HealthSimplified: An Interview with Yes To Co-Founder Ido Leffler

Ido Leffler, Yes to Carrots

Ido Leffler is the co-founder and “Chief Carrot Lover” of Yes To Inc., makers of Yes To Carrots, Yes to Tomatoes, Yes to Blueberries, and Yes To Cucumbers. In just 8 years, Leffler and his team have built Yes To into one of the leading natural beauty brands in the world, achieving distribution in over 28,000 stores in over 25 countries (including retailers such as Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Whole Foods Market, and Sephora Europe).  Today Yes To ™ is the # 2 natural brand in the USA and continues to grow.We recently got the chance to sit down with Ido (a member of SmartyPants' Advisory Board) to discuss his new book Get Big Fast and Do More Good, written along with with his co-founder, Lance Kalish, about the founding of Yes To, their early failures and growing success, and what it took to survive the one and achieve the other.
SmartyPants:  Can you tell us about your new book, Get Big Fast and Do More Good?  What was your aim in writing it?Ido Leffler: My partner Lance Kalish and I are extremely excited to share our experiences as entrepreneurs inYes To co-founder Ido Leffler an ever-increasing and hyped  up start-up world. The book is a guide to modern entrepreneurship and accelerated brand-building detailing our journey from the launch of the Yes To Carrots brands as two 29-year-olds in Australia with little more than a dream to becoming one of the biggest natural beauty brands in the world and one of the fastest-growing skincare brands. Most importantly to us we were able to do this all while maintaining solid principles, investing in meaningful business relationships, giving back to the community, and still making it home in time for dinner with our beautiful wives and children.SPV:  Do you think entrepreneurship was simply part of your DNA and a path you always wanted to follow, or something that developed later in life out of a sense of dissatisfaction (e.g., with your industry, your employers, your career path at the time)?IL:  My parents would tell you that I was born with 3 business ideas in mind. Being an entrepreneur was my definition of freedom. I truly treat day to day business as my hobby (a very fun and serious one).SPV:  How did you manage to recover from failed products and early disasters Yes To faced?IL:  Firstly we have always tackled these issues honestly and openly. This sounds simple, but it not always your first instinct! Honesty truly is the best policy! We have also learnt that what makes a great business is when you are passionate about the product you are working on, and you set out to make a difference in the world that is not only focused on financial success. If you can start a business and tie it to a cause or some form of higher contribution above material success, than you are doubling your chance for success. We have also learnt that great businesses come from having great partners - from founders, to investors, to suppliers and a great team of employees, once you get to that stage. By nurturing strong relationships from the very beginning, you are giving your business extra layers of support and opportunity to survive through the difficult times and flourish during the good times.SPV:  In the book, you talk about two different paths to success: the 'Yes to Way' and 'the professional path' - what exactly is the "Yes to way", and how did you find it for yourself?IL:  Here is a quote straight from the book :-)The Yes To way is the less straightforward way from a traditional professional path where you go to university, graduate and take a corporate job for the rest of your working career. With the Yes To Way, there are no classes, exams, or cram sessions. You don’t get a grade and you don’t graduate with a degree. The path is filled with questionable decisions, Hail Mary moves, and bank accounts that are sometimes down to one rent check, half a phone bill, and a kebab. It can be pretty scary, frankly. So why do it? As risky as the entrepreneur’s life can occasionally seem, it can also be amazingly rewarding and incredibly good fun. Over the last ten years, we’ve made every possible mistake, and also taken a few gambles that have paid off big. We’ve almost lost our business a couple of times, and we’ve had moments where the entire future of Yes To has hung on a last-minute meeting with a stranger on the other side of the world. We’re both gamblers by nature, as are most successful entrepreneurs. We have faith in ourselves and in our ideas, and because of this we can tolerate the risks that sometimes lead to big rewards. Both of us had early corporate careers and recognized very early on that it did not fit.You will feel it in your gut that it is time to go the Yes to Way. When you do, the hardest part is just getting started. The rest is the fun bit!SPV:  You also talk about being a company that does - and is - "good".  What does 'good' mean to you, in doing and being?IL:  We strive to make "good" and "being good" a part of our DNA, from the first employee to someone who was hired today. If Good is built in to your company it carries across in everything that you. Being good means treating all people with respect no matter who they are from the CEO of a company to the person who delivers the mail. It also means respecting the environment and the resources you are using to make your product or deliver your services. We have kids and we want to leave a beautiful world for them and for their kids to enjoy. So you start with those values internally within your company. Then you do good, which means that you take every opportunity you can to use the success and resources of your company to better the lives of others. Our product does this naturally, and with the proceeds from our product sales, for example, we have created the SEED FUND, which does good for children and communities locally and in Africa through helping create community gardens and teaching children how to make healthy choices with food and live healthy lives.Yes to Seed FundSPV:  Skin and Hair care products tend to be synonymous with chemicals, often questionable ones.  Did you find it difficult to create products that are devoid of some of these go-to ingredients?IL:  We have an incredibly talented product development team who, over the years, have become experts at creating formulas that feel like traditional products yet have all of benefits of being naturally derived. The challenge is developing a product that consumer will LOVE, not just like. We at Yes To won't let a product go to market unless we firmly believe consumers will love it!SPV:  Yes To products can be found in a very large number of main stream retailers (CVS/Pharmacy, Walmart, among others) - were you surprised to find these traditional stores willing to carry your natural products?  Were you surprised to find their customers eager to purchase them?IL: We were not surprised at all because we were a customer of these mainstream retailers and we came up with the concept of Yes To as consumers first who were looking for a brand like Yes To. We were living a pretty hectic life, burning the candle on both ends. We decided that we needed to make some slight changes to our lifestyle by eating better food, getting more exercise and sleep, and paying a bit more attention to our overall personal care regimens. However, when we looked around none of the natural personal care brands appealed to us. We were Mini-driving, Virgin-flying, Apple-using people and none of the existing natural brands were designed to meet our needs. We realized we probably weren’t the only ones feeling this way, so there and then we decided to create a natural beauty brand that would “mainstream, natural beauty.” Yes To was born, and the rest is history.SPV:  Can you tell us a bit about your programs Yes to Hope and Yes to Seed Fund?IL:  The Yes To Seed Fund is a core part of the Yes To culture from the very start. Its mission is to plant gardens around the globe in order to give kids fun and engaging ways to learn about nutrition and healthy living. The Yes To Seed Fund is a great anchor as we grew and evolved as a company – it helped shape our DNA, ethos, and mission. When recruiting folks to join the family, it becomes very obvious that this is one of the things people are attracted to about our company. This translates into a group of people passionate about giving back! We also do team volunteering days, which are usually at local community gardens.The Yes To Hope program is our biggest project yet with regards to the Seed Fund. In this program Yes To partnered with Mama Hope to help plant vegetable and fruit gardens in Kenya which now feed thousands of school kids each day. Prior to this these kids did not have access to healthy food outside of their limited staple maize and meat diets. The basic fruit and vegetables they are exposed to now gives them lessons and nutrition they have never received and changes their lives significantly from a health and education perspective. We are now working on a sister-school exchange where American and Kenyan students can teach each other about how they use the garden, show each other what's growing, and create lasting connections with kids from very different backgrounds.

Yes To Inc

SPV:  Where can someone purchase a copy of your book?
IL:  You can purchase the book from Amazon on https://amazon.com/getbigfastdomoregood or in most leading airport book stores. 

HealthSimplified: A Video Interview with Alex Jamieson

alex delicious vitalityRecently, we had the chance to sit down with Alex Jamieson, natural foods chef, author, speaker, TV personality, and holistic health counselor.  Her work has been featured in Elle Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, and on the Oprah Winfrey Show, among others.   She also starred in the hit documentary Super Size Me with her then husband Morgan Spurlock, using her healthy cooking to bring him back from a near catastrophic McDonalds-fueled health crisis.  She has authored  2 books on Vegan cooking - Vegan Cooking for Dummies and Living Vegan for Dummies - and her latest book is called The Great American Detox Diet. (more…)

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HealthSimplified: A Video Interview with James Maskell, CEO of Revive Primary Care

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HealthSimplified: An Interview with “Stuck Where You Are” Author Alan Neal

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HealthSimplified: A Video Interview with Vedic Meditation Teacher, Charlie Knoles

Charlie Knoles

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HealthSimplified: A Video Interview with Mitzi Dulan RD

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HealthSimplified: An Interview with Howard Schiffer of Vitamin Angels

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HealthSimplified: A Video Interview with Dr. David Katz

Recently, as part of the HealthSimplified Interview Series, SmartyPants Vitamins had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. David Katz,  You can check out our extraordinary talk with him below.Dr. David Katz is an internationally renowned authority on weight control, nutrition, and the prevention of chronic disease.  Among his many accomplishments are:
  • Founding Director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center (funded by the CDC)  SmartyPants' senior medical advisor, David Katz
  • Two-time diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine
  • Founder and President of the non-profit Turn the Tide Foundation,
  • the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Childhood Obesity
In addition, he has authored:
  • 150+ scientific articles
  • nearly 1,000 newspaper articles
  • twelve books and counting

Here are some highlights from our chat

  • Making Health a Priority - starting in the Family, carrying it out to the Culture
  • Teaching Health to our Kids is as Important as Teaching Financial Responsibility to them
  • Health is a Responsibility - it impacts your family, your community, and your culture
  • How Businesses can Benefit by Moving in the Direction of Health
  • Reinventing Elements in Industry so that Everyone Wins
  • More Money Can be Made Cultivating Health, rather than Treating Disease
  • Getting Healthy isn't just about Will Power - it's also about Skill Power
  • Wanting Health is great, but you've got to have the skills on board to achieve your goals
  • Dieting alone doesn't make sense - it's time to get the whole family involved
  • Learning to Love Food that Loves you Back
  • Making Health Easier for Everyone through the NuVal System

Tweetable Insights from Dr. Katz:

  • Learn to love the food that loves you back. (Click to Tweet)
  • Children and parents will get to Health together or not at all. (Click to Tweet)
  • If we want Health to be the default choice, we need to make it easier. (Click to Tweet)

Resources Mentioned:

Few in any field are so worthy of the term "Authority".  Dr. Katz uses his considerable expertise and weight in the Health field to help everyone put more years in their lives, and life in their years.  You can follow him at @DrDavidKatz.If you liked this video, would you share it with your friends?  Just click here to post it to Twitter. 

HealthSimplified: An Interview with Jay Gordon MD, FAAP

 Dr. Gordon, Jay

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