Why John Roulac feeds America’s appetite for change to sow organic growth at Nutiva

Takeaways

  • Stay ahead of the competition by being a product development leader.
  • Incite change by building a broad coalition of support.
  • Don’t lose your competitive edge or your values as you grow.

The Roulac File

NAME: John Roulac
TITLE: Founder and CEO
COMPANY: Nutiva

Born: Pasadena, California

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? I founded five different businesses by the time I was 13 and I learned a number of valuable lessons along the way. For instance I learned how to be resilient when I picked local blackberries and sold them door-to-door. When someone said no, I learned that I just needed to knock on the next door.

Who do you admire in business? I admire leaders who reset the bar for everyone else. For instance, I admire Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia for being a staunch environmentalist and for his ability to influence the clothing industry. And Tony Hsieh for building a fantastic company culture at Zappos.com. And Seth Godin, author of “Purple Cow,” for being a great thought leader and teaching executives how to set their businesses apart from the competition.

What is your definition of business success? Even though Nutiva’s annual revenues now exceed $100 million, it’s ironic, but I don’t view myself as successful. I’ve been involved with the organic food movement for 15 years and our growth is a sign of success, but we still have a long way to go.

What is the best business advice you ever received? The best advice I ever heard came from Steve Jobs. He said to succeed as an entrepreneur you have to love what you do. My passion has helped me overcome formidable obstacles while navigating the road to success.

Have you always been an independent thinker? Yes, I was thrown out of the classroom when I was 11 years old for telling the teacher that Christopher Columbus didn’t discover America. I read something in the library that conflicted with the curriculum so I felt compelled to speak up.