September 8, 2010

It’s all about being kind…

Posted in Between Us column, Business, Diversity, Spirituality at 9:57 pm by dinaheng

Daniel Lubetzky is a social entrepreneur. In other words, he’s a businessman who’s trying to make positive changes in the world while making a profit for himself along the way.

If you’ve tasted his KIND Snacks, fruit and nut bars designed to be heart-healthy while tasting like they shouldn’t be, you’re probably happy to be contributing to his bottom line.

Lubetzky, the founder, chairman and CEO of KIND Snacks, has a background in the natural food business, and says his company’s mission is to make the world a little kinder. Along with selling snack bars, the company encourages its consumers to share the gift of kindness.

“It all started with surprising people with KIND bars, asking them to try it, but rather than making it a commercial experience, we wanted to seed acts of kindness,” Lubetzky says. “So we gave them a ‘kinded’ card, asking them to pass on an act of kindness to someone else.”

The company created a “Do the Kind Thing’’ campaign, giving people the chance to raise money for causes by promoting their acts of kindness online. KIND Snacks awarded $40,000 to the winners, and plans future campaigns that will reward other acts of kindness to total strangers.

“Being kind to others is a gift that is more valuable and powerful than people realize,” Lubetzky says. “In the 15th Century, the core power in society lay in the church. In the 16th and 17th Centuries, the nation state was born, and government had the power. Today, power lies with business and citizens.

“If we’re going to tackle environmental changes, nuclear proliferation and other issues, the only way to approach it is to recognize our commonality as one human race, and for business to integrate solutions as part of their models. Capitalism isn’t going anywhere, and market forces is something we should embrace.”

Lubetzky says cause marketing is a shallow practice, and that consumers are savvy enough to discern sincerity of purpose.  Ten to 20 years from now, he predicts, socially-conscious companies will become the norm because consumers will expect brands to be socially conscious in practice, as well as for promotions.

Born in Mexico City to a Jewish family, Lubetzky says he learned to build bridges at an early age. Since his mother came from a town where her family was the only Jewish family, being exposed to different communities and perspectives was an important value.

“My father was a Holocaust survivor,” Lubetzky shares. “Learning what he went through in a concentration camp made me decide to work to ensure that something like that never happens again.”

The family moved to San Antonio, Texas when Lubetzky was 16. After college, he went to study abroad in France and Israel, then graduated from Stanford Law School in 1993. He did a brief stint as an attorney in New York, then worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Company.

Business instincts won out, and Lubetzky launched PeaceWorks Inc. in 1994  to pursue “peace and profit” through cooperative ventures among countries striving to coexist in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. This led to the PeaceWorks Foundation’s OneVoice Movement, and now KIND Snacks.

“Our society is obsessed with quantifying how much financial success or fame we have,” Lubetzky says. “That should be the means, rather than the end, to achieving what’s important in life. A lot of us are fortunate, and a lot of us are not fortunate. People need to put food on their table, and it’s a luxury to think about whether a job is fulfilling.

“The primary reason our company is growing is we’re providing a product that’s being kind to your body, your taste buds, and to the world. Being kind to the world is what gives purpose to our team.”

With this kind of thinking, success is sure to follow.

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