In the professional world, there may not be anybody there to hold your hand through a process or stay on top of you to see a project to completion the way teachers and parents do in grade school. There’s really something to be said for employees who get stuff done on their own.
David Ariagno is a highly accomplished marketing executive hailing from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. As an undergraduate, David studied International Law at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. For about twelve years, David worked at Kellogg Company, where he was the sole international representative for the corporation. David developed Kellogg’s international sales channel for distributing their snack foods and successfully orchestrated the worldwide supply chain.
During his tenure, David grew the company’s network from one to a hundred and twenty countries. As one could imagine, a feat of such magnitude required detailed knowledge of global markets and local receptivity to an American snack product, both economically and culturally. With his expertise and acumen, David helped Kellogg penetrate international supermarkets, mass merchandisers, convenience stores, and foodservice channels, all of which proved wildly profitable and set new records yearly for sales.
Most notably, David developed and launched the Famous Amos cookie snack brand internationally. After developing a marketing plan, David set to executing it in target markets. Besides the marketing, David also had a significant hand in refining the brand to fit the culture, prepping markets for the new product, and expanding the QSR concept as far as the Far East.
David founded Brilliant Marketing, which he runs himself out of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to this day. Brilliant Marketing operates as a food and beverage pioneering company within the international retail sales channel. Based in the United States, Brilliant Marketing builds branded and private label products internationally. The company represents select American brands and sells through various distribution channels comprising of full service distributors and retailers in each respective region.
Brilliant Marketing has over 25 years of experience building brands internationally Brilliant Marketing helps American brands to reach out to the world. Driven by quality, service, reliability and deep customer appreciation, Brilliant Marketing sets itself apart from the competition by leveraging its intimate knowledge of the market and all the moving parts, including management, brand strategy, advertising, logistics, and market forecasting. David and his team are experts in building business relationships and preparing product start-ups for long-term success.
Where did the idea for Brilliant Marketing come from?
I was in the banking industry. My roommate was selling sporting goods in the Far East. I had no idea how he did it. After I moved, I decided I wanted a business where I could develop close relationships with customers. Also, a business that would result in repeat business/orders. I started 25 years ago with a cordless phone and notebook.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I like lists. They are easy to make and you feel a sense of accomplishment as each item gets checked off. Prior to leaving the office I make a list of about 10 things I need to do the following day. When arriving at the office I can immediately jump in rather than spend an hour trying to figure out the next thing to be done. Being organized in this manner creates more time to strategize during the day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Asking customers about various food trends in their respective regions. Always be curious. Always be open to suggestions and willing to learn.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The growth of “Good for you” foods. Seems the category is growing very rapidly in the USA and now is starting to take hold internationally. Hopefully, we get rid of all the junk food and focus on nutrition.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
The qualities and habits that are essential is self-motivation and the ability to work independently. In the professional world, there may not be anybody there to hold your hand through a process or stay on top of you to see a project to completion the way teachers and parents do in grade school. There’s really something to be said for employees who get stuff done on their own.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Find out what you really like in a career. The earlier you know what you want to do the better you will be. Also, focus on math. People who excel in math typically do well in all other subjects. The ability to analyze the numbers, run the numbers and understand the numbers will pay off later.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
People seem to think other countries have as much of a need for USA products as we did 40 years ago. However, we have massively helped other countries grow their infrastructures and food industries. Therefore, the quality of foods in other countries has improved dramatically over the years. We’re helping other countries to be less dependent on products from the USA. This means products from the USA appear to be more expensive than locally produced items. Overall, less of a curiosity for USA products.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Entrepreneur’s have lots of high moments and low moments. The goal is constantly look at the high moments and disregard the low moments. However, take the low moments as a learning experience. Also, surround yourself with other entrepreneurs. The other people will help to keep your batteries charged. Negative people should be thrown aside.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Go straight to senior management of the brands you want to represent. The decision makers will save you massive amounts of time.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest failure is trust. I trusted too much and the person tried to take advantage of the situation. I had given the shirt off my back. I got out of the relationship and recouped everything. I had given him a great opportunity but he got greedy. Today, the person is going nowhere….bankruptcy, divorce, lost home and respect.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The Governor of Massachusetts once said he wanted a more transparent system for buying and selling real estate. Therefore, a universal system to make buying real estate easier. In addition to local taxes, have all water bills, utility bills and a line item for general upkeep of the property based on square footage of structure and size of lot. Some of costs could be applied based on number of people living in the home as well. All information to present the actual cost of owning the real estimate to the buyer…all based on actual invoices.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A valentine’s present for my wife. She is amazing and does an unbelievable job in everything she does.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Linkedin has been a very useful tool. Linkedin allows a person to see who is responsible for various parts of a company. It’s easier to reach out to that specific person.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Bill Gates and Steve Jobs books. These are essential because a person can understand how driven they were in creating their businesses. They also made huge sacrifices to reach their goals.
What is your favorite quote?
From my youngest daughter, If you don’t love yourself then you can’t be yourself.
David Ariagno on Linkedin:
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Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.