As cheesy as it sounds, don’t listen to the naysayers. There will always be one person out their doubting your abilities, but in the end you know what you’re doing and you should trust you instincts.
Laureen Asseo founded Fresh n’ Lean at 18 years old from the kitchen of her one-bedroom apartment while attending Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Her father had been facing serious health problems after years of overindulging in processed American foods, and she was desperate to help him reverse the damage. Her family quickly switched to a whole food only diet and with proper exercise, her father did a one-eighty. Family and friends took notice and inquired about the change. From there she hatched the idea of Fresh n’ Lean. Her plan: make eating well a no-brainer for people who lack the time or desire to prepare tasty meals. She hosted a Tupperware party where she made meals and gave them out. Today, Fresh n’ Lean is the #1 meal delivery service for fresh, ready to eat, gluten-free, organic meals. Laureen is obsessed with delivering good nutrition to as many people as possible. She loves to help people with their health, weight loss and convenience goals, because she has seen firsthand how transformative it can be simply to consistently eat well. Laureen has a huge love for all animals and owns horses and a dog named Leo, who comes to work with her every day.
Where did the idea for Fresh n’ Lean come from?
While going to college, my father became ill from eating so much processed food. Our family switched to a strictly whole food diet. My father’s health did a one-eighty and our friends and family started to notice. That’s when I decided that people needed healthy, fresh ready-to-eat meals. From there I started making them out of my one-bedroom apartment and delivering. Now we’re a nationwide company and have delivered over six million meals.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up at 4am, get my quick morning routine in. I have a very limited straight forward wardrobe for the office, so I am out the door quickly. I get to the office at 5am and get my day going. My days differ each day, but I split my time between meetings, being on the floor in the plant and fulfillment and then spending time at my desk. I always have my phone on me so getting to my emails is an all-day thing. I usually will be at the office until 6 or 7pm.
How do you bring ideas to life?
As simple as it sounds, it helps me when I put pen to paper. When I make my idea “physical” it gives me that motivation to get it down. I then get the necessary people involved to execute!
What’s one trend that excites you?
Though I’m not strictly vegetarian or vegan. I do limit my animal product consumption by only eating fish, eggs, and dairy. I think it’s exciting to see how many plant-based proteins and products are coming out every day. We recently added Beyond Meat to our vegan meals which is really exciting as well!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Spending time outside with my animals. I find that taking time when I get home from office and interacting with nature and animals gives me time to reflect and see the bigger picture of a problem or the tasks that I have on my plate. Even if it is for 15 minutes it makes a huge impact.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t take other people’s thoughts or opinions to heart. There have been many instances where I’ve been doubted when it comes to running my business. I’ve had older businessmen lecture me and give me their opinions when I did not ask for them. There will always be naysayers, you just can’t let them get to you.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Game of Thrones wasn’t interesting to me.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Stay disciplined. It’s easier said than done but I’ve found that being disciplined, whether it’s waking up every morning at 4am like me or finishing that last email for the day, it keeps you on track. Putting one thing off for tomorrow can only create bad habits.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Be creative and run a lean operation. To this day, I have not had any outside funding and growth had to be funded by being creative and running a lean operation. This goes for everything from hiring to equipment. We ask a lot of our employees and really had to get the maximum output from them and the limited machines/equipment we could afford to buy. We would use machines that had a 20,000 meal a week capacity for 50,000+ meals and just had to roll with the punches. Only taking real financial risks when calculated.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In a new industry 10 years ago, there were a lot of trails and tribulation…. I think the goal is to also learn from your shortcomings and hope that you can take that and build on it.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
One of my ideas is to create Feeding Friends which is where we stipend the meal plans for families or people who may not be able to afford healthy food but want to eat healthy food. Our mission is to bring healthy food to as many people as possible.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The Backstreet Boys concert because it gave me a chance to let my hair down and relive my childhood.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
At our company, we use Asana. There we can split our departments up and assign tasks to each other while updating and communicating. We switched to Asana after emails were getting lost. It’s a more efficient way to manage projects and has really helped the productivity of not only myself but the company.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. After ten years of running my own company, I realized there are a lot of ups and downs. Things are rarely perfect, and I learned that you shouldn’t pretend for it to be. It’s freeing to be yourself rather than confine yourself to the box society wants to put you in.
What is your favorite quote?
“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Theodore Roosevelt
- No matter how hard it is, stay disciplined. I follow this daily and it’s made me prepared for any situation I may encounter.
- As cheesy as it sounds, don’t listen to the naysayers. There will always be one person out their doubting your abilities, but in the end you know what you’re doing and you should trust you instincts.
- Run a lean operation and be creative. This has forced me to think outside the box when it comes to problems. I think out every option rather than reacting and hiring new personnel or fixing the issue with money.
Instagram – @laureenasseo, @freshnlean
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.