Stodgy and old were not the words Jodi Berg would use to describe Vitamix Corp., but those were the ones that Forbes used to describe the high-performance blender company, and seeing that in print shocked her.
“My first reaction was how could someone think we’re old and stodgy because I knew our goal wasn’t to be,” says Berg, who is now president. “I had to make sure I wasn’t just having an internal perspective but having an external perspective of how our company could be perceived. It was one of those wakeup calls that everyone should have.”
Berg had an approach to business that would help her transform the company and make it more appealing to the outside judges. Throughout her career, she had used an acronym called DANCE to help her as she moved into new positions, and that same acronym was critical to move Vitamix into a new position, as well.
The D stands for determining what your destiny or goal is. She says to ask yourself, “What is it exactly that you want to achieve or you want to be?”
“Be very specific about that,” she says. “That’s the only way you’ll know if you get there if you’re specific about where you want to go.”
She likens it to when people plan vacations and says that often people plan their vacations more than they plan their daily lives.
“When you plan a vacation, you pick a destination, you know who’s going to go, you know how you’re going to get there, you know what you’re going to do when you get there, you have an agenda, you have a plan,” she says. “Oftentimes, when people go through life, they just wing it. Why would we put more planning into our vacation than our own life? I think it’s because they just don’t think about it. If you can think of your life as destinations or a project you’re working on as a goal you want to achieve, take the time upfront to define what that is.”
Then the next part of DANCE is the A, which stands for alignment. She says you have to make sure you’re aligned around that goal and uses the vacation example again.
“If we want to go on a trip to California, whether we walk or drive or fly, we’re going to head west, but if we don’t align our compass to make sure we’re going west, we may never make it to California,” Berg says. “If we head out and we start heading north, we may feel very busy and feel like we’re accomplishing something, but we’re not getting anywhere close to our goal, so align your decisions around where your destination is.”
The N stands for network — don’t assume you have to do it all on your own.
“If you look at other people, a lot of what you’re managing to do has probably already been done by several other people — good, bad or indifferent — and you can learn from all three versions,” she says. “Look around and find people who have done it before and don’t be shy about saying, ‘This is what I’m thinking of doing; this is where I’m going.’ Bounce your ideas off of other people. The more input you have from other people, the better your decisions are going to be, and the faster you’ll be able to achieve the goal you want to achieve.”
The C — care — is the easiest one to understand but often is the most difficult to execute.
“Make sure you care for yourself in the process, and make sure you care for the people around you,” Berg says. “In an airplane, they say put your oxygen mask on first for a reason because you can’t help other people if you’ve passed out. You have to be functioning, and you have to be in good condition in able to lead.”
Then lastly, the E stands for embrace success — in any large or small form it may come.
“Oftentimes, we set a goal, and we think that we’re not successful until we achieve that goal,” she says. “In reality, every baby step that we take along the way, if that step gets us a little bit closer to that goal, then that is a success, and we’re moving in the right direction.”
By following the DANCE approach, Berg transformed Vitamix so the outside critics could see the exciting business she had seen all along.
How to reach: Vitamix Corp., (800) 848-2649 or www.vitamix.com