Shaper: Daniel Lubetzky
Show aired on 29th October 2016
The big and beautiful sound of Ray Charles and the Count Basie Orchestra with Let The Good Times Roll. Good morning and thank you for joining me. This is Jazz Shapers with me, Elliot Moss here on Jazz FM. Jazz Shapers is the place of course you will know I hope where you can hear the very best of the people shaping the world of jazz, blues and soul and we bring along with them their equivalents from the world of business and we call them Business Shapers and my Business Shaper today I am very glad to say, we’ve flown him all the way over from the other side of the sea, indeed the Atlantic, it’s Daniel Lubetzky and he is the CEO and founder of KIND and they make delicious, healthy snack food but much more than that, much more than the bars, he is involved in incredible things in terms of the world of charity and in terms of the world of making the planet better. You are going to be in for a treat if you stay with me for the next hour. In addition to hearing from Daniel you will be hearing from our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya some words of advice for your business and on top of that of course we have got the brilliant music from the shapers of jazz, blues and soul; Madeleine Peyroux is coming up, Mavis Staples, Gregory Porter and this from Allan Harris.
Allan Harris with Up From The Skies, that’s a Jimmy Hendrix cover for those of you in the know and if you weren’t in the know you are now. Daniel Lubetzky is my Business Shaper here on Jazz Shapers and he is the founder and CEO of KIND Snacks. If you are very observant over the last twelve months or so you would have noticed them in the UK. If you have been around the States for the last however many years, probably more than fifteen you would have seen them over there. They are healthy, tasty, beautiful bars and Daniel is the man responsible. Thank you so much for joining me today.
It’s a pleasure I am really excited to be here.
Now just tell me a little bit about your background Daniel and how you ended up creating this business and I know there were many before that but why this one and why did you do it when you did it?
So I was born in Mexico City, I am a confused Mexican Jew that whose father was a Holocaust survivor that defined a lot of my view of the world and not just because of the horrible stuff he went through but because of the way he related to his experience from a perspective of kindness where he always remembered acts of courage from people that risked a lot to save his life and his family’s life and that has very much shaped all the ventures that I have started whether they are businesses or not only for profit ventures, social charities aimed at building bridges between people and KIND specifically, about ten years before I founded KIND I created a company to use business as a force for bringing neighbours in conflict regions together and food became the language through which we spoke that philosophy or that mission of bringing people together and food became the common denominator of cooperation between Israelis, Palestinians, Egyptians, Turks, Jordanians and I made a lot of mistakes. I was a confused Mexican Jewish lawyer that didn’t know anything about the food space and about ten years of mistakes later I saw an opportunity to create a product that was made with ingredients that you could see and pronounce, that ended up becoming a trade mark, ingredients you can see and pronounce and back in the early 2000s in the United States when I was travelling on my different ventures I was very frustrated that I couldn’t find products that were nutritionally dense, that were real food that you could recognise what you were putting into your body and they were delicious at the same time and I set out to create one and I was very blessed I guess that we saw this opportunity before others did and it just exploded. KIND today in the United States sells over a billion dollars at retail and because of the work I had done with peace works where I had been bitten by the bug of seeing how business can play a role in making this a better world, I was not content with just making a delicious and helpful product, I wanted to created KIND into a social enterprise that also made this a kinder world and again connecting to my father’s heritage, I wanted to find ways to inspire kindness in everything we do and so creative we have been tinkering with that for like twelve years we’ve created a lot of mechanisms to try to inspire kindness in an authentic way and now we are trying to bring that here to the United Kingdom.
You are going to find out a hell of a lot more with me today with my Business Shaper, Daniel Lubetzky; it is an extraordinary story. He mentioned there, just as you do, it’s a billion dollar business you know – not bad – but the other parts of it is what I find extraordinary and if you stay with me you will find out exactly what those are. Time for some more music in the meantime though, this is Mavis Staples with Son Of A Preacher Man.
Mavis Staples with the classic Son Of A Preacher Man. Daniel Lubetzky is my Business Shaper today, founder and CEO of KIND Snacks, they make healthy snacks and lots of them. They sell millions of them by the sounds of things but Daniel you talked about where… a little bit about where you came from. As I always prepare by reading a little bit about my guests and trying to think through how I approach this. You were a magician at the age of eight by the sounds of things. You had a business lawn mowing I think, you’ve sold watches, you have been at McKinzie, you alluded to it, you are a lawyer, you’ve been a clerk for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Texas – I mean you have really, you talked about those ten years where you made lots of mistakes. What interests me is I want to go back, you mentioned your father who is a Holocaust survivor. Just give me an understanding of what kindness, because it is all about… your whole mantra in life is about being kind and how that has transcended the world of business into the world as you said, peace and politics and so on. Just give me one of those stories about, because I am intrigued, that bit I hadn’t got – what is it that one of those German soldiers did in the concentration camp that stuck with your father. What did he tell you and how old were you?
So what you need to understand is that I, being raised in Mexico City in a community of immigrants did meet other Holocaust survivors who were also in the camps and pretty much everybody that I met either had to shut out any conversation about their horrible experiences or they were consumed by those experiences and they were embittered by them and my dad was very rare because he didn’t shut it out, he shared it and made sure to talk about it and yet he managed to be the sweetest, kindest, most positive human being that treated everybody with warmth and respect and he was like his mission in life was to make people smile and a lot of my memories as a child was seeing him transform people’s days into… he would just start telling them jokes and he would break them down with smiles and he didn’t pull the punches in telling us about his very horrible experiences from when he was nine years old when the War started until fifteen and a half years old when he was liberated by American soldiers and yet he always also made sure to remind us not to generalise and to remember that there were people even during those horrible dark moments that risked their lives to save his family and the example that you alluded to was this German soldier that when my dad was in the Dachau Concentration Camp when people were not watching the German soldier threw a potato by my dad’s feet, a rotten potato that helped sustain my father. The way I feel that he told the story was not just the sustenance that he got from the nutrition of that potato which really helped him survive but also what he got from seeing that German soldier look at my dad’s eyes and this twelve and a half year old emancipated little kid and see the humanity of this kid and the humanity of the other and just have pity on him and try to help him out and I think my dad gave him a lot of power to continue. So only one percent of kids my dad’s age survived the Holocaust. One percent and so I think in the day and age that we live where you see terrorism and dehumanisation and growing extremism and alienation and even within Western society where we only see pieces of it, the very fabric of our society is threatened by the lack of ability of us to respect each other and to be able to disagree but still recognise each other’s humanity. I think it is so important to recognise the strength that it takes to have kindness in your heart, the strength that it takes to be able to empathise with and understand people that are different from us. It doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice who you are or what you stand for, it just means that you can have the strength to put yourself in the shoes of the other side and then be more effective at building those bridges and creating the value to collect those thoughts.
Stay with me for more from my Business Shaper today, Daniel Lubetzky and the extraordinary background which has led him to be the person that he is today. Latest travel in a couple of minutes and before that some words of wisdom from our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya for your business.
You are listening to Jazz Shapers with me, Elliot Moss every Saturday I am very lucky because I get to meet someone who is shaping the world of business and they have their own unique story and journey as to how they got there and my Business Shaper today Daniel Lubetzky has a profound story about survival, about kindness and about how that’s inspired him to do many things in the world of profit, in the world of not profit and not for profit. Daniel, we were talking… and he is the CEO and founder of KIND Snacks and I just want to pull back to that. Why these and I have been nibbling on one earlier, the dark chocolate, nuts and sea salt one to be particular and precise. Why are these kind and what made you think about producing something like this? I mean it looks very healthy. It says it is diary free, high fibre, no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and as you said earlier, ingredients you can see and pronounce. Why this?
So first of all you reference some of the work I do as some for profit, some not for profit and what I find most interesting in life is challenging conventional wisdom and thinking with and rather than thinking with or and so KIND is not only for profit company, it is a company that has a business mission but also has a social mission and what I try to create is ventures where you within social impact into the very essence of the business platform and where you use market forces not just to do well but also to the good. So when we were creating KIND, first the reason KIND has succeeded a lot, even though I am very passionate about our mission is because the product is delicious and because the products are very nutritious and also because of my perspective, the kind thing for your world so we were looking for a human adjective that could connect those three pillars of what we wanted to do which is make products that are delicious, healthful and with a social motivator and my dad actually passed away the year that we conceived the company and my team and I were trying to find a human adjective that could put these things together and I think to some degree my dad’s experience was a subconscious or conscious motivator to calling the product KIND. I’d like to thank him how much to the example that he set so the business is about making products that are delicious and helpful but also the third pillar, doing the kind thing for your world is about inspiring kindness and we try to do that in very creative ways both in terms of how we behave internally as a team and how we work with our suppliers and how we work with our partners, we are also inspiring kindness in our communities and we have for many years been experimenting with how to do so and if you… should I continue telling you about this?
We are going to hold it right there. We are going to find out what the experiments are. We are also going to set up a business together, I decided that and it is going to be called AND; and that’s it we are going to clean up in all sorts of ways. Stay with me for much more. You are going to find out exactly what these kind acts look like but first a bit of more music, this is Gregory Porter with French African Queen.
That was Gregory Porter with French African Queen. I am talking to Daniel Lubetzky; founder and CEO of KIND Snacks and Daniel has been talking all about why it is called KIND, what they do for your heart, what they do for your head, what they do for your tummy tum and we are going to find out also this thing you were just coming onto, the mechanisms for actually delivery kind acts because this bit is intriguing to me so just tell me a little bit about these acts and how you inspire people to do them?
Well the thing that is magical about kindness is also the reason why it is not so easy to do this. I do think that fundamentally people are good human beings but kindness is magical because it is authentic, because there is no ulterior motive to what you are doing, you are just doing it to be a good human being and when you do that, when you behave with purity of intention which means nothing other than just being a good human being, kindness magically increases happiness because when I am kind to you, not only do you feel better but I also feel better about myself. When I help somebody on the tube as you guys call it, subway for us Americans, going up the stairs, help them carry a stroller, the person that I help feels ‘oh this is nice thank you’ but I feel that I did the kind thing and it feels my heart up also so it’s a way to create happiness for society by just people being kind to one another but you cannot artificially ferment it because then it will undermine the whole beauty of it so you can’t say ‘hey be kind to one another and you will win a KIND bar or you will win a trip to Disneyland’. You would really make it a dirty thing by doing it that way so for twelve years we have been playing with how to inspire it in an authentic way. What we found is that the incentives have to be about helping others and that its best done when we don’t interfere with the moment of kindness. So for example, I carry these cards here – I am bringing it out of my wallet – and I am describing now a black envelope with a coloured card which says ‘how kind of you’ and if I notice somebody helps somebody else they seek a taxi for a person or they help somebody sit down I say ‘you know that was…’; well I try to approach them and if they don’t run away and call the police ‘what is this stranger doing’ then I say ‘you know that was really kind of you and in appreciation for your moment of kindness you can go to this website and enter this code and we send as a token of gratitude and celebration of your moment, two KIND bars plus the ability for you to then pass it on to others so that next time you spot a kind act, you can also celebrate them’ and by the way, anybody in the world can do this work. We currently only ship in the United States but anybody can celebrate somebody in the United States and soon we will bring it to the United Kingdom. We do spot in the United Kingdom people and celebrate them with KIND bars but if you go to howkindofyou.com now anybody can initiate those things and what’s cool about it is that you don’t interrupt the act of kindness, you let it happen and then you celebrate in this way. We also do bigger things where we have a programme we launched called Kind People where we give one million dollars to causes to people who are not looking to be recognised or celebrated that are just selflessly helping the communities and they anonymously get nominated and then we give gifts of a hundred thousand dollars and up to a half a million dollars to help them scale their work in their communities and things like that and we have another thing called Kind Causes where people upload their proposals and every month the community can support an act that inspires them, a cause that inspires them by pledging a small kind act that they will do in their own daily lives and the cause that inspires the most kind acts ends up triggering a financial grant from us as well as in KIND support.
What a clever way of actually doing as you said, not interfering and making it artificial, it comes from a proper place. Final chat coming up with Daniel plus we will be playing a track from Madeleine Peyroux, that’s after the latest traffic and travel here on Jazz FM.
The gentle and lilting sound of Madeleine Peyroux with Everything I do Gonh Be Funky. Daniel Lubetzky has certainly been funky, he has also been incredibly insightful. He is my founder and CEO today of KIND Snacks but also of so many other things. As I look back and it is great here, I love American companies because they really present themselves so much better than most others you know so everything kind of hangs together but I only say that because what it allows me to do when I look at the time line which I have in front of me of you Daniel, is it just strikes me that you have started so many things and you haven’t just started them but you are committed to them. Where… we talked about the kindness which is really the bedrock of your philosophy if one can make it sound like that. Where’s this ability? Because everyone can have, you know, you could have been that person that learnt from your father that quietly went about his way in life that talked to people that said my father was remarkable, this is what I learnt but it wouldn’t have been on the platforms that you have created. Why have you Daniel, wanted to create so many things? What’s compelled you to actually express yourself like this?
So first of all there is this emotional commitment to prevent what happened to my father from happening again and the way I manifest that is by building bridges between people in my daily life and in the ventures I do. But I think also my hobby, my passion, my children are the greatest meaning of my life and what I enjoy the most. Second to that I love creating things, I just… I don’t derive enjoyment from going on a jet or on a big boat, I love creating things, coming up with new ways to do something hopefully that is benefitting humanity but I just love the process of creation and I’ve come to terms with the fact that it really gives me a lot of meaning and so I just… and have a very out of the box type of way of seeing the world and in the book that I wrote, Do The Kind Thing, I describe the process that we use at KIND and you know eventually I started to try to challenge conventional wisdom and think with and rather than with or and find creative ways to pursue objectives which are seemingly at odds but that in fact if you think more creatively and focus you might actually be able to create a lot of value for yourself or for society by tackling objectives that are initially seemingly at odds but that through some creativity you can pursue in tandem.
But that’s… I understand the past that’s informed that and not wanting the future to be informed by the things that happened back then but there is something quite… I am trying to find out if it is just that in Daniel’s head there is just different things going on. As you said, you see the world in different ways. Will you, that energy to create, do you imagine that will just carry on and on. If we were chatting in ten years’ time would we be talking about three other initiatives or is this about depth now? Is this about saying I think I’ve got my platforms right?
I have a folder in my cabinet that is about this thick – and I am pointing to like many inches – that has ideas that I have had over the last many years that I have never been able to execute on so I just hired a person to start a project to teach empathy to kids in a scalable way where kids across the world are going to connect and when I was debriefing with him I realised that I had been collecting emails to myself for fourteen years about it so even I lose all my creativity from now on, I have enough to keep me going for a long time. But hopefully I will continue coming up with new ways to do things that give me meaning.
It’s been a real privilege meeting you and hearing the things that you have thought about and the things that you are doing and the things that you are going to do because that notebook, I’d like to get my hands on that as well. Thank you so much.
Just before I let you go and disappear from our fair isle, what’s your song choice today and why have you chosen it?
My song choice is Chet Baker, My Funny Valentine and why I chose it is I came across this track many years ago and he just hit my heart and my soul and just every time I hear that voice it just really takes me to a place of soothing quality, I don’t know, I really enjoy that track.
Here it is just for you. Daniel thank you.
That was My Funny Valentine from Chet Baker, the song choice of my fantastic Business Shaper today Daniel Lubetzky. He talked about respect and how it has informed his whole world view; about challenging conventional wisdom; about an and attitude, not an or attitude to the way he does business and the way he conducts himself generally; about building bridges; about creativity and creating things and about his future project around empathy. It’s all super inspiring stuff. Do join me again, same time, same place – that’s next Saturday 9.00am for another edition of Jazz Shapers. Meantime stay with us because coming up next it’s Nigel Williams.
Daniel Lubetzky is the founder and CEO of nutritious and delicious snack foods maker KIND. It is the fastest-growing U.S. snack company, and has inspired more than one million kind acts since the company’s inception in 2004 through its Kind Movement.
A pioneering social entrepreneur, Daniel is also the founder of PeaceWorks Inc., a business that fosters cooperative ventures among neighbours in the Middle East, and he co-created Maiyet, a fashion brand that partners with artisans to promote entrepreneurship in developing economies. Additionally, he co-founded the OneVoice Movement,an international grassroots effort that amplifies the voices of moderate Israelis and Palestinians seeking to end the conflict.
His commitment to creating economically sustainable and socially impactful business has been lauded by BusinessWeek, Time, Advertising Age and Entrepreneur. Daniel has also been recognised by the World Economic Forum and the Skoll Foundation, and in 2015 President Barack Obama and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzkernamed him a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE).
He is the author of the New York Times bestseller ‘Do the KIND Thing’.
Listen live at 9am Saturday.
Follow Daniel on Twitter @danlub.
My father was a Holocaust survivor. He related to his experience from a perspective of kindness – he always remembered acts of courage from people who risked their lot to save his life and his family’s life. That’s shaped the ventures I’ve started.
When I was travelling I was very frustrated that I couldn’t find products that were nutritionally dense – real food that I could recognise. So I set out to create one.
KIND is both wholesome and convenient. It’s socially impactful and economically sustainable.
We’ve created a lot of mechanisms to try to inspire kindness in an authentic way and now we are trying to bring that here to the United Kingdom.
Our Kind People programme is where people who are selflessly helping the communities are anonymously nominated and then we gift up to half a million dollars to help them scale their work in their communities.
The very fabric of our society is threatened by an inability to respect each other. It is important to recognise the strength it takes to have kindness in your heart, to be able to empathise with and understand people who are different from you.
I don’t derive enjoyment from going on a jet or on a big boat, I love creating things.
My children are the greatest meaning of my life and what I enjoy the most.