KEYNOTE: Exploring Inspiration and Leadership with Indra Nooyi



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>> JORY DES JARDINS: Hi, everyone. How is your BlogHer going?
(Cheers and applause).
>> JORY DES JARDINS: Good, good. Just a tiny piece of house keeping before we start our keynote.
The questions for the keynote can be Tweeted to the following hashtag. I want to be very clear. We want to make sure we get your questions.
Hashtag Pepsico hashtag BlogHer.
Got it? Okay, yes. All together because we want to get questions.
So without further ado I will do a quick intro of our fabulous interviewer. We are, most of us know Willow Bay as the senior editor of Huffington Post, that not so tiny site who is there from pretty much close to the beginning. We know her from Bloomberg TV. She is here to join us for the first half of our two person fire side chat.
Thanks and welcome, Willow.
>> WILLOW BAY: Thank you, Jory.
It's fantastic to see all of you. I clearly get one of the best assignments at this event, the opportunity to Dick off our conversation with Indra Nooyi, the chairman and CEO of Pepsico, as I'm sure you all know, Indra is one of the most highly respected executives in corporate America today. She has been at Pepsico for 15 years and top job for CEO spot since 2006. She runs the biggest food and beverage company in North America, the second business around the world. I'm willing to put money on the fact that every one of you has consumed a Pepsico product, even if you've never taken a sip of Pepsi or Diet Pepsi. Maybe you have had a chance to sample Tropicana juices or Quaker Oatmeal, or my blast from the past, I admit it, Fritos Corn Chips.
They generate a billion in sales each, adding up to more than a 60 billion dollar business in revenues.
Indra's also managing a corporate family of 300,000 employees. At the same time she is raising two daughters, one of whom is here today and heading off to college. They have that right of passage to look forward to.
It's a pleasure to be hearing from Indra. It really is a unique opportunity for all of us to hear from her in this format. I promise I'm going to be saving time for both questions that were submitted to online and the questions submitted via the Twitter hashtag. Without further ado let us welcome with great pleasure, Indra Nooyi, the Chairman and CEO of Pepsico.
(Applause and cheering.)
>> WILLOW BAY: All right. So I know, I just went through all your bios here. You're a really busy lady. Why did you decide to spend your Saturday here with all of us at the BlogHer conference.
>> INDRA NOOYI: I think my future, the future of society is being written and I'll tell you why because women today represent 70 percent of all the buying decisions made around the world. Over 50 percent of graduates around the United States from colleges and graduate schools are women.
So I think the future of the world rests with women. That's one side.
>> WILLOW BAY: You're probably not going to get any argument about that from this group.
>> INDRA NOOYI: There's a more important reason why I'm here. Women are important to the future of the world, but more importantly, with the maturation of blogging and Tweeting and all of the conversations that happen in the digital space, I think we have democratized information and dissemination and given women power and an ability to influence the world from the confines of their home. Which means we have now taken this incredible force called women and empowered them to go off and change the world.
When you see these two factors coming together, people like me would be crazy not to be here. I'm surprised more CEOs are not here.
>> WILLOW BAY: Exactly.
>> WILLOW BAY: You had the chance to talk in a slightly more intimate setting than this with some women before you came up on stage and you said to me: I'm so amazed and impressed with their stories and all I learned about them.
What about those conversations so impressed you?
>> INDRA NOOYI: We had lunch with about ten bloggers. Amazing women, all of them. I must tell you, I took more away from the conversation than I contributed. I was in awe.
I was talking about the fact that they are very powerful, and blogging and Tweeting has given them a lot more power.
I had the privilege of talking to these eight or ten women who are using this power to, putting the power to positive use. They have an incredible sense of wanting to change the world, a can do sense.
But they married that with a must do responsibility. They are taking the power of the blog and saying: How can I change the world? How can I create networks of women? How can I be a support system? How can I be a force for positive change in the world?
What struck me, each one had a story, an interesting story, a difficult story, a tragic story, too, in some cases.
In spite of that, they overcame all that and said that's reality. How can I get beyond that to make a positive change to society? I stood there in stunned silence and thought we should look at these women, put them on a pedestal and say: How can I learn from them? How can I use the power of my office to make a bigger change to society?
I don't blog, but I learned more from you at lunch than perhaps you even thought I would.
>> WILLOW BAY: So we were talking about this a little bit earlier, too. How digitally savvy are you? I'll ask in a minute how you are connecting Pepsi online.
>> INDRA NOOYI: It depends, scale of one to ten, if you all are ten, I don't want to tell you where I am. It's embarrassing.
What does digitally savvy mean? Does it mean have a blog? I have a blog at Pepsico. I talk to my 300,000 employees every other week through a blog. What I don't have is a realtime conversation that goes on continuously.
I write to them every two weeks. They all respond back. I read every one of those responses. When I feel like responding to any of them, I do.
But do I blog on a continuous basis? No, I don't do that.
>> WILLOW BAY: But that's
>> INDRA NOOYI: Okay, do I own a tablet device? Yes. Have I bought apps? Yes.
>> INDRA NOOYI: Giving myself away.
Do I know my kids have a Facebook account and I'm terrified of it? Yes.
>> INDRA NOOYI: Let me put this in context for all of you. I am a mother of kids who are growing up with technology that's vastly different than what I'm used to.
>> WILLOW BAY: Of course.
>> INDRA NOOYI: In fact, they're growing up with technology I'm scared of. I read the newspaper. For a job interview you have to provide your Facebook history, social media history. I tell my kids, be careful what you say; be careful what you do.
Here is a mom who is a bit scared of the digital world, yet I have to live with it because the future of society, the future of my company rests on this digital world.
So my job is to encourage everybody in Pepsico to become digitally savvy. Even before coming to this conference, for instance, my team for the last six or eight weeks has been doing digital training for me. The good news is, they are surprised I actually knew some of the stuff because I'm listening to my kids. See how moms listen to the kids all the time. I'm listening to them all the time. I pick up a lot of the language that they talk about.
I would say I'm kind of sort of there.
>> WILLOW BAY: Okay.
>> INDRA NOOYI: I could get a lot more digitally savvy. If I get any more savvy, I could be dangerous.
>> WILLOW BAY: Okay.
>> INDRA NOOYI: No, I'm fine.
>> WILLOW BAY: You have an announcement that you are making at this conference about Pepsico win. Tell us that.
>> INDRA NOOYI: Yeah, so Pepsico set up a Women's Inspiration Network. What we wanted to do is create this network where stories of inspiration about women, about what is happening in society around the world can be brought into a central place. And we connect stories and post them here.
So women can go into this women's inspiration network and actually listen to these stories and draw lessons for themselves.
At this conference we are announcing we are going to select three correspondents from people who apply to be a correspondent for Pepsico's WIN Network. You can go to the WIN website and register and post your stories. We are going to pick three people who are going to travel the length and breadth of the United States at Pepsico's expense, collecting stories that are uplifting that really provide inspiration to women so we can keep this WIN process going and keep refreshing and updating it.
At this conference we will announce we are going to select three people who will be correspondents for us in the project.
Apply for this job. It will be a wonderful assignment for the three lucky people selected for this.
>> WILLOW BAY: Interesting.
>> WILLOW BAY: Prior to your tenure at Pepsico, it would be interesting to share your herstory. Where were you raised?
>> INDRA NOOYI: I was born and raised in southern India, in Madras. Grew up with a strict upbringing in a home which said as long as you've got good grades you could do anything you want. If your grades were not good, forget it. You just studied all the time.
Fortunately, we were okay in school. Good grades is not a B or B+. If it's not top of the class, there was hell to pay. If you were not good at math and science, there was double hell to pay. So we studied all the time.
In the United States you probably would say I was a nerd. But interestingly, I had a very strong mother and my mother always wanted to work, always wanted to be somebody. But she got married very young. So she lived her life vicariously through the two daughters.
She wanted us to be whatever we wanted to be, successful, but she wanted us to dream. She said at the same time I'm going to get you married off at 18 years. What's the matter with you? You want us to succeed and dream but get married at 18? Her point, was as long as I have fabulous grades, I could later manage a business and family. So let's have a pact. My sister and I studied hard and went to graduate school in India.
My mother was supportive. She allowed me to be in a rock band in India. I used to play guitar in a rock band. I played women's cricket, which is baseball equivalent, bat and ball sport. I was one of the first women cricketers who played for India.
My parents allowed me, but my mother was the main force. She allowed me to do all that.
So life went on, sort of frame breaking in many ways. In 1978, I applied to the Yale Business School in the United States. It just opened, and I was one of the first classes to be recruited into the Yale School of Management. Fabulous program.
I came to the United States in 1978, got my Masters in public and private business in Yale. Everything was superb. Then I went to work for the Boston Consulting Group. Worked for six years, and then I was in a life threatening car accident. I'm surprised I am here to tell the tale.
I recovered and went on to work for Motorola. That's when I became digitally savvy. And I went to work for Asea Brown Boveri and then Pepsico. That's my history.
>> WILLOW BAY: A lot of experience. When you came in as CEO, you defined it Performance with a Purpose. What does that mean and why can't you just have performance?
>> INDRA NOOYI: That's the problem. So let's go back and think about corporations.
You know, all corporations operate with a license from society. Okay? And we operate on the laws of limited liability.
Why do we have limited liability? If you go back to the literature, corporations are provided with limited liability. The reason we all have limited liability is because we owe every society a duty of care.
What has happened is, most corporations in the world love the fact that we operate on limited liability, but we've forgotten that we owe every society in which we operate a duty of care.
>> INDRA NOOYI: I think it's very important that companies should not forget that we are big. We are agents of efficiency and effectiveness. Many times we are bigger than small countries. Today's problems of the world cannot be solved by governments alone, cannot be solved by people alone. It has to be solved in partnership between companies and governments. Public private partnerships are the only way things can work.
Go back. What happened, why did we have the crisis in 2008 that has brought global economies down? It was a maniacal focus on performance to the expense of everything else. I think it's capitalism that ran amok, is what it was. Capitalism is fantastic, it spurs innovation and creates wealth. All of this is fantastic.
But capitalism without a conscience is dangerous.
And I think that's what happened. And Performance with Purpose is saying: Yes, performance is critically important, but let's make sure performance is done the right way, delivered the right way with the view to the long term, not just the short term. With a view to carefully thinking through what's your impact on all stakeholders, not just the shareholder?
Because you cannot enrich the shareholder at the expense of the other stakeholders: Your employees, your consumers, regulatory bodies, society. You cannot enrich a company at the expense of the others. If you did that, somebody else has to pick up the cost or fix all of the issues that you've created.
Performance basically says companies should do better by doing better. We set ourselves a goal which says we are going to be the best performer financially. We are going to do it with an eye to the long term. We are going to do it with an eye to making sure our portfolio has a balanced range of products from treats to healthy eats.
Make sure everything we do is environmentally sustainable.
But most importantly, we want to create a company where every employee can bring their whole selves to work. I say that, Willow, because we see that many people who live in the communities, the cities we work in, they come and park themselves at the door. Come to the company, they're a different person. When they leave they pick themselves up and go out again.
That's not how it should be. It should be seamless. We want to create an environment in Pepsico where we can get the best out of everyone. Taken together, it's Performance with Purpose. It's just a way of saying capitalism should have conscience.
>> WILLOW BAY: When it comes to Pepsi products, you have outlined this Performance with a Purpose quite clearly, Indra, set very specific goals for Pepsi's portfolio of products, particularly in regards to growing the good for you, the healthy for you business.
It would be interesting for you to walk people through what kind of goals you outline for yourself. Why is this the right path for Pepsi? You have a great sort of business, a snack food business. Why is good for you a smart decision? Inherently we know it sounds good, but why is it good for the business?
>> INDRA NOOYI: Let me start with our portfolio, what they have in the company.
We have a range of products which are fun products: Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Lay's, Doritos, Fritos, and they've existed in the portfolio forever.
Going back to 1977 when we bought Tropicana and 1991 when we bought Gatorade, we know that the Quaker and Tropicana products were positive nutrition and Gatorade being functional nutrition for athletes. That's what we bought ourselves going back ten years.
That was a good 10 billion dollar chunk in the company already.
Fast forward. As you look at the aging of the population, as you look at the focus on health and wellness, this product portfolio represents a gigantic growth opportunity.
The first reason why focusing on good for you is important is because we wanted to capture that opportunity. Not at the expense of the fun for you products but growing both parts of the portfolio.
We talk about a balanced portfolio between treats and good eats. We want to keep growing those products, but how about growing both parts of the portfolio, because the growth of good for you is about three times the growth of the fun for you.
>> WILLOW BAY: The message you're getting from consumers is that they want more of those healthy snacks?
>> INDRA NOOYI: Absolutely want more of those things. In those 200 countries where we do business, many of the countries because of the aging of the population and increased focus on health and wellness, there's an enormous demand for Quaker and Tropicana and those sorts of products. So opportunity.
The second reason is responsibility. There's no question that sedentary lifestyles have caused the obesity crisis to get out of control. We have two approaches. One approach is to say it's a societal problem; let's keep doing what we're doing. The second thing is go back to the Performance with Purpose. How can we as a company work with governments to address obesity? The way is to provide good for you products that taste great, make them affordable and highly available. We do it with the fun products. Why not the good for you products also?
We committed, it's not just the opportunity. Let's lean into the responsibility.
Once you talk about opportunity and responsibility, there's no culpability because you are now part of the solution and not part of the problem.
So I think this is again going back to saying, we go where the puck is.
>> WILLOW BAY: From time to time you get push back on this strategy, with most of Wall Street suggesting that you have neglected the fun for you business, or it's not the right balance.
How do you manage that push back and how do you balance the often competing demands of your various constituencies?
>> INDRA NOOYI: Look, we are investing in both parts of the portfolio. As many critics as we have who say just focus on the fun for you and forget the good for you, we have an equal number of critics who say why aren't you focusing more on good for you? Why so much on fun for you?
The role of a CEO is to be able to thread the needle and say look, there are critics on both sides. What is your true north? My true north, Pepsico should be offering a balanced portfolio of products. We should be offering treats to healthy eats. We should be building all parts of the portfolio.
At the end of the day we will deliver great financial performance and keep the growth going.
Let me get maybe a show of noise, how many of you believe that we ought to be offering a balanced portfolio from treats to healthy eats and offering good for you products also?
(Loud applause.)
>> INDRA NOOYI: Let me ask the other way. How many of you believe we should focus on soda and chips?
>> INDRA NOOYI: Thank you!
You see, this is 75 percent of the buying decisions.
>> WILLOW BAY: Yes, right there.
>> INDRA NOOYI: Right here. This is what we listen to. This is who we listen to. Moms are telling me give me both, but give me the good for you that tastes fantastic. Don't make it taste like sawdust.
We do that. You eat Quaker products, it tastes great. You drink Tropicana juice, you die for it.
That's what we want to do, sneak nutrition into you wherever possible.
I have a simple rule. I think every child in the world has to be my child. So I want to make sure I provide a balance menu of products.
>> WILLOW BAY: Interesting. Where then did you weigh in on this debate? Clearly you have been very clear about the company's role, the company's role creating a balanced portfolio and offering good for you products to balance the treats.
What role then should government be playing? As you know, soda is one of the most vilified products at the moment. There are taxes in place and tax proposals on agendas at the federal, state and city level to tax sugary substances.
Is it a good idea that the government get involved with the soda tax or some other kind of tax, even if it's only to help defray the costs of the obesity crisis?
>> INDRA NOOYI: I learned any time there's a critic or somebody who comes out and says there's a tax on soda, rather than say they're crazy, I walk a mile in their shoes and say why do they want to tax soda? Is that the right thing to do? Can we provide a different solution to address the problem they're trying to address?
What is the problem they are trying to address? The obesity issue. We start off saying what causes obesity? It's a mismatch of the calories in and out.
This talks to all of you because when kids stop running out to play and they decide to sit at their computer and blog all the time
>> INDRA NOOYI: Or Facebook, Facebook is a kind of blog, you're chatting all the time.
I remember coming home from school, throwing my bag and running out to play.
My kids now come home, throw their bags and go sit in front of the computer. They are playing. They are playing Cut The Rope or Angry Birds; I don't know what it is.
>> WILLOW BAY: Your daughter is trying to slide under the table right now.
>> INDRA NOOYI: My daughter, my nieces, my nephews, they are wedded to the machines. Their hand eye coordination is great, but their bodies
>> WILLOW BAY: You can all see this in the audience, right?
>> INDRA NOOYI: They are still consuming the calories they need to, and they cut mandatory phys ed in school. If I could address one thing we could do to start cutting obesity, we have to have a conversation. But where do you start? Portion size is out of control.
>> INDRA NOOYI: Sometimes I go into restaurants. There is an appetizer or side dish for 1500 calories, okay?
If you give people smaller sizes, they think they have been gypped. I think we have to change society fundamentally to address the obesity issue.
I come back and my answer to lawmakers is: What is the problem you're trying to solve? If you're trying to solve childhood obesity, let's put a program together to address childhood obesity.
It's a slippery slope. You tax soda; it doesn't work. Where do you go next? Cakes, candy, cookies, confectionaries?
We have to have a whole solution. And that's the concentration on the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation. Corporations have come together and we are reducing calories in our offerings. We are looking at PSAs to get messages out on getting kids to move and go out and play.
We are trying to improve nutrition education, which all of you can help with. Some of the blogs on healthy nutrition is fantastic. Healthy eating, we need to get those messages out and align the incentives for agriculture and incentives for nutrition.
There is a mismatch because today there is no incentive for farmers to provide fresh fruit and vegetables at incentive costs.
So if we align nutrition with that, we will see a drop in childhood obesity. Barring that, picking one product and tax it, I'm against it. It's wrong and it will not get us to where we need to get to.
>> WILLOW BAY: Interesting.
>> INDRA NOOYI: And let me add one last comment. You know, the beverage industry is the only category where 40 percent of all the offerings are zero calories because you have diet sodas, you have bottled water, zero calorie drinks. Our lifeblood is the zero calorie product. 40 percent, no other category can boast that. I feel good about where we are.
>> WILLOW BAY: Let's change gears a little bit and talk more broadly. We have a really good sense of how you do this within your company, but more broadly about how you see yourself as a CEO and you see yourself as a leader.
First of all, what do you think it takes to be a good CEO. And what skills that are specific to you, Indra, that you bring to that job?
>> INDRA NOOYI: I wish I could just categorically tell you A, B, C, and D because I'm learning every day. The world that existed prior to 2007 and the world that exists today is radically different. Radically different. The reason I say that is because there are some genetic skills that all CEOs need, but the skills needed to be a CEO today are a whole lot different than the skills needed then.
Let me talk about changes that are happening gradually that accelerated since 2007. First, power is being distributed from focus on the west to west and east.
First thing. So you've got to understand where the power is also shifting to. So you've got to understand emerging Asia very, very well.
It's shifting from a traditionally Judeo Christian world to a world where all kinds of religions exist. A world where church and state are separate, to a world where church and state are the same.
It's shifting from the world where everybody focuses on the shareholder to a world where you focus on the stakeholder.
Shifting from a world where women were not the most powerful to a world where women are very powerful now.
I look at the profound changes happening in society and the corporate world and I say to myself: Who gave us the training to be CEOs? We are writing the book. All CEOs talk to each other. We are writing the CEO book as we go along.
I saw a book by Brokaw Sarah, the Turning 40? There is no book for a 40 billion dollar company, take volume two for there is no book written for CEOs on how to run a company that is 10 billion dollars bigger. We know we better be big, we better be global and deal with all kinds of constituencies and we better be ready for criticism every day and better be willing to give up any semblance of family life to run the country. That's all we know.
How do you make it happen? You have to do it in a lonely world. As a CEO, it's lonely. You can't talk to people in the company because you're in the CEO. You can't talk to outsiders because it's confidential information about the company. So you rely on your husband or one or two people in your kitchen cabinet that you really discuss issues with.
The first thing I'll tell you, Willow, the CEO of today has to be and is vastly different and has very different qualifications from the CEO of several years ago. That's why you see most companies have gone through a CEO transition in about 2005 2006 time frame. That's the first point.
Point two, I think the CEO of today not only has to have leadership skills and IQ, there has to be healthy dose of EQ, emotional side because the Millennials today want to come to work for a company that cares about them, want to feel connected to the company and it's important that we humanize the CEO. You cannot be Imperialist. We have to remove the barriers between the CEO and the front line. That requires a new skill, too. I don't want to say it's me, but I think a lot of women CEOs actually can do well in today's environment because by nature we are, we humanize ourselves a lot more. That's the way we have been brought up and we listen a lot more. We stop and ask for directions.
>> INDRA NOOYI: There's so much we do. And I think that today's world, there's a new breed of CEOs that have come up, men and women who are doing a very, very nice job, but all of them I think are a new breed that is learning that the world is completely different and recognizing that EQ is important as IQ. That's what I'm trying to focus on as much as I can.
>> WILLOW BAY: You mentioned the Millennials and the generation and making Pepsico a place where they want to come and work. I assume you want to make it a place where women want to come and spend their whole careers.
What are the things that you do at the company to take care of that, as I mentioned earlier, a corporate family of 300,000 make it a place where they want to come and stay for their careers?
>> INDRA NOOYI: First of all, it has to be a company that stands for something. Performance as purpose has unleashed the emotions of a lot of people in the company. Men and women alike and people of all ages feel great about coming to work in a company that not just cares about what let's focus on the bottom line, focus on performance, but it's performance with a purpose.
People love coming to work in such a company because they believe they're here for the long term and we want to make positive change in society. That's a great way to bond people to the company.
Second, within Pepsico we recognize that women are a critical constituency for us from an employment base and from a consumer base.
There are many, many parts of Pepsico that are predominantly women. The reason it's important is because with if we didn't have the people that are buyers making decisions on the products that we are going to sell to them, we end up with the wrong products.
A lot of our businesses have women in inside functions, women in marketing, women in sales. We know exactly how to reach the female consumer. The woman as a shopper, woman as a gate keeper, to be able to sell to them. What are we doing inside the company? We have inclusion programs, inclusion training. Not just diversity, but inclusion training. We want to make sure there's no language, body language, explicit or implicit that makes women and minorities feel like they are not part of the company. That's something we do.
Second, we have a lot of programs in Pepsico, childcare, adoption help, extended leave, family leave. We have all of these programs to make sure that women can have a career in Pepsico and have not just a livelihood but also can have a life in Pepsico. We try to do all that. As much as possible through writing to them, reaching out to them we try to make sure that we allow them to balance work and life.
One thing I'll tell you, being such a high performance company, and everybody wants to do their best. Sometimes the women themselves work incredibly long hours because they want to make a difference. As a company, I tell you we keep encouraging people to make sure that they balance work and life.
I'll give you one particular example. We had a group of women who live in Manhattan, who come to work in purchase. They had lunch to me one day and they said: Indra, we are young graduates who joined Pepsico. We come to Manhattan every day. We don't have money to drive in and pay parking fees. What can you do? I said from now you will have a bus to bring you to work. So every day after that, we do have buses, one from the east side and one from the west side to bring men and women to Pepsico.
If you have young kids, the bus leaves predictably to go back to the city. We allow them to have their lives. We look for ways to address their burdens and do it in a way that's equitable. You can't do it for the women and not for the men. We do it for both.
>> WILLOW BAY: I see the magical collector of the Twitter questions arrived. We'll get to those in a second. It's very opportune having a question about that life balance. One of the questions I noticed on the site was from someone who said a male CEO in your position is almost never asked how you balance life in this corporate role. Females are. Does it irritate you or is it an opportunity to be more distinctive and effective?
>> INDRA NOOYI: I look at it as a question that should be addressed. Many male CEOs had a stay at home wife who prepared them to move forward. Most female CEOs don't have a female wife some wish they did. But just like us, we want somebody just like us at home.
Many of us have great spouses who helped us, but it doesn't irritate me at all. I think it's a genuine question.
It's a question that reflects the anguish that all of us women go through because you know, we are the nurturers; we are the caregivers, the executives of the home, executives at work.
We play so many roles.
Yet we have to decide how to give ourselves a break. It's not easy. So we all find our own coping mechanisms. Now through this blogging system we can even ask and get ideas on how to cope with all of the issues.
I wish we could find a mechanism where we could transfer these ideas to tangible support systems. I don't know what the next frontier is, but how can we set up local blogs where we can all help each other, help each other out when we are up a creek. That's the next frontier.
>> WILLOW BAY: I'm not a CEO, but I'm married to a CEO who I left at home with three children, two grandchildren, and zero babysitters. We all have our support system. I hope somebody asks him about balance, and he'll have an answer. Some days we do it all.
So as you send your second daughter off to college, you think about a lifetime spent raising your two girls. What do you think the message is, whether explicitly or not, that you send to them as they now go off to lead adult lives? What did they see you do? What did they take away from that?
>> INDRA NOOYI: My daughter will say, my daughters would say to you that what I always told them and what they told me is follow my dreams, follow their dreams.
I remember one particular incident, my daughter Tara is here and she will be embarrassed. She went to the Sacred Heart School in Greenwich all her life; graduated a few months ago. In Sacred Heart, on Wednesdays at 9:00 a.m. they have a Mother's Coffee.
It's a plot against working women. How can I show up at a Mother's Coffee Wednesday morning at 9:00 o'clock? I can't.
Tara would come home on Wednesday and say "You didn't show up." The first couple of times I went through guilt. The third time I said I have to come up with a coping mechanism here.
The next time she said "You didn't come for Mothers' Coffee," I said yeah, but so and so didn't come, and so and so didn't come, and they didn't come. My way of saying I'm not that bad a mom. Many of them didn't show up.
>> WILLOW BAY: Nice that you did that.
>> INDRA NOOYI: It's a coping mechanism. We all have to find our own coping mechanisms.
She came home that evening and I said, "Tara, you tell me I don't come to the Mothers Coffees. Do you mean you want me to quit my job and want me to stay home?" I thought maybe she would jump at that. But she said, "Mom, are you nuts? You worked so hard to get here. Follow your dreams. I'll be okay."
This is from a 12 year old. I have never forgotten that answer because both my kids said to me: Mom, follow your dreams. You came to the United States with nothing. Fifty dollars in your pocket. And you know, you worked.
I worked as a receptionist at Yale from midnight to 5:00 a.m. Because that paid $3.85 an hour versus $3.35, the minimum wage at that time. I wanted that 50 cents more an hour. If I didn't have that, I couldn't buy groceries another month.
That's what I did to put myself through school. I've told them these stories.
They said: Look, you've done so much to get here. Follow your dreams.
I told them always, Willow, follow your dreams and I'll be your support system, and Mom and Dad are there for you, whatever you want.
In fact I was telling my older daughter, when you decide to get married, have your kids and go to work; and drop your kids off with me, and I'll take care of them. I want her to have her dream.
>> WILLOW BAY: What an extraordinary legacy. Your own mother told you to follow your dreams, and to hear it from your own children, that's special.
We have some great Twitter questions. I will ask you, do you want some Pepsi related ones or life related ones? You decide.
>> INDRA NOOYI: No, you decide, Willow. I'm a walking commercial for Pepsico.
>> WILLOW BAY: Okay. This is from @ Amanda: People say there's no difference between Coke and Pepsi. What do you say to them?
>> INDRA NOOYI: Where is Amanda? Is she here? I'll tell you, any discriminating soda drinker can tell the difference and know that Pepsi is the best.
>> INDRA NOOYI: There was a Pepsi Challenge done many years ago and on a blind basis, Pepsi always wins 60 40. Always wins 60 40.
>> WILLOW BAY: Set up question, but your beverage of choice amongst your company products is?
>> INDRA NOOYI: Oh, I have several beverages of choice because we have a wide variety of beverage products. In soda, I drink Pepsi, regular Pepsi Cola. I think an ice old Pepsi is to die for, absolutely to die for. You want to feel like you died and went to heaven, ice cold Pepsi.
There is an orange drink we have overseas, Miranda. We don't sell it here; overseas only. I love Tropicana juice.
I love Quaker Oatmeal. My mother called it Quacker Oatmeal.
>> INDRA NOOYI: It's a fabulous way to start breakfast. I eat Lay's Kettle Chips every day. I grew up on potato chips, but in the United States, it's always Lay's, but Kettle Chips. Heat in the microwave for 15 seconds. It's fabulous.
>> WILLOW BAY: That's a tip! That's a tip.
>> INDRA NOOYI: If you like our dips, Sabra, the Mediterranean dips, to die for.
We eat all our products. We love our products. If anything is not good, we'll fix it.
>> WILLOW BAY: Then I want to go to this question, from@eatingrules. Pepsico is serious about better for you foods. How about focusing on whole, fresh, unprocessed ingredients.
>> INDRA NOOYI: We do. Hey, Quaker Oats is whole fresh ingredients. Naked Juice, contains one pear, one apple. Tropicana juice, not from concentrate juice, not boiled and not re constituted, fresh from the grove, squeezed into a Tropicana container.
Those of you on the east coast, it comes to you on a train every day. Tropicana juice is among the freshest.
I can go through product line by product line. We have an incredible line up of products and we are increasing the focus on that. We know that as moms you want more of these. But you want these in an affordable great tasting product, and you want ubiquitously available. That's what we do at Pepsico.
>> WILLOW BAY: Completely different question, from @PNG. How do you manage the short view of Wall Street? If an investment looks good and has longer return on investment, do you take that?
>> INDRA NOOYI: You have to balance. You can't swing the pendulum one way or the other. You can't say give me a few years on a portfolio and I'll give you a return.
What you say, set the bar at a level that gives you breathing room, that allows you to build up the good for you in the portfolio. And that's what we have tried to do.
In today's environment where the economy is volatile, where commodity costs suddenly go through the roof, it's hard to make all of this happen and convince Wall Street you are on the right track. Any good CEO has to remain focused on their true north.
And my true north is Pepsico is going to deliver a balanced portfolio of treats to healthy eats. That's what I think is the right thing to do, the profitable thing to do, and the right thing to do for society. That's what we are going to keep doing.
>> WILLOW BAY: Interesting, about Wall Street, I feel like I sometimes read, Wall Street is a challenge with CEOs on these long term needs. I felt you were testy on the earnings calls.
I wonder, is that you being testy or is that a vestige of a women gets written about by being testy, but a man wouldn't?
>> INDRA NOOYI: I don't care.
>> INDRA NOOYI: What happens is, sometimes, one of the things I do, I'm very true to myself. I tell it to you like it is, right? Sometimes somebody asks me a question that I feel like, what the hell question was that?
>> INDRA NOOYI: So I just give an answer, okay? If they interpret that as testy, it's their point of view.
Could I have answered saying, you know, that's an interesting question. Let me think about an than answer to that. They might have said she was more balanced in her point of view. Maybe I need to learn more of that skill. When you get a question way out from left field I should learn to say that was a very interesting question. I haven't learned that skill as well as I would like to. That's volume five of being CEO.
>> WILLOW BAY: That's good. Let's see. We have from @Stef what advice do you have for women running small businesses?
>> INDRA NOOYI: Look, running a small business is as difficult as a large company. You still have to make payroll and worry about all the constituencies. I think the advantage that big company CEOs have, we have a network of people we can talk to and get advice. I think it's important that people who run small businesses rely even more on blogging networks or the digital world to seek other people who also are running small companies to get advice.
Because at the end of the day, you can't rewrite the book on every issue that you have. You've got to seek people who have been through that and then learn from all of the experience that they have and build from that. So I think it's very, very important, people who run small businesses, reach out and get advice. In today's world, I'll tell one thing, tell those running small businesses one thing.
Cash is king. Whatever happens, watch your cash flow. Because given the volatility of the market, if you are running a small business in particular, it's critically important to learn everything you can about managing cash flow.
>> WILLOW BAY: A message that applies to the business of running your home as well?
>> INDRA NOOYI: Absolutely.
>> WILLOW BAY: In this volatile time.
We have time for one last question. This is from @uppervalleymom. Good handle. Would love to know what skills or experiences Indra would suggest as essential for future leaders.
>> INDRA NOOYI: Great question.
I've always talked about my five Cs model. Let me talk about them again.
The first is competency. Anybody who wants to be a future leader should have a hip pocket still. That everybody looks at and says XYZ is the go to person for that skill. Unless you're really known for something and not just as a generalist, you don't stand out from the pack. In order to be competent as something, you have to be a life long student. You have to constantly refine your knowledge of that subject so you remain ahead and abreast of everything that goes on in that field first.
The second I say is courage and confidence. It's a pair. You can be very, very competent, but if you're not willing to speak out, if you're not willing to have the confidence based on your knowledge, what's the point? Right? You just roll over.
So courage and confidence are very important.
The third is communications skills. You cannot over invest in communications skills.
Written and oral communications because as a leader, you constantly have to mobilize the troops. I can tell you when I first came to the United States, I used to debate and be on debating teams. I used to speak so fast because culturally I came from an environment where people spoke fast.
Fortunately Yale had a requirement, unless you pass the communication course, you couldn't graduate from first year to second year in business school. I flunked the first time I took the communications course. Over the summer I took it again, which was the best thing that happened. Because I learned to sync my brain with my output from my mouth. I started to slow down what I was saying. Huge difference.
So I encourage all of you, invest in communications skills. Critically important.
The fourth skill I say is consistency. It's important that leaders are consistent. You can change your mind, but change your mind against a consistent framework. If you are not consistent, people are always second guessing what you are doing. Be consistent.
The last skill is your compass. Integrity is critical in this job. You can be competent, you can be courageous, have confidence, be a great communicator, be consistent. But if you don't have integrity, that compass doesn't point true north, everything comes crashing down. As we've seen in recent times.
So again, it's the five C model. That's what I've operated against for all my life.
>> WILLOW BAY: Indra Nooyi, you have been a joy.
>> INDRA NOOYI: Thank you.
>> WILLOW BAY: Thank you for joining us here.
>> INDRA NOOYI: Thank you very much.
(Loud cheers and applause.)


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