BTU #122 – Army to CEO of Skullycandy (Jason Hodell)

“For example, we had a $180 headphone that wasn’t working – it wasn’t the right price point or form factor. Once we stopped trying to win there, and just focused on being great under $100, it was amazing the power that focus can bring to the team. Not spreading yourself too thin, but giving your team the one objective, the one hill – because if we can win here, a lot of other things will just take care of themselves.”
– Jason Hodell

Listen to the full interview here

Jason Hodell is the CEO of Skullcandy, which markets headphones, earphones, speakers and other products. Skullcandy was founded in 2003 and acquired in October 2016 by Mill Road Capital for $200 million. Jason started out at West Point, after which he served as an Infantry Officer in the US Army for five years. After the Army, he picked up his MBA at Wharton.He had an impressive career prior to Skullcandy, which we’ll discuss in the interview, and joined the Skullcandy team initially as their CFO & COO.  Since that time the company has grown revenue from $210M to approximately $300m, and he was appointed as the CEO of Skullcandy  about one year ago.

Why to Listen:

  1. Turnaround work at companies – Jason talks about the turnaround work he’s done at companies, which may be well suited to many veterans. It involves rolling up one’s sleeves, getting your hands dirty, and “improving the unit that is not the best in battalion.”
  2. Take the long view – Jason talks about taking the long view on your career and investing in learning domain or market expertise
  3. Finance – Jason started out in finance, and talks about how this gave him the mental framework to think about companies and evaluate them as well as understand the nuts and bolts of any business
  4. General Management – Jason has been CEO, COO, and CFO of some incredible companies and talks about why veterans may enjoy (and be well suited for) these roles.

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox – People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources:

  • Resources for finance
    • Can check out syllabus for corporate finance class at Wharton and see textbooks (or at any leading finance business school) – here is on example.
  • Book

Show Notes

  • Jason’s background
  • When you left the Army, you went directly to get your MBA – how crucial was that decision in your career path, and what advice would you give to veterans considering an MBA?
  • What was one of the biggest challenges you faced when leaving the military, and what advice do you have for those on active duty listening?
  • I’d like to focus on your role at Skullcandy, but what would you want listeners to know about your career path from Wharton to Skullcandy?
  • How did you first come onboard the Skullcandy team?
  • How would you describe your role as COO & CFO to someone on active duty? What did your day-to-day life look like?
  • You achieve an incredible turnaround – how did you go about this?
  • How would you describe your current role as CEO – what does your day-to-day look like?
  • How do you grow and get feedback?
  • What were the gaps you needed to fill in from the military until the CEO role?
  • What advice do you have for veterans seeking to be CEO of a company one day?
  • What resources – books, programs, podcasts, etc – have been helpful to you in your civilian career that you would recommend to veterans listening?
  • Final words of wisdom