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John Wurzburger Speaking at the Management Lecture Series

I really enjoyed giving this talk at Lakeland Community College a few years ago. In this speech I recalled how I joined Avery Dennison-Fasson Roll after jumping in on an MBA interview opportunity as an undergrad.

Avery Dennison-Fasson wasn”t technically looking for people like me, but passion goes a long way, and so I got the job. I joined the company as a sales representative in 1988 and was promoted to a marketing manager position in 1991.

In 1999 I was promoted to Vice President and moved abroad to run the Buenos Aires division of the company. This was an incredible opportunity because the entire Wurzburger family learned to speak fluent Spanish. We grew personally and professionally in a way that I could have never gotten on the job alone.

A few years ago I was tapped to run the American division of Avery Dennison-Fasson Roll. I’m proud to say that many of the decals you see on the sides of cleaning products, beers, cars, planes, and many more objects were made by Avery Dennison. We even invented the self-adhesive stamp in 1974.

In this speech, I highlight a few things I’ve learned.


  • Any chance you get the opportunity to change what and how you’re doing something, you should do it. If you’re not flexible, change becomes more difficult as you get older.
  • Never, ever, slip from your core values of integrity, honesty, people, and community. If you stick to these principles, people will respect and honor you over time. This includes both personally and professionally.
  • Prioritize and create a vision that everyone in the organization can feel. Then, stick with it. Swinging to the flavor of the day is a disaster for strategy and execution. You have to set direction and stay with it.
  • Find a way to get small wins as you work toward the bigger wins. This will help you build organizational momentum and steam. Once you have that momentum you can move the entire organization forward faster and more effectively. The great thing about this is that it reduces complexity.
    • At Avery Dennison we use the Horizons Methodology. This is about quantity and velocity of execution. If something isn’t completed within 90 days, we kick the project out because we don’t have the resources.
  • Leaders tend to focus on customers, but great companies aren’t created by customers, they are created by employees. That’s why, even though we are customer-centric as a company, as a leader I focus on my employees. That way I know that every time a customer service rep answers the phone, they know they are cared for and they will provide the best customer service possible.
  • Understand that mistakes will happen, but it’s the recovery that builds loyalty. We ship 95% of our product right but no matter what, we only hear about the 5%. You should spend as much time focusing on systems that focus on creating a great experience in the 5%.
  • Too much instinct and not enough data creates added risk.
  • Learn from the past and then forget it. The windshield is huge because as you’re driving, you should be looking ahead. In corporations, we tend to focus on what’s behind us. The race is all about what’s ahead.
  • No matter where you are, understand the business and be able to flow from strategic to tactical. The devil is in the details.
  • Manage for what you have and lead for what your vision is. Do surveys, get feedback, and really understand how people feel.
  • Risk and uncertainty equal opportunity for personal and business growth. Most people don’t necessarily think of those words as positives, but they can be if you’re smart.
  • Most important, enjoy what you do. Have fun and approach your job with a passionate, positive, and caring style. When you’re looking for opportunities, decide to do something you absolutely love.

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