Colin Watts is the CEO of JuvLife, a division of the company Juvenescence, focused on the commercialization of scientifically proven and branded health supplements, nutraceuticals, and medical foods that can improve human longevity and quality of life.Colin retired as the Chief Executive Officer of The Vitamin Shoppe (VSI) in mid-2018, having led the USD $1.3 billion retailer for the prior three years. Over 25 years, Colin has built a proven track record leading rapid-growth business across consumer packaged goods, food, healthcare services, retail and wellness industries both in the United States and globally. During his tenure at The Vitamin Shoppe, Colin spearheaded a technology and customer-experience driven reinvention of the VSI business. VSI created a new retail store and online design centered on personalization and “wellness coaching” across a 785 store network as well as online and mobile. Other notable accomplishments in Colin’s career include leading Global Innovation and serving as President of Healthcare at Weight Watchers, Chief Innovation Officer of Walgreens drug stores focused on building innovation around stores and pharmacy/retail healthcare services and serving as Global Operating Company President of J&J Nutritionals and J&J OTC products. Colin has provided growth leadership of numerous brand franchises in his career including Tylenol, Campbells Soup, LifeSavers, Splenda and Ortho-Tricyclen. Colin has a BA in History from Brown University, an MA in International Relations from University of Pennsylvania and a MBA from Wharton Business School.
What is your motto?
Balance is the key to happiness and success.
What are three words to describe yourself?
Driven, compassionate and idea focused.
What is the best part about your job?
My entire job has been designed to be the best part … all of it. We are structured to work on solving important problems: why do we age? Why do some people lose their mental health as they age? Why do people lose their physical health when they age? What is the difference between people who are successful in their aging, able at the age of 80 or 90 years old to live as vital a life as they had when they were 50 years old, and why do other people find themselves deteriorating to the point where they feel like they are prisoners in their own body? These are really big problems and big opportunities if we can get them unlocked. We are set up to bring the best minds and the best science, high-throughput screening, artificial intellegence, genetic, genomics…all of these amazing technologies, that are normally used for drug discoveries at Juvenescence are also being used to build our range of “supplements and nutriceuticals”. I get to use all the tools of some of the best healthcare companies in the world to develop “non prescription products”.
What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done – your greatest challenge?
I am a very passionate individual, therefore, the hardest challenge has been throwing myself into a career, and wanting to really be 150% engaged in what I was doing everyday in my job, while also being present in my family’s life. I have 3 daughters and an incredible relationship with my wife. The hardest challenge is really being able to move between those worlds and be comfortable that I can be successful in both. My life has been meeting lots of executives, male and female, lots of whom, frankly, would get to their 60’s or 70’s and feel like, even though they, on paper, were highly accomplished, in reality were really disappointed; in large part they were disappointed because they gave up something, they sacrificed something very important, in order to achieve something else. I tried very hard to make sure that when I’ll die, I can say, hopefully from a career standpoint, that I made a difference in people’s lives, that I made a difference in what I worked for, that I made a difference in what we developed… but separately, in my personal life, that I touched my family and that I made a difference in their lives and that they made a difference in mine. That’s my biggest challenge. I’m still working on it!
How do you define success?
Success is fully in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I believe that success is giving individuals an opportunity to achieve their own personal maximum potential. When I hire new people for my team, the first thing I tell them is “I stand for your max potential. My job is not to make myself look good, my job is to help you discover what you are capable of; and then to work with you, to push you and to provide you with resources to achieve that max potential”. If you go into every single day looking to potentiate others, to allow everybody to become that, I just find it highly rewarding. It’s important to understand that by helping others, you can actually help yourself. If you help people of your team become successful, they will ultimately help you become successful as well.
What are you working on now that you are excited about?
I’ve been given a gift, working on building JuvLife is extraordinary. We did consumer research last year and what we found out is that consumers don’t necessarily want to live longer, they want to be able to age healthily. They want to be able to enjoy a good quality of life as they age, with the people they care for the most. At Juvenescence we developed our mission statement which is “Inspire And Equip The World, To Reimagine A Lifetime”…the most important part of that mission was this idea of “reimagining a lifetime”. “Reimagine a lifetime” is not Colin telling Valeria to reimagine your lifetime on my basis, it’s your lifetime, whatever you want to do with it, however you want to live it… let us just be a part of your lifetime, let us provide you with means, therapeutics, nutriceuticals, etc, that can help you be in control of your own health, so that you can still live the best possible life as you age. The first product that we will be launching in the market this Fall focuses on “ketosis”; it focuses on helping people to achieve the benefits of a “ketotic states” which are cognitive benefits, cardio benefits and metabolic health benefits. In fact, the brand will be called “Metabolic Switch” and it will help consumers to take more control of their metabolic health as they move forward in their lives.
What are you grateful for?
I am grateful every day, in fact I wake up and I do my “gratitude prayer” every morning. I am grateful for the people I love in the world, for having been given some incredible opportunities, maybe I’ve been lucky, maybe I’ve earned some of them. I am grateful for my health and my mental capacity…I work on that a lot, to make sure that I keep both of them at a relatively high level. I am down in South Carolina, United States, right now, and this morning I woke up at 5.30am…and the sun rises here around 6.00am…I took my dog out and, as I was out, I looked over on the horizon and I could see that the sun was starting to rise…and the sky was just lit up…it was spectacular…in that moment, I was just filled with gratitude…I just looked at that state and I said to myself “how lucky are we to be alive no matter the Covid-19 situation we are dealing with, it is such a gift to be here right now”…so I am grateful for all of that!
What is your bad day backup plan?
Bad days for me, and I have a few of them, are always, or almost always, driven by “a loss of perspective”. Something will occur…I can drive it or things around me can drive it… but it will become a bad day if, instead of that negative thing that happened bouncing off and allowing me to go along with my day, it fastens…I focus on it, I obsess on it…and usually if I am doing that, it means that I’ve lost perspective. If I can catch myself, if I can be mindful about the fact that I am getting into that kind of a mode, I would tend to put the pencil down and I would walk away from that issue. I’ll go do something else: sometime that is working out, playing tennis, playing guitar, walking or talking to a family member…I would give my brain time to disengage from what was creating the bad day..and then, what I have discovered is that, when I come back to that problem from a different perspective, often I can find ways to solve it that I didn’t realize before! So my bad day backup plan is always about finding ways to create stimuli to allow me to have a different perspective on the problem.
What gives you goose bumps?
This is a fascinating question. What gives me goose bumps is unexpected harmonious moments. I pretended to be a musician early in my life and I listen to music all the time. Harmony is so interesting because it’s taking a collection of sounds and creates something bigger and, in most cases, something more pleasant than the individual sounds themselves. The thing I love, when I listen to some of my favorite bands, such as “Crosby, Stills & Nash”, “The Doobie Brothers” or various different “gospel groups” is when something, all of a sudden, comes up in a song that is “this harmonious moment” that was fully unexpected…that gives me goose bumps immediately! I go through life trying to be an observer…an observer of people, an observer of nature, an observer of music, an observer that’s looking for those special moments that gives you goose bump. It doesn’t happen every day, but when you find those “goose bumps moments”, you want to savor them as they are pretty special…
What is a rule that is made to be broken?
Any rule that is designed to constrain creativity is probably a rule that is inappropriate. As human beings, we deserve to be creative.
What woman has inspired you the most and why?
If you would have asked me this question 29 years ago, I would have said my wife…and I would say now, 29 years into our marriage, it is still my wife. She has a remarkable intuition; she has a unique sense for people and a unique sense for beauty and aesthetic.
PERSONAL HEALTHY LONGEVITY PROGRAM
- EXERCISE: I play tennis 3-4 times a week, and when I cannot play tennis, I still like to do a lot of cardiovascular exercise. I also do a little bit of yoga.
- MENTAL EXERCISE: word games. Active debate.
- DAILY SUPPLEMENTS: vitamin D, tumeric, fish oil, CoQ10, ketone ester.
- DIETARY PROTOCOL: mediterranean diet. I stay away from processed foods.
- SLEEP: 8 hours.
- RELAXATION AND STRESS RELIEF: walking, playing tennis, playing guitar, being close to the sea, to water.
- BEST HABIT TO CULTIVATE: learn to be curious, learn to ask questions.
- PERSONAL SECRET: when in doubt, have a piece of chocolate!