With Over $120 Million in Sales, Dude Wipes Is No Joke. Here's How the Company's Chief Executive Dude Keeps Things Fun and Profitable.

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CEOs carry a lot of weight. They manage businesses, people, expectations of stakeholders, and so much more. What makes these people tick and what does it take to be successful in this role? That’s what I’m on a mission to find out with The CEO Series. I’m heading to the workplaces of inspiring business leaders to learn their personal stories and gain insights into their methods for getting the best out of their employees and themselves.

Related: Avoid These 3 Key Mistakes for Team Success in 2024

On this episode, I visited Sean Riley, CEO of Dude Wipes. It’s a really fun brand that has outrageous marketing, but they are no joke. They’re projecting to do over $120 million in sales, and they are disrupting the entire toilet paper industry. Here are some key takeaways from that conversation. Watch the video above to hear everything Sean had to say about the dynamic growth of the powerhouse company.

On stepping into the role of a CEO

“Well, the first thing I did was change my title. I call myself the Chief Executive Dude because that’s more fun and that’s more who I am. And that’s what Dude Wipes is supposed to be. Just because you’re a CEO doesn’t mean you can’t be yourself.”

The surprising truth you learn as a CEO

“You have to kind of transition to doing less and being there more for people in a supportive way. You have to learn to let things go when you become a CEO, which maybe people don’t realize. They think, ‘Oh, the CEO does it all the stuff. Things keep piling up on their desk and they’ve got to do this, this and that.’ But that’s not what you want to do as the CEO. You want to have great people around you and have them grow and inspire them to do well. Think of Phil Jackson’s journey. You’re not taking the last shot on the court anymore. You’re not the star player. You’re stepping off the court trying to be the Zen Master. You’re trying to make sure that all of the things in all of the different parts of your business work well together.”

Origin story

“Our origin story is a fun and authentic one that I think a lot of people can relate to. It was me and my buddies sitting around, wanting to come up with a great business idea. And I put these baby wipes in the apartment and everyone started getting hooked on them. They were so much better than toilet paper and we started to wonder Why doesn’t something like this exist? From there it was all about figuring out how to build a brand that represented who we were at the time. Guys sitting on a couch, eating burritos, drinking beers, Googling everything. making phone calls. Who can make these wipes? How do I incorporate a company? It was just about knocking out one thing after another.”

On the key to success

“We made $150,000 our first year, which kind of blew our minds. But it was the emotional reactions we saw from people very early on that gave us more confidence than probably the revenue. When Dude Wipes got into people’s hands, they laughed or they passed them to other people. Making people laugh, and getting them talking was a high that kept pushing us. That belief that this will connect with people is everything. You have to believe day one this will be big. If you don’t, you won’t make it to some of these breakout moments like when we got on Shark Tank. We saw that customers liked it, so we believed we could do all these insane things and disrupt a huge toilet paper industry.”

Hear more from Sean about running a company with a truly unique culture in the above video. And check out more profiles of innovative and impactful leaders by visiting The CEO Series archives.

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