Welcome to the Week:
This week, I presented at the ICR Conference in Orlando. This is a conference that brings some incredible retail and consumer brands, as well as financial institutions together. What I enjoy most about this conference is it is a chance to tell the story of Fitlife Foods. This is a story I am not sure a lot of people know, but one that is important to share. What I also think is important as I sat in multiple presentations is the power of story.
What becomes clear is that the differences between many companies may not be their actual product, but their stories. When you are having conversations with others, what is most engaging? Unequivocally, I would say it is not about being the louder voice, or even having better facts, it is about who has the more compelling story, the “why” behind they do what they do and how important they make others feel.
So, here is my story… Before I started Fitlife Foods, I was working my corporate job at Bloomin Brands, the parent to Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s, Bonefish and Fleming’s. Each day, I brought the same thing for lunch… frozen kashi meal, a bag of baked lays, a piece of fruit and some dessert. Let me just put it out there, that frozen meals are not all that satisfying or exploding with flavor.
Now, as some may know, there were personal events in 2008 that took my wife Laura and me on a spa vacation in 2009 as a reward for a medically challenging year that we had just endured.
As a runner and someone into health and fitness, this was a dream vacation. We were hiking, biking, working out and eating unbelievable delicious food that was super clean, but holy cow amazing!
Now, coming back from this trip, I was at JFK airport and I tasted salt for the first time in my life.
I know that sounds crazy, but the reality is that in that week, my palate had been completely retrained. I was eating made from scratch sauces and spice blends and when I went back to eating something conventional, the salt was so pronounced.
In addition, we all know what it is like to be on vacation and all of us want to take a little bit of that home with us. What I wanted to take home from that trip is...
“How do I have a personal chef make food of this quality for me each week and put them in neat little containers that I can have in my busy life during the week?”
Oh, and I how can I get that without paying a personal chef price?
Oh, and how can I get unbelievable flavor without all the heavy salt?
Oh, and how can I get the perfect balance of macro nutrients, limited sugars, good fiber and in the right portion sizes?
Oh, how I can get them to last 5 – 6 days?
Oh, and how can I get these meals so when I re-heat them, they are 100% delicious; as good as you would find in any restaurant?
Lots of problems to solve for.
Now, at this time, I always knew and said to myself that if I was ever going to start a business, it has to solve a problem. What I saw at this time was a problem brewing in the world of food. 2010 is when the health and wellness craze started as it came to food. Calorie counts on menus started to become a reality; and a threat to many. Instead of finding the balance between health and taste, the sentiment in the food industry was “lets fight this tooth and nail” I remember being at a conference and someone (who will remain nameless, but a big name in the food business), said we are going to be about Big T (taste) and Little (H).” These were words pierced me and I knew there was a better way.
Also, in the media, weight loss and fad diets were all the rage. This is around the time when people were shooting themselves with B12 as well and going on these rapid weight loss diets and then yo yoing back afterwards.
Now, as a kid, I always remember my Mom, Sister and Grandmother doing Weight Watchers and the reality is that it worked for all of them. I have always been a big fan of Weight Watchers. They really teach people about portion size and the power of choice. When people think they “cannot” have something they surrender the power of choice and then we all know what happens then. Think back to when you were younger (or last week) when someone said that you “cannot” do something or “have” something… you want it more. The reality is, you are 100% in control of your choices and you should feel free to eat or have whatever you want… like everything else in life, in moderation, (my recommendation, your choice. ) The only issue with Weight Watchers, there is no chef prepared meal with them doing the work.
So, here I am. I have all these thoughts, experiences and personal passions brewing within me, but what to do. Well, in late 2009, on a Sunday afternoon I sat at my computer and started developing Fitlife Foods. I went through the next year developing the concept and going through everything from bank rejections, to acceptance of my loans, to mortgaging my house to finance the business, to having my first tasting with my original culinary team at the top of an eye clinic kitchen (the only kitchen I could get access to and I am thankful to this day for this amazing person letting me do that).
The stories of growth are incredible and the stories within the stories of our brand are very real, but those stories are the fabric of what we do every day at Fitlife Foods. We believe that brands are built or destroyed on Saturday night. On Saturday night you are out with your friends and your family and many times, you are sharing what happened to you or what you discovered in that week and you want to share that with others. We believe in the power of Saturday night.
So, as you embark on this week, I challenge you to think about the stories you share when you are with your friends, your family, in stores and in your business to express why you do what you do. What you do is one thing, why you do it is something likely even more special.
Have an Awesome Week,
David Osterweil, Founder & CEO