The secret ingredient in Pepsi is happy. Shhhh.

I flew into Dallas on Tuesday and yesterday gave a presentation at PepsiCo’s Talent Acquisition Meeting. It was one of those presentations where I’ve been talking for 5 minutes and then I get the signal that I only have 5 minutes left and I have no idea how I did. On this trip I also premedicated with Sudafed and Flonase so I may or not have been speaking faster than normal…or maybe slower? I don’t know. Anyway, it was a good trip. And hopefully, after my presentation. there are some PepsiCo folks looking at this post.

To my regulars, I have to report that I did not see any “big hair”. In the meeting room, my hair may have been the biggest (oh, durn you Texas humidity), but I tried to keep it under control. OK, I admit it, I am a big hair girl. Not helmety, but crazy and curly. It’s easier to go with it than to fight it. But I didn’t want to scare anyone. I forgot to pack a comb, and would you believe it didn’t matter anyway?

We went to a Frisco Rough Riders Game the night I got there and I was really impressed with how sweet everyone from Pepsi is; bubbly even! Seriosuly…bubbly! And it did make me think that it’s something in the soda.They are really eager and interested in learning and growing as an organization. That’s really energizing to everyone around!

You know how, there are times in your professional career, no matter how junior or senior you are, where something changes and you are challenged to think differently, try new things? In those times, I take lots of notes and do lots of thinking and then not long after something becomes really clear to me; something that I am going to try or look into more deeply. Those are the times where I am most excited about my career and I’d like to think that they resulted in the kind of work that got me where I am; at home in my PJs catching up on mail? No, no, doing the kind of work that I really get excited about and it’s my whole job, not just a side project. I actually remember when I figured it out; I was doing some side work during a slow period when I realized that the programs stuff I was doing wasn’t just fun for me, it was the right thing for the company.It made sense and we needed this. I still love my job, what can I say?

Anyway, if I could offer some modest words of wisdom to the Pepsi folks just based on my own experiences. You saw a lot of new things in Dallas (I only saw a fraction of it). You may go back to your desk and feel overwhelmed; you are still processing the week you just had, pulling crumpled up boarding passes out of your bag (sound familiar Microsofties?).  I’d say to pick one thing (just one) that you are going to try and make your own. Look at your strengths and pick the something that speaks to you. Then be fearless and rock it out.

If there are any potential Pepsi bloggers out there that want to ask me a question, feel free to do it here (fearless, remember?). I had a great time talking to all of you. And I still can’t get this out of my head: “He’s not just the AV-guy, he’s our VP!”  That was awesome, Paul. Thanks for the hospitality and active engagement, everyone!

Comments (13)

  1. Susan Hynson says:

    Heather — did we happen to mention that you ROCK??  Thanks for inspiring us (& Paul the AV guy too)!!  

    I am thinking that I should blog about my obsession with grocery stores … CPG folks love to check out new products, packaging, promotions, etc …  my husband, a former Wall Streeter, finds this behavior bizarre and can’t understand why I don’t use Peapod.    

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    Susan – thanks for the compliment! I have the grocery store obsession too! I am sure I have some CPG posts in here. After recruiting for marketers for so long you start to think like them. That big Cheetos package really got me thinking and little kids and form factor (like Gogurt). That’s money!

  3. Todd in Chicago says:

    Heather…..nice post.

    I’m not even sure what it is really about, except I know that I liked it.  Sounded very "positive" and "inspirational" to me; and gosh…..don’t we all need more of that!

    Thanks for making this spot one of my morning "checks" on the web!


    Todd in Chicago

  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    Todd – Pepsi had a Talent Aquisition conference that I spoke at. You know, where you get folks together in a hotel for 3 days and talk about your stuff.

  5. egcarter says:

    The real secret is Pepsi Throwback!  Not only does it have real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, but it has clever retro psychedelic TV spots with 70’s disco and "chicks" with big ‘fros…

  6. hrman1110 says:

    Heather, it was great having you in Dallas at our conference.  Thanks for including us in your recent blog. I never described us as a bubbly group, but I guess it’s not far from the truth. I am inspired from your session to become a  blogger! Cheers, Jeff

  7. HeatherLeigh says:

    egcarter – well, I do love the 70s! I didn’t know that about the sugar.

    hrman1110 (AKA Jeff) – I’m excited to hear that you are thinking of giving blogging a shot! Yay! I had a lot of fun with all of you in Dallas. Really a high energy group!

  8. Keith Patrick says:

    egcarter: Wow, it’s like Pepsi stole my idea!  I’m a HUGE Coca-Cola fan – family from Atlanta, medium-sized stockholder, etc – and several years back when Mexican Coke started getting popular I had an idea for "Coca-Cola Heritage", which would be a line of most of the old formulations & bottles of Coke and would also serve to determine what the "best" formula would be (and naturally, they’d all have cane sugar instead of HFCS)

    Hopefully, Coke will try the same thing, because I will not drink Pepsi (my old theory on Pepsi is that they couldn’t figure out the Coke formula, so they just added some extra sugar to compensate)

  9. Jim Schnyder says:

    Heather – You rocked…even under the infuence of Sudafed and Flonase.  It was great to see you in Dallas and I’m happy that you enjoyed your time with the PepsiCo team.  

    I think our AV guy (AKA VP) and offsite team set up a venue that was excellent.  A good line up of industry professionals that were not only inspiring but challenged us with a good dose of "look around and see what the industry better practices are and see where we can upgrade."  Thanks for inspiring our team members to start/keep blogging.

    Glad you enjoyed the trip.


  10. Heather Winchester says:

    Hi Heather!

    You rocked the casbah (whatever a casbah is)!  We all enjoyed learning about your journey and needed the challenges you gave to us as an organization.  The timing is perfect.  After all… our goal is to become "all that and a bag of chips!"  ;o)

    On a more important note… thanks for helping the world know that we don’t all have big hair in big D!!  My former colleagues in "the valley" LOVED to give me a hard time about that!  Perhaps I shall point them to your blog as a datapoint…

    Take care… I’m sure I will visit often.


  11. HeatherLeigh says:

    Keith – have you not taken the Pepsi challenge?

    Jim – thanks! I really enjoyed the other speakers myself!

    Heather W – I have bigger hair here than there. I kept looking around for my fellow big hair gals. 🙂 I had so much fun in Dallas!

  12. Keith Patrick says:

    Heather – Nope, never drank them side-by-side, but I know immediately when I’ve been given Pepsi. It is to Coke what cherry-flavored lollipops are to cherries.

    I did have a marketing prof in college who claimed (and was willing to bet grades) that no one in our class could pick out the Coke side-by-side with a store-brand cola. I was more than willing to take that gamble, but I was the only one (and we wound up not doing the bet).

  13. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hmmm, I guess I am not experienced at tasting the difference. I’m not a fan of sugared drinks, so I guess I don’t have a preference.