C-Suite Network

Economics Money Wealth


Knowing financial terms and other surplus jargon is irrelevant to one’s personal financial situation. However, knowing some financial terms is marginally helpful to one’s general well being. Understanding how the Fed uses the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to implement monetary policy through Open Market Operations (OMOs) as they direct the Federal Reserve Bank of NY’s Trading Desk to buy securities – is not in the least bit helpful.

In my view, the solution to tackling the debt, saving, and poor knowledge dilemma is teaching people how to make better decisions. Personal Financial Proficiency (PFP) in a manner that allows them to make smart financial decisions in their personal lives, their professional lives, or maybe in their business lives

There is so much information, programs, and courses focusing on financial literacy today; most of them are of little value and waste time. Countless studies have shown that many people fail basic financial questions when asked, and many have so little savings that they can’t handle a $2,000 emergency. 

Teaching financial proficiency through my Foundation Building program is simple; it takes real-life situations and breaks them down so you can apply real-life fixes. The big difference with the Foundation Building program is that they learn these solutions through short 15-minute programs. 

In creating these programs, I reversed and engineered over the last four decades the excuses people used for not having enough saved or accumulated debt, etc. I have heard every excuse you can imagine, and I took all those reasons why they couldn’t and designed solutions so they could. Sadly, the lack of sufficient savings and spending habits is not a problem for just the working poor; it dramatically affects people earning over $250,000 as well. These classes are designed for everyone to get proficient in PFP.

For more Healthy Money Tips Listen to our PodCast “Money 911”

Meet with Kris Miller – Financial Fitness Strategy Sessions



(951) 926-4158

Money Wealth


Promoting informed financial decisions, saving habits, and education in the workplace is essential to a vibrant and productive workforce. Unfortunately, many people may lack the basic math skills and financial know-how to make decisions. One of my favorite books, which I reread from time to time, is the 1988 book Innumeracy by John Paulos; he coined the book’s title from people being slow in math as compared to illiterate. Math and money are very different, and learning the differences is crucial to building wealth securely.

Even though many adults across generations were functioning with medium levels of financial literacy, too many workers today possess low levels of Personal Financial Proficiency (PFP) and have difficulty applying financial decision-making skills to real-life situations.   

Here are a few general questions about everyday financial situations that stumped so many:

  • Determining wages and take-home pay, 
  • Questions about investment types, risk, and return, 
  • Understanding specific risk economic outcomes risk
  • Understanding that 401(k) are not pensions

This is where Americans exhibit the lowest scores, with less than one-third answering correctly.

Lack of financial understanding affects all ages and socioeconomic levels. The result is those who fall into the limited PFP category, even though financially literate, may not manage their financial resources effectively and may feel intimated by retirement, budgeting, tax planning, and Social Security topics.

One way to help everyone become more confident about their personal finances is by building a solid foundation with Personal Financial Proficiency. 

Financial literacy dark secret

People with higher levels of financial literacy “fluency bias.” are more likely to build weak foundations to support their financial houses. Sadly, in this case, a little knowledge is dangerous and prevents many from developing a strategy that works and won’t leave you in a pickle as you get to retirement age.  

For more Healthy Money Tips Listen to our PodCast “Money 911”

Meet with Kris Miller – Financial Fitness Strategy Sessions



(951) 926-4158

Economics Money Wealth


The SECURE act is a Tax bomb in disguise. Many people saved large retirement accounts where they thought a big chunk of it would be left over for their beneficiaries. The beneficiaries used to be able to take withdrawals from the inherited funds over their lifetimes. Taking the money over their lifetime was known as the stretch IRA.

Under the SECURE act, all of the inherited IRAs, 401(k), etc., money will have to be withdrawn and taxed within ten years after death. This change is known as the ten-year rule.

This new ten-year rule allowed beneficiaries, or so they thought, that the money could be left to compound for those ten years. However, the IRS had different ideas. They did not want to wait ten years to get their significant share. The IRS ruled that the money would be subjected to required distributions each year during the ten years, and the inherited accounts and those forced required distributions would take big chunks out of the growth.


People tend to get involved in the fine print for workarounds-there are none. The IRS needs money badly to fund the US’s spending. In case you didn’t know, the government spends more each year than it takes in. Therefore what better place to get big tax dollars than from someone who is not around to complain?

While it may seem that this tax-grab situation looks dismal, tax-saving moves can be used to make the most of a challenging situation. 

There are a few options that may have some significant tax breaks. Suppose you want to create a source of tax-free income for retirement or family. In that case, you need to consider a Roth IRA. Although subject to limits and rules, the Roth should be reviewed. Another option widely gaining popularity is a new “special” type of life insurance. This new product comes with much higher limits, fewer restrictions, and greater flexibility. A more practical option is to use a combination of both to maximize all the benefits.

Converting to these options while the market is down minimizes the tax liability and allows for more significant tax-free growth when the markets rebound.

The tax time bomb does have a ticking clock, so you must take advantage of the 2017 tax reform legislation because those lower tax rates are temporary and set to expire after 2025.

There are many additional considerations when determining to make changes.


For more Healthy Money Tips Listen to our PodCast “Money 911”

Meet with Kris Miller – Financial Fitness Strategy Sessions



(951) 926-4158

Case Studies Personal Development Technology Wealth

Where’s My S@#&? Why Shipping Takes Soo Long Now…

90% of the world’s trade goods are transported by international shipping. Let that sink it.

When countries went into lockdown in early 2020, restrictions on peoples’ movements resulted in significant changes in consumption patterns.

An industry with an estimated 5,500 container vessels was caught off gaurd by the  COVID-19 lockdowns. Then, when Americans flush with stimulus checks embarked on a drunk binge spending spree a year later, there simple weren’t enough ships to meet the explosive demand.

Every able container ship was pulled into service in a scramble to reach U.S. consumers.

But with 40% of US imports going through southern Californian in LA, it had become common to see up to 70 ships just floating nearby waiting to offload the products we’ve been waiting for.

According to Peter Sands, chief analyst at Xeneta, a Norwegian analytics firm for the freight industry; “Everything is so out of its normal balance it will take more than a year for global logistics to unwind.”

As if things weren’t shitty enough, there’s also a container for Asian exporters. Those big ass steel boxes are returning to Asia at a rate of only one for every four arriving in the U.S.

The global supply chain network is on its knees. After a fall in shipping demand during the early days of the pandemic in 2020, a surge at the end of that year led to delays, port traffic jams, and blockages across the world. Now, containers are jammed up in ports due to rising demand and a continuing shortage of dockworkers and truckers.

Don’t look for any solutions coming soon, supply chain experts predict the to remain a backlog in shipping to American ports that could last into early 2023.

The logjam has sent shipping costs to record highs up 449%.

So what’s the solution?

The shipping industry is lobbying for local governments to increase spending on critical parts of the supply chain. Specifically ports, railways, warehouses, and roads in order to increase capacity and cope with ongoing demand.



Biography and History Economics Entrepreneurship Industries Mergers & Acquisition Personal Development Strategy Taxes Technology Wealth

Vusi Thembekwayo Describes the 3 Types of Businesses

How well, do you really know the market you serve? It sounds like one of those dumb, cryptic, things marketing people like to ask.

But according to Vusi Thembwayo, most companies don’t really know who they’re actually competing against. Or who we should be.

Who is Vusi Thembekwayo?

In short, Vusi is widely regarded as one of the most disruptive and influential forces in venture capital in Africa.

He was amongst the youngest directors of a publicly listed company in South Africa and now serves on several corporate boards.

Currently, he’s the CEO of a boutique investment & advisory firm in Africa. Leading by example, his firm forces medium, large and listed businesses into much needed, often painful, always lucrative new directions.

Having graced the covers on Entrepreneur Magazine, Forbes and Inc500, his social media engagement often mirrors that of a Rockstar dressed in a $3K suite.

Professional accomplishments aside, he’s also more informally known as Aftrica’s biggest champion for spreading entrepreneurship on the continent.

He Hosts a Popular MasterClass on YouTube

Vusi has become famous to entrepreneurs around the world because he hosts an insanely valuable Masterclass. They tackle the hardest challenges facing entrepreneurs today. For free. 

He broadcasts the videos to YouTube to allow anyone interested in honest feedback on how to grow a business.

The most common comments on his channel are: “I actually can’t believe this content is free.”

You can follow him on YouTube here.

Media personality Vusi Thembekwayo.

This Will Change How You View Your Industry

During on of his Mastermind events, Vusi shared that most entrepreneurs compete at an entry level way. Because we assume that our market, is the literal niche marketplace we’re currently selling to.

There is however, another way of looking at your business to scale better, and faster. 

To understand what level this is, and how to get there, one needs to understand the value chain of their industry.


For a full explanation you can watch this lesson from Vusi himself in his MasterClass. Just skip to minute 5:06 to get to the good stuff.

Meet the 3 Different Types of Business Owners

The biggest lesson to learn from Vusi is how to move up the value chain to “own” more of the supply chain and not just compete inside of it.

Vusi explains there are 3 types of business owners, and most of us are trained to think like 1st and 2nd time business owners.

The First-Time Business Owner

The first-time business owner focuses all of their efforts on improving and perfecting the product. But what the first time business owner doesn’t know is that the product worth nothing if you can’t actually sell it in mass.

Second-Time Owner

The second-time business owner having already experience this focuses instead on marketing and distribution, dramatically increasing their chances of success and survival.

Create Wealth By Owning the Value Chain!

But what the second-time business owner still doesn’t know, is that even if they got really good at distribution, they still work the third-time business owner.

The Third-Time Owner

The third-time business owner doesn’t focus on product or distribution. They move even farther upstream and provide a majority of all of the core goods and services the first 2 business owners needs to be operational.

Overtime by owing part of in the supply chain the third-time business owner can afford to buy business owner 1 and 2 (and all of their competitors).

This will show you why the biggest brands in the world, don’t have to do ANY marketing.

This Might Actually Blow Your Mind!

Oxfam created a pretty shocking infographic on the consolidation of the food industry industry a few years go.

In it you can get a sense for how massive the scale of production is to be a controller of the inputs to the products that are sold at mass. If you can afford it, it’s far more lucrative to sell core goods to the market than compete as a brand inside of it.

These 10 Companies Alone Make All the Food We Buy

Holy Nestle That’s a Lot of Cash

Nestle, the quant little Swiss multinational food and drink conglomerate is now the largest food company in the world pulling in an annual revenue of around $91.4 billion.

How did they afford to buy all these brands? The built the largest dairy company in the world and bought them.
Nestle company

Meet the Brands that Generate $64.66 billion for PEPSICO 

PEPSICO was founded in 1965 when Pepsi CEO Don Kendall, and Frito-Lay CEO Herom Lay, sketched the deal on the back of a napkin to agree to combine companies in order to take get take over the growing larger snack industry.

PepsiCo's billion dollar brands

They unlocked a new brand new market long before Blue Ocean Strategy became a thing.

Pepsi-Cola CEO Don Kendall and Frito-Lay CEO Herman Lay sketch out a deal to birth PepsiCo

Unilever’s Little $51 Billion Empire

Unilever started in on September 2, 1929 wither the merger of the Dutch margarine producer (Margarine Unie) and a British soap maker (Lever Brothers). Rub the names together and you get Unilever.

Joining forces they were able to increasingly diversified and supply a bigger market.

6: Unilever Multi-brand Strategy


Know all the players in your business. This means you should understand the whole process, or the entire value chain.

For long-term planning, how can you partner with acquire a new business to put you into a much larger marketplace?

Visit your venders and get to know their business. This is a sign of a seasoned entrepreneur – they build great networks.




Biography and History Case Studies Economics Entrepreneurship Industries Personal Development Technology Wealth

How Sam Walton Built the Biggest Brand in the World

There’s probably a few things you didn’t know about Walmart, like for fact that in 2014 alone, Walmart generated more than $100 billion in sales than any other U.S. company.

Their workforce is now almost the size of the Chinese army. They make $1.8 million every hour.

Each week nearly one-third of the U.S. population shops in one of their 10,500 stores.

They’re recognized as the largest retailer on the planet with gross revenue larger than its top 4 biggest competitor’s combined. Their market value is currently around $386 billion dollars and rated the 24th most valuable brand in the world.

Here’s the story of how Sam Walton built one of the most globally recognized brand in the world.

This is the Story of How Sam Walton Created Walmart…

Sam Walton Had to Grow Up Early

Sam Walton was a pretty typical American kid. He was the quarterback of his high-school football team, distinguished eagle scout, and voted by his high-school classmates as the “most versatile boy”.

He established leadership skills from an early age.

Growing up in the Depression era, the young Walton was forced to take on many jobs to make ends meet. He sold magazine subscriptions, delivered newspapers, and milked the family cow and sold the surplus.

He grew up in an era when growing up started early.

But hard times build hard people and Walton would soon build one of the largest business venture on the planet while providing jobs to over 2 million people.

After graduating high-school, Walton went to the University of Missouri as an ROTC cadet where he studied commerce in an attempt to better support himself and his family.

He applied to the Warton School of Business for college but couldn’t actually afford to go, so he never did..

Sam Landed a Job in Retail. Then the War Started

Walton eventually graduated from Missouri in 1940 with a bachelor’s degree in economics, an education he would soon put into practice.

He received his first taste in the retail business when he went to work as a trainee at JP Penny’s in DesMoines Iowa.

His pay at the time was just $75 month.

This is where Sam began his life-long study of the retail business. But unfortunately, Sam’s early career at Penny’s was cut short due to the second World War.

In 1942 he was drafted into the United States Army where he served stateside (due to a heart irregularity) as a communications officer in the Army Intelligence Corps.

By the time he was released from the military in 1945, Walton had a wife and child to support. It was time to make some money.


Next, Sam Launched His First Business Venture

At the age of 27, Sam took the first major financial risk of his young career when he and his wife Hellen.

They purchased a branch of the Ben Franklin Store from the Bert Lab Brothers on a $25,000 loan he borrowed from his father in-law.

Ben Franklin was a franchisor with an established process of doing business. But Sam was driven by a vision of a slightly different business model. Walton’s idea was to gamble on slashing the profit margins on his products to pass the savings to his customers in return earning a higher sales volume.

According to Walton, there was only one boss, the customer. He believed the customer could fire everyone in the company simply by spending their money anywhere else.

He became determined to convince a majority the world’s retail customers to become his.

His intuition proved correct, the model worked. In the first year of operations his sales increase by 45% with total revenue of $105,000. He was able to pay off the loan he owed his father-in law by year three. 

They sold $250,000 by their 5th year in operation.

Walton Was Fascinated With This New Trend

It was now around the 1950s, the American post war economy was booming, housing prices were low, and America was beginning it’s baby boom.

The depression era was over and the new generation was ready to spend their hard-earned money on consumer goods. Walton focused his efforts on supplying the new shopping generation with savings. He continued to lower profit margins and in turn he experienced higher foot traffic in his stores.

It was around this time he deployed a new concept in retail; self-service.

While it wasn’t his original idea he was just one of the early retailer to deploy the concept. Instead of having sales clerks go to the back of the store to source inventory for customers, he could have customers pick out the products for themselves.

Sam widened the isles in his stores putting all products within grabbing distance for eager-eyed customers.

It was a hit, instantly tripling his sales.


Who The Hell Thinks to Buy a Bank?

Not only did self-service pad his bottom line it played into his growing business model to become the low cost leader in retail. For Walton, self-service meant he could have fewer employees.

With fewer employees meant that he could charge even less.

With momentum gaining, Sam was a beginning to become a big fish in his small pond of Arkansas. As Sam’s success grew, so too did his vision and bold moves.

In 1961 Sam and Hellen Walton made a power chess move to purchase a controlling interest in the Bank of Bentonville Arkansas, effectively allowing Sam to lend himself money as he expanded his operations.

How Walmart Began

By 1969, Sam’s location became Ben Franklin Store’s largest franchisee.

That same year he went to Ben Franklin’s headquarters to pitch them on a new idea to expand their discount stores to a new territory and demographic. Walton wanted to launch a chain of large discount stores targeting rural towns.

Sam believed that large discount stores would thrive in small towns of less than 10,000 people.

Growing up in small town America in Oklahoma and Arkansas, Sam knew hardworking Americans were bargain hunters. If products were sold at the lowest price, sales would increase and so would the store’s revenue.

But the executives at Ben Franklin didn’t want to take the risk and opted to pass on his offer (big mistake) to invest in the idea of small town discount store chains.

In the Beginning, No One Believed Him

It wasn’t just the Ben Franklin execs that doubted the business model. It was the entire industry.

Sam’s competitors thought his idea that a successful business could be built around offering lower prices and great service would never work.

Undeterred, Sam self-fund his idea and put his money where his mouth was. He was sure it would work, his wife Hellen did too.

They co-signed and mortgaged virtually everything they had owned in order to finance a new chain store.


That Didn’t Stop Him. Then This Happend

With his family now in debt up to their eyeballs, Sam launched the grand opening of the very first Wal-Mart Discount Store.

It was twice the size of their Ben Franklin store and it wasn’t an overnight success. But Sam and his team learned and improved quickly and constantly.

They soon grew to 25 employees.

One store grew into five. Within its first 5 years of operations the franchise had 26 stores doing $12.6M in sales. By 1972 the company was incorporated as Walmart Stores INC and was shortly thereafter listed on the NY stock exchange as a publicly traded company.

The 70s watched Walmart soar in expansion and growth.

Sam Became Obsessed With Improvement 

Sam was up before the sun came up most days, getting on the road to check in on his stores.

The man worked long hours, when he came home he would eat dinner and read most of the evening. Sam studied every retail publication and insights he could get his hands on. He was obsessed with learning and improving.

In his popular business book, Made in America, Sam shared about a time he was held in a Brazilian prison for a night for attempting to “spy” on a Brazilian retail store.

As the story goes a handful of Brazilian businessmen attempted to connect with various successful American business owners and sent them letters in the mail to arrange meetings.

But no one responded to the Brazilians except one. Sam.


He Got Arrested in Brazil

Walton invited the foreign retail executives to his home in Arkansas where they ate dinner and spent time together. He secretly wanted to know if he could, in turn, learn anything from them.

Sam and the Brazilian business owners kept in contact, and Sam later decided to visit them down in Brazil, where he was arrested.

As it turned out, Sam visited their retail locations and the police found him on his hands and knees with a measuring tape to test the size of their isles. He was measuring the widths of the isles in an attempt to see if the Brazilians knew something he didn’t about optimizing isle size to increase sales.

Walton Was Playing Chess While Everyone Else Plaid Checkers

Walton was obsessed with learning and learning from his competitors. He spent a tremendous amount of time in their stores (often disguised in sunglasses and a ball-cap).

He was constantly comparing the prices of goods being sold between his competitor’s locations and his.

If they were offering lower on prices on their goods than any of Wal-Marts he would phone the stores and immediately remedy the situation. For Walmart’s strategy to work they had to offer the lowest cost to their consumer.


Always the Family Man

Sam Walton didn’t just have a knack for business. He was also a family man with a big heart for his country, faith, and family.

His wife Hellen made a point to make sure the children didn’t miss out on their time with their father while he was expanding the business.Being on the road as much as Sam was in the early years he would make up his time with his family by taking them on month long vacations camping in the Ozark mountains.

On one memorable summer camping trip to northern NY, the family passed through Manhattan, stopping at a Broadway show with a canoe strapped to the top of their car.

Walmart’s Early Hiring Philosophy:

When Sam wasnt with his family he was with his employees. Who he was always the first to credit for Walmart’s success.

Sam believed that the front line employees were the ones who interacted with the customers and had access to the critical information about the health of the growing organization.

To attract employees to his organization early on, he drafted a generous benefits package that included Mal-Mart stock for full-time workers. But he instantly ran into a problem. Most of his employees were part time clerks who did not qualify, earning a little more than minimum wage.

It was Sam’s wife Hellen, who suggested he make the stock benefits available to all employees.

She argued that if they were going to share profit across the organization they must do it to all employees. Sam didn’t agree in the beginning but Hellen was persistent and he agreed to open the benefits plan to all employees.

Walmart Focused on Growing Their Team

Given the enormous profits to come for the growing company, employees couldn’t predict their good fortune for those who joined early on.

One retired Wal-Mart truck driver for example, who had been with the company from 1972-1992, stated that after 20 years employment, on retirement he received a compensation check in the mail for $738,000! due to the growth of his stock interest.

Over 3,500 employees at that time became associated in one of the most lucrative profit sharing programs in American business.

The company grew to 191 stores by 1977. By 1980 there were 276 stores across the country and reached and annual sales milestone of $1B for the first time in Walmart history.

Explosive Growth:

The 80s ushered in even more growth for the quickly rising enterprise with its acquisition of 91 BigK retail outlets in the Southeast. This merger  officially turned  Walmart into a national discount chain.

In 1983, Walmart creat Sam’s Club as a Walmart subsidiary. By 1987 they were operating 1,198 outlets, 200,000 staff, and $15.9B in sales.

Later that same year the company invested into the use of a new technology when they completed they invested in the largest private sector satellite communications project in the US.

They Bought a God Damn Satellite?

The satellite connected every store inventory and sales data across all nation-wide operating units with the general office. One can only assume Walton was gearing up to go global. He must have realized data centralized data would be mission critical.

They needed a way to track what products were selling at each store in each season to maximize the efficiency of their inventory.

In 1988 Walmart opened its first SuperCenter that included a supermarket and general merchandise store.

They also launched their first international operation in Mexico. Then to South America and Europe markets shortly thereafter. Bumping up Walton’s personal net worth to around $23 billion around this time.

Commitment to Service and Values:

By the 1990s Walmart was the largest retailer surpassing the legacy SEARS organization.

In 1992, Sam Walton received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George H.W. Bush for “his strong commitment to service and to the values that help individuals, businesses and the country succeed.”

This is the highest honor a citizen can bestow on a private citizen in the US.

It was during his acceptance speech that Sam first publicly expressed Walmart’s proud mission:

“If we work together, we’ll lower the cost of living for everyone. We’ll give the world an opportunity to see what it’s like to save and have a better life.”



Leaving a Legacy

Sam Walton passed away several months after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from a long battle with cancer. While he’s no longer here, his legacy remains prosperous.

To this day, Walmart remains a leader in the retail industry.

His immediate family owns just under 50% of the company and have become the wealthiest family in America with combined wealth of over $225 Billion as a result of growing the largest chain of discount retail stores in the world.

Sam Walton had a vision to supply consumers with the most products at the lowest cost. He built his dream into an empire from 1 simple store in Arkansas to almost 12,000 stores, under 56 operating names across 26 different countries in less than 60 years.

Walmart currently employs 2.2 million jobs globally and 1.5 million in the US alone.

This Was Walmart’s Business Strategy:

The company’s entire strategy was to focuses on being the low cost leader. It’s a high risk high reward gamble to achieve the highest market share.

Walmart invested heavily to track database inventory by store and season to understand how to prepare each location inventory.

This allows the retail machine to overcome what frontline calls one of retails biggest problems: Getting the right mix of products in each store to generate the highest sales volume.

Giving Walmart yet another advantage to keeping its costs as low as possible.

In addition to taking advantage with tech and data, Sam Walton was one of the first business executives to recognize the importance of the Asian labor market. Today 80% of Walmart’s come from low-cost asian suppliers.

This enabled Walmart to moved manufacturers from a push production to a pull production model.


How Walmart Changed the Entire Manufacturing Industry

Before Walmart, manufacturers would decide what to produce and attempt to get retailers to buy it (that’s push production).

Walmart engages in pull manufacturing. Due to Walmart’s inventory database tracking on what is being sold, they can dictate to manufacturers what to produce and when. Instead of the other way around.

Their extreme pull demand has allowed it to influence and dictate the supply chain prices, forcing manufacturers to set up shop in Asian labor markets to lower the cost and insure their products show up on Walmart’s shelves.

While this process has squeezed profit margins for manufacturers, the low cost benefit to Walmart’s consumers is still part of their mission and commitment to consumers to “save money and live better.”


Their Global Strategy Is So Sneaky, It’s Borderline Genius!

Another reason Walmart has been effective around the globe is they’re strategic about entering foreign markets. When operating abroad they drop their US name brand and logo.

They in fact now operate under 56 different names in over 28 countries.

When entering new markets the don’t just kick the door in pushing Walmart, they make strategic acquisitions and actually just operate under their existing name brands.

Strategy Summary:

The advantage of Walmart charging a lower price but selling a larger volume has allowed the company to maintain its profits and expand its market share dramatically.

The disadvantage in the low cost approach is that focusing on cost reduction and cheap manufactured products can make the company lose sight of evolving customer tastes and preferences over time (Target).Being the low cost leader has enabled Walmart explosive growth.

But if you If you can’t be the cheapest there is zero strategic advantage of being the second cheapest. Just ask any of Walmart’s competitors.

That’s what makes it a bold gamble. But it is clear the for the moment, Walmart is the biggest retail brand in town.



Biography and History Case Studies Entrepreneurship Marketing Mergers & Acquisition Personal Development Technology Wealth

How a Hippy and a Hitchhiker Created a $1 Billion Lipbalm Business

This is the story of Burt’s Bees.

Their logo can be spotted everywhere from the isles in chain-store supermarkets to  roadside novelty shops. The Burt’s Bees brand  swarmed the US and abroad and has grown into a legitimate household name brand with an obsessed customer base.

Their lip-balm business was cemented into business hall of fame when their founder sold it to Clorox for jaw-dropping $970 million. But long before their rockstar exit, the origin story of Burt’s Bees started in the middle of no where in Maine by 2 eccentric loners.

As it happens, the Burt’s Bees, story started with a bearded hippy living out of a modified turkey coup with no electricity or running water, and a hitchhiker who eventually became his business partner and lover.

Here’s their story…

Escaping Life in the “Big Apple”

Burt Shavitz was a photojournalist in New York City in the 1960s covering the key issues of the day. He was credited for example with capturing key figures during the civil rights movement with the likes of JFK and Malcolm X.

Shavitz had a promising and safe career working for established media publications like Time and Life Magazines. But Shavitz wasn’t long for the corporate world.

Mass media in the 60s began rise of TV journalism. Shavitz felt the times were becoming less relevant in the big city for a photojournalist. So he began contemplating how he would dedicate the next chapter of his life.

Then one day, after snapping a photo of an elderly neighbor looking out her apartment window, he realized he no longer, if ever, belonged to the hustle and grind of New York City.

I knew that that would be me, 90 years old and unable to go outside, if I didn’t get the hell out.”

So he did, Shavitz got the hell out of NY. He traded the life he knew in the concrete jungle for small parcel of land in the backwoods of Maine where his only possessions left included a golden retriever named Rufus, and a beehive intended to make into a hobby.

Meanwhile in San Francisco

On the other side of the country, living a parallel life, Roxanne Quimby, 15 years younger, was a struggling artist living in San Francisco.  Who like many other young people at the time, was escaping the urban sprawl of city life seeking freedom in the remote wilderness.  Pregnant with twins, she found herself moving to Maine to start a new life with her boyfriend.

While settling into her new home, Quimby’s boyfriend left her. Expecting children and in need of work and money she set out to fend her own. Literally hitchhiking her way into the nearest town in pursuit of any employment.

As fate would have it. The two future business partners met that very day on the side of the north-woods rural highway as Burt pulled over to pick up a complete stranger thumbing a ride into town. What are the odds? 

Here’s the version of that fateful encounter posted to the company’s Web site:

It was the summer of ’84, and Maine artist Roxanne Quimby was thumbing a ride home (back when you could still do that sort of thing). Eventually a bright yellow Datsun pickup truck pulled over, and Roxanne instantly recognized Burt Shavitz, a local fella whose beard was almost as well-known as his roadside honey stand. Burt and Roxanne hit it off.

The 2 Became Business Partners (of a kind)

The two eventually became partners in both life and in business. While Burt was content selling his honey to his local patrons on the side of the road. Quimby was looking to supplement both of their income.

Burt had a lot of unused wax on his property, viewing it as simple organic waste from his bee hives, but none-the less, never disposed of it in case he had future use of it. What Burt saw as waste, Roxanne saw it as future product lines.

She started out converting the excess wax into homemade candles and began selling them at local craft fairs, bringing home a total of $200 at their first show The duo generated just $20,000 their first year in business together.

The honey was a steady seller but Quimby could only move the candles in the fall and winter holiday season. People just didn’t seem to want them in the hot summer months. Forcing Roxanne back to the drawing boards, looking for something else to craft with the unused wax.

Then, she stumbled across an article in a Farmer’s Almanac that contained an all-natural wax lip-balm recipe from the 1800s…

On her wood stove, she heated a cauldron and poured the liquid wax to cool in small polishing tins. She instantly loved the old time look and feel of her new creation.

Building the Brand

Quimby outsourced an artist to create a sketch of Burt for the product packaging, and the brand took on its now-famous character. She labeled them Burt’s Bees.

Now beyond honey and candles, Quimby was able to introduce a line of shoe polish and the eventual coup d’é·tat, an all-natural honey infused lip-balm.

This was the beginning of the Burt’s Bees brand, (which today is the second largest selling natural care brand of cosmetics in the country, second only to Chapstick and Blistex).

In 1994 they grew their revenue to $3 million business, Quimby decided they had outgrown their small marketing in Maine and needed to find a more favorable business climate.

Maine was high on taxes for one, but now they were selling their products all over the country. She required a supply-chain infrastructure to properly supply their increasing demand. Quimby found what she needed and moved the entire operations to North Carolina.

But the Partnership Came to an End

Burt accompanied Roxanne but he only lasted two months into the move when things changed their relationship forever.

During that transition, Shavitz was forced out after having an affair and ultimately accused of “sexual harassment” with an employee. This is another story all-together which he explained in the popular Netflix documentary, Burt’s Buzz. 

According to reports, Shavitz had an affair with a younger woman and was forced out of the company with a payout of $130,000 in 1999 to go back to his life in Maine.

WATCH: You can watch the full documentary here:

Burt’s resignation ultimately led Quimby to buy BUrt out of the company by acquiring his shares.

With Burt gone, Quimby moved massive products skyrocketing from $23 million in 2000 to $164 million in 2007. The industry saw massive golden opportunities in the market for green products.

Selling the Business

Through a series of subsequent business deals that occurred as a sole proprietor, Quimby was able to sell a majority of her interests in the all-natural brand to a private equity company for $170 million while still negotiating a remaining 20% minority stake in the company.

Which Quimby later on subsequently sold her remaining interests to Clorox for an additional $290 million.

For a brand forged on the side of a highway, Quimby expertly maneuvered Burt’s Bees through one hell of a business transformation.

Roxanne went from hitchhiker to the mastermind behind the household brand name we know today with a total earnings payout of $404 million.

What Happend to Burt?

If Burt hadn’t gone through the scandal in the late 90s, giving up his stake in the brand for $130,000, his shares would have been worth about $59 million.

Although he passed at the age of 80, Shavitz wasn’t one to linger in the past.

In an interview with the New Yorker, Shavitz said;

“I’ve got everything I need: a nice piece of land with hawks and owls and incredible sunsets, and the good will of my neighbors.

What I have in this situation is no regret. The bottom line is she’s got her world and I’ve got mine, and we let it go at that.”

Which sounds exactly like what a guy who sells honey on the side of a remote road in Maine might say.

What Does One Buy With $400 Million?

While it’s none of my business, it does make one curious. What did Quimby do with all that money? She went to Hawaii, then to Antarctica and all the places she felt like. She shopped for a home in Palm Beach…She bought six.

But it turns out she invested most of her newfound wealth in forrest land to protect it. She then purchased 100,000 acres of land in Maine turning 87,500 acres into a protected national forrest land she gave back to the US government along with $20 million in cash to keep the park funded.

As of 2016, she is a resident of Portland, Maine, where she remains prominent philanthropist and leads a number of charitable organizations in the area.