The Manifista Podcast with Portia Mount

The future of work with Hasbro’s Samantha Lomow

November 05, 2020 Portia Mount Season 1 Episode 5
The Manifista Podcast with Portia Mount
The future of work with Hasbro’s Samantha Lomow
Show Notes Transcript

“Really be fearless from the start” - Samantha Lomow 

Samantha Lomow is the president of branded entertainment at Hasbro, the global play and entertainment company. She is currently responsible for leading popular brands such as The Transformers and My Little Pony, beloved by kids and parents alike. In this episode she talks about the importance of early risk taking and how she creates value for herself at work and at home. She also shares her view on the future of work in the light of the pandemic. 

Have a question or comment? Email us at [email protected].

Topics discussed in this episode:

(How to) excel in your corporate career  

  • I've always been a listener, and that has definitely served me well.
  • Take risks early, and really be fearless from the start.
  • I got to be involved in everything from T-shirts to theme parks.

The Future of Work 

  • There's never been a more opportune time for women leaders to bring innovation and creativity to the table. 
  • We (as women) often don't recognize the strengths in ourselves.
  • Think about taking on a bigger role for broader exposure, through a board seat.

The Future of Entertainment 

  • I think people will continue to platform surf, there's gonna be a lot less loyalty there. 
  • The trend of family viewing is going to continue and grow even stronger.

Resources Mentioned 

Hasbro (link)
The Autobiography of Malcolm X (link)
How I Built This with Guy Raz (link)
Ted Radio Hour with Manoush Zomorodi (link)
Sway with Kara Swisher (link)
The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova (link)
The Ride of a Lifetime by Bob Iger (link)
Circe and Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (link)


Portia Mount:

Samantha, it is so good to talk to you again. And I've been really looking forward to this conversation. So you've been at Hasbro for many years now in a variety different roles. And now as president of branded entertainment. So objectively, you've had a very successful career. And I'm wondering if your definition of career success has changed over time?

Samantha Lomow:

Thank you, Portia. So that's very kind of you to say I appreciate that I have to return the compliment, right back to you. I guess first and foremost, COVID has redefined my definition of success, really putting priority on the health and well being of my family. And not that it wasn't before. But the pandemic has certainly put it into greater perspective for me being home, and being with my family and being able to care for them in a much more significant way. And as far as my career goes, like many people I was focused on doing great work and delivering results and moving to the next level. And I'm still focused on all those things. But I'm thinking a lot more about how my leadership can have a broader impact over time. And certainly, as a relates to the business but also wherever I can be somewhat of a an informal or formal mentor or sponsoring our employee networks, like pride in women's leadership and really helping shape the careers of others.

Portia Mount:

Do you feel like you have more time to do that now that you're not traveling? It's so interesting, I've been talking to a number of women, many who like you, like me, we used to travel all the time, or we had these crazy commutes, we don't have those anymore. And it's interesting, one of the maybe few positive byproduct of this time is we get a chance to plug in a lot more whether it's plugging into our families, but also maybe getting more involved in aspects of the business than we would have had we'd not been able to because we were always traveling.

Samantha Lomow:

Completely, in my business. So I'm helping to lead a big pivot for the company, we just made a major acquisition to enable the acceleration of our emerging entertainment business and help open up new growth channels for our brands. And related to that, and this is more on the cultural side, I've sort of found myself in a bit of a cultural ambassador role, really helping to create a unified approach around a set of objectives and working to sort of propel the company forward around more of a shared vision, and driving value for the company that way.

Portia Mount:

That's really exciting. And integrating to cultures, company cultures is never easy, and is very much a hands on job as well, isn't it?

Samantha Lomow:

It is but it's also, you know, really rewarding, you start to see things move forward.

Portia Mount:

You talked about your role as a leader and I'm curious, are there insights that you've gained about your leadership style or approach that you've honed or changed over time?

Samantha Lomow:

I've always been a listener, and that has definitely served me well. I you know, always believe that good ideas and creativity are all around us. And I think knowing where to and how to tap into those ideas, sometimes by asking the right questions. I've worked hard to sort of hone that over the years. I think that listening is underrated. And but as a leader, it is really one of the most important things that you can do. Right? I've been fortunate to build my career in a highly creative and innovative industry. And I've been surrounded by some incredibly talented and creative people. And over time, I think I've learned to shift my style a little bit to be a bit more of a spark of ideas and, you know, help really bring people together around them. You know, still driving vision and setting direction but really letting the ideas take shape. And you know, that sort of ties back to the listening.

Portia Mount:

I really liked that you say that because I think particularly when we get into these leadership roles, I coach a lot of younger leaders and I think one of the hardest things for them. To understand is, you don't have to be the one with all the ideas like you don't have to be the one bringing all the creativity. But what you want to be able to do is help set that vision, help set that direction and kind of let the let those ideas percolate and let the team go to work to build that out. Exactly. So along the lines more of continuing to think about development, which I think is interesting, because oftentimes, what happens is people think, oh, when you become a president, or executive vice president or any leader, at a very senior level, that somehow you stop thinking about your own development. But I'm wondering if there are things that you are working on that you'd want to share, of course, that you're trying to learn now and your role as president?

Samantha Lomow:

Yes, I would say I'm always trying to learn. And I've been in the one company for over 20 years. And one of the reasons I stayed in one place so long is I've been able to try my hand at leading different businesses. But the toy industry is constantly changing. Over the years, we've expanded our business into entertainment and digital gaming and consumer products. And that's allowed me to work with some really talented individuals, both inside and outside the company. And I've learned so much from them. It's it's helped me grow, I'd say personally and professionally. One of my personal development goals was to get broader exposure through board position, and really hone my financial and operational skills. So I've now been a director for the past couple years. And that's been a really great experience for me.

Portia Mount:

I think that's awesome. Can you talk more about that, because it's certainly gold mine in the future. But when we think about the number of women who are serving as directors of public companies, the number is still pretty small. So you're kind of a unicorn, Samantha, and there are not a lot of women directors, I think now, especially in the last year, we know that there's been a big push to get more women and people of color onto boards, but it is a bit of a process. So I'm curious sort of how you navigated that, and what's your what's your thinking about that?

Samantha Lomow:

Yeah, I mean, for me, it's been a really rewarding experience. I've gotten to work with some really smart and interesting people. I think the biggest thing for me has been really being able to look objectively at all aspects of a business, and helping set goals and priorities and make decisions with that level of scope.

Portia Mount:

So for example, I know that maybe early in your career, you started in brand, yes. But now you've moved into operations. And I want to highlight this for our listeners, because this is really important to grow. And to excel in your career, you have to get outside of the lane, that is your specialty, especially if those specialties are more kind of functional roles, right, like so going into operations going into finance. I'm wondering if you have a perspective on that, you definitely need to be thinking broader as you grow in your career ascent, and being able to have that broad understanding of a business, and understanding where you can drive growth and where you can get value and how you can really operationalize the mechanics of a company. I mean, those are all things that if you are in a single discipline, it's just harder to get exposure to that. Yeah, I totally agree. And the advice I've given myself, and the advice I give early career professionals is you want to understand how your company makes money. And that sounds sort of basic, but it's true. And, in fact, every role I'm in and even as I've become pretty senior, I always ask the question, like, help me understand how we make money, right? What makes money for the company, what creates value for the company. So I think it's good advice to take no matter where you are in the company. So I want to pivot a little bit you were on a corporate board, which by the way, I have my praise Hands up, because if you look at the data, the number of women who are directors on the boards of public companies, while it's improving, it's still not anywhere it needs to be. And so I'm curious what is generally the process, generally speaking, because obviously, every corporate board is different. But if listeners are interested in getting on a corporate board, what should she do to be considered?

Samantha Lomow:

Most recruiting agencies have teams that specialize in board recruiting. So if you're in touch with a recruiter regularly, make sure you let them know that that's an interest you have. They can put you in touch with individuals that focus on that work. Or you can also seek them out directly through their websites or through LinkedIn. I think it's also helpful to identify the types of companies you think you would be a good fit for as a board member, and even specific ones, you know, you can be really passionate about, think about how you might position yourself to be a value to one of these companies, is your expertise and legal or finance or it, different companies need different things at different times. So you want to be positioning yourself for those, when those opportunities come up, and be ready to line up the type of expertise they need with your interest. I think you can also approach your head of HR, and assuming that they agree that it's a great development opportunity, they may be able to help you through their contacts.

Portia Mount:

Oh, that's interesting. That's I'd never heard that. That's actually a really interesting idea.

Samantha Lomow:

And, you know, generally, you need to check with them anyway, to make sure that they're supportive and that they allow employees to take outside board positions. And the only other thing I suggest not for profit boards are a great stepping stone.

Portia Mount:

Yeah, they are.

Samantha Lomow:

So if you're already involved in one, maybe think about taking on a bigger role for broader exposure, no through board seat.

Portia Mount:

I think that last piece of advice, in particular is really good. I sit on a number of not for profit boards. And I always try to get put on committees that are not the Marketing Committee, because I'd like to learn about more like operations or finance or the executive board. And it's always been a really good experience. I also find that nonprofits love to have corporate leaders on their boards, not just because of the potential financial support, but more importantly, the expertise corporate leaders bring. So I think that's a great piece of advice.

Samantha Lomow:

Yeah, and I agree. And I think the the not for profit piece is also helpful in balancing out that value equation. I think it keeps you grateful and grounded. And it's it's a good way to find things outside of work to help you grow too.

Portia Mount:

It does, it does. And I think it's important to as long as we're talking about that is joining not for profit boards that sort of match with your interest. So for example, I recently joined the board of our local Children's Museum. And my family's been a long time patrons of this museum, I love this museum. And so I was really excited to join that board, because they're such an important part of our community, but they're also a really important part of my children's lives. So to your point around values match. I think that that's really important. That's, I love that. So I want to pivot a little bit because you and I are talking during the pandemic, I think we're, what, six months in, although it feels much longer. And I'm talking to a lot of young career professionals, and they are panicking because they're not in the office. And it's harder to get FaceTime with senior leaders. Now, even though we're on probably umpteen zoom, calls and lots of emails back and forth, it's not the same as running into somebody in the kitchen, or in the cafe or in a meeting. And so I hate the term virtual networking. But I'm wondering if you have thoughts on how leaders can especially younger people who are trying to move up the ladder and build a brand inside a company, they're trying to be known? How can leaders increase their visibility when they're not in the office?

Samantha Lomow:

Here's a quick tip. And I do this. And it's so easy to do. So if you can join a video call just a few minutes early, you can catch the first one or two people and make a quick personal connection. You can ask them about their family about their day, and then you can always pick it back up offline at a later time.

Portia Mount:

That is awesome advice. I love that. Are there lessons you learned as a young leader where you're looking back now? And you think, wow, I really wish I'd known that 15 years ago.

Samantha Lomow:

Of course, for me one is take risks early. And really be fearless from the start, the older you get, the more responsibility you have. And I'm not saying I'm that old, but you know, the harder it is to do that. And I think for me, I took risks early, but unknowingly, you know, I moved from Canada to the US. It meant to long distance commute with my then boyfriend who's now my husband. So I guess that worked out, you know, and but I feel like I took a big leap. And actually we both did. But if I hadn't really thought about it, I probably wouldn't have done it. So I guess I would tell my younger self that even if you can't see how the steps you're taking lead you up your path to success. You will guide it intuitively. And so really listen to your gut.

Portia Mount:

I love that advice. Listen to your gut, and I totally agree about risk tolerance. I've always been felt like my risk tolerance was pretty good. And yet, you're right. When you get more responsibility, you have kids, you have student loan debt, all of a sudden, some of those maybe far flung types of roles that maybe you would have taken when you didn't have those things seem less appealing. So I totally agree, take more risks. And I love what you say Samantha, about trusting your gut, because oftentimes, we think other people know better than we do, right? Or that people have some secret insight that we don't. And I think, particularly for women, we often don't trust what we know, enough. So I like I'd like that advice a lot. So can you talk about a major risk you took in your career where you thought, I don't know how this is going to work out. And maybe talk a little bit about whether it turned out well or not. Talk to me about your thinking around risk taking professional risk taking and what that means for you.

Samantha Lomow:

Sure. So when I took the job at Hasbro, or 20 years ago, I had to move from Canada to the US. And I don't know that I had a lot of life experience at the time. And I didn't really know if it was gonna work out. But you know, my husband's always been my biggest supporter, and he just kept saying, What's the worst that can happen? We know we're gonna be together, you love it, and it works out, I'll follow and if it doesn't, you'll be back in our apartment in six months. And, you know, 20 years later, I'm still here. But just to give a little more context, when I when I took the job, it was to lead the Transformers brand. But you know, this was well before the movie. So this was back in 2001. And the brand sort of had lost its way at the time. And it was actually about to be delisted at Walmart, they didn't think they needed it anymore. Yeah. Which is kind of crazy to think about, that's kind of crazy.

Portia Mount:

That's kind of a big deal. Right?

Samantha Lomow:

It is. And our president who's now our CEO had sort of designated this the crown jewel and felt like there was a big opportunity on lock it and, and I was part of this small, scrappy team. And we went back to the core DNA of the brand, sort of back to its roots in the original Robots in Disguise. We reinvented it through product innovation and new storytelling. And a couple of years later, we had grown the brand back to 100 million. And it caught the eye of Steven Spielberg, who saw that technology had caught up to a place where he could make the Transformers really real on the big screen. So technology became a tailwind for us. And we all know, technology has the risk to it. And early in the development stages, you know, we had to work really hard to sell in, you know, this, this film to our customers and our partners. But here's an insight on risk that I kind of learned from Steven Spielberg at the time and going through this process, you know, regardless of the risk that he was taking with the technology that could be leveraged to bring the brand to life in a big movie. He told us that he was just going to make a movie about a boy and his car. It's so simple.

Portia Mount:

So simple. Wow, I hadn't even thought about that.

Samantha Lomow:

This was you know, back in 2007. And, you know, he made it relates to stone age. Yeah, sorry, he made it relatable. And the emotional connection was immediate, and it made our selling process a lot easier. And it sort of ties back to what we were talking about earlier with brands, but he brought in Michael Bay who directed it and he Bay bought brought Bumblebee and optimists to life. And almost overnight went from a toy brand to a global entertainment franchise with products, almost every category. And I got to be part of everything from product to.

Portia Mount:

Did the success surprise you, or did you expect it based on how you and the team were thinking about the potential of that particular property?

Samantha Lomow:

I think I felt it, you know, I just felt that it was going to be successful. But in terms of like a gut feel, yeah, just today just sort of had that element of newness, and really was groundbreaking at the time, you know, no one had ever really seen anything like it. And for me, just being able to be part of all the elements from the product and the marketing to the storytelling. I got to be involved in everything from the T shirts to the theme parks. And you know, I never would have had that career opportunity to lead the business through that period if I hadn't taken that first risk.

Portia Mount:

That's such a great story. Let's talk about failure. Because when you take a risk if you're lucky, 90 Fear not even if you're lucky. If you prepare and the stars align, you can kind of knock the ball out of the park, but what's equally likely to happen is it's not successful. And so I'm curious if there is a sort of setback or failure that you experienced that maybe while disappointing led to a professional breakthrough, or kind of new insight for you?

Samantha Lomow:

I have one that's a little funny is a bit of a gut check for me, I almost call it a double failure. I'm in the kids business and sort of being a marketer, and a mom has always been my, a bit of a secret weapon, because you're just that much closer to the consumer. So you have, yeah, a lot of insights. And I had been working on a brand relaunch and I'm not gonna say which one but one of the anchor items was ready for testing. So I brought it home for my my daughter, who's eight at the time, and she was in the right demo. So I wanted her to check it out. And it was this big place that you had to put together. And she spent about an hour trying to put the thing together. And finally she looked up at me, exasperated, and just deadpan said, Mom, kids should not get this stressed out about toys.

Portia Mount:

That's hysterical.

Samantha Lomow:

It was like a punch in the gut, you know, from your own kid. So it is a double fail, because of course, no surprise, not only did the item not sell, but it's just a good reminder for us to keep it simple. Keep it simple and keep the customer in mind whether it's your your child or not.

Portia Mount:

Right, put the customer at the center.

Samantha Lomow:

I probably could have learned that from Steven Spielberg. But it's not to wait for my eight year old.

Portia Mount:

I was just gonna say you got clobbered over the head by your eight year old.

Samantha Lomow:

But you know, it's I think we talked about wisdom being all around you. And it definitely applies to your kids. I've learned a lot from mine.

Portia Mount:

I totally agree with that. I'm always amazed at the wisdom that comes out of my 10 year olds, you know, My son, Gideon, the things he says to me sometimes are so scary, insightful. And which just goes to show you that you can always learn from everyone around you, you really can. I'm curious, as a corporate leader and a working mother, if you have any predictions for the nature of work, and how it will look, once we get on to the other side, you and I were talking before we got started, I was at a caregiving and work summit. And there's all kinds of really interesting conversations about what is caregiving need to look like we've exposed a lot in this pandemic, that used to when used to never talk about caring for aging parents, caring for a child with special needs, like there's all these kinds of things that remained hidden that we just sort of shoved away in hopes nobody figured it out. Now all of that's come to the open, I don't know that we figured it out. But at least we're having a conversation about it. So I'm curious if you have any thoughts maybe based on what you're seeing at Hasbro, or just your own experience as far as the workplace goes?

Samantha Lomow:

I think the workplace is going to have a lot more flexibility. The times where we get to be together in person is going to be a lot more intentional and will have a lot more purpose behind it. I think employers like Hasbro will put a heightened focus and priority around the well being of their employees. And I do you know, expect a lot of companies to focus on areas like learning and engagement. And I think they're gonna have to work hard to foster that sense of belonging and inclusivity for for people. And I think part of that, and this hopefully will be a benefit of that is it will help keep innovation and creativity thriving. And to the extent that we can leverage technology to really help us. That's great. I think there's a lot of benefits there. But I also think we have to find ways to get those spontaneous interactions and find ways to ignite ideas and even come together to solve problems and tackle big issues.

Portia Mount:

Yeah, it's so funny you say that just kind of following along the innovation line. I was talking to one of our executive team leaders. And he said to me, Look, it's not popular, but I don't think you can drive breakthrough innovation with the mostly remote workforce. So I think alluding to the fact that right now, at least in our office environments, our plants are still fully operational. But a large percentage of our office bound employees are still working from home. I know we've been having a lot of conversations about how do you have innovation when everyone's at home. And so I do wonder as much as I have enjoyed being at home and not having a two hour commute every day. I also know that your point around that spontaneous interaction, the chance to kind of drop into somebody's office and run an idea by them. That doesn't happen now. And we either got to figure that out virtually or we have to come to some middle ground where we create the flexible ability for people to work from wherever they are around the world, at the same time coming together around very intentional ways. Exactly. Let's talk a little bit about child care. We both have kids, your kids are a little older than mine, mine are five and 10. Remind me how old your kids are 10 1410 and 14. So you have like a early tween and a team of what's that like for you? And I'm curious, has Hasbro taken a position around child care? And again, maybe speaking not just about Hasbro. But more broadly, do you have a view on where you think child care is going for us as a country?

Samantha Lomow:

Thing you read right now is about how the childcare crisis is going to affect women. I think a lot of companies are looking at ways they can help prioritize flexibility for employees. I know our company has. But at the end of the day, you need to support women so that they don't have to make choices. And there's a need and an urgent need to have more diverse voices, not less. That's where we need to provide the support. I have this great story and sort of tangentially related and I was reminded of this by woman who leads our inventor relations group for games. And in 1948. Candyland was invented by a woman. And her name was Eleanor Abbott, I didn't know that she was a teacher during the polio epidemic. polio, a highly contagious virus that attacks the nervous system most people have are asymptomatic. Everyone has to mask and social distance, all eerily familiar. And the difference was is that back then children were highly susceptible. She was really passionate about the well being of kids. And when she became sick and found herself in a hospital with other sick children, she wanted to help them and take their mind off of things. And so she envisioned this game with bright colors and sugary treats, and gave them an escape when they needed it most. And so she took the game to accompany a times Milton Bradley, which is now part of Hasbro. And 72 years later, her creativity and her innovative solution has really stood the test of time. And I have no doubt that it has continued to bring joy to millions of families during this pandemic too. So in this time of disruption, there's never been a more opportune time for women leaders to bring innovation and creativity to the table. And just we need to do whatever we can to enable that support.

Portia Mount:

I love that story, Samantha for a couple of reasons. One is, you are so right that innovation happens during these times of disruption. I love that that's a woman. I actually buy Candyland for my youngest, who's five, and have taught her how to play it. It was really for the same reasons you just laid out. I was trying to find a break from all the screens. The kids have been watching and loaded up on a bunch of games. And it is amazing how that games actually so many board games have kind of stood the test of time, right?

Samantha Lomow:

Absolutely. And I think it's all about bringing people together.

Portia Mount:

Bringing people together. I think that's right. And there's all these memes about 2020. Being dumpster garbage year and 2020 has been tough by there have been some really incredible things about 2020. From the perspective of families, people are getting closer, people are really starting to think about their relationships connection. I also think to your point, this time is a unique opportunity for women to lead. And I think we're seeing a lot of that whether it's in politics, whether it's in corporations, we're seeing women break out even though we've been talking about sort of the downside of like they're not being enough to care and etc. The hell of virtual schooling for so many families, but it's also been a breakout time for women. And so I personally am hopeful that women will be a driving force in leading us into whatever the new normal is supposed to look like. I believe they will. So let's get a little bit more personal. A lot of executives, myself included, you traveled a ton before the pandemic, what's changed for you, since the start of the pandemic in terms of, let's say balancing or integrating work and family. I try really hard to not use work life balance because I actually don't think it exists. But what's changed for you?

Samantha Lomow:

Yeah, I totally agree. I'm an integrator. Well, we made a decision early on that my husband would stay home with our two daughters, because my job required that I travel frequently. You know, we really felt like one of us needed to be around and so that meant you know me Skyping into jazz concerts or quizzing Spanish over FaceTime. And it meant a lot more tasks falling on him. And I know that I'm the minority here, but I can honestly say that I feel like now because of COVID, I'm able to contribute more. Even if that's just throwing a load of laundry in in between conference calls, I'm sure. Yeah, but at the very least I'm here, I'm here for my daughter's I'm here for him. And I know we're the lucky ones. But I am so grateful that we've been able to be together throughout this entire pandemic.

Portia Mount:

That resonates for me, I don't think I traveled as much as you did. But I did travel a lot. And to be honest, it wasn't just the travel, it was the commuting, so have an 8am meeting, and I worked an hour away, and I have to get on the road at sometimes, like 530. In the morning, there was a period last year where there were 730 meetings because I was doing some work with our chief operating officer and he like 730 meetings I get on the road at 530. Or sometimes I would just stay overnight in a hotel, and you just get used to that grind. It's just part of the job. You just you don't even think about it. But I had this realization maybe like two months ago, where my my 10 year olds like, Mommy, I'm so glad that you don't travel the way you used to anymore, because we never saw you I was going to plays and stuff like that. But I just wasn't around as much. And oftentimes, they would be asleep when I got home, or they would be asleep before I left. So I agree that when you get that back, it's just so special. Absolutely. So a key to promote ability is creating value for one's business. I want to talk a little bit about unlocking value, what does that mean to you? And specifically, how do you think about value creation for your business? Or for yourself or, or even for your family?

Samantha Lomow:

It's such a good question. And let's start with family. Because I think value is really all about growth, whether it's personal and professional. And you know, as far as when you think about family, you know, we all work, whether it's inside or outside of the home to give our families, everything they need and more. And if you're a parent, part of your role is to sort of help your kids discover who they are as people and guide them along the way. And we want them to grow up to be happy and healthy and independent and interesting and give them permission to try different things and give them exposure, help them explore who they are and think about their values. And one of the decisions we took as a family a couple of years ago was to adopt a pet. And let me just say we were the last family you would expect to get a pet. Why do you say that? Not pet people. My husband is a neat freak. But my youngest is an animal lover. And I would call her the pet whisperer. And she sweet talked her dad into it. So we researched an amazing organization all run by volunteers. and friend of ours, they had just well they had just gotten a mom who just had a litter of puppies. And a friend of ours once told us that puppies are so much work. It's like having a baby.

Portia Mount:

That's like having a baby. Yeah, that's what everybody says.

Samantha Lomow:

Some of the best rescues are the moms. And you know, I think this person's exact words were no one ever wants the mom.

Portia Mount:

Oh my God, that's kind of poignant, actually. Oh, my gosh, I kind of hit me in the middle of my chest.

Samantha Lomow:

We got the mom, it was the best decision we ever made. She's a joy. She the girls help take care of her. We spend more time outside. We've met more people in our neighborhood. And it's just an amazing value building experience for our family.

Portia Mount:

I'm trying to not cry right now. Because that is super poignant. Also, I think you would be on trend with what's happening right now, which is lots of people are adopting animals right now. They're adopting dogs. In fact, I have read a number of accounts that you cannot find a puppy right now, it's hard to find just dogs period at the shelters because people are really wanting to have pets. And there's so much great data about how important pets are.

Samantha Lomow:

It really is. And I think during this, you know time of COVID they're a great source of comfort.

Portia Mount:

So you talk about unlocking value for your family. Talk a little bit about what it means professionally?

Samantha Lomow:

Sure. So from a business perspective, when you think about building value for your business or for your company, I try to think about it in three ways. So you've got the business side and that's where you're focused on you know, your business that you manage and then you've got the growth for shareholders. Are owners of the company, and then you've got growth for your employees, and they're all interconnected, I think the employee side of the equation is become more important than ever, how so people want to work for a company that aligns with their values and where they can feel that they can grow. At Hasbro, our mission is to make the world a better place for all children and families. And we try to live that mission through our business or our philanthropy. We give our employees time off to give back. Several years ago, we initiated a global day of joy. So one day a year, we have over 6000 plus employees around the world stop what they're doing and participate in projects that give back to their local communities. So the company organizes dozens of activities like giving toys, renovating schools, preparing meals, and it's one of the biggest events of the year, it really brings people together around common set of values. You meet people you didn't know in the company, and you connect with them in a different way. And I think it's hard to measure the value that's created. But you know, I'd say it's immense.

Portia Mount:

One of the things that you mentioned in terms of connecting the company's values to individual values. I certainly think one of the things I've seen over the last few years, especially when hiring early career professionals, is that value match between the individual and the company is really important. And especially for I think Gen Z and millennials, they want to know that the company they work for has the same values that they do. And so and, and frankly, I think that's a really amazing thing.

Samantha Lomow:

When you think about the business itself. new growth can come from new products and innovation in different categories or geographies. I mean, everyone sort of knows all the different ways you can drive growth. But when it comes to the brands themselves, it's a lot about storytelling and creating that emotional connection. And so if you're establishing a brand or nurturing an existing one, I think there is an element of aspiration that also includes making people feel good about themselves when they interact with your brand. And a lot of value can be unlocked there. Once that happens, you can sort of take your brand into a variety of consumer touch points. And it also allows employees that work on those brands to connect.

Portia Mount:

Yeah, and I have to give a little shout out one of your designers had posted on LinkedIn about a Mr. Potato Head that was made from biodegradable plastic. Am I getting that right? Yeah. And, and I remember thinking that's so cool. Because first of all, there are so many kids toys are made from plastic and you think oh my gosh, this plastic is gonna last literally for aeons. But for Hasbro to take the step to make a toy that is first of all, it's a well loved toy, Mr. potatohead hopefully there's gonna be a Mrs. Potato Head do that is it's a well loved toy. It's a great brand. And now taking the extra step for it to be a sustainable toy. It's a pretty big deal. And she was so that was so cool. Like, she was so proud of it. And I just thought this is cool, because this is the kind of toy that I want to buy for my kids.

Samantha Lomow:

Yeah, no, that's great. And you know, we're working on we're eliminating all the plastic from our packaging. So it's definitely you know, something we're working really hard on another aspect of it, this may tie back to you and your daughter, because I know she loves my little pony. She is obsessed with my little pony. And you know, one of the reasons I'm sure she loves it is the great bright colors and the cool toys.

Portia Mount:

It is that multicolored tail. And man I have to tell you is is everything. And she is she's got a My Little Pony Halloween costume, too. I love it.

Samantha Lomow:

But you know, we've worked really hard to establish the foundation of that brand around friendship and belonging. And I think that's a big element of it. And we've tried to put everything that we do from content development to the products through that lens.

Portia Mount:

So we've been talking about brands, we hear a lot about personal branding these days. And I'm curious, from your perspective, if you were advising an early career professional, and you were talking to them about their personal brand, what would you ask them to think about?

Samantha Lomow:

That's interesting. I've worked on World Class brands, you know, everything from Plato to pone. And a lot of what I've learned about creating strong brands and business, I think it would take an entirely separate podcasts that go through that things that apply to building a consumer brand also apply to building your personal brand. So you want to build trust, and confidence, you need to be a strong communicator, you need to show consistency. And you also want to evolve. And you want to show that you're agile, all while aiming to exceed expectations. And I think as women, a lot of these elements come naturally, especially the part where we try to exceed expectations, we often don't recognize these strengths in ourselves. And so part of building a personal brand is finding ways to promote our special skills and really position ourselves beyond our functional area of expertise.

Portia Mount:

It's interesting that you talk about finding ways to promote our skills, because there's been a lot of data collectors interesting, 2019 article in HBR, that I just read about how men are much more likely to self promote, than women. A lot of the reason for that is because the sometimes the penalty to women for self promoting can be higher than it is for men. So self promotion, telling people about the great work that you're doing is really important, as a professional. And I'm curious if if you've discovered or if you if there are things that maybe not for yourself, but for the professionals who work for you. If you seen strategies that you think work, especially for professional women, is it a tough one.

Samantha Lomow:

I mean, I've I've been fortunate to have had opportunities to build my career leading some groundbreaking initiatives for the company. And I think that's helped me along the way. Yeah, getting involved in different activities inside your company, whether it's committees, employee networks, event teams, special projects, I mean, anywhere where you can have an opportunity to collaborate outside your normal circles, and get noticed, I think that's a great way to do it. It's also, you know, a great way to find mentors, and even sponsors, and a lot of times those individuals can help you shape your brand as well.

Portia Mount:

I'm so glad that you said that I was talking to a colleague the other day, and we were talking about the importance of showing up and showing up for the small things, as well as the big things because whether it's working on a task force, or what we call, at least in my company, we call them Tiger teams, which are essentially temporary teams that come together to solve a problem. But it's those opportunities that give you visibility to other parts of the company that give you visibility to other parts of the company and give leaders visibility to you that are really important. And oftentimes, I think, especially earlier career, women may think how I don't know if I should spend time here, it's not related to my immediate job. But all of those opportunities, give people a chance to get to know who you are, and how you work and allow you to develop a reputation outside of maybe your everyday job that people may not know. And so I like what you say there.

Samantha Lomow:

Yeah. And I think you can also take the opportunity to share your accomplishments, you know, and getting to know other employees in other parts of the organization. I think that that's a good thing.

Portia Mount:

Yeah, I always tell young women like don't be afraid to when you get a great kudos to share that with your media boss to keep a file, even because a performance review times. The recency effect is real meaning we only remember those things that just immediately happened in the last few weeks. But if you keep track of that, I think it's totally okay. In fact, in some ways expected that you're going to talk about the accomplishment, the value you've created, for your business or for your team.

Samantha Lomow:

You know, one other thought just in terms of building your brand. I mean, I've worked for some incredible people and thought often about picking up traits that I want to emulate. And my very first boss is this incredible woman, we still keep in touch. But she took an interest in me personally and professionally. And as a manager and a leader, it's tried to sort of emulate the tone that she set for me and adopted that into my brand along the way.

Portia Mount:

I love that idea because there we are surrounded by people who do certain things really well. And there's no shame in stealing or borrowing other people's things that they do that you think work for you. I have a I have a Really great colleague, who asks the best questions. And I always think, gosh, I get asked questions like that. And so I've watched her really closely because I thought, that's something I really like to emulate is just asking really smart questions. I talked to a lot of early career, mid career women who are hardcore about their careers, and maybe struggle with figuring out how to fit in, let's call it energy management. Because to perform consistently, at a high level means you have to take care of yourself. I'm curious if you have figured out a formula that works for you in terms of managing your energy, whether around health, fitness, diet, spiritual practice, what's working for you these days?

Samantha Lomow:

These days is a bit of a loaded question. But I think even in this time, you know, I think we get a lot of personal energy out of finding meaning in our work. And, you know, let's face it, you know, we're exhausting ourselves right now physically, emotionally, and mentally, just trying to get through this pandemic, plus everything else that's happening in the world, that's a little crazy. We're being challenged in so many different ways. But it tried to think about the fact that energy flows both ways. And so when you set your intention around those things, like fitness and sleep and nutrition, I do think it makes a difference. I try to think about feeding your mind, and doing things that inspire you. And I love what you're doing with manifesta. Because it's just, it is a great way to get energy from hearing other stories.

Portia Mount:

Yeah, and I get a ton of energy. No, even though it seems probably like I don't because I keep crazy hours, but I it gives me a lot in terms of energy and creativity, etc.

Samantha Lomow:

Yeah, I'm sure it does. But you're also giving energy, you know, to others, which is amazing. I've been diving back into some of my favorite books, and I just reread yours kick some glass. Yeah, thank you, it's full of energy, I recommend everybody to check it out. I also think identifying what's draining you and trying to narrow.

Portia Mount:

So important, so important.

Samantha Lomow:

So I think for me, that's where fitness comes in. Because if I if I get stuck on something, I can go out for a quick run or a walk. And I do think that helps. But I also think as women we get drained, because we can't do it all.

Portia Mount:

Especially I think ambitious or career driven women, we tend to, we tend to want to try and do it all, when in reality is that there are limits to our energy, there are limits to our mental capacity to just think about multiple things. And I know personally, it took me a while to get to the point where I was like, I actually cannot juggle all of these balls. But once you realize, like, you're not No wonder woman or Superwoman. And you're actually a mortal that has limitations and needs to sleep and needs to unplug. It's like give yourself some permission to kind of not try to do it all you have to.

Samantha Lomow:

I have a fun pre COVID tip that I always give out to young women. And I think a lot of people feel a little guilt over not being able to go on sort of school trips and be the chaperone. And one thing that's always worked for me is I always have a box of ready to make cookies in the pantry. Oh, that's awesome. Because there's always a need for cookies. And always always, and it takes minutes. And so I always say there's always time to make cookies. Maybe that'll be the title of my book. I don't know.

Portia Mount:

I feel like that's maybe a book you need to write. There's always time to eat. As well, as well as unfortunately in my case, there's always tend to eat them too.

Samantha Lomow:

Well, you know, it works during COVID as well, because there's always something to do.

Portia Mount:

It's so funny that you say that because COVID seems to have unleashed the inner Baker and a lot of people and grocery stores. So we're sitting here it's a late October right now. But I remember I don't know if you remember this, Samantha in the early part of the pandemic flower, you couldn't find nice sugar. It was unbelievable. And I thought maybe I was just imagining things. And then I started reading all these articles in the New York Times and The Washington Post about how baking has been off the charts. And I think it continues to this day and maybe they just kind of re retool the supply chain around baking ingredients. But I remember thinking what's happening I can't find a package of yeast and it was true people were they were baking they were cooking. There's something very soothing about nourishing yourself in nourishing your family.

Samantha Lomow:

Yeah, for sure. And the only other thing I'd say that I've started doing recently is just writing things down. Write down your goals, write down things that inspire you. Because it's a great place to capture your energy. And, and a place to go back to and it does help you recharge, when you remind yourself of the things that are important to you.

Portia Mount:

And the book Kick Some Glass, Jennifer and I write a whole section on morning pages inspired by Julia Cameron the artists way. And there's again, really good science behind writing down your thoughts, journaling, bullet journaling, the process of doing that allows you to take things that are in your head and take them out of your head and onto the page. And there's something quite therapeutic about doing that isn't there?

Samantha Lomow:

There is another thing I think I picked up from one of my daughters, she does these gorgeous, elaborate bullet journal pages that are just they're perfect. I'm nowhere near that. But it is something that just allows you to unwind a little bit.

Portia Mount:

Yeah, I journal not every day, but a few times a week, and I have this special set of Sharpies that I use. And I have a special notebook. And I've been journaling for many years now. And it's interesting to go back and read journals from a few years ago to think oh my gosh, like this is what I was struggling with. And or this is what I was thinking about. It's pretty cool to go back and read what was in your head a few years ago. But I again, I think that there's something very therapeutic about journaling. So I have to ask this question and ask this every guest. I don't miss commuting at all. There's a couple of things that I've missed. Now, I've missed being alone, because I'm around my kids all the time, which I whom I love, but I'm around them all the time. But I also missed the driving time where I can listen to podcasts and audiobooks. And so I've created a new habit of listening to podcasts before I go to bed. And in fact, right now my son and I are listening to together The Autobiography of Malcolm X read by Laurence Fishburne, which is brilliant, and he loves it. And I am discovering this biography a new. So my question for you is have you picked up any new habits or rituals since quarantine?

Samantha Lomow:

Yes, I have. I'm a longtime runner. And with COVID I've actually been able to get out more often, which is fantastic. That's great. But I love to listen to podcasts while I run. And there's so many good ones. I love listening to Guy Raz, How I Built This.

Portia Mount:

I heard good things about that one. I haven't listened to that, we're gonna, by the way, we will link to these in the show notes too.

Samantha Lomow:

If you want to link to you can link to every single one of his. Manoush Zomorodi who does Ted Radio Hour I just get so inspired by all of their storytelling, but one I listened to recently, Kara Swisher has a new podcast called Sway.

Portia Mount:

I love Kara Swisher. I love all things Kara Swisher.

Samantha Lomow:

She interviewed Elon Musk. Oh, wow. You have to listen to it.

Portia Mount:

As soon as we finish here, I am not kidding. I'm gonna run and listen to this because she's such a great interviewer to. She's amazing. So we talked about podcasts, we will definitely seek out care switchers way. And her interview with Elon Musk. Are you a reader? Are there any books that you're reading?

Samantha Lomow:

I love to read during COVID I had a hard time reading a lot of distractions with doom, scrolling and all of that. But I'm back in my flow. And so I just finished The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova. And she's a known writer and psychologists and follows a story about poker players. Ooh, interesting. You learns the game and winds up winning and it's just got a lot of fun lessons about human nature and how to read a room and make decisions. And you know, it's not going to teach you how to play poker. But it's a it's a quick read and there was a lot of really fascinating insights that resonated with me. I've been rereading a lot of leadership books lately. I'm looking for inspiration I'm looking for, you know, resources. There's some great books out there, but one in particular that is just a fantastic read is Bob Iger, his book, The ride of a lifetime.

Portia Mount:

Oh, I don't know that.

Samantha Lomow:

It's all about Disney, but it really goes through his leadership principles gives you the history. It's an easy read full of rich tips and insights. It's really wonderful.

Portia Mount:

Okay, so I'm going to add that to my nightstand and we will link to it in the notes as well so that people can find it. I think one of the cool things about this time is people are rediscovering reading and because so many of us are not commuting or maybe don't commute as much anymore, and to be able to have time to read and or listen to audiobooks, I love to do both. It just kind of depends on what the topic is. I have found it to be one of the handful of pleasures that I've rediscovered during this pandemic.

Samantha Lomow:

If you're looking for a pure pure escape. Now, Madeleine Miller, she wrote two books, Cerci, and Song of Achilles, and they're all about Greek mythology.

Portia Mount:

Huge fan of Greek mythology.

Samantha Lomow:

Yeah, it's wonderful.

Portia Mount:

I'm just going to go ahead again, I will go first and confess, I watch way too much TV, I never used to be a real TV watcher, or I would watch whatever the kids were watching, which would be like, you know, Despicable Me 5000 times molana 500, you know, 500,000 times. But now I'm kind of watching, especially on Netflix, to watch TV. And if you do, what are you watching?

Samantha Lomow:

The girls and I made our way through Gilmore Girls through. So fun actually, we started before the pandemic, it took us a really long time. But a really great show about family to watch is Schitt's Creek.

Portia Mount:

My husband loves Schitt's Creek and by the way, so hard to say that properly.

Samantha Lomow:

It really is. But you know, I just wanted the the sixth season and I'm ready to start it all over again. It is hysterical, it's hysterical. It's heartwarming, it made me smile from end to end, it was just like getting a big hug.

Portia Mount:

I loved it. So maybe a little bit of a detour, I would love to get your predictions on the future of entertainment. And just not forward looking statements. Let's just be clear about that. I have been really surprised at how much entertainment has morphed in the last five, six months. And as an entertainment executive, I'm curious your thoughts about this. Netflix has saved my life. We watched Hamilton, when it debuted on Disney plus we seen Milan, we've watched all these movies that typically you either have to go to New York, you know, go to actually see the play that you wouldn't able to get a ticket to, or you have to go to the movie theater to see a premiere. And we're seeing all these sort of really interesting innovation. So I'm curious, any thoughts about what the future of entertainment might look like?

Samantha Lomow:

Oh, one thing's for sure is it's going to continue to be dynamic. Audiences will continue to have a lot of options when it comes to entertainment, and especially in the streaming space, there's going to be a lot to watch over the next couple years, because a lot of the studios have pushed their releases into next year, and even the year after, I think people will continue to platform serve. So there's gonna be a lot less loyalty there. I think as they try to find, you know, the shows that they want to watch. I mean, there's so many services now you can't possibly, you know, sign up for all of them. Now, one thing I do think that we'll we'll stick around is family viewing and the trend around families wanting to watch together. And I think that's only going to get bigger as the content continues to grow.

Portia Mount:

So what you're telling me is that we will not be able to reach the end of the internet then in terms of what we can view?

Samantha Lomow:

I will you know, put a little gentle plug in for Hasbro because a lot of our brands are so multi generational and I know that your son and I are both big fans of Transformers.

Portia Mount:

Yes. And by the way, not only is Gideon, a fan of Transformers, we've now converted his little sister into a transformer fan as well. I love it.

Samantha Lomow:

Well, you have lots to look forward to because we have a lot of exciting plans for new storytelling. We have series out right now that just launched called War for Cybertron. And it's an anime series on Netflix.

Portia Mount:

Oh, actually, the kids watch that. I didn't know what that was.

Samantha Lomow:

So we have that actually next year, we have our first fully CGI animated movie for My Little Pony.

Portia Mount:

My daughter's gonna love that.

Samantha Lomow:

Oh, it's gonna be gorgeous. It looks amazing. Everything I've seen. We also are reintroducing our GI Joe franchise with a feature film Snake Eyes.

Portia Mount:

Awesome. I'm so excited.

Samantha Lomow:

And then even more to come, you know, with brands like Dungeons Dragons and Peppa Pig and PJ Mask and more.

Portia Mount:

What a great scoop. And there's a lot of really cool things on the house bear site. And so we'll link to that. I love that. We got that little preview and I actually am a huge GI Joe fan. Is that going to be live action?

Samantha Lomow:

I didn't know that about you. Yes, it's live action. It's a it's a bit of an origin story. I don't want to you know, spoil it. Okay. It is definitely going to excite fans that know and love the franchise, but also I think it'll bring in a lot of new fans as well.

Portia Mount:

Oh, I'm so excited. When do you think people are gonna be ready to go back to me theaters and like have a good old fashioned popcorn eating movie going experience?

Samantha Lomow:

Well, it's a, that's a really tough thing to predict. I mean, I know that people have started to go back and some theaters have been open and the attendance or the number of people they can allow

Portia Mount:

It's not great ri ht now. Right, because soci l distancing,

Samantha Lomow:

I think people are going to be very careful and know a lot will depend on what happens in the next couple months. And I think if we get through flu season, people probably feel a little more comfortable and start to go back. I know a lot of people I've talked to really want to get back.

Portia Mount:

I think we just we want to get back out not only into theaters, but to go to restaurants to go to theme parks. And I feel like there will be some behaviors permanently altered, but I hope I am hopeful, especially once a vaccine is widely distributed, and accepted that we will get a chance to be together. I remember taking my kids taking my son to the last installation of Star Wars and we could have waited until I came out on video and watched it at home on the the widescreen but and it's so fun to go to the theater and watch it with a bunch of people and all have the same reaction. We've seen every transformer movie 50 times we always go to the theater to see it first because that experience is really incredible. Right? So hopefully we can get back to that really soon.

Samantha Lomow:

I'm with you.

Portia Mount:

We got to get there. We got to get there. Samantha it's been so terrific to connect with you again and as always appreciate your your insight and wisdom and cannot wait to see what you and the team are working on for next year that I think is going to delight families. I hope that listeners come away really seeing once again the potential they can have when they see women like you succeeding and doing it and uniquely her own way. So thank you for being such an inspiration. And I know we'll be talking again soon.

Samantha Lomow:

Thanks Portia.