The Sexy Potato


There are watershed moments in our professional lives where something happens that changes everything. Mine was during a photo shoot for Lay’s potato chips.

Lay’s is, maybe unsurprisingly to salty snack fans, the largest food brand in the world, selling in 50+ countries with revenue of $1.7 billion. With a business that big you have to be very careful what you do in a package redesign - well, for obvious reasons. 

So there we were, shooting the sliced raw potato that appears on the back of the core plain flavor of Lay’s. My marketing partner was not happy. The raw potato was unattractive. The raw potato was missing irresistible flavor appeal, that je ne sais quoi.

She said “Philip, we need a really sexy potato”. It was in that moment that I realized I was not in the right place. And that I needed to make a change.

We finished the shoot. We had successfully coaxed the requisite appeal from the potato - as reluctant a subject as she was. But something inside me had shifted. Four weeks later I resigned from Pepsico. A potato was my tipping point.

We don’t get to choose our watershed moments. The trick is to use them as a springboard for positive change when they happen. For me it was a sexy potato. A potato that launched the most exciting and fulfilling chapter of my life.