Filip Keuppens, EVP, Partner
Filip Keuppens is the Executive Vice President of the Pickle Juice Company.
For those who don't know anything about you or your work, can you provide a bit of background?
Professionally, I spent most of my early career working for very large CPG companies in the Sales and Marketing space. It was here that I learned that successful business transactions are more dependent on understanding the needs of one’s audience than overtly prioritizing that of yourself. My history with large CPG companies and background in Skiing and Rugby combined in a unique way to allow me to be well positioned to contribute in the functional consumable space.
Was any one person who was instrumental in helping you get from where you started out, to where you are now?
While there have been many sources for learning over the years, the largest influence on my approach to business and life comes from my father. My siblings and I were taught business principles at an early age but the biggest lesson was to operate in a fair and honest way that ultimately seeks to achieve the goals of all parties involved and that success does not require greed.
Is there a particular piece of advice you were given in the early days of your business journey that you still benefit from today?
To be wholly committed to something that you want to achieve and accepting the fact that personal sacrifices might be required.
What is the most important lesson you've learned about leadership in your business journey so far?
It is better to be "correct" than "right". The best leaders are those who do not attempt to be the source of all the answers but who recognize those who understand things better than they do and actively seek information and learning.
What are the top three things you wish you'd known when you were just starting out?
The top three things I wish I'd known when I was starting out are:
1. The value of organizational culture. I wish I would have sacrificed the big company culture for a smaller company that was committed to my carreer growth. We are only as good as the systems and the people that evaluate us, make sure those systems and people are a good fit.
2. Goals can best be achieved by understanding the needs of your audience, client or customer and determining whether or not what you are offering can effectively meet those needs.
3. Don't admire the loud obnoxious leaders, real leadership and success comes from the quiet, humble mentor that always seems to be involved in the solution rather than the problem.
In your experience, what is the most effective way to build a strong network of mentors and advisors to guide you in your business endeavors?
This is a skill I wish I was better at early in my career. I had managers early in my career that were cut throat and did not represent the values that I believe embody a positive culture. That has resulted in me taking a more active role in mentoring coworkers throughout their career pathway. Seeking social relationships with more experienced business leaders has become a very valuable tool for my personal development.
How do you determine when it's time to pivot, and what factors should you consider in making that decision?
Don't ignore red flags and be comfortable being uncomfortable. Often times, people resist change because of the unknown factor. I have been and, at times, probably still am guilty of the same thing. The serenity prayer is a guiding principle in this case: "the serenity to accept things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.' Ultimately it comes from the ability to remove emotion from non-emotional decision making.
How do you stay motivated and inspired during the business cycle of ups and downs?
I've always been motivated by creation. Creating new concepts, new products, new go to market strategies. Understanding that the end result everyone sees comes from a whole lot of tireless work that everyone doesn't see. Usain Bolt said he trained 4 years to run 9 seconds and people give up when they don't see results in 2 months - accept and embrace the process as education and growth can take many forms.
Looking back, what one thing would you do differently if you could start your journey over again?
Pay more attention to the importance of company culture. Often times we accept positions with large firms or companies because of the prestige of the job without understanding that those positions will impact how we manage our later careers one way or another.