Jodi Berg, President and CEO of Vitamix is more than just the Barnard family’s 4th generation leader.
She’s a hugger.
Silly, I know. But she is. And I think this dichotomy nicely paints a picture of Jodi’s unique style of leadership.
Nobody at Vitamix is bigger than her; yet she is bigger than nobody.
Now, instead of profiling her, her family, or her book, let’s learn from her.
Here are a few pieces of wisdom from Jodi Berg, President and CEO of Vitamix.
Vitamix CEO Jodi Berg on her family’s success in business, her leadership style, her response to skepticism, and a few Vitamix blending tips
On Their Family’s Success in Business
The Vitamix company has had rapid, international growth during Jodi’s tenure as President.
They have a good product, of course. And the world’s appetite for healthy eating has never been greater.
But the company’s longevity?
Look at the values. The values that have been passed down since “Papa” began the business in 1921.
Vitamix understands its true purpose. Its “Why.”
Vitamix is in the vitality business
Jodi learned this lesson early on from her Grandpa.
“We are not in the business to sell machines. We are changing the way people think about food and how they eat.”
And in her own words, when she rejoined the business after a career away from the family business:
“It was time to take the generations of passion and commitment to whole food health and use them to help make the world a healthier place for generations to come.”
And, going forward…
“Our commitment to helping people lead healthier lives has never been stronger. We honor the memory of my grandparents by continuing to share a passion for health and nutrition.”
Success is defined by satisfaction, not sales
Jodi recalls a family reunion held at the original Vitamix headquarters. To her dismay, Grandpa stepped away to take a customer service call.
She recalls being a “self-centered tween” and upset at Grandpa for not giving her the attention she wanted:
“My grandpa, not a bit angry, looked straight at me and said, ‘Jodi, some day, you will understand.”
And her Grandpa, continued.
“We’re not successful until our customers are successfully using their Vitamix. We want to help them use it or we want to take it back so we can put it in the hands of someone who will.”
A product that’s built to last
Vitamix entered the commercial food service space in the 1980’s. They understood the need and provided a solution.
“…a blender that was truly reliable, lasting piece of equipment versus the disposable version that needed to be replaced every couple of months. Our goal…continues to be to allow our food-service customers to focus on expanding their brand and enhancing their experience, rather than worrying about their blending equipment.”
On Leading as President
For the longest time, I did not understand why a CEO sometimes had a second title: “President.”
Note: I should have realized being President was a big deal given how nervous I was when I first met her in 2014. (see below)
Now that I know her a bit better, one thing is clear. Jodi is the embodiment of why companies need an acting President.
Presidents do the big things
Presidents are part leader, part figurehead, part diplomat, part evangelist, and part visionary. They’re the supreme leader (without any of the yucky dictator stuff, of course).
And Jodi exemplifies the role of President. She:
- Gives credit and takes responsibility.
- Works hard but makes it look easy.
- Remains in-demand but is always present.
Jodi is a rockstar. And still, she reminds us that…
Presidents do the little things
Jodi used to love taking phone calls at Vitamix HQ.
“Believe it or not, my favorite after school job ended up being answering phones! I discovered that I loved talking with our customers, answering their questions, and even helping people learn to make Vitamix bread.”
These days, she makes personal connections through handwritten notes.
During a recent visit, I saw a handwritten thank you note from Jodi pinned to a customer service representative’s cubicle wall. So cool!
And when I flipped through our copy of The Vitamix Cookbook, I was delightfully surprised to see this:
Presidents are themselves
No two US Presidents are exactly alike. Some are warm; some are cold.
But the best ones are true to themselves.
Jodi makes tough decisions every day. And she is responsible for the livelihood of hundreds of people (Shalva and I included).
But she is not afraid to be who she is. A warm, big-hearted, and kind soul.
Some techniques for answering questions about Vitamix machines
The way Jodi speaks about her company’s product is well rehearsed, no doubt.
But her words are honest, simple to understand, and filled with genuine passion.
And for Vitamix bloggers like Shalva and I, these techniques are worth noting.
The $600 question
Anyone who ever tried to sell a friend on getting a Vitamix will say the same thing. It’s tough to logically justify the price tag.
Sure you can talk full warranty or payment plans. But Jodi’s response to pricing skepticism on a live CNBC interview goes right to the listener’s heart and mind:
“Well there’s a couple of things we all have in common. One, every one of us has to eat. And two, what we eat affects how we feel. So if you can put good, healthy food in your body, you’re absolutely going to feel better, if you can make that taste fantastic, like velvet in your tongue, it’s something that you’re going to crave. The greens that you’re putting in your smoothie now, your body is actually going to want them. And you’re going to crave ’em.”
Using relatable examples
To explain the Vitamix’s ability to make hot soup without a heating mechanism, she talks about something we’ve all done to warm up.
“Simply through friction. If you rubbed your hands together at 250 miles per hour they’d get hot, too. So it’s literally just rubbing those molecules together and creating heat.”
And then answers a likely next question. How can something that makes hot soup still make a cold smoothie?
“If you’re a raw foodist, you can still make fantastic soup, you simply don’t run it as long. You want to make ice cream? It’s going to break those molecules down so fast and homogenize them together, you got a frozen treat or a smoothie, you run it longer and you have a hot soup.”
Through example, she easily demonstrates the immense value a Vitamix can bring. This is a situation anyone with an on-the-go lifestyle can understand.
“If you can make it simple…we all have busy lifestyles, we’re running like crazy, but we know what we need to eat, we know we need to eat healthier, well, if you know you can give someone a solution, say you know what, I can give you something that you can make in a minute that’s got your fruits and vegetables in it, yes I did say vegetables, you can have greens in your smoothie for breakfast, if you could make that in a minute and while it’s running for about 45 seconds you’re putting all the ingredients away, you’re pouring in your cup and you’re going, and you can leave with two or three servings of fruits and vegetables already in your system, it’s just that easy and it tastes that good, that that’s what makes this sustainable.”
True passion is contagious
Passion is not something you can fake. But if you do have it, it’s contagious.
And Jodi Berg has it.
That high energy. That love of whole food juicing.
That’s what gets people excited.
And that, as anyone motivated by love will tell you, is what gets you out of bed in the morning.
Jodi’s Blending Tips
Squash in smoothies
In a recent conversation with Jodi and her father, John Barnard, I learned how she uses squash in her smoothies.
- Cook it.
- Freeze it.
- Pop ’em in your Vitamix.
“You use it like you would with frozen bananas. You get a nice creaminess without the sweetness from other “secret” ingredients.”
The “Must-go” smoothie
The “Must-go” smoothie is more than a catchy phrase demonstrating the Vitamix machine’s value. It’s a useful mindset to have.
Fruits and veggies’ final destination should not be the garbage can. When they must go, turn ’em into a smoothie (or soup!).
And for Jodi, this concept has been in the family for a while.
“…as a little kid I remember going over to Grandpa’s house, and we had ‘must-go’ soup, ‘must-go’ smoothie, ‘must-go’ whatever we were going to feed the family when they came over.”
Apples in hot soup
Apples are a “secret” ingredient for Jodi’s hot soups. They add texture and nutrients while keeping their original flavor.
With giddy excitement in this interview, she explains…
“My favorite secret ingredient is putting raw apple in hot soup. There’s literally no other way to infuse the flavors of a raw apple into a hot soup. It breaks it down and heats it up through friction. It doesn’t change the flavor profile. So you still have the tartness or the sweetness, depending on what apple you use.”
Bringing it all together
You can learn a lot from Vitamix President and CEO Jodi Berg. Not only how to be successful in business through doing the right things the right way for the right reasons.
But also how to be a good human being.
Jodi Berg’s “The Vitamix Cookbook” is available on Vitamix.com and Vitamix.ca. If you don’t already have a Vitamix (and love what their mission), here’s an article that will help you figure out which Vitamix to buy.
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Here’s our full interview with Jodi Berg and her father John Barnard.
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