CEO Mindy Grossman on WW International’s Transformation

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CEO Mindy Grossman on WW International’s Transformation
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WW International Inc (NASDAQ:WW) CEO Mindy Grossman on WW’s Transformation, tells SiriusXM she saw the pandemic as an “opportunity, not just a challenge,” said WW’s business during COVID included “nearly three years of acceleration in one year” & more.

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Mindy Grossman, CEO of WW International (formerly Weight Watchers), was a guest on SiriusXM Business Radio’s “Randi Zuckerberg Means Business” and spoke with host Randi Zuckerberg about joining the organization, the recent efforts to transform the WW brand, the remarkable virtual-workshop pivot that WW took, once the pandemic began and more.

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During the interview Grossman spoke about joining the organization and transforming the brand during COVID: “Everyone was talking about the dynamic growth of the wellness economy, but at the same time, the world was getting significantly unhealthier and certainly COVID has risen that to another level. And I looked within the industry and said there really needs to be a different perspective on the democratization of wellness.

Wellness can't be a luxury, it's a necessity. And people need a partner to help them live their best lives. And when I saw the opportunity at Weight Watchers at the time, and that there was a desire to really transform the brand, this brand that for over 55 years has been helping people transform their lives through healthy, sustainable and efficacious science-based weight loss, but now we could be so much more and really meet people where they are and use technology in way that's very human centric. And I really believe that the brands of the future are ones that can marry technology to meaning, to help people live better connected lives... And we entered 2020 with greater momentum than the company's ever had. I spent three weeks on the road, on tour in giant arenas with the 2020 WW Presents 'Oprah's Vision' Tour, and then the world changed. And our feeling was as a brand, and as a business, as humans, we had not just an opportunity, but we had a responsibility right now to do everything we could to help people lead healthier lives, which is more important now than ever.”

In regards to the pandemic pivot Grossman explained how in just six days WW moved “one hundred percent of their workshops simultaneously in twelve different countries to virtual, and these workshops continue to this day” and said “what really galvanized the organization was part of who we are at our core, is we are a community and I think brands that build community and trust are critical.

And we did not at the most important time, want to not be able to inspire and communicate and motivate our members. And that was really the driving element. And even fast forward to today, we still have markets like the UK, for example, and certain other markets where we can't have our workshops, but we're operating. For example, in the U.S., we have virtual workshops, 18 hours a day, seven days a week with a group of incredible coaches. So again, we have the opportunity to meet people where they are.”

She also spoke about WW's business during the pandemic, and said she saw this time as an “opportunity, not just a challenge”  and said what WW has been able to do is “probably do three years of acceleration in only one year.” Although this last year has been like no other, she said she refers to herself as a “resilient optimist”.“Even in the most difficult of situations, if you can really look to what you can do in those times to innovate, to accelerate, to be agile, to empower people, you can literally speed up and accelerate your efforts. And we've been in the process of the transformation, as you mentioned, from certainly the world's leader in healthy weight loss to truly become a leading weight loss and wellness ecosystem digitally powered with different membership verticals, and revenue streams, and all of that work.

And what we were actually able to do is probably do three years of acceleration in one year, because we were very focused on our employee and member first. How do we keep our community together? And how do we innovate to ensure that they have the support and the success they need? And so that's how I always think about these times, is how do you think of it as an opportunity, not just a challenge,” Grossman told Zuckerberg.

On WW's Future

“Coming into this year, we launched D360, which is our newest membership vertical, which has just gotten an incredible response in terms of what people are really looking for today in on demand, and content, and coaching, and community, and we're rolling out that to the rest of the world. Very focused on our overall experience and what we can provide people to have them greater success with acute personalization. We are very excited about the launch of our newest food program innovation at the end of this year, going into 2022.

It's very breakthrough, really informed by science and behavioral science. And then all the work that we're doing in healthcare and diabetes space and that expansion. So, when we really redefine our purposes, we inspire healthy habits for real life. People, families, communities, the world, for everyone, that focus on really democratizing wellness is really our north star, and that's where the expansion and the investment in what we're trying to do,” Grossman told Zuckerberg.

Mindy Grossman also offered words of wisdom to other women, who aspire to achieve great success as businesswomen: “I always say that one of the reasons for my success and my ability to have grown throughout my career is that I have focused on making other people successful. And if you do that, you will surround yourself with great people and you will be more successful, the company will be more successful..I think the second is, build a true authentic network. And this is what you're so powerful at doing. People who you will invest in them and they will invest in you and you will build that powerful group that you can have to support one another. I'd say the third thing is one of your biggest superpowers that you can have as a leader, as an individual, is acute self-awareness.

Really understand your impact on others and really be focused on trying to improve yourself every single day in terms of the impact you can have, and certainly surround yourself with diverse, incredible talent that you can have the direct and honest conversations with. And then I'd say lastly, believe in yourself. I like to say that I've never been truly ready for any role I've ever taken on, but I've believed that I could have impact.

And finally, there's three words I think that have become my mantra and their passion, purpose and impact. Am I passionate? Am I waking up every day that this is what I want to do? Is it purposeful? Is it going to lead somewhere? And can I have impact? And I think you can have impact in your first job, and today I'm very proud to be able to have a platform that I can use my voice to talk about things that have to happen. Whether that's around the critical need for diversity or disparity of health. Those things where we can now use our voice to truly create impact.

The show aired on March 24 from 12-1pm ET and will replay today Thursday March 25 at 6pm ET on SiriusXM Business Radio, channel 132. More transcripts and audio highlights are below. If used, please credit SiriusXM Business Radio and “Randi Zuckerberg Means Business”.


"WW International" CEO, Mindy Grossman, Opens Up About Recent Efforts To Transform The WW Brand:

Mindy Grossman: The last number of years that I was at my last company, I was spending a lot of time on where the consumer was going, where there were going to be tailwinds, what was happening in the world, and I got very, very interested in the health and wellness area of business. And I called this tremendous paradox that was happening is that everyone was talking about the dynamic growth of the wellness economy, but at the same time, the world was getting significantly unhealthier and certainly COVID has risen that to another level. And I looked within the industry and said there really needs to be a different perspective on the democratization of wellness. Wellness can't be a luxury, it's a necessity.

And people need a partner to help them live their best lives. And when I saw the opportunity at Weight Watchers at the time, and that there was a desire to really transform the brand, this brand that for over 55 years has been helping people transform their lives through healthy, sustainable and efficacious science-based weight loss, but now we could be so much more and really meet people where they are and use technology in way that's very human centric. And I really believe that the brands of the future are ones that can marry technology to meaning, to help people live better connected lives... I'm fortunate that I also have a great partner in Oprah, who's an investor and a board member, and she was also really looking to use her voice to be able to do what she does best, which is empower people to lead better, healthier and more fulfilled lives.

And that's why I joined the organization and we've made such tremendous progress over that time. And we entered 2020 with greater momentum than the company's ever had. I spent three weeks on the road, on tour in giant arenas with the 2020 WW Presents 'Oprah's Vision' Tour, and then the world changed. And our feeling was as a brand, and as a business, as humans, we had not just an opportunity, but we had a responsibility right now to do everything we could to help people lead healthier lives, which is more important now than ever.

 Talks About The Remarkable, Virtual-Workshop Pivot That WW Took, Once The COVID-19 Pandemic Began:

Mindy Grossman: On March 7th, I was at the finale of the Oprah tour in Denver with 15,000 people. I flew back to New York on March 8th and on March 11th for the safety and security of our employees and our members, we had to shut down. Just to give you a perspective, at that time, in addition to all our digital platforms, we had 30,000 live in-person workshops a week in 12 different countries. And we brought the team together, and I think at one point, I think we almost had a rolling 24-hour phone meeting and what we did in six days between the product and tech teams, field organization, the brand and technology teams, in six days we moved a hundred percent of our workshops simultaneously in 12 different countries to virtual, and those workshops continue to this day.

What really galvanized the organization was part of who we are at our core, is we are a community and I think brands that build community and trust are critical. And we did not at the most important time, want to not be able to inspire and communicate and motivate our members. And that was really the driving element. And even fast forward to today, we still have markets like the UK, for example, and certain other markets where we can't have our workshops, but we're operating. For example, in the U.S., we have virtual workshops, 18 hours a day, seven days a week with a group of incredible coaches. So again, we have the opportunity to meet people where they are.

"WW International" CEO Reflects Upon WW's Business During COVID-19, Which Included Nearly Three Years Worth Of Acceleration In One Year:

Mindy Grossman: Well, I think like anyone else, this has been a year, like no other. And I recently, at the end of every year, I write myself a letter about the year and I thought when I took the company public in 2008, that was going to be the crisis of my career and little did I know. However, what I have found and why I call myself a resilient optimist is even in the most difficult of situations, if you can really look to what you can do in those times to innovate, to accelerate, to be agile, to empower people, you can literally speed up and accelerate your efforts.

And we've been in the process of the transformation, as you mentioned, from certainly the world's leader in healthy weight loss to truly become a leading weight loss and wellness ecosystem digitally powered with different membership verticals, and revenue streams, and all of that work. And what we were actually able to do is probably do three years of acceleration in one year, because we were very focused on our employee and member first. How do we keep our community together? And how do we innovate to ensure that they have the support and the success they need? And so that's how I always think about these times, is how do you think of it as an opportunity? Not just a challenge.

Offers Words Of Wisdom To Other Women, Who Aspire To Achieve Great Success As Businesswomen:

Host, Randi Zuckerberg: Mindy, you are just one of the most successful women in business. We are celebrating Women's History Month here, on SiriusXM, and all over the world. I'm wondering if you could give some words of wisdom to other women out there that aspire to the levels that you've reached in your career?

Mindy Grossman: Randi thank you. I would say a few things. I always say that one of the reasons for my success and my ability to have grown throughout my career is that I have focused on making other people successful. And if you do that, you will surround yourself with great people and you will be more successful, the company will be more successful. So that's been a big focus. I think the second is, build a true authentic network. And this is what you're so powerful at doing. People who you will invest in them and they will invest in you and you will build that powerful group that you can have to support one another. I'd say the third thing is one of your biggest superpowers that you can have as a leader, as an individual, is acute self-awareness. Really understand your impact on others and really be focused on trying to improve yourself every single day in terms of the impact you can have, and certainly surround yourself with diverse, incredible talent that you can have the direct and honest conversations with.

And then I'd say lastly, believe in yourself. I like to say that I've never been truly ready for any role I've ever taken on, but I've believed that I could have impact. And finally, there's three words I think that have become my mantra and their passion, purpose and impact. Am I passionate? Am I waking up every day that this is what I want to do? Is it purposeful? Is it going to lead somewhere? And can I have impact? And I think you can have impact in your first job, and today I'm very proud to be able to have a platform that I can use my voice to talk about things that have to happen. Whether that's around the critical need for diversity or disparity of health. Those things where we can now use our voice to truly create impact.

Opens Up About WW's Future:

Host, Randi Zuckerberg: What is on the horizon for WW this year that you're excited about?

Mindy Grossman: Well, we're incredibly excited. Coming into this year, we launched D360, which is our newest membership vertical, which has just gotten an incredible response in terms of what people are really looking for today in on demand, and content, and coaching, and community, and we're rolling out that to the rest of the world. Very focused on our overall experience and what we can provide people to have them greater success with acute personalization.

We are very excited about the launch of our newest food program innovation at the end of this year, going into 2022. It's very breakthrough, really informed by science and behavioral science. And then all the work that we're doing in healthcare and diabetes space and that expansion. So, when we really redefine our purposes, we inspire healthy habits for real life. People, families, communities, the world, for everyone, that focus on really democratizing wellness is really our north star, and that's where the expansion and the investment in what we're trying to do.

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Jacob Wolinsky is the founder of ValueWalk.com, a popular value investing and hedge fund focused investment website. Jacob worked as an equity analyst first at a micro-cap focused private equity firm, followed by a stint at a smid cap focused research shop. Jacob lives with his wife and four kids in Passaic NJ. - Email: jacob(at)valuewalk.com - Twitter username: JacobWolinsky - Full Disclosure: I do not purchase any equities anymore to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest and because at times I may receive grey areas of insider information. I have a few existing holdings from years ago, but I have sold off most of the equities and now only purchase mutual funds and some ETFs. I also own a few grams of Gold and Silver

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