Insights for Growth Podcast Episode Artwork

Insights for Growth: Stories of Enterprise Innovation Podcast

Ep: 5 // John Gonsalves, TaylorMade Golf // Direct to Consumer & Digital

Air date: November 24, 2020

Hear insights from John Gonsalves of TaylorMade about channeling your personal passion into your intrapreneurship career, overcoming organizational resistance to your ideas, managing channel conflict when transitioning from B2B to a direct-to-consumer e-commerce business, why focusing on the end customer always pays off, and more!

Key insights

  • How do you overcome resistance in an organization? Find influential champions from other parts of the organization! Don’t keep it to your team. Look for folks that are engaged.
  • What about channel conflicts? The traditional channel still exists and there is a bit of a conflict still. Deliver the experience the customer wants and you will be successful. Each channel has its reason for existing. Play to the strengths of the channel.
  • Tips for the listener who wants to become the change agent in their organization: Build a network of support around you, identify a key handful of people within your organization to help you flesh out the goals you are trying to reach, and continue to look for the next thing to change. You are never done.

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Episode Transcript

John Gonsalves:

We work better as a company when we can show results. Working in theory, for us, doesn’t always compute across the organization, so we went out and set out to, “Let’s get a pretty viable product out to market and prove that we can do this.” It was a proof of concept. Let’s learn from it. Let’s prove that we can actually execute on it.

Chris Goward:

This is Insights for Growth, the show where we hear insights from intrapreneurs who drive change within large organizations. I’m Chris Goward, founder of Widerfunnel. Widerfunnel helps great companies design digital experiences that work, proven through rigorous experimentation systems. Today on the show, we have a great conversation lined up.

John Gonsalves:

My name’s John Gonsalves. I’m the vice president of digital and direct-to-consumer at TaylorMade Golf Company. Been with the company for eight or nine years, looking after kind of all of our digital and direct commercial efforts globally.

Chris Goward:

Great. Now, I’d be surprised if anyone didn’t know what TaylorMade Golf was about, but why don’t we make it absolutely sure. What’s what’s TaylorMade about?

 

John Gonsalves:

Yeah. Absolutely. So for those of you who aren’t around golf or maybe aren’t aware of the company, TaylorMade Golf is kind of a leading equipment manufacturer for golf equipment for the best players in the world and those avid and amateur golfers around the world. We’ve been in business since 1979. The company was originally founded by a gentleman named Gary Adams who invented the first metal wood. Up until that point, woods were made of wood, surprisingly. So he had this crazy invention of making it out of steel. He had some issues early on too … People took a while to adopt it, but the first player won on the PGA tour in 1981 with the metal wood, and ever since then, our history of innovation around golf equipment was born out of that. I think the last player to win a major golf tournament was in 1997 with a wooden wood. Ever since then, everyone just carries, actually, titanium and carbon and other materials now, but that’s who we are as a company. We’re focused on innovation and love of golf and the sport, and we kind of pride ourselves on being golfers who love to kind of drive and push boundaries.

Chris Goward:

Right. So it really has innovation built into the DNA from the beginning of the company, it sounds like.

John Gonsalves:

Yeah, for sure. I mean, innovation for us for a long time meant strictly kind of product and product performance, but we have, I think we have, we’ve endeavored to innovate outside of just kind of the product in the way that we do things, the way we bring things to market, our marketing, and as it relates to kind of what I’m focused on, our digital efforts.

Chris Goward:

Great. So you’ve been at TaylorMade now for nine years or so. Talk about what brought you there, and what are you sort of most proud of accomplishing in that time?

John Gonsalves:

Yeah. I have been in and around e-commerce and sports for pretty much all of my career. I started at a company called GSI Commerce back in 1999, when it was a little startup focused on the sporting goods vertical, and learned a lot in my 11 or 12 years there and had many roles, wore many hats. I was a merchant. That’s my background. I grew up as a merchant, and that’s kind of how I got into the business and what I focused on for a long time and then, over the years, just, all other aspects of how you operate an e-commerce business. One of my jobs there was a little bit of business development, where we were going out to recruit brands and retailers to start to sell directly or to sell through an e-comm channel. Back in the early 2000s, most retailers and brands didn’t have the wherewithal, the resources to go out and do it themselves, and so we did it for them and went out and talked to hundreds of companies. But sports and golf were always part of my passion, so I had been talking to TaylorMade about selling direct back in the early 2000s. I’d been pushing them to get on our platform back then, and they just could never really get over the line, and then … But built good relationships with the people at the company and spent a lot of time with them. In 2011, they reached out to me to say, “Hey, we want to actually start to do this direct-to-consumer thing. Would you consider coming out and helping us build it?” Just, timing was right with a lot of things that were going on with GSI at the time. It was sold to eBay right around that time that I left, but I thought it was a good opportunity, an interesting opportunity to kind of start to build something new within an organization and a company that had a lot of resources, being under the Adidas brand at the time. But golf was a kind of a pretty traditional sport, traditionally distributed. Thought it was a pretty interesting challenge to go on and see if we can build a real direct-to-consumer business in sports. I thought TaylorMade was a great opportunity, so I jumped at it back in late 2011.

Chris Goward:

Right. Sounds like it’s a great example of why it’s important to maintain great relationships with your clients and suppliers. Right? You never know when there’s an opportunity to, for a career.

John Gonsalves:

Yeah. They always say that, right, “Don’t burn any bridges. You never know.” But good people at the company, and I like being around smart, collaborative people who kind of share the same passions. We connected on that level, and yeah. One of those career advice things, you never quite know where your next opportunity is going to be, and always helps to kind of have those and keep those relationships, for sure.

Chris Goward:

Yeah. Of course. Yeah. So what have you been doing at … What have your main accomplishments or initiatives been? What do you sort of hang your hat on from the last nine years there?

John Gonsalves:

Yeah. I think the biggest accomplishment is golf is a pretty traditionally-distributed sport, meaning we have a network of thousands and thousands of golf professionals, OnCore selling through what we call the green grass channel, and then traditional sporting goods retailers like DICK’S Sporting Goods and large box retailers like PGA TOUR Superstore. There really wasn’t a direct-to-consumer penetration for golf. It’s very tactile. We express fitting, and you’ve got to go get custom fit. We, as an industry, have done that for years and decades, got to go get custom fit. So that was an initial challenge, like, could we actually … Would a consumer adopt buying direct, their golf equipment direct? So I think that was a challenge that I was pretty interested in undertaking, because I thought, yes, because I had seen it, as you probably have, in many other areas. I mean, there isn’t a product or a service that you can’t directly buy today, no matter how big or how small. So I thought there’s no reason golf couldn’t be part of that, but wasn’t sure the consumer was really going to adopt it. So that was my big challenge, and our big challenge, really, is this a meaningful business? Can we make it a meaningful business? So I think the thing I’m proudest of, to kind of cut to the end of the story, is we’ve actually made it into a very sizable and meaningful business for our company, and it … kind of at the root of putting the golfer first and giving them things that they can connect with. They do want to connect with our brand directly. Golf is a passion sport, so it wasn’t that hard to kind of stretch into getting golfers to buy equipment online, largely sight unseen, not having gotten fit or not having held in their hands or tried it. But we’ve been pretty successful in building that. So from an almost nothing business in 2012 to a pretty sizable global footprint that our e-commerce business has is my, kind of our biggest accomplishment, and we feel like we’re still just getting started. I think we’ve got a long way to go there. I would say that’s the biggest thing that we’ve done to date, and we’ve got a lot of work to do ahead of us.

Chris Goward:

Yeah. So sort of starting that direct-to-consumer relationship from scratch, and when you’re developing that, were there … TaylorMade’s a large organization, especially at that time. You’re owned by Adidas, and a lot of moving parts in that. Were there challenges in making that move or to bring that to be? Were there challenges inside the organization or challenges organizationally at all, or was it …

John Gonsalves:

Yeah. Yeah. I think we’ve talked about this in the past. I think there’s certainly been … Organizational influence, I think, is probably the biggest thing I’ve had to do over the past eight or nine years, and I think that’s a challenge a lot of people that I talk to every day building businesses, whether it’s where we are, where it was kind of challenged in that it’s a new business, and we didn’t have a lot of organizational support, and we had traditional wholesale models set up around the world to kind of bring people along to this new model, or whether you’re a fully direct-to-consumer business, where you’ve got to make sure you’ve got the right resources, the right people aligned with you to help support. Because one thing’s for sure. It’s not a one-person thing. I can’t take credit for all the stuff that we’ve done fully. I mean, it’s the team around me, but it’s also the organization has helped bring this along. You’re not going to be successful without bringing the people that influence the organization, building a network of influencers and supporters around you to help get things done. You’ll, you’ll inch along by yourself, but bringing everyone else along with you will … You’ll start to really scale.

Chris Goward:

Yeah. For sure, and that’s what I find when talking with a lot of sort of change agents inside large organizations, is there’s so much involved in bringing the organization along to any change, in finding the right people to have the relationships with, to, build credibility, and that, like you said, don’t burn bridges, right, trying to build those inroads to everyone that has to be involved in making any change, especially when you’re implementing technology that’s going to change, fundamentally, the relationship with the customer. You know what? I’ve been thinking about these people like you that are making change in large organizations or bringing new initiatives in as change agents, or champions, or intrapreneurs. Do you consider yourself an intrapreneur in that way?

John Gonsalves:

It’s a pretty solid way of defining my job. I mean, it’s what I enjoy about my job, I think in, in my role, the ability to build new things, to create new pathways, while having the kind of the backstop of a large organization with the resources that kind of come along with that. But the situation I’ve been in at TaylorMade, I’ve been pretty fortunate to be able to get the appropriate resources to build the business. Trying to maybe bring the organization along with it is part of the challenge, but I wake up every day with a new challenge of being an entrepreneur. I was around a guy named Michael Rubin, the earlier part of my career, 10 or 12 years, who’s, I think, one of the greatest entrepreneurs in the country. He’s built two separate multi-billion dollar businesses, which they’re not a lot of people on that list. Just to kind of be around him and see what that is and what a true entrepreneur is is, that’s mind-boggling. He’s on a different level and comes at it from a different place, but just taking some of the things that I learned being around him and working that within a large organization has really kind of helped influence what I do on a day-to-day basis.

Chris Goward:

Right, so looking at the example of entrepreneurship to bring some of those characteristics inside. There’s a lot of talk about entrepreneurship. Right? There has been for decades. Right? Everybody sort of glorifies this idea of the entrepreneur, but at the same time, I’ve found, in the work at Widerfunnel, it’s actually interesting. A couple years ago, we looked at all of our client roster at one point, and we wanted to really understand our customers, sort of like eating our own dog food, right, to try to become customer obsessed.

John Gonsalves:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Goward:

And so looking at the characteristics of the kind of clients we have and realized that when we look at the clients that work best with what we’re doing, they could only be described as these champions of change or intrapreneurs. They have those kinds of characteristics of being able to push things forward, know how to navigate within the larger organization and within the system, and use the characteristics of it while also making change happen. I didn’t really appreciate, for probably the first few years of the company, how much skill that actually takes, and realizing that there’s not a lot of content or people talking about that intrapreneurship and that ability. People talk about management but not about making change, and I think it’s a unique kind of skillset. Have you thought about the kinds of characteristics that make someone successful?

John Gonsalves:

Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s interesting what you bring up there, because I got to imagine at Widerfunnel, the clients you work with or all of that cloth. I don’t suspect you have a lot of clients that are coming to you who are kind of resistant to trying new things, and it probably just doesn’t fit within what you guys are doing. You have to have a desire to …

You have to have curiosity. You have to kind of believe that you’re not always right.

You have to understand that there is an adoption of data as a guiding tool as part of your decision-making process, and just kind of letting go a little bit on, “I don’t know.” I mean, to a point I kind of have an idea of what we need to do, but I don’t really always know what’s best. Surrounding yourself with people who are open to, “Why do we do this? How could we do it differently?” are certainly things that I think is a good kind of point of view. We always joke at TaylorMade. For years, there has, there would be people that say, “Well, we always do it that way. That’s the way we’ve always done it.” I think that was kind of one of the things we’ve always kind of used as a, “We’re not going to ever say that. That’s not a thing we’re going to do anymore. That’s not a good reason for doing something.” So I think the people on the team that are driving kind of the initiatives that we’re working with you on and other things outside of that are curious learners and wanting to figure out how to apply kind of just different things, a different lens to different problems. That’s how we’ve advanced. That’s how we come to work every day, and that’s how we … It’s the people we like to surround ourselves with, because that’s how we’re going to be successful.

Chris Goward:

It’s funny. I hear the same sort of theme as I talk through the … We’ve done a few of these interviews, and, of course, talking with all of our clients, and the themes of curiosity, humility, being data-informed, challenging the status quo, or questioning how things are always done, those resonate as pretty typical themes. So I’d say right on there. I’m curious what it feels like to challenge the status quo. Do you have an example of how you’ve done that and what that looks like, for listeners?

John Gonsalves:

Yeah. I probably have a dozen examples. Maybe some are more interesting than others. One of the ideas of this kind of mass personalization and customization for our business, we’ve always made golf equipment, and we started making … We had this concept of mass kind of customization, where you could adjust the loft sleeve on your club, just the weights and other things. So we brought kind of this level of customization to all of our equipment. Then, the idea of getting into just pure personalization around our putter line, for example, we’ve really done some brilliant, interesting things where we have a putter called the Spider. It’s been around for 10 or 12 years in different formats, but we decided to bring … We wanted to bring real true personalization to that category. It’s complex. It requires a lot of operational challenges. There’s design challenges and things like that, but we really pushed that one forward. There’s resistance on, “No. We make a putter. It’s all the same. That’s the way we do it. It’s the way it is on tour, and that’s how we’re going to make it.” But we really pushed forward on personalization on the Spider putter, and we ended up with a product that had over a billion combinations between color, sight lines, face inserts, all these kind of things. There was obvious resistance to that level of complexity for a product, and we called it the My Series putter. Other brands have done this in footwear, with NikeID and our Adidas on the miAdidas front. And so we’re making pink putters. We’re making bright yellow putters and all kind of combinations, and so there was some resistance to that, for sure. But the net of that was it was well-received by the golfer. I mean, we knew golfers were interested in it. It was met with some resistance up front, but the success rate has been amazing. We’ve since grown that program to six or eight different products now. We’ve got some new stuff coming next year, and it’s kind of become a linchpin of our e-commerce business and our direct business. It was not without its challenges, but something that fought hard for it, because we knew the golfer was, would support it. It’s kind of changed the way that we do things operationally, supply chain and the way we kind of bring some products to market. 

 

Chris Goward:

Well, I can imagine, okay, coming to a presentation where you’re saying, “Hey, we’re going to create this personalized putter. It’s going to have a billion variations, and don’t worry, it’ll be fine.” I can imagine there could be some-

John Gonsalves:

There were. Yeah.

Chris Goward:

… some resistance. Right? “Trust me. It’s okay.”

John Gonsalves:

The numbers didn’t quite add up at first, but yeah. It worked, and it’s had some really good success. Obviously, the consumers online are buying it, but then, when we have retail partners and others that are looking to stock the product and to try and carry it, those things, as they prove out, lead to others. It’s been a big traffic driver, a big, big talking point for our products and our categories.

Chris Goward:

So clearly a success story of innovation. Thinking practically, then, when you’re in that situation, right, you’re … There’s a new idea, trying to push it forward. There’s some resistance in the organization. How do you practically overcome that resistance? Are there techniques or things that were really important for gaining that momentum or to … Did you start with a pilot project? Did you start with getting consensus? Did you start with just sort of flying under the radar and trying to do it on your own, or how did … What’s you’re strategy there?

John Gonsalves:

Yeah. We took a couple-pronged approach to that one. It was, essentially, we had tried to do it on a bigger scale, and we ended up taking a step back and saying, “Let’s do it,” essentially, “Let’s get this proof of concept.” We work better as a company when we can show results, and working in theory, for us, doesn’t always compute across the organization. So we went out and set out to, “Let’s get a pretty viable product out to market and prove that we can do this.” It was a proof of concept. Let’s learn from it. Let’s prove that we can actually execute on it. Then, kind of on the organizational side, and it’s one of the things that I’ve learned working at TaylorMade, is find the people that are going to be champions with you.

Find one or two or three people that can help bring this along with you.

Again, it’s one … Doing things by yourself, it hasn’t always panned out. So identify two or three other people, or one or two other people that are going to come along with you on this. We did work on that early to bring some people along with us from other parts of the organization, because everyone who saw it thought it was cool. And so once we kind of saw that, we’re like, “Okay. Well, if you think it’s cool, why don’t you come help us kind of do this?”

Chris Goward:

Right. Right.

John Gonsalves:

Whether it was IT, or whether it was marketing, or whether it was operations, finding those, identifying those people that were going to help influence within their parts of the organization, it’s been vital. We use that approach, to

…bring people along with you, have them be part of the solution and part of the project, as opposed to delivering it on their desk and saying, “I need you to go execute this for me.”

We failed at that enough times that we’ve learned that you’ve got to get support from the right folks. We’ve applied that as we’ve moved along.

Chris Goward:

So assembling your SWAT team to go in and lead this project, you, sort of ignoring the, whatever the lines are or … of responsibility or delegation, but actually going and finding interest in it and enthusiasm is kind of the way you approach it, it sounds like?

John Gonsalves:

Yeah. I mean, I would … It’s one way to characterize it. It’s going to, yeah, getting people within other departments, in our example, that are going to support and bring people along within their vertical in the business. That’s proven effective for us, because we’ve also seen the example on the other side, where a single person can kind of slow play something for you if they don’t feel like they’re part of it or kind of feel like it’s counter to what they’re working on. That can kill, bring something to a grinding halt pretty quickly. We’ve seen that a number of times, and so I think I’d like to say the team is pretty good at making sure that we’re not doing that anymore. And so we’ve learned through almost, “Here’s what not to do,” and we’ve kind of just reverse engineered it into “Here’s how you do need to approach it, to make sure that you’ve got support from all the people you need support from.”

Chris Goward:

Yeah. I’m glad you mentioned that. A lot of the best learning comes from failure. It’s not just the successes. Right?

 

John Gonsalves:

Yeah.

Chris Goward:

Are there other ways that you’ve seen to identify or see, ahead of time, where the challenges might be or where the naysayers or the resistance might appear?

John Gonsalves:

Yeah. Good question. I think we can kind of root it out early on in the project when you’re … almost by participation and engagement. Right?

Chris Goward:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Gonsalves:

When you bring something to someone, into a group of people, you can always kind of find the person in the room. Now, it’s harder virtually, because people just shut off their cameras, and you really can’t read what they’re doing. But you can always kind of find people in the room who just don’t have the enthusiasm, don’t quite get it, maybe aren’t even asking questions and just kind of sitting back. That’s always a little bit of a red flag for us. We’re always looking for folks that are engaged, you know, are going to participate and feel like they’re part of it, because we want to bring other people with us. It’s just the way that things are going to be successful for us and with most people in most organizations.

Chris Goward:

Yeah. Okay. So thinking about challenges, I was … I had another interview a few weeks ago with one of our clients from HP who started HP Instant Ink, which was their first initiative into a direct-to-consumer relationship, as well. So there’s probably some parallels here, and one of the big challenges they faced was the channel conflict, where they had the traditional channel through the Best Buys and the Walmarts and the wherever, selling their ink. Now, they’re trying to go direct-to-consumer, and there is some resistance there. I would imagine you faced some of that. You’ve talked about your traditional wholesale model. Was that a major factor in some of the resistance?

John Gonsalves:

Yeah. I think I referenced earlier in the conversation that we do have a pretty traditional and broad distribution channel, and there certainly still exists a channel conflict to this point. It’s always been a bit of a challenge for us in golf, but again, when you come at it from the golfer first, and that lens, and what does the golfer want, and how do we best meet the needs of that golfer who’s going to interact with us directly, whether it’s through our social channels or buying through us directly, if we can focus on that and delivering what that golfer wants through our channel, then we’re going to be successful. I mean, every … We kind of believe that each channel has its reason for existing, and we need to play within that sandbox. There’s a lot of advantages that we have through our direct channel, and there’s advantages that a golf professional brings to the table with a golf course and the ability to fit product and do things on location that we can’t fully replicate online. And so let’s play to those strengths on each side of it, but that’s how we’ve approached it. We’re solving for what the golfer wants to, wants out of us as a brand directly, solving for that first and then letting the other things kind of work themselves out from there.

Chris Goward:

Okay. Yeah. So being customer first, golfer first is kind of like the overarching rule, and if you’ve got that in mind, then you’re probably making the right decisions, it sounds like.

John Gonsalves:

Yeah. I would say, and I’ve almost stopped short of saying it’s a rule within the company yet. We haven’t gotten that far, but it’s the approach that we take. Right? It’s the lens that we look at things through and kind of helps guide our decisions, and it’s kind of usually the backstop for any kind of discussion around potential channel conflict, is we’re solving for the golfer who wants this experience in this channel, whether it’s our own channel, direct-to-consumer, or through utilizing technology in other channels to make their experience better there.

Chris Goward:

So how do you keep that finger on the pulse of the golfer? How do you get into their minds and understand what they need and want and to deliver what’s valuable to them?

John Gonsalves:

Yeah. It starts with us. I mean, we TaylorMade, we’re a company of golfers. We’re large enough these days that not everyone who works in the company is a golfer, but we do kind of have pretty high golf acumen within our digital department and certainly our marketing and product departments. And so I’d like to think we have a pretty good sense of what golfers want, because we are golfers. We spend a lot of time out in the marketplace, whether touching our relationships with golf professionals or just understanding how our trade partners are dealing with golfers. That’s on a practical level, and then, tactically, from our digital perspective, we’ve built a player panel that we interact with quite frequently to understand their behaviors and what their wants and needs are. And so we’re bouncing a lot of things off of this kind of panel who are brand enthusiasts, that we’re using them to get a lot of information from, and the stuff, the work that we’re doing with you and your teams to understand how our golfer is navigating our site, what they’re doing, what they’re trying to do that they aren’t accomplishing, how we can make that better. Those are all kinds of tactics that we employ, but it really, for us, starts as being golfers. You’ve got the bug. You get the passion. You kind of understand what people want and what they’re looking for. So we start with that, always.

Chris Goward:

That must be fun, to have your passion sport, your, and actually be able to influence the products that are coming out, like kind of designing your own products.

John Gonsalves:

Yeah. If I were to turn this camera around, you’d see a wall full of things I’m playing with over there, golf clubs and designs and head covers and stuff. That’s the fun part of the job, for sure.

Chris Goward:

Yeah.

 

John Gonsalves:

I’m a golfer. Whenever I get a little bit tired of something, I’ll go find some products to go mess around with just to get the energy back up.

Chris Goward:

Nice. Not bad. That’s cool. Okay. Well, so thinking about this, creating this customer experience, right, you’ve started direct-to-consumer interactions from scratch there for, or for, at least from an infancy. At what point did that sort of data-driven experimentation method become important? When did that start to become, sort of emerge as an opportunity?

John Gonsalves:

Yeah. I think of the timeline for us, it was probably maybe three or four years ago where we really started to look at resourcing against it more formally. Up to that point, it had been largely just kind of the path we were on, just organic growth. New consumers, new behavior was enough to kind of … We couldn’t keep up with the growth at that point. We were just, we would rely on that. But when the business got sizeable, we were looking for ways to continue to drive revenue, continue to drive all the metrics that we’re looking at, getting more people to the site, getting into the right place, ultimately getting them through the funnel to make a purchase or, for the 98% of people who aren’t converting, to get them to the place that they they’re needing to go to, whether it’s a retail locator, or getting them to a fitting, or just more knowledge about specs on the product. In order to kind of start to fulfill all those things we got, we put, essentially, put a person. I mean, like, we, “All right. Let’s actually get a person now who’s going to start, whose job is to be responsible for starting to put together an optimization roadmap for us.” That was probably three or four years ago. I’ve always believed, and I think it’s interesting to me. I think it’s interesting how you can make tiny little changes to make something better or how a tiny little change could actually make something a lot worse. You just kind of went off gut for a long time, and we had finally gotten to the point where we needed to formalize it. We’re probably, I would say three years into our journey and true kind of just testing and optimization. I think we were very early into our journey, having said that, but we now have two people, a department of two, which is, for us, pretty sizable, in the digital organization that are looking after just optimization and in our testing programs. I would call it a program at this point. We’re running multiple tests. We are doing, we’re looking at everything through a lens of, how do we test this, what are the metrics we’re holding it up against, working with you and your teams to prioritize what are the things we should be looking at, how should we be looking at them, new ideas can we come up with. It’s become a big part of our organization, our digital team here. But I would say, early on, it did take a lot of convincing the UX team, the dev team, those other folks, the merchandising team, that this was actually a thing we need to care about. Even within our team, we were selling, we were kind of selling and influencing to make sure everyone kind of is bought in. We are now, I think, there, and kind of like the team is bought in on that. So that makes everyone’s job a little more easier. There’s more participation, more collaboration, and so it’s been an exciting couple of years in that front. But I think we got a lot of work ahead of us, for sure.

Chris Goward:

Yeah. So we started working with you a few months ago. To my understanding, it’s to bring in some … take it to that next level, bring in some more rigor, methodology processes. What were you looking for at that point? What was it that you wanted, and what have we been able to do together? 

John Gonsalves:

Yeah. I think, and we had some expertise inside the team. But the way that I’ve approached building the team here at TaylorMade is kind of this outsource-to-insource model that we’ve taken over the past eight or nine years, is what are the things that we care about, what are the things that are going to drive our business today and in the future, and do we want to have those skills and that knowledge set inside the building or outside the building? And so not everything needs to be inside our skillset, but there’s a handful or a large amount of things that we want to make sure that we have the skillset in the building, we have the knowledge in the building, because we can be faster, more nimble, just react better, and operate the business better. When we started working with you, it was around, “Okay. We kind of have an idea of what we’re doing in this space, and we’re certainly, we have a little bit of knowledge about it, but we really want to ramp this up and become experts.” And so we brought you guys in to help us kind of make sure that we understand how to really operate this at another level, learn alongside, how you guys, what your methodology is, how you’re approaching it. Our team, all along, is absorbing this with the intent of, in a year or two years, three years, we’ll probably have more people around it than we have today. We’ll be better at it, and we’ll … It’s something that we’ll largely insource over time. We want that skillset inside. That, to me, has been the relationship with Widerfunnel. Our team has … The guy who runs our optimization program brought it, brought you guys to us, and we’re … We’ve been really happy with the way that’s gone, and I think we’re smarter than we were six, nine months ago. The intent is, in another 12 months, we’ll be even further along. At some point, who knows, we’ll be good at it enough that we won’t need you guys.

Chris Goward:

Right. Right.

John Gonsalves:

But we’re learning along the way, for sure.

Chris Goward:

Yeah. Great. So building that core competence. So from a strategy level, it sounds like this is a repeated strategy that you have, is looking for a core competency you want to build, or an expertise you want to build, bringing in someone who’s got … one of the leaders in the industry, learn as much as you can, absorb it, bring that knowledge in, build up that core competence, and then move on to the next thing that might be the next skill you want to build internally.

John Gonsalves:

Absolutely. I mean, that’s the question we’re always asking, is quite simply, are we going to do more of this, the same amount of this, or less of it in the future? If the answer is more, then we’re looking to … which it usually is. We haven’t found stuff we’re going to do less of. But if the answer’s more, then we’re looking to bring people in and build that expertise inside, because they’re going to be core to our business.

Chris Goward:

Great. Okay. That’s awesome. So lots of good insights there from stories of success from what you’ve done at TaylorMade. I’m just … Maybe one thing to wrap it up for people who are listening, who are in kind of a position where they want to become that change agent, they want to become an intrapreneur and make change, cultural change, whatever it is in their organization, they have ambition, right, to be like John. So what would you tell them that you wish that you knew, say 10, 15 years ago, that they can learn from?

John Gonsalves:

Yeah. I think I touched on it a little bit in the conversation at the beginning, but really building a network around you of people that are going to support you through it, having people that will help with, help you influence along the way, identifying a key handful of people within your organization that are … may not get or fully be on board, but will help you kind of flesh out, “What are the things that I need to do to move things along within the goals that I’m trying to reach?” I’ve learned that in my career at TaylorMade probably more than I had prior, and I work on a yearly basis and as part of my kind of … As I work with my boss on what is it that I’m going to do this year, I always have … One of the things on my list is, who are the one or two people that aren’t in the boat with you that you want to get in the boat with you this year? That’s, check it off every year, and it’s … There still are people that aren’t in the boat with us, and that’s a constant goal. And so I have two people this year, and there’ll be two new people next year. It doesn’t seem like the list … While we’re making progress, there’s always someone that can help be supportive of you and further your goals. And so finding those one or two champions early on that are going to help support you and help you along there, and then continuing to mature through that and find people in the organization that,

…in the instance of being a, quote-unquote, “change agent,” you’re kind of never done that…

I don’t think. At least I’m always looking for things that “Okay. What can we change next?” So you’re always going to have a list of people within your organization that you’re going to need to get in the boat with you. That’s kind of how we phrase that, and that’s always, I think, been important for making sure that we’re going to be successful.

Chris Goward:

So really, it sounds like, from your experience, really focusing on the relationships that you need to enable what you’re trying to get done, and that’s kind of the prime thing that helps move it forward.

John Gonsalves:

Yeah. I mean, relationships have, for me, have been key, I think, in kind of why I’m here and what I do while I’m here. It’s not overly complicated. If you’ve got a good team of people around you on your team and surrounded by people that are supportive of what you’re trying to accomplish, you’re going to be far more successful than trying to just kind of blow through and make change without support of anyone else. That’s not going to last very long, and you’re going to pull your hair out doing that.

Chris Goward:

Well, going full circle back to where we started, it sounds like you started your, in your career before this, and you were in sales. I know, if anything about sales, if … One of the first things you want to do is get people like you and trust you. If they like you and trust you, they want to come along and get in the boat with you, and the sale is almost half made. Would you agree with that?

 

John Gonsalves:

Yeah. It’s the old adage, they’re not buying the product, they’re buying you, and so yeah. In a lot of ways, that’s pretty relevant.

 

Chris Goward:

Yeah. Well, that’s great. I really appreciate your time, John, and your insights. Thanks so much for sharing.

John Gonsalves:

Yeah, Chris. It was good to talk to you, and thanks for the time today. I enjoyed it.

Chris Goward:

This show is made possible by Widerfunnel, the company that designs digital experiences that work for enterprise brands, proven through experimentation. For more information, visit widerfunnel.com/tellmemore. That’s W-I-D-E-R-F-U-N-N-E-L.com/tellmemore.