Hall of Fame: Jim Warren: The Value of Multiple Perspectives
Jim Warren, Car Toys’ senior vice president of merchandising, has lived a noteworthy career that has seen successes on both the retail and manufacturing sides of the marketing fence—and he says he has accumulated business and life lessons that have served him well from both.
Warren started in CE retailing while in college in his home state of Colorado, having "talked my way into a commission sales job for the local department store," he related. From there, he ran his own retail business for 10 years, which he took public, and then worked at Denver's Fred Schmid—"a great experience with powerful industry merchants like Bob Baird and Don Galloway—men I greatly admire and from whom I learned a lot." When that company was sold, Warren moved to New Orleans and worked for Paul Campo, "a great guy in a magnificent city," which is where he met his wife, Brenna.
ed, crediting "industry greats like Mike Giffin, Paul Bente and Gina Harman" with helping him to gain an invaluable supplier perspective on the business in his tenure there.
—and the retailing world. He credits Team Car Toys with playing a key role in his career achievements, and lauds Car Toys CEO Dan Brettler, in particular, as "truly a great individual that provides all of our 3,000 employees a daily example of how to conduct business and live our lives."
id, has been his great good fortune to work with "really smart people that were willing to take the time to teach me about the business—when to take risks—when to pull back." Many of his career milestones have been achieved by making big bets on strategies and seeing them pay off, for the most part. These included involvement in the launch of wireless kiosks at Costco, planning new-market launches in Denver and Houston, and starting a paging business in the early '90s. "These were all really fun projects—but the best part was the people you get to know along the way."
id he derives the greatest pleasure in his career from being both a student and an educator. "The very best moments for me come from seeing people you work with grow in their careers, learning from them, and teaching just a little bit along the way," he said.
As a manager, Warren said, "I am a great believer in collaboration. A lot of times, we get cooperation and collaboration confused. If we make solid efforts in understanding the other person's point of view, we're always better off. I suppose I'm part teacher, part coach, part encourager—a celebrator of great results, and a bridge-builder when we fall short."
ed Warren, is "taking the time to listen. ... A good friend of mine from Harman told me once, 'Jim, always allow time in a plan for thoughtful consideration.' I love that, and try and apply it to my work."
—not always easy in a rapidly evolving industry. He points to the changes in wireless technologies and the fact that "embedded devices are changing our lives so quickly"—changes that are exciting but also challenging.
d. "Too often we're so hard on ourselves, bemoaning car audio as a declining category. It simply isn't so. Some sectors are underperforming at such a horrific level that it drags down an industry that is performing quite well. Car Toys is up, year over year, in almost all categories, and I believe many other retailers are as well.
"As retailers, we must embrace change, be bold, and willing to do the hard work to bring the industry's products to market in the very best way possible."