Sterling Hawkins

Co-founder, CART
Sterling Hawkins is out to break the status quo to create what’s actually possible for humanity in our time. He has spent his career igniting new views and inspiring people to act on them. His journey has been non-traditional right from the beginning. Sterling grew up a fifth-generation retailer, having to master the intersection of human behavior and technology under extreme competition. In 2004, Sterling co-founded, launched and sold his first technology company, Convena, where he developed innovative approaches to beat competition, handle high-growth and achieve performance no matter the obstacles. He went on to be involved with the launch, growth or investment in over 50 companies. Today, Sterling reviews over 1,000 new technology companies every year further refining the keys to realizing breakthrough innovation and giving back that experience as a mentor to leading entrepreneurs working through exponential growth. He is the co-founder of CART, a platform to drive adoption of emerging technologies at fortune 500 companies. And he speaks and runs workshops around the world for clients such as Samsung, Criteo, Synchrony Financial and the United Nations. Sterling is an internationally-recognized thought leader and top-rated keynote speaker on innovation, transformational leadership and exponential growth. His keynotes share meaningful strategies to drive change delivered with the inspiration to leave attendees in action. Sterling is a certified yoga teacher and adventure seeker regularly pushing his own boundaries of what’s possible by skydiving, century bike riding, shark diving, and even camping in the Sahara. He brings that energy of maximizing human potential and breaking past limiting beliefs to everything he does. Currently living in Los Angeles, he has been seen in Inc. Magazine, Fast Company, The New York Times and Forbes. Sterling is inspiring a network of entrepreneurs, investors and fortune 500 companies, actively shaping the future for the betterment of business, communities and the human condition. Of course, he’s still regularly found on adventures.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2020

    Is it safe to bring back food sampling?

    The details matter and obviously we can't just be passing out open samples to lines of people anymore. Samples are such a key piece of the culture and experience at many of these stores though. I don't think the question is "if" they should bring them back but "how" they can bring them back, safely.
  • Posted on: 05/27/2020

    Is Walmart about to become the king of online resale retailing?

    Walmart has really transformed itself into a company that can dream up new and valuable ideas and then execute on them; their partnership with thredUP is just the latest example of that. It seems to be a valuable connection for both brands and together they bring a lot of extra value to the customer. Looks like a win and I wouldn't be surprised to see rivals attempt something similar.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2020

    Has the pandemic transformed Walmart into an unstoppable force?

    It shouldn't be a surprise for any retailer in the grocery space that their sales are up in Q1. It's not a validation of their strategy, but it's not an invalidation of their strategy either. It's a pandemic. Walmart has been on a path of innovation for years and they are especially well positioned to not just post gains while the pandemic continues, but to hold on to a good portion of it from the technology and experience they've created (and more importantly, continue to create). Some retailers in the grocery space may be seeing gains now only to understand they've lost many of their core customers since habits and behaviors have changed.
  • Posted on: 05/07/2020

    Is it time to move beyond ‘now more than ever’ COVID-19 commercials?

    The American public is ready for authentic messages, which is and has always been the key. The listening of the general public has changed from a few weeks ago when it seemed the world was ending, to the slow reopening and emergence of new ways (perhaps permeant new ways) to do business. As advertisers can capture that sentiment I can't imagine it would land as tone-deaf.
  • Posted on: 05/06/2020

    Customers ask Wendy’s, ‘Where’s the beef?’

    We're in a bit of an anomaly here with COVID-19 and while there are always make-or-break moments, consumers are generally a bit more tolerant right now. This is an opportunity for Wendy's (and all businesses) to be more connected with their customers and share what they're dealing with. Even though Wendy's is not able to satisfy demand for their burgers, it's an opportunity to build more loyalty and engagement in the long term (and perhaps even more demand since scarcity can drive greater demand). As we start to emerge into a "new normal" (whatever that is) consumers will again be less forgiving of situations like this.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2020

    Should face masks be mandatory for shoppers?

    It's up to each retailer to make the decision (perhaps different decisions based on where they're operating), at least until government regulations stipulate otherwise. Just as a retailer can stipulate customers wear shirts and shoes, they can ask customers to wear a mask. It's then up to the customer if they want to shop there or not. Regardless, clear communication is necessary with customers as to why decisions are made and what the rules actually are. No matter what side of the recommendation they're on, clear communication can only help.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2020

    Best Buy is getting back to business with scheduled appointments

    I think it's a smart, safe way to start reopening. But why not take the next step and schedule video chat appointments to discuss the relevant appliances? Then I can stop into the store briefly or perhaps only pick up the product. The economics of a lot of physical retail depends on meaningful volume, experience, impulse purchases, etc. If we're taking baby steps back towards those kinds of things, it just seems we should be leveraging digital and other channels as much as possible that could have long-term value instead of just creating stop-gap measures.
  • Posted on: 04/16/2020

    DSW tries to make itself ‘essential’ with Hy-Vee partnership

    It's not the most intuitive step (I don't want to try on shoes in a grocery store), but perhaps the numbers and shopper base analysis told a different story. It rings of something that has been in the works for a while. The timing is interesting through as Walmart, Costco, Target, etc. are barred from selling "nonessential" items, such as clothing, by local governments in parts of the US.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2020

    How transparent should grocers be about employees infected with COVID-19?

    There's no question that retailers should provide transparency. Not only will it build trust, especially when they close and sterilize stores after an incident, but it's the right thing to do. Of course, retailers should respect privacy of associates and names shouldn't be given to the media. The important thing here isn't the media anyway, it's the store communicating with their customers.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2020

    Do brands have an obligation to fight the coronavirus?

    It's not an obligation for brands to help. There's no government order or executive decree (for the majority, anyway). But how brands handle this will color them for the foreseeable future and they would be very wise to support their customers and community. I had a personal example of this the other day. I haven't thought twice about my car insurance (especially since I'm not driving nearly as much as I was). But I get an email from the CEO of Geico (I'm sure it was personal ;-) saying that they were giving all their customers a discount since traffic accidents and other car-related incidents are way down. I wasn't expecting that. I didn't necessarily even need it. But the loyalty I now have to Geico is forever changed. As brands can “solve problems for all, protect all, care for all, collaborate with all and innovate in the public interest” they certainly should. Not because they have to, but because it's the right thing to do.
  • Posted on: 04/09/2020

    Will selling groceries help restaurants ride out COVID-19?

    I'm also seeing a trend the other way: grocery stores selling items from local restaurants (HEB is a good example). Either way, I see it as helping, but it won't offset (at least any time soon) lost revenue from venue closures. These new models may even be a play in the mid to long term as well as retailers/restaurants support their communities and deepen relationships.
  • Posted on: 03/27/2020

    The coronavirus outbreak has shifted the online competitive landscape

    Now is a time of community and support; not hard sells and countless promotions. People will look to retailers that are authentic and are also taking care of their teams at the same time. There's plenty of room for different tones within that (levity, partnership, etc.), but the most effective will be those that build (or grow) relationships vs. just a quick sale.
  • Posted on: 03/13/2020

    Publix gets more personal with its new, free club membership

    Publix has a great culture and great stores that have brought them a lot of success; Club Publix should enable them to take it to the next level. Customer data is an imperative these days to understand more detail around what's actually happening with customers. If they use it effectively, it should not only be received well, but it should drive even better engagement and better results.
  • Posted on: 03/12/2020

    Is opening pharmacies in other chain stores CVS’s new thing?

    Acquisition growth makes sense in oversaturated/saturated markets and I expect CVS will continue to to pursue in those areas. I'd guess that CVS still prefers standalone locations as a primary growth strategy since they can then manage the entire (and all-important) customer experience.
  • Posted on: 03/11/2020

    Are online sales metrics irrelevant for brick and click retailers?

    What is shared with Wall Street is a subset of what is tracked internally. I'm with Dick's (and the others) that no longer breakout ecommerce sales; that's the right move when assessing the company value. But what you measure moves. Internally retailers should be tracking every online (and for that matter in-store) metric they can get their hands on to make sure they're continuing to drive the results that matter.

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