Beyond Meat founder wants you to read five books at the same time

On the supply side, name recognition still matters

I started the business selling to restaurants, hospitals, hotels and universities. In 2012, the New York Times had a front page article “Sunday Review” about the quality of our then chicken product. I felt so confident in the quality of the product we had that I hired a national foodservice sales team. And it didn’t work. Basically we hadn’t built the retail brand. People wanted to see if their customers wanted it and we didn’t have the level of awareness you needed. Even though the consumer was heading in this direction, the people I spoke to in the back offices were lagging behind. [We needed to] build a brand that you could point your finger at and say, “Look, we’re killing her at Walmart, Whole Foods, and so on. “

Losing the safety net

A CEO is paid to take risks. People who start businesses but hedge too much just aren’t getting the growth they want. That’s crazy advice, but you have to remove the safety net if you want to really be successful. So try to do it while you have another job [is a mistake]. I went through all of my finances … then my mind started to focus!

The future is not necessarily far away

For my industry, you have to be here at the office because what we do is so filled with challenges that require group connectivity. When trying to launch a new product, it’s the times in and out of meetings that matter most and non-verbal cues and communications are so important. Trying to rally a team and keep a team intensely engaged in a distributed workforce is difficult. I think people’s expectations have changed [during the pandemic], but it is a very important part of our business.

Read a lot of books at once

For anyone interested in entrepreneurship and innovation, Steven Johnson is a great writer. One of the things he writes about, which I follow, is reading in quick succession. Have four or five different books [at the same time], keep notes about them in the same notepad, and then your brain begins to make those connections through adjacencies. One of my favorite books is The store of everything [by Brad Stone] and I think Loonie shots by Safi Bahcall is a great book on how to create a culture of innovation. I had him come and talk to the company, I liked it so much. And I just sent Warren Buffett’s one The making of an American capitalist to a younger colleague here. I read a lot. I don’t understand how people generate new ideas without reading.


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About Marcia G. Hussain

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