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Elevation forum discusses the playbook for fearless organizations

Retail panel explores why creating shared purpose advances relationships and separates them from competitors.
Nigel F. Maynard
Editorial Director
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The Elevation Forum met just before the NACDS Annual conference in West Palm Beach, Fla., to explore ideas for fearless organizations.

Meeting three times a year, the forum is a diverse community of 50 health and beauty companies that, collectively, are growing at a rate two times the pace of the total industry. 

“After 25 years of coaching, training, and research I am 100% confident of one thing: We all see what we want to see, and we avoid or delay difficult conversations with our retail customers,” said Dan Mack. “A lot has changed over the last three years, but not human nature. During this new era of uncertainty, the top organizations practice being more courageous, thoughtful and human. The very best leaders are obsessed with being truth tellers with their customers.”

The leadership forum started with a provocative group discussion on how winning CPG organizations embrace fearless discussions with their customers, pushing boundaries, challenging norms and sharing innovation much earlier in the planning process. "Research shows that 3-in-4 sales leaders are not as transparent with customers as they may like to be,” Mack said. “They fear blowback and they would like their customers to be more candid in the partnership.” But, Mack added, "A partnership with too much silence is a very dangerous relationship, one on the verge of a fall.”

Pat Mooney, Wakefern; Jennifer Cowell ,Sam’s Club; Dan Mack, Mack Elevation; Colleen Lindholz, Kroger Health and Alex Hurd, Walmart Canada

The retail panel included Jennifer Cowell , VP DMM Baby, HBA and OTC, Sam’s Club; Colleen Lindholz, President of Kroger Health; Pat Mooney, VP of Health, Beauty & General Merchandise, Wakefern; and Alex Hurd, Walmart Canada, VP, Health Services.

All four of these retail leaders were unified in explaining why creating a shared purpose advances relationships and separates them from competitors. The panel collectively shared that when you approach them with purpose in mind, it inspires everything they do. “Purpose-driven brands double in size four times faster than brands not led by purpose,” Mack reminded the group.
The afternoon discussion challenged the group with the question: Do you share compelling business stories with customers?

“Stories are the most important weapon in a leader’s arsenal,” Mack shared. “When we hear stories, we suspend judgment which eliminates relational friction. Stories transport us from being the critic to loyal participant. Furthermore, stories are 12 times more persuasive than facts only. We all can relate to and love an authentic personal story rather than being buried in too many sterile facts. The future of our industry belongs to the storytellers.”

The forum meets again in June, followed by an event the day before NACDS TSE in San Diego.

If you want to learn about future forum events, contact Dan Mack, visit or read his new book Look Closer: Ideas on Reexamining, and Eliminating Personal, Relational, and Organizational Blind Spots.