Blockchain Can Transform Retail Industry, Insider Tips From Kelly Stickel
“Fear Never Leaves, So Learn How To Move Forward Even Though You Are Afraid, That Is Courage” With Kelly Stickel
“Know that you aren’t always inspired, and you need to move forward in spite of that. It is using your will that moves you forward. Fear never leaves, so learn how to move forward even though you are afraid. That is courage. Consider if you can handle discourse and be disliked, pushing the needle makes many people uncomfortable. Don’t look to innovate if having everyone like you is important.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly Stickel founder and CEO of Remodista, a global think tank examining disruption in business. She is an international speaker and provides business insights through collaborative research done through Remodista’s platforms. In 2016 she launched a global Women2Watch program focused on pioneer women solving the future of business disruption. In the fall, she has plans to offer self-service business coaching through a mobile application for thinkers and dreamers heading to the very top in her HALO Community platform.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I grew up in Management Consulting working in the area of enterprise technology implementations and upgrades solving problems. I started in ERP’s then moved into HCM’s, Commerce Platforms, Marketing platforms, and then in 2009 mobile came into the picture. At that time, the world did not see mobile as a viable way to engage with the customer, so I started building conferences focused on mobile and co-created Mobile University and then Bricks and Mobile, both in Chicago. It was in this time of building made 4 observations. Why are women here and not on the stage? Why can I not get that guy off the stage? Why is everyone selling so much? Where is the education? In 2010, I went to my former CEO, Chris Dalton and asked if I could start my own organization while working for him, so Remodista was born in June of 2010. Remodista is a think tank looking at the disruption in business. Our purpose is to educate brands, cultivate women leaders and connect globally. We are a research business that cultivates its leaders on their way to the top.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
We have been doing a CXO Insights Dinner series for the last year and a half, focused on thinking through one business challenge at a time. The last dinner was a focus on Blockchain and how it is moving into the retail vertical both on the backend and the customer-facing side. We are able to think through a business challenge around things that “haven’t happened yet” and learn what the collective community knows. There are patterns that form, and we are able to take 40% of knowledge and made more assumptions, quickly moving the needle on what we know to be true.
Here are some general statements we learned after the session, from a group of 12 retail leaders this past March:
- Blockchain has piqued everyone interest, but there’s still a fair amount of ambiguity around it. It was defined in the discussion. One way to think of Blockchain is “A secure distributed network of verified strangers”
- Transparent ledger of facts that validate and verify transactions. Facts are replicated across several computers assembled in a peer-to-peer network. Facts can be anything from monetary transactions to the content signature. Members of the network are anonymous nodes. All communication inside the network uses cryptography to securely identify the sender and the receiver. When a node wants to add a fact to the ledger, a consensus forms in the network to determine where this fact should appear in the ledger; this consensus is called a block.
- We discussed how blockchain and bitcoin are not synonymous. Though blockchain’s original application was for bitcoin, the core distributed ledger technology (blockchain) is distinct from the cryptocurrency that is transacted on it (bitcoin). There are different types of the blockchain. For example, IBM Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum. Again, it’s important to note the difference between Ethereum as a distributed ledger and Ethereum as a cryptocurrency. Ethereum is among the blockchain’s gaining the most traction. That’s due to the open source nature of it.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have had a lot of people help me along the way, but in the last few years, my good friend Chau Banks, CTO of Revlon has worked very closely with me, as a Senior Advisor, to help develop how we think through disruption into innovation while keeping the political landscape moving forward in a steady pace. This methodology is helping our business leaders think their disruption and find the words to articulate their needs to stakeholders with the purse strings for testing the future.
Together, we built Remodista’s CXO Insights dinner series, and that led me to build and launch the Collective Think, which allows us to take the same concept to a larger audience. We will be launching the first one on the day of our Women2Watch Award Show and Innovation lab in NYC on September 20th. It will be very exciting to see the collective knowledge and patterns in the room on the other side of the groupthink.
What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
I am excited about transparency, protected consumer data, and at the same time, the data from doing business are shared among all parties.
Why? This means new solutions in retail around counterfeit tracking and prevention, theft protection, in the supply chain, tracking back to quality issues, security, and transactions processing to name a few.
I also like how blockchain is being used for the purpose. Starbucks has launched a program that is using blockchain to track the coffee beans in the supply chain journey. With almost 400,000 growers, this will make a huge impact.
I am also excited about how blockchain, as a database and general ledger, will be entering into other markets. My friend built a platform using blockchain and the cloud, and she her first POC is in the energy sector.
One of the thinkers at Mouth Media talked about putting all retailers on blockchain and giving each item a specific number as a way to work against counterfeiting. I see this as a viable conversation to continue in the application.
What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
The reality is that this global connected market effects every other piece of the world’s financial community. As cryptocurrency matures, it will become a force in driving international markets. Figuring out who governs the globe in this financial shift will be interesting.
With the newness of the blockchain, there are concerns around the cost of implementation and ownership within the business units when looking at it from a retail perspective
There is also a risk around the idea that cryptocurrency is here to stay, but we think it is. The positioning for crypto-power is palpable. There is a good vs evil feeling about it.
Third, there are always risks associated with testing a new technology. I was at Money2020 1.5 years ago, and there were no banks in the Blockchain/Crypto panels and conversations. Just one year later, in 2017 many banks opened APIs to start looking closer at it all.
There is a lack of access or even visibility to the founder with the original intent. There is concern about who is at the top of this engine.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
I left management consulting and a 6-figure job 5 years ago, to build a community that cultivates and empowers women leaders while doing business. I also took 2 years to found and build Women Influence Chicago. I handed the torch over to the Illinois Technology Association. They just received their first award for being a not for profit group in Chicago that helps women leaders.
What 3 things would you advise someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
· Know that you aren’t always inspired, and you need to move forward in spite of that. It is using your will that moves you forward.
· Fear never leaves, so learn how to move forward even though you are afraid. That is courage.
· Consider if you can handle discourse and being disliked, pushing the needle makes many people uncomfortable. Don’t look to innovate if having everyone like you is important.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂
I would choose late lunch with Oprah Winfrey in one of her amazing gardens. My next phase in life includes building a foundation using blockchain, the cloud, and mobile, along with a water partner, to build communities through a retail hub in Africa. I think she would have the best female network to get our purpose connected to the right people through other women leaders. I also think her outlook on the political landscape would be invaluable.