a journal of thoughts & stories

White Roads are those little roads that take you to where you’re going but with a little fun and adventure in-between. This “in-between” place is where we have probably lived a few incredible moments that then turned into our favorite stories.  We’d like to share with you so please feel free to follow along with us on the “how” and “what” led us to where we, and our partners are today. Please peruse our posts below of assorted stories, insights, pictures, vlogs, recordings, musings – and just about anything else around what makes us tick in general…….




 

was thinking….this 5min of their lives? it’s harder than ever for emerging brands….

too many, too much syndrome

(click on pie to listen to this post! )

sigh

was thinking….this 5min of their lives?

it’s harder than ever for emerging brands….

in my not normal jacked up observatory opinion?

it feels like there’s just too much and too many

and no matter what category or industry you play in ?

there’s just too much and too many

 

too many suppliers, too many skus, too many retailers, too many shelves, too much product

do we really need 25 different brands of “blank” or 50 different kinds of “blankety blank”?

I’m sounding like a retro grouch abe simpson…that’s right it’s me not you :: ))

 

hallucinate with me for a second

i wonder how many hundreds of kombucha brands are out there on a shelf right now?

between national and regional and super localized…

it’s turned into a sea of sameness filled with a kombucha cast of thousands?

 

but wait there’s more

there’s one more thing that belongs on the list of too much and too many

and that’s middle men

 

you know who you are… you’ re reading my mind….. baby

i’ve been there

i’m talking to all you middle men out there?

 

the middle men have already been shot down in the travel biz, the insurance biz and many other industries

and now they are coming for you

agents, brokers, independent sales reps, distributors, etc.

example : if you’re a food broker you’re not even allowed to walk into a whole foods anymore?

wtf is up with that?

as a supplier we want you in there..checking out of stock, training peeps on the floor, actually giving a shit and helping check your products off the shelf

your favorite distributor, your favorite broker, your favorite independent sales rep?

some are firmly planted in the middle and are feeling the squeeze…..

some are feeling it because they suck and have always sucked

but now the cream of the crop are feeling it

did you ever think that person to person selling would ever go this far out of fashion?

and we haven’t even brought up the subject of trade shows…

 

i’ll say it again….

there’s just too much……too many

and you…. the emerging brand? you are up against this junk show on a daily basis

wait

since the consumer drives everything today

are there too much and too many out there because consumers want it?

or retailers want it? or buyers want it? or product managers want it?

they all want better but really want new?

 

c’mon…you know a big piece of this could be a function of larger brands

desperately trying to make their investors or share holders happy by growing, growing, growing

 

they then try to line extend and steal share into bigger numbers for their mothership

and

what they perceive as “innovative new product” just adds to the sea of mofo sameness” mentioned previously

sorry…im on a soapbox now…..

 

i get it

consumers want quality, service, value and….. selection, and at then end of the transaction no matter where it took place….

they want to know they bought right

 

i heard once that a good salesperson “mildly confuses” their customer

with that sheer number of brands on shelf at brick and mortar and on line

we are now more than mildly confusing our customers

it borders on complete confusion….

call it omni channel overload?

 

let’s wrap this too much and too many blurb up……

the solution to too much and too many is new products and services that actually solves problems and makes people feel good

ie……f*ck you and the sea of sameness you rode in on…

however with that said

this next 5min of our lives?

i predict they’ll be little or no sku rationalization going on willingly

 

however…….once the economy eventually corrects itself…..or trade wars intensify or barrels of oil cost over $100?

things could change…..

 

and at that point

i’d suppose that two things could happen to correct (or probably over correct) the too many and too much syndrome….

 

first….there will be less selection and choice on the shelf….a buyer won’t go 8 brands deep on organic pickles or ski helmets

second? he highest priced products on the shelf will probably get yanked off first

so

no matter what category you’re in?

please be prepared….and that’s a whole ‘nother story……

 

ack

ack

 

 

 

crazy words & definitions

word up

a close friend/colleague of ours is going into the hospital next week for a fairly serious operation.  this week i committed to sending him 7 days worth atypical word of the day emails to support, spread love and help get his head in the right spot before he goes under the knifie-poo.

with that said, have decided to post up the 7 words sent to him because…well…if you knew him you’d know that he has all these qualities..he just needed a goofball to remind him.

some may think the words below have little to do with business or investing as the words are more about humanoids/behavior?  sorry….but last time we checked?…..people have everything to do with business and investing.

-strong mofo : “humanoids who has the inner/outer strength, tenacity and persistence in doing whatever they do”

-heart mind : “a bright & open state with sincere kindness towards everyone and everything”

-corragio : “courage in italian”

-raw spot : “a place where we take ourselves or sometimes get taken to that forces us to step the f*ck up for success”

-nimbility : “when a  humanoid combines their skill and ability with nimbleness to adapt to any situation good or bad or brutto”

-same as : “when lovely humanoids see and connect and unite with each other at the exact same level. not one up or one down…just simply same as”

-hardship benefit : “before one experiences a benefit whether personal or professional please expect at least a few moments of hardship.  y’know…..some quality time in front of the ass kicking machine that bends us over, makes us uncomfy and then stronger. it’s the way of this planet….when you get used to it things just make more sense.”

 

as always…thanks for humoring me  :: ))

 

the big difference between a "heisman" and a "loving heisman"

the “loving” heisman

fact…..there’s lots of yes’s in business and there’s also lots of no’s

it’s part of the process we go through while looking for mission driven entrepreneurs to partner with

admittedly

what we do is a bit of a numbers game…

it’s not just the dollars numbers

it’s the numbers of meeting and connecting with as many people as possible

 

the downside of this numbers game?

you have to say no to most of the opportunities presented

we’ve always called this somewhat uncomfy process a “respectful decline”

the concept of telling the truth with compassion as you say no

 

yes, we’ve understand the disappointment of a respectful decline to a hard working founder.

it’s a bummer, it’s flat out rejection…..

 

let’s face it there’s nothing worse then getting “the heisman”

you know that famous trophy football pose?

one leg up driving forward

one arm straight out

the other arm cradling/protecting your jewels (the ball)

it’s a stiffarm, it’s painful, abrupt and you don’t always see it coming

believe it or not?

some humanoids like giving the heisman

because it’s a no holds barred “one up” move

if you’re on the other end of it?

there’s no mistake that you’re feeling like you’re being looked down and trodden upon

 

we don’t like giving this traditional heisman

as a matter of fact we’ve made efforts to change this

we now give what we call “the loving heisman”

 

yes

you still have one leg up and you’re moving forward

you still have one arm out in the standard stiff arm position.

but the difference?

instead of grippin your jewels (the ball) with your other arm, instead you let go of all that

and then firmly and intentionally place your left hand over your heart

 

here it is visually…..(please excuse the crop job but my face not needed here) :: ))

the difference?

a loving heisman takes more effort and leaves you a bit vulnerable

however

in the end it’s a lot less uncomfy for both parties than the traditional, in your face heisman

 

a loving heisman not only includes a respectful decline

but usually includes offers to stay in touch

provide some connective capital

serve up some probono ideas, thoughts, stories, counsel

maybe some of this stuff could help them avoid a few pitfalls coming there way

you’re not “one up” with this attitude

instead you are “same as” looking them in the eye and on the same level

 

sigh…we want to help everyone but realize that we can’t.

so instead we strive to deliver the truth with compassion

to be on the same level

and have the big wish for them that they succeed.

 

because you never know who, what or when something might change in the future ?
:: ))

 

 

 

notogroup : how to be attractive to investors

wri press love

hey

nice hit this morning from our friends at noto group

our 15 nanoseconds of fame :: ))

How to Be Attractive to Investors? Focus On Talent.

oh my friend...you are so being missed right now......

john anthony

talk about lucky…..

seven years ago gary erickson and kit crawford introduced me to deven clemens and john anthony

the three of us were lovingly mashed together as the newly founded white road investments team

wow

it permanently changed my life….(thx g,k,d,r & john)

 

this last weekend…unexpectedly after hip surgery we lost john….

he passed away…he left this fantastic blue ball we’re wonderfully trapped on.

 

we are all stunned and our hearts (now with some holes in them) go out to his wife debbie and his family.

 

john was unique, charismatic, caring, a selfless connector

he was the kind of guy that after you met him you knew you wanted to be friends.

it didn’t take long after that

you knew you’d be totally cool with him being a best friend

 

he was fast, abrupt, direct and lovingly in your space when you were around him.

it was fun trying to keep up with him

one day after a 4 hour board meeting we did 13 store checks in about 3 hours…..

that included drive time

and we still returned the rental car and made it to our flights on time.

 

from my limited experience riding this blue ball?

there’s few people you get to know professionally and personally.

the two rarely cross over

john was one of those special ones…

where you worked with him, played with him. partied with him, cried and laughed with him, man hugged with him,

and all the other wonderful stuff that brings humanoids closer together

 

i once learned from a master that “we all come from the big love”….

meaning we are all connected through this big love……

fact…..john anthony was the big love

 

he was a powerful force of goodness

 

someday…i too…will leave this ball……

and

can only hope to be remembered the way john is being remembered…..

 

thank you john anthony for positively changing me and us forever…..

 


 

one more lovely visit to the crazy intersection of risk and reward as a goofball reminds you to keep your business in balance no matter what mother nature throws at you, act back

standing on your tippy toes

here’s one more story….related to risk and reward

it’s called standing on your tippy toes

instead of personally putting yourself out of balance with duct tape and indy cars

let’s talk about putting your business out of balance

let’s begin with a hallucination

and say you’re in a weather dependent business

that could be anything from landscaping to amusement parks to ski areas to farming

technically even a lyft drivers revenue is affected by the weather…

anyway

one very hard lesson i learned in a past life is the thing about a weather dependent businesses is once a bad day has passed and you missed your number?

you missed it and it’s probably not coming back

 

so example?….if it starts raining and your usual crowd doesn’t show up?

you’re probably not going to make that loss up

same thing with bad snow and ski areas

so each day you miss?

you are figuratively in the deep end of the pool and the water is now rising

eventually that water is right under your nose

ooh…..it’s time to talk about this uncomfy analogy

 

good news?…kinda?…is you’re still a bit lucky at this point

as the water up is up just under your nose and your biz is still breathing and standing on solid ground

but then another bad weather day or week hits and the water rises once more

and it’s time

you need….the business needs

to stand up on it’s tippy toes to keep breathing

 

if you want you can try it right now….cmon baby stand up, get up on those tippy toes

it doesn’t take too long and you start to really feel it

risk city…this is not fun

it’s at this moment that you’re hoping for the weather to break …..

the reward is to be able to set your heels back on the ground and get comfy again

 

in reality? tippy toes means you are trying

on the fly to adjust your spending, cogs, costs, burn rate, scraping in every penny you can….etc….to make up for the shortfall

are you feeling the calf burn?

btw…and you already know this

but if you go into your selling season with a draft contingency plan…..

the calf burn may not be so bad? eh?

 

i dunno…..you’ve probably done this “adjustment” exercise before ?
and it’s still a very painful exercise

muscle, bone, your own throat…which do i cut and not cut?

huge risks that if they go jiggy could radically affect the biz

and all to to get to your reward

guess what?…this risk and reward exercise…..it’s part of the gig…oh geez

wow……i got a bit wordy there…sorry

it’s time to sum this shit up

bottom line

think of standing on your tippy toes as another jacked up variation of “how long can you do it”

tenacity and adaptability

to keep your business in balance no matter what mother nature throws at you

ack

ack


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

risk, reward, and being duct taped to the side of an indy car......and it gets a bit personal? meaning its about you baby.....::))

duct taped to the side of an indy car

a lovely colleague/friend recently planted a seed in my head

he said i should talk about the crazy ass intersection of risk and reward

 

i thought of a few stories

one about risk, reward, and being duct taped to the side of an indy car

and it gets a bit personal?

meaning its about you baby

 

so here’s the punch line up front

to get ahead on planet earth

most people have to work their asses off

and that’s the real risk to get to the reward

you’re full tilt boogie all the time baby 24/7/365

you are maxed out

and

we call that being duct taped to the side of an indy car

think

the indy 500 is where humanoids strap into open wheeled race cars and see how fast they can go for 500 miles in a circle

it’s a wonderful comparative to your world

and classic risk vs. reward

after all you are all part of the humanoid race and race is a good word for it

and i suspect living and working in the good ole usa feels like we’re all duct taped to the side of that indy car

i said it again

actively scheduled, multi tasking, money, crazy jobs, obligations, family, trying to consume just too much information…hurry up so we can relax……blah blah blah…i’m overwhelmed

oucheewowow

 

that’s right goofball

i know this feeling well….it was my last real job

but screw me this is about you, with about 20 rolls of quality 3m duct tape and a state of the art indy car rolling 3” from the wall at 180mph and more all the time

and guess what….after about 4laps… ….it’s a blur…

it all starts to look the same (gesticulate with hand over mouth here)

 

yes

there’s the possibility of big reward rolling at this pace

checkered flag baby

and the risk is….well you guessed it…..you hit the wall

and this type of hit is very unexpected, hard to predict and the chances are very good catastrophic…once it starts….you’re not going to stop it

and the cause is usually a minute, small, what doesn’t seem important at the time screw up

 

it’s time for the second punch line and moral of this story

the big question is more than who hits or doesn’t hit the wall

it’s about how long can you roll at this pace?

there’s the risk

knowing how long you can put yourself completely out of balance

because you can only duct tape your humanoid body to an indy car or for so long

 

me personally? me gots multi years of duct tapeage….the reward was cool…but i think it’s what gave me all this gray hair…not kidding

though i knew up front how long i was prepared to wreak havoc on myself

 

this is about tenacity and adaptability

it’s what you entrepreneurial geeks out there should be good at

it’s the risk of how long can you be duct taped to that indy car and during that tape-age how adaptable and how comfortable can you make yourself for 500 full laps?

that’s it

i got no more

ack

ack


 

“Thanks for Encouraging Me To Trust My Gut”

we come into contact with all sorts of wonderful people, brands and organizations on a daily basis.

when it fits right we get involved!  however, we can’t say “yes” to all of the opportunities we see because sometimes the fit isn’t right and both the investor and investee realize that.

with that said? there are some very special companies out there that we love despite the fact we may not get involved.

these special ones usually keep us posted of their adventures along the way and we welcome that and dig helping out from time to time. it’s very cool because it’s proof that people and product and relationships are paramount.

one of these special ones is Po Campo. a brooklyn based maker of incredibly  cool, versatile and functional bags that fit your life…especially on a bike!

maria, the founder of Po Campo has been looking for independent sales reps to grow her business. she recently sent a heads up email that was so nice….just had to share it…..

“Thanks for encouraging me to trust my gut. I was interviewing a rep this afternoon and part of me was like, “Well, I really want someone in the CO area” but my heart was like, “She’s obviously not excited about Po Campo and isn’t listening to you” so then I just said no thanks and have a good weekend. Previously I would’ve thought, “Well, this is the best I’m going to do”.

 Onward!!!”

 

the moral of the story? well…we’ll let you make that one up in your own head.

as always, thanks for letting us share…. ::))


 

expo west and the f***ed categories?

oh trade show how i love you part two…aka…the final installment

walk a natural foods trade show floor like expowest for a few days

and if you’re awake and aware while in the aisles, at the end of it all?

you should be able to make a list of the food categories that could be referred to as f***d?

for now let’s just call it the “screwed” category to be politically and swearingly correct

maybe we can play a quick fill in the blank game to succinctly explain ?

here goes….

if you’re going to get in the “blank” category you’re probably screwed

so let’s fill in that blank….here’s our short list

 

1-water

2-anything coconut….oil, water, snack, etc….

3-ice cream

then there’s….

-jerky

-energy bars

-chocolate

-kombucha

-nut butter

-popcorn in a bag

-yogurt

and

-granola* (with an asterisk because it’s been on the list for at least 2 yrs)

it’s not that these categories aren’t real or don’t generate millions if not billions in revenue in the natural foods universe

it’s just when talking to entrepreneurs, founders and new business types

if they have a product in one of the above categories?

just want to give them a loving hug and say

congratulations, you are so f***d….oops i mean screwed

 

interstellar irony right here and right now?

these entrepreneurial peeps are usually super smart, hard working, committed, mission driven, etc

but they are also willingly entering into the “screwed category”

a wild world of sameness with incredible power and strength working against you

so as a newcomer brand/product in these screwed categories?

if their product or brand doesn’t have “special powers”

it’s probably not going to work

point of interest? at all trade shows …

there are always places where the most of the cool, emerging brands reside

the 3rd floor or the basement or that one corner over there

it’s easy to get excited when you see the ones with special powers

and sometimes it’s a bummer….because you see many without the special powers

and you know next year they probably won’t be around

but why?

 

first…..most are in one of the above mentioned screwed categories

you’re going up against powerful competitors

that own the shelf, the trade spend, the consumers mind share and they most likely make pretty good product and margin to boot …

oh that’s right they also know how to deliver on time

so if you’re going up against the goliaths of the category you better have something really special going on or you are screwed

you notice i pluralized….goliaths…that’s an s on the end…..

two symbolism there……

-screwed starts with an s

-you can bet there’s going to be more than one goliath you’ll be up against.

figure a minimum of three!

btw

the screwed list isn’t exclusive to the natural foods world

in the outdoor world, stainless steel water bottles might be top of the list

and in the bike industry?

if you’re introducing a new high end carbon road bike in the u.s. market?

you’re probably screwed

btw….feel free to make your own list in whatever business world you play in

i’d like to see it…..

 

ok…enough, let’s close….the moral of this screwed story?

stay out of the screwed categories

and if you’re crazy enough to go in will you please build a brand/product with special powers?

because then and only then? you might have a shot at it…..

f***dlistscaryvideo


 

oh trade show…let me count the ways i love you…..

trade shows, energy, connectivity, and finding one?

we just got back from expo west…..it’s a lovely natural foods show…

live in person, no virtual reality, face to face, hand to hand, and lots of hand washing and hugs for the ones you know and love

expo is probably one of my fave trade shows despite it’s increasing size and humanoid density in the aisles

or despite the 3 min trade show aisle meeting we are forced to have

or despite the 10 miles of walking each day

or the 100 miles of talking ….as we all go home with sore throats and sore feet

in the spirt of the f word…focus

decided to skinny this weeks rant into the 3 reasons why we go to trade shows

number one

expo west is great because of it’s “energy” as the majority of attendees are on a mission mofo…

and that’s everything from changing how foods are grown and produced to the quality of food that humanoids put in their pie holes

and you can feel this energy and connection when you enter the hall

hyper competitive yet hyper collaborative….

it’s bi directional….it goes both ways baby

the big energy and the mission are fantastico

and let’s remember that “energy contains information”

so when you leave you can take some with you…

and it can last a while if you practice it daily

reason number two?

trade shows are a one stop shop…..

you can check out the industry landscape in one place

you can walk up and down the aisles and see who and what you’re up against

plus…

you can also visualize/hallucinate/make up in your mind where you think it’s all going

so trade shows are a great way to get present and possibly future snapshots of the industry

number 3?

if you’re lucky “you find one”

for us at wri that means we find something…get a lead, meet a founder or find a category that we think has promise and we can invest in for the future

for you as an exhibitor or attendee or a sales rep

you finding one might be a new retailer to sign up, a new employee to hire, or a company you may want to work for, etc…..

now….not to be a buzzkill….but here’s some reality check….

we personally attend a myriad of trade shows and i don’t care what industry or category you are in

more and more trade show floors are becoming a sea of sameness

same colors, same products, same claims, same positioning, same packaging

example? do we really need 30 different brands of kombucha?

however

don’t get too bummed out by this sea of sameness

as it’s a good way to figure out how to differentiate

as your enemy isn’t so much the competiton but more about the sameness

who knows by walking the aisles

you may figure out how to zig when everyone else is zagging

 

and speaking of zig vs. zag? on a trade show floor filled with the same ole blah blah blah standard exhibit booths….our lovely peloton company Herb Pharm decided to shake things up and set up an actual greenhouse from their farm to show the peeps how a company who is on a mission around plant based love really does it……!!!! ::))