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: 02/20/2020

    Are loyalty cards key to online-to-offline attribution?

    Loyalty data aside, there needs to be some unique identifier to support people in cross-channel activity. And there might not just be one vehicle to get to that unique identifier. A person may use a card in-store, their login on a mobile device and a cookie on their browser. They key is that they all roll to the same user and that there's value provided back to that user. Collecting all that data is really a value exchange with the consumer; making the (experience, discounts, content, etc.) worth giving up some of their privacy.
  • Posted on: 02/14/2020

    Is it time for retailers to move beyond fulfillment and on to experience?

    You can't get fulfillment right without paying attention to the customer experience. They need to arise together to make a meaningful difference. We don't necessarily need to create a new term, it's more we need to honor the original intention of what omnichannel really means: "rather than working in parallel, channels and their supporting resources are designed and orchestrated to cooperate."
  • Posted on: 02/04/2020

    Aerie looks to role model ambassadors to drive change

    The idea of having regular-looking models without airbrushing isn't counter to role model ambassadors that have an inspirational story. People can be both and it adds some dimension to the campaign. Showcasing inspirational people with the brand is a good combination that I think will serve Aerie well if they keep it focused on keeping it real.
  • Posted on: 02/03/2020

    Is Amazon’s speed killing the competition?

    Delivery speed is definitely a competitive advantage. There's a new normal emerging here around fast and easy delivery. And it is becoming easier for smaller retailers to support faster delivery with 3rd party partners. But it's not the end-all-be-all. Focusing on customer service, sustainability, loyalty or return privileges can all be alternative focus areas that make just as much of a difference for consumers.
  • Posted on: 01/30/2020

    Will 2020 be the year of less flash and more substance for in-store tech?

    Flash and substance are not mutually exclusive; the best tech implementations have elements of both. There's an easy way to spot the components: how does it make you feel as a customer (flash) and what results is it driving (substance). There has definitely been a trend towards more flash as emerging technologies make so much newly possible. Smart retailers are looking under the hood to be sure they are driving real results.
  • Posted on: 01/17/2020

    NRF 2020 Review: Human vs. Machine

    The sweet spot for robots is to do dangerous or repetitive tasks so humans are freed up to do what they're really good at: creativity and engaging with other humans. That naturally leads robots to warehouse work (already prevalent), restocking, transporting, etc. Of course, humans need to design these systems. But also engage with people in-store, using AI and other digital support to build and grow authentic customer relationships.
  • Posted on: 01/02/2020

    Is Rite Aid already headed for a turnaround?

    Rite Aid faces unprecedented change and competition, but at the same time can look at all of that as an opportunity. There are things to do to differentiate, for sure. However, the place to start is with their people. Years of chasing M&A and sour earnings has undoubtedly disempowered many of their team members. Bringing in a new CEO (with great early results) is a start. Looking at how to develop and grow their team by encouraging, inspiring and generating team-sourced ideas is the best place to find what differentiation there is to do.
  • Posted on: 12/19/2019

    Should the CMO role be retired, reinvented or reemphasized?

    Titles matter less than what the role actually encompasses and who is filling the role. Culture and cross-functional collaboration are more important features than what executives have on their business cards.
  • Posted on: 12/18/2019

    How should grocery stores leverage unaffiliated influencers?

    Sharing inspiration and building community should be high on the list of most every retailer. As people are authentically sharing their experiences, it creates connection beyond what marketing could ever do. Retailers should support these customer efforts, although it's not black and white. Sometimes it's appropriate to compensate influencers, other times supporting them with free product or other incentives is the right choice, or even just engaging and guiding. It all depends on the influencer, the situation and the channel -- no one size fits all.
  • Posted on: 12/17/2019

    Lyft rides wave of social responsibility to fix food deserts

    It's a great effort that I'm sure will benefit those in under-served communities. However, only by investing in these food deserts can we start to solve the problem vs. putting a bandaid on it. Retailers need to look at investing in the food deserts with new models, formats and technology that make operating there sustainable.
  • Posted on: 12/16/2019

    Will Hudson be more than just a newsstand with a new look?

    A new look is short-lived but if they're backing it up with new technology to enhance the experience, there's a much better chance they'll sustain interest. There are starting to be enough great customer experiences out there that it's becoming cost of entry to keep up.
  • Posted on: 12/09/2019

    Why do so many people say ‘no’ to retailer loyalty programs?

    A lack of perceived value -- you nailed it in the second sentence. Loyalty programs are a value exchange: I give you some of my personal information, you give me offers, personalization, content, etc. that's valuable to me. If it seems like retailers are asking for more than they're giving, it's bound to be a low performing program. The best way to handle skeptics? Show them real value delivered to other customers and their communities. Word spreads, especially these days.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2019

    Can Barnes & Noble afford to take it easy over the holidays?

    With only a few months of runway the new CEO should get a little breathing room. Sure there's some holiday benefit that's being sacrificed; but that could be small in retrospect to the changes coming. Rushing something incomplete to market might have been the bigger loss. Smart move and I look forward to what's coming.
  • Posted on: 12/02/2019

    Will its ‘culture of recognition’ be a game winner for Dick’s Sporting Goods?

    Investing in people pays off every time. Creating a culture that develops team members gives them a path towards meaningful growth and connection beyond just collecting a paycheck. The best part is there's no hurdle beyond breaking the existing status quo and empowering associates. It's not a surprise that this translates into better service and better sales.
  • Posted on: 11/27/2019

    Will 2020 be the year retailers digitally transform their supply chain ops?

    Fast/free delivery and customer service have to be at the top of the list. Whether that's delivered via third parties, with a CSCO or anything else is secondary as it delivers on a great customer experience. This isn't a 2020 phenomenon though -- it's a new normal in the future of commerce.

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