I had the pleasure of being introduced to Lauren Bush Lauren when exploring the social business space. Lauren, founder of FEED, is a pioneer in successfully executing the social business model. She has been extremely gracious in sharing her wisdom and time and I am sure you will be inspired by her answers below. Learn more about FEED and the work they are doing in the Amazing Companies section on LIFE SMART.
CD: Where did your inspiration to start FEED come from?
LB: I was inspired to start FEED in 2007 after traveling with the UN World Food Program to several countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and seeing the plight of hunger firsthand. The unfortunate reality is that 1 in 9 people globally are hungry. And yet, hunger is a solvable problem. I thought of FEED as a way for consumers to become donors and advocates. Thus our mission is ‘to create good products that help feed the children of the world’.
CD: You’ve been at this since 2007 and are a pioneer in the social business space. How has the space changed since you started? What do you think differentiates social businesses from those that are not?
LB: I am excited to see how much the social entrepreneur space has grown in the almost 10 years since I founded FEED. More and more start-ups are centering their company mission around giving back and making the world a better place, and more consumers are voting with their dollars and wanting to do good for the world via their consumer choices than ever before. In my opinion a true social business is one fully centered on doing good. For example, if there were no more hungry kids in the world (God willing!) FEED would happily close up shop!
CD: How do you stay healthy (physically and mentally) while building and growing FEED?
LB: I enjoy working out and being with close friends and family, and these things keep me grounded and healthy as I also focus on growing FEED. I don’t have a magical secret, I just do the best I can and try to be easy on myself and adjust when I don’t feel I am my best self in some area of my life.
CD: You have a little boy. Do you ever deal with mom guilt? Tips for making it all work?
LB: Honestly, I am finding that it is about being as present as possible wherever you are. I have felt and will continue to feel moments of “mom guilt", but some of that is me just not wanting to miss a minute with him- less about him actually needing me 24/7. So realizing that also gives me some peace of mind.
CD: Can you walk us through a typical day for you? What is the best part of your day?
LB: A typical day starts with a quick work out and then some play time with my baby before heading to work. Work takes place mainly at the FEED HQ based in the Meatpacking District in NYC with my fellow dedicated FEEDers. It is fun to run a small business, because everyday is different. Some days I am more focused on product design, others on marketing campaigns, and others on operations and sales. I enjoy digging in across all areas of the business and our giving. Work ends and I rush home for another hour of play time with my babe and bath time. Then I either stay home and cook dinner and watch a fun TV show with my husband or log back onto email or go out to dinner with friends.
CD: What did you learn from your biggest failure? What would you have done differently?
LB: I really look at failures as learning opportunities so it is hard to pin-point one ‘opportunity’ as each has been part of my journey as a entrepreneur and leader.
CD: What was the best piece of advice you ever got? The worst?
LB: One of the best pieces of advice I have gotten is when times get tough to stay focused on the true hunger-ending mission of FEED. It puts everything else in perspective. And worst was that FEED’s model of giving away as much as we do would never work. There will always be nay-sayers and I believe they are put there to test our will and endurance.
CD: What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneur?
LB: I think being a good entrepreneur is about having enough vision and gut to stay the course, even when things get tough, but also enough humility and creativity to adapt and evolve as needed.
CD: Who would you most like to have dinner with?
LB: I would most like to have dinner with Ghandi (dead) or the Dali Lama (living).
CD: What's your favorite vacation spot?
LB: Maine because I grew up going there and there is always a lot of fun family memories to be had there for me.