Daniel Lubetzky's Do the Kind Thing is a great tale of a profitable, mission-driven business, and a great reminder to stick to our foundational values.
Do the Kind Thing: Think Boundlessly, Work Purposefully, Live Passionately by Daniel Lubetzky, Ballantine Books, 304 pages, $26.00, Hardcover, March 2015, ISBN 9780553393248
It slowed down a little during the recent recession, but it seems that the exodus of people determined to leave their six figure jobs, cubicle nations, and corporate grinds in pursuit of something more fulfilling both personally and professionally and making a positive difference in the world has regained steam—along with books detailing those pursuits. KIND Healthy Snacks CEO and founder Daniel Lubetzky beautifully describes his own process of throwing away the promise of a Wall Street legal career to start his a mission-driven company in a new book, Do The Kind Thing.
Before opening the book, I had never eaten a KIND snack bar or known anything of the KIND business model. But always a strong supporter of socially-conscious businesses with compelling stories, the work that Daniel is doing to make a positive change in the world by creating a wonderful place to work and a high-quality product was something immediately and extremely refreshing to see. And the instruction of the book’s subtitle to “Think Boundlessly, Work Purposefully, Live Passionately” is carried throughout the book as Lubetzky discusses ten key tenets that help with these three ideals and gives the reader great insight into the company’s “KIND Way.”
Daniel Lubetzky is the son of a Holocaust survivor. That in itself is a story, and it’s an important piece of why and how he created a brand with integrity and a strong social consciousness. (All of the profits from the book are being donated to #kindawesome groups that you can visit on the book website.) Being the son of a Holocaust survivor, he vowed to do what he could to prevent what happened to his father from happening to others by “creating businesses that that build bridges between people.” With this passion, a simple belief that he could make snacks that were “tasty and healthy, convenient and wholesome,” and a drive to always go the extra mile, “the AND philosophy” was born.
The AND philosophy has become so central to our thinking at KIND that internally we call it the KIND BrAND Philosophy. At its core, it is about challenging assumptions and thinking creatively. It is about not settling for less, being willing to take greater risks and, often, it requires investing more up front. It is not just a way to think positively, or a feel-good attitude. It is a about learning to think critically, frequently pursuing what in short term may seem a tougher path: to be both healthy and tasty, convenient and wholesome, economically sustainable and socially impactful.
In the following chapters, Lubeztky discusses his other ideals that help keep KIND a thriving brand and business: Purpose; Grit; Truth and Discipline; Keeping it Simple; Originality; Transparency and Authenticity; Empathy; Trust; and finally, Ownership. As a small and nimble company trying to give the ideas in books life and wings to reach readers, these tenets really hit home for me while reading the book. Jack Covert, our retired Founder and President, created 800-CEO-READ with very similar core philosophies 30 years ago, and we do everything we can to honor them and ensure they are still upheld here today. The book was a nice reminder that:
Our candid work environment and down-to-earth culture are contributors to our success. Closely related to simplicity is humility. A strong leader avoids become overconfident to the point of impaired judgment. Skepticism or even paranoia about a company’s market power and about one’s own judgement is healthy.
Those words sound so like they came straight from Jack himself, and that may be because Daniel Lubetzky does a great job in the intimate presentation of Do The Kind Thing. Humorous life stories, important lessons in failure, and a constant reminder of the importance of, really, just being kind to one another made the book a quick and enjoyable read.
Far too often we all see the ideals of people and the businesses the work in heading in opposite directions. Sally’s review of Changing Your Company from the Inside Out showed us how to work on that in existing companies. Do The Kind Thing shows us how to avoid it altogether and how to build passionate, mission-driven businesses from the ground up with a “not only for profit” mentally that gives employees a fulfilling place to work with their passions on their sleeves both professionally and personally.