Business Vision: Balancing a Social Mission and Profits the KIND Way

December 8th, 2011

Daniel Lubetsky, founder of KIND

Lesson from Daniel Lubetsky, founder of KIND

Daniel Lubetsky, founder of KIND Foods, could be your neighbor.

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He’s the guy down the street who helps you when you need a hand.

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The one who every

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one knows is reliable and trustworthy.

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He wears a huge smile and possesses a comfort and ease making him completely approachable. Daniel is however, more than just your neighbor, he’s a pioneer who has built the KIND Food Movement (http://www.kindsnacks.com/). It’s not just a company that makes those healthy snacks you may have noticed at Starbucks.  It’s a business with

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and a great product.

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KIND was founded in 2003 by Lubetsky, a social entrepreneur whom TIME Magazine recognized in 2009 among “25 Responsibility Pioneers” and BusinessWeek named among “America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs.”??In 1994, Daniel first founded PeaceWorks Foods, a “not-only-for-profit”® company that promotes economic cooperation among neighbors striving to co-exist in conflict regions worldwide; a passion that was the subject of his Masters thesis.

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PeaceWorks® launched several award-winning healthy food products and its joint ventures continue to bring people together.

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Daniel continued his quest to provide the most convenient snack he could offer the market that is tasty and healthy at the same time. The KIND Bar was born.

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Tonight, Lubetsky is speaking to a gathering of 20 or so people to discussing the delicate balance between a companies social mission and profitability.   His lessons are applicable to both entrepreneurs looking to start their own venture and to business owners wishing to incorporate a social mission into the business vision.

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1) You have to do what you understand – Meaning, don’t start a baby diaper business if you know nothing about baby diapers.  In Daniels case he learned this lesson when he started a business selling Dead Sea salts prior to PeaceWorks® and KIND.  Quickly he realized he knew nothing about marketing this type of product.

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Unfortunately his inexperienced caused him to ending up housing thousands of products in his NYC studio apartment.  He jokes that his neighbors thought he set up an aromatherapy business because the scent of Jojoba permeated the stairwells.

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Food is something he knew about, something he understood and something he loved.  Hence the natural progression was to build a new kind of food provider.

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2) Customers will buy products that serve them

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and fit their lifestyle.  Often times it’s best to keep your social mission subservient to the product – This may be difficult to hear for many entrepreneurs or business leaders.  However, in order to engage the customer you must tell them how you will improve their lives, serve them where they are now and fit into a lifestyle they have or aspire to.  This is more important to them then the social mission. The momentum for the mission often comes as a byproduct of providing them with a specific solution.

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3) Tell your story with passion and conviction.

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– As he was building KIND he learned a tremendous amount about the food business from insiders, specifically, “the counter guys” at Zabars.  They were eager to explain how the business worked and the nuisances of price, market and set up restocking strategies.  Why? He shared his passion and desire to set up a cooperative business model.

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His story is a personal one that goes back to his father being a holocaust survivor. When people heard his passion, they went out of their way to help him succeed. In this case they helped him reach his clients.

4) It’s important to root yourself in your values – “If you don’t get rooted in your values you can be consumed by the need to make more (money). If that is your only challenge you will never feel fulfilled,” said Lubetsky.

5) Always remember your social mission – It will keep you motivated and remind you why you are doing what you’re doing.  But remember you must marry your social mission and your bottom line.  This is not an either or decision but a necessary function of creating a sustainable business.  Your social mission is only sustainable if your business is structured to be sustainable.

6) Persistence will always be a necessary ingredient to achieving your goals – Being constant and persistent helps placed you in the “right place at the right time” scenario.  Daniel spent 5 years trying to break KIND Snacks into Starbucks. His staff thought he was crazy because he continued to prepare presentations and proposals for this retail outlet even though they had been rejected many times over the years. It wasn’t until Starbucks decided to bring more nutritious and healthy options into their stores that there was an opportunity.  He chalks it up to speaking to the right person at the moment.  What had taken 5 years to open now only took 2 months to realize.  KIND Bars have been consistently the only outside vendor of snacks in Starbucks to date. Others have come and gone.

7) Celebrate your failures – If you don’t celebrate your failures you will never learn from them. “Without failure you don’t understand the consequences. Consequences help you to make adjustments so the next time you’ll be better” he offered. Without failure you won’t know what needs to be changed.

Lubetsky continues his social mission to bring resolution

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to highly conflicted regions. Sometimes it’s via his KIND Movement: “Do the Kind Thing” campaigns (http://www.kindsnacks.com/world/).  Or by empowering KIND Ambassadors to develop young leaders.  His mission is ever evolving, always relevant and applicable across many mediums and experiences.  His desire is to teach people to find the humanity in one another: one snack bar and random act of kindness at a time. The world IS our neighborhood.

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Daniel helps everyone realize we ARE the neighbors down the street who should always be willing to extend kindness to one another.

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See you in the movement!

One Response to “Business Vision: Balancing a Social Mission and Profits the KIND Way”

  1. Jenny Craig says:

    What a powerful message to help make a difference. Thanks so much for sharing!

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