A. Gary Anderson
Graduate School of Management

Dean's Speaker Series with Mark Rampolla

Riverside, Ca –

Nine Life Lessons from Mark Rampolla

Dean's Speaker Series Live at the Fox Performing Arts Theater

“Reach higher to build great businesses, not settling only for profit maximization,” said Mark Rampolla to a full house at the Fox Performing Arts Center, Riverside, California, as part of the UCR School of Business Dean’s Speaker Series, February 9, 2017. Mark Rampolla is the founder and former CEO of ZICO Coconut Water, a $1 Billion brand. Rampolla raised capital from friends, family, and angel investors, and launched in New York in the summer of 2004. From selling out of his van to yoga studios, he built the $1 billion brand that ZICO is today.

Rampolla told his personal journey to a record-setting crowd at the Fox, and finished his talk with nine life lessons that have helped him get where he is today. He encouraged everyone in attendance to reach higher not just in business but in life.

“Build a great life,” Rampolla encouraged and challenged. “It’s not like any of us are getting out alive. ”


9 Life Lessons 

1. Have a plan. Not a business plan but a “Life Plan.” What do you want to do with your life? What are your goals? What do I want to accomplish? What fun do I want to have? Who do you want to be?

2. Practice “purposelessness.” There’s a time and place for planning and organization. But one of the skills we don’t teach or learn is purposelessness. Time for thought. Time for nothing. It helps to take vacations. It helps to take weekends, nights off, detach from your phone every once in a while.

3. Know and love yourself. The greatest business people in the world know and love themselves. They know their weaknesses and strengths. Love yourself but at the same time tame the “ego.” I don’t know of a more dangerous thing in business than ego.

4. Take a risk. Easy to say, we all know it. But I can’t tell you how important it has been in my life to take a risk. Join the Peace Corps, apply to grad school, even get married, raise kids.

5. Have a Plan B. Take a risk but have a Plan B. Like most of these lessons there is a balance, a ying and yang. Your Plan B should be as thought out as your Plan A.

6. Show up and work hard. There’s no substitute for hard work. It sounds cliché, but there is no substitute for showing up alert and ready to work. You are present. Good life advice, good spiritual advice, but critically important business advice. It is only when you bring all of you, that you are ready to succeed. And it’s a great way to live a life. Because now is all we have. There is nothing but the present. There is no future, there is no past. There is only now.

7. Take thought time. It will take some time to learn but worth the investment. Eventually, you will do your best work during that time.

8. Commit to something. People are so hung up on that perfect ob, perfect career. Don’t worry about perfection, just find something to be passionate about.

9. Relax and enjoy the ride. There is a tendency to get so committed that we tend to take ourselves too seriously. And forget that it’s not like you’re going to get out alive.


Mark Rampolla is the co-founder and managing partner at Powerplant Ventures. He is also the founder and CEO of ZICO Coconut Water. Rampolla raised capital from friends, family and angels and launched in New York in the summer of 2004. From selling out of his van to yoga studios, he built the $1 billion brand that ZICO is today. Rampolla started off as an executive in the Latin American & Caribbean divisions of International Paper, where he says that getting experience as an ‘intrapreneur’ prepared him to become an ‘entrepreneur’. “If you can find an opportunity that no one else wants,” he said, “you have an excellent environment to prepare yourself for bigger challenges.” He is a graduate of Marquette and Duke. ​