Franklin hopes his effort inspires employees to embrace an active lifestyle.
Written by: Mark Johnson
Martin Franklin, the CEO of multinational consumer and industrial products company the Jarden Corporation, completed his tenth 10k run in ten days on Friday. Franklin, an experienced ultra marathoner and multi-time Ironman finisher, took up the challenge as a way to inspire Jarden’s 25,000 employees to embrace an active lifestyle.
We caught up with 45-year old Franklin the Saturday after his last run, and he was not slacking. “This is my rest day,” the irrepressibly energetic executive said. “So I played golf.”
During the running event, each day one of Jarden’s businesses, which run from consumer household goods like Mr. Coffee and Pine Mountain firelogs to outdoor sports manufacturer K2 and Penn fishing reels to industrial packaging, held a 10k run and 5k walk during their CEO’s visit. About 1,500 employees participated.
The idea was to inspire Jarden employees to embrace an active lifestyle. “The whole idea of getting outside as a group with their colleagues was something that they really enjoyed and appreciated,” Franklin recalls. “From that perspective, it was a huge success.”
While the back-to-back 10ks were not a significant challenge for the ultra-fit Franklin, the travel and temperature variances involved with running everywhere from the Pacific Northwest to Kentucky to New York were. “The travel and the variances in temperature in each run, it really does take its toll….In the course of 10 days we went from 92 degrees to six degrees to 42 degrees.”
Asked what he might tell someone who says they don’t have time to exercise, the astonishingly-busy CEO says “You can always make time for your health. It’s a question of priorities. Most people watch an hour of TV a day. Maybe they could take that hour. Or if they really are really intent to watch TV, they can do some exercise while they watch TV. There is always time. “
“What I told my employees, which I genuinely believe, is if you are healthier, you are happier.”
Training for events like Ironman and the 135-mile Badwater run takes discipline. Asked what takes more marshaling of personal focus, running a company with over $5 billion in annual revenue, or preparing for these endurance events, Franklin says “They both take mental discipline. In a way they are the same skill set.” While the New York-based executive feels business comes naturally to him, “Running something like Badwater, I don’t think that comes natural to anybody. I find business a natural extension of myself. I don’t find it particularly difficult. And I think that’s why I’m attracted to such things as ultra marathons, because they are such challenges.”
Looking back on his running tour of Jarden Corporation, Franklin reflects that many business units were inspired to start doing their own annual running events.
“I found a lot of people across our company that were inspiring. What I learned is the underlying willingness of people to want to be healthy. If you give them a catalyst, a reason, there’s a real desire.” He adds that numerous employees approached him to say “‘That was the first 5k that I’ve run. That was the first 10k I I’ve run. I never knew I could do it.’ That gave me a great feeling, and I’m sure that’s not going to be their last.”