Episode 93: Michael Marquis, President at Vogue International

For every entrepreneur you hear of, disrupting their industry of choice, there’s usually a corporate counterpart you don’t hear of, quietly team building and evolving their careers more than revolutionizing it. Michael Marquis has certainly been the latter, putting in a solid 22 years Johnson & Johnson and working his way up to his current role as President of recently acquired Vogue International.

In this episode, hear the pros of getting into a long-term relationship with a single company, with side-helping of advice on handling work relocation for yourself and when there’s a family involved.

Dan Hodgdon
AnnouncerWelcome to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY® hosted by Jodi Katz, Founder and Creative Director of Base Beauty Creative Agency.
Jodi KatzHey everybody, welcome back to the show. I am super excited to be sitting with Mike Marquis, president of Vogue International. Welcome to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY®.
Mike MarquisHappy to be here.
Jodi KatzI'm so happy that you're visiting us from Florida. Today might be the first snowstorm of the season, so welcome.
Mike MarquisI'm going to leave right after this to try to get back to the warmth.
Jodi KatzOkay, so then tell us, how are you spending your day today, other than being with us and heading to the airport?
Mike MarquisWell, obviously building the business. A lot of our media companies and our media partners are here in the city. So we do spend a lot of time here partnering… I had a meeting this morning with Google. We'll be meeting with our media agency later today, but you know, the world still does run through New York as it relates to media.
Jodi KatzWell, we're happy to see you again, because you used to be based here. The company Vogue International was bought by J&J about two years ago?
Mike MarquisTwo years, yup.
Jodi KatzBut you spend your whole career at J&J, so I want to list out the brands that ... I sleuthed through your LinkedIn, you can tell me if anything's missing. Johnson's Baby, Bandaid, Listerine, Neosporin, Desitin, manual toothbrushes and whitening, which for some reason didn't have brand names associated with that on your LinkedIn, Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Shower to Shower ... which I don't know if I know what Shower to Shower is.
Mike MarquisIt's a powder.
Jodi KatzPurpose. And that's all that I found. Did I miss any?
Mike MarquisAmbi, back in the day, which was a great beauty brand that we had, but we've since sold. But yes, that's a pretty comprehensive list you got there.
Jodi KatzSo I think ... it's super fun for me to look as an outsider into your career, because obviously it shows me that you can navigate through J&J easily if you want to grow or if you're ambitious. How easy was it to navigate that culture to get where you wanted to go and have these experiences?
Mike MarquisYeah, I mean, I think Johnson & Johnson puts a big emphasis on talent and development, and so while you have to ... usually the harder part is determining what you want to do versus the organization. I think there's a lot of great leaders and processes to make sure that people can kind of develop. Usually the harder part is when you sit across the table and ask somebody, "What do you want to do?" them having a really strong kind of foundation of what that is. I've had some great mentors who've given me good advice, such as there's a lot of things you want to do, they don't have to happen in a certain order. You can experiment and do things in global marketing or local or work in certain franchises or certain businesses. Many times we think it's a algorithm that has to happen in a certain order, and it really doesn't.
Jodi KatzSo this is really stunning for me to see. We talked about this on our call, because I mean, I've been an owner of my own company for many years now, so I don't even really know what it's like to be in a corporate culture every day anymore. But even going back early in my career, I worked at Condé Nast for like a minute. I had a very low level challenging job of being the assistant to the editor chief of Glamour Magazine. I wasn't good at it, and I didn't like it. So as a naïve early 20s year old, I went to HR and said, "I'm really into food. I'm not into this. Can we move me over?" By the time I left the HR office and got back in the elevator, it gets on my desk at Glamour, I was fired. So to me, it's like, "Oh my god, I can't even believe that you can actually do this." I sort of feel as naïve about it as I did back then, but it's so nice to see that there really are companies that let their talent grow and evolve.
Mike MarquisYeah, I mean it's a pretty supportive culture. You need to kind of, I think, as a leader kind of foster some of those interests. You have to realize that if peoples' interests don't align to what the company wants, it's not going to work out in the long term.
Jodi KatzSo how many years has it been?
Mike Marquis22
Jodi KatzAt what mark do you start getting the globe or the ...
Mike MarquisThere is every five years you get the email that right now goes to ... it used to be to a, you know, pamphlet of select your pens and your coffee mugs. Now it's an online site, where I think I got a mountain bike last time or something. So they've gotten a little bit cooler in terms of the awards they give you.
Jodi KatzYeah, that's an awesome ... is it like a Johnson & Johnson branded bike?
Mike MarquisNo. No, but they just did ... they make sure you get a pen that comes along with it.
Jodi KatzOh, that's cool.
Mike MarquisThat does have Johnson & Johnson on it, but yes.
Jodi KatzI think it's really sweet that companies still do this kind of thing. Okay, so let's talk about Vogue. Vogue owns a lot of brands, but we might not all know what those brands are. Tell us.
Mike MarquisSo yeah, Vogue International, which we bought two years ago, is the makers of OGX, which is the fastest growing hair care brand in the world right now and recognized by WWD as the number one most powerful hair care brand, sort of very prominent. It's really the crown jewel that we saw when we purchased the business. Maui Moisture, which was launched in 2017. Most recently, just hitting the shelves now, we've launched the Aveeno hair care line.
Jodi KatzOh, that's cool. So let's talk about OGX, because the brand is like every shelf. Obviously this is the strategy, right? Dominate the shelves and buy shelf space. What is the consumer experience when they walk into the store and they've never heard of the brand, or maybe that haven't seen social, but they just see it occupying so much space. What does that say to them?
Mike MarquisI mean, one of the things about it that we're trying to achieve, which I think is very different, is we wanted to be ubiquitous. We'd like it to be a very large brand. But it's still a brand of discovery. People don't, for the most part, know OGX as a brand. They know the squatty little bottle with the gold cap and argan oil and coconut milk. As they go to the shelf, they end up playing and discovering. They open the cap, they smell the fragrances, they look at the benefits. Part of what we want to do is ... well, we do want to grow and we want to be really a force within hair care overall, we don't lose that indie brand status that people interact with the brand it. So in most cases when I talk to consumers, I have to go through the ... we say, "OGX," and they kind of squint at you, and you explain it's a small bottle with the gold cap, and they go, "Oh, I have that in my shower. I know what that is, I love those products."
Jodi KatzRight, because they probably just shop by color.
Mike MarquisThey shop by color, they look at the benefits, they see the ingredients pop out. We get a lot of social sharing and word of mouth. I think that's something that's really special that we're working to preserve.
Jodi KatzWhat does OGX mean?
Mike MarquisOGX at one point, the brand was called Organics. The name needed to change, and so they shortened to OGX.
Jodi KatzSo you lived in the New York area for many years, right?
Mike MarquisYes, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Jodi KatzOh, Bucks County. Oh wow, you had a bit of a commute.
Mike MarquisWell, our offices are outside of Princeton.
Jodi KatzOh, okay. So is that like a 45 minute drive?
Mike MarquisAbout that.
Jodi KatzThen you picked up the family and moved to Florida?
Mike MarquisWe did, yes.
Jodi KatzSo for many of our listeners that might be actually thinking about relocating, what types of things do you need to think about, especially when there's a family involved, when you're not just one person?
Mike MarquisWell, we have two teenage daughters, Julia who's 15 and Lauren who's 13. So usually they are, like a lot of parents, those end up being the first priorities, so looking at schools and location and their activities and where they're going to be happy usually is the first priority. I had the ability ... I was commuting down. The purchase of the company came very quickly, so for the first year, I was commuting down on a regular basis. Over the course of that year, you were able to look at schools and locations and find where we would be happy.

A lot of times, as you go and you relocate as a family, one of the things that is really ... you know, you think about change, and some of that is scary, but it's a real positive time when you go to a new location and you don't really know anybody, and your time as a family ... you spend a lot more time together as a family, which I think is also a pretty cool part of the experience. So everybody's settled in now. We're entering our second year in school down there, and we have friends and activities, and back to the normal taxiing them around all the time.
Jodi KatzSo were the girls ... do they have sort of an adventurous spirit and attitude around it, or were they like ...
Mike MarquisYeah, I think so.
Jodi Katz... feeling dragged down by this.
Mike MarquisYeah, change is tough, but I think as we got into it and we started exploring around town and hitting different restaurants and trying new things, I think they have a pretty good spirit about it. They've had the opportunity to travel a bunch throughout their life, and so I think they have a pretty mature view on what change needed to happen. Do they miss the snow and they miss New York? Absolutely. So we've done some reverse spring breaks, where everybody's heading south, and we're heading north to hit some shows on Broadway. They'll still be connected back to this area.
Jodi KatzSo let's talk about you making friends, actually, in a new place. Because when my kids were really little, it was easy to make new friends, because I was friends with the moms and dads of the babies we were hanging out with. I think it's really actually hard to make friendships as an adult. How do you do that in a new place? The kids get school, so they have these opportunities.
Mike MarquisWell, you still make friends, I think, through parents even if you come in later. So we've had a chance to do that. My wife and I are pretty active, so between our gym, I'm a cyclist and usually go on rides with a group on Saturday mornings and go back to the bike shop and grab a beer or a cup of coffee. So through common interests, I think you end up finding people who you can connect with.
Jodi KatzSo I want to talk about fitness, because that's what we talked about on our call. You make time for this, right? What time are you waking up in the morning?
Mike MarquisI wake up ... well, I travel quite bit, so it depends. But if I was at home for the week, I wake up at about 5:00 AM.
Jodi KatzThat's your time to go on your ride or run or whatever it is that you're doing?
Mike MarquisYeah. I'm more of a morning workout person, so I have a pretty set kind of regimen that includes cycling, running, and weights. So depending on the day, it's a different workout.
Jodi KatzHow many years have you been dedicated to this as your time?
Mike MarquisWell, I was a collegiate rower. So I think the 5:00 AM workout was beaten into me for four years of rowing in college, so I would say since I was about 18.
Jodi KatzWow, that is amazing. I'm this type of person where, through the years, I've sort of evolved. It used to be the morning, and then it was night, and then it was nothing. Now, yeah, I definitely like morning better, because I know I'm getting it done, but I'm not dedicated to 5:00 AM wake up call, although I've started to do like 6:00 AM classes and start to really like it, because I've got so much more time in my day.
Mike MarquisYeah, no, it's great. It's also a good thing about the work environment at J&J, because they have a mission of being the healthiest work force in the world. So we have exercise reimbursement programs. The Vogue office is rather small, we don't have a gym, but most of our large facilities have gym. We have a major initiative, that even our place around the food that we have in the office, and there's fresh fruit there and things like that that really kind of enable that. So it's nice, because you end up surrounding yourself with people who are on the same mission.
Jodi KatzOh, that's so nice. So I didn't even realize that when a company says, "We want to be a healthy company," that they actually put it into effect. I just sort of thought it was words. So how do your other team members help facilitate this? Because it's very easy for that fruit bowl to turn into piles of cookies and candy?
Mike MarquisYeah, for sure. Well, we have a couple folks who lead the initiative, and they end up spending a lot of time making sure that the communication is out there and reminding folks about it. Then we're a tribal species. So when we have folks who say they're going to go to Orangetheory, they're going to go to the gym together, folks will end up gravitating toward that. Then we go and people are sitting down and they're having their lunch and they see that everybody else is eating healthy, they have a tendency to change their habits as well. Quite proud. Even as we came into Vogue and there was a lot of folks who came in from J&J who had grown up through that culture, I think we've changed a lot of peoples' lives for the better as they watch what the impact of what healthy living means to them.
Jodi KatzSo why was Vogue International a great acquisition for J&J? What was appealing about it for them?
Mike MarquisIn the major case, we are a really strong company in beauty overall at J&J, but it's mainly in skin care, so we were subscale within hair care. We had a couple brands that had played with it. Immediately with the acquisition of Vogue, we went from number eight in hair care to number four, and OGX being the largest brand. So it rounds out our beauty portfolio to be much more competitive across the two major areas of the beauty category.
Jodi KatzSo let's talk about a little life-work balance. We talked about how you carve out time for fitness, but you're traveling a lot. The first year of working in this company, you were traveling back and forth all the time. So I'm of this philosophy that I can do it all, but not all at the same time. How do you make time for the things that are really important to you when, you know, you don't always have control over where you are at every moment?
Mike MarquisWell, I have a lot of help. So shout out to all the people who help me make sure that I do have the right time and I'm in the right place, both at work and at home. I have two amazing kind of project managers, and my wife Jennifer, and Sheri who helps out and sets up times like this to make sure that we're in the right place at the right time.

But I think also, you have to be realistic of what you can accomplish. I'm a big believer in the fallacy of multitasking. When you're somewhere, you're focusing on doing what that is, and that includes your family and yourself and your work. So there are times were you're going to spend time focusing on each one of those, but you need to be all in during those times. I think we live in a world now where the work does permeate, I think, each day of the week for me, but on the weekends or different times, it's cut down in terms of the amount of hours. But I am up at 5:00 AM, so I can get some things done before everybody else wakes up. Teenage daughters are not up at 5:00 AM.
Jodi KatzRight, right. I want to talk about my experience with pulling away from work. I feel like at the end of the day ... yesterday is a good example. I work from home, I'm on calls all day, very productive day. Then 6:00 PM rolls around, I'm ready go to make dinner and be with the kids, but my body still craves my email. I feel like it's wanting to know what's happening in my email. It sounds kind of crazy as I unravel it, but I can feel like in my body, like my muscles and my heart and other parts, longing for it. I've actually noticed that when I want to be doing email but I am making dinner. I mean, I don't really want to be checking email. Nothing's going to be there. I mean, if there's an emergency, somebody's going to find me. But there's this craving for, I guess, the attention that my email is giving me all day that I am battling against, even though my whole point in being an entrepreneur is so that I don't have to do that. Do you ever feel that way?
Mike MarquisIt depends on if there's ... less times there are subjects that pop up you end up being on a 24 hour cycle if there's an issue or that needs to be resolved quickly. Sometimes that requires to be more connected. But in many cases, I think I've worked to be able to disconnect and not have that multitasking.

I think some of the worst feelings in the world as a parent is when you finally get a child or if you have a spouse that's talking to you about their day, and if you're just nodding your head and you're thinking about your email. It's not a good use of your time for either case. It's a great time to spend and really listen, but you're actually not accomplishing anything on that email at the time.

So I think it takes some discipline. I do put the phone in the other room when I walk in the door. I do read old school, physical books so that I'm not looking at a screen that could be easily distracting and going down the rabbit hole of email or social media.
Jodi KatzAlright, so I have gotten the sense that you're very disciplined, so I want to know more. Because I will leave my phone upstairs, I'm in the kitchen, my body's longing for it. It's not actually there. What would you do in your mind to unravel that desire to be where your feet aren't? I want to be where my feet are. That's my goal.
Mike MarquisI don't know, I think it just takes practice, I guess. I think you have to find ways of creating triggers in yourself to make sure that you're not kind of diverting back to old habits. We have a program at Johnson & Johnson, a company we own called the Human Performance Institute that does a lot of lifestyle coaching and training, especially for executives who are trying to manage their energy in the right way. I've taken that course I think four times now over the course of the years that we've had it. Each time, I learned something new that ends up being a trigger to help you get your energy and focus right. One of the first ones I remember learning was I came up with the trigger of when you hit the garage door button in your car, that means you're transitioning from work to home. It was a reminder each time as you're walking in the door not to be carrying what was going on in the dialogue in your brain into the house. I think, for you, it would be finding one of those triggers to make sure that you can be really focused on what you're doing versus thinking about what you're not.
Jodi KatzI love that. That's such a great picture in my head of that moment where it's like, "Okay, I'm ready to fold this away and open the next chapter of my day." We don't have an electric garage door at our house. It's like 100 years old. So I can't use that one, but I can find something else. Maybe it's like closing the laptop. It's some sort of active moment where I'm saying that, "I'm putting this to bed and starting something else."
Mike MarquisYou know, you're not going to find that you're perfect all the time and everything like that but it's a lot of finding something to take you back to center, to make you realize that you're doing it again.
Jodi KatzSo I've established for myself in my head, I need to draw pictures in my head this bucket system of the things that are important to me. So I have my kids bucket. I don't mean like just making them breakfast, but spontaneous fun thing is my bucket.
Mike MarquisYeah, keeping them alive.
Jodi KatzThat's going to happen, but that doesn't fulfill me the way like going to a trampoline park does with them. So I have that kids bucket, and of course I have my work bucket, and I have a Real Housewives, like Bravo TV reality binge watching bucket. I do have a husband bucket. Of course I mention him after my Bravo reality TV. It helps me, because I know I can't do everything every day. It helps me sort of get alignment on what feels empty. Do you have any system for that as you move through your days and weeks, and lots of travel, and pressures of work to be able to stay focused on things that are important?
Mike MarquisYeah, you know, I'm a big kind of to-do lists person and have things that are urgent to-do lists but also longer term one. I do journaling relative to work outs, so in the physical, written, not an app or anything like that, to write down that and how I'm feeling and energy and everything. I think I check back in against a lot of those objectives fairly often. You end up writing kind of your personal mission, what is going to lead you there. I use a lot of those reminders to kind of come back to and say, "When I look back at the last few months, am I living into that?" I don't think it's not as quantitative as measuring one against the other, but I think it's a matter of checking in as, "Are you missing something in life that ... " you know, as you pick your head up every once in a while.
Jodi KatzI love the fact that you said you actually journal physically with like a pen and a book. I, from time to time, keep a food journal that way, because I also write that I woke up exhausted, or that I went to bed late, or whatever it is, or that I have a headache or whatever. It is very meditative. I do chronicle my workouts in that as well. Obviously, it's mindful for eating, but also to get a sense of like, "Why is this week feeling so hard? Oh, because you've been eating not good things and not sleeping." It helps me recalibrate. I don't use an app for it, I feel like I want to keep that little notebook. Okay, so let's talk about with our last few minutes, you're running this section of J&J that is very physically separate from J&J, right, geographically. What are your goals and your hopes for your role there and what you are able to accomplish at the company?
Mike MarquisYeah, I mean, I think we have the right to be the most successful hair care business in the world. I think we have some great brands to start off on. Obviously, we have a scale of Johnson & Johnson behind us to be able to leverage across the world. I think when you have smaller businesses where you start getting challenged with growth or scale issues, supply chain distribution, those type of challenges, and now we have a global, multinational kind of behind us business to be able to scale it. I also think we're starting with brands and businesses that are at the forefront of the way consumers are choosing brands today, smaller indie brands that are focusing on global ingredients and beauty in kind of a new light.

We have an amazing team down in Vogue. I mean, an amazing passionate team that does work in a different way. Social media managers are on the platforms all the time, people who work with influencers, creative designers, craftsmen who work on product who are just amazingly talented in how they develop these ingredients. I think in the way that we develop products I think is the way that consumers want them to be made for them.

So yeah, we have really bold ambitions. It's a global business. We've launched into Brazil, we've launched into China. We are scaling it around the world. I was meeting with our Target buyer yesterday, last week I was with DM in Germany and talking to them about the business. So we think we have the right to really kind of take over the hair care world.
Jodi KatzAs you're traveling the world looking for those opportunities in different marketplaces, what white space do you think OGX specifically is filling in those markets that are not here?
Mike MarquisWell, I think consumers are looking for brands that are more tailored around ingredients and products that are designed specifically for them. I think we all thought personalization was coming to consumer goods in the, "Give me a sample of your DNA," and it will say Jodi on the bottle and all that kind of stuff, but I think what's really happening is the proliferation of brands, ingredients understanding, getting down to what your hair type is and making it easily discoverable I think is where OGX ends up coming into the marketplace. Because when you're standing in front of our shelf and you see coconut milk, or coconut curls, argan oil, and biotin, and collagen, they'll speak to you about strengthening or moisturizing in a very specific way against what your hair care needs, but it's not necessarily led by the brand, it's led by the benefits and the ingredients that consumers are looking for. So I think it's on trend for how consumers are choosing their products these days.
Jodi KatzSo when you describe how the benefits and ingredients speak to the consumer, it's in a, oddly for a business, very direct way. We're most often being spoken to by brands in a very emotional way or very marketing way or whatever, and not direct. This sounds sort of like the opposite.
Mike MarquisYes. I would say if you got into like our culture of our company, it's the same in the way that brands translate the consumers. We're product junkies. I mean, we love looking at products, looking at new technologies, finding ways to deliver great benefits. That message, I think, comes through very authentically to consumers. That we found an ingredient that does a great job on curls, moisturizes in just the right way. So that's what we put on the front of the package and in the story on the front versus trying to trick them into an emotional connection relative to the product.
Jodi KatzRight, I mean, I guess it's like a refreshing simplification of like everything else that's happening out there. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. I'm so grateful you shared your wisdom with us, and with me specifically so I can think about what my trigger is for when I transition from work to family every day. For our listeners, I hope you enjoy this interview with Mike. Please subscribe to our series on iTunes. For updates about the show, follow us on Instagram @wherebrainsmeetbeautypodcast.
AnnouncerThanks for listening to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY® with Jodi Katz. Tune in again for more authentic conversations with beauty leaders.

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