By Kevin Rutherford, Chief Eternal Optimist
The number of distractions around us today in sport, in business and in life is louder and faster than any other time in our lives. Let’s face it, this year has been overwhelming to many. It’s been a year of personal bests, joy and laughter, and deeper connections, but wasn't without sadness, frustration, and challenges along the way. I want to take a quick look back at the last year with all of you, with the hope that you take away a small nugget to apply to your goals in life, be they personal, athletic, or professional.
This year, we made some conscious choices as a team: to stay laser focused on our purpose of inspiring people to move more. To progress our mission of creating the world’s best hydration to address our chronically dehydrated society. And to collectively to create a culture where you want to work, not have to work.
(This is admittedly longer than many of our usual blog posts. If you're short on time, I recommend bookmarking for later then head down to the last paragraph for my bite-sized lessons.)
Be deliberate on your focus and you will confidently lead
When it comes to focus, we learned a lot:
- Create goals but don’t make that a finish line, make it a milestone. We believe that "Mojo builds Mojo" which comes from forward progress and achievements, but it also means keep reaching for new goals.
- Have a growth mindset. Be a serial learner and always keep growing by pushing both your brain and your body.
- Focus on what you can control and block out the noise. I was taught to drown out the noise of opposing fans and the competition, and remain focused on the (hockey) game and the shift I'm on. In essence, be in this moment. (Thanks Dad.)
We started the year with aggressive goals that challenged each member of our team. 2017 saw us hydrating people all over the globe, including: 100K+ cyclists at Bike New York, 100K+ cyclists at Ride London, 50K+ racers at Bolder Boulder 10K, 10K+ racers at Lululemon’s Seawheeze, and our 4th annual Nuun’s Natural Product Expo West 5K. We also had the privilege of hydrating runners at the USATF Marathon World Championships (California International Marathon), as well as two of the largest race weekends in the world: Run Ottawa (Ottawa, Ontario) and the City to Surf run event (Sydney, Australia).
And thanks to all of you, Nuun the #1 hydration brand in sports retail! That growth is really exciting... but we're just getting started. And our growth wouldn't have been possible without our amazing sports and grocery retailer partners, our fans, and our passionate team at the Hydration Nation.
Positive change starts with each and every one of us
We set out to make positive change in the world through three focus initiatives: Clean Product, Clean Sport, Clean Planet.
Clean Product: We continue to upgrade our products with the desire to contain highest quality and highest performing ingredients. This past year, we launched Nuun Performance, our first endurance drink mix. It's vegan, gluten-free, Informed Choice certified (safe for sport – no banned substances), and is the first product to be third party certified by the Non-GMO Project. (At the end of the day, people are the competitive advantage in any business, so a shout out goes to Vishal Patel at Nuun and Dr. Stacy’s Sims for partnering on this breakthrough product.) Runner’s World even selected this product line as one of 9 products that changed running for the better in 2017.
Clean Sport: In 2016, Nuun helped establish the Clean Sport Collective (CSC) as a founding brand. In 2017, we continued to push the message of the importance of competing clean to all of our athletes. We now require all Nuun Ambassadors to take the CSC pledge to lead by example while inspiring others to do the same. Competing clean is not only the right thing to do, it is better for the athlete’s health and it levels the playing field for all competitors.
Clean Planet: At Nuun, we frequently refer to the earth as our outdoor playground. Our planet is resilient but we all must reduce our impact to preserve a healthy Earth today and for an infinite number of generations to follow. Imagine the waste we could eliminate if we reduced our dependency on single-use plastic bottles. That's why, even from the beginning, we avoided creating a new “ready-to-drink.” Don’t get me wrong, we have work to do at Nuun: how might we reduce our packaging impact and use more sustainable sources? We are working on it and hope to have this solved soon.
We also strive to "do more good" with the products we sell. The best example of this is our partnership the non-profit "People for Bikes." The goal is reduce the number of cars on the road by getting more people to ride bikes, but the single biggest deterrent is bike safety. So our goal is to help raise money and awareness for this amazing non-profit, while they work to make biking safer and more accessible.
You are who you surround yourself with
This past December, I had the privilege of speaking to business leaders in the greater beverage space on why culture is a company’s competitive advantage. Culture in business, in sports, and in your personal life is a fragile ecosystem. All strategy and execution lives within this environment. We have values and behavioral Norms at nuun that everyone lives by. Some of them are crafted and shared, and some were created organically.
You are either an "energy-giver" or an "energy-taker." It’s a choice all of us have at any given moment. In 2017, our team here at Hydration HQ grew as strong as it has ever been. In my career, I have never experienced a more passionate group of people obsessed with making a difference in the world. This fall, our team was recognized by Outside Magazine as one of the best places to work in the country.
The lesson learned here? Your success is rarely luck. It’s the outcome of your thriving culture.
As we enter 2018, I am more excited than I have ever been about my personal goals, our team here at Nuun, and following what our Nuun Ambassadors will accomplish. Join me in envisioning what success will look like at this time in 2018. Create smaller goals and milestones that lead you to this time next year. Surround yourself with people that fire you up. Start and keep moving. Learn and adjust. Before you know it, you'll surpass what you thought was possible. You can expect to see a lot more of us, and we hope you feel inspired to keep moving and stay hydrated. We'll see you out there. Cheers!
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