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Exclusive: Behind the Brand with On Running’s Olivier Bernhard – TalkOfNews.com

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Behind the Brand with On Running’s Olivier Bernhard

#Brand #Runnings #Olivier #Bernhard

When On Running co-founder Olivier Bernhard was a child, running made him feel whole. He had trouble focusing in school, and says that in today’s society he would have probably been given medication to help him focus. Luckily, his parents saw the energy he needed to expel and put him in a running club. That changed everything. The experience of moving his body and running gave him a sense of belonging and place and eventually he would grow up to be a pro Swiss athlete. 

“I’ve been a runner all my life,” he says. “I would say I’ve had this DNA in me. I started racing when I was 5 or 6 years old, and I enjoyed it. Maybe not so much to climb the podium and claim a medal. It was more the feeling of running, the breathing and heartbeat.” 

Bernhard–a multi-championship Ironman–never intended to be at the helm of a disrupter or challenger brand, nor did he intend to create a running shoe company. The idea sort of found him when he was looking at ways not to create new running products but to create a different kind of running experience and feeling. 

“I always felt there was room not for another running shoe but for a different running feel,” he says. “I had no clue how to build or manufacture a running shoe, but I had this vision or dream that stuck with me [where] I really wanted to bring that different feel to life in a running shoe.”

At the time, Bernhard was sponsored by Nike, and he first approached the company with his idea. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, he was rejected and that resulted in his beginning his own project and, later, company. Bernhard admits that had he been in Nike’s position at the time, he might have laughed himself out of the room as well, because the shoe prototype he presented was, in his own words, hideous. 

The first prototype for the On Running sneaker was a Frankenstein of sorts. Bernhard says he glued pieces of a garden hose to a traditional running shoe to create a softer landing and a springboard-like mechanism to push off from while in motion, sort of like shocks on a car. It might have looked a bit slapdash when he put the sample together, but the sensation when using the shoe was exactly what he was looking for. 

Bernhard describes his current career to me as “surfing a dream,” and says he’s always been happy because he’s always done what he loves. Even after Nike said no to him, he was determined to get his idea off the ground. Years of professional athletics had taught him that no often meant not right now, so he stayed the course.

Bernhard presented his concept to two friends, David Allemann and Caspar Coppetti, and while these two men thought the shoe prototype was terrible, they were converts once they ran in it. The three friends formed the company On Holding AG in Zurich in 2010 and quickly developed a somewhat cult-like following among runners. Once people tried the shoes, they were hooked and had no problem paying whatever the price tag to get their hands on a pair. 

Bernhard says that many people warned him not to compete against established juggernaut brands like Nike, Adidas, or New Balance, but he had spent years training in the Swiss Alps and he’s not one to shy away from an uphill battle or discomfort. He says he liked to go to the mountains to test himself and improve, so it’s no wonder that he’d end up in a similar position with a product–pushing it to its limit to see how it could be better. 

The On Running founders were less worried about competing in their chosen market and more concerned with creating a great product that they themselves would want to buy. By focusing on the product more than the market, they were able to not only find their unique niche in the athletic space, but also create a superior product and find immense revenue success.  

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Just starting your own business and having it be successful is a win, but On Running was in motion and things were about to get even bigger. After some time, the guys were approached by tennis legend and fellow Swiss athlete Roger Federer. Federer wasn’t just a fan. He was interested in getting very involved. Was this a Michael Jordan Jumpman moment for On? Maybe. Federer is arguably the G.O.A.T., and collectively the Swiss countrymen had a lot in common in terms of vision and competitive DNA. 

“He kind of knocked on our doors by posting Instagram pictures about going into tournaments wearing our shoes, and what we often do with celebrities like him or actors, we send a care package,” Bernhard says. “He came back and said, ‘Hey, can we go out for dinner in Zurich?’ and of course we didn’t say no! And that’s how we met and talked, and it was nice, but only a week later he said, ‘Hey, could I actually be a partner?’”

Federer came on board and even invested his own money in the brand. Along with the On Running team, Federer started designing a tennis shoe and spent most of his pandemic lockdown working on that. I ask Bernhard if it was a planned trajectory to go from running shoes to tennis shoes, and he says that it sort of just happened. To him, any kind of body movement is good, and it seems that On Running is poised to jump in where the team sees opportunities.

Bernhard tells me that On Running’s mission is to ignite the human spirit through movement and that was put to the test in 2020. Like most active/athletic companies, On emerged from the pandemic well in the black, and its 2021 IPO proved the company is a top-tier competitor in the athletic market.

Noting that Bernhard started his company shortly after the recession, I ask if he has advice for entrepreneurs starting out now during uncertain financial times. He says it’s all about products that are recession-proof. He notes that even during tough financial times, people will invest money in their health, and he’s not wrong. Now more than ever, people want to spend more time outside versus on their sofa and are finding more ways to work out and stay healthy. 

“If things get tough, then you prove if you’re made out of steel or a little plastic piece,” he says. “I loved to compete in [difficult] conditions. Even in 2010, we knew that it was going to be super tough. But we looked at each other as athletes. We said, ‘We want to found the company right now, and if we can survive this, we can take any storm that hits our boat.’”

On has proved that it’s a brand that can weather the test of time. It began in a recession; it thrived during a global pandemic. The founders have shown that their products are the kind that people will invest in even during troubled times. But what troubles Bernhard these days now that he’s been in business for more than a decade? He tells me it’s knowing that his company contributes to waste. Bernard impressed me with his connection to the outdoors and care for the land that has given him so much. Our interview took place a day before his birthday, and I asked him how he was planning to celebrate. He let me know that his kids had planned a beautiful day together hiking in the Alps. No wonder he wants to walk the talk and do his part to help preserve what’s most important.

“I always had a hard time being an athlete and knowing that everything I have on my feet and everything I wear is actually ending up in a landfill,” he says. “And I didn’t think that was going to change. When we founded the company, I was super excited, but I also felt bad because I felt that now I’m playing into that. We are producing more waste.”

Bernhard says that he brought this up to his partners mostly thinking that things would remain the same as they always had, but these days the company is taking seriously its pledge to contribute less to waste and is starting to experiment with recycled materials. Bernhard also tells me that On is experimenting with the concept of a subscription service wherein a consumer can return a pair of shoes when they’ve worn them out and once On gets the pair back, the company will send the customer a new pair and recycle the old pair and put the materials toward new products. He describes this as the products becoming circular, and it’s not a bad idea. 

The market has shown that consumers are comfortable with subscriptions. We pay for streaming services, subscription boxes, even subscribe and save on items on Amazon. Why not on our footwear? On is successful because it is evolving with the times. The founders have watched the world and the market change in the 12 years they’ve been in business, and wherever the trends are heading, they’ll be running right after them.

“We spend a lot of time in nature, training and moving, and we are very thankful that we can do that,” Bernhard says. “We want to help the planet to make sure that it’s going to stay for generations to come.”

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The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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Exclusive: FDA authorizes Covid booster shots that target omicron BA.5 variant – TalkOfNews.com

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FDA authorizes Covid booster shots that target omicron BA.5 variant

#FDA #authorizes #Covid #booster #shots #target #omicron #BA5 #variant

A medical staff prepares a booster dose of Pfizer’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine are seen at a vaccination centre in Brussels, Belgium, January 5, 2022.

Yves Herman | Reuters

The Food and Drug Administration authorized Covid booster shots Wednesday that target the omicron BA.5 subvariant as the U.S. prepares for another surge of infections this fall and winter.

It is the first time the FDA has authorized an updated vaccine formula since the original shots rolled out in Dec. 2020. Pharmacies are expected to start administering the new boosters after Labor Day weekend.

The U.S. has secured 171 million doses of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s updated shots so far, according to the Health and Human Services Department.

Pfizer’s new booster dose is authorized for people ages 12 and older, while Moderna’s new shots are authorized for adults ages 18 and older. The eligible age groups can receive the boosters two months after completing their primary series or their most recent booster with the old shots.

The U.S. will no longer use the original vaccines as booster doses for individuals ages 12 and older now that the the updated shots have been authorized, according to the FDA.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has to sign off on the boosters before pharmacies can give them to patients. The CDC’s independent advisory committee is scheduled to meet on Thursday and Friday to review the data and issue its recommendations for health-care providers.

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Bivalent vaccines

Public health officials believe the redesigned boosters will provide longer lasting protection against the virus and reduce hospitalizations this fall and winter. The new boosters target both the original strain that emerged in China more than two years ago, which scientists refer to as the “wild type,” and omicron BA.4 and BA.5 which are now the dominant variants in the U.S.

Shots that target two different strains are called bivalent vaccines.

The vaccine makers developed the original shots against the strain of Covid that first emerged in Wuhan, China in 2019. But the virus has mutated dramatically since then. Omicron and its subvariants have drifted so much from the original Covid strain that the virus is able to slip past the protective antibodies induced by the vaccines.

As a consequence, the shots’ effectiveness at preventing infection and mild illness has declined substantially as the virus has evolved. Though the vaccines are still generally preventing severe disease, the protection they provide against hospitalization has slipped over time as well.

“There is declining effectiveness against hospitalization and severe illness. The problem has been persuading the American people to get boosted on a regular basis,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, an infectious disease expert at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. Hotez led a team that developed a Covid vaccine based on protein technology that is authorized in India.

Original vaccines losing effectiveness

About 76% of people ages 12 and older have received their first two vaccine doses in the U.S., according to CDC data. About 50% of those individuals have received their first booster dose.

For adults ages 18 and older, three doses of Pfizer’s or Moderna’s original vaccines were 55% effective at preventing hospitalization from the omicron BA.2 subvariant four months after the third shot, according to CDC data.

Three shots were 19% effective at preventing infection from omicron five months after the third shot, according to CDC data from Aug. 2021 through May 2022. The rapidly spreading BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants have since driven omicron BA.2 out of circulation.

Dr. Peter Marks, head of the FDA office responsible for reviewing vaccines, said the hope is that the updated boosters will restore the high level of protection against disease that vaccines demonstrated when they were first authorized in December 2020.

“We don’t know for a fact yet whether we will get to that same level, but that is the goal here. And that is what we believe the evidence that we’ve seen helps point to,” Marks told reporters during a press conference after the authorization Wednesday.

The Biden administration moved rapidly over the summer to get updated shots ready for the fall. Public health officials are worried that the U.S. is on the verge of another wave of infection as more transmissible omicron variants spread, immunity from the original vaccines wears off, and people head indoors to escape colder weather.

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Pfizer and Moderna were originally developing boosters to target omicron BA.1, the variant that caused the massive wave of infection last winter. But the FDA told the vaccine makers in late June to switch gears and target BA.4 and BA.5 instead as those variants quickly gained ground. The sudden change in plans left little time for clinical trials in humans before a fall rollout.

As a consequence, the authorization is based on human clinical trials from the BA.1 shots, which produced a better immune response than the original shots, according to FDA. But it’s unclear how the BA.5 boosters will perform in humans since the data is based on BA.1.

Marks said it will likely be at least another two months before human clinical data on the BA.5 shots is made available to the public.

The most common side effects from the human trials of the BA.1 shots was pain, redness, swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, nausea, vomiting and fever, according to the FDA. The Covid vaccines also have a well established safety profile after administration to millions of people over the course of the pandemic, according to FDA.

Mouse data

In addition to human data from the BA.1 shots, the authorization was also based on animal studies from the BA.5 boosters, Marks said. In June, Pfizer also presented data to the FDA’s independent vaccine advisory committee that showed the bivalent omicron BA.5 shots increased antibodies in mice that protect against infection by about 2.6 fold compared with the original vaccine.

Marks said the FDA used the same process for the authorization that it relied on in the past for switching the strains in flu vaccines.

“We’re pretty confident that or what we have is very similar to the situation that we’ve done in the past with influenza changes where we don’t do clinical studies for them in the United States,” Marks said. “We know from the way the vaccine works, and from the data that we have, that we can predict how well the vaccine will be working.”

But some infectious disease and vaccine experts say the FDA should have waited for human data from the BA.5 shots before authorizing them. Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the FDA’s advisory committee, said data based on mice studies is not sufficient to justify authorizing the new boosters.

“You have to show some evidence in people that the immune response that you’re getting with the bivalent vaccine is clearly better, and those data haven’t been presented,” said Offit, an infectious disease and vaccine expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Human trials

“You can’t ask millions of people to get this booster dose without showing some human data that you have a dramatic increase in neutralizing antibodies to the BA.4/BA.5 strains as compared to boosting with the ancestral type,” Offit said, referring to the currently authorized shots based on the version of Covid that emerged in China, more than two years ago.

Michael Osterholm, a leading epidemiologist and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, also said more data needs to be presented on how the BA.5 shots perform in humans.

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“It’s not that I don’t think it could work,” Osterholm said. “But I think we need the data first to show that the immune response to this vaccine is equivalent to or better than what we have already.”

But CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, in a radio interview, said waiting longer for human data from the BA.5 shots could mean the boosters become outdated if a new variant emerges. Walensky said the change in the vaccine formula is small and should not affect safety.

“There’s always a question here of being too slow versus too fast,” Walensky told Conversations on Health Care in a radio interview. “One of the challenges is if we wait for those data to emerge in human data […] we will be using what I would consider to be a potentially outdated vaccine.”

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Exclusive: The 'Lipstick Effect' Exposes a Surprising Truth About Our Priorities in a Recession. Here's How Businesses Can Cash In. – TalkOfNews.com

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The 'Lipstick Effect' Exposes a Surprising Truth About Our Priorities in a Recession. Here's How Businesses Can Cash In.

#039Lipstick #Effect039 #Exposes #Surprising #Truth #Priorities #Recession #Here039s #Businesses #Cash

Brinn Garner is the current chief revenue officer of Orveon, the company that owns major beauty brands like bareMinerals, BUXOM and Laura Mercier, but 15 years ago, she was working for a different company when she took a late-night phone call that would change the trajectory of her life and career.



orveonglobal.com

Garner was talking to a man she was dating, dressed in pajamas with no makeup on, when she experienced a barrage of doubts. “I was feeling weak and vulnerable,” Garner tells Entrepreneur. “What if he doesn’t like me? I don’t know where this is going.”

So Garner decided to take action. She put on bold red lipstick — and regained control.

“Within minutes, the conversation turned,” Garner says. “I had the power. I was confident. And at that moment, the power of beauty dawned on me so much more — because that little red lip gave me power and confidence.”

Garner ended up marrying the man on the phone; the couple will celebrate their 10th anniversary next November. But that moment was a turning point for Garner, opening her eyes to what she’s since dubbed the “lipstick effect”: that powerful phenomenon of contagious positivity that so often starts with just a little bit of extra confidence.

Of course, there’s another “lipstick effect” on the brain these days, as inflation soars and a recession looms. The term refers to the resiliency of cosmetics sales amid an economic downturn, and it can be traced back to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Cosmetics sales increased from 1929 to 1933 despite U.S. industrial production being cut in half. More recently, former Estée Lauder chairman Leonard Lauder popularized the idea when he observed the same trend in 2001, following the 9/11 attacks on the U.S.

Essentially, many people might not be able to swing big-ticket purchases like a new car or tropical vacation in times of economic decline, but they can afford to treat themselves to high-end lipsticks (or other small luxuries) — so they do.

Related: 7 Recession-Proof Industries to Protect Your Money

“It opened up the market share opportunity and increased the potential of how much makeup could be consumed.”

Garner admits that no industry is fully recession-proof, but some, including beauty, are “recession-resilient.” “I’ve been in this industry for 22 years, and it’s wild what has changed and what has yet to change,” she says. “And I talk pretty openly with my retailers and with my team about how I feel it’s evolved and will continue to evolve, even as the world experiences various economic pain points.”

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Although “July got scary for a second,” Garner has noticed a strong August bounceback, which she attributes in part to spikes in travel and back-to-school shopping. (After all, consumers might need to buy a new shade of foundation to match their tans). Despite not being worried about the beauty industry’s outlook, Garner emphasizes the need to always stay on top of new developments.

According to Garner, beauty commodities are one of a kind — capable of changing the way a person looks, feels and lives. Today, part of beauty’s success stems from just how much consumer education has changed over the decades. Thirty years ago, if a girl wanted to learn how to apply makeup, her mom would likely take her to the department store beauty counter, where a sales associate would tell her which colors to use and send her home with several products, Garner says.

In the years since, particularly the past 10, the digital revolution has completely revamped that old model, Garner explains. The rise of social media and its influencers ensure that beauty education is just a few swipes away, and the breakdown of that barrier means the possibilities are near-limitless.

“All of a sudden, it became really cool, fun, interesting and exciting to learn how to apply and further the art of makeup,” Garner says. “Then it opened up the doors for education, which meant that people were more knowledgeable, savvier. They wanted to learn more, so it opened up the market share opportunity and increased the potential of how much makeup could be consumed.”

Naturally, that removal of an educational barrier extends beyond beauty, Garner points out. People are generally more aware of the goings-on in the world, she says, including climate and economic crises.

“Now, what I anticipate in the next 10 years is even more openness in the beauty industry, as people become savvier about tech, innovation, ingredients and the importance of all of that transparency,” Garner says. “I call it the ‘sustainnovation moment.’ Because we have to be responsible for showing people how beauty and life can work together.”

Related: How UOMA Beauty’s Founder Merges Activism and Makeup

“Making education easier and more entertaining is only going to help the customer connect more with the product.”

People want to look good and live better, Garner says, and, perhaps more than ever before, they’ve learned that life is short and it’s up to them to make the most of it — that includes being intentional about purchases, especially in a time of economic uncertainty. “So small things matter more,” she explains. “If I’m going to spend $20-$30 somewhere, I’m going to educate myself so I can pick what’s right for me.”

The good news is that even for industries that fall outside the strict scope of beauty, taking a page out of the self-care sellers’ playbook can go a long way toward safeguarding sales in the face of a recession.

Not only should businesses give would-be customers as much access to product education as possible, but they should also be mindful of upping the entertainment value of those resources — an absolute must, according to Garner, who was dismayed to find out just how dry they could be when researching power drills for her father’s Christmas gift.

“Making education easier and more entertaining is only going to help the customer connect more with the product,” Garner says.

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Garner also cautions against resting on your laurels, saying, “You can never keep doing more of the same. If we’re not trying to constantly evolve and anticipate where the customer is heading, then we’re going to get stuck in the past. We have to meet the customers where they are now and where they’re going to be in the future.”

Don’t sleep on tech advancements either, Garner advises, as staying up to date on the latest and greatest will keep the customer experience exciting and innovative — “then there’s a ton of potential.”

Along with that, be on the lookout for new trends, especially those cropping up in other markets, so you can plan accordingly. For example, Garner’s noticed an uptick in live selling in Eastern markets; it’s yet to catch on in the U.S., but it’s a strong possibility, as “there’s a lot of trading between Western to Eastern market trends.”

“That’s definitely something we need to anticipate,” Garner explains. “So we’re building a lot of our strategy around being very relevant in the metaverse and finding ways to make live selling easy, digestible and fun for the customer.”

Related: 100 Things You Need to Know to Succeed in the Modern Beauty Industry

Beauty products, like most hot commodities, help consumers feel good (no doubt something everyone wants in these stressful and uncertain times). But standing out in today’s saturated market requires taking things up a notch, no matter the product or service — that starts with education, and never stops with innovation.

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Exclusive: LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman on Hiring During a Downturn – TalkOfNews.com

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LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman on Hiring During a Downturn

#LinkedIn #Founder #Reid #Hoffman #Hiring #Downturn

If you think a recession is a good time to sleep on hiring, you need to wake up. Take it from Reid Hoffman, who started LinkedIn during the dot-com bust and grew it through the 2008 crash. Reid Hoffman knows a few things about hiring. Aside from creating one of the Internet’s most powerful tools for both job creators and job seekers, the LinkedIn co-founder and former CEO has a commanding view of the job market from his current perch as a partner at the powerful venture capital firm Greylock, as well as from his many interviews with entrepreneurs for his podcast Masters of Scale. As he prepares for the inaugural Masters of Scale Summit, this October 18-20 in San Francisco and online, he took time to discuss hiring amid economic volatility, technological change, and the fast-evolving workplace. Now, as the pandemic reshapes markets and another downturn looms, Hoffman, a 2011 Inc. 5000 honoree, returns to Inc. with advice on finding and retaining top talent.

How will hiring change in the next year?

During volatile periods, many businesses mistakenly play defense instead of offense when it comes to hiring. But if you have the capital and revenue, now is the time to hire, because others aren’t doing that. That will put you in a really strong position in two to five years.

People will want to get back to the office once they realize they’re missing opportunities to be creative with one another, build social capital and trust, and be better positioned for promotions. But we’ve also been ­remote for over two years. That’s going to have a lasting effect on hiring patterns. If the best person for a project or team lives in another city, managers will compromise by having them come down to headquarters for a week every six weeks, or something like that. Successful managers will learn how to identify what types of people fit well in this hybrid structure–and get the right ongoing training to lead and retain them.

Where can entre­preneurs make an impact?

How do you foster office culture in a virtual environment? How do you create better spaces for collaboration? There’s a whole stack of hybrid work-process things that either haven’t been created for the hybrid future or are just emerging. Tools like Coda, for example, adapt to your process rather than having you adapt to theirs, but I think we’re still in the first inning of building all that. Technology doesn’t get built in one or two years. It gets built in five or 10.

What about nontech businesses?

Every company needs a digital strategy–even, say, steel manufacturing. Your smelter might look the same as it did 40 years ago, but what about the marketplace? Your supply chain? Your logistics channel? You have to hire with the goal of advancing your technological evolution.

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From the September 2022 issue of Inc. Magazine

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