How CMO Joel Warady’s insatiable desire to learn has led him to Enjoy Life
Ask any prospective or current college student who’s done their homework about life beyond higher education, and you’ll be treated to a bouquet of buzzwords. Chief and perhaps most prominent among them is the consensus need for one to have developed at least one technical skill during their education.
While macroeconomics have generally borne out that the payoff for four years of study in Engineering, Computer Science or Finance has been steady and solid, there is likewise a constant emphasis on transferrable skills and versatility. So, how exactly is one supposed to voraciously research and learn about various areas of their business when the majority of their education was spent cultivating relatively particular skills? In the case of lifelong learner Joel Warady, the answer can be found in simply inverting that formula.
When one sees the title Chief Sales and Marketing Officer accompanying a person’s name, it’s natural to assume they took a fairly conventional route through college, or at least professionally, to land there. For Warady, however, the accumulation of acumen through the atypical means of self-teaching began earlier than one might imagine.
“Although I started off as a Business major and always knew I’d end up in some area of business, I reached a point where I asked why I would major in it,” he said. “I’d always been a bit of a history buff, and I wanted the opportunity to learn how to learn, rather than to just acquire a technical skill. I majored in History, and through my time in finance to my days as an entrepreneur and finally as a marketing consultant all the way until now, it’s never held me back.”
Money Lost, Education Gained
After an exposure to finance and the insurance industry out of college (during which, interestingly enough, he never had to formally apply for a job or even write out a resume), Warady started his own company, Wisdom Oral Care. At its peak, the business was selling products to more than 17,000 retail stores in the U.S., Canada and 50-plus other countries worldwide. It was sold to Milestone Scientific, which was a NASDAQ company at the time.
During this period of his career, Warady attempted to create what he called an “online superstore of oral care products” during the first dot-com boom days. It resulted in a net loss of money, and Warady experienced a “successful failure.”
“What I lost in terms of money was more than made up for by the education I gained,” he noted. “I spent time in Silicon Valley just as things like cloud computing and e-commerce were coming into focus. I found that companies, around this time, had a thirst for knowledge about e-commerce, and so I actually began teaching it at the University of Illinois at Chicago and speaking on e-commerce and digital marketing to various industries and companies.”
Classroom to Consulting
Any glamorous “Mad Men” allusions aside, the marketing industry undoubtedly took off with the rise of the dot-com craze, as companies began to realize the contours and dimensions of selling their products and services via what was then an emerging medium. Thanks to his experiences and ever-expanding reservoir of knowledge, Warady smoothly transitioned from the college classroom to the consulting circuit.
“A guy asked me once how much I’d charge him just to sit and give him a consultation for an hour. I said ‘$1,500’ because I really had never thought about it,” Warady said. “I felt a little like a fraud since I’d taken all of my ideas from books and coalesced what I’d read into my own opinions, but I found that people in business are always looking for shortcuts. Especially on technological fronts, where there was an older generation of executives needing to be brought up to speed in short order, I became a sought-after e-commerce and social media expert by positioning myself as the proverbial ‘old guy who gets it.’ I wasn’t some young Google IT [information technology] whiz; I was a guy close to 50 years old looking at my contemporaries and showing them what could be achieved if you put in the effort, ask ‘why’ as opposed to ‘what,’ and pay attention to the details without cutting corners.”
After beginning his relationship with gluten- and allergy-friendly brand leader Enjoy Life Foods as a Consultant and Board Member, Warady came on full-time as Chief Sales and Marketing Officer in 2011, marking the latest stop in his career journey. In terms of the role being a real-time case study for what he had so long consulted clients in doing, Warady noted that the reduction of variables and degrees of separation are central to bringing his ideas to life.
“When you give people advice and ideas, it’s incumbent upon them to execute,” Warady said. “Here at Enjoy Life, I’ve been able to have full control over the actualization of those ideas I felt were pretty great. We’ve gone from low double-digit growth to an average of 40 percent each year since I’ve been here, and we’ve managed to increase efficiency in sales and marketing by integrating the two. The disconnection between Sales, whose primary job is to put items on the shelves, and Marketing, whose primary goal is to get them off, has been eviscerated.”
Insofar as creating a culture where no one is ever completely satisfied with their own progress, Warady pointed out that, far from being a taskmaster, he wholeheartedly understands the principle of having fun while you work.
“Culture is everything,” he said. “It dictates strategy, and we cannot ever lose sight of our goal, which is to serve our customers and uphold the trust they’ve put in us and our brand. We pursue excellence, but we do so in the knowledge that we’re never going to reach that mythical ‘100 percent’ and that a significant part of the fun is the pursuit itself.”
Keep On Learning
It would be karmic if Warady’s fascinating career journey was recounted in a biography someday, given all of the time he has spent acquiring such an erudite understanding of his craft through books. When asked about what advice he might offer to young marketers and salespeople, though, he widens his scope beyond that singular scholarly channel.
“Live an inquisitive life, and don’t just try to know everything about your own industry. Go to malls and stores you wouldn’t normally shop in. See what’s trending and what’s cool at the moment. I still read People magazine and Us Weekly every week because I want to know about Justin Bieber’s rise and subsequent decline; not just that they happened, but also why,” Warady said. “Above all else, whatever your pursuit or desired path, never stop learning.”
The most important thing to remember, irrespective of background or profession, is that Warady’s insights, substantial though they are, are not merely tips for the making of a more successful businessperson; taken together, they make a pretty good recipe for an enjoyable life path.
Tamer Abouras is a freelance writer based in Williamstown, New Jersey.
Joel's Key Partners:Slater Public Relations (Food & Lifestyle Publicity) | Busy Bee Promotions, Inc. (Promotions & Demos) | Design Resource Center(Brand Strategy and Design) | Access Merchandising (POP Displays & Packaging) | Ibotta (Digital Coupon) | Marketing By Design (Print & Digital Advertising) | Integrity (Digital Agency) | Modus Marketing Group (Advertising and Interactive)
Latest posts by Tamer Abouras (see all)
- Driving Yourself and Your Team to Success - October 2, 2015
- Gaining Exponential Experience with Each Passing Stride - September 21, 2015
- Growth through Gratefulness: Inspiring, Empowering, and Transforming Your Department - September 14, 2015