I’ll be the first to admit that my family and close friends were initially surprised to hear that I run a “corporation.” Maybe it’s the tattoo sleeves or the fact that I wear Vans to work, or maybe it’s because I will forever be seen as that kid who never followed directions, colored within the lines or did what was “normal.” I never would have imagined being a CEO of a “corporation.” When I became a parent, I simply wanted to start a business that provided nutritious food to kids and that was also engaging, inspiring and challenging. I wanted to work at a place I felt connected to. A place — as cliché as it may sound — with heart.
When I started Plum, I had little experience running a company. But I quickly learned one thing: our customers and employees responded most to our values. We wear them on our sleeves. Heck, they’re even painted onto our walls. So as the leader of what organically became a “mission-driven brand,” that’s where I focused: How can we flip the definition of “corporation” on its head and show that a company can grow and succeed without losing sight of its mission — and most importantly, without losing sight of what enticed its employees and customers in the first place?
Too many companies these days are unfocused. They get so caught up in revenue growth, investor demands, and in-fighting that they ultimately forget about their original goal, mission, value proposition — whatever you want to call it. But at the end of the day, where does that get you? Yes, you have may have incredible numbers to show your stakeholders, but can your employees honestly answer this question positively: “Do you LOVE your job? Not like your job. LOVE your job.”
I’m not saying that I have the end all, be all answer here as to how to be a true mission-driven brand and guarantee 100-percent employee happiness. But I have discovered a few tidbits along the way that certainly have propelled Plum’s growth over the years.
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