Ideas for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Insights and Innovation: Steven Berg

Posted by Paul Metaxatos

In his interview with Motiv, Steve Berg – Managing Partner of the Boston-based private equity firm Castenea Partners – provides a candid behind-the-scenes view into how his firm helps emerging growth companies to reach the next level of growth.

Our conversation with Steve covers a broad range of topics, including the process he applies to select portfolio companies; why having “passionate customers’ is so important for retail companies; and the reasons why private equity companies sometimes fail. On the personal side, Steve also explains how his undergraduate degree in engineering continues to help his career, and why he and his firm have maintained such a low public profile, relative to other private equity firms.

Learn what drives this seasoned private equity professional, and what qualities your company should be seeking in a relationship with a private equity firm. Click here to read Steve’s interview.

Seeking Future Design Trends in Fringe Markets

Posted by Paul Metaxatos

We’re always studying “fringe markets” that don’t represent mainstream tastes, because they can provide meaningful insights into future consumer preferences. Counter-culture trends also help fuel our ideas for design and new products. For that reason, every year we attend the SEMA Show, the world’s largest showcase of automotive specialty products.

Download our SEMA 2016 Trend Report, to see what we discovered at the most recent show in Las Vegas.

If I Knew Then..

Posted by Bill Sterling

In its ongoing “If I Knew Then…” series, Crain’s Boston magazine asks executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy. This month, the column featured Motiv’s co-founder, Paul Metaxatos, who suggests jumping into the business ownership pool sooner, rather than later. According to Paul, “You need a lot of energy to run a business.” But we’ve seen no shortage of that asset from Paul at Motiv.

Read the full article here.

Insights and Innovation: Nick Lazaris

Posted by Paul Metaxatos

In his interview with Motiv, Nick Lazaris — the former President and CEO of Keurig and other successful ventures — provides insight into the underlying razor / razor-blade business model on which Green Mountain, Coravin and other companies have created new product categories.

Our conversation with Nick covers a broad range of topics, including lessons learned from his experience as chief of staff for West Virginia Governor Jay Rockefeller; and guidance for early stage companies seeking to replicate Keurig’s rapid growth rate. On the personal side, Nick also explains his Greek roots, and his connection with Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s classic, The Odyssey.

Learn what drives this marketing legend, and what items are next on his “to do” list. Click here to read Nick’s interview.

Four Business Lessons from Motiv’s Favorite Bartender

Posted by Glenn Sundin

Professionalism and good business practices are often transferrable across a diverse range of occupations. That lesson was reinforced for Motiv recently, at a fun, after-hours group tutorial in the art & science of adult beverages, presented to our team by John Drew, the longtime head bartender at Boston’s Blue Dragon, who recently joined Beam Suntory as luxury spirits specialist.

Over the course of his 90-minute, informal presentation from behind the bar, John delivered some important lessons that can be applied to any type of business. Notably:

1. Be Authentic. Right up front, John made a point of describing his craft using simple, easy to understand terminology. “I’m a bartender,” he explained, “and please don’t call me a ‘mixologist’.” His modest, unassuming approach gained our immediate trust and credibility. By not attempting to either hype or apologize for the nature of his work, John also increased the stature that we assigned to bartending, and to him as a professional bartender. In most businesses, customers are not impressed with (and often suspicious of) hype and complex explanations. They prefer to engage with professionals who explain or demonstrate what they do clearly, manage expectations, and deliver on what they promise.

2. Tailor Your Message. John had several topics he intended to cover in his presentation. But individuals within our group had varying interests and endless questions that took him down unanticipated discussion paths. Some had questions about history. Some wanted to know about flavors. Some wanted practical tips. Others wanted to hear anecdotes. John was able to go off-script with ease, switching topics as required, but always finding a way back to his agenda. Keeping an audience engaged, and creating a natural discussion journey is a critical skill in business, whether you’re talking to an individual or a group, and whether you’re standing on a podium, or sitting across the desk from them.

3. Don’t be a Sucker for Trends. John told several stories of customers “saddling” up to the bar, eager to impress him with their knowledge of exotic new drinks, requesting that he create one of their concoctions. But his standard response was not to accept their challenge immediately. Instead, he would turn the tables; asking for their preferences in flavors, ingredients, etc. Then John would create a drink better suited to their individual tastes, rather than the trendy drink they had requested. In any business, listening to what a customer wants is always important, but greater value can be delivered by asking the right questions and producing a tailored solution they would not have discovered on their own.

4. Be a Student of Your Craft. John’s authenticity as a bartender was based on his extensive knowledge, which far exceeds his inventory of cocktail recipes. His deep understanding of complex topics – the alcohol aging process, the influence of barrel materials, distinguishing brand-specific flavor profiles, etc. – kept everyone’s interest. But the key to John’s success, as a bartender and as our instructor, was based on the level of enjoyment and enthusiasm that he conveyed to us. In any industry, remaining excited about what you do for a living, and being a constant student of your own craft, is an essential ingredient for long- term success. Customers can feel the joy and commitment you bring to your profession. It’s always infectious, and serves as the cornerstone of your brand.

So Motiv raises its cups to you, John Drew, for the spirits you delivered, and for the important lessons we took away from that enjoyable evening. Cheers.

[Note: If you’re interested in learning more about John, here are some additional insights from Nightclub & Bar magazine.]

Insights and Innovation: Sam Aquillano

Posted by Paul Metaxatos

In his interview with Motiv, Sam Aquillano, the founder and executive director of Design Museum Foundation provides insights into his nomadic, multi-site design museum operating in Boston, Portland and San Francisco.

Sam’s mission is to bring the transformative power of design everywhere, as a means to inspire a world full of creative problem solvers. Design is everywhere, so his museum has no permanent address – instead, Sam and his team have turned the museum concept inside out and turned entire cities into locally-focused – but nationally connected – collections built around place-making and community.

Sam explains his vision to create an accessible hub for thought leadership around design impact, both online and through branches in every major city. Through his Design Museum Foundation, he’s created a uniquely scalable model that can deliver his approach to just about anywhere.

Learn what has inspired Sam to blaze this new trail in museums, and to take on an important thought leadership role in the world of design thinking. Click here to read his interview.

HBR Webinar Topic – The Internet of Things: Design, Not Just Technology

Posted by Paul Metaxatos

Don’t miss the upcoming HBR webinar, scheduled for July 26th, based on our recent Harvard Business Review article, The Internet of Things: Design, Not Just Technology co-authored by technologist Scott Nelson.

The webinar will explore the product development mistakes that many companies are making by overlooking design, and offer specific ways that technology and design teams can build partnerships to ensure success in IoT 2.0.

To register for the free video webinar, Click Here.

Trend Predictions in our “Road to Authenticity” Report Appear Well-Founded, Based on Home + Housewares Show

Posted by Paul Metaxatos

Nobody likes to hear, “I told you so…,” but we predicted a significant product design trend back in January. So we’re feeling pretty good about Motiv’s ability to see where consumer tastes are headed.

Here’s the backstory:

Last November, we attended the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, which attracts more than 140,000 automobile buffs. This annual event is sponsored by the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association, a trade group representing the interests of businesses devoted to accessorized, customized and vintage vehicles.

Based on what we saw at SEMA (and consistent with Design Thinking, which suggests future mainstream behavior can be found in current counter-culture tastes), we produced a special report, The Road to Product Authenticity, which identified consumer design trends including:

• Greater interest in higher quality, sustainability and performance from products;
• Less interest in mass-produced, plastic, cheaply priced disposable items;
• An eco-friendly mindset expressed in use of earth tones, muted finishes and high-quality materials that establish a high-end product persona.

Fast-forward only four months, to last month’s International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago, where our SEMA Show predictions were reflected in a broad range of new consumer products coming to market…featuring natural, high-quality materials that include wood, fabric, cork, ceramic and glass. Lots of earth tones and muted finishes as well.

Take a look at our sampling of new products (below) from this year’s Home + Housewares Show. And let us know if you think we nailed the consumer product “authenticity” trend, which by the way, we believe still has a very long runway.

The Internet of Things Needs Design, Not Just Technology

Posted by Paul Metaxatos

Motiv teamed up with noted technologist Scott Nelson to provide some practical guidance on how companies can succeed in the new user-driven world of Internet of Things (IoT) Version 2.0. This approach begins with recognition that a product’s design is as important as its technology, in terms of market acceptance. Read the article on Harvard Business Review here.

Insights and Innovations: Bruce Hannah

Posted by Paul Metaxatos

In his interview with Motiv, design legend Bruce Hannah provides the backstory for some of his 50+ year career highlights, including:

– How design student perspectives have changed over the years
– What it really takes to become a great design professional
– His accidental discovery of what became the NERF foam football
– Creation of the award-winning “Hannah Desk System” for Knoll
– His take on all the current buzz about Design Thinking and IoT

Bruce Hannah is considered a “designer’s designer.” His long career (still in progress) has influenced generations of design professionals through his teaching at Pratt Institute, and he’s given the world scores of innovative products as a design practitioner and consultant. 

Bruce has won just about every design industry award and recognition; notably, his appointment as the first Designer in Residence at the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution. He also may be only designer in the world whose theory on design evolution (“The Hannah Principle”) is cited in paleontology text books. 

This interview is a quick, fun read that’s well worth your time. Drop what you’re doing and click here to read.