On this episode of the Reboot Chronicles, we take a trip down memory lane with Robert Pasin, CEO of Radio Flyer, and explore why brave leaders are needed to reboot their organization's People, Platform and Passion.
Radio Flyer was founded in 1917 by Robert’s grandfather, Antonio, an Italian immigrant who moved to America, at the age of sixteen, searching for a better life. The young entrepreneur found work in Chicago and eventually opened a shop to continue the family carpentry tradition. His work began with furniture and cabinets and shifted to wagons after Antonio built one to haul around his tools. This bit of serendipity eventually pivoted the shop into creating the iconic red wagon, which grew in popularity over the decades, and became a part of American history.
Take the Wheel
Robert joined the family-enterprise when he was 23 and was given a huge wake up call on his first day! You can listen in to the story, but I will give you a hint, cash! Taking matters into his own hands, he spent the first ten years changing the company's culture, starting with the People. Bringing the company back from the brink of irrelevance, obscurity and decline, Robert realized the need for design and innovation, while bringing together a killer team to create the future of the company. When Robert became the CWO (Chief Wagon Officer!), he really took off the training wheels, revamping everything, instilling goals and values, embellishing a new brand identity, evaluating and targeting competitive markets, and increasing consumer engagement. This pivot transformed Radio Flyer, allowing them to continue to inspire the imagination of the world’s youth through new products—while staying true to their roots.
Engaging iPhone Kids
Through ethnographic research, Robert's team observed what people like and don’t like about existing toys and created white-spaces to make them better, like longer-lasting battery-operated children's vehicles. This discovery led them to a partnership with Tesla to create a lithium-ion battery-powered mini Tesla Wagon. This very cool Platform is just like an actual Tesla, and allows for customizing the car's color, license plate and phone plugin. Nowadays, children are drawn to devices rather than playing outside. In some countries they only spend ten minutes a day outside compared to four to five hours with electronic devices. Radio Flyer is helping to combat this, developing innovation and fun toys where kids can use their imagination while riding in style. When they launched the Tesla Wagon, Elon Musk sent a tweet about it, and Radio Flyer got a 1 billion web impressions from people checking it out!
The Future Fun and Imagination
Families have also struggled to keep their kids active during the global lock-down of 2020. Radio Flyer's sales have boomed, as parents turn to more tried and true brands to engage their kids with fun activities, especially while being stuck at home. Robert's team has developed a unique a Passion for building out the next generation of engaging products and services, with a brand emotion that children and parents connect to. They have been developing new platforms to build on, winning an Emmy for their amazing Taking Flight Video, that may bring back your childhood memories, inspire you to be a CWO and, like me, have you tearing up a bit.
A lot was unpacked around rebooting People, Platform and Passion in organizations, you can watch it here or tune in wherever you listen to podcasts.
About The Reboot Chronicles Podcast: Hosted by Dean DeBiase, The Reboot Chronicles is a popular no-holds-barred podcast on iHeartRadio, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts and YouTube that has been bringing together CEOs, entrepreneurs, authors, and global leaders, for over a decade, to discuss how organizations are rebooting their leadership-competitiveness of everything from growth, innovation, and technology to talent, culture, and governance. Tune in wherever you listen to podcasts or at https://www.revieve.com/rebootchronicles
Named a “Growth Guru” by Inc. Magazine, Dean DeBiase is a Faculty Member at Kellogg School of Management and Silicon Valley serial CEO, where he has served in chief executive and chairman roles of more than a dozen emerging growth companies, CEO of Fortune 500 subsidiaries, and a director on public, private, family-enterprise, CVC, PE and VC boards. He is a Technology Fellow at Northwestern University, a Board Leadership Fellow at The National Association of Corporate Directors, and an Advisor to the National Science Foundation. A Forbes Contributor and co-author of the best-selling book The Big Moo, Dean, is working on his next book, Dancing with Startups. Connect with Dean here: www.linkedin.com/in/FollowDean