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Mattel CEO: Strong Values and Smart Risks Are Key to Company Turnaround

This year has been anything but fun and games for Margo Georgiadis, the new CEO at toymaker Mattel. Since she took the top job in February, the veteran Google exec is having a rough time as the company struggles with losses, tumbling holiday sales, a plummeting stock, and a debt downgrade by the major credit-rating firms. As Georgiadis looks for places to do deep cost-cutting, she announced that Mattel is suspending its dividend.

Still, Georgiadis says she is on track with her vision for Mattel and its iconic Barbie and Hot Wheels brands.

But executing that plan, she tells Fortune, requires changing the culture of a company that’s been around since 1945, and also changing the mindset of Mattel’s 32,000 employees. “I really need to allow them to openly express their fear of that change,” she explains, “and how I help to give them psychological safety to speed up and take smart risks to get that company to the future.”

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Georgiadis says one of the most important things she’s done so far at Mattel is to create a set of values. She calls the list, “The Wonder Values.” It has bold one-liners like “what if?” and “why not?” As she puts it, “We talk about inspiring the world of childhood. How can we do that for our kids if we can’t do it for ourselves?”

Maybe some of Georgiadis’ Google magic will rub off on the legendary company after all.

Watch the video above for more from my conversation with Georgiadis.

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