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Chris Mittelstaedt Quotes

Chris Mittelstaedt CEO

Chris Mittelstaedt quotes: The FruitGuys founder learns us.

“My advice to those starting out on their own: don’t get distracted by the BS of fundraising as a marker of success. It’s about are you creating a sustainable business that runs well, produces cash flow, can grow in multiple kinds of economies? Entrepreneurs should focus on execution rather than their ability to sell an idea. That’s only the first step.”

“I think my two lessons learned are to keep things simple and to experiment on occasion. Since you want to always improve your company, the need to experiment exists. If the company strategy is somewhat simple, but is functional, then experimenting is realistic. I began working with small farmers as an experiment and this particular test has lead to a long and special bond. Just keep the experimenting rather simple, you do not want to disrupt the workflow so much that daily tasks do not get completed.”

“Grow smart in times of crisis. Risk aversion is actually something I think about all the time. I never want to be a deer in the headlights and do nothing. I always want to be in fight or flight.”

“Business owners need to be empowered to talk about the positive value of business, what it gives back rather than something that can potentially harm.”

“I want my business to be a positive influence.”

“I am an advocate of being ‘in-service’ as a core tenet of great leadership. Being able to be clear about where you are going and having a vision is key but being able to gather steam to move something forward requires leaders to own the responsibility for not just outcomes they drive but for the success of the people they are leading, coaching or supporting. Being honest about roles, responsibilities, and skills and thinking about the interests of those who are working with you can be overlooked when moving fast or driving to some specific goal. To integrate the journey and the people who walk that path seems to be the greatest skill to strive for and one that I think about and try to improve upon in my daily work. It is and will be a life-long learning.”

“Our whole philosophy comes from the idea of service leadership.”

“Every business makes mistakes. What you do next is the difference between losing customers forever and gaining lifelong fans.”

“I’d look at two areas for improvement. Attitude and creativity plus detail.”

“First is attitude. Helping people in need toward their success—be it someone who is hungry or someone who is farming—is admirable because it is a path toward greater self-sufficiency and health. Having a positive attitude toward being in service to helping others, and the patience to stick with it as they navigate their challenges, seems like an important, long-term approach to me.”

“Second is creativity plus detail. We find with our grant-making program that, because farmers are often great inventors and problem solvers, it doesn’t take a lot of money to make a big impact. We have a saying—’small grants, big impacts’—and we believe that it requires creativity and detailed thinking around your commitment to helping others to truly support success.”

“I am the founder and CEO of The FruitGuys. I founded The FruitGuys in 1998 as a way to bring fresh and healthy fruit to office breakrooms. Today the company is still a privately held, family business that serves thousands of companies from local hubs around the United States. The FruitGuys mission is to create a healthier workplace, address hunger by donating 100% of extra fruit to charity, and support small American Farms through a nonprofit.”

“I had a friend who was pushing a coffee cart downtown at the time and I told him of my temp job and that the clock was ticking for me and then I asked what would be useful for folks in the offices he served and he said: ‘Something healthy.’ Thus The FruitGuys was born.”

“I asked people what they wanted the most and they said, ‘If we could eat something healthy, we could avoid junk food and it would make our lives a lot better.’ I thought, ‘Why not deliver something as simple as fresh fruit and see how that works?'”

“Employers quote that the fresh produce helps to reduce absenteeism, people seem more energetic and productive, and the culture of candy and that two o’clock sugar rush kind of goes away. Those things may seem small, but they actually have a really big impact.”

“All of these little things we do are part of the bigger picture. I think the interest in eating well and physical exercise is also parallel in understanding the farmer and getting back to our roots of understanding where our food comes from.”

“Outside of delivering fruit to offices to help people at work eat and stay healthy, we have two main mission-driven programs that we put into the world. The first is to reduce hunger by donating 100% of our extra fruit to organizations that feed the hungry. The second is to provide grants to small farms and agricultural non-profits in the United States.”

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”

“Fast food is popular because it’s convenient, it’s cheap, and it tastes good. But the real cost of eating fast food never appears on the menu.”

“Our message has always been that bringing healthy brain food to the office can boost productivity and improve wellness. We view wellness at the workplace as a win-win for everyone.”

“I’ve been at companies that encourage employees to become more physically active through stair-climbing campaigns or they’ll have people wear pedometers and walk 3,000 miles as a company. I’ve seen healthy eating clubs and diet clubs onsite. I’ve seen companies with onsite workout facilities, so employees can work out on their lunch breaks. Companies, again, are starting to realize that promoting healthy lifestyles is a win-win situation: healthier employees mean a healthier bottom line.”

“People leave the workplace and go home. They can’t just eat healthy at the workplace; we have to try to encourage a culture that’s going to affect them both at the workplace and at home and their kids at school, so that they will be healthier. If we can do that, then it will ultimately affect the business positively, but it’s going to take marketing and work and the company being behind them to do that.”

“The FruitGuys is working to make fresh fruit as accessible as it is to grab a can of soda, help combat obesity in America and help small family-operated farms grow. We couldn’t be more proud.”

“Our 5Rs concept is something I’m working on putting into a book and I’d like to be able to share. I feel that we need a conscious and easy-to-understand system for reminding us how to be in the world right now. It seems that we are in a time of many reactions, anger, blame, and hate that I feel it is important to grow a movement of people who are dedicated to exercising thoughtful and kind approaches to the way we exist together in the world. The 5Rs are these five questions that we now ask ourselves to check that we have been thinking about being in service to others in our work.”

“Have we been Respectful at all times? We define this not as something that you earn, but something you give to others regardless of whether respect has been given to you.”

“Have we been Responsive rather than reactive? We talk about being responsive as a skill that requires listening, understanding and removal of judgment for the other’s perspective; where being reactive is often instinctual and unthinking and can often come from a place of being defensive.”

“Have we been Realistic about what we can or can’t do and what we will and won’t do? Being respectful and responsive shouldn’t imply that we always can or will do something. In a service situation, our goal is to help people, however, if we are faced with a situation in which, in good faith, we truly cannot comply or help someone, it is important to turn into this and be honest about it as well as put context to it if necessary. It is also important to be realistic about options if we can be. If we don’t do this detailed thinking, then we aren’t going deep enough to truly check ourselves around what we can or can’t or will or won’t do for someone else.”

“Have we taken personal Responsibility for outcomes? So often in organizations and when trying to solve complex problems, gaps appear between people and roles. If everyone in an organization commits to taking personal responsibility then gaps can be tightened quickly and desired outcomes can be discussed openly. Taking responsibility requires bravery in communication to have these often difficult conversations but, if done with shared respect, responsiveness, and realism, then those goals, outcomes, and questions of ‘who does what’ is so much faster to figure out.”

“Finally, if all else fails, asking the question: have we been Remembered positively, allows us to double-check how we acted in a scenario and what we could have done differently or not.”

“I’m a journal writer. It helps me process what is going on around me. During the first dot com crash in 2001 when I thought we’d lose the business, I found myself writing in my journal: ‘You have to be your own savior.’ It was a tough moment because, in order to save the business, I had to take actions that terrified me and that I really didn’t want to take. There was no one to ‘save us’ so-to-speak from what was this very difficult moment. I had to lay off half of the staff—which made me physically ill during the process—and I had to switch my mindset from thinking of myself as growing a business to just working in the business to help it survive. It felt like a huge setback and one that I wasn’t sure I’d ever recover from.”

“There were, of course, moments of luck and support from others that helped us but tightening up and doing all we could to survive was the first step. Today I still have the belief that everyone in the business has to be willing to do any job and be adaptive. This DIY attitude is important to our approach in business and to the way we view the work we do around hunger mitigation and small farm support.”

“I’m proud of the fact that tens of thousands of people each week get a piece of fruit on their plates through our charitable partners because of our donations.”

“People like to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

“I believe in my core that our entire civilization relies on being kind to each other and helping people in need. If we do not have philanthropy, we do not help others. I feel blessed that we can share with people.”

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