executive perspectives: The Business of Being Bold
Bold. Different. Memorable. For most businesspeople, those are nice traits, things to strive for. For Rick Greene, MAS, they're a mantra. Besides writing dozens of articles under the "Be Bold, Be Different, Be Memorable" tagline in industry publications over the last 20 years, he has applied the mindset to every facet of his business style.
Fresh out of college in 1982, Greene got his start in the promotional industry filing catalogs and doing research for the sales staff at the Woodland Hills, Calif. office of the Walter W. Cribbins Company. Not content with a background role in sales support, he made the move into sales, and then into sales management, working for a number of distributors before landing at the Chatsworth, Calif. branch of HALO Branded Solutions. Now, he serves as HALO's Western regional vice president.
Read on as Greene reveals his bold, different, memorable approach.
Print+Promo (P+P): How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
Rick Greene (RG): For a couple of decades, I was a fierce goal-setter, and insisted my salespeople set and strive for specific goals. At the end of each year, what actually ended up happening bore little resemblance to what we set out to accomplish 12 months earlier. HALO expects me to hit certain goals, and I hit them—but I don't set goals for myself anymore. Each day is an opportunity for excellence, to be better than yesterday, to reach out and help someone, to make the world a better place for branded merchandise. You can't set goals. It's just wishful thinking based on what might happen. Go out there and be superb, help those around you, solve problems and kill it, every single day.
P+P: How does the economy continue to affect the industry?
RG: It was rough for a few years, but it's all a state of mind. The economy can affect the industry—if you let it. About two months into 2013 I went to my sales force and proclaimed that the recession was over. And it was over. That doesn't make me omnipotent (well, maybe a little) but there are plenty of great clients placing massive orders to support their marketing efforts, whether its 2009 or 2015. Decide how successful you'll be, and be that. Don't settle for less than that.
P+P: What do you expect to be some of the biggest challenges the industry will face?
RG: We hear a lot about the hot-button topics of suppliers selling direct, distributors cutting out suppliers and going to China, online merchandisers pulling away client spend, safety challenges scaring away large orders—these aren't things the average sales person has any control over. I leave these issues to great strategic thinkers, like Marc Simon and Rod Brown and Gene Geiger and Terry McGuire, to sort out. I'm in the trenches with my account executives. Their biggest challenges are, "How can I be better than yesterday?" and, "What tools and creative approaches will differentiate me from my competition?" These are the challenges I love to tackle with my sales force.
P+P: What keeps you up at night?
RG: Nothing keeps me up at night anymore. I discovered how to switch it off. You have to, if you want to keep your brain from scrambling. But before I developed that survival skill, import orders gave me night terrors. I could tell you some stories that would shed every hair from your head!
P+P: What do you think is the most exciting, cutting-edge thing your company is doing right now? Why?
RG: HALO is doing a lot of cutting-edge things (leading the field in product safety for our clients, launching Halo.com to generate e-leads for our sales force, developing 12-month marketing activity plans plugging in a vast array of account development tools for our AE's) but the coolest, newest thing is something we call HALO's Big Deal, which focuses on an innovative product and offers our client base the monthly opportunity for a massive group-buy. The more orders clients place, the lower the price drops over a two-week period. We send out update emails as the price gets lower and lower. Clients really dig it! Interest has been intense and we've brought in thousands of orders we otherwise wouldn't have received each and every month.
P+P: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
RG: I'm pretty communicative about the fact that I have two fiction books published: "Boofalo!" and "Shroom!" by Richard S. Greene. [I'm also] a massive old-movie buff and authority on film comedy, and a collector of vintage film posters.