Carolyn Lowe | Business Growth Lessons from Dell, Costco, and Amazon

John Corcoran 11:41

Wow. Yeah. Tell us about the book. What inspired putting together this book.

Carolyn Lowe 11:51

I think enough people told me on podcasts when I was guesting, you should write a book. So I finally did. I figured, if I have, you know, I’m not a young person anymore. I’ve probably only got a few at bats left. And so I really want to help as many business owners and startups and emerging businesses as I can. So I keep having these one off conversations, and they kept being the same conversation. And I have made so many mistakes over 20 years, I said, let me write these all down. So that hopefully anybody else who’s you know, a lot younger than me is not going to make the same mistakes.

John Corcoran 12:30

Hmm. And so tell us a little about so first of all, you start with basically core values, scaling your core values and mission, which we’re both active, we connected through entrepreneurs, organization, EO, which is really big into making sure you’re clear in your core values and mission, not necessarily something you think, you know, if you’re starting an e-commerce business, that that’s something that you need to focus on, on right away, or do you say that you should?

Carolyn Lowe 12:58

I think you absolutely should, because especially if you’re a small business, you can’t afford to make the wrong hires. And so that was one of our lessons was until we had our core values as soon as we had our core values. The next day, we realized we had someone that didn’t fit in our company, right? They, they weren’t aligned with what we were aligned with, they weren’t passionate about growing these emerging businesses, they didn’t care about what they did. So that’s where we said, wow, we really started interviewing and hiring and firing based on those core values. And a lot of smaller companies are like, oh, you know, I don’t need to figure that out. But I think you do need to figure that out. You need to figure out who is the best person on your team in your company, who’s your a player, and then we put sticky notes all over the walls with what are the qualities of these people and then that’s how we really defined our core values. What makes this person such a great team member

John Corcoran 13:55

and thinking about actual team members and what makes them so great. And that’s how you came up with what your core values are. That’s interesting. Yeah, yeah. And then you also say you got to hire and fire based on your core values. I’m sensing maybe there’s a painful experience there so you know either at any your stops along the way did you have you know, like a top salesperson or top you know, person who just you know, you had to fire because they weren’t a good fit with the core values of the organization.

Carolyn Lowe 14:29

We did and it’s always painful and it’s always actually the I think the hardest thing for me as a leader in SEO

John Corcoran 14:37

you know, it’s always about the specific situation so you know, who it was and you know, to the extent that you can,

Carolyn Lowe 14:44

yeah, without Without naming names, we realized so a lot of great books have their you know, attraction all these good books out there, but we really do look at right person right seat. And you know, we did this with Our team is we analyzed and we asked people what do you like to do? What do you not like to do? And we actually restructured our team. So now on one of on our Amazon team, we restructured what people do, they’re like, I love this part of my job, I don’t love this part of my job. And it worked out that, you know, so now we have people focused on what they like to do, and not what they don’t like to do. And they’re a lot happier, and they’re a lot more productive. And so on the other side, we had someone who actually was not great. It was in a client facing role. And I hate to say this, but agencies are results in relationships. And if you have someone who doesn’t really care about what they do, who we started realizing this negative behavior and negative attitude, and it was permeating through the team. And you know, as soon as you see you have someone toxic, you need to get rid of that person. Like, they’re going to take your whole company down with you.

John Corcoran 15:59

And then you also say that connection turns customers into advocates, what is What do you mean by that?

Carolyn Lowe 16:07

So especially, you know, when working with emerging brands, one of the companies that we worked with, you know, a year into their existence, they realize, I’m gonna start writing, you know, handwritten notes to everyone of our customers or buyers. I mean, they’re pretty high ticket item, not super high, but $300. And, and they really started making connections. And then they got an enthusiast group on Facebook. And now they’re not just customers, they’ve got their customers actually going out and being their advocates. And I think a brand that does that really well is chewy, so chewy, knows everything about your dog

John Corcoran 16:44

food. And other dog items. Yeah.

Carolyn Lowe 16:47

They know your dog’s name. They know your dog’s birthday, I’d hate to see their Salesforce database, when you call in like they probably have 52,000 fields about your pet.

John Corcoran 16:56

Oh, I saw Rex just turned five yesterday. Whoa, how’d you know that?

Carolyn Lowe 17:01

Are you know, when when you stop ordering, and they call you to see why you stopped ordering and you say Oh, my pet passed away? They send you a gift. I mean, it’s they take customer service to a whole nother level.

John Corcoran 17:12

Wow. Wow. So but what’s interesting for you and your careers, you know, you manage a $2 billion division at Dell. And now you said you are passionate about helping smaller businesses, you know, which maybe don’t have the resources to manage those things as much as like a chewy does right to have resources and gifts of the dog passes away. So how do you know startups or companies that are they’re still growing? How do they balance those tensions between? You know, as they say, champagne? Was it champagne taste? Budweiser budget or something? Like your budget? Yeah. If your budget yeah,

Carolyn Lowe 17:50

that’s, that’s my husband. So I think what I usually do with companies that I advise, so I’m part of the beam Angel Network, which is funding women funding in advising women founders, because women founders are typically very under invested in the VC community. And so there are a couple of organizations in Austin looking to change that. And whenever I, whenever I mentor or advise female founders, we’ll look at everything you can be doing then just sort of do a ruthless prioritization of effort impact, and where can you know, where can you get the highest impact with the least amount of effort? And those are those are your like, go do things, right? And then figuring out like, is this just noise and so prioritization is so important. We do a weekly scorecard, and we set like, monthly or quarterly rocks, you know, through the through the EOS and the traction system. And that helps us, okay, this, don’t go chase that shiny thing down the road, stay focused on this is gonna move the needle.

John Corcoran 18:55

Right, right. That’s great. Carolyn, I want to ask you, we’re running out of time. But you know, I’m a big fan of gratitude, especially expressing gratitude to business partners, key clients, strategic partners, forum mates, people that have kind of helped you along the way. So if you if you look around at your peers and your contemporaries, you know, those who have just kind of helped you as he’s gone along, helped you learn, help you grow. Who do you respect? Who do you admire that’s out there doing good work.

Carolyn Lowe 19:28

I have to say the person that has really helped me the most was my original co-founder, Dan Graham, so he’s here in Austin. He’s been a member of EO and YPO. For a while. And what I love about Dan is he built and grew a huge company called Bill design sold it. Now he owns Notley investments and ventures and fund and he’s actually one of the people who is funding traditionally underfunded minorities women. He also has a whole nonprofit arm. So what I love about Dan is, you know, there’s a lot of people that have a lot of money that could just go off and, you know, ride waves for the rest of their life. But Dan really is involved in both the community and philanthropy. And he runs some great startups called Startup games where you know, people play Mario Kart from, you know, to and they all give money to put in and the winning team goes to their charity. So I love the way he’s got this whole Robin Hood. Robin Hood theme to his life.

John Corcoran 20:33

That’s such a cool idea. I love that. That sounds like something that would be fun to do. Especially in Austin with the startup community that’s there. Carolyn, this has been great. Where can people go to learn more about the book and learn more about you and ROI Swift? Yeah,

Carolyn Lowe 20:50

great. You can visit our lousy website where the cobbler with no shoes, you can go to But we do have a functional website, but we do spend most of our time growing all of our other clients business and but yep, you can find us there. You can find me on LinkedIn. And I really enjoy being here, John. 

John Corcoran 21:09

Alright, Carolyn, thanks so much. Take care.

Outro 21:12

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