How this Chairman of Johnson & Johnson survived merging 3 companies on his path to success.

“The ability to build on your own success and not just build on someone else’s failures is an important part of getting ahead.” — Jeff Smith

This week we had the privilege of interviewing Jeff Smith, the Group Chairman of Johnson & Johnson North America. His career has bounced back-and-forth between Canada and the US, unveiling some thought provoking lessons and stories we’re excited to share with you.

This interview is available on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Overcast and Soundcloud.

Here are the three things I learned from the interview:

  1. Sales is a common starting place for great marketing leaders. Javier San Juan at L’Oréal and Vineet Mehra at Procter & Gamble(now at Johnson & Johnson), Jeff Smith started his career in sales at Procter & Gamble, and continued his early career in at Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”) in sales as well. Being on the road, speaking to customers (in this case the retailers which sells P&G’s products) helped him build a strong foundation for his career in Consumer Goods.
  2. Sometimes family should come first. There were moments where Jeff decided not to take a promotion. While it could have been good for him personally, it wouldn’t have benefitted everyone in his family. When looking at the decision in the short-term, it can certainly be a viewed as a setback, but long-term the decision always panned out for the better.
  3. Patience is key. In the world of consumer goods, you need time to show consistent results. True success comes from building on your own successes instead of building upon someone elses failures. While most people want action and results in 12 to 18 months, Jeff recommends looking at a time horizon of 18 months to 5 years for each arc in your career.

Hope you enjoy listening.


Daniel Rodic is the Co-Founder of Exact Media, which is transforming the world of direct mail by enabling brands owned by companies like P&G, PepsiCo, Unilever and L’Oréal to distribute samples and coupons using the excess space in eCommerce parcels that have already been shipped to consumer.

Daniel was named Top 30 Under 30 by Marketing Magazine, and represented Canada at the G20 Entrepreneurs Summit in Moscow and Beijing. Daniel served on the Leadership Council for the United Nations Media for Social Impact Summit and he is a 2016 finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

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