Interview with Nicole Dawes, CEO of Late July Organic Snacks

Nicole Dawes is the Co-founder and CEO of Late July Organic Snacks, located in Barnstable, Massachusetts.  Late July makes certified organic cookies, crackers, and chips.  Nicole and her husband Peter (who is the company’s Co-president and COO) have two children, Stephen and Benji, who are 9 and 5, respectively.  Nicole’s father, Stephen Bernard, founded Cape Cod Potato Chips, and co-founded Late July with Nicole.

Nicole Dawes is the Co-founder and CEO of Late July Organic Snacks, located in Barnstable, Massachusetts. Late July makes certified organic cookies, crackers, and chips. Nicole and her husband Peter (who is the company’s Co-president and COO) have two children, Stephen and Benji, who are 9 and 5, respectively. Nicole’s father, Stephen Bernard, founded Cape Cod Potato Chips, and co-founded Late July with Nicole.

Nicole Dawes on working with her husband; and on why: kids should be raised at the office, anxiety is an indulgent emotion, and work/life balance is a sham. 

Q:  Your life is a crazy Venn diagram of overlapping work and life spheres:  Your father was an entrepreneur, you work with your husband, and you are raising two children.  Which aspect of this overlap is toughest to manage?

A:  Leaving the kids just doesn’t get easier.  I’ve been traveling a lot.  It’s heartbreaking every time.  I keep waiting for that to end.  Skype helps.

Q:  When do you feel most stretched?

A:  When we have more than one problem—which is very often. From the outside, we look like a well-oiled machine of magic work-life balance.  We can handle one setback pretty well.  But if someone gets sick, and a new product launch gets pushed up or pushed back, and I suddenly find I have to leave town on business—that’s when we run into difficulty.  Oddly, though, when Peter and I are in those situations, we’re not that tense.  We just do it.  We triage.  Tension and anxiety are indulgent emotions.  We can’t afford them.  We get externally focused on how to solve our problems.  We don’t stop and wonder, How is this affecting us?

Q:  What’s it like working with your husband?

A:  A lot of people are scared to work with their spouse.  They hear the horror stories.  But for us, sharing in the whole experience together is what makes it work.   Continue reading

Interview with Tom First

Tom First

Tom First co-founded Nantucket Nectars in 1989 and sold to Ocean Spray in 1997. In 2004, he founded another beverage company, OWater, now a Polar brand. He is still chairman of the OWater board, and also helps to run a fund that invests in entrepreneurial businesses in the beverage sector. Tom and his wife Kristan have three children, 12, 9, and 7.

Tom First on doing deals just before his rehearsal dinner; on crying when he first fired someone; and on why he wouldn’t change much in his past. 

Q:  What was it like, building a company and a family at the same time?

A:  It wasn’t really at the same time. I was really young—22—when we started Nantucket Nectars.  I didn’t get married until I was 29, and I was 35 when we sold the company.  During those years I was traveling like a maniac—forgot what city I was in, that kind of thing.

Q:  The company was growing fast at that point.  How did Kristan feel about your work mania?

A:  Kristan was in architecture school.  It was an odd time in our lives.  She was as obsessed with work as I was.  But even so, my preoccupation with work took some getting used to.  She grew up in LA, and we got married out there.  At that time, Nantucket Nectars was not doing well in LA, so I saw our wedding as a great opportunity to go out and meet with distributors.

She saw me for the first time at 4 pm the day the rehearsal dinner.  She said, You’ve got to be kidding me!  At the time, I didn’t get it.  I feel bad about it now.  I thought I was doing the right thing for everybody.  It bothered her, but there was an Continue reading

Interview with Len Schlesinger

Len Schlesinger

Len Schlesinger is the President of Babson College. Prior to that, he was Vice Chairman and COO of Limited Brands, and Executive Vice President and COO at Au Bon Pain. He was also a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School for 20 years. He is the author or co-author of ten business books.

Len Schlesinger on the greatest misconception about entrepreneurship; what entrepreneurs often don’t take into account; the one rule he and his wife have; the notion of “acceptable loss”, and why work-life balance is not realistically achievable. 

Q:  Why do you think that the effects of an entrepreneurial business on families is not a topic addressed in business schools?

AIt’s a topic that gets discussed in panels and forums, at meals and coffee breaks, and at   EO and YPO meetings–but it never comes up inside the classroom.  From an academic standpoint, there’s been no systematic data collection related to this topic, so faculty don’t have much to offer about it. By putting this topic out there in your articles and your book, you are legitimizing more public conversation around it.

Q:  What do you think is the greatest misconception about entrepreneurship and families?

A:  What is most naïve about our discussions of entrepreneurship is that it is defined as a solo activity.  In reality, it isn’t.  There are key relationships–partners, family, and friends.  The notion that it is just Continue reading

Interview with Eileen Fisher

Eileen Fisher

Eileen Fisher is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of Eileen Fisher, a line of relaxed but elegant women’s clothing and accessories. Eileen founded her company in 1984. She has 900 employees, with 54 stores in 18 states. She has two college-aged children.

Eileen Fisher on keeping priorities straight; on finding balance with her work; on what “quality time” really means; on the distinction between passion and addiction, and why business is like love.

Q:  Why do you think there’s not more discussion about the intersection of work and family?

A: Entrepreneurs aren’t asked these questions.  There’s this driven-ness, this hyper-focus.  If you’d asked me these kinds of questions 15 years ago they would have overwhelmed me. I was so in the thick of it.

Q:  You didn’t have time to stop and consider how the business was affecting your family?

A:  For me the business was such a passion, such an obsession.  There was so much good in it.  It drove me, it was exciting, fun, happening, like a wild horse pulling me. I couldn’t get off. Continue reading