Blue Microphones is a leading manufacturer of high-end, professional and consumer microphones and headphones. They’re known throughout the industry for their exceptional sound quality and unique designs.
Key Results: Current year sales growth up 30%. Profits more than doubled within two years.
Westlake Village, CA
This is Part 1 of our interview with John Maier, President & CEO of Blue Microphones, where he talks about fast growth, getting a handle on long term strategy and planning for the future. He also describes what it was like working with Brian Oken, CEO Coach and Strategy Consultant, and how the strategic planning process helped him and his team get even more focused and execute at an even higher level.
Check out the rest of the interview here:
I’m John Maier, President and CEO of Blue Microphones. We’re a manufacturer of microphones and headphones and we like to say that we help people find and amplify their voices.
Why did you reach out to The Oken Company?
We were growing very fast, and we started to talk about getting under control the strategy part of the business, and that’s when we reached out to Brian and the Oken Company, to start thinking about: How do we see this in the long-term?
For us, it was all about keeping the wheels on the thing, we were moving so fast, and we realized we weren’t looking at the future, and that’s when Brian came in and really helped us get more focused on that for our business.
I immediately hit it off with Brian because Brian was very thoughtful, asked a lot of questions about me and the business, and just worked with our approach and our culture as opposed to trying to instill on us some outside, textbook view of how a business should run. He just does a great job of really understanding your business, and helping you get better at leading that business.
Describe some of the challenges you were facing leading a fast-growing company.
When you’re growing that fast, you’re really just trying to manage through what’s the opportunities that are coming to you right then. Yes, you have an eye to the future – I’m a strategic thinker, generally, that’s where I like to live. So I’m always thinking about that – but, you know, life takes over. And when you’re moving that fast you have no choice.
What I think what really helped us was to pull out of that, and to force yourself.
If you don’t fix those big things and look at the big picture, you’ll never get out of that day-to-day tactical thing. That’s what we needed and that’s what Brian offered.
Explain more about the process. How did working with Brian as a strategic planning facilitator help your team focus on long term strategic objectives as well as getting things done in the short term? What did you and your team actually walk away with?
So what we did was, take two days, get the entire executive team together, offsite somewhere and let Brian be the facilitator to kind of walk us through the basics of… Who are we? Where have we come from? And, where do we want to go?
One of the biggest things for me, one of the biggest benefits of Brian doing this was… A lot of times you do these things, and you have a lot of fun, you have a great big picture, a view, and then you get back to the office, and a week later… nothing happens. Nobody talks about it anymore.
And what Brian’s done a great job of is taking those big picture ideas, and actually pulling them back into your daily life in the business. So you don’t just talk about a five year plan, you bring it into a three year, and then into a one year, and then… What are you going to do this quarter, that feeds into that one year plan?
So we walked out of there with real marching orders, and a real feel for what we were going to do today, not just sort of fluffy, fun, future vision stuff.
And one of the things we laugh about now is, that a couple of years ago, there was no way we would have done that. There’s just no way we would have taken the time out of that busy day to do it. Now that I look back and we do this on a regular, annual basis, I don’t know how we lived without it. It’s a huge, huge benefit to the company.
So the rapport’s been great… I highly recommend Brian and The Oken Company. They’ve had a huge impact on our business and we’re going to continue to use them moving forward.