The Legally Blind Entrepreneur Who Turned Peanut Butter into a Million-Dollar Empire

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Pic Picot gives us some sage advice.

Up until he got the world raving about a straight-talking jar of peanut butter, Pic Picot had single-handedly helmed more businesses than you would’ve thought humanly possible. He’d made sandals for his high-school friends and crafted bags and belts throughout university before foraying into furniture and giftware, and creating  his own cannabis fertiliser concoction. One restaurant, sailing school and a laundrette later, Pic started making peanut butter that sold so well he was forced to acquire something he’d never had before – a team.

“I’ve always been pretty much by myself,” says Pic from one of his Pic’s Peanut Butter factories – the mercurial entrepreneur’s fourth since starting out with a cement mixer-turned-peanut-roaster in his garage in Nelson, New Zealand. Along with managing a fast-growing global brand (that screws a star-emblazoned lid on 15,000 jars daily, and turns over AU$10 million a year in sales from Australia, Vietnam, Singapore and China), Pic faces another challenge – macular degeneration, a condition that saw his vision start to deteriorate from age 50. Now legally blind, Pic relies on a passionate team of 35 employees (plus Fido, his labrador) to run his business and shares with us the benefits of putting your trust in others.

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IF YOU’RE TRYING TO DO EVERYTHING yourself you stifle people who are really good at it… In my previous businesses I’d pretty much done everything. And when the guys were making stuff I’d be standing over their shoulders and pissing people off. If you give them trust, it’s really empowering. You get the best out of people and it gives me space to think about what we’re doing. 

I GAVE UP ON THE STUFF I hated doing, like tax returns and accounting. It was wonderful to give it over to people who’d go, ‘Oh, yay!’. One of the hardest things to give up was the graphics – the design – because I really like that. When I started looking for designers I went through three or four of them before I accepted that, okay, they’re not going to do it exactly the same way I would – and that’s a good thing.

PUTTING EFFORT INTO YOUR people is one of the best things you can do. We had one guy I would’ve sacked in heartbeat… I thought, ‘Just get rid of him, give him five grand and tell him to go away.’ But now he’s turned into a really valuable part of the team. It’s phenomenal how people can grow if you give them the opportunities.

YOU REALLY DON’T FORGET the peanut butter guy with the guide dog. In business meetings Fido brings people down to earth. I go to 200-person conferences and he gets out and rolls around on the floor in front of the speaker. It’s a huge privilege to be the guy with the dog – he’s lovely to have with me and a real mascot for us.

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