Episode 101
April 12, 2022

Fixing the Fundamentals

with Kevin Rutherford, CEO of Nuun

About this episode

Joining the show today is Kevin Rutherford, the CEO, or otherwise known as the Chief Eternal Optimist of Nuun. Founded in Seattle in 2004, Nuun quickly became known for its low sugar electrolyte tablets, which revolutionized the sports beverage market and was acquired in July 2021 by Nestle. Today, Kevin shares with us his inspiring career journey from growing up in Canada to working as a brand manager at SC Johnson, to turning around Miller Genuine Draft from a 17-year decline, to landing his first CEO role at Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day, to starting as CEO at Nuun almost nine years. We talk about the positive changes he's made while leading Nuun, what he thinks makes a great leader, the importance of progress over perfection, and how to support your team when they're struggling.

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In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

  • What it was like growing up in Ottawa, Canada, and what it was like for him growing up through his parent's divorce, finding compassion in the situation
  • His early jobs as a hockey trainer, working as a cashier, and the leadership opportunities he was given
  • What it was like working for SC Johnson, working with brands like Draino and Shout
  • What he's learned in marketing and sales, is how it's all about the emotional connection, shared values, and connecting the two for everyone
  • What it was like working as CEO for the first time at Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, and what he learned from moving on from the role of not being the best for the company's new transition
  • The journey to becoming CEO at Nuun, what it's like working there, how amazing the culture is, and what its been like being acquired by Nestle
  • What advice he has for aspiring leaders, creating a strong team, and how being a CEO is about knowing all and being the expert of nothing

To Find Out More:



“My dad was the guy that would try to lift his team up and energize them and keep them going, and I think somehow I inherited that.”

“It’s a small world, and you never know what's going to happen.”

“Anyone can be passionate about anything.”

“You really do need to help people understand what the benefit is, what the value you're bringing is, and we should all work on that.”

“You can only connect the dots in life by looking backwards.”

“Passion for what you have has to instill across everybody.”

“It was a chance to lead a team. And that's the common thread through childhood to today that I realized I get my energy from, from sports teams to today is all about teams.”

“Finding that flow and where you're really good at is a lot of repetition and to keep trying.”

“This is the most magnetic energy of a culture I have ever experienced in my career. I absolutely can't tell you how proud I am of this team.”

“Fix the fundamentals before you try and do other things.”

“I don't think you have to compromise on what you put in your body. You can have natural clean ingredients to give you the best performance.”

“Once you're there, you've gotta be thinking what's my next evolution to make it better and stronger. Then of course you want to figure out how to extract that value.”

“All of us can do almost anything to be clear. It doesn't mean we're all going to be great at anything.”

“​​If there's one thing that people need to take away, the fundamental thing that the best leaders have in businesses and sports teams for that matter is helping people feel valued, like ‘I want to matter.”

“It’s always about the we, versus the I.”

“You need to care a lot and you need to dig in and you need to spend the time.”

“It's harder than it looks. It can be an absolute grind. So you need to believe with conviction in what you're doing. You need to be flexible and adaptable as you get new information. So it's going to shift what you thought was this line to get to a certain point is not going to be the pattern. It's going to be something completely different, but that's okay. You believe in your idea and you've got to be ready for the grind. And you've got to find joy in that.”

“CEO is the knower of all, the expert of nothing.”

Read the transcript

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