University of Southern California

In Conversation with Marketing Master Lynda Resnick
USC Marshall School of Business, Bendheim Executive in Residence
September 30, 2011 • by News at Marshall

Lynda Resnick, vice chairman of Roll Global and the marketing force behind leading brands including POM Wonderful and Teleflora, began her career as an actress when she was just a child. Her business career began at the ripe old age of 19 after leaving college to found her own advertising agency. Resnick, the USC Marshall School of Business’ Bendheim Executive in Residence, spoke to Judith Blumenthal, professor of clinical management and organization at Marshall, about her career at the Davidson Conference Center on Sept. 20. Following are some highlights of the conversation:

Judith Blumenthal: You say in your book Rubies in the Orchard that you are able to sell ice to the Eskimos, but you decided not to do that. Could you tell us what it is that makes you such a great marketer?

Lynda Resnick: If I don’t believe in it, I can’t sell it. If I love something, I’m passionate about it and that’s infectious so that’s what has helped me in business. Also being a child star in a very limited way I assure you taught me to never be afraid of anyone or anything. So I was never afraid of public speaking because I had worked in front of a large audience.

JB: In your book one of the most striking things is the value system that has developed in you. I’d be very interested in hearing about where you had the opportunity to really make a contribution along those lines.

LR: A number of years ago, at a company called the Franklin Mint, we had to do a massive layoff. I got sick from it and I realized then, this was about 25 years ago, that it’s the responsibility of the business owner when you hire people to have a business that gives back and takes care of its employees and it is frivolous to be in a business that isn’t.

JB: I am curious about how you do business your way, but also how having an in-house staff works.

LR: I have sayings like “think inside the box.” Everyone says think outside the box, but the problem is inside the box and the solution is part of the problem. I don’t know how much I’ve done things my way. I didn’t have a traditional education, but if something works and it’s traditional, I’m the first one to do it. I don’t have to make a statement that way. The in-house thing is a big thing for us. We have 73 people in our legal department. We have a huge advertising agency in-house. We have a consulting group of 40 people, young MBAs straight out of school. That way we don’t have to rely on consultants. There are brilliant people in consulting, but often they come up with a plan but don’t stay there to see it implemented. It’s all about execution in life.

JB: What advice would you give to young students today?

LR: What’s worked for me is just being true to myself and not allowing people to run me over or scream louder and say that something is true when it isn’t. America will survive during these very challenging times, but the recovery is going to take years. So if you’re a student I’d say go into a business that’s global. If you are in a standard business, make sure it has a global footprint. And if you can be entrepreneurial and do something on your own, you may have a chance to do that.

JB: With the state of business today, is there any one or two things that should be taught at business school that you want to make sure the next generation learns?

LR: Ethics, ethics, ethics, ethics. Look at the state we’re in. This is the time for ethics. This is what’s going to get us back on an even keel, to do the right thing, to care about our fellow man and give back to society. This is really something that I care about the most. If people really cared about humanity, they would take more time to do the right thing and give back because, in the end, we all suffer if our society disintegrates don’t we? It touches all of us. We need young, wonderful people in business, but just keep it true.

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.