Fresh Blood Podcast Episode Guest - Chad Hagen

Intro Banner of Chad Hagen
Intro Banner of Chad Hagen

Chad talks about his path to success moving up the corporate ladder, the attributes needed to be an impactful leader and gives wise advice on how to land that job or get that promotion.

Today we are speaking with Chad Hagen, Chad is the Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Business Development with SunOpta, a leading plant & fruit based beverage, food and ingredient company. Chad has over 25 years of international experience in the industry and has a passion for helping sustainable brands grow across the food, beverage, and ingredient sectors. Having worked with companies such as Robinson Fresh, Newman’s Own and Pavich Farms, Chad has developed organic supply chains for over 15 countries, including living and working in Kenya, South Africa, the UK and now California himself.

Chad talks about his path to success moving up the corporate ladder, the attributes needed to be an impactful leader and gives wise advice on how to land that job or get that promotion.

Today we are speaking with Chad Hagen, Chad is the Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Business Development with SunOpta, a leading plant & fruit based beverage, food and ingredient company. Chad has over 25 years of international experience in the industry and has a passion for helping sustainable brands grow across the food, beverage, and ingredient sectors. Having worked with companies such as Robinson Fresh, Newman’s Own and Pavich Farms, Chad has developed organic supply chains for over 15 countries, including living and working in Kenya, South Africa, the UK and now California himself.


Chad Hagen – SVP of Global Sales and Business Development in Organics/Sustainability Industry

Jolie Downs: [00:00:00] Today we are speaking with Chad Hagan. Chad is the senior vice president of global sales and business development with sun Opta, a leading plant in fruit based beverage food and ingredient company.

[00:00:13] Chad has over 25 years of international experience in the industry and he has a passion for helping sustainable brands grow across the food, beverage and ingredient sectors. Having worked with companies such as Robinson fresh, Newman's own, and Pavich farms. Chad has developed organic supply chains for over 15 countries, including living and working in Kenya, South Africa, the UK, and now California.

[00:00:40] I am excited to learn more. Chad, thank you for joining us on fresh blood, please. Could you tell us a little bit more about your story and how you got to where you are?

[00:00:50] Chad Hagen: [00:00:50] thank you, Jolie,. I appreciate the time, my story. I grew up in Los Angeles in a suburb called Downey, California, and my dad and mom owned a plumbing company there, which they actually still own today at the ripe age of 75 years old. And I grew up working in that business and my dad was an entrepreneur and started his own business.

[00:01:10] And started off washing trucks and really saw the hard work and come home really dirty every night from work. And then I became employed in that business and really learned it the right age of 15 that.

[00:01:19] I did not want to be a plumber. So I, then my son, my dad said, Hey, you need to get a, get an education.

[00:01:25] And we were at the county fair down in orange county. One year. It was my junior year of high school. And my parents were walking around the county fair and they stumbled upon the Cal poly San Luis Obispo.

[00:01:34]And we bought a bunch of brochures and we got to the car and my mom's you should go check out Cal poly.

[00:01:39] And at that time we were looking at USC and Loyola, Marymount, all the schools down in LA. So we did a road trip up to Cal poly, and I fell in love with San Louis Obispo and really felt at home there. And I I got into the agricultural business school of agricultural business. And, my dad reminded me of businesses business.

[00:01:55] I knew nothing about agriculture but I got into the school of ag and it went from there. And, my my senior project was with a project with three other guys at school. And it was for the Pavich family. And at the time Pavich family farms were really the pioneers in organic agriculture, a table grapes and raisins were their primary crops up and down the central valley of California.

[00:02:18] Jolie Downs: [00:02:18] Very much cutting edge,

[00:02:19] Chad Hagen: [00:02:19] yeah. This was 1995. Yeah. 94, 19 95. Organic back then, the organic industry was about a $2 billion industry to put it in perspective, the organic industry, Diddy's about a 60 plus billion dollar industry. So it's really good.

[00:02:33] Jolie Downs: [00:02:33] Yeah.

[00:02:34] Chad Hagen: [00:02:34] So we did the senior project and Tom Pavich hired all four of us.

[00:02:37] And three of us took the position and I, out of the three, I felt blessed to be given a job on the international team to go around the world and try to convince farmers to farm organic. And I did that for four years. And we went around the world 90 plus percent of my time was in foreign countries through Mexico, central south America.

[00:03:01] South Africa really locating and finding conventional farmers who were open-minded and had a sustainability love and teaching them and taking them on the journey through organics. We took the products and put them under our brand and sold them into the U S and European model.

[00:03:19] Jolie Downs: [00:03:19] I love this. And what do you think, because this isn't very easy either to get them to change their minds on something like this. And you're dealing with a lot of different countries, a lot of different types of people. Was there anything that you felt helped you in dealing with all of these different types of people and convincing them to go in the way that you'd like them to do?

[00:03:40] Chad Hagen: [00:03:40] One of the reasons that I chose, the international front for the Paviches is my second year of Cal poly. I went on a trip called semester. And it was a program that took me around the world as a young person. And we went to all these different countries and I learned the cultures ethnicities and it was the first time I'd ever seen, really been out of the United States.

[00:04:00] My parents are very rooted in the United States. They don't do international traveling. So that really opened my eyes up to the world. And I did this for four months. So that helped me learn culture, different people, as a young person. So when I got now out into the working world and I was having to go around to all these countries it helped me, Get that lens of trying to bring them along and back then organic was so new that we really had to educate them with soil health, helping them deal with insecticides and pesticides and, bringing them along that journey.

[00:04:31] So it was a challenging time, organic was it in its very much of its infancy. But it was really rewarding as well to develop a lot of firsts supply chains in a lot of these countries, it was exciting.

[00:04:41] Jolie Downs: [00:04:41] No. That's amazing. And where did you go from there? Did you move up through the ranks within Pavich?

[00:04:46] Chad Hagen: [00:04:46] You asked to open a package for four years, and then I ended up actually moving to South Africa. One of my growers convinced me to move down there and, flip it. So instead of becoming on the marketing side, I became on the grower side. So we started our own company down there and we got into farming table grapes organically and sending him back to Pavich in the United States into supermarkets over in Europe.

[00:05:08] Jolie Downs: [00:05:08] So this was a new business, though. This was a completely new, you started this with this partner.

[00:05:13] Chad Hagen: [00:05:13] That's correct. Yup. John and said

[00:05:15] Jolie Downs: [00:05:15] into South Africa. Tell me about that really quick, because that's a big decision. How did you make that decision? What helped you take the plunge for that?

[00:05:22]Chad Hagen: [00:05:22] I always told myself when I was in my early twenties, it was all going to be about education and experience it. Wasn't going to be necessarily about chasing the money. So I had an opportunity. I fell in love with, South Africa. I'd go there every third month going down there for business.

[00:05:37] And Berdoff I knew Kirk was a good friend of mine who was a grower and he convinced me, Hey, why don't you move down here? And you can have a lot more. Into the local country down here and we'll start this venture and, off we go. And that was a really exciting time. I got a chance to live down there for a number of years and, really being golfed in the culture.

[00:05:56] And it was just a great time of my life.

[00:05:58] Jolie Downs: [00:05:58] Amazing.

[00:05:59] Chad Hagen: [00:05:59] Then then I moved back to the states and I did a couple of different things for a few years. I started at an e-commerce company called over vertical which was piecing together back in days of the organic vertical from buyer and seller.

[00:06:13] So I did that for a number of years. And I got, and I shifted gears and I got into the organic fashion industry using organic cotton for a couple of years. So just some kind of entrepreneurial things never hit any home runs with it, but it was great experiences. And then at 30 years old, I saw, I decided, Hey, I'm going to get serious now and get back into my career.

[00:06:31]And I got back into the fresh produce side and went to work for which is now Robinson fresh. My, I have a mentor and a friend who had sold his company to ch Robinson. Which is now known as Robinson fresh. And we developed a brand for Paul Newman under the Newman's own brand. And I did that for a number of years and we built that up to about a hundred plus skews.

[00:06:49] And Walmart was our horse at the time. And that was another exciting kind of chapter of my life building. Then you know, the Newman's brand and I loved what Paul Newman developed and the charity that he was doing with his food company. So that was. That was

[00:07:03] Jolie Downs: [00:07:03] What was the charity?

[00:07:03]Chad Hagen: [00:07:03] Paul developed a charity for kids and he's up, he's really an advocate for children and children's education. And he did that for a number of years before. And his, when his daughter Nell had picked that up to create Newman's own organics as well.

[00:07:16] Jolie Downs: [00:07:16] So that's tied in his nonprofit work is tied in with his brand.

[00:07:19] Chad Hagen: [00:07:19] With this food company.

[00:07:20] Jolie Downs: [00:07:20] Oh, fantastic. I

[00:07:21] Chad Hagen: [00:07:21] Yep. And it still is today.

[00:07:23] Jolie Downs: [00:07:23] wonderful. That's

[00:07:24] Chad Hagen: [00:07:24] Yeah. And then 13 years ago I had an opportunity to go to work for SunOpta and, SunOpta is a sustainability company. That's really rooted in manufacturing, good quality organic food. And we're, we have two business units. One is a plant based. business unit, which is approximately $400 million in size.

[00:07:45] And we have a fruit-based business unit, which is approximately the same size. so combined we're about $850 million company, which is a publicly traded company. And I've worked on the sales side and the business development side for the 13 years.

[00:07:58] Jolie Downs: [00:07:58] Wonderful. And you successfully climbed the corporate ladder throughout these industries throughout your career. I'm curious if there's anything that you feel has helped you the most in accomplishing that, because th this is something that a lot of people are looking for as their goal.

[00:08:12] So is there anything that you feel has helped you that could help others?

[00:08:15]Chad Hagen: [00:08:15] I've kept through to my my, my passion, and, the why behind Chad Hagan is really, a couple things is it's the passion for sustainability. I've wanted to develop a career and make a living. By providing something back. And I get really a lot of personal gratitude by being able to, build and work for an organization that's improving the planet, not just making the money, but it's, it's creating a sustainability model that we can sure.

[00:08:43] Make profit, but also give back to the planet and make the planet a more sustainable place. And then through that create great products for people all ages of people. Staying true to my passionate, that's been my my main kind of north star as I've developed my career and going really deep in, in the industry and the knowledge base.

[00:09:02] I, I call it, kicking the dirt. I love to get out in the fields. I love to be out there with the growers. I love to be in our manufacturing facilities. All those have helped me stay true to who I am as a person, which has been helping me, the keys to my continued success.

[00:09:16] Jolie Downs: [00:09:16] I love the passion too, because that's so important. I The more we are reading about these climate change reports that are coming out, we need all the more people with this passion and companies that are paying attention to this, to give back to earth and how we can be sustainable. So thank you for that.

[00:09:33] I have to say now. And do you think there's anything because as you go through the ranks, I'm sure there's other people who have a similar passion. Is there anything that you feel has helped you be the one that's chosen for promotion? It must be real every step of the way, right?

[00:09:45]There's some competition for that promotion.

[00:09:48] Chad Hagen: [00:09:48] Absolutely. A key to it is I went from, being the quarterback in our organization and being on the front lines sales leader, I'm really on the sharp end of the stick, going out there and putting together the deals, building the relationships with the customers to pivoting over the last safe five plus years to being.

[00:10:08] And those roles are very different. I played quarterback extremely well. I was able to have a lot of success in the organization, landing some very sizeable programs was leading retailers and food service accounts. So through that little bit success as a quarterback, of course, you're, you get the recognition and you get the awareness within the organization.

[00:10:27] And with that comes for promotion. Now I've pivoted into a much more of a coaching role, and I have a very broad team now, and it's about coaching and it's about, really establishing strong relationships, both internal and external and, just being a solid coach. And, part of that is, is, being a really good listener your listening skills and what's important. to them on your team and really that team here.

[00:10:51]And secondly is really creating a tight culture and we've really tried to do it. So in October, the last couple of years is building a really cohesive culture amongst all of our people, because without culture, you're never gonna, and to be able to keep the glue together. And I think That's that's one of the reasons that we've had some pretty incredible success over the last, 18 months is we are starting to see the impact of that cultural bias.

[00:11:16] Jolie Downs: [00:11:16] That's wonderful. You're absolutely right. Culture is everything in this day and age, it is it is what keeps the people there and the people are what make the company run. The people will make it successful. So you have to have that strong culture. Now you said that you've had a lot of success over the past 18 months.

[00:11:30] How did this pandemic affect. Your work and your company overall, do you guys, it sounds like you've flourished.

[00:11:36] Chad Hagen: [00:11:36] Yeah.

[00:11:37] we did. We had an incredible year last year to, the pandemic is our diversity really helped us. We have a very diverse customer base. So we have a strong retail presence. So in the pandemic, the likes of the Walmart Safeways trader, the targets of the world, that retail business, we had a really time keeping up with the growth of it because home people were at home shopping

[00:11:57] Jolie Downs: [00:11:57] yeah.

[00:11:58] Chad Hagen: [00:11:58] a lot on lunch.

[00:11:58]On the food service side, that's an area that struggled, the Starbucks and the food service world, when the pandemic hit, it was a struggle. So because of our diversity customer diversity, it really helped us ride through the waves. And we were executing very well at the plant level.

[00:12:12]At the end of the day, we're a manufacturer and we have, 1800 people in our organization and the majority of those folks come in every day, put their hard hat on. But they're there, face coverings on and they're working hard in our facilities, making food for the company. And we executed extremely well at the manufacturing level.

[00:12:31] So we were, the COVID, we'd had a lot of COVID protocols that worked well. We kept our facilities and our people safe. And because of that, we were able to push through and have a lot of success.

[00:12:42] Jolie Downs: [00:12:42] That's fantastic. Now. Out of all of the things that you've done, you've had a lot of successes throughout your career throughout life. What do you feel has been one of your greatest successes and what did you learn from it?

[00:12:52]Chad Hagen: [00:12:52] My greatest success today is life balance. I I work extremely hard and like the rest of us long hours and I put a lot of heart and soul into my work. But I've been able to carve out a space. Where I have a family. Now I have a young son and daughter and my wife, Carrie, and it's really important for me to have that life balance.

[00:13:13] And my children now are nine and 11 years old. And it?

[00:13:16] goes in a blink of a flash and I've, I can look back and say, I was at the baseball games. I was at the soccer practices. I was at the surf lesson. I was at the gymnastics lesson with my daughter. And these are all things that are really important to me.

[00:13:28] So it's that balance between work and home. So I think to me, as I've grown into my career, that life balance has been my number one success. And then the second success is staying true again to my north star. I've been able to I've had longevity in this organization and it's given me a lot of challenges, but it's also given me a lot of rewards and it continues to, and, Life balance is my number one.

[00:13:54] And I think number two is just really staying true to my passion and being able to build a career around that.

[00:13:58] Jolie Downs: [00:13:58] Both super important. And having that life balance is something that a lot of people, a lot, a lot of us struggle with that. It is not easy to have that life balance, but it is most important because too often we're filling in what we're filling up one bucket by ignoring the other ones. So if you can balance those buckets.

[00:14:15] Life is pretty amazing.

[00:14:17] Chad Hagen: [00:14:17] Yeah.

[00:14:17] I know I have a lot. I have a lot of women that are on my team and that work for me. And, these women are moms. They're also are very busy in what they do. And, I see the personal struggles that they have as moms as working moms and it's really important that my team, has the flexibility and can be a mom at home, but at the same time, give it all at work.

[00:14:39] So I really strive to to instill that amongst my team and the importance that we're all people first before stay in, employees. And I think if, as leaders of organizations. The more we can instill that culture of life balance within your own organizations, the more successful you're going to have and be as an organization and as people

[00:15:01] Jolie Downs: [00:15:01] Absolutely. Yeah. Clap for that. Absolutely. That's really big. In fact, you bringing that up, it makes me wonder with your company when the pandemic hit, where you all were all working from home. So most of the other companies.

[00:15:13] Chad Hagen: [00:15:13] No, our corporate office is in Minneapolis, outside of Minneapolis, in a town, in a city called a Dyna. And yes, that office in the peak of it was most of the people were working from home on the R and D teams because they're working in the labs that are food scientists. They were in there every day.

[00:15:28] And then again, the vast majority of setup is employees are at the plants and those folks didn't have the choice to sit at home and getting standing behind a computer screen. They had to go in

[00:15:39] Jolie Downs: [00:15:39] He had to go in.

[00:15:40]Chad Hagen: [00:15:40] Processed food and make soy milk or oat milk for us, or put strawberries in.

[00:15:44] a bag every day. You have to self-reflect and say, okay, as a leader of this organization, where is where's the bulk of your people?

[00:15:51] And so with, through the pandemic, the vast majority of our folks worked every single day and went into the office, which is our plants every day.

[00:16:00] Jolie Downs: [00:16:00] Oh, thank you to those people. And that's how we got all of our, all the things that the grocery store that we're buying. Correct. So thank you to all those people. Oh man. So what about the flip side of it? Chad? What about a time that you had a perceived failure or dealt with a really big. Mistake or an obstacle.

[00:16:18] And what did you learn from it?

[00:16:20]Chad Hagen: [00:16:20] When I got back from Africa, Gotcha. Wrapped up into the There was a lot of friends of mine that were making a lot of money. I was living in San Francisco at the time, and I tried to piece together. What I thought was this great idea and created for myself. And I pulled together some incredible mentors and I had a board of directors and raised money and spent the money and I couldn't raise any more dot bomb happened.

[00:16:46] And I ran out of the money. And, it was a failure at the end of the day. I didn't succeed in that dark hall. Like I thought I could and would, and, looking back on it, I had no experience in the technology world. So I was trying to piece together things that weren't really core to who, to what I knew at the time.

[00:17:03] And so I think that the learnings there were, as, looking back. It's, get involved in stay true to who you are and what you know that would have been better. My advice. And if you get too far off on that, get a Slingshot, get too far up as an adjacent. It doesn't always work.

[00:17:20]I learned that I have a lot of perfect perseverance and I'm very diligent in what I'm doing, but that always doesn't create success. That was probably my biggest failure through my career is just the, just having boom splat. And that was a really difficult it was, it was a good ego check because I had a lot of success up until then, but it was.

[00:17:40] It was, you learn through your failures, you learn more than a lot of time, your successes. And I learned a lot about myself and I learned who my close friends were. Cause I had a lot of support from family and friends and back in those days. So it was a good learning,

[00:17:54]Jolie Downs: [00:17:54] Let me ask you this. What was the boomerang from that? What happened?

[00:17:56]Chad Hagen: [00:17:56] I, it was really focused. I got back into, I hit the right age of 30 and I decided to myself, now what, what am I going to do now? It got me back into a rude, get back into my, getting rooted again into success. So that's what I went to work back into the produce industry back into my core and Slingshot it from there.

[00:18:16] Jolie Downs: [00:18:16] Yeah, that sounds about right. So through all this, what do you believe is key to having continued success throughout life?

[00:18:25]Chad Hagen: [00:18:25] Again, I want to go back to your, the why, what makes you as your person. And for me continue success for me is I want to continue having a career and. Building a culture and a team and making great products for people and have my kind of legacy. And my, the way Chad made his, income and built his family and supported his family was through good products, healthy products, and a healthy planet.

[00:18:52] And that's, my north star and I'm going to continue on that path. It's team culture, family, and probably not in that order. Family for me is always first, but that's that's going to continue to driven by success. And again, back to being a coach, I get more reward now and more joy and seeing my team succeed, seeing those salespeople that are out there on the regional level, bringing home some wins and watching them land the deal with Costco or Walmart or club.

[00:19:20]And empowering the organization to be able to get out there and really succeed.

[00:19:25] Jolie Downs: [00:19:25] Yeah. And when you're an impactful manager like that and making it in a positive impact on your team, and that way you really can't measure your w the results that you have in this world, as far as how that moves forward in their own lives, too. There's so much. That you can give to the people around you.

[00:19:45] So the fact that you have your focus on really being that strong coach and helping your team become those great quarterbacks, that's, that's a beautiful thing. And that's really, it made me think, as you were talking earlier, that it sounded like you started doing that, and that's something that helped you continue to move through things because you started and it embodying that as you will.

[00:20:07] And so they could see you as that manager and you. When you were moving through the ranks, would you say that's accurate?

[00:20:13] Chad Hagen: [00:20:13] Yeah.

[00:20:13] A hundred percent. Yup. And I just finished it, the book it was called, what got you here, won't get you there. And it was recommended to me by a peer, into my organization, and then it talks about, being a great leader. It's really helping others achieve their goals. I'm not a great achiever.

[00:20:28] Who's good at achieving their own goals. And, I take that to heart now. It's how do we set up and how do I help out my team? Reach for the sky, set, clear expectations and goals, and instead of loose and, allow and watch them, be successful in their, in their in their lane. That's a, that's the pivoting. And, if you're a young sales executive listening, that's the pivot from being the quarterback to the coach. And it's really that pivot that's really critical if you're going to be a solid and a great leader, especially within a sales org.

[00:20:58] Jolie Downs: [00:20:58] Yeah, it's a talent that you need to develop. Is there anything that, that you've learned in that aspect too, to speak to someone who is learning, how to mentor right now, or in their first management position that you, as you have found has helped you be a strong manager

[00:21:11] Chad Hagen: [00:21:11] listening is really the key, when you're the quarterback and you're charge in charge and charging, it's all about winning. And now it's less personally about your personal winning and you take a step back. And you're really listening a lot more and you're listening to people's needs the organization's needs.

[00:21:28]So that's, I think the number one as you move up into and managing more and more in larger teams it's that listening piece, and another thing is just giving some gratitude, a thank you and gratitude goes a long way. So I really try to let the people around me that are

[00:21:43]even small, even it could be the smallest things better that are really putting the time and energy and the passion into the organization that they're thanked. And and they're giving us some gratitude. I think that goes a long ways. And then, it also, what do you stop? What do you stop doing? And that's a hard piece it's as you go through your life and your, your daily grind, you gotta sometimes self-reflect and say, what am I doing? That's not value. Add in a, how can I stop those things? And I think that's a critical piece and I don't think a lot of folks can self reflect and decide, what do I need to do in my life and what am I going to stop to be, allow me to have the time to be more and more successful.

[00:22:17] Jolie Downs: [00:22:17] You're so right. It is, and it is taking the time to self-reflect and we so often don't take that time to eat. But asking yourself those questions, those are the right types of questions. What is this, what I want to be doing? What would I like to eliminate from my life? How can I do that?

[00:22:33] And then once you start figuring that out, it just makes your life so much more beautiful. It's amazing.

[00:22:39] Chad Hagen: [00:22:39] And it takes courage to improve. It takes courage to self reflect and say, okay, we're not perfect. Have some self criticism and get some feedback from others. And that's what I'm starting to do more and more of is, ask, Carrie, my wife, a thing, how am I coming across?

[00:22:52] Or how can I improve? Ask my peers or my, even my direct reports, and that self-reflection, and that courage to make improvements in your life is really important. And if you look at the great leaders of the world, they're very good at that. They're very good at listening.

[00:23:06] They're very good at gratitude and they're very good at, self-reflecting and making it, having just that courage to make change and improvements on their lives.

[00:23:15] Jolie Downs: [00:23:15] That's powerful right there. I hope we could all just do that. Be open and courageous enough to ask that from. But like you said, each, your peers, your wife your romantic partner your friends or the people you work with, how much better could we be? And it's just even that tiny little bit, just a little tiny bit each day or each week.

[00:23:34] And look where you'll be in a year. So I love that. I think that's very powerful, on that. Is there something that in anything else, because that was really great. One change a listener might be able to make, cause there's a lot of people who are struggling to figure out their right path or figure out how to get into that right

[00:23:53] next opportunity or get that next promotion. There's just, that.

[00:23:57] Chad Hagen: [00:23:57] Yes.

[00:23:57] Jolie Downs: [00:23:57] Stuckness sometimes in life. Is there one change that listeners can make right now that you feel would help them get closer to their own success?

[00:24:05] Chad Hagen: [00:24:05] No, I think it's, I interview a lot and we hired her. We've been hiring a lot of folks, in the last year or two it's bringing it's. A passion, it's bringing the passion every day and it's also bringing value, add really understanding what value you're going to be bringing to an organization, and so it's critical. There's that value add piece because we're all, everyone's busy, everyone's in their swim lane and, organizations are hiring because they have it. And they have a need for something. And it's really finding what that sweet spot is for an organization. So I recommend folks, if you're interviewing for a position, really understand what the need of the organization is and what value, skills, and experience you have that you can bring to fill that gap.

[00:24:55] And if you can connect those dots that is really critical to, get you yourself and the organization.

[00:25:01] Jolie Downs: [00:25:01] Absolutely. No that's absolutely right. And in the interview, and if you can do that's how it makes all the difference in the world. And that's what's missing because the candidates, so often they're going in and they're really focused their own needs that, how are they gonna get across what they need to get across?

[00:25:17]It's about how do I get this job when the focus should be on what does this company need? And what is it that they're looking for and asking those questions so that those are the answers you're getting and then making the correlations with your own experience to show that you're the right one.

[00:25:31] Yeah.

[00:25:32] Chad Hagen: [00:25:32] Yeah. A hundred percent. And just being able to articulate storytell, I will hire a person. No. If they bring, if they're able to articulate, bring that passion and you know, when you can feel that to the table, they might not have the deepest resume. They might not have the most experience.

[00:25:48]But you can just feel it. You can tell that, Hey this person is bringing, a passion to their life. And they're able to articulate and communicate their story to me in a, a lot of people miss that, through the interviewing process. They miss being able to clearly articulate and tell their story to the person across the table.

[00:26:05]And so

[00:26:07] Jolie Downs: [00:26:07] Communication

[00:26:08] Chad Hagen: [00:26:08] I think that Communication is absolutely key.

[00:26:10] Jolie Downs: [00:26:10] Oh yeah. And people need to be practicing their story. They're not practicing it. They're you know, you can pray. You can get the list of the most common interview questions very easily and you can practice the answers. And that is very key before going into interview is knowing the story that you want to tell and having that practice.

[00:26:28] Chad Hagen: [00:26:28] Yeah,

[00:26:28] preparation is everything. You need to prepare and, I coached that with my teams is, we walk into a meeting. It's, what's a five out of five. What does a five out of five? What does success look. And, if it's, walking into a meeting, if it's going into an interview, if it's going into a customer meeting, take a step back.

[00:26:44] Self-reflect what is a five out of five? What does success look like? And prepare,

[00:26:49] Jolie Downs: [00:26:49] I love that.

[00:26:49] Chad Hagen: [00:26:49] the more prepared, more preparation you do it really comes out through through your performance.

[00:26:55] Jolie Downs: [00:26:55] Oh, I'm going to use that. What does a five out of five look like? I'm gonna, I'm gonna apply that. Thank you. On that note. Are there any specific habits that you've developed through the years that you feel have helped you with your own success?

[00:27:04]Chad Hagen: [00:27:04] For preparation is key. I really spend a lot of time preparing and put a lot of thought into that. Also just really getting into the details understanding the product, understanding the customer, understanding the need of the customer. Understanding the consumer, really peeling back the layers.

[00:27:21]That's been a big piece for me. We work with a lot of different buyers on the other side of the table. A lot of folks, we negotiate with lard and a lot of large CPG organizations, what a great brands and they're very passionate about their products. They're very passionate about their brands and, you need to know that you're offering, value based selling.

[00:27:38] What are you selling? What's the gap you're closing. I think through my preparation, it's really preparation for me. And really getting a deep understanding of the product. And then back to the coaches really setting my team up for success and giving them the skills and the toolbox to be able to be successful doing just that.

[00:27:54]And a lot of that has to do with education, both at our, at our plants, knowing our products, you what our innovation, and then being able to go down and once again, ignore ticket, articulating a too.

[00:28:05] Jolie Downs: [00:28:05] Oh, it was great. I loved in there the understanding you, you said that quite often try understanding all these different things and really, I feel like that's. That's like that hitting the nail on the head for life in general. Just understanding all aspects of whether it's in your business and your relationship with your children, with your friends.

[00:28:24] Just trying to understand all the different aspects is how you can just be a better person. Every aspect. I liked that a lot. That's really good. Now. Overall out of everything you've learned, is there anything we didn't touch on that you feel is brought a lot of benefits?

[00:28:37]Chad Hagen: [00:28:37] I look back and 25 years is just a blink of an eye. It goes so fast and I'm really thankful that in my, in my early career that I had the courage to get out in the world and really see them. And, live in these foreign countries. I lived in England for a number of years.

[00:28:55] I lived in South Africa. I look back and I'm just so thankful that I did it. I had the courage to get out of my comfort zone in California. And even though a lot of people said, I was crazy at the time to move all the way to South Africa, but what are you going to do down there? Life is short and I encourage young people to do that.

[00:29:11]Before, you can do that with family, but it becomes a lot more challenging, more difficult. I'm just thankful that when I was young I took a leap and I got those experiences under my belt. And I think it's really helped me through my career journey is having those, having that global experience and those perspectives of different countries, different people.

[00:29:30]And then bringing that experience back into the United States. No it's been a, but life is a journey and it's a fast one.

[00:29:37] Jolie Downs: [00:29:37] Yeah, it is.

[00:29:37] Chad Hagen: [00:29:37] You got to live it.

[00:29:38] And

[00:29:38] Jolie Downs: [00:29:38] You got to live

[00:29:39] Chad Hagen: [00:29:39] I that's, one thing I've done is I've lived it. The pedal has been down for the last 25 years or more, and it's going to continue to stay to how.

[00:29:47] Jolie Downs: [00:29:47] I love it to the pedal being down a Chad. This has been wonderful before we go. And so my last question, which is just something I love to hear what your answer might be, what are you sure of in life?

[00:30:00] Chad Hagen: [00:30:00] I'm sure that I'm gonna eventually die. Which might sound a bit morbid, but I know that is out there. I look at that. I say, okay, I want between now and then I want it to be extremely full and I don't want to live. I don't want to leave anything on the table and I've lived my life for 48 years cuddle down and I want to continue. Continuing to live a very full life. And now with my wife and my children, it's now through the lens of my kids. And I want to be able to give them the tools, the love, everything that my parents gave me. Cause I had a very incredible upbringing and I have a very loving family who gave me so much as a child.

[00:30:42] And it's a lot of that is in your genes. And I see it now coming through my kids. So I want to be sure what I'm, fast forward 30 years from now. And I am an old man, looking back on it that I didn't leave anything on the table. I gave my family all the tools to be successful. And I'm going to continue to have that personal mantra.

[00:31:01] Jolie Downs: [00:31:01] That's wonderful. Thank you, Chad. May we all have that personal mantra? I appreciate your time. And joining us on fresh blood.

[00:31:08] Chad Hagen: [00:31:08] No, thank you, Jolie. It's been fun.

Jolie Downs:

There were so many great take aways from Chad’s story. Chad had the opportunity to work for his Dad’s company at a young age, doing hard work and learning early on what he did NOT want to be doing. This is an incredibly valuable lesson to learn as it can help steer you to the right path, when faced with what you don’t want it is your opportunity to ask yourself what it is that you do want. And then make a plan to get there.

For Chad, that was going to a good college and finding a passion, which he found in the organic and sustainability industry.

I love what Chad has based his life on – education and experience – and he has taken the opportunity to take advantage of different experiences that came his way. He lived in South Africa, he lived in the UK, got involved in entrepreneurial endeavors and in the process learned a great deal about himself and about life. If there’s anything I’ve learned through all these stories both through recruiting and through Fresh Blood, it’s that, it is not the money that makes you happy, it’s the experiences.

Have you been inviting new experiences into your life?

If not, perhaps it’s time to open up your world.

Chad found his career success by staying true to his why and following his passion in the organics and sustainability industry. He learned all aspects of his industry, diving deep into every department and learning as much as possible about his chosen field. He became an expert in his industry. Are you doing the same? This is key in moving up the ladder within any industry and organization.

Think about your current career. Have you been learning about all aspects in your industry? Diving deep to understand current trends, competitors, the inner workings of your company, team members, best practices and more. Are you continuing your own education within your chosen field? If not, perhaps it’s time for a refresher, things are always changing and it’s good to check in and see what’s new and happening – staying relevant and educated in your specific area.

Chad moved his way up the ranks and shared with us a key aspect to becoming a leader in an organization. Chad made the pivot from being the quarterback in his organization to coach, helping others develop those quarterback skills. He’s now establishing those strong relationships both inside and outside of the organization and making an even bigger impact that cannot be fully measured. Learning how to teach what you know is not only a gift to the people you teach, it’s a gift to you as well. It follows the same universal law, when you focus on helping others, you find that you end up helping yourself. As Chad has found, he gets more enjoyment from seeing his team succeed than he did from his own quarterback glories.

Chad gives great advice on advancing your coaching skills which are really good life skills in general. Being a good coach requires strong listening skills and an understanding of what is important to each individual as well as to the group as a whole. When you are a strong listener, asking questions and being curious about someone, two things happen – first, you make the person feel heard and seen, which will make them feel good and in turn feel good about you, secondly, when you’re truly listening, you are learning and that learning turns into an understanding of the person which allows you to make the biggest impact. When you have a strong understanding of what people need and want, you can create that culture that attracts the very best people, you can create the family that connects and grows together, you can develop those strong connections and relationships with others. Learning the skills of listening and understanding can add magic to all aspects of your life.

Chad also advises that strong leaders give a lot of gratitude. Giving simple appreciation, a word of thanks for work well done, can go a long way, not only with your staff but your family and your friends. We all want to be appreciated. We all want to know that we’ve been seen in the ways we bring contribution. A thank you is as simple as uttering a couple of words and yet has the power to make a profound impact.

Who can you give thanks to today? Who in your life deserves more thanks and praise for their contributions? Let’s consciously make every effort to say thank you to each and every person who helps us along the way. Even better, call someone today, who has been there for you in life and tell them how grateful you are for their presence. Make someone’s day extra special in the easiest way.

Strong leaders also take time to self-reflect. Self-reflection is imperative if you want to become the very best version of yourself. As Chad said, it takes courage to improve. It takes courage to self-reflect and look at the ways in which you could be doing better. It takes bravery to accept feedback and examine the areas needing improvement. Once you’re able to open that door, the personal rewards from such an examination come flooding in, and they are significant. Your team will thank you, your loved ones will thank you, but most importantly, you will thank you. Ask your peers, ask your teammates – How can I improve? Then listen, reflect and adjust. Remember, no one alive is perfect, there is always more room for growth and learning.

I loved what Chad felt was his greatest success, for him, it was balance, maintaining a good work/life balance where he puts his heart and soul into both his work and his family, carving out a good home life among the career success. This is so important to living that successful and fulfilled life. Take a good look at your life – look at your career, your family, your friends, your love, your health, your spirituality, your personal character and goals – are you giving attention to all the important categories in your life?

Are you spending time on your personal goals as well as your professional goals? Are you spending time with loved ones? Are you spending time feeding your soul as well as your mind?

Reflect and become aware of the areas that need your attention. Write down your goals in each area and make a conscience decision to balance your life, checking in each week to see where you might need to make some alterations.

And I love the Chad makes this a priority for his team. As he said, they are people first, employees second. Anyone wanting to successfully grow a cohesive and tight culture in their company, needs to promote work/life balance. It’s one of the top reasons people will look to make a change. Anyone managing a team, if you make the effort to take care of the person that is on your team, then they will happily make sure to take care of the bottom line.

Chad also gave great advice that lends itself to landing the job or the promotion you’re going after. He advises that you bring the passion and the value add both to the interview and every day to work. Ask yourself, what value can you or are you bringing to your organization? Everyone is busy with their own to do lists and when they are hiring someone new, it’s because they have a need for that person. Your job is to uncover that need, when interviewing you must ask probing questions to understand what the organization wants, what they value and what skill set and experience will fill their gap.

Ask questions like, why are looking to make this hire

What do you expect this person to accomplish within the first six months or a year?

Let’s say you hire me and in two years you declare that you made the best hire in your life for this position, what would I have done to have made you feel that way?


What are the future goals of the company and how do you hope this role will impact reaching those goals?

What are your greatest challenges at the moment?

These answers will all give you a better understanding of their gap and then you can highlight how your previous experience aligns with their goals and challenges.

If you aren’t interviewing and you’re looking for a promotion, you should already know the answers to these questions and if you don’t, it’s time to start doing some investigating. Find out the answers and start making that positive proactive impact in your organization – fill the gap.

Chad brought up another important point when interviewing and I believe it lends itself to promotion as well. He said that he doesn’t always hire the person with the best resume or the best experience but he’ll go with that person who can articulate, telling their story and bringing the passion. I can tell you that this is absolutely the case across the board, I’ve been recruiting for over 20 years and time and time again, it is not the most qualified person that gets the job, it’s the person who interviews the best. It’s the person who is able to articulate WHY they want to work for the company and WHAT they are able to bring to the table. They not only communicate how they can fill that gap, but they are passionate about the specific company and opportunity that is in front of them. They want THIS. Not just any position, they want THIS position.

Everyone wants to feel wanted people, even when they are at work.

You can also up your interview or promotion game by being prepared. As Chad said, preparation is everything.

What are your answers to the most common interview questions? Who are you meeting with? Research them, find out what you can about the people and the company. Peal back as many layers as possible to gain better understanding. Then prepare your story. Think about your body language and how you’ll present yourself, visualize everything working out as perfectly as possible. As Chad says, what is your five out five? What does success look like? Take a step back, self reflect on what that success looks like to you and then prepare.

Finally, I’ll leave you with Chad’s last thought. How grateful he is to have had the courage to go out into the world, see the planet, seek out new experiences and get out of his comfort zone. Life is short, it’s a journey but it’s a fast one and you have to live it. Put the pedal down and ride.

So that is my with for us all, that you live a life that is full of the experiences that interest you, making the most of this one gift of a life by keeping that pedal down and enjoying the ride.

Until next time.

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