Episode 98
March 22, 2022

Influential Leadership

with Craig Shiesley, CEO of Yasso

About this episode

Craig Shiesley joins the show today to talk about his journey to becoming CEO of Yasso. Founded in 2009 by kindergarten best friends, Amanda and Drew, Yasso was the first to market frozen greek yogurt bars. Under Craig's leadership as CEO over the past two years, Yasso has become the second-fastest-growing snack brand with over $150 million in retail sales. In this episode, Craig shares with us his career journey from growing up in New York as the second youngest of five to becoming the first in his family to leave his hometown and attend an ivy league university, to landing a job in brand management at SC Johnson, to meeting the founders of Yasso in 2017 to explore a board role opportunity. He talks with us about the key to being influential, why it's important for your team to debate the how, but agree to the what, and some signals founders should look for if they're considering a shift away from the CEO seat.

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In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

  • What it was like growing up in Buffalo, New York as the second of five children
  • How at a young age he always appreciated the hard work he put into yard work or shoveling snow, getting to see the transformation he was able to make
  • What it was like going to Cornell University, being the first one in his family to leave his hometown, changing his major to business, and getting connected to the CEO of SC Johnson
  • The opportunity he was given as an undergrad student to intern with SC Johnson, and continue working for them for 16 years
  • His experience leading the plant-based food and beverages division at WhiteWave Food for brands including Silk, Horizon, and So Delicious 
  • What qualities he thinks makes a good CEO, and how to grow in the CEO role
  • How stumbling into business allowed him to find his passion, which is helping brands grow in their purpose
  • What he looked for in building his initial team at Yasso 
  • The things that make or break a CEO transition 
  • How he practices and builds resiliency, with his head, heart, and body 
  • Why he believes taking care of yourself is taking care of your team

To Find Out More:

https://yasso.com/ 

Quotes:

“The way I broke through was I found my way through playing football, so I went to Cornell playing football and being a good student and good athlete, but football really broke me through.”

“I was just watching how much my parents worked to put me through to that moment, to get me into Cornell and to support that. And then I wanted to make my mark. I wanted to be part of whatever the Shiesly folklore was, I wanted to be part of that chapter.”

“Walk in their footsteps, know who they are, know their business, understand what they're trying to get out of their life, even beyond the business.”

“People and how they're going to feel when they're brought along is important and then sharing that vision.”

“Make it more about them versus about you and what you want to get done”

“We can debate the how, but let's agree to the what”

“If you believe in that conviction, you fight for it. And that was where I was willing to go down and be fired for that conviction. Cause at the end of the day, I'm going to die with my plan, no one else's.”

“I think a fallacy in a business is that margin comes later. But I think margin matters now.”

“It was very important for us to be more than a dessert brand. We wanted to be more than things that are sold on a stick, so we had to migrate that brand from dessert to snack.”

“If there's something that as a founder keeps you passionate and keeps your juice going and that you want to be involved in, put it on the table, discuss how that's going to go with the CEO and how you manage your way through that.”

“I would ask both sides, really do your homework, know each other, know people that know them informally, informally inside of work, outside of work, how are they in the good moments and the tough moments.”

“I'm really all about take care of yourself, prioritize that. Whether that's a workout, whether that's yoga, swimming, meditation, make sure that's there because you're going to need that, and your team's going to need to feel your energy day in, day out because sometimes you're going to have to give it to them and you can't give it to them unless you have it.”

Read the transcript

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