Tips From The Top: One On One With Robert Fried

I spoke to Academy Award and Emmy Award winner Robert Fried, CEO of ChromaDex, about his journey and best advice

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Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. How did you get here? What experiences, failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?

Robert: I had been researching the science of metabolic aging for nearly 15 years.  However, my father’s passing in 2013 prompted more seriousness about the science and the companies actively pursuing a solution.  Chromadex had secured patents, regulatory approvals and had conducted research on the most actionable solution in the world –  NAD. I joined Chromadex as a member of the Board of Directors in 2015 and as an executive in 2017.

Adam: In your view, what are the key components of a winning strategy in today’s landscape?

Robert: We live in an exciting time. Fundamental principles that have been steadfast and true since the advent of commercial society such as perseverance, integrity and work ethic are still critical. But today, ideas once perceived as science fiction actually come true. Almost anything imaginable is possible. Dramatic transformation can happen quickly and this requires a heightened ability to anticipate and manage change.  

At the same time, there’s a greater sensitivity to the feelings of others and we are more cognizant of how our actions are impacting the environment. Now more than ever, there is a larger awareness of how we can better contribute to social good.

Adam: How can leaders most effectively implement a winning strategy?

Robert: The ability to anticipate, innovate and evolve are now more important than ever.

Adam: What are your best tips for leaders and entrepreneurs on the topic of value creation?

Robert: Comedian John Cleese once said that when he turned 75, he came to the realization that no one really knows what the heck they are actually talking about.  The industrial revolution was only about 150 years ago. We are basically figuring this business thing out as we go.  So any advice should be taken with a grain of salt.  Having said that: 1. Think long-term. 2. Behave with consistency and integrity. And, most importantly, 3. Pursue each relationship with the objective of benefiting them more than you. Give more than you take. That may not feel best in the short term, but will generally pay off in the long run. It also makes for a happier life.

Adam: What advice do you have for leaders and entrepreneurs on the topic of competition?

Robert: Competition increases innovation and output and can make business fun, but it can also be unpleasant. Avoid seeing competitors as enemies. But remember that people can be people. Good business requires that you protect what you have. Be wary.  

Adam: What do you believe are the defining qualities of an effective leader?

Robert: The most important quality of an effective leader is not to just listen but to hear.  If you have the ability to hear what people are trying to say, you are 90% of the way there.

Adam: How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?

Robert: Humility. You need to recognize that we evolve and grow as individuals first and as leaders second.  The learning process never ends, and there is always an opportunity to improve. No one has all the answers, including you.  

Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?

Robert: Start by defining what success means to you. Second, embrace innovation but cherish execution. And think bigger.

Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?

Robert: Finish what you start.

Adam: Is there anything else you would like to share?

Robert: Try to make your work fun – it’s important to have passion and excitement for what you do. As a leader, your team will see and absorb this energy.

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