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: 06/28/2021

    Help Wanted: Authentic leaders to drive sustainable business success

    Authenticity usually isn't adding something -- it's taking away. Removing all the pretense, positioning and posing. I agree with having empathy, vulnerability, clear intentions and consistency, but if that guidance is layered on top of falsities it only makes the leadership (and the situation) worse.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2021

    Does every online retailer need to have a third-party marketplace?

    For some there are certainly benefits. But just doing what everyone else is doing, how they're doing it, because they're doing it is never the best strategy for meaningful growth. Every one of these companies would be best served rethinking their plans, partners and execution to create something uniquely suited to their market and customers.
  • Posted on: 03/10/2021

    Target begs your indulgence with its new store brand

    Developing private label programs makes sense in most areas and Target certainly knows that! They do a great job with it and I expect they'll see some success in grocery. Using data, specifically customer identified data, is they best and smartest way to uncover and grow opportunities -- something Target is a relative expert in.
  • Posted on: 03/08/2021

    Burlington Stores thinks small to grow larger

    Burlington would be smart to pair their smaller stores (all stores, really) with additional size or color options online. That would give them some additional capacity, especially if their selection isn't spot on for the market/timing.
  • Posted on: 03/01/2021

    Automated checkout ‘will be everywhere’ sooner rather than later

    There's no question that the pandemic has accelerated the rollout of automated checkout. It has also accelerated investment in that area, driving capabilities further and faster. I don't know if the experience is totally proven yet, but certainly on the way. It's not of question of if, it's a question of when....
  • Posted on: 02/24/2021

    Macy’s says it will recover and rebuild coming off a tough 2020

    I agree with you. Macy's simply re-directing some investment online isn't going to save them. But it doesn't have to be the end. If they would get serious about hiring different kinds of people, commit to innovation and new ways to do things, and shake up their culture, there could be light at the end of the tunnel. The problem is, those things are hard. And there's little likelihood Macy's would embrace them in a meaningful way. Let's split the difference and call it 4 years.
  • Posted on: 02/10/2021

    Will big food brands turn to home-delivered meals to drive future growth?

    It's not just the pandemic, there has long been an opportunity for CPGs to get into meal deliveries -- the pandemic has just pushed some to capitalize on it. It seems a bit contrarian on this thread, but I don't see the market for this stuff shrinking much post COVID-19. If there's the right value prop, it will continue to grow. Consumer habits take something to change once they're established. Besides, there's not going to be a point (at least any time soon) when we declare victory over the virus and life returns to "normal". This is it and the smart companies are operating that way.
  • Posted on: 02/09/2021

    Will retail pharmacies be the cure for America’s ‘vaccine deserts’?

    Working with distribution channels that are already in place makes a lot of sense; there's no need to re-invent the wheel. Not that it will be easy. Retail pharmacies will be faced with lack of supply and an influx of people visiting making it challenging to keep everyone safe and taken care of. All in all, benefits seem to far outweigh the costs.
  • Posted on: 01/04/2021

    Will Giant Food’s shelf labels with diversity call-outs drive sales?

    It's a good PR move. And it'd be interesting for Giant to share how much it moves the needle for those products and those communities. If they can show it's actually making a difference ... all the better.
  • Posted on: 12/22/2020

    Is free at-home pick-up of online returns practicable?

    Appealing? Absolutely. So appealing I could see some customers shopping with Walmart explicitly because of the ease of returns. Practical? Probably not given the costs involved at the moment. However if they stay the course, I’m sure reverse logistics costs will drop considerably. And it represents a better customer experience all around.
  • Posted on: 12/16/2020

    It’s time for innovation or stagnation

    What should be clear to just about every company is how fast they're capable of innovating. I've seen projects that would have taken years completed in a matter of months. Continuing that dynamic will serve them well as the outside pace of change is only accelerating. The single greatest place to look for innovation is around problems, issues and obstacles (for the company, for the industry and for customers). Approached correctly, those problems are literally the door to disruptive innovation.
  • Posted on: 12/14/2020

    The North Face called out for ‘virtue signaling’

    Too often the mission, vision, and values of the PR department are far different than what's actually happening inside a company. The North Face can of course refuse business with anyone. Far more powerful though to go to work on actually embodying that mission to "support the preservation of the outdoors" throughout the company.
  • Posted on: 11/24/2020

    To furlough or not to furlough?

    Employees are the most important asset! They're the front line and we need to support them. I don't think it's at odds with digital transformation -- done right, digital transformation should create a better overall experience for employees and customers.
  • Posted on: 11/20/2020

    Walgreens reinvents its loyalty program, launches 30-minute pickup service

    This story, beginning, middle and end, all revolve around effective use of customer data. The data should drive what rewards are offered, how they're offered, who they're offered to and even where new stores are located. Thirty-minute pickup alone isn't a game-changer and based on the complexity of the program they have some work to do. Walgreens has a real asset in their customers and the associated data -- they just have to use it.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2020

    Will pop-up e-commerce fulfillment centers help Walmart manage demand?

    The more flexibility in the RDCs -- the better to keep up with consumer demand changes. Especially if they can "combine inventory" to make sure both stores and individual customers are getting the products they're looking for. It's an easy concept that I'm sure is a logistical monster to get right. Good on Walmart for taking the step to figure it out.

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