Hoka Founder & Deckers Group VP of Innovation, Jean-Luc Diard (Ep.73)

Jean-Luc Diard goes on Blister's Off The Couch Podcast to discuss going from an intern to the CEO of Salomon, founding Hoka One One, and his current role as VP of of Innovation for Deckers.
Jean-Luc Diard with a few of the Deckers X Lab shoes.

If you are interested in product design and the process of innovation, then you need to listen to this conversation. Jean-Luc Diard started as an intern at Salomon, developed the first shaped ski, became the CEO at Salomon, played a major role in the development of Salomon’s running shoes, moved on to found Hoka One One, and is currently the VP of Innovation for the Deckers Group, where he currently heads up the Deckers X Lab.

This conversation explores the process of bringing about real innovation, how to make it happen, what to do, and what to avoid. Do not miss it.


  • What is the Deckers X Lab? (3:18)
  • What is the Deckers Group? (4:25)
  • Jean-Luc’s background (5:50)
  • Why outdoor brands used to be narrowly focused (10:08)
  • From intern to CEO of Salomon (14:40)
  • Designing Salomon’s first ski (17:45)
  • Getting Salomon into running shoes (24:23)
  • Tangent: what happened to inline skating? (31:56)
  • Starting Something New: Hoka One One (34:58)
  • Adoption – and Resistance – to Innovation (48:39)
  • From Hoka to the Deckers X Lab (52:29)
  • ‘Not-My-Invention Syndrome’ & the Process of Innovation (58:45)
  • Putting huge balloon heels on shoes (1:14:28)
  • What is Deckers X Lab up to today? (1:23:05)

4 comments on “Hoka Founder & Deckers Group VP of Innovation, Jean-Luc Diard (Ep.73)”

  1. Wow this was a great podcast! The idea to make a business plan with a timeline and financial plan is entrepreneurial management 101, I was surprised Jonathan was so wowed by that, especially as an entrepreneur. Jean-Luc has such an impressive backstory and I love his attitude of doing work which “makes people happy” because working in tourism and outdoor sports its so true (for most people). I have to say I find his current position at DeckersXlab sort of a let-down. This guy has pushed the envelope in innovating ski and running equipment from which I and so many others have benefited. I run in Hoka and I do believe they are extending my running career and I am not slower in anything over 5k. Now he is getting performance into casual footwear. Is that innovative? It’s more of a fusion, rather than invention. But since Jean-Luc is doing it, I wouldn’t be surprised if something amazing happens! Inline skate Uggs!

    • I’m guessing you don’t get nearly the volume of questions that I do from people looking to start something new, and / or thinking about leaving their jobs to start a new business. I can assure you, lots of people out there will benefit from hearing about and thinking through examples like Jean-Luc’s.

  2. Jean Luc is one of the great innovators of all time in the sporting goods world. I had the pleasure of working on the “other side of the deal” to acquire HOKA on behalf of Deckers. Jean Luc just looks at the world in a completely different way. If you want to hear what it was like to “discover” HOKA while being on the “big company” side of the fence I did a podcast with the FDRA about that topic. Jean Luc is much too modest. https://shoeinshow.com/episode/177-founding-hoka-lessons-innovation-leadership/

  3. Dear Jean Luc
    Hello , Hope all is well in your world . I would like you to consider breaking thru to the restaurant industry non slip shoe … with the comfort of HOKa and my influence I have on the industry I can sell at least 5000 . Please consider my request . We need Your shoe and YOU need US TOO !

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