fbpx

Episode 201: Creating Fulfillment in the Workplace with Mark Cuddigan


Driven by his company’s mission to improve children’s relationship with healthy foods, Mark Cuddigan’s primary strategy is to develop products and services according to children’s point of view. Mark, an executive of a company that helps a lot of people, is guided by the principle that helping other people is what ultimately gives fulfillment at work. In this episode, Adam Stott and Mark Cuddigan talk about how important a client’s perspective in business as well as autonomy in the workplace and more.

Mark Cuddigan is the CEO of the number 1 baby food company in the UK, Ella’s Kitchen. Mark is an executive to a number of companies including the Hain Celestial Group and the B Lab. Ella’s Kitchen, a Certified B Corporation, is hopeful to be a Net Zero Business by 2030 under the guidance of Mark Cuddigan.

Show Highlights:

  • The present trend that businesses are becoming more environmentally conscious
  • How Ella’s Kitchen was able to achieve growth and expansion with Mark as its CEO
  • What changed Mark’s perspective with what business can do and should do
  • Ella’s Kitchen is all about helping children and not all about making money
  • The Mantra which Mark run Ella’s Kitchen with
  • Measuring your employees’ happiness
  • What does it mean to be a B Corporation
  • Being an inspiration to all companies Ella’s Kitchen works with

Links Mentioned:

Big Business Events Members Network
Know more about Ella’s Kitchen at ellaskitchen.co.uk

Transcript:

Please note this is a verbatim transcription from the original audio and therefore may include some minor grammatical errors.

Adam Stott: 

Hello and good evening everybody and welcome to business growth secrets and I’ve got a fabulous guest. I’m really looking forward to introducing which I’ll do so in just a moment. He is the CEO of Ella’s kitchen, which I’m sure some of you may well have been familiar with being there is the market share leader now for baby food in the United Kingdom. It’s now sold over 33 countries, that the baby food market has been taken by storm by this kitchen and the brains behind that. Certainly since 2018 is Mark Cuddigan and we’ll be bringing him on in just a moment, and talking to him about the journey of Ella’s kitchen.

I’ve had a quick chat prior to the live tonight. Some of the perspectives are super interesting and I think that one thing I was saying to Mark just a moment ago is that I’m noticing this big trend at the moment of businesses becoming much more conscious, environmentally. In addition to environmentally becoming much more conscious of the community aspects of a business. So we’re about to have a chat about all those different aspects in terms of branding as well because this brand, Ella’s kitchen literally stands out. The branding is amazing, their social media followings is great. Their websites super fun, they’ve done some cool stuff so I’m really looking forward to hearing from Mark and he’s involved in that.

As you come on tonight, make sure you say hello in the comments, saying hello to Mark. Let us know if you’re somebody that used Ella’s kitchens products, be super interesting to hear about that as well. Make sure you share this video tonight with anybody that you feel could benefit from getting some business. From somebody that’s been behind building a 70-million pound company in the baby food market and achieve some incredible things. 

So big welcome on this evening to Mark, and I’m gonna bring him into the live stream right now. Welcome Mark. How you doing buddy? You good?

Mark Cuddigan:
Yeah, I am very well thank you. The only thing that matters is the date of March when the kids get back to school. They interrupt this recording, but that is a life we now lead at the moment, isn’t it?

Adam Stott:

Absolutely and I’m really looking forward to so we had a really good chat. Just a moment ago, and obviously I’ve been a bit of an introduction and insight. So, what it is that you’ve been doing in the SEO now for I think since 2018 is that correct?

Mark Cuddigan:
I think since 2011 so just coming up 10 years.

Adam Stott:
Awesome and you’ve seen some massive dramatic growth in that period of time, and expansion so 03:41 that talk about. So, could you tell us a little bit about how you come to be Ella’s kitchen. Some of the things that you’ve been doing there and what it is that you love about. You know what you’re doing with that brand and the growth that you’ve had over that period of time?

Mark Cuddigan:
I don’t think that last question, I could just talk about the next 40 minutes 04:02. I do, it’s totally transformed my life, I’ve been in business all my life so I’m 47 as my working career. It’s just changed my whole perspective on what business can and what business should too. I joined the company because I met Paul Lindley, who was the founder, so we just had our 15 year birthday Ella’s kitchen. Paul very much settlers kitchen on with a mission that is hard, so it wasn’t set up simply to make money. We have our mission is to improve children’s lives through developing healthy relationships with the kids all about health and nutrition, and I met Paul and was just hugely inspired by his vision for the company, what he thought business, how he thought business could operate and help solve some of society’s problems and he talked about environment, to talk about the environment quite a lot as well. 


So yeah, it’s best place I’ve ever worked. When it’s time for me to leave because it will be time at some stage for me to leave let someone else take over. I think I can say quite clearly that it will be the best place I’ve ever worked.


Adam Stott:
So you’ve enjoyed the mission, completely what was the mission, what was the outlet what I love and this is kind of what I was saying to you before but also now for the audience is, over the past few weeks I’ve interviewed some really interesting people. Those of you that have been following these interview series, you’re gonna see some trends here in the companies that are making ground and getting great results. Really all focused on their purpose and focused on their mission. You said Richard really was making, you know, improving his relationship with, not about making money, which a lot of people going into business have this kind of perspective that if you’re going to be in business, you got to be ruthless you got to make loads of money but instead you’re certainly coming from different angle. How can we add tons of value and actually do something here and then we’ll make money if we have enough value is that kind of our results and the money was almost just secondary. Is that how it came about?

Mark Cuddigan:
It just wasn’t the purpose of why he set the company up. So yeah, I think I’ll give you a really good example you know when the pandemic hit back in March. Like most food and drink companies we saw a massive spike in our sales is a huge panic buying, and we were barely able to keep up with sales but we realized that almost instant in the first couple of days we thought, well, our charity partners, people like fashion, who distribute food to people in need. They were going to like run out of stock, right, because all of their food and drink partners were servicing the retail outlets, fair enough with that stock, we’d like to get one of the first things you’re going to do is prioritize fashion and other charity partners. I don’t think that’s normal business practice right normal business practice would be what we’ve got to sell as much as we can to the supermarket line and make as much money as possible. Well the first thing we were like, no, no, no, we’ve got to make sure that people in need and kids in need who need our products, who can’t afford our products have access to our 07:08, and that was just, we didn’t really think about it. 

Adam Stott:

07:15 into the company. 07:18 You know.

Mark Cuddigan:
I’d like to I always like to because I don’t think it’s that people make things too confusing, but I like to like boil things down to really simple things right. So, for me, I challenge myself and everybody that works at Ella’s kitchen to do the right thing. It is that simple. As human beings we know most of the time, we know when we’re not doing the right thing, as human beings like businesses in which businesses really just go obviously just a connection, collection people. We will make mistakes right we are far from perfect Ella’s kitchen, right. The question is, when you realize you’ve done something wrong, what are you going to do about it? We got like three people in the car, you can go back and say, but we need to change that. And that’s the mantra which I run the company in, to be honest, is just do the right thing.


Adam Stott:
Yeah, and pay and you find that your team and your staff, you know, what kind of loyalty does that create within people? How do they feel when they work there? It’s funny because, you know, you come on and you sort of say like when is my time to move on. But, you know you everybody kind of has that period in their career, where they love what they do, right, and you’ve always come on and said like when I move on and I do move on, you know, a CEO and you rightly say you might pass the reins to somebody else that you know that you love what you’ve done there. And I think that’s a really nice thing to be able to say, and you feel like the staff feel like that as well as where you feel as we 08:51 it throughout the team that work there. 

Mark Cuddigan:
Yeah, took me just on just 10 years, I thought it’d be like, awesome thing that we’re bringing. We can start like chanting against 09:05 


Adam Stott:
09:12 gonna try and glean a bit of information, then we’re going to

Mark Cuddigan:

He’s run out of ideas. Yes, so you know we were in the Sunday Times top 100 Companies to Work For five years, right. Wow, right, and we look at our net promoter score which is a really good way and we’re actually used way of measuring your staffs happiness as of the scales and like the top 2% of companies in the whole world. 

Okay, so my focus I believe my primary focus outside of our mission. And what I care most about is ensuring that everyone, Ella’s kitchen is happy and fulfilled, if the people are happy and fulfilled, we will, everything else will take care of itself, the PNL, the sales, everything that we do with our consumers. I mean, everything will take care of itself.

I’m a firm believer that people. If you boil it down they want two things, right, from the place that they work, and that both based around pride. I think people want pride in the company they work for, and that’s being able to, well if we could go to the top but imagine a world where we can go to the pub and you talk to your friends and you’re genuinely come along, we say, I work at Ella’s kitchen, and it means XYZ, and you are super passionate or you’re talking to your parents and that for me to have that real pride in the company. The company has to stand for something other than just making money. 

Making money doesn’t give you that sense of pride. It doesn’t give you that sense of, I’m going to talk to all of my friends I have this inspires me every day so get we’re going to talk about purpose but for a company that has a real purpose and lives and breathes it, I think, more legs can people who are proud of that company. And the second thing, and this is also based around pride is people want to have pride in the work that they do. And you cannot have in my mind, you cannot have pride in the work that you do, unless you have autonomy in the job that you’re doing, and by autonomy, I mean, actively making decisions yourself.

So, if, if you work for me and I told you what to do the whole time, all day, do this do this do this you don’t go home at the end of the day, and unsaved your wife, wow, I just had the most incredible day. I’ve achieved research but no it’s really demotivating people don’t believe in me, they’re not making letting me make decisions. But if I say to you hey, we’ve got this problem. Can you think of ideas around it and then you come up with solutions to the problem. You’re gonna go home and go, that was a really good day I achieved something.

Adam Stott:
It’s everybody contribution.

Mark Cuddigan:
Yeah, So one of my big passions in running a company is living and breathing, proper autonomy. So every single person in the business is actively making decisions, and I made a vow, about three years ago, probably shouldn’t be saying this on a podcast because my boss might listen to it. Unlikely, but I made a file, three years ago, not to make another single decision in the business. 

Well I tell people that they laugh like he laughed. Back in the days you know, when we could see people, and this guy in the front row just burst out laughing. And I said, what’s so funny and he said, what do you do with that, like, what do you do, and I’m like, Well, where does this idea come from that the CEO is making every single decision I make, it’s crazy.

So I had an appeal with a marketing director at Ella’s kitchen, you’re probably brought in to do a job, I’m not going to tell you how to do your marketing job, I’ll have a chat with you. You come and ask my opinion, I’ll give you my opinion, but at the end of the day, it’s your decision, you are in charge of marketing, and I want that to be throughout the whole team. And if you do it properly, what you create is a series of leaders, and this is really why this guy, I think it’s the best business book I’ve ever read by this guy’s become a friend of mine, because he’s called David Marcus books called Turn the Ship Around. And he was putting 13:28 if you read it. 

Adam Stott:
13:30 No, I’m reading this.

Mark Cuddigan:
He was put in charge of an American nuclear submarine. Basically what happened was he was captain, and they changed it at the last minute, and put him in charge of the class of nuclear submarine that he didn’t know anything about. And it was also the worst performing ship in the whole US Navy, right. A few things happen in the first few weeks. He was to be around with exercise he said something like, I gotta get it wrong, but he said something like, he left to 50 up to 50, and the guy next to him said left 50 up to 50 and the guys doing shift, or whatever you call it didn’t do it. He was like, this is a bit weird. So it sounds a bit louder. The next guy said it a bit louder and the guy didn’t do anything. 

So, he went to the guy who didn’t do anything. Why didn’t you just carry out the order that gave, the guy a little bit sheepish, he said come on, why didn’t you carry the order I gave him, he said, because we can’t do that on this ship sir, so it turns the next guy, what did you just knowingly give an order that didn’t make sense. And before the guy on so you guys, you don’t have to answer I know the answer to that. And he thought, well, I’m going to kill people because I don’t know this year, and they are expecting me to make all these decisions. He basically ripped up the American naval rulebook which he wasn’t allowed to do.

Instead of making decisions, he pushed decisions down throughout the entire ship. And it’s like super inspiring and after six months, inspection of the year, they had an inspection, and they got highest marks ever recorded in US naval history. That was incredible and he says, really simple. If you came up against my ship, my submarine, he didn’t stand a chance because every other submarine on the planet, you had one man making every single decision so I didn’t care how clever you I was one person. I had 142 actively thinking, intelligent people who are experts in their area, making decisions, it’s absolutely amazing. 

Adam Stott:
Yeah, I remember I read similar, I read a book called Maverick, which was about a Brazilian manufacturing company, and it was similar concepts of like he wanted Mavericks within these teams. Right, so rather than him as the CEO or the managing director didn’t want to be involved in all the decision making, instead he wanted to put Mavericks, who had their own ideas and their own things that they could bring to the table in place and create some massive growth out of this from FCC, you know,  again which is really awesome, I think in a modern world, because, frankly, that’s what we’re at right now, you know, it needs to be some differences some changes. And I think that brings us on perfectly to where you, where you’ve been, as a brand and as an individual, as a CEO, you said that we had the mission, running through within that business through baby food, but there was also some environmental things there as well that you want me to consider. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that and how that came about and what your ethos is on what business should do you were just telling me about, you know how you feel business should play a more significant part in the world around this and what your opinions on that Mark? I think it’s really interesting conversation that.

Mark Cuddigan:
This is another passion, I don’t have that many passions, but this is another passion that we, Ella’s kitchen certified, something called a B Corporation. In February, 2016, and we’re already the second company to achieve this certification was being part of a PLC so we’re owned by US PLC, and the first company to achieve it was Ben & Jerry’s the ice cream company. What that means is, you know we have met highest social and environmental standards. And crucially, we’ve changed our articles of association of Companies House in the UK to commit, not just for this year, but that we will take account of all stakeholders in running our business, in essence we’re committing to what you call the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. 

So we’re not saying that profit is the most important thing. Capitalism has been right. It’s really simple, actually, as a CEO of a division of a PLC believe this or not, I have one petitionary duty, and one 18:00 duty only and that is maximize shareholder return. I have to care about the people who work. I don’t have to care about the environment in the capitalist system which variety of companies. 18:15 to PLCs, you have a duty to make as much money as possible for your show.

Adam Stott:
18:21 based on as well. Right.

Mark Cuddigan:
Basically the show. And you think about that, and you think about what which has come through in the last year, you think about global warming issues we have with globalization, with, you know all the social, societal justice issues that we have. None of these can be solved if we are maximizing profit at the expense of everyone else. It just doesn’t work. So, it is actually the thing that I’ve been not just in business as one of the things I’ve been most proud of is taking Ella’s kitchen through the certification process to commit to this new way of running a business. And it’s actually, it’s meant more to me than anything else I’ve achieved in my career, and it’s one of the proudest moments of my life. And you’re probably going to ask me why. Maybe wait. 19:21 

Adam Stott:
I was of course, why was it the most 19:26 what is it about that?


Mark Cuddigan:
Well, so it’s proof. It’s a proof point so when I meet people, I’ve never met CEO hasn’t said they run an amazing company. Everybody is seemingly saving the world, yet the world isn’t being saved and nothing’s really changing, right. So the first thing I say is taking this is prove it. Take this really hard test; prove that you are as great a company, as you say as you are. 


So, it’s a proof point is that commitment to putting people, planet in proper on an equal footing. It’s being part of a global movement. That is literally trying to redefine how we measure success in business, so moving away from property matters, but this is the thing, and I didn’t realize this when we certified, I’m being absolutely honest and transparent here but this is the thing that has meant the most to me, hands down, right, is we have realize that the impact we can have outside of our little kitchen, because we’ve realized that the impact that we can have is actually much wider than the people who work for us, so yes we’re 72 million, yes we’re in 33 countries around the world, which is under 100 people. There are over a million people that work in our supply chain. Over a million, right. 


And I would say we have an opportunity. I would argue we have a responsibility to try and inspire all the companies that we work with to follow us as certified as peoples, so we can we can influence, all of those people’s lives right, so our Spanish manufacturer will shortly certified as a B Corporation. To enable this to happen, they worked for two years, they now have solar panels on their roofs, and they now harvest all the rainwater. They’ve changed the gender and diversity makeup of their board, and they’re seeing your team. They have put in a crèche to enable parents it’s mainly women that’s you, but it’s to enable parents to return to work. 

They’ve changed the workers bright; they’ve changed their entire company because of us. Now, if I was a bit of a deer, which I’m not, if I walked around. 21:46 but if we want, if I walked from that factory. I would know that every single person in that battery lives would have been changed because they’ve 21:54, some in massive ways some in a small way, and that’s amazing, you know; they’ve had their environmental footprint as a company. That’s amazing. And in two years’ time, you can have me back out of that, I reckon I will be able to say to you, half of our suppliers will have certified as B corporations and in doing so committed.

Adam Stott:

22:18 as a company that helps that supply chain and helps them in business, you know, you’re setting an example most as to what people should be doing and people following that example. And do you feel that by following that example they’re gonna have higher employee happiness themselves. 

Mark Cuddigan:
Yeah, so this is the thing that he touched on it before. The strange thing about this is if you are only interested in making more money, which I’m not, but if you are only interested in making more money. This is the right way of running your company, you know, because if you have people that are happy and fulfilled and inspired at the work they do, they will produce better work, you will have campaigns that connect better with consumers. In our industry, you will have people that go out and connect with retailers better and get more distribution and everything. It really is that simple.


Adam Stott:
Awesome, somebody out with some great comments,  talking about some of the things you’ve done, obviously the branding of the company is very distinctive right straight away you can tell about the product. Were you involved in the branding aspects of it and actually building that and, you know, how did you look at that even the website and things is that one of the market leaders that you put in place, but did you have a direct impact on all of these different things within the business, how do you come to build a great brand in your eyes?

Now obviously we’ve got the mission and the purpose running through the company, and obviously it adds to the brand. What else do you think in terms of the branding is important? So making a company stands out. I mean there are a lot of people that we listen to right that probably small business owners. Some of them are small business owners, and what is it you would say to them about getting their brands to stand out and building their business is important for a branding perspective?

Mark Cuddigan:
Firstly, it’s important to me to say that it wasn’t me that comes up with any of this. I’m the person that claims on the credit. So, it’s the team.


Adam Stott:
24:12 How do we get to the point where we’re claiming the credit, but this is a thing because we’ll be playing it down a little bit because it sounds like you’re giving people the freedom to think, right. 24:23 And the freedom to think make decisions and encouraging them right. And does that mean you let people fail your, if somebody fails but they’ve made a decision. How do you respond to that, are you, you know, is from a management perspective, how do you go and respond to them? I’ll be interested in that they make that decision and it goes horribly wrong. What, how would, how do you manage that, be interested to hear it.

Mark Cuddigan:
I mean, we’d learn from it and move on. I mean it really is that simple? It’s a little bit of cliché now. You’ve got to make mistakes, you know. And, but it’s true, you know, I remember, I said this to my dad, he said, I didn’t. I’m saying this, and like he definitely said this. So, we used to go one skiing holiday, one holiday, a year when I was younger, and it was a skiing on a day. And I remember I must have been about nine years old, and I’d got through the whole day and hadn’t fallen over. I was so chuffed with myself, I was so proud. Yes. Everyone else fell over in my family. And I said to my dad. I didn’t fall over today. Without missing a beat, he just turned around looking and said we didn’t try hard enough to help them; it’s kind of live with me as, you know, mistakes have to be welcomed. There is no blame game; there is nothing as device in a company to accompany culture as the blame game. And also, if you have a blame game culture in your business, you’ll have no creativity, you have zero creativity, there’s a great TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson actually I think it’s the best TED Talk, ever. And he talks about creativity and he says, you know, kids have a great creativity when they’re younger, because they’re not afraid to be wrong. You will never come up with something creative, if you’re not prepared to be wrong.

So for me, you know, when you make a mistake, you learn from it, you move on. I mean you don’t want to make. We did make some whoppers when we were growing up as a business, someone once sent our entire company accounts to Tesco, and so they could see what we were making on the product that we supplied them with. That was an idea; you don’t want to do that again. Yeah, I mean they’ve got to be encouraged. You can’t give people autonomy and then criticize them for making mistakes, I mean I make fewer mistakes; we all make loads of mistakes. 


Adam Stott:
Of course, absolutely. So in terms of the market you serve, you served the obviously that the baby market mainly as the market leader in that right, in terms of baby, which is amazing because you, you weren’t well you know, and you’ve come out with locks and you’ve gained market share. 

What is the connection with the client like for you? How do you, you know, one thing I thought was interesting is that there’s actually a book by one of the founders that have written about thinking through the eyes of the top bar. When you think about this do you try and really connect with the client and understand your client at a deep level one of the things that we constantly try not offline so is that understand the people that you serve. Right and understand them quite deeply, is that something that there is an emphasis on within that business?


Mark Cuddigan:
Yeah I’d say so I mean near 70% I think people are working Ella’s kitchen, our parents, which ends we bought with a lovely last 12 months homeschooling. So that gives us a particular personal insight into the market because we’ve all been in that market some stage, I would say. I think this is my personal opinion, right. A brand is not a brand unless it emotionally connects with you in some way. So if you don’t feel something towards a brand, then it can be replaced with a own label product, right. If the product does the same thing, then you have to have that emotional connection right.


Adam Stott:
I love that one Mark. That’d awesome. That’s really interesting, but I’ve got to give you a follow up question on that, unfortunately,

Mark Cuddigan:
28:40 before giving me a hard question. Making friends team because that’s what we call 28:48 they are experts, emotionally connecting with our consumers with our parents. That is what we do, we are very emotional brand and you’re right with everything that we do, we do promote children’s point of view so through children’s eyes, everything, so you talk about the colors that it’s tactile, when we go get videos sent in by our consumers, their kids you know playing with the pouch and going, Oh, my baby. Have your baby food, because it gets so excited about it, you know, all of our communications, all of our PR. Everything that you see from us the website. It is all designed around that because parents are their most emotional when you’ve had to. 


So we are there to hold your hand and help you through the winning journey, and we want to be your, your best friend, through that journey, but emotionally connecting and seeing everything through a children’s point of view, all the other brands, said from parents point of view, we don’t pay for children, not the parents, for children.

Adam Stott:
I think it’s incredible going about actually feeling something as a brand. I think you kind of answered my follow up question which was how do you make someone something, your brand, you know, I think it’s important that you kind of said is that you’re seeing it through their eyes. Is that how would you say that, and he wasn’t interested as you said you call your marketing saying the making friends 30:20 

Mark Cuddigan:
30:22 our operations team is 30:28. And it’s very much the whole culture, most of you change what is pictured here when I take my children to Ella’s kitchen, they absolutely love it. They just want to be there the whole time, kids playground. Everything we do, yeah we completely submerge ourselves in children’s worlds, because children are amazing. They’re so inspiring. No, talking about how creative they are amazing. And everything we do is with 30:58.

Adam Stott:
I think that’s a really good point, it’s a really good culture for the brand and this is the way we’re going to do it right, and then to follow through on that which is pretty awesome right amazing stuff. There’s a lot of people that work in corporate companies that understand what you’re saying that autonomy before, it’s probably unusual for you to actually appear or certainly that is unusual and a B or C, isn’t it you know it’s very political, sometimes it’s really interesting you build that culture. So having been in business now for that period of time have been on that journey, and the aspects of community, which is something we used to be building what was your opinion on building a community for the business is that that you serve you said you’re doing a lot of work in the community with charity things. Where did that come from, you know, was that something you wanted, was that something that you just felt was the right thing to do, how did you go about doing that? And where do you feel that that gives back to the business in a way?

Mark Cuddigan:
Well not everything gives back to the business. It’s like our commitment to becoming net zero business by 2030, you know, that doesn’t make financial sense. And when we talk about when it makes financial sense and the fact that if all businesses don’t do it by 2050. There won’t be a planet for us to live on. But, you know, there’s lots of stuff that we do that doesn’t pay back financially, but we do it because that’s why we’re in business, so you know when I talked about prioritizing our charity partners like 32:33 who distribute much needed food to those who can’t afford it. 


There is no payback for the business. No financial payback. In fact, I was challenged by 32:45, two days ago. Two days go, on Monday, I’m losing the week or so, you know, so you didn’t have a very good year. In the last 12 months, because you only grew, the 2%. I wanted to say that’s just the number doesn’t really mean anything to me, it’s just a number, if it was 7% when you were saying, Wow, that’s absolutely amazing, right. 

You had an amazing year. Yeah, I mean, right, I’m not going to go around on my deathbed at the end of my days I’m not going to be looking back and go, I wish that 2% was 8% that really would have meant something. And so it wasn’t really very successful year. So well, I want to challenge the actually, I thought it’s a really successful year for us as a business, because we grew market share in the UK, in a declining market, which is why we didn’t increase sales, more than 2% I separate actually as a B Corp, you know, we have profit, planet and people who we decided to actually to push a planet, and push people, as the two things we’re going to focus on, we dealing with the pandemic, we’re dealing with tragedy, I lost my managing director, 10 days before the first lockdown. And we’ve focused on the PR people, you know, within a week of lockdown happening I said to every week, everybody. This is before the furlough scheme was even thought about, no matter how much work you are able to do, you will be paid indefinitely. If you cannot do any work because you’re homeschooling, and by the way, I want you all to prioritize yourself, your well-being, your mental health right. If you cannot do any work, because you’re homeschooling that is absolutely fine, which is going to let us know so someone else can hopefully pick up that work, or we just stopped doing that work, and you are the most important thing.

Adam Stott:
I can see why they love you, I mean that would have been quite an emotional message to deliver get emotional about it.

Mark Cuddigan:
It was quite an emotional message to deliver it was emotional for me. But it’s important right I mean we were facing extraordinary circumstances, people are worried about their jobs, but jobs are all safe, we were having record sales, but yeah we’re pulling back or offering people that couldn’t work, it’s like, no, I wanted them to know, this is what it looks like. This is what people business looks like we look off to you, and jumping as it is, you know, we’ve committed to be a net zero business by 2030. We put precise case targets that make great strides towards it, you know, half the footprint, obviously because of traveling stuff that we’re going to use all of those savings to put back into being Net Zero. We’ve done some incredible things this year. 35:41 

Adam Stott:
I love the point that you said in terms of I’m not just going to judge my year on 2% 3% 8% we’re just a number. And I think that’s, I think there’s a big lesson in there for a smaller business owner this is, frankly, you know, most people’s numbers would have gone backwards, Most people’s, right, but few businesses out there but because of certain circumstances that may be pushed forward right higher demand for products or service, most people are probably not made the progress that they wanted to make from a financial perspective right, but it isn’t all about that is, how much have you developed ways you’ve done, you know how much have you developed your business and are you enjoying the journey. 


You know I think that is an important thing to almost, in a way saying that aren’t you, but you got to enjoy the journey. And if you enjoy the journey, you know, that might be better than the 2-3% I think that’s a good lesson for some of the people that listen tonight, from a business perspective because I think so many people were especially in a small business, so ready to get stressed out. And so ready to be be influenced by by the finances that they forget how much progress they’re actually made, you know, certainly that’s a good point. So a lot of people, and this is amazing. A lot of companies do not have to sign compassion, absolutely. And you know what, it’s very clear that there is an emotional connection from the message as running through the business, you know that shadow without, which is pretty cool, really cool.

Mark Cuddigan:
I’ve got a question for you. 


Adam Stott:
Yeah. 


Mark Cuddigan:
Nearly every single person on this planet this relates to right. How do you think people get fulfillments at work in one way, and one way end. You have a guess what that is?

Adam Stott:
So you want me to guess what I feel that 37:27 you told me about 20 minutes ago then you.

Mark Cuddigan:
It’s helping other people.

Adam Stott:
Helping other people but of course, yeah.

Mark Cuddigan:
That is how you get fulfillment at work helping other people, it’s not winning, it’s not making more money, right. That is how you get real deep fulfillment our work is helping other people. That’s it. Yeah, we’ve seen loads of companies do it throughout the pandemic. I feel that we’ve all this time; most of us have this time. If you’re not a key worker to think about our lives and actually what gives us happiness at work gives us that fulfillment. And I hope things are going to change as we demand change from businesses the businesses we work for the businesses we buy from the businesses we do business with. It’s helping other people.

Adam Stott:
Absolutely. You know I do agree with that, and I’ve been having had a business where I understand myself I was doing we were doing around, not quite 70 million, 40 million pounds a year in the automotive industry, and I didn’t get the same level of fulfillment out of doing that, anywhere near what I do out of doing what I do now, like what I do now where I help people and I’ve give people, you know, to help us break through and help them to build their businesses gives me much more fulfillment by the message that one of my long standing clients that I’m supposed to actually probably about a year and he sent me a voice note, and just said, Adam, you know I really want to just thank you. I really appreciate everything that you’ve done, you know, we wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are and I was speaking from the stage in industry, so that we wouldn’t be anywhere near that we didn’t have guidance and 39:13 and he hasn’t been a client for a year, right. 

And for me, that was actually, you know, that is very rewarding. He’s not a client, yet doesn’t matter, he’s not paying me basically wants to reach out and express how grateful he is, I think that’s pretty awesome. So 100% know where you’re coming from. And I think that there is a there is a real emphasis on that I mean for me transferring that message to the people that were listening tonight I think that, as a business owner, they need to enjoy the journey.

Would you say it’s important to find their purpose, you know, how important do you think that is they say there’s time in Ella’s kitchen, you were there when you started to begin 10 years ago, you became involved, and there was a purpose there already started being created, how central to the success of that business do you think the underlying purpose was of what you wanted to do? How much has impacted the success?


Mark Cuddigan:
That’s really good question. I would say is, its integrity has been integral to the success of the business, because it means there’s truth at the core of the business, is this true. And I remember, this is six, seven years ago, we were trying to do a Rusk product, and rusks would have been a big subcategory and baby brains do they got the Farley’s Ross, Right.

Adam Stott:
I Remember rusks 40:47 

Mark Cuddigan:
It’s a massive sales opportunity for us. We have this 18 month project to try and do what week to week last healthy. So we were trying to do it without sugar at all. And we just couldn’t get it to we couldn’t get the product to bind in any way, we managed to concoct this Rusk Biscay was better than what we would term I’m not criticizing him doing that but what we will classes, better from a health and nutrition point than anything else on the market. I remember we were having this conversation, we have this independent nutritionist, and we all went around the table saying what we thought about it, whether we should do it big sales opportunity or gonna make lots of money and everything. She wasn’t very happy. And I said, What do you think, and she said, Well, it’s not a well, it’s should we be doing this, looking at our mission, should we be doing this product the product that we produce. 

And that was it. We didn’t do it. We spent 10s of 1000s of pounds on this product and were going to make lots of money from it, but how cool is the independent nutritionist was, if you’re serious about children’s health and nutrition, you should not be doing this product. And that means so much the people in the room, they’re like, Okay, this is pretty cool. There is something there is a truth. 42:23 

Adam Stott:
Business authentic doesn’t it 100% when you say no to something like that. Record a business, there is actually you know what, we are on, we are really doing what we said we want to do. And that and that will be did that create a really good connection?

Mark Cuddigan:
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.


Adam Stott:
Awesome. So it’s a good question for some of the people that are listening tonight to be asking themselves, you know, what is your purpose? Do you have a mission you have something that you want to go out and achieve? And you think, like, I imagine that, you know, from a norm, a lot of corporate companies have like a North Star principle right which is sort of what we’re talking about here. Do you feel in a way like your North Star, in terms of the way that you look at that business same right look the North Star we’re following, we’re always going to look to this guideline is that come into, how frequently does that get mentioned throughout your business, you know, in terms of the way that you’re providing food for children. How frequently does that get discussed is it like all the time?


Mark Cuddigan:
When people listen to podcast, let’s see that I’m smiling when you’re talking about corporate companies have noticed that they do. It’s like we all have, you know, most companies now. 


Adam Stott:
It’s all businesses. The reason I say right is there’ll be people on tonight that don’t have an all-star, they don’t have that right. And you don’t have a North star or a guiding principle, then, is quite often that they’re going to be too long and crying because I’m really got anything that they’re aiming for right potentially. So we’re just trying to get across that from you, someone has been in that business but it’s a massive business 70 million pound a year, market leader. I just want to try and get that message across the audience how important is it to have something that you are in your business, you know, I think that’s quite important.


Mark Cuddigan:
For us, it’s crucial for everything really fundamentally is, it’s the only reason why we’re in business, and everything else sort of takes care of itself. So it is really important. But I’m not giving the advice that I think it’s essential for all businesses, because I’m not sure that would be true, but a lot of companies are retrofitting certainly larger companies or retrofitting purpose into their business, because they have seen that he can make them more money. It’s a bit like a company mountains of most companies larger medium, medium and large sized companies have company values. They have them printed on the wall. You can see them printed on the wall. 


Well, are they properly living in freezing those decisions that don’t pay back commercially on them, you know, when you when, when you look at the biggest corporate scandal ever. First, corporate value was integrity, shredded 20 million documents in the Enron scandal, their first value, integrity. I don’t think they understood what integrity means, you look at the issues we’ve had with various car companies, pitting cheap devices to their diesel cars, you know, that shouldn’t happen. If a company is properly living and breathing is values that does not happen. If it has a proven North Star that just simply does not happen. 


Adam Stott:

Yeah. Really interesting conversation, really interested perspective, you know, 100%, everything that you’re saying there is sometimes if you’re going to let our company come up with your purpose you got probably got a problem there, come from within the business something that everyone wants to do, you know, something that everyone feels behind and can get behind some of the unites you, rather than you something you’re doing just for the sake of it, you know saying integrity is a big thing.

We honor that then downside, you know, that’s kind of where we’re going. Isn’t it right. pretty awesome. So look, I think it’s been really great having a chat I mean, last thing I wanted to cover off is a lot of our audience are massively into social media right and you know I’ve noticed from having a look at your social media channels Instagram follow that has continued in some really cool stuff can follow me on Instagram. Follow him on Facebook or Instagram, whatever channel you use in more. 


How long has that been within your business and would you have an involvement in that Mark, do you think or do you have to look at it, do you get involved in it, is it something that you’ve been behind or do you have some creative minds that you’d like to work with on that. How does that work? What’s your involvement at the top on that?

Mark Cuddigan:
Like none, until 47:08 things, you know, the cool kids as they, I mean we are experts on social media, and I’m using we deliberately, because it’s not me. It’s the team I mean they are absolutely brilliant, engagement, you know, we remember. A year ago, isn’t it because of the lockdown but about a year and a half ago we went to YouTube, because we wanted to learn how we could increase our engagement on their channels, and they laughed at us and said we use the example of best in class, we’re like, Oh, well that’s quite nice but we want to be better and they just sort of shook their heads. So, you know, we have great partners but we have, we just have a great team that that understanding, and have the autonomy, and they’re failing and trying different ways.

Adam Stott:
CEO that you’re not making the nuts and bolts of it. What do you think the importance is that you’ve seen from that business or just in general business social media for businesses right now? How important do you think is?

Mark Cuddigan:
It’s just, it’s absolutely essential because it’s where parents are middle of the night, you’re feeding your baby, stressed with like you’re going on Facebook present personal advice so for us it’s absolutely essential. That doesn’t mean it is for all businesses, but it’s been. 

Adam Stott:
Do you use that same you just made sounded like an education based marking statement. So you do a lot of education based stuff where you’re sending people and help people with that is that part of the strategies?

Mark Cuddigan:
Fundamentally as a brand, we are there to hold people’s hands as they go through the winning journey. Also, if he’s going to make friends do they tell you something else but that’s what I feel with that students, we’re not there to sell you more Ella’s kitchen products. We’re there to help you through what can be quite stressful. Yes, we’ll educate. Well, we’ll put videos up that are gonna make you smile. We’re not going to make it stressful, we’re not going to tell you what you’re doing is wrong. And we’re here to help. And that goes through our customer care team, marketing, everything.

Adam Stott:
It sounds awesome, and it sounds like a very like, if I break that down but actually say to the audience, you know, not one day you’re building an emotional connection, because you’re not trying to pitch them you’re trying to say, Hang on getting some help, you know, always evenings amount with, and you’re gonna get much response, and you’re going to get much different engagement, because if you build that education into your markets in and the hell. And, you know, it’s gonna have a much bigger impact. You know, I think it is really interesting to see somebody heading up a company disappear or saving 70 million pounds a year.

Actually, my main focus is on the people, rather focus on environment. And the prophet comes out saying you’re saying the prophet comes first, we’re gonna get you in trouble there, and then you’ve got an equal responsibility, which is awesome. I think it’s really inspiring and the connection to the purpose and the things you’ve done with the business. I mean for me you know big congratulations you’ve achieved some massive things with that company being number one in market share, and the things that you most proud of the environment, the environmental aspects are awesome so, I love the brand I think it’s a really cool brand. 

I’ve done everything that everyone’s worked on it’s done really well and I’m sure everyone’s listening tonight with a great, you know, I just want to say a big thank you Mark, is there anything you wanted to add on tonight or anything that you wanted to close off signs to the audience I mean a lot of business owners here if you wanted to maybe share that message and or even give them a challenge, you know, what can they do to, you know, improve their aspect, what would you say, what would your final message be tonight?

Mark Cuddigan:
That’s really difficult.51:06 coming totally probably I would say. And I’m only saying this because we did this recently and it was just it was super cool Ella’s going to ask your whole team. What three things they need to do every day in your business to get to work. It’s really interesting that with the whole team. And pretty much, five things came up with all the people so you chose three things right but there are only like five things that came up is pretty much universal what people choose. I think it’d be really interesting way to ensure that you’ll start by having. So just interrogate them and find out. I think it’d be quite cool.

Adam Stott:
Challenges and we’re just going to put it up on the screen now. Mark challenge to everyone to business owner that going on your team. Three things that they need to get fulfillment at work and see what the responses are from the team or the people you work with and even if you work in a work environment you have seen the work we’ve gone off on that and see what the responses are. Have you got 52:09 

Mark Cuddigan:
52:11 a different slide different, it’s gonna ask your team the three things they need to do every day to get fulfilled.

Adam Stott:
Right needs to do, yeah. Can garage sales briefing, they need to. So, 52:26 prediction Mark, give us your perspective. 


Mark Cuddigan:
When we asked the team that the top three were have a sense of purpose. Yeah, so I feel that what I am doing is important, and number to was being valued. We all want to be valued. And number three was helping other people. And it’s interesting when you think of those three they all work perfectly together, but they can all work against each other. So, if you’re not feeling valued, you’re less likely to reach out and help somebody in your team or in another team, and then you’ll feel less valued. So those were the three that came up time and time again, 


Adam Stott:
And I’ll give you final question right, so we’ve already been ripped out find it really interesting, really interesting. It sounds like the methodologies are slightly different from from a usual company which is awesome, right, I love that, because I love learning myself and seeing things that are different. So having that information now, having those three things, how did you use that? What, how did you use that to benefit the company or the company’s mission?


Mark Cuddigan:
Well, so, I think the most interesting thing is for people themselves. So when you’ve written down the three things that you know, you know, you need to do every day to get prepared. So the three things off my enticing team. Once ones once a month, I’ll say, how are you getting over those three things? 53:55 So if it’s feeling valued, or you think, and they be like, yeah I’m gonna, you did this makes great shows that you can that you listen.


Adam Stott:
Really random question right, and especially any anyone’s listening in the comments and you watch this. Have you watched the show table 54:15 


Mark Cuddigan:
No I haven’t. But I, somebody texted me yesterday saying I’m gonna watch it.

Adam Stott:
I can tell you all, I think you’ll love it.

Mark Cuddigan:
Okay, Ted last night. Okay.

Adam Stott:
It’s about American football coach, that comes out, 54:33 

Mark Cuddigan:
Literally just send it to me. Okay, I’m going to swap something with something that I think all of your listeners should watch. It’s a documentary and it’s called the biggest little farm. You can watch it with your children, you got your or your watch it on your own. And it was filmed over eight years and it’s this couple that decides to set up a bomb in the US, and it is moving and inspiring and shows the power of nature, and what we can achieve, it’s absolutely brilliant.

Adam Stott:
Cool. I’ve made a note of that. I’ll check it out, and I’ll let you know. So I want to say a big thank you tonight Mark for coming on. It’s been awesome, really interesting. I’d love the different perspectives. I think it’s great to, you know, a lot of the people on the scene would have known the product is great to actually hear, you know what we’ve I think we’ve heard tonight as a real insight into the company’s culture the company’s mission, some of the values and some of the things you’re doing which are amazing, so once that big thank you for joining on tonight it’s been absolutely awesome. And thank you to everyone that’s watched so we give a little way to everybody and thank you for joining us. It’s been an awesome episode of business growth secrets.

 

Leave a Comment