Jack Bergstrand—entrepreneur, author, Brand Velocity founder and former CIO of Coca-Cola—shares some of his experiences and tips with us. Aspiring entrepreneurs, take note!
Before founding his own company, Jack Bergstrand, GSEHD MA ’11, enjoyed a long career with Coca-Cola, eventually serving as chief information officer (CIO).
This position provided a unique learning environment. “It helped to formalize much of my thinking around how strategy, technology, process and people can be integrated better and faster than normally happens,” says Bergstrand.
Prior to becoming the CIO, Bergstrand was also vice president of marketing and ran a division for the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of New England. He was also the first distribution function head for Coca-Cola Enterprise, vice president of manufacturing and logistics, and chief financial officer for Coca-Cola Beverages in Canada.
Bergstrand founded his company, Brand Velocity Inc., in 2001. The Atlanta-based management consulting firm helps companies accelerate large business transformation initiatives, using famed management consultant, educator and author Peter Drucker’s principles. Drucker’s approach emphasizes knowing your strengths and values, and discovering what strategies work best for you as an individual.
Brand Velocity began consulting in 2005, and has been on the rise ever since. Brand Velocity was recently recognized as one of Consulting Magazine’s “Seven to Watch” in 2013. Since founding the company, Bergstrand’s passion has also grown.
“I love the constancy of purpose, our ability to uniquely apply Peter Drucker’s brilliance with clients, and the opportunity to build and grow an organization that will one day replace me,” Bergstrand says.
As the author of Reinvent Your Enterprise, Bergstrand has been able to turn his professional experiences into a guide for others. His book, which is endorsed by The Drucker Institute, helps individuals and organizations improve business results. Bergstrand has also authored numerous e-books on business acumen.
“First and foremost,” Bergstrand explains, “you have to understand what motivates you. At Brand Velocity, we encourage people to take our free Strategic Profiling personality assessment to discover their strengths and how they best work with others.”
Once you know your strengths, there are three important points to keep in mind:
- First: Be able to articulate a) What business you are in; b) Who your customer is; and c) What your customers consider to be of value.
- Second: Integrate the three key elements of reinvention. That is, a) define what you are going to stop doing; b) identify areas of success that you are going to expand; and c) after you have done the first two, then decide what one or two new things you will do.
- Third: Ask the right reinvention questions, in the right order. They are: a) Where do we intend to go and why, and in what timeframe (Envision)?; b) What needs to happen when (Design)?; c) How will we best achieve these things (Build)?; and d) Who will be the best motivated to do these actions (Operate)?
In addition to learning in the field, Bergstrand also emphasizes the importance of education.
“I went to the Executive Leadership Program (ELP) at GW, and left with an MA in education and human development. I had already earned a master’s in management at Stanford University and a master’s in advertising at Michigan State, but wanted to learn more about the social sciences, because Peter Drucker was clear that management was a social science,” Bergstrand explains.
“The ELP program was a wonderful way to address many of the gaps that I had by working with great professors and a small and terrific business-oriented cohort. My thinking was changed forever.”
Bergstrand is eager to keep learning as he grows Brand Velocity. In the next 25 years, the company’s goal is to help people reinvent their companies in a way that directly improves society.
Through their Drucker-inspired approach, Bergstrand dreams of going global, making Brand Velocity a registered trademark in countries that represent 80 percent of the global gross domestic product.
Bergstrand has a few words of advice for those looking towards a similar career path.
“Get as much experience as you can, listen to others, and never stop trying to connect the dots – to convert what you have into what you want, but don’t yet have. Most importantly, earn a degree from GW.”
If you’re a budding entrepreneur, or are looking to improve your business, check out Bergstrand’s recommendations:
Read Peter Drucker’s Post-Capitalist Society and Bergstrand’s Reinvent Your Enterprise. Take the Strategic Profiling personality assessment to learn how to use your personal energy and abilities to maximum advantage.