In this episode of Good Business, we speak to Simon Pestridge, the Chief Experience Officer at Potato Head, about regenerative business and creating a meaningful brand.
Step into the world of innovation and transformation with Simon Pestridge. With over 24 remarkable years at Nike, living across the world, he joined a small hospitality company with a big mission. As the Chief Experience Officer of Potato Head, Simon is spearheading the change – from adopting a regenerative mindset over sustainability, to revamping how waste is looked at, to expanding their operations. Get ready for an engaging conversation filled with insights that will leave you inspired and ready to take your business to new heights. Don’t miss out on this captivating episode of the Good Business Podcast.
In this conversation, we learnt…
– Simon’s journey with Nike and then Potato Head (02:58 – 06:05)
– Regeneration vs Sustainability (07:04 – (9:11)
– Some exciting projects at Potato Head (09:28 – 13:14)
– The vision for Potato Head for the next 10 years (13:32 – 16:23)
– How they operated during COVID (16:32 – 18:35)
– Opportunities in trying to be beautiful and sustainable (18:40 – 21:53)
– Waste management at Potato Head (23:01 – 25:38)
– Simon’s experience with LinkedIn (25:58 – 27:19)
– How to create a meaningful brand (27:40 – 30:28)
“We are taking that into a virtuous cycle with regeneration, where whatever you touch, whatever communities you work in, the people, food that you procure, everything is actually positive, and is leaving the earth in a better place than where you found it.”
Potato Head has recently shifted their focus towards regeneration, over sustainability. While sustainability refers to doing something indefinitely, it’s questionable how many people truly practise sustainability as they claim. Instead of aiming for indefinite sustainability, the goal is to continuously improve their work, the communities we operate in, and the environment around us. Simon sees this as a larger and more challenging objective.
“Why would we buy candles from outside when we can create candles from used cooking oil while also creating more jobs internally?”
At Potato Head, they are taking responsibility for managing our own waste within our facility. Instead of purchasing candles from external sources, they have found innovative ways to repurpose materials. For instance, they have started creating candles using used cooking oil. Considering the significant quantity of candles they require each week, this approach not only allows them to reduce waste but also creates additional job opportunities internally. They have found that producing these candles in-house is both cost-efficient and environmentally beneficial compared to relying on third-party suppliers.
“We have this ethos: beautiful and sustainable.”
Simon and his team recognize that consumers are not willing to sacrifice quality or aesthetics for the sake of sustainability. They want products that are visually appealing, comfortable, and durable. Therefore, everything they create will be beautiful first and foremost, while also being sustainable. Potato Head refuses to compromise on either aspect. Their goal is to extend this ethos beyond our immediate surroundings. Many visitors express their desire to have our furniture in their apartments in Brooklyn, for example. This presents a potential business opportunity, but we need to figure out the practical steps to make it a reality.
“A small change repeated by hundreds of people is way more important than one big change made by one person.”
Potato Head, and Simon in particular, truly embody this belief. For example, they started by taking plastic bottles away from visitors as they entered their venue. Initially, some questioned why they did this, but they explained that they are committed to reducing single-use plastic. To ensure no one missed out, they provided water vouchers as an alternative. This small step led us to consider what we could do with those bottles, and we started creating useful items from them.
“If you have a philosophy that you are going to build meaning and purpose into your brand from the very beginning, and you have a product that backs that up, then you have a recipe for success.”
Simon’s advice on building meaningful and long lasting brands is to identify what truly drives your passion. Find ways to authentically communicate that passion to the world and ensure that your product not only meets but exceeds people’s expectations. When you create a remarkable product coupled with a meaningful brand, people will naturally talk about it. This, in turn, helps you build a community around your brand that supports your growth and amplifies your story.
Chris Edwards (01:30)
Now, for anyone living in Asia, you’ve definitely heard of potato head. But you might not know just how much this business is doing in terms of sustainability and regeneration. Simon pesce fridge is the chief experience officer at Potato Head. And I just love this chat I had with him which is all about how brands can create positive social change, and really create long term brilliance through culture, and doing things with meaning. I think you’ll enjoy this chat as much as I did.
Chris Edwards (02:07)
Simon, welcome to the podcast. I’m thrilled to have you here today.
Simon Pestridge (02:11)
Thank you so much for having me on. I’m thrilled as well.
Chris Edwards (02:13)
Oh, let’s get into it. So I’m really fascinated by your journey. 24 years at Nike, which is included working all over the place like Jordan, Hong Kong, Australia, America, China, and then you jumped ship to join the potato head family. What made you make that change?
Simon Pestridge (02:33)
I feel super lucky with life journey I’ve had the Nigeria and Jordan pieces were actually childhood. So my father worked construction. So we moved around the world. And that took me to Hong Kong where I finished high school. And then I actually joined Nike straight out of university in 1995. And spent a couple of years there and it was amazing. I was think I was employee number 85 in the Asia Pacific office. When I left two years later, there were about 400 of us it was just the growth trajectory was crazy. But I put my hand up to go to development programme in the US, which was amazing kind of got my MBA at Nike Headquarters.
Simon Pestridge (03:12)
And I was lucky enough to spend time in Australia. And then that actually moved back to Portland, Oregon, then we moved to the UK, then back to Portland. And then we moved to China, and then back to Portland.
Simon Pestridge (03:23)
And then at some point, it’s time to draw a line on an opportunity and your time with a company and took some time off and then through mutual friends got to meet the CEO of potato head who was looking for somebody to come and help them evolve the brand from a kind of hospitality brand in Bali to a global lifestyle brand. And so I said, Well, I’ll come for six months and see how we go. And I was lucky enough that our CEO is an amazing person, he sat down with me and he goes, I’ve got six months to save, you can become more want to become a full time employee. I’m like how many CEOs say that to you? So that was a journey. And we just went from there. And it’s been amazing.
Chris Edwards (04:02)
Yeah, that is an incredible journey that you’ve had and how fortunate it has been for you to meet Ronald. So what is he brought from your corporate background to this kind of young, funky, sustainable entrepreneurial organisation?
Simon Pestridge (04:19)
I think I’ve bought a non corporate point of view. So maybe that’s why I’m not a big corporation anymore, because I’m not a very corporate person. But I think what you have to do is you have to bring all the kind of skills and resources and things you learn from a big organisation and be able to implement them into a young entrepreneurial organisation without bringing the bureaucracy, the meeting culture that seems to be so pervasive in big companies right now. And really focus on the output versus the internal meetings to get you there. So I think I’ve bought probably a longer term planning point of view, the way we build the team over time, that type of thing, but honestly, I’ve just tried to be my Self and have a major belief that culture will always be strategy. And so the culture here is amazing if we can continue to evolve that culture, the strategies that we put in place will just be great because they’re kind of symbolic of who we are as a company.
Chris Edwards (05:15)
I love that focus on culture. And Potatohead has a really, I suppose, unique storyline. I mean, it started in 2010, really, as a beach club with a very straightforward mission, which was really just to have a good time. And then I understand it evolved, and it really changed to good times do good. And then it evolved from the norm of destructive hospitality and transformed into a new force of regenerative hospitality. And now, six years on Potato Heads, waste to landfill number is 5%. And with the assistance of the UN Potatohead, offsets its carbons and has become the first hospitality company in the region to go carbon neutral. Like this is all really quite incredible. Was this set in motion and happening when you joined? Or what’s your role been in this kind of transformation of the mission?
Simon Pestridge (06:15)
Yeah, I’m lucky that I come in, and I take over the great work that’s already been done. And our job is to take it into the future. So when you put out those steps, you know, it can all sound quite daunting. And our job is to really break it down into smaller, shorter term, tangible goals that we know will lead to something big. So let me just digress a little bit. I mean, any of us that have worked like, in the last 1015 years, sustainability has been the buzzword that usually people’s eyes glaze over. Because if you’re in a big company, do you actually really have a role to play and how sustainable that company can be of what does sustainability actually mean? So we’ve actually just taken the recent shift to focus on regeneration. And the reason behind that, to me is quite simple, but really important. So if the definition of sustainability is something that you can do forever and ever and ever, right, that is sustainable, then you really have to question how many people are as sustainable as they say they are right. But that is sustainability.
Simon Pestridge (07:20)
But isn’t it more interesting to actually be able to take that into a virtuous cycle where regeneration is about whatever you touch, whatever communities you work in the people, food that you procure, everything is actually positive, and regenerating and leaving the earth in a better place than where you found it.
Simon Pestridge (07:40)
So we just felt that yes, sustainability is one thing, but we don’t want to be doing something forever and ever and ever, we actually want to be improving, constantly improving the way we work, improving the communities, we work in improving the earth around us. And that to us is a bigger goal. It’s a more challenging goal. But if we break it down and think about it every single day, will be able to look back and five years and say, Oh, wow, look what we did, versus trying to create too many big lofty goals that may seem unattainable and not able to get there. So that’s the kind of future challenge and that’s what we’re working on right now with the team is obviously not me, it’s it’s a big team that try and do this every single day with our partners in the community we work with.
Chris Edwards (08:21)
That’s awesome. And I just want to unpack that a little bit. So what are some of the smaller things that you’re doing? And I love the fact that the focus is on regeneration, as opposed to sustainability? I think that’s a really smart and it makes perfect sense. But can you give us some tangible examples?
Simon Pestridge (08:38)
Yeah, so we work with partner, Tim vigil in Aston Caraway. And he’s been working with the local communities on this trail walk that 10 Day trail that goes from the north, to the south of barley. And along that kind of trail, there’s different types of farming from cacao to Rice, etc. And what we wanted to do is we wanted to be able to procure grape rice organically produced from local farmers taking out the supply chain in the middle that they could basically come directly to us, that means they’re getting a bigger cut of the profit, they’re able to buy more land, and we’re giving them a commitment to a certain amount of rice every single month so that they can plan ahead versus the regular supply chain of food. So we have to start because we consume a lot of rice here in the data. We have to start with one restaurant comma Indonesian restaurant and all the rice we serve in that restaurant is from this regenerative farming technique on the Aslan car trail. And now they’ve been able to develop and grow and build the kind of amount of land they farm. And now we’re in a place where we may well be able to procure all their rice to feed our staff because we go through about one and a half tonnes of rice a month just beating our staff. So there’s little things like that, that actually you can see when you make that Stan is procuring for one restaurant, the farmers are making more money, they’re able to plan, they’re able to get more land, and therefore you are regenerating that community. And it’s getting better and better and better.
Chris Edwards (10:11)
Wow, what’s next? Like? What’s another example? Besides rice? How else can you be regenerative in your practices?
Simon Pestridge (10:18)
It’s really about thinking about everything we’re doing. So you said the start, we’re actually about, I think, 98%, zero waste to landfill last month, we measure it every month, and it goes up and down a little bit. But what we’ve realised is that, yeah, we have to take care of our own waste in our facility, and what we can do with that waste, how we can turn it into beautiful objects, for example,
Simon Pestridge (10:40)
why would we buy candles from outside when we can create candles from used cooking oil, and we go through hundreds of candles a week as it were, that is, then we are actually creating more jobs internally, to create those candles, we’re still able to do a very cost efficiently and effectively and probably saved my environment in third party.
Simon Pestridge (10:59)
So that in itself is actually regenerating your own community because you are creating more jobs and opportunities for people. So one of our big goals right now is we’ve we’ve we have a lot of learnings from the journey of trying to get to zero waste foreign facility, how do we start to share that with other hotels restaurants in the community. And so our next big kind of push is we’re actually going to create our own waste landfill site, so that we can start to separate and manage waste that does leave here, working with other partners with other hotels with other restaurants in the local community.
Simon Pestridge (11:39)
So we can take the Zero Waste idea from our space and actually make it bigger, so that all of maybe it’s Seminyak, in 10 years time is a zero waste kind of entity, and then what you do with that waste, then you therefore you’re creating jobs, hopefully you’re creating beautiful products that can be sold. And that is again, the cycle of regeneration, where you are leaving your community better, you’re leaving the earth better, because less is going into landfill, etc. So that’s kind of the one of the big things we’re looking at for the next several years. And it is daunting, but when you break it down, and when you start to work with the local community, and see how interested they are in learning from you, and we are learning from them. Everybody just gets better and better and better. And that’s regeneration.
Chris Edwards (12:24)
Wow, that’s quite amazing. And it’s a long way from hospitality, isn’t it? Like, the vision is so great, I’d love to just crystal ball gaze like what does potato head look like in 10 years time? Like, how do you see it unfolding?
Simon Pestridge (12:42)
Yeah, I think I guess gonna, you know, shout out to Ronald, our CEO and founder, because he’s made a conscious effort not to hire people from hospitality. So you know, we have a leadership team from all different walks of life. And we’re kind of proud of that. Yes, at the end of the day, we we serve guests, every single day, and we have to give them an amazing experience. So obviously, there’s people that are experts in hospitality to work for us. But our job is really so okay.
Simon Pestridge (13:08)
How do we be a catalyst for change in the hospitality industry? And so if you crystal ball out five to 10 years, we would like to have more impact in different places all over the world. But where would that be? Would it be in North America, would it be somewhere in Europe, other places in Asia, we’re looking at it right now. But as any brand grows, you have to stay true to who you were originally. And so we’re really trying to make sure that we built this data over a 10 year period. Our job first and foremost is to make sure this is the most amazing experience that it can be that we make sure we stay to this idea of a zero waste facility, that everything we do is beautiful, sustainable, and we give great jobs to great people in Bali.
Simon Pestridge (13:54)
And then as you grow from there, we want to share those learnings and we’re gonna go to different places. And we’ll find different ways management systems, different level of appreciation, or different laws, different standards, but we just have this wherever you go. You should never sacrifice consumer experience to be sustainable. You know, no consumer is willing to sacrifice they don’t want an ugly shirt, or an uncomfortable shirt, because it’s sustainable fabric. They want a shirt that looks great, fits great. And it’s gonna last really, really well. So we have this design or ethos, which is beautiful, sustainable. So everything we do will be beautiful first, and it will be sustainable. You don’t compromise on either. And we want to take that ethos out to the world. So we have lots of people visit us here and go, Oh, wow, I wish I could take all this furniture and put it in my apartment in Brooklyn. Well, that could be a really viable business goal, but how do we actually do it? And at the end of the day, we’re going to grow slowly because we can’t compromise what we do here. But we’re going to go and take our ethos to new places and make sure We’re not driven by a financial model, we’re driven by a really good kind of corporate governance model, which is looking at the economic impacts, we can have the community impact we can have the environmental impact we have. And if we don’t think we can live up to who we are, we shouldn’t be going to places. So, you know, we’re in the early stages of all that growth we took, put a big hold on it with COVID, because we were shut down for just over a year, close to a year and a half. And now we’re in that rebuilding phase and looking at all the opportunities in what is now a different landscape around the world.
Chris Edwards (15:33)
There’s a lot there, I don’t know where to start. But I’m really interested in what you just said, right at the end, that you were shut down for 12 months during COVID. So what happened to the company, then?
Simon Pestridge (15:42)
Yeah, it was. So we we’ve, we’ve nearly doubled our staff, because we were opening a new the new facility, and all of a sudden, you know, we had no revenue. And when we first shut down, we thought as the rest of the world that are this will be a month, maybe two months, there’s no way it’s going to be three months. And then we were 1516 months later.
Simon Pestridge (16:01)
So what we did is, we did a couple of things, we obviously have a commitment, all the family that work with us, we had about 1200 staff at the time, and we had to financially understand how we could pay people a certain amount and keep their health insurance. And actually, again, with a vision of wrongly said, you know, I think the biggest issue is going to be the food supply chain in barley because all of a sudden, nobody’s ordering food, what’s going to happen.
Simon Pestridge (16:24)
So we actually made a conscious effort to plant farmland in an area where we were going to be building a new hotel. And we turned that into cannabis and topic and regenerative farming that could turn crops every eight weeks or so. And we use that not only to give family members a role during the day that they could go out and you know, farm the land, but we also used it to feed the family to that product and product baskets to people that were in need. And that couldn’t go shopping and that kind of thing if they were struck down with COVID, or isolating and that type of thing.
Simon Pestridge (16:56)
And then we built that into making sure we could supply food packages and meals to orphanages and that type of stuff. And it gave us in the team a sense of purpose. And then what we also did is we introduced some training modules so that people could stay busy and come into work, even if it’s just for an hour or two a week. Having that sense of purpose and somewhere to go was really, really important. So we kept the team going as much as best we could with kind of the salaries we could pay for the best part of the year. And then we did have to scale down and let a few people go when contracts were up. But we kept a core team of around 500. And then we build back up. And now we’ve got about 150 staff today that are working full time and the smiles on everybody’s faces as tourism comes back is infectious.
Chris Edwards (17:41)
Yeah, yeah, buy has definitely had a rougher ride through the COVID journey. And it has been a very tough place for business. And it has had a very wild bounce back as well. So what a journey, and really interesting to see what you did during that time. Anyone who was running a business at the time can definitely relate to that moment where you look at your revenues, and they’re completely just bummed out. So what’s the biggest challenge is when you’re trying to do beautiful and sustainable,
Simon Pestridge (18:14)
they’re not really challenges. They’re just opportunities. And it’s about making sure that you don’t compromise on either side. But when you clash, it’s about clashing forces that comes in together to create objects of beauty, amazing new experiences for people. So we don’t look at anything as a challenge, it really is an opportunity.
Simon Pestridge (18:34)
And so I think we’ve looked at all the waste that comes into the facility, either from us or from our guests. You know, every tourist in Bali creates about three kilogrammes of waste a day. And the idea we have is that it’s not waste until it ends up in a landfill. So whatever we can do to stop it from going into a landfill is the most important thing.
Simon Pestridge (18:57)
So we have a blueprint we created recently, which looks at waste, and you separate it into organic and inorganic. And then you say okay, what can be done with that. And so, not many people know this, but pigs don’t eat everything. You can’t feed pigs chilli, you can’t feed pigs citrus. So what we actually do is we have a waste separation room in house where we take all that waste and we separate it out. And then we work out what we can do with it.
Simon Pestridge (19:21)
So we compost the organic or we feed it to the pigs, whichever works best for the waste that we have. But then you also have things like oyster shells. What can you do with oyster shells? So we look at that as an opportunity. So okay, you’ve got oyster shells, you got another form of inorganic waste, Styrofoam, what have you mix those together, you add some limestone in and you can actually create a beautiful soap dispenser. And that’s what we do at all of our rooms, the soap dispensers. Lotion dispensers are created by us in house and we believe that we’re only going to create something that is beautiful and sustained. Apple. Therefore, when the guest comes in, they see what can be done.
Simon Pestridge (20:03)
Maybe it changes their way of looking at things just a little bit. But if it doesn’t look right in the room, we have to work until it does look right. And it makes the room absolutely beautiful place that somebody wants to call home for the next couple of days. So that’s why everything we look at is really an opportunity to change the game to change the industry. And we are open source, we will share what we do with absolutely anybody because we believe that is the way you move the world forward.
Chris Edwards (20:29)
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Chris Edwards (20:53)
Can we just go back to that incredible statistic, three kilos of waste that a tourist creates every day? I mean, what are these tourists doing? How are we creating so much waste? Is it too many oyster shells? A tourist consuming more than normal? Because they’re on holidays?
Simon Pestridge (21:09)
Yeah, I don’t know what the statistic is, is how much waste you create your home every single day. So I can’t compare it to that. But yeah, I mean, we go through the waste. Doesn’t sound pretty, but it’s necessary. We go through the waste every day. And from plastic bottles to delivery to packaging on products, that type of thing. It just mounts up very, very quickly. And some of the guests asked us they’re like, Oh, how come you coat you don’t have different recycling bins in your rooms? How come? It’s just one bin.
Simon Pestridge (21:38)
And the simple answer to that is well, most people don’t know how to separate their own waste. And there are so many rules of something that’s touched food, something that hasn’t touched food, we’d prefer to make it super easy for you give us your waste, we have people that will separate it, and then we will manage that flow from there. So it’s, I don’t know if people come here and create more waste than they’d create at home. But there is just an enormous amount of plastic and packaging that comes with everything and businesses have to change. You see it washing up on the beach all the time. The plastic bottle companies have to change the way food is delivered has to change. And you need people that are going to not look at it as a challenge, but look at it as an opportunity to create something better. Because if you create something better, your consumer is going to go yes, I want that versus heroin to sacrifice their experience, because nobody likes to be inconvenienced. Sadly.
Chris Edwards (22:35)
No, that’s very true. That’s very true. It’s so interesting. I mean, I’ve been to Potato Head many times, and I don’t think I’ve ever realised to what length you guys are going to be regenerative and sustainable. Is that intentional? Is that? Is it a very softly softly approach? Do you feel like customers can be turned away if your values are too loud and proud?
Simon Pestridge (23:01)
Yeah, I think it comes back to basic human behaviour. We want to give people an amazing experience. And if they look at our experience, say I had a great time. And oh, by the way, did you know they do this, it just makes it even better. And I think that’s the way that you build the brand and you build the business versus going at it the other way around. Because as I said human nature is people want to have a good time.
Simon Pestridge (23:29)
And we have this very simple belief that a small change repeated by hundreds of people is way more important than one big change made by one person. So if we can impact people’s lives, and it honestly started by taking plastic bottles away from people as they came into our venue, and people will say why like, well, because we don’t agree with single use plastic. But we will give you a voucher for water so you don’t lose out. And then we had to figure out what we do with those balls, and we started making stuff. And so I think it is important that nobody feels they’re sacrificing any part of their experience that we still exceed people’s expectations every day. But they leave feeling a little bit better and learning a little bit about what we do. And I think that’s the way it should always be.
Chris Edwards (24:15)
I love that. I have been enjoying a LinkedIn post, you write quite intimate, deep stuff about your life and your mom. And and it’s really interesting that you choose to share it. Is it partly cathartic or is it strategic? Or what’s your thinking behind sharing so personally on LinkedIn,
Simon Pestridge (24:35)
it’s really cathartic is it’s who I am. It’s like it’s from my heart. I’m a very private person. I do very few interviews like this, and my social media is private, and I don’t post very much on LinkedIn, but a few people said to me, You know what, it’s maybe you should get your voice out there a little bit more. And I only write when I’m in the zone. I like it and I have something that I think is interesting. And I think being I’m British and not very confident myself. It doesn’t come out very often. I’ve got a few more posts in the back pocket. But yeah, it is purely cathartic. There’s nothing strategic about it, I have some things to say. And if people find them interesting and like them, awesome, if they don’t, there’s plenty of other things for them to read.
Chris Edwards (25:16)
Well, I will definitely be reading. So I’ve very much enjoyed them. And I do feel like as soon as people share some, you know, I suppose more personal visits, it is a lot more engaging. And when I say LinkedIn is a new Facebook, right, so, so tell me, what advice would you give to someone who’s looking to create a meaningful brands?
Simon Pestridge (25:37)
I think the answer is in the question, you have to have meaning. This is my own personal philosophy, maybe it’s wrong. But there’s companies and those brands, companies sell stuff, brands inspire people to get to a better place in their life in their world. And so you have to know what that space is in the market for you to be unique and distinguished. So if you can have a philosophy and approach that you are going to build meaning and purpose into your brand from the very beginning, and you have a product that backs that up, you have a recipe for success if you just have a product, and all you’re going to do is go digital fishing to try and pull people in to buy a product that has no bigger meaning or inspiration than How sustainable is that for you. And it’s probably not. So the advice is like, what are you truly passionate about? How do you show that passion to the world and make sure your product actually does exceed people’s expectations and makes them talk about it. And therefore they will help you to create a community around you, which are going to help you tell your story and grow at the rate you should grow.
Chris Edwards (26:43)
Simon, I love that very wise and detailed answer. But it all makes perfect sense. It sounds really easy, though, doesn’t it?
Simon Pestridge (26:52)
It’s not at all. It’s really hard. I mean, if it was easy, you could ask me a question. So okay, what brands are amazing today, I asked you in every interview I do with people and when we’re interviewing you family members. And I’m actually doing it because I’m missing something because I really don’t think there are that many brands out there, that everyone’s just becoming a company trying to sell stuff and lo un and it’s all about funnel, they get down to the bottom of the funnel, blah, blah, blah, well, actually, let’s talk about the top of the funnel and how we inspiring how are we bringing more people into a world that we want to live in? How are we creating that world we want to live in? That’s where the great brands live? And I just think there’s very few of them out there right now.
Chris Edwards (27:31)
And do you have any that comes to mind? Do you have any that it inspires?
Simon Pestridge (27:35)
Well, actually, there is one that I think is very interesting. And that’s liquid death is Canned Water. And I saw a comment on LinkedIn, which made me laugh, it was like liquid death is one cmo away from dying. That’s because they don’t have a CMO. And it was like, Oh, it’s so true. Because basically their founder is pouring his passion into that. And he has a point of view. And he’s sticking to it. And they call people out that told him that products bad and they electrocute them like that some of the stuff they’ve done is super interesting. But you can kind of see it comes from a place that somebody goes, this is the business I want to be in this is the brand I want to build. And I’m just going to enjoy it. And that becomes infectious for people because they’re like, Yeah, I want to part of that. There’s nothing more to it. So that’s one that stands out to me at the moment, which is gonna be a fun ride to watch.
Chris Edwards (28:25)
Oh, I’m gonna have to check them out. Now to round out the interview, I’d really love to ask you what I call rapid fire questions. So let’s start. I’m wondering, do you have any business advice or mantras that you kind of roll around in your head or live by?
Simon Pestridge (28:41)
Yeah, I do. I think the one that has kept me true to who I am is this notion that you’re never the smartest person in the room. And as soon as you think you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re done. So I was lucky enough to work all over the world. And I remember some of my first meetings in China, we had a big leadership team of 20 people couple of expats, a lot of Chinese locals, and I realised how little I knew about that market, and how far ahead they actually were compared to the rest of the world digitally. And I realised very quickly, I was going to be the dumbest person in that room for the next four years. And I had to make sure I got the very best and honest answers out of the team so I could make the decisions that I had to make. So to me, that’s a really, really important one is as soon as you feel that, you know, you’re smarter than everybody else, you’re gonna lose your way and you’re gonna get blindsided. So always know you’re not the smartest person in the room.
Chris Edwards (29:41)
I love that. I often never want to be the smartest person in the room because I feel like you want to surround yourself with smart people. Right? Like if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’ve collected some really dumb people to hang out with. But yeah, I love that. Tell me what does community mean for you and for Potatohead
Simon Pestridge (30:00)
Community is everything when it comes to building a brand. So, for Potatohead, we wouldn’t be where we were, if we didn’t have amazing community and partnerships, because we can’t do everything we have to partner with different people here in Bali all over the world. And it’s when you bring new fresh ideas into your community that you can really accelerate change. That’s no different to working in a big brand.
Simon Pestridge (30:26)
You know, what made Nike footwear hot was the community of athletes that have built, and the community of people in major cities that will like that product is amazing. And if a brand ever forgets the people that made it, because the brand doesn’t make yourself as the people that make the brand, if you ever forget people that made your brand special, and you lose that community, you’re just talking to yourself. That’s literally it. A lot of companies are talking to themselves today. They’re so engrossed in their own world and their own meeting culture, they’re not actually saying, Okay, do we have a vibrant community out there that is engaging with us, that we’re engaging with? And that actually we’re together moving this thing forward? So without community, you have enough?
Chris Edwards (31:16)
I love that. And I 100% agree, tell me what is good business mean to you.
Simon Pestridge (31:21)
I think this is, you know, the biggest opportunity, we have to reset what good businesses good business shouldn’t just be measured with Financials, and we have to move away from, you know, the capitalism, that’s what he’s driven by. So good business is social, economic, and environmental impact. And that’s why we’re so inspired by this idea of regeneration. Because if you’re regenerating your communities of your regenerating mother, if you’re really thinking how you leave the world a little bit better every single day, those financial results are going to come, we have to hit the headwinds of investors who may just be looking at the bottom line. But you know what, that’s our job. And I think we as older generation, we owe it to our kids and future grandkids, to leave the world better. And to actually partner with the younger generation say, you know, what, I have 30 years of business experience, you have 30 future years ahead of you, how can we get this thing together and actually really work together to create that world that we want to live in? Versus just thinking good business is about delivering numbers every year? Because if you do the former, those numbers come. It’s just the truth.
Chris Edwards (32:39)
I love that. And I’m 100% on the same page. My next question is, if there was another industry that you could disrupt, what would it be? And I suppose for you guys, you started in hospitality, that sounds like waste is the next thing. Is there something else on the horizon that you can share?
Simon Pestridge (32:56)
I think we would like to be more involved in people’s lives every day. So right now we’re a destination. Actually, how do we create an apparel brand or a footwear brand that actually uses waste, and uses manufacturing techniques that actually show that beautiful can be sustainable? So that’s definitely kind of in the short term mid future for us. And then also, how do we take some of the things we’ve been learning here in Bali, such as you know, the pieces we’re creating, and actually hold them to a place where people would want them in their homes, and we can get them to a level of quality, where we can deliver them to people’s homes? Again, it’s those little bits of progress that can change the trajectory of how people think. So those are a couple of things. But as I said before, it’s really about making sure we’re great every single day, and not getting too far ahead of ourselves, that we would like to be in new destinations, with new product lines, and all coming back to our original purpose and 10.
Chris Edwards (33:59)
Wow, very exciting vision that you have. Tell me Do you have a favourite business book that’s kind of shaped to you?
Simon Pestridge (34:06)
You know, it’s actually recently there’s, it’s not a recent book is an old book. I think the Patagonia story is absolutely amazing. And there’s very interesting brand that has stayed very, very true to what made it great in the first place. And they live and breathe it every single day. And what I love about that book is called letting go surfing is how they very open about the mistakes they made. And then whenever they did go wrong, they came back to why they first started the company. And the answers are always there. And I always say, the great brands that stand the test of time. Like you know what your Northstar is it’s a little bit like using Google Maps or ways.
Simon Pestridge (34:46)
In today’s world, you’re gonna have to take a different path but you’re still trying to get to the same place. And it’s about having a management team and a leadership team that know where you’re going but willing to take the risks to find the best way to get there not necess So the easiest way to get there, but the best way to get there, and I think that book was a really good example of that, and then you just see what they’re doing by donating the company to the planet, etc, is just exactly true to what made them great in the first place. So I think that’s really interesting.
Simon Pestridge (35:15)
There’s another one that I’ve used as a LinkedIn post. But Ryan Holiday, Ego is the Enemy, that I found every page incredibly interesting. And there’s a statement in there that there’s two types of people in the world people who want to be and people that want to do, and the people that want to be rise up the ranks really quickly, and then tend to fail because they haven’t built a community of support around them. And then there are people that do that simply go to work everyday, or get up every morning kind of want to do things that make a difference and be great. And they tend to get into leadership positions later, but stay longer because they have that community. So there’s just two books that I kind of think about a lot at the moment.
Chris Edwards (35:53)
Yeah, cool. Cool. I will put both those books in the show notes. I have read the Patagonia book and I it’s a small book, but it is really remarkable. And I love the fact that it was actually written as a handbook to the staff like it had no intention to really be sold to anything but just to tell their story internally, another incredible story about the book. And my last question to you is at launch pad and honey comas, we believe a rising tide floats all boats, and you probably know entrepreneurs that are creating good businesses. So I’d love to know, who would you recommend that we should have on the show,
Simon Pestridge (36:30)
I would say there’s probably one one really stands out, I don’t know if you’ve spoken to them or seen that work. But there’s two brothers and a sister Gary, Sam, and Kelly, who runs Sungai watch, which basically started as a river darling project, to try and stop the waste from actually getting into the oceans. And now they’ve turned that into a micro business. And, you know, they’re born and raised in Bali, they greet people, super smart learning their way in the business world and just driven by a passion. But it’s absolutely amazing. And I think showcasing people like that is really, really important. And building their support network is really important than that. Just, they’re just doing good things every single day.
Chris Edwards (37:14)
Yeah, I have heard of some guy watch. So I will reach out to them. Simon, it’s been a delight and such an inspiration to talk to you today and to really learn about the potato head story and your personal journey as well. So thank you so much.
Simon Pestridge (37:30)
Thank you. It’s been a pleasure. And yeah, good luck.
Chris Edwards (37:34)
Three things I learned from this chat with Simon. I really liked the way Simon talks about creating things that are beautiful and sustainable. And you can’t compromise beauty or any element of a product for sustainability. It has to be both beautiful and sustainable. The second thing I loved was that you never want to be the smartest person in the room. And as soon as you think you are you’re done. Oh my god, that is so so true. And the last thing that really stood out for me was how he talks about how community is everything for building a brand. And without community you don’t really have a brand or you just have a product and a whilst it’s harder to build community around your business is a lot more long term and sustainable. And it really is the difference between having a business that people love and really get behind to just having something that you’re selling. I just loved this chat today, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Thank you for listening to good business.
Chris Edwards (38:41)
Okay, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Selfishly, I created this podcast for my own personal growth. So I could go deep with entrepreneurs that truly inspire me. Of course, I also wanted a wider listenership to think about having impact, and our wonderful community at Launchpad, where we’re all aspiring to create better businesses together. If you have enjoyed this episode, I’d love you to leave a review, or perhaps share this podcast episode with a friend. That’s how podcast episodes get discovered. And I would love more entrepreneurs to think more deeply about their business and about creating a Heartland business with a bigger impact than just profit. And I’m sure you would too. So go ahead and post something on LinkedIn or Instagram or Facebook and spread the word I will be forever grateful. Thanks again for listening and I hope that you feel as inspired as I am to create your own good business.