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Ep. 5: Get Noticed at Trade Show Events with Guest Justin Stevens

Episode 5: Get Noticed at Trade Show Events with Guest Justin Stevens


In this episode, hosts Christine Wright and Trevor Lewis discuss how emerging brands can leverage events to get noticed and drive sales. They highlight the importance of authenticity, partnerships, and understanding the consumer journey. The guest, retail strategist, Justin Stephens, shares key insights and emerging trends from the Natural Products Expo West. He emphasizes the need for brands to invest in marketing and build relationships to succeed in the competitive retail landscape. The hosts also share their own tips for success and the importance of staying focused and grateful.


  • Emerging brands can make a big impact at events without large booth expenses by leveraging content creation, hosting offsite events, or investing in smaller booth spaces.
  • Authenticity and understanding the consumer journey are key to enhancing brand experience and engagement with consumers.
  • Partnerships, alliances, and advocates are crucial for emerging brands to succeed in the retail industry.
  • Investing in marketing is essential for emerging brands, and it should be a priority rather than an afterthought.
  • Sustainability messaging is important but should not overshadow the product itself, and there is potential for a packaging revolution in the future.


00:00 Introduction and Overview

03:30 Show & Tell: Who’s Doing it Right with Trade Show Events

09:08 Guest Interview: Insights and Emerging Trends from Expo West with Justin Stephens

30:47 Lightning Round with Justin Stephens

37:36 Christine and Trevor's insights on finding balance


⁠Justin Stephens of JWS Partnerships⁠


⁠Mark Samuels of IWON Organics⁠

⁠Brooks Powell of Cheers⁠


⁠Guru Nanda⁠

⁠Bloom Nutrition⁠

⁠Teema Blanket⁠ ⁠OLIPOP Soda⁠



BlueLightSpecialPodcast (00:02.702)
Welcome to Blue Light Special, the podcast for CPG brand marketers who want to lighten up their hustle in retail and real life. I'm Christine Wright. And I'm Trevor Lewis. We're here to decode the mysteries of retail and give you some insider hacks to make your brand talk the shelf. Let's get into this week's episode.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (00:29.838)
Let's get into this week's episode where we explore how emerging brands can take advantage of events to get their brand to episode. We got my man Justin joining us later on. He's a retail strategist who works with our Walmart team. He boosts on, yeah, he's our boots on the ground and will be giving us some insights on Expo West. We're also going to make him share, you know, what his favorite snacks were. Christine, I know that you guys have, you kind of go a little bit far back with Justin. Can you give us a little bit more insight on - I do go way back with Justin. At one time, Justin was a -

customer of mine. So that's a testament that if he's still sticking around after this long, but Justin is based in Bentonville, Arkansas, and has extensive experience in all things retail marketing, category, shopper, merchandising, retail attainment, packaging, brand, for the better part of the last decade. He has led business development for shopper agencies and service providers, including three years as VP of business development for Fetch Rewards.

And his passion for the customer in -store experience led him to partner with InStore Design Display in 2024, which we are very thankful for, to help bring best-in-class form and function to even more brands. So we usually start with a segment called What's Happening in Our World. And we know getting noticed in the CPG market is difficult. Budgets are being scrutinized, and it's hard to show ROI from events, most definitely.

However, events can catapult an emerging brand from obscurity to being the new hot product. And there are ways to get noticed without big outlays for a booth. And I will say I just had a meeting this week with an agency, kind of a consultant type agency, and they went to Expo West, just the team, it's a small team. They didn't have a booth and they got their badges to walk the event from clients. So their spend pretty much was travel.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (02:33.678)
and staying at the hotel and food and things like that. And they said they spent a minimum of 12 grand just to do that. No booth space or anything. Yeah. Yeah. Well, there's no question that it's event season. I know that within, you know, we will jump in and talk specifically about Natural Products Expo West, but there's also South by Southwest recently took place down in Austin.

Uh, shop talk, uh, I know the folks, uh, in the, the pet space that are attending global pet, I believe that's in Orlando. So it's definitely event season. These are always a great opportunities to introduce new products, uh, to merchant teams, meet investors, brokers, suppliers, and if done right, create content and continuously generate awareness. , so, you know, as we talk more and really highlight some of the different things related to events, you know, are the segment that we continuously.

Uh, do one, this show is called specifically about when you aren't able to make big investments in your booth. Uh, how can you still show up and make a splash? So I recently saw, uh, you know, one tip regardless of if you have a booth or not is you should definitely be leveraging, uh, these events to generate content. , and you know, there's a LinkedIn legend out there.

Mark Samuel, founder of IWON Organics. If you don't know him, I would be shocked. Yes. Look him up on LinkedIn. He does a phenomenal job of just sharing his story. What he's doing. Very authentic. Yes. But he didn't have a booth. I don't believe at Expo West. I don't see Mark in a booth. No. But he still found a way to leverage events, produce content. I have no idea what his agenda looked like, but I'm sure he had meetings with merchants.

I'm sure he also has a podcast, uh, that he produces, I believe, weekly called let's eat. So I'm sure that he was continuously trying to find a big organized workout session just for attendees before the show. And then Mark definitely participated in that. And there were a lot of selfies taken for that. Yes. So again, this is someone who was looking at this event knows that there's an opportunity for him to, uh, make an impact, but ultimately didn't invest in the booth space.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (04:53.327)
And was there for a day. So, that's one way when you're, you're looking at how we can get the biggest bank for a bucks. Uh, you don't always have to have a boost space. , another example would be hosting offsite events. So, you know, this is looking at taking advantage of happy hours. I've seen people have rent like top golf and because so many people are going to that location, , most of the time they're really not that interested in.

Walking the show floor and getting their booth badge scanned. No, they're they're they want to have fun. They want to have fun They're there to enjoy themselves, especially, you know in today's world where they've made been remote or hybrid and so They definitely want to get some insight, but they really want to have fun party and enjoy themselves Walk around with their bad just turn backwards just so they don't so they don't get scams. Yes They literally do that so they don't get scammed. So that would be another if you're scrappy and how can you?

be creative is you can definitely leverage it for offsite events. And I've seen some success doing that. I also think that there will be more. I've seen some of them start to play with hosting a 5k, looking at, you know, specific exclusive dinners is kind of a known thing. Yoga I've seen before as well. So all of those are different areas you could you could do. And again, still not have the investment in the booth. The other one is you can have a booth but invest in a smaller space. So.

The way that the show provides space, they have very large, what they call island exhibits. And then they have typically around the parameters of the venue. They have, you know, what they call inline. So 10 by 10, 10 by 20, oftentimes the 10 by 10 boost spaces are going to be the most cost effective. And you know this because you come from the trade show world. I've been a few years in the trade show world. So you're very familiar with boost space. So I'm certainly familiar with booth space. And it's a fortune, even out of 10 by 10 spaces, it's a lot, but you know, if you're...

There was a, a gentleman Brooks Powell, CEO of Cheers. I mean, he is, he is literally giving lessons for free on LinkedIn on how to deploy an event strategy, keep it lean. , he actually, I believe I saw a post that he shared from Expo West where he had like a cost calculator. So he was transparent and of understanding exactly all of the input costs to get an attend the event. I think he even showed.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (07:17.134)
They were leveraging some frequent flyer miles to help reduce just the flyer cost. Brooks is an entrepreneur. He's definitely an emerging brand. I'm pretty sure he got a Shark Tank deal. He was at least on Shark Tank. So he's new to this, but he's leveraging every single dollar he can. Brilliant. And ultimately at the end of the day, it's about being scrappy and making...

a big impact with the least amount of resources possible. And so I know that there's another brand you was mentioning to me. Yeah. Speaking of brands that had deals on Shark Tank, I'm fortunate enough to have a few on my roster of clients. One of them being Nightcap. It's a brother and sister college kids that started it out. They did get a deal on Shark Tank. But last year, Shara, the sister, she went to Shop Talk.

and no booth or anything, just walking the floor. She saw the CEO of Forever 21, Winnie Park, speak as a panelist. And she was just so intrigued by her. She walked up and just cold pitched her afterwards. And they are in 400 Forever 21 stores now. Just, I think her whole point was don't be afraid to have a conversation. Cold pitch somebody. It's not going to hurt. And then she got in 400 locations.

Awesome. Awesome. So again, there's a few quick ways that you can still look at the event, have a big impact without having significant booth expenses there. , and I think the CFO will probably like you a little bit more because, uh, you're going to be a little bit conservative. So, , that's our show and tell for, for the day. Well, without further ado, let's welcome the esteemed Justin Stevens to the podcast. Thank you for joining us, Justin.

And you were recently at the Natural Products West Expo. Can you share some of the key insights and emerging trends? Hold on, hold on, hold on. You got to at least tell us how many snacks you had in the first 30 minutes. There had to be a strategy with the snacking. There was a strategy that went out the window in the first 30 minutes. So going to the show in past years, I knew that you're trying a lot of products, right? You're getting handed waters, getting handed.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (09:37.262)
peanut butter cups, et cetera. So my goal was to pace myself in reality, right? It just, it happens. Everything looks so good. So interesting, right? Whether it's plant based, whatever, there are thousands of those, do sweets and cookies and water. So yeah, that part is challenging for sure. I'm sure. So just to kick us off.

What were some of the key insights and emerging trends in retail marketing that you just observed right off the bat when you were at the event? From a trend perspective, I'll start with that. And it's so much centered on product and innovation and new formats. And there were three things that stuck out to me. Now I'm a sample size of one, right? 60 plus thousand attendees, they probably all have a little bit different take, but what stood out to me were three things. Protein in everything.

Chips, water, bars. So protein was big. Hydration, right? And when you think about waters in boxes and cans and aluminum and metal, there's functional water, there's birch water, there was caffeinated water, pro -biotic shots. There's just all over. And then indulgence, which is, you know, it's interesting and it's probably a growing trend that I hadn't seen in the past so much. You know, I think there's this as the acceptance.

grows, people want to experience natural organic products in all phases of their consumption. And so again, peanut butter cups, honey and everything, cookies and chocolate-covered everything you'd imagine and protein in those cookies back to protein. So, but those are the big three protein, hydration, indulgence seemed to be to me what stood out from it from an insight.

You know, it's really interesting. It's going for two and a half, three days, having a lot of conversations with emerging brands, brands that are established is that it's still a battlefield out there, right? Even more so than it ever has been for it. And there's a lot of hand to hand combat still going on in a sense of like fighting for shelf space, fighting for distribution. Okay. You're in and there's such an uphill battle to get that off shelf then display to try and drive some level of incrementality.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (11:54.83)
And so just all that challenges on production and supply chain, right? Just everything is difficult for these brands, right? So it's hard. It's when we, when I had those conversations with them about marketing, sometimes a couple of times it was deer in the headlights, right? Cause they're so focused on just that day to day grind of keeping product on shelf. So there's a lot of that going on.

Yeah, that kind of brings me to our next question you're leading right into it is, how are these brands leveraging retail marketing strategies to connect with consumers and drive sales? I mean, if it's during the headlights when you're starting to talk marketing, are they looking for advice and direction or have some of them jumped kind of onto a strategy here and there and they're just running with it? That's a great question. I think there's the emergence of digital, which everyone's going to say is the answer, of course, right? But that's...

Table stakes now, right? It's not a plus to have a social media team. That's a given you have to have it right and understanding your presence online is so he I think there are a lot of brands looking to to leverage who are codes in an entirely new way and discussions with a Service provider named bridge. I just find fascinating in terms of that and you could see the QR codes on everything. It was on packaging. It was on

how the exhibitors in the booth would engage with people who are coming by. Hey, scan this QR code, scan this, do this, do this, right? So like on packaging, on shelf blades, they had examples of it. So you're just seeing that more and more as a way to like, how do I engage with consumers? How do I catch that consumer walking down the shelf in a whole new way? What do you see as the biggest opportunities and challenges for brands looking to navigate?

the evolving retail landscape, particularly in natural products, which is what Expo West was for, but what are their big opportunities and what are their big challenges? The opportunities are the general awareness and acceptance of natural and organic, right? And it seems to be very noisy. Yeah. Just the space in itself. Like you said, there's wall -to -wall attendees, which means there's going to be wall -to -wall booths.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (14:17.454)
And there's just a million products out there. So it's so noisy. Yeah. It was really, it, you can tell just walking down the booth though, what brands realized the fight they were getting into and the challenge, right? How do I catch that person to, how do I get that buyer who may be walking down to that category person to stop at my booth? Right. So really thinking through the creative and how they're engaging and how they create that booth layout. You can tell the ones who really thought through.

how to break through that noise and how to draw people in versus those that didn't give it that deeper thought.

Okay, well then tell us how can they effectively leverage retail to enhance their brand experience and engagement with consumers?

When I was at the show, something stuck out to me. And I think it relates to this question a lot is that it was very clear which brands were really buying into being authentic with their customers. Right. And so that was, it was interesting. And we hear it in marketing lot and brands and how social media is changing, but it was, it really kind of was really on display.

for brands of who they are and this is us and we're not for everyone right and not trying to be a Product that's for everyone. This is who we're for and so some more clarity around that so I think that's one of the Ideas I had like just walking through go. Oh, that's a brand that I want to engage with But the bigger thing I saw was that I took from the show was that?

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (16:00.942)
There's this interesting dynamic of, hey, you want to do something really flashy. You want to have this story. You want to be able to say how organic you are or how natural your product is. But do you potentially lose sight of who the customer is and how they're engaging with the product? First and foremost, especially for food, it's flavor. Right?

And it's price or value, right? And you can have this amazing story in the background of how organically or how, you know, you've sourced your products from this Indian tribe who was the last one on earth. If the product doesn't taste awful, who cares? You know, so it's just, it's that authenticity. It's that customer at the forefront and what their needs are. Are you really serving a need or are you just trying to create something flash and trendy?

Organic and good for you, but you don't really have the consumer in mind and you kind of get lost in that I got a question Justin so one of the things that is from an outsider's perspective is you it feels like a lot of these brands are leaning into their founders story because there's a level of Relate, I guess relatability if that's a word, but it seems to be that it's really specific in the natural products for obvious reasons But where's there? Did you did you recognize that being?

immersed in the natural products event? Was there a lot of founders that were the billboards advocates? What was your thoughts on that? It wasn't over the top, but I'll give you a few examples. I do think it was evident and I think it's it is critical for these brands. I think they bought into that, whether it's the authenticity right mentioned before that plays into that. But you mentioned Cheers and Brooks.

Right there with his wife and a toddler. Oh, he was one with I knew there was somebody I couldn't remember what and I walked by three times hoping to say hi, but they're always busy and just at it right and looked engaged and excited. So that was one midday squares. Yeah, that's another that founder story. And for those who follow up on LinkedIn, we know all the ups and downs that they go through and it's amazing journey, but they were there. Right. So you see and.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (18:25.518)
Kind of what I found really interesting is like, they're not just there, they're working, they're carrying in the ice bags to refill the coolers, they're restocking samples. So it's not just a pretty face or that. I mean, they're - Not just shaking hands, they're really in the trenches. They're in the brands. Guru Nanda is another one. And just every time I walk by it, four people around him, right?

people excited to hear his story and talk to him. So I think that is, I think we're just going to continue to see that trend, right? The ability to get that story out now so much easier than it was 10 years ago. And you can't hide, right? Whether it's, you know, a B2C or B2B, like, you know, humans crave human connectivity. And so, you know, no longer can the CEO of a company just...

uh, set in the Eiffel tower and have zero visibility because at that point their brain doesn't feel relatable. , and so I think that's been fascinating to see how this has been played out into actually producing their founder stories on the end caps of the displays and telling that story there. , I know we've raved about, , bloom nutrition. Uh, I've seen them at the show. I know that they have probably a little bit bigger budget than some of the, uh, some of the other ones we've talked about just based on.

the activation that I saw online of that a show But I think that's one that continues to stand out to me of just truly leaning into that founder led story and even now you go into target or Walmart and She's featured on the end cap. So that story is coming through not digitally, but also it's being communicated, you know in physical spaces as well so I'm excited to see if that trend continues on because I think it just is

The relatability with the emergence of AI, I think the relatability of who is leading these companies and what is their why, , regardless of the company is, is a craving that we all have. Definitely. I agree. They want that transparency. Definitely. They want to know their, I think they have to have it. Yeah. Yeah. Well, let's move on to what I, I would assume was just all over the place being a natural products event.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (20:44.334)
sustainability and ethical practices. How were brands getting that messaging out there? How were you receiving it? Because some of that's been around for a while and is it kind of losing its impact or were they jumping on a different bandwagon for those channels? So it's another interesting dynamic, right? Because you're there and the expectation is you're at a natural and organic food show, right? So, but I think that the awareness and the...

the acceptance levels are so high that it's not the key message. So much so to where there were two or three conversations I had where they specifically said, we have pulled some of our claims off of our, the front of our packaging, not off the packaging completely, but just there was. It just becomes too much when there's nine or 10 bullet points for natural or organic or.

ethically sourced or vegan or whatever it might be. It kind of gets to be too much after a while. It doesn't. It takes away from the product and the purpose and why I'm buying in what, you know, uh, there was, there was another package. I remember where the claims are so big. I couldn't find the flavor of the product. I didn't know what it was. Right. So there's it's interesting. Yes. It's important. We talk about transparency and authenticity, all that plays, , into a fair sourcing. Yes.

I don't think those trends are going away. They're becoming table stakes. It's just an expectation. I know those brands that aren't transparent and aren't willing to share are going to start falling by the wayside. Yes. Now I know messaging is a big thing with those initiatives, but you and I had kind of a conversation when we were debriefing on the show about packaging in general and.

how that is speaking to sustainability and you just kind of saw some things that really jumped out at you. It's amazing and I could be completely off on this hypothesis. I hope I'm not right, but at some point I believe we're going to come to it like a packaging revolution. If consumers finally standing up and saying, no, I'm not going to pay for a chip bag that's this tall and weighs two ounces. And it's full of air. There's so much air. Or...

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (23:02.286)
When we think about laundry detergent, right? There's so much innovation coming where, and I'm not mean to pick up any laundry brands, but like, you know, there's a lot of water. It's weight, it's plastic, it's space, it's all of those things. It's going to be really interesting to see, I think, when we finally...

Connect all the dots of going. Oh wait, this might not be a good idea. I saw an interesting perspective from the show and it was an image, but it was one of those, you know, an image has a thousand words or whatever. And it was specifically kind of on this topic, but the image was of the trash cans. I saw that overflowing with sample, sustainable trash. Yeah. Right.

packaging and products and samplings and it was like it had a bit of an aha moment honestly that it was a bit of a fascinating observation that someone else recognized and that was the photo and that was the post but kind of to your point it's it's interesting right you know and I don't have this solution either and I figured if it was easy every brand would be giving away samples in fully you know recyclable XYZ but it was an issue.

And it was really an issue in which it was nice of them finally this year to put trash cans in down an aisle that was, you know, 200 yards long. So you didn't have to carry everything so far, but there was definitely a challenge. I don't know if it was a staffing issue or what, but significant overflow and made navigating those aisles even more difficult. But yeah, there was a lot of, there were a lot of materials in those trash cans that you knew weren't going.

right place. Yeah. Well for emerging brands looking to enhance their retail marketing efforts, what advice would you offer based on your years of expertise and experience?

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (25:08.622)
So from a strategic standpoint and at a high level, it's really, especially for these brands, right? And there are 3000 of them there and probably 2000, 2500, I wish I get this message across clearly is like, you need to understand the investment you're gonna have to make from a marketing perspective. And many times it becomes the third, fourth, fifth, sixth priority and it becomes the first line item to start to turn down.

Right. Because I get it right there producing product there having to worry about slotting fees, et cetera. But you cannot enter the marketplace expecting to spend on a percentage basis. What say a Coke or General Mills does and break through and succeed. It's just not going to happen. Right. You have to be four or five in X that from a percentage basis to break through. So that's the one thing. Right. There's so much being invested in.

product development and all these things that cannot forget that. And of course I'm a bit biased being a marketing guy, but it just, it is that important. From a practical, more tactical day -to -day perspective, kind of two things jumped out to me, especially from the show. One is the real need for partnerships and alliances and advocates, right?

They're small companies. They can't do it on their own. So the more you can build those and find either like companies or complimentary companies or just people are just going to lean in and help. That is critical. And the second thing, , a little Ted Lasso call out was to stay curious. Yeah. Love the show, but it's, it's keep asking questions, right? I happened to come across a couple of brands who were like, Hey, we do these two things and that's all we're going to do. Or, Hey, I'm not really interested without even asking.

more about XYZ, right? And so they start to become insulated and believe like we've got it all figured out and no one does in life and business at all. So, you know, those brands who keep asking and, you know, keep pushing for new ideas and those are the brands that are really going to stick out. Yeah, definitely keep learning.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (27:30.254)
Well, as we kind of wrap up with you, I'm just going to ask you one final question and Trevor might have one just because you and I debriefed and I remember you talking about this and kind of what is your advice to these emerging brands as they try to launch into retail? And I think I'm going to direct you a little bit, but you kind of had a who, what and how scenario that you described to me. Yeah, it's interesting, right?

understanding that, , really understand the consumer journey, right? It's one thing to make a product that you think the buyer will like, and it will sit down shelf, but understanding that piece of it is so key and where those intersection points are. , and it's it from there, it's thinking about the why, right? It's one thing to, to create this product and to produce all this.

But if you're going to really want to engage with a consumer, it's not even really your wine in some sense. It's that consumers of like, why do I need this? What problem am I solving for that consumer? Is it a real need that I'm fulfilling? And then once you establish that, then it becomes, all right, where do I engage with it?

What tools do I use? How do I do it? But those are all secondary, right? I see too many companies just jumping out, testing different tactics with no real strategy linked to it, right? As long as you have that North Star, you understand the why, you understand your why, you understand the consumer need, then you can really start to direct and make those right decisions where to invest. Whether it's, okay, that product needs to be in someone's mouth so they can try it. So that is the key in it's sampling.

and that consumer is making that decision in store. So that's where I'm going to engage them. There may be some categories where the consumer is making that purchase decision at home. A completely different mindset of how to engage with them right in and where that intersection point is. So there's, it's just the too many brands, unfortunately today are missing the why and that linkage from that why to where they're investing in their retail marketing dollars to pay that off.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (29:50.99)
Awesome. I actually don't have any follow up questions. You did a heck of a job of giving us some, some insights. You know, I think my takeaway is, uh, in addition to everything you outlined is it, it, attention is critical, right? If you don't have attention, , then it makes, you know, some of these other things that you may navigate very difficult. And so I'm excited to continue to, uh, kind of learn and observe, you know, how you're assisting with some of these brands.

, but we're about to turn it up a notch. We're going to jump into our, so, uh, this is where we ask you some questions. Uh, we ask all of our guests, this is the same level of questions, , to get their input on how you behave as a consumer, uh, and what you do on your job and what you do to do your job better. So my friend, are you ready? Ready is already. All right.

The first question is what's one new brand you recently purchased and why?

It would have to be OLIPOP. So not a new, new brand to retail. Probably a lot of people have seen it. but I had given up soda. Uh, so I just, I'd never kind of crossed my mind to try it. My mother -in -law, uh, had some at her house and I am a fan now. I absolutely love what they're doing. Flavors are dead on. So no kudos to them.

Got it. Got it. Awesome. Uh the next question. What's one thing you've bought on TikTok or IG?

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (31:36.814)
Nothing on TikTok, shockingly. So I'll go with an IT wrap. And it was a Christmas present from my wife. It was the Tima blanket. You know, they just did a hell of a job of kind of, you know, highlighting the benefits. And it was a great price, but you know, she was using it last night, kind of as a, you know, a blanket while she was finishing a puzzle. So it's getting to me. Nice.

Alright, what piece of technology can you not live without?

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (32:13.614)
Uh, my AirPods that, that or that or the garage band app on those two. Because it just blocks out the kids or no, just writing music. I get, I get to go and just write. So it's kind of on my side passions. One of my favorite questions to ask is what's the worst career advice you've been given.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (32:43.054)
So let me make sure I get this right.

You should live to work, not work to live. And it's that I heard that 25 years ago, it's still stuck with me. It was from a manager in retail. Sadly, he passed away from a heart attack. So I don't know if I, it's another reason not to follow that advice. Yeah, I just, it stuck. It just like, when I heard that in push back then, because I was young, but I was like, I don't know if I agree with that. I, you know, just try to do the opposite. Yep.

And where do you go to consume information to do your job better?

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (33:24.75)
It would two places linked in and podcasts like this, right? Or even more honestly, more specifically podcasts that are non -business related stoicism life, motivational politics, just how do we integrate those things I've learned that way into what I do. But since I mentioned podcasts, I do want to give these guys a quick plug. Yeah, we need to give them a plug.

If you're in Northwest Arkansas, fantastic facility. You talk about turnkey, there's no even key. It was just beautiful. Yeah, we're going to have to try that one out. Yeah, they do a fantastic job here. So I'm very impressed. And our last question, what advice would you give your 25 year old self?

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (34:15.79)
Which wasn't very long ago, right? Maybe last year. Right. It was last week. Yeah. It's that relate, probably that relationships will pay greater dividends than any monetary type investment. I have to agree with that. That's the takeaway of the career. Being able to go to Expo and see clients that I've never met in person. Right?

or people that I met six or seven years ago. That's why we do what we do. It's the people. You and I are perfect examples of that. We've probably known each other for 10 years. You were my client at one time. Now we're partnered together for strategy. So yeah, relationships mean everything. It's the only way to make it through. You don't want to do it by yourself, that's for sure. You know, so no, it's, and it's, it's been great. I'm very blessed to have and met you 10 years ago. So yes. Thank you.

Awesome. Well, we appreciate you, uh, you know, hanging on the hot seat there with our lightning around Justin, uh, and folks we're going to wrap things up, but to give you a little glimpse into our own minds for me, it's a memo to myself and for Christine, it's her I am for the day. We all know that all work and no balance leads to fatigue and burnout. So these are practices that we use each day to tell, uh, to help keep ourselves centered and focus on what matters. So, uh, my memo for today is a little unique.

, but in today's business world, I believe leaders must grasp terms like standing on business. , and what that means, if you're not aware, uh, delivering on promise, not just words. , for me, it shows awareness of the next gen culture. So I don't know if any of you are, , NFL fans, but specifically fans of DK Metcalf. , he recently scored a touchdown this past season.

And he did sign language of standing on business so that he didn't get fined. So you'll have to go check that clip out because again, it's, you know, standing on business, it's, it's a way of delivering on your promise. And so in that moment, he felt he delivered on his promise of scoring a touchdown. So he did sign language of standing on business. So I think that that's an important thing to keep in mind. The other part of the memo to myself is you also want to have to understand EBITDA.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (36:42.926)
Yes. So that's earnings before interest, tax, appreciation, and amortization. Both of those are vital. And so for me, those are just two different areas where you've got to keep a pulse on the culture. You've got to be able to also understand the business and how it's operating. And so those are the memos to myself because you've got to continuously kind of navigate both of those to be kind of that next day modernized later. So Christine.

Tell me what's up with your I am for the day. My I am for the day and my I am comes from a group of my tribe, my accountability partners every morning while we're drinking our coffee and having breakfast, we all text each other and say, what are you today? And today I am focused because I really, I'm just busy with events. I'm busy with virtual meetings. I'm busy with in -person meetings. I'm busy juggling all of what business is with.

being a mom and travel baseball and all of that that entails. So today I just telling myself, stay focused, stay, cause it's so easy to derail and just get lost in all of it. And then it's just a mess. So I am definitely focused. And girl, you're definitely focused. You sent me a list of all the things that she was focused on. I send the list more for my benefit than for yours. That's a focused list.

All right, Justin, we're going to put you back on the hot seat. I know I said I was going to let you off, but we're going to ask you, or Christine's going to ask you what your I am is. What is your I am for the day? What are you today?

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (38:23.054)
Great question.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (38:30.222)
I am thankful. That's a good one. Yes, we're busy running kids trying to get kids everywhere. Yes, you're running kids too. But we're blessed that we get to do this. Family is healthy and we have food on the table. There's things that a lot of people don't have. It's easy to lose sight of that. But no.

And I think. Good. There's always something to be thankful for. That's kind of my motto. I totally agree. And my friends, that's going to be it for this week's show. My man, Justin, big thanks for being our guest and bringing all those nuggets to the table for us. We're definitely grateful to have all of you long for the ride, as well as lighten up your hustle through retail and real life. So thanks for listening and keep your questions and comments coming. We love tuning in to what you want to know.

about helping your brand stand out in store. Join us for next week's episode where we will dig into the role of the consultant and why this role isn't going away anytime soon. This podcast is a production of InStore Design Display, the go -to expert for guiding and elevating your in-store experience. Our wordsmith, Julie Edge and mix master, Jackie Berra make all of this possible.

So a big thanks to them and the entire team at InStore Design Display. Stay tuned for our next episode on YouTube or wherever you consume podcasts. We'd love to hear from our listeners, so please drop us a line and tell us what you want to hear about retail and real life.

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