As a top impact leader, what is the most important lesson that you wish you’d learned sooner in your career?
Our stakeholder capitalism model is the most effective way to create long-term value by looking at the full stakeholder community. Any leader would benefit from a deeper appreciation for how important that stakeholder model is.
Focus on the big issues and have patience.
Love, compassion, and kindness are strengths, not weaknesses, in business. Many lead through power, control, and self-interest, but having the fortitude to lead with compassion is fulfilling and inspiring, which can drive success beyond the numbers.
Leadership is about inspiring and empowering your team, not trying to do it all yourself.
How to balance impact costs with consumer awareness.
Hands down, it would be the ability to recruit and performance-manage leaders objectively and scientifically, thoroughly. We now have such a system in place at Arowana, and it has been a game-changer in our hiring efficacy.
Be the person who listens best. Listening is more than hearing what’s said. A true leader is rarely the person who talks the most.
Trust my intuition and stop allowing internal and external skeptics to slow down what I envisioned to build a successful yet tremendously impactful business. There will always be skeptics, even internally, but I’ve learned to leverage negative feedback as fuel to follow my own instincts and to continue blazing our own trail as a brand to disrupt the retail industry for the betterment of people and our planet.
Seeking success no matter what led to serious health issues for me. I wish I had vetted my food and lifestyle the way I vetted every company I would invest in.
Have a more consumer-centric approach to our product and brand messaging to make better informed critical decisions. Additionally, knowing the difference between a designer and a merchant when commercializing creativity and innovation to scale.
Defining and focusing on the core purpose. This amplifies our impact, avoids distractions, and brings joy.
Get started early.
Save money, find balance, and go for scale.
Knowing what the saying “culture eats strategy for breakfast” really means.
Having empathy is extremely important, and it’s perhaps the most important characteristic in a leader.
You cannot please everyone nor control what others are going through, their values, or if they will operate in good faith. Nevertheless, we can be doing good work to seize the day and advance our impact goals, and none of that requires a particular person’s approval or appreciation.
How important company culture is to ongoing success and mission achievement—which we have through strong leadership, supportive impact investors, an engaged board, and commitment to company values. Happy employees make happy customers, which drives better business outcomes, and culture positively impacts all stakeholders and allows the mission to live better in all business aspects.
The world is a complicated place, and there are a lot of complicated decisions we have to make in our lives, but you can never go wrong by following your heart. Especially with career direction, you will be passionate about your work and as a result, be much more likely to be successful and bring something unique to the world.
There is triple impact available through regenerative agriculture: farmer incomes, soil carbon sequestration, and human health through more nutritious food.
Hire people sooner!!!!
In business, disagreements, problems, disruptions, crises, and tight resources will always exist. Strong relationships and a shared purpose get you through these moments and build organizational resilience.
Understanding it’s humanly impossible to do everything. In building a team, you are only as good as the people around you, so foster a culture where the team treats each other respectfully and feels empowered to grow. The best leaders uplift others – even regarding mistakes or hard situations.
Successful businesses are NOT measured by revenue and profit but by the impact you create on your teammates, your community, or the cause that matters to YOU.
How to build relationships within my organization without my historic tendencies of too much vulnerability, openness, and desire for friendship. Because my work began in my kitchen with family, it has been easy to confuse the trust and intimacy levels in personal relationships with working ones. The bigger and more corporate we got, the more challenging it is to maintain the culture of intimacy critical to our early success with the demands of more hierarchy and structure.
To repeat myself over and over and over again.
Not to worry about competition and trusting collaboration is the way to make more impact. In our business, when we became open to collaborating with other non-competing brands, we could make more impact by replacing more unsustainable cotton, viscose, and polyester.
Storytelling, not quantitative data, is crucial to communicating impact and evangelizing key stakeholders to join your cause. The strongest storytellers can paint such a vivid picture that they can galvanize their audience to join the story, thus creating additional message amplifiers and a positive feedback loop.
Thinking more strategically about getting financial and operational support. My life could have been easier, and I could have grown the business more and faster.
People are willing to help you. Never hesitate to ask.
It’s ok not to be ok. Being a strong leader in social impact is hard work since many people don’t understand that you can make money responsibly and have a social mission. The more I realized it was ok to find what I was doing hard, the more I could push forward and learn. And it’s incredibly rewarding and motivating that I am surrounded by amazing people and proud of my work to my daughters and community.
Do more well when you’re small. It’s easier to make changes and start good habits in a scrappier startup than in a bigger, broader, and layered organization.
Don’t be too compromising. It’s important to engage, but if you are too quick to yield to constraints and challenges, you risk settling into mediocrity. Courage is essential to drive impact, and I know that now more than ever.
Spend time and energy cultivating and celebrating an amazing team and workforce, and don’t force it if it’s not a right fit.
Growing and sustaining your impact, team, and business starts with investing in your own growth and sustainability. Leaders who embrace the importance of self-development and well-being can sustain long-term while setting the tone for a team that does the same. That will always outperform a team that focuses only on execution and KPIs.
Focus on the primary principles of the company’s mission and the key products and services that enable the company to be successful and sustainable on both a financial and mission basis.
How to surround myself with other proven impact leaders who could mentor or better work with us to build enterprise value without compromising our purpose-driven and people-first brand.
90% of the problems are just in your head. Calm your mind and focus on the signal, not the noise.
Trust my instincts! When you are innovating in this space, no one can tell you if your vision and planning are right or wrong because this is the first time anyone has done it. Once you have a vision that you cannot poke holes in, go for it at full power!
Be nimble and willing to pivot faster because the moment your intuition speaks to you, take action. A leader must be resilient during a business’ evolution which requires working to be a better leader and human. The coach must also put the time in to lead championship teams, and you don’t just wake up born to lead. Even if you have led for a while, you still have plenty of opportunities to take it to the next level.