Anyone can come up with an idea, and with enough perseverance and an entrepreneurial mindaet, can make it happen!
Richard Montañez started out as a janitor working for the Frito-Lay plant in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Inspired by a challenge from the president of the company to all employees to think outside the box, he came up with the idea of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, which is now the company’s best-selling snack product. Montañez now leads Multicultural Sales & Community Promotions across PepsiCo’s North American divisions, according to this article on the Fox News Latino website.
Montañez did a number of things very well in the way in which he added value to his job, which I want to bring to your attention:
Recognize the opportunity: First, Montañez recognized an opportunity – that’s the obvious part. As a born entrepreneur, he was always alert to ideas and opportunities, and wasn’t afraid to pursue them, even in grade school. In Up Your Impact, I talk about the need to be mindful of opportunities, so you can recognize them when they show up. Montañez exemplifies this strategy.
Ask for feedback on your idea: Next, Montañez shared samples of his new snack with family and close close friends. They functioned like a focus group, giving him feedback on his recipe. Whenever we’re thinking about a new idea, we need to validate it with a small group of people whom we trust to be honest with us – who will tell us what they like and what they don’t – so we can improve the idea.
What’s less obvious is that Montañez, who has no background in product development, employed just-in-time learning to prepare his presentation to Frito-Lay executives. He went to a source of free knowledge – the library – and found a model for a marketing strategy, which he used to create his proposal. He also mocked up a snack bag design, in which he placed samples of his hot new confection. I just love this guy’s resourcefulness!
Overcome barriers: He even had to overcome a major language barrier to sell his big idea. At the time, Montañez spoke little or no English. Talk about overcoming obstacles! This man is a paragon of persistence!
Keep adding value, even after your first big success: Montañez didn’t get to the position he’s in today by just coming up with one great product idea. Chances are, he worked long and hard to make the case to Frito-Lay senior management that the Hispanic market was expanding, and that the company could be successful developing products tailored to their tastes.In other words, I’m sure he has identified additional opportunities for Frito-Lay to grow its business in this emerging market. In so doing, he has added a lot of value to his work.
Kudos to the senior management team at Frito-Lay for not just patting Montañez on the head, maybe giving him a bonus or some other sort of perk for his winning idea and sending him back to the plant to resume his janitorial duties. They obviously realized they had someone special on their hands, with an entrepreneurial spirit and the passion to make great things happen. Wouldn’t you like to be recognized in that way in your organization?
The Richard Montañez story proves that anyone with an entrepreneurial mindset can identify opportunities, generate ideas and be successful with them. They can add tremendous value to their work, and in so doing, help to enrich our world.