.

Matt Blumberg: All right, so you're now in your first CEO job, CEO of Hanna Anderson. You've been there for a year? Just about a year?

Aimée Lapic: Almost 14 months.

Matt Blumberg: 14 months, okay.

Aimée Lapic: Yes, that was a big deal because I wanted to pass the year mark pretty seamlessly and be able to tell the company, I'm not going anywhere, I'm here to stay.

Matt Blumberg: So you've been there 14 months.

Aimée Lapic: Yes.

Matt Blumberg: And with my recruiter hat on, given what we do at Bolster, I'm now looking at your resume mentally and thinking like you were an obvious choice for them with all of the experience that you had had. And so I have a couple questions about this. It hasn't been a long chapter yet, but the first one is you came in as CEO, right? So you weren't promoted from within, but it's your first CEO job.

Aimée Lapic: Right.

Matt Blumberg: How has that transition been for you? What are a couple things you've learned or challenges you've had making the leap from CXO to CEO?

Aimée Lapic: Yeah. Honestly, I always thought the hardest transition in life was going from being an amazing individual contributor-

Matt Blumberg: Being manager.

Aimée Lapic: To a first time manager. And I can remember the first time I had one direct report and how hard it was.

Matt Blumberg: Everyone who's been through that remembers that.

Aimée Lapic: Yes. And it was hard because I went from being really good at my little job to having to figure out how to empower and give enough to this person, direct report, so they felt really good at their individual job while I was still getting the stuff done. Boy, that was hard. I always say anybody who can make that transition seamlessly, they probably will be CEO or at least a senior executive somewhere because that's hard. Becoming CEO was kind of like that for me. I transitioned from being really an expert in my field around marketing and digital capabilities to running things that aren't necessarily my strong suit. So while I had had exposure to everything, so obviously exposure to P& L, responsibility, obviously exposure even to distribution centers or to sourcing and merchandising from a product perspective I had never managed in most of those fields before. And so figuring out very quickly how to be not just a manager in title, but an actual leader and someone who the team needs and relies on in a positive way. Not a dependent way, but a positive way, an inspirational way, continues to be a work in progress. I think I'm constantly trying to get better at that, constantly trying to figure out that natural balance of empowering the team to do what they need to do while still feeling like I do have experience in some areas, and I definitely have a lot of questions, always come back to asking a lot of questions. To help deliver and uncover insights on which they act. So I'm constantly balancing my natural curiosity with their expertise to empower them. And I really view my job as prioritization. Like how do I help them prioritize? Hopefully not every day, but at least on a regular basis so that people feel like they're being able to make a material difference with the time that they have. It's just like being a first time manager. How do you get what you need to get done and empower and lead and prioritize for that one direct report. That's very similar, it's just on a big scale.

Matt Blumberg: Yeah, it's a bigger scale and I think it's managing some things that you really don't understand.

Aimée Lapic: At all

Matt Blumberg: Like when you get promoted from the communications coordinator to the marcom manager, you kind of know what everything is because it's all the people that have been sitting next to you. But that's really different than having a CTO report to you if you've never managed technology or a CFO, if you've never managed finance.

Aimée Lapic: Or a COO if you've never managed the distribution center. I've never managed a distribution center.

Matt Blumberg: I think you're right. I think the key to that is just asking the questions.

Aimée Lapic: Yes. And I would say my largest surprise, and I want all senior executives to just think about this, is that be careful what you say to do. Because whatever you say to do, people will go do.

Matt Blumberg: People will go do.

Aimée Lapic: They'll go do it, and they won't really ask questions even if they think you're insane. So you need to couch everything with, have you thought about this? Or here's one way to look at it. What are your ideas? Or here's some thought starters, please add to it. I know I don't have all the right answers, et cetera. So you need to really be careful, especially as CEO. Everybody wants to do well, they want to do well, they want to be successful, and they unfortunately think you have all the right answers.

Matt Blumberg: Right. Well, I think it is particularly true of CEOs and then within CEO hood, it's particularly true of doing skip level meetings. Because your CFO is going to tell you you're saying something dumb if you're saying-

Aimée Lapic: Of course.

Matt Blumberg: ... something dumb. Orif you have the right CFO, they will. But if you're having a hallway conversation with a marketing manager and you're thinking out loud about something, that could turn into a press release inaudible.

Aimée Lapic: It'll become a huge project. And in the world that we now live in, post- pandemic world where you can have a meeting with 40 some odd people and not really realize 40 some odd people are listening to what you're saying. Which happens. I mean I meet all the time with large groups of people because they want exposure, they have a point of view, they're learning, et cetera. You got to be really careful about what you say in those meetings.

Matt Blumberg: How many employees do you guys have?

Aimée Lapic: We have a little over 300, especially at peak when we get to seasonal peak because we've got a large contingent in the distribution center. And then we have our own wholly- owned call center as well.

Matt Blumberg: Okay. All right. So I have a crystal ball question for you around retail. So what is the future of retail going to look like? Malls all over the country are struggling, right? The pandemic made it even more clear to everyone that you don't have to leave your house to buy things and yet you got to feel like there's a future in in- person shopping.

Aimée Lapic: Oh yeah.

Matt Blumberg: How is that going to shake out over the next 10 years?

Aimée Lapic: It's a really good question. So Hanna Anderson is now a hundred percent D to C. We closed our stores like serendipitously early in'20 and our business took off. Covid was not a gift, but it was really powerful for the business. And we are now thinking what is our long- term omnichannel strategy? Because I don't think in- person shopping is dead by any stretch of the imagination. What we have heard from our customers, especially new moms, the way they discover brands is in person. They browse, they look, they try to get ideas, et cetera. And so there's got to be, I think a balance of allowing people, consumers to discover new brands and new products in person along with the ease of shopping on your phone. That synergy and that balance, I think is going to be very real. Having said that-

Matt Blumberg: It's probably going to take people a bunch of runs at it to get it right.

Aimée Lapic: I think so. I think so. And it depends on the industry too. So if I look at what beauty has done through social commerce and through influencers, that is a whole channel that didn't exist five years ago. And that's all about, I'm talking to, they're my daughter. I'm talking to the tween or the teen that is getting ready and wants to try different skincare products and they're showing her or him how to wear them, et cetera, and they're selling it right there. And so that's a whole new channel that is still retail, but is very different than traditional malls or traditional website for sure.

Matt Blumberg: Yeah. All right. I have two more questions, totally different topics. The first one is around being a CEO and being a parent.

Aimée Lapic: Ooh.

Matt Blumberg: Or even a CXO, right? You've been a senior executive, hardworking senior executive for a long time. How have you learned to bring balance to those two things? What's one tip you can give to anyone who's listening to this that runs a department, runs a division, runs a company?

Aimée Lapic: I would say you can do both really well. So think about this. You can be a senior executive and be a parent for sure. You can't do both really well every single day in the same way. And I really do think your priorities have to shift by day almost. The way I think about it is, and I say this to teams as I manage them, literally everything is a phase, and whatever you're going through right now is a phase that will end. So sometimes you have to work really hard. Like I've got a board meeting coming up, I'm going to work really hard on getting ready for that board meeting, and that means I won't be able to spend as much time with my kids. However, today was my daughter's first day of school, and you bet you I drove her to school. I took the first day pictures with all of her friends. That was my priority, and that came way before work came. So I just think you have to make those distinct decisions every day almost in terms of which priority is going to win out and how do I balance? Because you can do it both effectively. You just have to think about when does it matter in different circumstances.

Matt Blumberg: That's a great way to think about it. All right. My last question for you is about boards. So you've been an independent board member for a while now, right? As a CXO. You've been on a public board, you're still on a public board. I think you were on some other boards along the way, and I spent a lot of time with CEOs talking about the value of independent directors and how to get the most out of them. So you've been one for a long time, and now you run a board for the first time.

Aimée Lapic: I do.

Matt Blumberg: So how has running a board changed the way you act as the independent director on another board?

Aimée Lapic: Yes. That balance of being an independent director versus an operator wasn't really clear to me a hundred percent until I became, for all intents and purposes, the head of the board at Hanna, the chairman of the board at Hanna. Although we have a PE firm, Catterton and they're probably really the chairman of the board. But anyway-

Matt Blumberg: But you run the company.

Aimée Lapic: Is my board.

Matt Blumberg: You're writing the board book, you're leading the board meeting.

Aimée Lapic: Yes. The way I think about when I get the most help and use out of my board members is when they ask me the questions is when they provide insights based on their experience. It's not when they lean in and tell me you should do X or I did why, and therefore I can lean in and help you do it in this way. That's not as helpful. It's really helpful to help me think about things differently or to even offer to do introductions. We're doing some product colabs. I've got an independent board member who has a ton of connections. We've asked her for help. That's really helpful for me. And so as an independent director on Cardlytics board, I am less about telling Cardlytics how they should run their marketing department. I didn't really do that in the beginning, but I had stronger opinions and now I ask questions to try to help them think about things differently. But I don't lean in with, you guys should be doing X, Y, and Z because that's not going to be helpful to the CEO. He doesn't really want to be told how he should be running his marketing department. It is a tiny bit different in that a Cardlytics, customer of Cardlytics is a CMO. And so I have a strong opinion on how they could be positioning stuff as a CMO. But when I'm on at the board meetings at Cardlytics, I couch everything with, " I think a lot of CEOs or CMOs feel this way, and you might want to think about it this way," versus you guys need to do X or Y. And I think as an independent director, you just need to think about the most help you can be giving is helping someone think about things differently versus telling them what to do.

Matt Blumberg: So that's a great note to end on. And the observation I have is that our theme for today has been asking questions. And what I learned from you is you like asking questions, which is great, and I do too. But you ask them for very different reasons. Sometimes you're asking them to learn and sometimes you're asking them to teach.

Aimée Lapic: That's right. That's right. That's an astute observation, Matt.

Matt Blumberg: Aimée, thank you so much for spending time with me today. It was great to talk to you, and I really appreciate it.

Aimée Lapic: Thank you so much for having me on, Matt. This has been terrific. I really enjoy working with you and the whole team at Bolster.


Today on The Daily Bolster, Matt interviews Aimée Lapic, a friend of his from college and the CEO of Hanna Andersson. The two discuss the value of her time as a consultant, what she’s learned about playing to one’s strengths, and her first CEO role. 

Aimée focus on driving businesses through optimal customer experiences sets her apart. Tune in to hear her perspective on leadership and the future of retail.

Today's Host

Guest Thumbnail

Matt Blumberg

|Co-Founder & CEO, Bolster

Today's Guests

Guest Thumbnail

Aimée Lapic

|CEO, Hanna Andersson