Saturday, August 22, 2020

Flexible Leadership in an Era of Constant Change - John Tabis

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VoiceAmerica  0:04  
One problem facing people at many levels of business is how to make time for a work life and a personal life. Do you find that one seems to keep getting in the way of the other? This is the work life balance with Rick Morris. Even if you're not involved in the business world, you'll have a lot to gain by tuning into today's show. Now, here's your host, Rick Morris.

Rick A. Morris  0:26  
And welcome to another edition of the work life balance on this Friday afternoon. I apologize for the different sound as I'm attending a business mastermind in an undisclosed location. But many of you know I'm a member of the john Maxwell team. And we normally have these huge events that we run twice a year. And as part of that I've got an incredible inner circle of people that that I get to fellowship with and with everything in COVID in taking AMC virtual this year, we decided to create Come rent a house and have the nine of us get together and speak into each other's businesses and lives and catch up with each other. It's been a phenomenal time. So I'm not in the studio is normal don't have the normal setup. But we're glad to have you guys with us. But I'm so excited about this interview. As a matter of fact, normally when I have an event like I'm doing today, and where I'm talking all day in and working with people, I normally go to a replay, but this gentleman was just too good to pass up our schedules aligned. And I'm so excited. So I just want to jump right in and talk to this gentleman. He's a proven brand builder, builder, an entrepreneur with deep experience in innovative media ventures and consumer products. He's the founder and chairman of the books company. And for those of you that are Shark Tank nerds like myself, we know the story of books and I can't wait to get into it in 2012 along with co founder, Juan Pablo and I want to say man too far. Hopefully I say that right? He he launched in Marina Del Rey California based company, and is now an industry leader in the online floral space that delivers flowers and plants fresh from eco friendly, sustainable farms around the world. doorsteps nationwide prior to launching boops. This gentleman worked in corporate breach strategy for Disney and shoedazzle and advise fortune 100 clients at Bain and company so let's bring him on john Tablas. How you doing, john?

John Tabis  2:27  
Great. Thanks so much for having me.

Rick A. Morris  2:29  
It did it. Did I say your partner's name properly? I

John Tabis  2:31  
think you nailed it.

Rick A. Morris  2:32  
Get out. Yeah, that that that Alabama accent is rock better, but I like it. Listen, there's so much I want to cover on this. And you know, you gave me a few questions in kind of pre roll in. But yeah, I don't know if I'll even touch those questions because I've got so many that are burning down to talk about whatever. So I would love I know it. I've watched it. I know the follow ups. Again, I'm not just a shark tank. You know? fan but a true on just geek. I've had the pleasure of working with a gentleman by the name of Paul but drazi who had a lunchbox that they brought on, but he's he wrote talent was hired by CAA to reinvigorate their whole online UI experience. But just whenever I get to meet people have gone through that experience. I'm just fascinated. I'd love to tap into the mindset and everything else. So let's let's bring the listeners up to speed if you know if they haven't followed the story, but you've got every entrepreneurs dream, which is a chance to pitch to you know, some incredible people, but it didn't quite go the way you expected. Can Can we talk about that for a moment? Sure. I don't mean to rip off scabs their job yet

John Tabis  3:46  
yeah, look, I think that shark tank is one of the best thing that's ever happened to our company. It's one of the best things ever happened to me as an individual. So I love shark thing. I talk about it all day. So yeah, so we we filmed in the state Summer of 2013 and we're getting we're getting back there in the company's history and then we aired in the spring of 2014. And I believe it was the highest rated season in terms of ratings for Shark Tank since it started. I'm not saying it was because of us but I'm not saying it

Rick A. Morris  4:16  
was a great season though for sure.

John Tabis  4:17  
Yeah. Crazy amazing companies the first season where they had startups on and all that kind of stuff. And, and so I pitched that summer. It's a fascinating experience. You know, as I was a fan, I am a fan of the show as well just as a viewer. But what you see is so very different than what the experiences you know, I I luckily it was sort of easy for me I live about a mile and a half from the Culver City lot where Sony Sony lot where they filmed the show. And so for me, I just drove over, parked and hopped into the into the star wagon to get my makeup and my hair done and all that kind of stuff. But you walk in, and it's the first time you see the sharks, you You're not hanging out with them beforehand, you're not hanging out with them afterwards it is it is just like in the show. But then you're in there, you know, I was in there for an hour and 53 minutes or something like that. And six and a half of that makes it onto the TV set. Sure we are at home. And so it was a it was a it was a heck of an experience. Because you're in there for a while the lights are on you, you're cooking under these lights. And the sharks are just peppering you with questions, I mean, left and right, left and right over top of each other at the same time. And so it's highly stressful environment.

Rick A. Morris  5:31  
So what's interesting to me about that, because you go into the pitch, and the sticking point really was around the the time the six days to fulfill and then you know, you you stated you were launching online or overnight delivery in about three weeks. That was going to be a different cause so that Barbara gets a little bit miffed on the fact that you're changing your strategy, which I didn't follow that comment at all. But then I agree. I was like, Dude, it's a higher cost because it's overnight like there's no change. Strategy whatsoever. So I, you know, I was like, Alright, whatever. But Kevin, who can be, you know, historically just brutal, right? He gets into the I don't even know where to send the flowers for your funeral because funeral will have I mean, that was it's a great line. I mean, it's probably one of his top five ever he landed on the show. But But you didn't get the deal. You didn't get the deal. So talk to me about walking out of that tank. And this is really where I want to get into with this interview because a lot of my listeners are entrepreneurs, startup people, coaches, that kind of stuff. And what I'd love to bring out in the show is it's not the success is the few. It's the failure to breed the success that really learned from so you're walking out of the tank, walk me through that experience. Sure. And you couldn't be more right. You know, I've failed a lot more in this journey than I've succeeded in terms of percentages of actions that worked or didn't work or, you know, fundraising or whatever it might be. It's not That you succeed all the time or you get it all right it's that you refuse to stop. Right You keep going you learn from it you get better and that is absolutely for any entrepreneur if you don't have super thick skin and just an obstinance about you where you will not give up no matter what, try something else right? You can be great at a lot. I'm not overweight, this is just scar tissue from entrepreneurship. That's that's what it is. Yeah, I love that. But

John Tabis  7:24  
yeah, so look, I I got roundly rejected by all five sharks. It was it was, you know, I think I walked out and I said brutal sort of under my breath as I walked out of the, because it was but here's the thing. And you know, this wasn't part of the show, but I had been rejected by well over 150 investors before that show. Now, none of them were five at a time and none of them were on national television under the hot lights. But I'd already developed that thick skin and they were from super smart investors, investors you've all heard of in Silicon Valley and like very famous people down to folks who, you know, Mom and Pop sort of angel investors that were like I don't know if I want to give you my $20,000. JOHN, thanks very much. And so I gotten used to this idea that they can pass and I can still be right. Right? These are not them passing or them rejecting or whatever you want to call, it does not mean that my thesis or my company is not going to succeed, like those two are, that is not an incontrovertible truth. They could be right. And they might be smart to pass. Many of people that pass in those early days have come to me and said, Wow, I guess we were wrong. But they never they never bad 1000. And once you get comfortable with this idea that super smart people can be wrong. And then in investing, often they are. You can come out with this position of Hey, I can I can keep this thing going. This does not mean the end of the road for me. And so because we had gone through, we had raised a $1.7 million seed round right before I went to pitch. I had already been through the meat grinder of just pitch, reject pitch, reject, pitch reject. I took it. I won't lie. It didn't. It's not that it didn't hurt. It always hurts. Sure. It wasn't the end. To the world because it was sort of like okay, so five more people add them on top of 103 that have already said now now we're at 108. We're moving on to Wednesday. Let's go get Wednesday.

Rick A. Morris  9:09  
So I think in the journey what was most fascinating to me, right, so I love the episode. I love that Kevin was brutal. I thought it was cool. I actually was one of the people that ordered you know, you obviously get that spike. Yeah, I'm notorious for getting emotionally invested in the company base, just in that six and a half minutes, like, well, I'm gonna go get it. Okay. You know, and it was awesome. We I actually, again, I mentioned my business mastermind, we were just talking downstairs and I had to put it on pause, like, come to the interview. They said, Who you interview and I told them and they started raving about the company, right? And they're like, Oh, yeah, you can go to FTD. And, you know, maybe the flowers are good for two to three days. But you know, it came from Ecuador via nitrogen packing and all this other stuff, right? Or you can go to boots and it's gonna last you a good two to three weeks right now. I can't guarantee that you can't guarantee that but that's the that's the reality of what's Done. But in this journey, what fascinated me more than anything was the follow up interview with Robert Hirsch. In fact, when they came back and had that episode of, you know, deals we wish we would have gotten in on or things that we passed on. And every one of them had regrets on passing of books. But my herjavec said something really, really cool. And I want to dive into it. So he bumps into you guys run into each other somehow. And but then you said, let me show you the flower business. And based on that, that's when Robert finally came in and jumped in with you talk to me a little bit about that.

John Tabis  10:35  
Yeah, so it was actually around his wedding. So he was on Dancing with the Stars. That's right. That's right fell in love with his dancing partner, which is kind of an amazing story. And so he calls me out of the blue and and literally a phone number pops up. I don't recognize it. I think it's my three o'clock call. It was like 258 and he's like john Robert from Shark Tank. I need help with my wedding flowers. Help him with his wedding flowers, we saved him a ton of money. And in the journey with with me, he got to spend so much time he got into the business really got to learn the business. At the end of his like, hey, I'd really love to invest time still invest. And I was like, of course you're gonna invest, Robert, but the shark tank itself is such a rapid fire experience that he didn't have the time to understand the nuances and complexities of the supply chain and how what we were doing was really different. But in that time with me over his wedding, he was able to get that learning and that got him really excited about the business.

Rick A. Morris  11:30  
Kim as a matter of fact, his wife was dancing partners with a good friend of mine and Joey Fatone when they live they did that. So I was a fan of Kim. So when I saw that go down I thought that was pretty cool. But that's right. So he he was a customer first and he was running into the normal side of the business of how expensive they can really be for no reason. And so what I want to get into next and we've got to take a break right here we're gonna we're going to go to commercials, but I want to see the questions so that everybody knows what we're talking about when we come back. What I really want to get into next is how did you figure out what those nuances of the business and essentially you've, you've revolutionized the the the online flower, you know, boutique bouquets. But I really want to understand like, what's different about your flower business than any other flower business that's out there and what makes boots so special? So we're gonna, we're gonna get that answer right after the break. You're listening to Rick more from the work life balance.

VoiceAmerica  12:26  
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from the boardroom to you, voice America business network.

You are tuned in to the work life balance. To reach Rick Morris or his guest today, we'd love to have you call into the program at 1-866-472-5790. Again, that's 1-866-472-5790 if you'd rather send an email Rick can be reached at our Morris at r squared Now back to the work life balance.

Rick A. Morris  14:46  
And we're back on the work life balance this Friday afternoon with john Tavis and john I you know I got to apologize up front because I'm just geeking out man I love this story, the perseverance, the overcoming everything that you've kind of been through When I get opportunities to speak to somebody that's been through as much as you have I kind of nerd out. So, you know, advanced apologies as I continue to geek out in business here. So we gave a seed question right before we went to break, though, but what makes boots so different? Like what? What is the pitch? And what did you figure out that made you kind of feel that you were right?

John Tabis  15:23  
Yeah, that's a great question. So at the beginning, you know, this company started as a conversation between my co founder and I, and he is a good buddy of mine from from Notre Dame go Irish. And he, he had been running a floral farm. And he had reached out to me because he wanted to start doing more direct sales from the farm, but he wasn't a marketer. He was a biochemist. And in those conversations, all these sort of call it negative externalities or inefficiencies, or just poor negative experiences for farmers and consumers kept popping up and those prices Problems just they started like eating at me and eating in him and these conversations. And there were things like, hey, his farm invested heavily in sustainability and then invested very heavily in their people, they treated them, right, they paid them well, etc, etc. But no one on the other end even knew that because they don't know which flowers come from which farm. And the farmer always gets paid last at the beginning of the value chain, and they're waiting for all these players to pay each other. So they could get paid, they have very little negotiating power. Flowers, by definition in the traditional supply chain spend a lot of time moving around and not in people's faces. So the wasted time the wasted life of the flowers and logistics, instead of being used in the home for beauty and for comfort. And so and then, you know, I went on and started shopping sites as I started talking about this, and I saw this 1999 ad and all of a sudden, I was being charged $75 at checkout, and I was like, yep, how did that how did we get to this place? This doesn't make any sense. And then I ordered pink and I got yellow and how does that happen? And it turns out that all of These things are related. And and they all boil down to the idea that that flowers are a complex thing to sell because there are dainty, alive, organic thing. And they're grown far away. They're grown primarily in Ecuador in Colombia. And so this, this whole industry, the whole supply chain grew up around that you have the farmers in South America, you have exporters, of importers in Miami, of customs of wholesalers, you have florists, and you have online retailers, that are all trying to work with this very, very dainty and very alive product, they have to treat in a very special way. It's not surprising that in all those steps, you lose things, it creates waste, it creates older flowers, you can't control exactly which flowers are when and where. So they're not exactly the same ones that you ordered. And so our whole idea was if we can put all those steps under one roof, the books roof, work directly with the farmer and only pick the best farmers that means quality of stems, variety, design and sustainability and how technology really Leave all that together, then we can give them the best of all worlds the best quality stuff at the best price. And that's really what we've been trying to do ever since.

Rick A. Morris  18:07  
And of course, the farmers would prefer to work directly with you then through all the other various outlets, right? Just because again, you get paid,

John Tabis  18:15  
paid better. In the beginning, it was tough because it was a different way for them to work, right. They're used to sending things into wholesale, which is big bins, doing something we call plop and chop, which is hacking the flowers and put them in a big bin. We were asking them to design bouquets based on the interface, ship them in individual small packages directly to a consumer ready for consumption. And if you ask a farmer what is a beautiful rose, they will say of like a natural rose being thorns and like all the natural pieces. That's not what consumers are looking for. So we were asking them to change the way they did things. There was a lot of resistance, but then we got a couple farms because my co founders farm and friends farm and as they saw the experience, it worked for them. They started talking to other farmers, the other Farmers started saying, Hey, can I get in on that? And all of a sudden, we started to grow naturally, we have to sell it anymore. People were coming to us saying, can we work with you too? And then that spread globally and that our network now is 140 Farms on three continents in like 18 different countries.

Rick A. Morris  19:15  
Wow. Now talk to me really quickly because you and I have a link there. So I worked at Disney when I was 11. I was part of the Mickey Mouse Club, really, for all seven of those seasons. So and I grew up in Orlando. Yeah. So that's how it was Joey Fatone. Well. That's That's exactly right. And now Yeah, but like my high school was, you know, Joey Fatone, Wayne Brady. Johnny Damon, who you know, is famous baseball player is amazing. We all just grew up together from like, second grade on right whereas now more people are trained see it in Orlando. We were there in kind of grew through that whole piece. But what did you What did you do with Disney?

John Tabis  19:52  
So I joined Disney after my MBA out of UCLA. My previous career to MBA was in strategy and marketing. Couple years at Bain and company and then doing some advertising Gerber baby was my client. I was like 25 year old trying to teach moms how to how to breastfeeding and I knew nothing about anything. But I digress. So, at Disney, I did sort of a combination of those two roles. I worked in a group called corporate brand management, which was a subdivision of corporate brand of corporate strategy. And so that was a group that we sat right directly below Bob Iger physically, and an org structure. And Kevin Mayer, who ran strategy up until he recently left to become the CEO of Tick Tock was ultimately our boss. And our job internally, the brand management team was a couple different sub teams. My team focus specifically on trends and technology, how that was changing consumers behaviors, and therefore what should we do with our brands, ABC, ESPN, Marvel and the Walt Disney at the time, Lucasfilm and the Star Wars acquisition was just just being worked on so it wasn't at the time. And so it was a super cool job because all we did was talk about Hey, when's over the top gonna happen? What's this new thing called an iPad? And how are kids going to use it? We were We were like sort of at the bleeding edge of entertainment technology and how it's gonna impact all. So we got to work with Imagineering and see like what was going to happen in the parks early with Apple, because Steve Jobs is on the board. And we had a special relationship with them. And so our job was essentially measure these things, how many people are using them? How often? How are they using them? And then work with different business units to figure out okay, and in theaters and film? How is this going to change your business and TV and radio and whatever the different businesses were? So we were essentially internal consultants around technology and how it impacted our brands. It was a super cool gig.

Rick A. Morris  21:40  
That's very cool. And so was boots. What boots what your first entrepreneurial journey, though, tell me tell me about the ones that came before that.

John Tabis  21:48  
So MOOCs is the one that works. There were lots of others that were tried, but none of them were really what I'd say careers they were more side hustles and projects. Right, so I had an actually, you'll find this now. I think it's called change up. I had a concept for Roundup, which was this idea of giving to charity with the pennies that are leftover. It's like the same thesis acorns has for investing. You know, if you have 80 cents leftover, it'll go to charity. I had a business plan for it, I had a team etc, etc. I couldn't raise any money for it for whatever reason, someone else was successful. I wasn't it became a another stack and the things that didn't work. I think my favorite story that I love to tell about something that I created that I didn't that didn't succeed is, is when I was 12 or 13. I invented the hybrid electric car. I remember we learned about friction. And I was like, Wait a second, the brakes get hot, that creates energy that can push that into a battery, which then make the car go forward. And I drew a diagram for it and stuff. No one pays me any royalties. Of course, that's the thing. Ideas are worth nothing. Ideas are worth literally nothing. I've had so many billion dollar ideas. Is, and I've done nothing with any of them. So they're worth nothing to me or to the world. execution is everything. And the hardest part of execution. And this is for the entrepreneurs out there that haven't really done it yet. It's just getting started. Like a key thing is, you just got to try them and be willing to fail. You know, I had movie concepts, TV concepts, as well as at Disney. I was writing scripts with people and like trying to get them pitched. And they didn't go anywhere. But you don't you literally nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Rick A. Morris  23:29  
Yeah. So I love because you I know what it takes to get a TV show on air. I know what it takes to go through concept and all that other stuff we had. I had a reality show that was very, very close to getting picked up and fell apart at the last minute we in fact, that Mickey Mouse Club by a group called the party and we were financing a comeback and we were gonna have a reality show around that and got very, very close and then then fell apart. But then you see like some of these other shows that just pop out. You're like, dude, how did they get funded? This is the dumbest I've ever seen in my entire life there's no script no plot, no character development, no nothing. Right reality or otherwise you're like, but it valley that but then he stopped watching it because you can't it's not enough. So I'm sure you felt a lot of that

John Tabis  24:12  
well and even within boots and similar thing like there's things that I've as the founder and CEO at the time was trying to get done in my org and sometimes I didn't get them done why I didn't sell it well enough. It wasn't the right idea at the time, we didn't have the capability to execute on it. Talking about shows we were attached. I was an executive producer on a show around floral design for like four years. And we pitched everyone we got rejected by everyone. And then the last year to got picked up two devices that we have nothing to do with it picked up now. You'll actually see one of them will come out this fall and we are going to be a small part of it. But you know, this is what life is done. Everything works on everything goes our way. But it's the number of times you can get back up and keep swinging and can you learn from the rejection and as we talked about the beginning, you know, with with investing, it's just about taking risks. Right and you get better at life you get better at business, you get better at entrepreneurship with each rep that you take. At some point, if you only fail, and you never see any success, one has to question Is this the path for you? Sure, outside of that, which is really a self care thing, like, do I want to subject myself to any more of this pain is this really for me, and or practicality I need to pay the bills. It's really about that grit determination, that that that refusal to believe, refusal to accept that you're wrong, that your thesis is not going to play out.

Rick A. Morris  25:32  
Now, what's interesting, though, so you said it was 2014 when you err on on shirting, so the the social environmental conscious businesses at the time that they were just kind of getting off the ground, right, it's really more of an explosion 2016 2017 where, right millennials really just started to care about where's the money going? What are you doing with it, so you have the great bombas and you know, those types of stories, but you're really cutting edge on the social An economic kind of socially conscious side of the business as well.

John Tabis  26:03  
Yeah, we were pretty early, almost a little bit too early. We kind of we kind of missed the right wave for when to launch. But you're right, I do the we saw in the millennial and the post millennial generations. You know, I think the long term sort of long term consumer will demand to know where where things come from, right. It's it's happening, it's not fully happened yet. But there was a time in which companies could just be like, I'm going to put whatever I put on the shelf and you will take it and that will be just what it is. So they had so much power, but with the internet and with e commerce and the sort of lower and lower barriers to entry, competition springs up and that competition will care about what consumers care about, which is going to force everyone do you think about this? 1520 years ago, we didn't talk about where our food came from. Maybe it came from the grocery store. I went right Giant Eagle out in Pittsburgh, and that's where I got my food, right? The eagle, so he called it and like, that's where I got my food. We didn't ask about where the lead is like which farm the lettuce came from how they farmed. But there's a level of information out there, which then therefore creates transparency that now requires it. And so we were pretty early on in Florida, we're very proud of that. You're seeing more and more brands and florals start to talk about it, which is exactly what our goal was. But there is an explosion across fashion, food, certainly, and just sort of transparency of where things come from, how its manufactured, what that impact is on the environment and what the impact is on the consumer where that's becoming now the expectation instead of the exception.

Rick A. Morris  27:34  
Yeah, is talking about being early. So I was an entrepreneurial consultant for Xerox, and I was there for the internet, boom, right? There's just right when the internet's coming online and all this stuff. And we had dreamed up this product called internet bill. Payment and presentment I VPP. And that was going into banks and stuff and going Why are you sending in printing statements? I can send that email. I remember sitting with CIOs going well, emails, not secure and I was like, dude, I can go to your mailbox and just open the door and get your bank statement. Like I don't understand that. But I've been on that, you know, and obviously now every single company does it, right. Everybody's got online statements, but we were pitching that like in 9798. You know, that kind of thing that we early early. So I've been a part of that. And we're gonna take another break right here. When we get back I want to talk about, you know, the elephant in the room, which is COVID and how that's impacting business. And honestly, and you also made a transition from being the CEO chairman. So I want to get into that when we when we come back from break. You're listening to Rick Morris and the work life balance. We'll be right back.

VoiceAmerica  28:39  
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When it comes to

business, you'll find the experts here voice America business network.

You are tuned in to the work life balance to reach Rick A. Morris or his guest today we'd love to have you call into the program at 1-866-472-5790. Again, that's 1-866-472-5790 if you'd rather send an email Rick can be reached at our Morris at r squared Now back to the work life balance

Rick A. Morris  31:00  
We're back to the work life balance on this Friday afternoon we're visiting and you know what your bio says co founder and CEO, but I think that that's out of date. Now you're you're not CEO books anymore. Is that correct?

John Tabis  31:11  
That's right. Yeah. As of May 15, I stepped out of the CEO seat and into the chairman seat

Rick A. Morris  31:18  
in perfect timing with COVID. And everything else going on. I'm sure there's no challenges around that. But what what really brought that on was it was a time just to move on to leadership. Where are you at?

John Tabis  31:28  
Yeah, look, it was probably about two years ago when I looked at what the company needed long term. And what I want to do an upgrade at right and sort of my strengths are largely around storytelling, new business creation, ideation, etc. I'm not a traditional block and tackle executional guy right. All my jobs prior to books are not operational. They were strategic. It was strategy at The Walt Disney Company strategy, abating company, a long term 10 year plus planning and thinking almost No execution, what we produce for PowerPoint decks and ideas. And so you know, both between my personal sort of interests and what I really thought the company needed, we're getting to a scale and a size where we're, you know, we knew we could make this thing really big, but like, what skill sets, you need to do that. And so I actually went on sort of an exploration of what makes a great CEO for a business like this. And then I sort of, you know, did the Venn diagram with me, and there was some overlap. I was doing, I think, a fine job. But was it the best thing for the company? And then secondarily, was it the best thing for me? And I got to an answer. I was like, not really. I think there's somebody out there who will be better for this company in the CEO seat, and I think I will be better value add to this company by being in a different kind of role. And so went to the board and sort of pitch them on the idea and it was, it was a, you know, there's a lot of concern whenever a seven year CEO is coming and saying, Okay, I think maybe it's time for a change. But we got everybody on the same page and went out and did a search and we were so lucky. We hired an amazing awesome Operator, leader person and Alejandro bethlen, who's now our CEO, I guess that took over may 15. And it's been really fantastic. And you mentioned doing it in the middle of a pandemic. We've been 100% remote. So we've gone through a complete leadership change, all via zoom. And this is when you know you have an amazing company, an amazing culture is we did it with like, without a hiccup. I mean, it was a smoothest transition you could possibly imagine. And Alejandro and I are great friends now, and really great, you know, operating partners, and the company has really rallied behind him. And it's been a really great couple months since he took over.

Rick A. Morris  33:35  
Yeah, but you basically avoided the founders curse, right that founders curses I founded this company. I'm going to ride this sucker until it goes and not recognizing that change that's necessary not recognizing that, hey, it's time. I got us here. That's awesome. Right, but, but how do we how do we grow and sustain?

John Tabis  33:53  
That's right. It'd be super clear. I did consider and it is a path to say. I'm going to learn to become That, right? If I have that capability, then the question becomes, do you want that? And in my case, the answer was not necessarily. And then how long is it going to take? And how good are you going to be on the other side? And what what I had seen over my sort of progression as a CEO was I got better and better at it. But how long would it take me to get to be as good as an operator as a hunter who's been doing it for he did it for Amazon for eight years prior to that at Procter and Gamble for like, eight years, like, I'm not going to catch up, right? But then I can spend my time doing where I can add a lot of value, big strategic partnerships, long term thinking, international expansion, new concept development is things that I get up in the morning I can't wait to work on and therefore we're going to be one more fun for me, but it's going to have better outcomes for the company as well.

Rick A. Morris  34:48  
Yeah, I think that's

John Tabis  34:52  
one of the greatest signs of leadership. And again, you keep going up notches in my book to say, I can do this which right it's not a hit. Are you by any means, but to say that person is going to be better? Like it. JOHN Maxwell says, says, I'm sure he stole it from somebody else as well. But if, if you're sitting in the room and you're the smartest person in the room, then you need to change rooms. You need to surround yourself with people who are better than you. And then, you know, obviously you learn and grow through that. So I commend you for that decision. That's, that says, ego isn't in the way of prosperity. And that's, that's rare these days, the hardest battle on this whole thing was with myself. Sure, it became very, because startups especially as they scale, they become very intertwined with who you are as a human being. And it's really hard to rip that apart and think of it as a job. But once I was able to mentally flip this to, this is a job and and if I were to interview everyone in the world for this job, would I give myself the job? And if the answer isn't 1,000% Yes, well, then you got to start looking for somebody that you would absolutely give that job to. And so that was the hardest part was getting myself mentally Sort of it was almost I'm still in the company, I'm the chairman I'll be Chairman till I die or commit a felony, you know, whichever one comes first. But like, I'm still I'm still there. But it is an emotional moment where you think about changing that role because it becomes such a part of you. Once I was able to get through that part all the rest of it was really easy for me.

Rick A. Morris  36:19  
You know, we were talking on the break about professional speaking and in that industry and that kind of stuff, but that to me is a keynote I haven't heard on if I interviewed a ton of people what I get the job. I so if that's not a concept that you haven't been running with, that's that's the concept. I think that would land in a big way. Coming back to boobs for a second, though, because we looked at the website, you know, in this mastermind because they knew I was about to interview you, but did I see as a subscription service? Like, how do you how do you feel like everybody's getting in a subscription? Right? That's that's where it's at. It changed the music industry forever, for sure. How did you broach flowers in subscription like that's just not something I put together

John Tabis  37:00  
Yeah, we've we've actually had subscriptions since the beginning of the company. But it was always kind of a secondary on the side little thing. And therefore, it wasn't the focus of the business. And the way that people generally used it up until kind of more recently, is they use that as a really nice gift. Like instead of giving mom flowers on Mother's Day, once you give them to her once a month for a whole year, and that is a nice, that was a nice way to have the business. It was a good business. But my thesis on subscription the whole time was, this could be for anyone that buys flowers, because most people are going to buy flowers more than once a year. So the first thing is, how do you give them a tool that enables them to do so in a way that's better for them and keeps them with us as a subscriber. And so our current subscription model is anyone that comes to our site today will get 30% off and free delivery, which in dollars is roughly 50% off if you sign up for our subscription service, but the service is super flexible. So you get you can sign up for whatever frequency one once a week. Once every other week, once a month, once every other month, but then you can skip. So if you don't need flowers this month, you just go and hit the skip button, and then they're not going to ship. And you can change the address or the recipient, you can say, this month, I'm having stuff in my house giving to my wife. Next month, same thing, but then next month is my sister's birthday, I'm gonna change this is perfect. So now you're getting the subscription price, which again, is roughly 50% off. And so it makes it palatable for the customer to say, Oh, I was going to send flowers three, four times a year Anyway, I'll skip the other months, but now I get this price. And it allows us to have a consistent, persistent relationship with the customer, they get an understanding of our farming and how it matters. And so it really is the best of all worlds for both the company and for the customer. And so that's really been our our pitch around subscriptions.

Rick A. Morris  38:46  
So obviously, you're lowering the cost of acquisition to the customer number one, right so if we stay with you that kind of stuff, but but also being able to forecast a little bit right in a seasonal business. I can imagine you Have some pretty high forecasts, say around February 14, for whatever reason, maybe you know, around Mother's Day, like, like you said, but learning how to forecast appropriately and drive revenue in the non seasonal months, I think is probably a more critical tact, isn't it?

John Tabis  39:17  
Absolutely. And enables us because of the relationship with the customer to not be sort of forgotten in between those big, you know, like, you think about Mother's Day, and then next Valentine's Day, you're talking about more than half a year in between. So how do you create loyalty on just two days a year, it's really hard. Whereas if you're there for the birthdays, if you there for the anniversaries, if you're there when someone's sick, and then maybe someone wasn't gonna send flowers, but you have the subscription price, and they kind of like, Oh, it's only 36 bucks. Sure, I'm gonna use my monthly subscription for that event. You're keeping that persistent relationship with the customer. And that then leads to like you just like you said, downstream benefits for analytics for financial forecasting, for inventory planning, for shipping rates and understanding like what are Sort of based businesses and how that grows. And so it has, you know, subscription is not just a revenue generating idea, it has all these sort of downstream positive impacts to the way ecommerce companies work. And so

Rick A. Morris  40:13  
go ahead, No, go ahead. I'm sorry. I was

John Tabis  40:15  
gonna say I encourage folks that run any business, but especially consumer facing businesses to think through, hey, in where in this in this equation can a subscription not just be good for us internally, but help the customer and the overlap of those two is where you'll find wins?

Rick A. Morris  40:29  
Sure, well, even I was thinking, where I was going, there was like, even like office buildings, you know, getting fresh flowers, you know, once a month, or every other week just to have in the lobby and academic stuff, you know, some aesthetic touches.

John Tabis  40:44  
I could see where that comes through a ton of interest in it during COVID where you mentioned we're gonna talk about COVID because people are stuck at home, and they're not outdoors as much and they're not in nature as much. They're not in their offices, which have plants and flowers. And so we're seeing people subscribe so they can bring a little bit of that nature a little bit of beauty inside.

Rick A. Morris  41:00  
Well I'm staying at this Airbnb here everything's plastic there's one of the things somebody brought up so you know freshen up your air Airbnb with a subscription. Right? Yeah. Add that that extra touch the have nice fresh flowers for your guests. When they walk in. I could, I can see that. I only take a small percentage of that royalty. So that's, that's great. I wish I could Yeah, I could see the Airbnb idea being huge. But still, I think that's the point is, is to constantly innovate constantly think constantly push a model. And again, some are going to work, some aren't. But those that do, should should pay up way more than those that don't.

John Tabis  41:35  
As soon as you have found what quote unquote, works, and you're comfortable, you're dead, right? innovate or die literally by all time all the time. And that's, you know, that's one of the reasons I wanted to start an early stage company one of the reasons I I left the Walt Disney Company to enter the startup world was I just wanted to build new stuff all the time. I wanted to come up with something new test it see what happens because what if like, what if we tried this or what if we tried that is the most fun way to me to go about life. Not just business, but just like how you're spending your time, because we only get one shot. And so we're not constantly learning and trying new things like what's the point? And so the startup world is perfect for that mindset.

Rick A. Morris  42:13  
Absolutely. That creative side of it is exciting. So we're going to take our final break right here. We'll be right back with john chavis, you're listening to Rick Morris and the work life balance.

VoiceAmerica  42:25  
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When it comes to business, you'll find the experts here voice America business network.

You are tuned in to the work life balance. To reach Rick Morris or his guest today, we'd love to have you call into the program at 1-866-472-5790. Again, that's 1-866-472-5790 if you'd rather send an email Rick can be reached at r Morris at r squared Now back to the work life balance.

Rick A. Morris  44:47  
We're back on the work life balance. I can't believe we're in the final segment already. Man this this is flown by we're gonna we're gonna have to bring you back and do another show. But

VoiceAmerica  44:54  
anytime. Anytime I have Dan here.

Rick A. Morris  44:56  
Again, you've got a fan for life right here, but We were talking, we talked to COVID a couple of times, but really what is what impact is that had on you on you guys? What have you had to innovate? In order to deal with it?

John Tabis  45:10  
Yeah, so you know, COVID. For us, we we went remote work a little bit earlier than most, we had an employee who thought they may have been exposed. And so we sort of shut everything down about two weeks before California shut down. And now we haven't been back since that was like March 8, or something, whatever it was, you know, when we thought about it, we thought about a couple things. You know, first was employee safety. Second was financial planning in the case of a downturn, and executional plans that go with that. Well, we actually found though was that because people aren't traveling as much, they're not going to birthdays and graduation parties etc, is that people are actually sending flowers more. And this is industry wide, and ecommerce generally has seen a rise as people have gone out less, which we didn't expect. And so for us, a lot of What we've been focused on because we're just very lucky we have a virtual business that is pretty easily run remotely, not perfectly easily. But like, we have 140 farms and they're in remote locations where there aren't a lot of cases of COVID it's easy to social distance on a farm because they're big and there's open space. A lot of people already wore masks because there's a lot of dust and debris. Sure, operationally we were kind of set up for this almost perfectly and luckily we had very few interruptions in our net and our network and it because our network so robust that there was an interruption here, our systems just said okay, then we'll do it over here. And so all of our distribution and inventory management was pretty seamless. And so then it became about how do we give back like what do we do differently because so many people are suffering and and our business isn't we felt great to be able to employ our people to keep them fully employed, etc, etc. But like, what do we do here in this in this moment, and a big focus for us then was looking at our frontline workers or health care workers or nurses As our doctors, our EMTs, or police, and asking people to nominate their favorite people, people they're seeing, they're doing an amazing job for free bouquets. And we called it 1000 thank yous and we gave away 1000 bouquets to nurses and doctors in the midst of really the peak in that time frame. And so we really tried to think about how can we use this platform, this product to help everyone get through it because we are a product that is by nature designed to help people feel happy, relieve stress, and show show love between individuals. And so that's really been our focus. You know, there have been things that have had to change. We're all working remotely 100% I think maybe once in a while one or two people go in the office with this beautiful office and Marina Del Rey that is completely empty every day. We've had to delay some things though. We we announced in January a $30 million fundraise with plans to expand into retail and into international specifically Japan. And as of March, we essentially put those both on hold kind of indefinitely. We're starting to look back into both of those now, as we're at least hoping to see some light at the end of the tunnel by the end of the year or early next year. But that's really been the biggest shift as we expected to go into those areas hard as growth areas. And instead, it's more of the planning and the sort of practicing getting ready for it instead of the execution.

Rick A. Morris  48:19  
Yeah, she looked at some of these larger companies as well, their profitability went through the roof. So of course, some of that is, again, some of the behaviors not going out online, you know, e commerce, that kind of stuff. But maybe there was some assumptions in our old model that we just made, in terms of this is the cost that we just have to eat. This is the cost of doing business, whatever that may be. COVID is really shaking up and as you look at some of your operational costs, the way he did business, the number of meetings yet, you know, those types of things. Are you seeing, you know, a challenge to that kind of status quo and something you think you'll take for?

John Tabis  48:51  
Yeah, you know, I think there's I think that's happening and kind of every business right now and I was talking to a fellow entrepreneurs in fashion the other day, and she was talking about how fashion, there are these tried and true in quotes, practices that you have to do again in quotes. And it's about when you bring out your line, how you pitch it when you pitch it. And she's like in this world, none of this even makes any sense. Like, why like, why are we doing and I think there's some fundamental questions that are happening for people in the business world now around, I've always had to have in quotes this resource or this headcount or this process, and do I really need to do it? And I think it's a really great opportunity as business leaders to take a step back and say, This is the way we've done it for 25 years. Is this the way we have to do it going forward? We always thought that 100% remote work would never work. And here we are six months later, where everyone's kind of killing it. So does that mean we go 100% remote forever? I don't know. Probably not. But does that mean that people can do it successfully? Absolutely. And maybe now people can take a month and work in Europe and work remotely from there. Maybe people want to I've always wanted to live in a certain city, that they couldn't do it before and this I think there's flexibility that comes with out of times like this, because the old thinking is challenged on a day to day basis. And so my hope is that we as leaders, really stick a step back and reflect on it. You know, I think, with Alejandro joining us CEO, there was a natural inflection point of change that was going to happen anyway. Right? We're thinking about how can we change our organizational structure, what processes can change, but those are then changing even more because of COVID. And I'm sure we'll have lasting impact on the way we do business long term. Exactly what all those are yet I don't think we know because we're still in the midst of, of the pandemic. But I really do think that long term we're going to see a lot of consumer behaviors change because of COVID. I think subscriptions will stick around I think ecommerce will stick around but it won't be the same. It won't be 100% of the change you've already seen. It'll be some proportion thereof dependent on your business, your businesses, ecommerce, if your business is automotive, whatever. If the change is dramatic, or if a change is small, some proportion of that will stick And the question is just for an individual sector how much

Rick A. Morris  51:02  
so how do people get in touch with you?

John Tabis  51:04  
So I'm LinkedIn is probably the best. Search for john tab is ta B is I'm also at john G, Tavis, on Twitter and Instagram, although I'm not super active on either one. To be honest, this probably spend most of my time on LinkedIn. And you can also find that john tab is calm. For speaking for appearances for just you want to chitchat and talk about something that I said. And then for the company, we're at books calm like bouquet but shortened Bo u q. s calm. And you can find us at the Brooks co on any of the major, you know, social media platforms.

Rick A. Morris  51:41  
So finally, the question we asked every one of our guests what's some of the best advice you've ever received?

John Tabis  51:47  
So there's a couple things that my dad has told me in my life and my dad is definitely the place where I've always gotten the most impactful advice. But when I was about eight or nine, he took a and he would probably still do this today. By the way, even though Technology. He took a newspaper article, and he put white paper around all the words and he didn't want me to see any photocopying, just the words he wanted me to see. And I still have it on my desk. And all it says is be better today than you were yesterday. And that, and that, quote, has driven me sort of forever, because I'm a person that's impatient for change. Like when I was 10, I wanted to be a multimillionaire when I was 20. I wanted to run a company like all you know, and a lot of people are that way, especially in America where there's a lot of drive. But what keeps me grounded is this idea of, don't worry about running a marathon. Let's just get the first mile in, right, let's just go do the first mile. And then let's do the second and incremental change is so much easier to stick with and so much easier to understand and to be disciplined around because you're trying to go from a 10 minute mile to a nine minute mile. You know, if you went from 10 to 955 and the measurable results that have given me gratitude. And so I've tried to keep my mind although it likes to dream in big ways and sort of the outcomes on this more as an individual, as a business as a company, as a team as a family. How do we incrementally get better, and that's just easier to achieve. And then it allows you to stack success, right? If something becomes a habit, now you're running your nine minute mile every week, three times a week or whatever. Great, now you can move on to Goal number two, and get incrementally better in that area now created a habit. And so be better today than yesterday is the one that that I try to live by.

Rick A. Morris  53:34  
That's fantastic. Well, john, listen, I I've been doing this show almost five years now. I've got 300 plus episodes. So you're easily in the in the top 10 interviews that I did. So I appreciate you coming on. And we hopefully, hopefully, we're starting to build a bond here because I'd love to have you back on the show. And I'd love to catch up with you and see what's going on and bring back obviously there's going to be a boat coming at some point. So we'll be here for the release of that. You know, your own podcast. We'll we'll be here for that. Whatever you need, man. We're an arm for you, buddy.

John Tabis  54:04  
So appreciate it. Thanks to you and your whole team. And thanks so much for squeezing in amongst your travels. hope you really enjoy the conference and say hi to your fellow masterminds over there.

Rick A. Morris  54:12  
We'll do we'll do so to everybody else. This concludes another episode of work life balance again, fantastic episode. Always hit me up at Rick A. Morris, you can find me at Rick at Rick A. Morris calm and we've got somebody else that's going to be here next week. We're actually booked out I think all the way through the end of the year now. So we've got phenomenal entrepreneurs and stories that are coming up, you know as future episodes for us, and we hope that you live your own work life balance and you have a fantastic Friday. We'll talk to you Same time, same place next week. You've been listening to Rick Morrison the work life balance.

VoiceAmerica  54:50  
Thank you for joining us this week. The work life balance with Rick Morris can be heard live every Friday at 2pm pacific time and 5pm eastern time on The Voice America business channel. Now that the weekend is here, it's time to rethink your priorities and enjoy it. We'll see you on our next show. Thanks again for listening to The preceding program.

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