Stop Micromanaging to Grow Fast with Loren Brill at Sweet Loren’s

When you decide to empower your people, you have to stop micromanaging. You know that micromanaging is not effective in leadership, but often you feel like you have to overlook the work of your team members. Stop micromanaging if you want to create a team that thinks for themselves. The guest today is Loren Brill, Founder, and CEO at Sweet Lorens. The healthy cookie company was #114 on the 2019 Inc 5000 list. Loren shares how her company has grown fast. She had to learn to stop micromanaging in this journey. Listen in to the show if you want to stop micromanaging.

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Target Audience: Loren Brill is the CEO & Founder, Sweet Loren’s. Sweet Loren’s (sweetlorens.com) is an award-winning cookie dough company. We offer homemade tasting, better-for-you place&bake and edible cookie dough for retail and food service. We proudly use only simple ingredients and convenient packaging. All of our products are gluten free, vegan, dairy free, nut free, non-gmo, and 100% whole grain.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
Loren BrillJust think it’s unrealistic. If you have to micromanage everyone, you won’t be able to get anything done because there’s only so much time in the day. And secondly, the reason why I hired these people is that I’ve let my ego go, I want to hire people that are smarter and better in certain ways. And I want them to have the freedom to blow me away, do something that like I need to think about, right. So I can get some very clear communication because people are never always thinking the same thing. Right. So, you know, sometimes we don’t, if we’re also busy running around this country, we don’t talk enough sometimes. You know, I just it’s a good reminder of, Okay, let’s just have at least weekly conversations to make sure we’re on the same page because I don’t really care how that person gets to that as long as the same end goal. We’re all you know, we’re all winning.
Intro [0:49]Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs of the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host My name If genomic I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth, are you ready to grow?Gene Hammett [1:06]What is the opposite of micromanaging? Well, this is not a quiz. The opposite of micromanagement from my perspective is empowerment. Truly trusting your employees enough to have them share their ideas, have them think through the problems, have them make decisions, have them fail, and move forward and learn from it. This is what leadership is really about. If you empower your people, they will learn that you trust them and they will give you back loyalty, creativity, and innovation. Today we have a special guest we have the founder of sweet Lauren’s it’s a great product, you have a sweet tooth and you want something that’s healthy. Sweet Laurens creates a lot of different products that grown really fast in the market. They were 114 on the Inc list this year, the good over 3,000%, and only eight people to do that. How do you do it? Well, I talked with a friend who has that in her name is Lauren Brill. Lauren believes in no micromanagement. And if you want to stop micromanaging, you can actually create more growth in your company. But you’ve got to let go of some of the common things that get in the way like ego. We talked about that specifically inside the interview, I want to help you grow the company. So tuning into these podcasts can really take you to the next level. So make sure you share this with a friend that you know wants to be the leader that grows fast and creates a team where people are empowered. Today we’re going to talk about stop micromanaging to grow your company. Here’s the interview with Lauren.
Commercial [2:40]Before we dive into the interview, I wanted to remind you that you can actually get a tool that I’ve been working with clients with for the last couple of years, I’ve refined this tool has gone through several iterations. Now we have it completely automated, you can actually go online and fill out the leadership quiz. To get the leadership quiz. Just go to theleadershipquiz.com. That’s pretty easy, right? theleadershipquiz.com. What you will get when you do that is you will answer a few questions, you will see where you rate based on the core principles of fast-growth companies. If you’re ready to grow your company or you want to see where you are, then make sure you go to theleadershipquiz.com inside it, you will get insight to where you are, understand where you want to improve. And you will get them mapped into the 10 areas that are most specific to fast-growth companies. Again, go to theleadershipquiz.com and you can get that right now.
Gene Hammett [3:33]Hi, Lauren, how are you?Loren Brill [3:35]Wonderful, how you doing?Gene Hammett [3:36]I’m fantastic. excited to have you on the podcast to talk about you know, your leadership, and the style that it’s taken to grow your company fast. I’ve already told our audience a little bit you but it would love for you to tell them about Sweet Loren’s. So it’s a really important product for our health. Tell us about Sweet Loren’s.Loren Brill [3:57]So Sweet Loren’s bark It’s all good. I’m Loren so Sweet Loren’s and I started Sweet Loren’s which is really we’re a clean food company and our goals to transform what it means to be convenient and delicious. So it is possible to use clean ingredients and also be incredibly decadent and delicious. So our first product line is cookie dough. We sell bakeable cookie dough and also edible cookie dough and everything is non GMO very simple ingredients. It’s also gluten free certified, plant based, nut free, dairy free so that really everyone can enjoy whether you know regardless of their lifestyle or dietary restriction or maybe allergy so I started sweet Lauren’s because I overcame cancer after I graduated college, and I was searching for ways to satisfy my sweet tooth with ingredients that I wanted in my body and I just was so frustrated with what I could find out there in the market and so decided to make my own recipes. And after several several tries, I, you know, finally created these recipes that I just thought were the most delicious thing and they made me feel great too. And then when I saw my friends and family loved them, too, I just saw a need in the marketplace, where, you know, really millions of people are starving for better quality food. And because I was frustrated with the brands that were out there, I decided to create a brand that would be trustworthy, and that you could find in your local supermarket and, you know, is made of ingredients that you were happy feeding your kids or yourself.Gene Hammett [5:35]I feel like we have three big problems that people don’t talk about enough. One of them is our education system. One of them is our healthcare system. And the other one is this whole concept of food-like products. And so you have specifically working on a really big issue across the country. When you think about that, does that drive the team apart? This big mission.Loren Brill [6:01]Absolutely. You’re definitely not part of the food, consumer packaged goods industry or Sweet Loren’s if you don’t have such a dire passion to really protect, you know, the food that we eat and make sure it’s me You can feel good about. So I was, you know, once I create my recipes, I started to write a business plan for what St. Lawrence would be. And I looked at different options. I was like, I could open a bakery, I could create, or I could create a packaged product that could then be sold, you know, in supermarkets across the country. And my goal really was to reach as many people as possible because that’s how you really change and have a positive effect on something and so if I just open a bakery in New York City, great I’d reach people in New York City but I wouldn’t reach you know you if you were traveling or if you lived anywhere else, and I just know how busy we all are.Loren Brill [6:57]So you know, we really all live on what we can find our local supermarket. And so I just felt like that was so powerful. And, you know, because once I started studying the options of food out there, once you start any package soon you realize there’s a couple of brands that really owns most of the products and brands out there in the supermarket. And so instead of just going in as a normal shopper, what I want to eat today, you look at it very differently. And you realize that the ethos of a lot of these bigger companies is not health and wellness.Loren Brill [7:24]It’s not non-GMO, it’s not clean, it’s not sustainably sourced ingredients that are better for the environment. And you know, when you care so much about what goes into your body, I just think food is so important. It’s so connected to our health and well being and it should be delicious. And so, since bigger brands don’t always have that same ethos. That’s what inspired me to jump in and start my brand and, and I think that if you saw the number of emails we get from our fans every day, we get such amazing calls and messages and emails from fans saying you You’re making you believe in food again, I’m so grateful for your product. You know, me and my husband or boyfriend are obsessed or and I feel like supermom or super dad because I can feed this to my kids and all of their friends when they come over and I don’t have to worry. You know, how do you make something so natural tastes so delicious. So I think that’s really what gets our whole team excited. It’s the opportunity to be a small company but outsmart the bigger companies and make a real really big positive effect and, and also just continue to make a lot of people really happy.Gene Hammett [8:30]Well, I want to talk about your team a little bit because one of the things I’m impressed with what you guys have done, not only are you making an impact in how we see food, that you do have this this ability to create something that tastes great and satisfies that sweet tooth which I have to learn the the team is is very important to the success of any organization, but you don’t have a very big team and I know you you do some co packing for your products so you have some extensions. strategic partners run this, but you have a team of about eight people, but you’ve grown at over 3,000% in the last three years. Like, that’s really impressive.Loren Brill [9:10]Thank you. Yeah, I think that I started this company by myself. And so I didn’t have partners. And I know what it’s like to be really scrappy. I’m really glad I started by myself in the sunset. I know how hard each department is, I know what you have to do from, you know, managing the factory to operations, to sales, to marketing, to finance, but I also know, you know, what one person is capable of? And it’s, it’s not very much right, we we max out, you know, and also it’s not sustainable having one person do everything. And then the real like, ego check to is that, you know, we’re all not great at everything. So it was a good learning process for me to figure out what do I love doing and what am I best at and how can I bring in the smartest people I can possibly find? are also driven by what I’m driven by, that want to be part of this mission and this team and so, for instance, I got us into Publix and Kroger supermarkets.Loren Brill [10:09]On our first meeting, we really got full distribution and Publix and Kroger then after, which was such a godsend, and so great that they believed in us. And that really made us go from small business to nationally distributed, you know, in thousands of supermarkets. And after that, I brought on our VP of Sales who had, you know, 30 years experience managing supermarkets and so even brought on a really great coo and, you know, so we’ve just hired people as we needed them and as the company has kind of scaled and we’ve been able to bring someone on and, and we brought on people that are just entrepreneurial, and really come with experience and expertise in their fields so that, you know, we can hit the ground running.
Commercial [10:51]Hold on for a second. Loren just talked about the need to have entrepreneurial thinking across the team. And I really believe this is a powerful element as well. Leader, if you have enough confidence to hire people who think entrepreneurial, then you will be able to benefit from that in a major way. people that think entrepreneurial, have more creativity and have the ability to see things that have never been done and be able to think about solutions for them. You may call this an intrapreneur, whatever you call it, are you encouraging people to think like entrepreneurs to be the CEO of the projects that they’re running, or the team that they’re running, to have the CEO mindset around the client experience? That is a very powerful way that the company can continue to grow beyond where it is now is couraging. That entrepreneurial thinking back to the interview.
Gene Hammett [11:42]Well, I want to go deeper on that because getting the level of sales you have with eight people is not just by chance, and it wasn’t just hiring some people that had some connections, your management style, or leadership style if you will, is one of no micromanagement. So where does that come from?Loren Brill [12:01]So, I think that what I’ve learned in all this is that when you bring on people who are specialists and smarter than you, and you know, in different ways, there’s no right or wrong way to do something as long as you agree on the end goal, like for instance, manager factory, if I and my co are very clear about, you know, what a great partnership looks like, what our cost of goods needs to be, what new products we want to launch, if, you know if we’re, if we’re in agreement on those things, and we need about them weekly, when we’re very, very, you know, we’re really organized in terms of the way that we have management meetings and each of our goals, then, then I’m not going to micromanage her and tell her how to manage the factory. She comes with years of experience and has her own style and, and she can do better than me and I can’t wait to see what she can pull off right. So. So, you know, I think that you know, I just think it’s unrealistic. If you have to micromanage everyone, you won’t be able to get anything done because there’s only so much time in the day. And secondly, the reason why I hired these people is because I’ve let my ego go, I want to hire people that are smarter and better in certain ways, and I want them to have the freedom to blow me away, do do something that like I need to think of. Right? So, I think you have to have very clear communication because people are never always thinking the same thing. Right.Loren Brill [13:29]So, you know, sometimes if we don’t, if we’re also busy running around this country, we don’t talk enough sometimes. You know, I just it was a good reminder of, Okay, let’s just have at least weekly conversations and make sure we’re on the same page because I don’t really care how that person gets to that. As long as it’s the same end goal. We’re all you know, we’re all winning. And so I think that’s been really helpful. And then also just, I want to be as supportive as possible. You know, I used to work in a restaurant and the owner was not supportive. He was angry, he was aggressive. He yelled a lot like I was completely uninspired. It’s actually what inspired me to start my own company because I vowed I would never make someone like that money again. But I wanted to be in charge of my own future. And I want to create an environment that is serious. You know, we all have goals, and we’re all very responsible for certain things, but it’s supportive. We want to lift people up, it’s a positive, fun place to work. And people should be, you know, celebrated when they do something. Excellent. And, you know, so I think, I think that’s, you know, I’m trying to create sweeteners, any environment that I personally want to work in.Gene Hammett [14:40]You know, I was gonna ask you the question, but you went there without me, which is where did this come from? It basically came from having bad leadership. And we’ve all probably been there. We’ve all had those moments where we didn’t we want to create something completely unique because we knew that you didn’t give your best and those that situation and you want your employees to give their best. It’s the our employees are the biggest expense that we make in our companies. And when you think about, you know, this no micromanagement style, is there anything specific that you do that, you know, you can share with us maybe even counterintuitive around conversations one on one or team based.Loren Brill [15:21]I think that what I’ve seen be the best thing for sweet orange is, maybe it sounds. It sounds simple, or maybe not that effective. But we have every Monday morning at 10 am we have a status check-in and everyone calls in from wherever they are. And we go through just each team member kind of gives an update on what they’re working on. Anything that’s, you know, relevant or newsworthy, because you know, every week something crazy unpredictable happens. And, you know, they need something from someone else.Loren Brill [15:57]They just want to remind the team of something else. That’s coming up. And that is the only time the whole week because, you know, we have salespeople that are in the middle of the country, they’re flying all the time. And we’re not always all physically together in one office. But it’s the only time every week that we connect for 45 minutes. And, and, you know, really kind of highlight the things that are going on and that we need and just the reminders and goals of what needs to get done. And I think it’s, it’s been incredibly helpful because it’s a nice rhythm to put everyone on, it’s a nice way to start the week. And, again, you know, I’m excited to see how people would do things in a better way than I could so as, as long as we’re aligned on that goal and that priority, then, you know, I think it’s, it’s exciting, you know, people like to have goals to work towards, and I’d like to see how they pull it off and, and then it’s also very open.Loren Brill [16:50]So it’s like if someone’s having trouble with something, okay, like, after status is over. Let’s hop on a call and let’s problem solve it. You know, like a bunch of smart minds together. We’ve always solved every problem that we’ve come faced with even when it seemed like it was the hardest mountain to climb, you know? So I think just that attitude of you’re not alone. You know, if you need something if you want to talk it through if you want to just bounce ideas back and forth, let’s all help each other because that’s what’s led to our success.Gene Hammett [17:20]So learn what about one on one. This happens all the time inside of organizations, and I’m not trying to get too specific with your specific problems, but someone comes to you with a roadblock or challenge. If you really believe in no micromanagement. How do you handle those conversations?Loren Brill [17:39]Well, I mean, it’s something I believe in no micromanagement, but you know, I can’t I mean, I don’t want to have to micromanage anyone. But I think that you know, when there’s a problem, you know, let’s say, um, you know, our Director of Marketing comes to me with a problem, you know, I don’t necessarily know the answer. Because I’m not involved in the day to day of certain things, but I think that, you know, if she came to me with the problem, maybe we are working on like, a script for some marketing campaign we’re doing, you know, and she’s like, I can’t get this right. I don’t know, you know, the right way to say something.Loren Brill [18:21]First of all, I can’t expect you to know everything, right. Like, we’re all in this together. So I definitely have a lot of one on ones and calls with her to think through things and, and, you know, problem-solve, but, you know, I try to, like, sometimes when you’re so stuck inside a problem, you kind of forget what, what is the problem I’m trying to solve? Like, you’re just managing so many different issues in your head. And I think sometimes if you can have someone come in and say, Alright, what is that? What is the goal here is to drive sales, right? It’s not, you know, it’s to get people into the supermarket to try sweet Lauren’s refrigerated cars. Kido so how do we make sure that like, this marketing does that, because otherwise, it’s not gonna be successful, right? It can do a lot of other things, it can lead to getting us more press, it can do other things. But what we’re really looking for is to reach more people. And like, you know, this is a problem to stay focused on. And sometimes it’s just really helpful to be reminded of like, okay, what’s the number one goal? You know, because there are 234 or five other goals that you want to hit too. But sometimes giving that perspective, and that focus really helps.Gene Hammett [19:31]Sounds like it’s the power of asking the questions like, you may not know the answer, but you, you do know the direction the company’s going. And so you allowing them to think through this by asking those questions, empowers them to have their own opinions and to make decisions about how we’re going to move forward. Is that fair to say?Loren Brill [19:49]Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And, and, you know, I value their opinion, you know, as I could say, I think that it’s gonna sound better like this, and then she’ll work on something and send it back to me and then I’ll be like, Well, what do you think? Like, actually, I think like the original one was better, and then I’ll think about it. And if my gut agrees, it’s like, then go for it go, you know, and I agree, unless like, adamantly really don’t feel like that’s the right move. You know, I’m going to trust someone who’s living and breathing this, you know, as well.Gene Hammett [20:19]Lauren, one of the areas that I find that a lot of people that believe in this, this, you know, going away from micromanagement is they have a healthy relationship with failure. I’m sure you guys have had some, some ups and downs and things that didn’t go well, I know, you said your first meeting with, you know, large supermarket went well, which is probably out of the norm. Since then, you probably have gotten told no. What are how do you create that healthy sense of failure inside your organization?Loren Brill [20:47]That’s a great point. I think you do have to be really okay with failure in the sense that I don’t know about like failure, but like, just things not going, you know, easy and smooth all the time. And I think something that we can do Talk to the team about is Yeah, for instance, or you know, our head of sales like she’s done amazingly and it’s like it you know, thankfully it’s we’ve had really great growth but you know, it’s not you know, there’s not always a yes I’m ready to take your product tomorrow. And when sometimes she shows me things, where she’ll just keep in touch with that customer for it, could be six months, but the way that she follows up on how she follows up and then all of a sudden six months later, there’s an opportunity and that was Top of Mind and all of a sudden she gets us into that customer and so it’s just these lessons of you can’t give up if there’s a no it’s not a no forever. How do we learn from that?Loren Brill [21:44]No, what why wasn’t a no right now, how do we get around that? How do we make it kind of fun game as opposed to I’m so upset, I didn’t get into that account. How do we make it a goal, but by the end of the year, let’s get in there? And so I think you know, we always say we’re We try to mitigate risks. So let’s say we’re preparing for a trade show, we don’t just let our marketing department, you know, go and do whatever they want. Like they do a ton of research, they come to us with like, low budget options, the most expensive option and like a medium option we look at, we’ve decided, like, what makes the most sense, we move forward, you know, what, is there anything we can cut out?Loren Brill [22:22]How do we be the most effective but efficient? So that, you know, we’re not we’re mitigating risks that have done so much of the work and research but, you know, we’re helping to manage the budget of it, as well. And so, I think that you know, people think you try to mitigate risk, and then you also say to people, okay, like, you can make whatever mistakes, but you got to learn from them, learn from them. And as long as you keep learning and putting one foot forward, you know, you will be the smartest one in the room by the end of the year.Gene Hammett [22:55]So Lauren, I really appreciate your being here sharing your perspective on leadership. And thank you for what you’re doing with a company I really can appreciate a sweet tooth that is healthy. So I’m excited to try the products and have you here on the podcast to share your wisdom.Loren Brill [23:13]Awesome. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.Gene Hammett [23:16]Love this interview love getting into the details of going beyond micromanagement. To stop micromanaging your employees, you want to make sure that you check your ego because a lot of times what’s getting in the way of you letting go and letting them truly be empowered, is your own ego.Gene Hammett [23:34]Today we talked about that specifically. Now I know it’s hard to take but part of having an executive coach is having someone that gives you a new perspective allows you to look at your own ego from a different way so that you get out of your own way.Gene Hammett [23:48]Now, I love what I’m doing. I’ve been a coach for the last eight years I grew a fast-growth company. If I could help you grow your company. I would love to if you want to reach out to me Just go to [email protected]. That’s my email. I’d love to help you understand what’s holding you back. How do you let go of something so that you can create the evolution and the power you need to keep evolving.Gene Hammett [24:12]Make sure you tell your friends about this podcast Growth Think Tank is something I created to help leaders go through the defining moments of their own growth and really clarify how they want to move forward, specifically through strategies and tactics, but also some of the mindset shifts that are necessary. Make sure you keep tuning in and make sure you share it with a friend, you know, wants to be a better leader. As always leave with courage. We’ll see you next time.Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
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