Tim Sinclair – Co-founder at U-Be-Livin-Smart

[quote style=”boxed”]I finish the most important things I need to get done in a day by 9 AM. It allows me to be more open to discussions that may lead to a great idea.[/quote]

Tim Sinclair, co-founder at U-Be-Livin-Smart, is responsible for Marketing, Sales and Finance and has more than 25 years of food marketing and business experience. Over the past 12 years he has served as CEO at Nealanders International as well as Bridge Brand Foods. He was also General Manager for Campbell’s Soup Grocery Division and has worked in senior management positions at Campbell’s Soup, E&J Gallo Wines and Gordon Foods. His work has included leading Brand Marketing for Products such as Chunky Soup, V8 Beverages, Pepperidge Farm Products and more on a global basis.

Where did the idea U-Be-Livin-Smart’s Feed 88 Million program come from?

The idea for Feed 88 Million came from a long-held belief from the founders of U-Be-Livin-Smart that there is not enough done in a tangible way to help underprivileged, undernourished people in North America. Life just gets too busy. Those that can afford it, write checks to help, but systemically we are not getting better as a society in dealing with these issues. When you think about it, we as a North American society may have a bunch of young “Einstein’s” living in poverty and not getting the nutrition they need to make the world a better place. The sad part is we will never know their genius. Because food donation is always seen as seasonal “charity” it never becomes a main event in a “for profit” business.

When we started our company, U-Be-Livin-Smart, to provide healthy, nutrient dense foods to busy families we knew we wanted to help food-insecure individuals and families who rely on local food banks to eat. As a child I remember vividly how our local food bank helped my Mom as she struggled to raise six of us. For so many people in our own communities, hunger and food insecurity are an everyday reality. According to the USDA, about 50 million Americans live in food insecure households. In addition, one in eight Canadian households experiences food insecurity revealed a recent report by the Canadian Institute of Health Research. To say we have a problem feels inadequate. It is like a slow motion train crash happening all over North America and life is so busy we just don’t see it. With its food donation program, U-Be-Livin-Smart has made it their goal to feed 88 million North Americans in the next decade.

What does your typical day look like?

That is what we love about our business. There really is no “typical day”. Our days are filled with every conceivable “startup” conversation as well as more strategic conversations around how we can impact a particular part of the business. I used to be very active athlete and have lost that a bit in the last 10 years, so I am really trying to eat better (go figure) and get more exercise in. We have 4 growing children (ages 13, 12, 10 and 9) so juggling is something that happens a lot. I find myself constantly being thankful every day for the “first world” problems my family and I have.

How do you bring ideas to life?

We typically will have somebody who has a vision and certain energy around an idea and they will informally present the concept to all of us. We then bash it around a bit and if the idea still has legs, we talk about “when” we possibly could do it. It then goes into the job jar and we move onto execution. Measuring ourselves is the key to any idea coming to life.

One of our ideas – to help people eat nutritiously – led to the creation of our “Karma”ffins, a deliciously smart food. It’s a nutrient dense muffin packed with seven grams of protein, one whole serving of fruits and vegetables, three grams of fiber and only 140 calories. Another one of our ideas -the Feed 88 Million program came from our own experiences with growing up in households that were food insecure. For every package of “Karmaffins bought in a community, U-Be-Livin-Smart feeds one needy individual at a local food bank so its consumers really can impact their own communities when they make their food brand choices. The program is now underway in Dallas, Buffalo, Toronto, and Vancouver with more cities joining monthly.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The power of social media to engage people in a cause like hunger is really exciting. Social media is helping to make both the world and food brands more egalitarian and I love that. I am capitalist at heart but I think capitalism needs to be held to a more holistic and all-encompassing standard. Where is your profit derived from? How are you impacting the environment? Who is making your product? Other than your product, how are you benefitting the communities you do business in? All these questions need to be asked in what I refer to as “sustainable” capitalism, however the major focus in the last 50 years has been on profit, and profit only. Social Media is changing all of this is a big big way.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I finish the most important things I need to get done in a day by 9 AM. It allows me to be more open to discussions that may lead to a great idea.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I have had no bad jobs or a “worst” job. The job that honed my thinking about my ability to use my mind came ironically from being a manual laborer in construction. It made me realize that the ability to work hard and use my mind versus just my body was a real gift. There is nothing like having to carry 2 X 6’s up five flights of stairs all day to make you realize that getting paid to think and act is way better than just acting. I have always been grateful for the work I have had and have worked with and for some really great people. That includes my boss at the construction site as well.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

A lot of people have asked me that lately. Overall I’d probably listen more and talk less. I have a multi-color world happening in my brain and too often I want everyone to feel that same excitement…not there yet but getting there.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I write down what I am going to accomplish at the beginning of each week. The very action of having to write it down forces me to evaluate if I really will get it done. You can spend a lot of time spinning your wheels and time really is the most precious asset you have.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

We are still working on growth but the one strategy would be about focus. Whenever we get highly focused on an objective we always seem to make it happen.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new business and try to do too many things simultaneously. We’ve overcome this by paying attention to the things that really matter. The universe rewards focus and action way more than “good ideas”.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

As I travel a lot with our business, I see many many people struggling with their ill-wrapped toiletries at security. Since checking a bag can cost extra, people are determined to try to carry on. The idea would be to sell to Hotels different variety packs of all toiletries available so that when you go to check into your hotel an exact set of your toiletries is available. Toothpaste, aftershave etc. could be purchased in multiple sizes for $2.99, $3.99 or $4.99 depending on your length of stay. I’m not sure how good an idea this is but it would certainly allow people to travel with less hassle and maybe try some different brands.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I used to be intensely shy. I’m not sure I’ve entirely grown out of that. For instance at a party I would rather talk to three people all night than talk to many people with “surface” conversation.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

Our entire business is SAS (software as a service) based. In a word, what I love is accessibility. I can log into our accounting system from anywhere in the world so we can all work remotely whenever we like. We have a dynamic Facebook page and also use Twitter as a way to keep folks up to date on what we we’re doing and how we hope to change to world.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Six Questions of Socrates by Christopher Phillips. Why? Because whether you are an entrepreneur or working for somebody else, you had better understand what you believe to be right, just and authentic for yourself. There will be lots of people who have their own ideas about what you should believe and if you have not spent time understanding what you believe to be virtuous (as an example – there are six questions with Virtue being one) then you will get tossed around.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

My Mom, Stephen Covey on time management, Larry Bossidy on execution excellence and a lot of great bosses and colleagues who know who they are.


Tim Sinclair on Twitter : @Tim_Sinclair1
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