Reinvigorating an entire health and wellness category is no small task—but OLLY Nutrition CEO Brad Harrington and his business partner, Method co-founder Eric Ryan, are managing to do it. How are they pulling it off? Harrington credits his team and how they’re all ‘chasing the same dream.’ Read the full Q and A session below.
Q: Tell us about your current role and company.
A: I am CEO and Co-Founder of OLLY. My partner, Method Co-Founder Eric Ryan and I started the company in 2014 and our products have been commercially available since April of 2015. OLLY is a nutrition company focused on delivering incredibly helpful and delightful product experiences. Our core line of products consists of gummy supplements focused on wellness solutions for a millennial consumer. We work hard to take the mystery out of the vitamin aisle and put inspiration back into it. We also just launched a whole new line of Protein Powders exclusively at Target.
Q: What was the journey like to get where you are?
A: Long and windy. Over my career I have been an entrepreneur and a big corporate player. I’ve bounced between the two enjoying success and fulfillment from both but have come to realize that I get the most personal fulfillment from the entities I start from scratch. I spent a large part of my career piloting advertising agencies for big holding companies like WPP and Omnicom. That was a great experience and forced me to think strategically across many types of businesses. In a world of product parity, marketing, design, and brand building make all the difference.
Q: As a leader, how do you want your team to think of you?
A: I would hope they think of me as authentic, brave, and kind. Someone who is not afraid to speak his truth and encourage the same in others in order to quickly make decisions that move us all forward. At the end of the day, it’s really about setting up the environment for people to realize and embrace what they love to do and then make sure those skills add value to the greater pursuit of the group…whatever that might be.
Q: What qualities do you look for when it comes to hiring a senior executive to add to your team?
A: For us at OLLY it’s all about team. It’s all about the people and their passion. I suppose I look for those with the right skill set but more importantly, I look for talent that has not only high IQ but a high EQ (emotional intelligence). Executives that are great collaborators and do everything they can to not ensure their success, but the success of those they lead.
Q: What are some red flags when it comes to hiring a new executive leader?
A: A lack of intellectual naivety. If someone has more answers than questions it’s a big red flag for me. Also, someone who hasn’t done their homework. Doing deep due diligence typically unearths the intelligent questions that lead to a constructive conversation. It helps understand how people think through topics and problems.
Q: Does your team participate in team building activities? How important is it to be involved in your company’s culture?
A: We do. We do “offsites” and things like that but most importantly I believe culture needs to be organic. There is nothing worse than corporate events drummed up by an HR person to foster interaction and culture. Hire the right people, give them ownership, and make sure everyone buys into the goal…then sprinkle in a little bit of light heartedness, and voila! You have a place and people you want to be around everyday.
Q: What is one thing you really like about your current executive team?
A: Wow, there are so many things! To boil it down to one, I would say they all take it personally. They give a s***…they really give a s***. It’s not just a job. They are chasing the same dream Eric and I are and it makes all the difference. Create something from nothing and make it insanely famous.
Q: What are some important team goals to have in order to work as a successful executive team?
A: For us, we have OP plan goals like most companies and we spend a lot of time making sure we deliver what we say we are going to deliver. Again, we all take it personally, but our values are really our goals to act and behave in a way that we all have agreed to. It isn’t always easy to be the best version of yourself but when those you trust remind you when you might be going off the rails, it brings everyone back to center and boy, do things get easier as a team then.
Q: What’s your number one piece of advice for someone who is looking for a senior executive position?
A: Don’t try to be someone you are not. Be authentic, be prepared and be enthusiastic. Passion is a trait everyone wants a piece of. It’s contagious. Bring it.
Q: What do you do when you aren’t working?
A: I’m an avid athlete. I’ve pretty much whittled it down to skiing and biking now. There is both training and traveling to participate at the level I like, so that keeps me pretty busy when I am not chasing around my five-year-old.