Pictures of Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park became some of the most memorable images from the devastating North Bay Wildfires in October: the middle class neighborhood
Meet Dallas & Leigh Taylor. They are the husband and wife team behind the award winning sound studio Defacto Sound. They’ve worked with tons of cool names including Netflix, Discovery, and Bethesda. Dallas and Leigh also created one of my all time favorite podcasts Twenty Thousand Hertz. Their podcast explores the stories behind the world’s most recognizable and interesting sounds. This interview is a two-parter. Part 1 focuses on starting your own creative business and the joys and stresses around taking that leap. You can follow Dallas on Twitter @d_llas & Leigh @perfythegreat. Show Notes: Twenty Thousand Hertz Podcast Defacto Sound Dallas Taylor website Entreprenuer.com feature
An interview with Maarten Lambrechts about explorable explanations in newsrooms
DUBNER: I understand that men and women eat chips very differently. Can you tell us the differences?
NOOYI: When you eat out of a flex bag — one of our single-serve bags — especially as you watch a lot of the young guys eat the chips, they love their Doritos, and they lick their fingers with great glee, and when they reach the bottom of the bag they pour the little broken pieces into their mouth, because they don’t want to lose that taste of the flavor, and the broken chips in the bottom. Women would love to do the same, but they don’t. They don’t like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don’t lick their fingers generously and they don’t like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth.
DUBNER: So is there a male and female version of chips that you’re playing with, or no?
NOOYI: It’s not a male and female as much as “are there snacks for women that can be designed and packaged differently?” And yes, we are looking at it, and we’re getting ready to launch a bunch of them soon. For women, low-crunch, the full taste profile, not have so much of the flavor stick on the fingers, and how can you put it in a purse? Because women love to carry a snack in their purse. The whole design capability we built in PepsiCo was to allow design to work with innovation. Not just on packaging colors, but to go through the entire cycle, and say, “All the way to the product in the pantry, or how it’s being carried around, or how they eat it in the car, or drink it in the car, what should be the design of the product, the package, the experience, so that we can influence the entire chain?”
DUBNER: You are known for being really involved, down to the micro level on how the product is in stores, and so on.
NOOYI: I want to be clear on one thing. Our business leaders all run their own businesses. I don’t run their businesses. But what I do do is I’m constantly out there in the marketplace looking to see how our products look on the shelf. Then I come back and I talk to my people about what I saw was good, and what wasn’t really good, to push them to higher levels of performance especially versus competition. We have to look at the product all the way to the retail shelf. Maybe sometimes to the consumer’s pantry at home. And that’s what caused us to even do home visits at times, to really figure out how the consumer stocked the product. Is our package size right? Is it suitable to the refrigerator sizes that people have in their homes in various countries?
DUBNER: I’d like to talk to you about the scientific thrust of the firm. You’ve got a science background yourself. You hired Derek Yach, a former World Health Organization official, to develop your dietary guidelines. I’d love you to talk about the interface between the scientific method that you grew up as a student appreciating, and how that’s incorporated into a modern food-and-beverage company.
NOOYI: One of the things that my experience has taught me is that if you are trained as a scientist in your youth — through your high school and college — if you stay with the STEM disciplines, you can learn pretty much all of the subjects as you move along in life. And your scientific disciplines play a very important role, and ground you very well as you move into positions of higher and higher authority, whatever the job is. It’s very hard to learn science later on in life. One of the pleas I would have for most young people today is, “stay with STEM as long as you can.” Now, let me get to the question that you asked.
I think one of the big things we realized in PepsiCo is that we were very good at line extensions of our products. We had more development in PepsiCo than we had research. We could do flavor extensions of our products. Occasionally we could buy and build on a new product, but we were not very good at meaningful innovation, or meaningful package transformation, or meaningful ingredient development that could in fact apply to multiple products. We knew we needed to build a very strong R&D capability, because the name of the game going forward was “incremental innovation.” Incremental in terms of top line growth, and incremental in terms of pricing and profitability. And the only way to do that was to have a strong R&D department inside the company. We had very good people, but they were more development-focused than they were R&D focused.
On top of that, as we were shifting the portfolio to more good-for-you products, we realized that we needed products which had functionality claims. Whatever claims we made had to be rooted in science. They couldn’t be flaky claims, because when it comes to nutritious products in particular, people are very sensitive as to exactly what you see on the package. Because the ingredient list has to reflect exactly what you’re suggesting in the front of the product.
I’ll give you an example. When we bought SoBe, one of the SoBe products was called Liquid Liposuction. And that was SoBe Lean: Liquid Liposuction. When SoBe was an edgy, small business, they could use these interesting words to describe their product. The minute PepsiCo bought it, “Liquid Liposuction” had to come off the bottle. And we had to explain what we meant by SoBe Lean in the back of the product. Because as a big company, people hold us to a higher standard than they do small startups. We needed a very very good team that could be very serious about whatever we put on the package, on the label, on food safety, food security, food traceability.
DUBNER: Okay, on that note — your chief research scientist is an endocrinologist with an expertise in diabetes, yes?
NOOYI: I interviewed a lot of candidates, but I have to tell you Mehmood Khan absolutely impressed me, because here was somebody who came from a pharmaceutical background, a medical doctor, but was very interested in the whole food-and-beverage space, and had a attitude, approach, and demeanor that I thought would fit very well within PepsiCo. He didn’t wear his medical credentials on his sleeve, and sort of lecture to us as what we should and shouldn’t be doing. He wasn’t talking down to us. And he was so well-networked and connected in the scientific world that I felt he could come into PepsiCo, build bridges with people in PepsiCo, further our scientific agenda, and bring the right talent into the company.
All that I had to do is a couple of things. One, tell the organization that Mehmood was here to stay. I didn’t want people rejecting him. Two, I had to give him all the resources he needed to get going. And three, I had to understand what he was doing so that if people were to come and say “Why are we investing in this OMEX lab?” or “Why are we investing in a high throughput assay machine?” I could actually explain to people in sort of chicky-ducky terms as to why we were doing what we were doing, so that they understood that this was not just Indra the C.E.O. supporting an R&D head. It was the C.E.O. basically saying, “These are the bets we’re going to take as a company. Because it’s going to get us to a better place.”
This is where the scientific background helped because I could understand what Mehmood was saying, and I could also challenge the R&D department to do things that they enjoyed doing. I mean, very often I’d write them a note saying, “Look, I have six challenges I’d like to give you. And this is why I’m putting these challenges out to you.” And they loved it. Somebody else might say, “God, she’s wasting our time.” But to the R&D people? “Wow, this is great that the C.E.O.’s interested. She wants to use us to move the company to a better place.”
DUBNER: Give me a “for instance” of one of the kinds of challenges you would have put to R&D.
NOOYI: One of the things I told them was that I wanted to take the waste from orange peels. When you squeeze an orange, you have all of the peels, and the flesh from the orange after you take out the juice, that’s converted to animal feed. I wanted to extract the fiber and figure out a way to put it back into the orange juice, because orange juice doesn’t have fiber. Yet that orange pulp has so much of the fiber. How do you extract the fiber from that, and put it into the juice? They’ve now accomplished that. And the list goes on and on.
DUBNER: I guess I have two things I’d love to know about the future of PepsiCo. One, more specific, and then one broader. The specific one is about working with nontraditional proteins, whether from insects, or plants, or fungi, or whatnot. Maybe related to that, I’m really curious to hear your thoughts on personalized nutrition, and where you see PepsiCo playing a role in that eventually.
NOOYI: Many of these areas are new, emerging areas, Stephen. And in some areas they have progressed quite far, and in other areas, on a mainstream basis, they’re still new and emerging. Remember, there’s a lot of startup companies in Silicon Valley that are playing around with personalized nutrition, playing with new sources of protein. They haven’t yet come to the big companies, and into the mainstream. We have bets that we’re making with lots of little companies to think about personalized nutrition for athletes, through Gatorade. We are working through other V.C.’s to see how we can place bets on a group of companies working on nontraditional protein sources.
The thing we have to be careful about is not trying to accelerate, into the big leagues, something that is still on the edge, and something that people are still getting comfortable with. We are very judicious in making sure that when it comes to PepsiCo, it’s ready to be scaled up. I mean an example is Kevita. When we first invested in Kevita and kombucha it was still an emerging trend. But the way we struck the deal with Kevita was when we felt this was becoming a mainstream trend, we could buy it, and scale it within the PepsiCo system.
DUBNER: If you look at the history of American industries, American companies over the course of, let’s say, 50 or 100 years, most of the big firms disappear. Because times change, and it’s really hard to change a company to keep up. Keeping that in mind if indeed the global appetite for the kinds of food and beverages that you make were to decline substantially, could you imagine PepsiCo repositioning itself as a very, very, very different company, maybe a personalized nutrition company, per se?
NOOYI: Yes and no. I think we have to understand very clearly the core competencies of our company. And clearly, we will do what it takes to keep our company successful. I mean there’s no pride of authorship here. All that we want to do is to make sure that this entity called PepsiCo — in whatever shape or form, on our own, in combination with others — remains a vibrant company that is growing, that’s creating shareholder value for the short and the long term. That’s what we are singularly focused on. If it means changing our business model but doing it in a way that doesn’t take us way off our core competence so we don’t fall flat on our face, absolutely we will do it. But we have to do whatever transformation keeping in mind that there are things that we’re good at. There are things we are not good at. If a start-up company is better at doing personalized nutrition, the question, is how do we partner with them to best deliver personalized nutrition?
Nuclear ambitions and a war of words, a deep dive into the North Korea crisis
What next for North Korea? Kim Jong-un’s nuclear ambitions and their global repercussions are explored in this special, extended edition of the programme.
After a year of repeated weapons testing by the secretive regime that’s sparked a war of words with the United States, Ruth Alexander brings together six expert witnesses to dive deep into the detail of what is one of the biggest geopolitical challenges of our time.
Their discussion examines North Korea’s weapons capability, the mind-set of its leader, the chance of war breaking out and the possibilities of finding a diplomatic solution.
The South China Sea’s hotly contested waters could be a flashpoint for conflict in 2018
China has long been keen to assert its authority in the South China Sea. In recent years, it has undertaken a huge programme of island-building to stake its claim to the region. Fiery Cross, once a tiny reef, is now a fortified airbase. And this is just one of China’s seven artificial islands in the Sea.
But China is not the only one. Bordered by seven states, many others also claim parts of the South China Sea as their own. Experts warn these hotly contested waters could be a flashpoint for conflict in 2018.
Why is the South China Sea so important to China?
The story of how the search for a material to replace ivory changed our lives forever
The story of how the search for a material to replace ivory changed our lives forever. In the 19th century a billiard ball company placed an advert in a newspaper offering $10,000 to anyone who could come up with a substitute for ivory. There was growing concern that companies were hunting elephants into extinction so they could use their ivory for billiard balls, buttons and umbrella handles. The story that follows takes us from explosive factories that often went up in smoke to the modern world we find ourselves in today. How did plastics go from being a saviour of the environment to a cause for concern? How did we get hooked on plastic?
Presenter: Helena Merriman Producer: Phoebe Keane
Over the past two years, Howard Dully, 56, has embarked on a quest to discover the story behind the procedure he received as a 12-year-old boy: a transorbital or "ice-pick" lobotomy.
Joan Bakewell explores death and dying, confronting the very questions we fear the most.
For most of us, death is scary. And what happens next is just as mysterious. But what if we could see death as something beautiful? Or holy? Sarah Gottfried and Heather Olson share their experiences of being with people who are transitioning from this world to whatever comes next.