Mentoring the Next Generation of Leadership featuring Miyoko Schinner

Meet the Tesla of the natural foods industry, the queen of vegan cheese, epicurean activist, and mentor of entrepreneurial rock stars .

In this episode I had the privilege of chatting with Miyoko Shinner, Founder and CEO of Miyoko’s Creamery, the leading organic plant dairy creamery that’s reinventing the dairy industry. She’s on a mission to empower aspiring and established food and beverage entrepreneurs alike to manifest their dreams, think outside of the box and simple – get out of their own way on their road to success. We discuss her own personal journey of exploration, changes she’d like to see in the naturals industry, and the overall need for mentoring and professional support communities for all levels of entrepreneurs.

“ The biggest obstacle to success can be ourselves.” – Miyoko Schinner

In this episode we learn:

  • Why it is important for entrepreneurs to understand corporate leadership behavior.
  • How the lack of diversity of leadership in the Naturals Industry impacts our ability to deliver on the needs of consumers.
  • The importance of balance in diversifying leadership.
  • Tips on how to create company cultures that allow women to openly express ideas.
  • Common missteps women make while climbing the corporate ladder.
  • Miyoko’s wish for women leaders as they embrace their professional journey.
Gooder Podcast

Mentoring the Next Generation of Leadership featuring Miyoko Schinner

About Miyoko Schinner:

Miyoko Schinner is founder and CEO of Miyoko’s Creamery, the leading organic plant dairy creamery that’s reinventing the dairy industry. An epicurean activist and leading voice in the future of food, Schinner is known as “the Tesla of the natural foods industry”. Guided by her principles of compassion and justice for all living beings, Schinner pioneered the plant-based dairy revolution by leveraging her vast experience as a chef, former restauranteur, best-selling cookbook author, and a founding board member of the Plant-Based Foods Association. An animal rights advocate, Schinner co-founded Rancho Compasión, a nonprofit animal sanctuary in California that provides home to over 70 rescued farm animals.

Guests Social Media Links:

Website: https://miyokos.com/pages/story

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/miyoko-schinner-6a47204

Twitter: https://twitter.com/miyokoschinner?lang=en

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/miyokoschinner/?hl=en

Show Resources:

Miyoko’s Creamery – Miyoko’s Creamery is the leading organic plant dairy creamery that’s reinventing the dairy industry. Led by epicurean activist Miyoko Schinner, Miyoko’s has cracked the code to plant dairy by combining old-world cheesemaking artistry and traditions with whole food technology to craft world-changing cheese and butter from plant milk, not cows. Today, Miyoko’s products can be found in more than 15,000 retailers nationwide and in Canada, including Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market, Kroger and Safeway.

The Plant Based Foods Association: is the single most important trade organization representing the interests of plantbased food companies. We are proud to partner with PBFA in creating a more level playing field for plantbased food companies.

SWEET EARTH Foods: it’s their mission to inspire a modern culinary movement powered by food that’s good in every sense of the word.

Rancho Compasión: they provide a home to previously neglected, exploited, and abused farm animals.

Top Insights

Transcript:

Diana Fryc: Hi, welcome to the podcast, I’m your host Diana Fryc, thanks for joining us again today. As partner and CMO of Retail Voodoo, I have met and worked with some of the most amazing women in the natural’s industry food, beverage, wellness and fitness. As such, I decided to create The Gooder Podcast to interview these great women and subject matter experts and have them share their insights and expertize to help businesses all around the world become gooder. I am so very excited to introduce my guests today Miyoko Schinner. Did I get that right?

Miyoko Schinner: You certainly did.

Diana Fryc: Okay good. Founder and CEO of Miyoko’s Creamery, the leading organic plant, Dairy Creamery, that’s reinventing the dairy industry. As an epicurean activist and leading voice on the future of food, Schinner is known as the Tesla of Natural Foods Industry. I am super jealous of that. Can I just say I don’t know if you gave that title to yourself or …

Miyoko Schinner: I did not. Somebody else did, actually. I don’t know actually who wrote that intro. I think somebody sent it, but yeah, somebody actually did call me that one time. I’m also known as The Queen of Vegan Cheese, so there’s a lot of monikers that I can claim.

Diana Fryc: Do you have a favorite?

Miyoko Schinner: How about just Miyoko, how about a good girl…

Diana Fryc: Okay, you are awesome, yes. Well and because of that you’re guided by your principles of compassion and justice for all living beings. You really built this business around your fundamental truth and principles, around food and animals in the planet. As part of that, you’re a founding board member for the Plant Based Foods Association. So you’ve got to wear a lot of hats and I didn’t even list all of them, but welcome. How’s California today?

Miyoko Schinner: California actually started out pretty cold and kind of drizzly, but it is looking pretty good out there right now; got blue skies behind me.

Diana Fryc: Excellent. Whereabouts are you?

Miyoko Schinner: I’m in North California, I’m in Sonoma County. We’re in Sonoma; this is sort of an old agricultural area. It’s pretty funny. And people say Sonoma is the land of wine and cheese. There’s a lot of cheese here, but because there’s a lot of cheese, there’s a lot of cows and in the summertime you get this thing called Sonoma Aroma. The wind picks up a little bit and you smell some.

Diana Fryc: I used to live near a cattle ranch, a big one, and big processor when I was in college and I know what you’re talking about.

Miyoko Schinner: Yeah and it’s not exactly wine Saipan Country.

Diana Fryc: Well, so when I say that you wear a lot of hats, one of the things we spent a few minutes briefly before we’re recording today, kind of talking about what you’re passionate about, and one of the hats, I don’t know if this is part of your business or just inherently who you are is this passion for growing and mentoring women entrepreneurs and that’s really what we’re here to talk about today.

Miyoko Schinner: Good. And I love that and it’s so important because having been a female entrepreneur for thirty five years in different roles, different businesses, experience all sorts of things, I think women just if they’re anything like me, I think sometimes the biggest obstacle to success can be ourselves because we have these beliefs that men don’t have about ourselves and they’re not really beliefs that propel us and take us into higher and higher realms but beliefs about ourselves that keep us down. It’s not just the external challenges, but we have our own internal challenges. So I love to try to inspire women and just let them know they can do it and they can do it at any age.

Diana Fryc: I love that. And part of our audience oractually good portions of our audience aren’t necessarily entrepreneurs, they are women at all levels of their career and I think it’s really fantastic that we’re going to be talking about mentorship specifically because sometimes you’re mentoring people when they’re in the throes of being an entrepreneur, and sometimes by just talking about it, you become kind of an indirect mentor just by simply talking about it and seeding dreams and seeding ideas for when they do go in that direction. I’m super excited to talk about this.

[00:05:00]

Before we start, because my audience is pretty broad based, I know just about everybody on the planet knows who you are or who Miyoko’s is, but just give us a really high level. Who’s Miyoko’s? What are you known for and what are you up to these days?

Miyoko Schinner: Sure, we’re a company that’s revolutionizing the dairy industry by making cheese and butter out of plants instead of cow’s milk, trying to create a world that’s based on compassion for all living beings; humans, animals, the entire planet, and our products are distributed nationwide. And in Canada, we’re about twenty thousand stores. We’re also a little bit in Asia and a little bit in South Africa.

Diana Fryc: Oh, really South Africa?

Miyoko Schinner: Of all places; I know.

Diana Fryc: Well outside of the US or more especially I think in Africa, parts of India and Asian countries are very heavily plant based. So that doesn’t surprise me too much. But not a lot of people are talking about Africa as a continent, which is so completely diverse. So it’s exciting to hear.

Miyoko Schinner: Yeah, absolutely!

Diana Fryc: So let’s kind of go back to this idea of mentoring women, why is mentoring women entrepreneurs a passion of yours, specifically women? What is that that makes you burns fire in you?

Miyoko Schinner: Well, I’m actually mentoring a very talented young lady right now, who has a business that she’s had for about a decade and I see in her a lot of the same issues that I personally had myself in previous businesses that are preventing her from –she’s got an amazing product. She’s an amazing person. I think she’s a great businesswoman as well too. But I would like to see her unleash her true potential and really think bigger and I think that’s the thing. I think we all put limitations on ourselves and we don’t have to. What really excites me is, I want to move women forward and if there’s anything I can do to help a woman get to that next level, I would like to do that.

Diana Fryc: Are you specifically centered on and desiring to help women in the food and beverage industry, or you’re kind of category agnostic?

Miyoko Schinner: I think you can help more when you know an area or a business and I know food. I don’t know technology. But there are things that cross all sectors of business obviously; how women operate, how we think, how we interact with others, a lot of the unconscious bias issues that women have in just about any role. But the higher up you go; you’re going to have those challenges more and more internally as well as externally. These are all truths and I think the world is awakening to the reality of those, but not fast enough. There was a study that I just learned about very, very interesting in terms of unconscious bias towards female leaders in an organization. Apparently there is something like 70% of men will be unconsciously biased against them in some ways, but over 90% of the female employees will be more biased. So as women, because I think we judge ourselves, we judge other women at the same time. So it works both ways. But we’re externally always talking about the need to prop up other women and we’re always doing this thing like the rally cry for other women when you’re in a real life situation in a company or an organization, we fall into our old habits of judging ourselves and judging other women much more harshly than we judge men.

Diana Fryc: That’s so interesting because since we have that conversation, I’ve been trying to pay attention to my own bias as I go in there. I know for myself it’s funny to talk about women leadership and then think of them as other, because I certainly carry my own set of leadership within our own area of expertise. So it’s very strange to talk about women kind of as a different entity than that I’m not part of. I wonder, like let’s start at the very beginning here when we’re thinking about women leaders;

[00:10:00]

This is going to feel like such a weird question for me to ask, but I’m going to do it anyway. Do you feel that women leaders behave differently than men? And is it because they’re women? And if they do, if they are different, do they behave that way because of the circumstances or because they’re inherently the way they are? I know this big broad brush strokes just for the sake of conversation as it is.

Miyoko Schinner: Yeah. And I’m not a sociologist so I have no rights to this. But I think it’s a little bit of both and I think women leaders often because we’re women and we’re used to thinking about others. And this isn’t to say that men don’t think about it, but I think because biologically, because of childbirth, raising kids, etcetera, women actually think about like, “Oh, are they hungry, do they need food, what are their needs?” So we’re always thinking about that to some degree. That is a good part of us. But at the same time, we have that judgmental part of ourselves like; we’re not good enough, blah, blah, blah. So all of that’s going to impact how you behave as a leader. And then we also know that sometimes as a woman, you have to speak louder. You have to be bolder. We have this pressure. You’ve heard this before. Oh, yes. And a woman can be very, very direct and say, “I like these things and these needs met.” And you’re classified as a royal and says those things that he’s considered a good leader. These are just things you hear about. But I actually think it’s true. I’ve seen it now and I hadn’t seen it earlier in my life when I had, let’s say my last business. Well, I had another natural’s company like 20 years ago. I only had women working for me. It was a small team, but we were all women and I think that made a huge difference.

Diana Fryc: And when you say it made a huge difference, in what way? What does that mean?

Miyoko Schinner: It was really collaborative. It was a very small team but I didn’t have to say –but it is a direct people so much, really just sort of like, hey, what do we want to do about this? Oh, I can do this. There was a lot of collaboration and teamwork. And I don’t remember ever having to challenge people or say, “Okay, I need you to do this or that or the other thing.” It was just sort of like, “Here’s the problem.” And it was very, very different. And today I feel like, well, obviously it’s a much bigger company but I think the combination of men and women together on a team, in a meeting, in a boardroom, it changes things in a way that  I hadn’t thought of before. And when you do become a leader at some point, sometimes you have to set down the role, you have to set the rules right. There’s a time and place for that. There is a time to delegate, there’s a time to say this is critical and I need this done and you’re looked at differently when you take that role. I think that women want to be liked, don’t you agree?

Diana Fryc: Yeah, it’s very interesting. And part of it and of course you’ve been through the type of work that we do when our team at Retail Voodoo or doing brand development, we bring in quite a bit of anthropological science into what we’re doing because ad it’s KRUX people behave in certain ways and yes, there are scenarios that impact people’s decisions and behaviors, but it’s really one of the main reasons why I started gooder was I saw that women build businesses because they see a need in their family, their community, and so they create a product and men typically see a business as opportunity to make a lot of money. Neither is wrong. It’s when we work together that companies get really strong because we need both. Otherwise, if we lean too much this way, this happens with the brand and we learn that way. And so it’s just interesting to hear you talk about it because it’s a little bit of validation to what I’ve been seeing is how this works and so subsequently, because women are more nurturers and collaborators, because from an anthropological standpoint, that’s what we’ve needed for survival, so to speak. Men have typically been hunter gatherers. I know I’m way oversimplifying, but when you look at them translated into business environment, you can see how men might have a bias this way and women might have a bias this way against each other and within themselves. It’s just –you’re right, hardwired.

Miyoko Schinner: Yeah, and I think women are somewhat learning how to behave in an organization like that as leaders.

[00:15:00]

So men have always been for hundreds of years, they just know in a corporate environment, obviously. But more recently, they’ve known what corporate behavior tends to be and how they behave in order to climb the ranks and to just sort of figuring it out. So everywhere along the way, whether you’re a manager or a director or a CEO, we’re still sort of in the nascence of figuring out our corporate behavior which really makes it challenging, I think.

Diana Fryc: Yeah. Well, so when you’re thinking back to some of these women that you’ve worked with, do you see those kind of common –I’m going to use the word outages, it’s really just kind of blind spots or roadblocks or common bad choices simply because the way these women, we women are going through a process, there’s kind of some like, oh, yeah, we want to believe something and so we go down that path. Do you see commonalities at all in your conversations or just even as you’re looking in the market?

Miyoko Schinner: Just looking in the market and just talking to women entrepreneurs, I guess I’ve seen something common and I think it is, they don’t allow themselves to dream as big as men do from the get go. So for example, all these startups in the plant based spaceports. And I know male startups, they started maybe around the same time some of these female startups in the very beginning, they came out with this bold idea that they were going to be the next whatever beyond need or sewer or whatever. They just set their goals high and the women are much more practical to some degree. They’re looking at like, okay, what can I achieve this year? Can I get into a dozen stores or a hundred stores or just something like that? The men don’t care how they’re going to get there. It’s not like they have a roadmap to becoming the next beyond me. It’s just that they’re just going to make that claim. Making that claim lands them on the pages of the front page of every men great ever, whether they actually even have the technology develop. But the women are just like, okay, I can only make this money right now. So I set my goals this high and they don’t allow themselves to think big and with that the world doesn’t listen.

The world almost from the very beginning, just sort of dismisses them as, oh, that’s nice. They got this cute little company and they’re doing this. But there’s nothing that makes them less qualified, less brilliant, less capable. Except we all have this baggage of feeling like we still think it’s a man’s world, that’s the truth. That’s our conscious bias. We’re all still thinking that it’s the men who are going to get the accolades. It’s very rare you meet a woman with just this bravado. They do exist with this and you see them and some of them when they have their downfall, like who was that woman in the era of whatever; she was the pharmaceutical?

Diana Fryc: Oh yeah. I don’t remember the name.

Miyoko Schinner: Anyway, when they have their downfall, it’s huge. So it’s hard for them to get up there and recover. I think we tiptoe a lot more.

Diana Fryc: I see that and let me show you, just as you’re talking, I’m thinking about this even within the context of this podcast, I can tell you many companies owned by men and men in leadership positions have approached me to be on this podcast; on the gooder podcast. The podcast, it’s about women and…

Miyoko Schinner: Because they don’t care, that’s an interesting thing, isn’t it?

Diana Fryc: And subsequently, can I tell you how many women I’ve reached out to that have said I just don’t know if I should do a podcast. The trepidation and the fear of putting themselves; I’m just doing that translation. And the men will even say, “Well, I know it’s for women, but could we spin it in a particular way?” And I’ll be like, “No.” And listen, it doesn’t offend me in any way. I’m like rock on, that’s what you should do. But it’s very interesting, the duality that you’ve identified. I’m seeing it there as well.

Miyoko Schinner: Well, you know about that study; about resumes?

[00:20:00]

Apparently, they did the study; they gave job descriptions of both men and women and it turned out that even if the men didn’t qualify for even half of what was on the JD, they’d apply anyway. And a woman would not apply if she couldn’t check every single thing. And so, that’s how basically men want to be on a woman’s podcast. Men don’t care. They want to define the moment and they don’t want you to define the moment. And women are like, “Well, what are the rules? What are the parameters? What lane do I need to be?” And that’s where we have to break free off that and it’s not any woman’s fault because this is how we have been raised and trained for thousands of years and it’s who we are today. I grew up in the women’s liberation movement back in the 60s and 70s and we still got a long ways to go because we’re still not out there. This is a different world. But the fact is that unconscious part is what’s driving us; driving our behavior, driving our successes or thereof, both coming from us as well as the world. So we got ways to go before we’re in that sort of free world where the men think they can break the rules. We don’t!

Diana Fryc: Yeah. And I think you’re right. We need to start leaning in that direction because let’s use that as a platform. There’s no shame in that, that’s how men behave; like I want to be clear on that. That’s awesome. Let’s us now start following in their footsteps as well. But I think as women, we need to support each other. And believe me, there are so many male advocates that are out there too. We just need to look for them and ask for that guidance.

Miyoko Schinner: Absolutely, there are.

Diana Fryc: I want to steer this very, very specifically, because this is also of a sub part of my topic here and I’m wanting to raise the visibility of diversity in leadership, specifically in the natural’s category, because it is very Caucasian led leadership. So when we’re talking about mentoring people and you’re looking at women from all backgrounds, biopic, LGBTQ, disabled, etcetera, do you see or have you seen — the answer might be no, but have you seen maybe different groups of women struggle with different leadership issues? Is it like a group thing or is it just all women behave one way or I don’t know how to slice it and dice it, I just want to leave that out there.

Miyoko Schinner: That’s a hard question to answer. To be honest, I’m thinking about the women. Startups that I know that I’ve mentored or spoken to maybe gave advice one time or anyone and everyone. I would say that most of them are white women. There have been a couple of Asians and a couple of black women. Once again, it’s just they’re all really small companies and I would say they all have that same sort of fear of dreaming too big. I really feel like that’s what’s holding them back. But it’s not just dreaming too big. I do know one girl, who’s not afraid to dream big, but most of them are and they’re afraid to tell people; which is exactly how I was too. I didn’t have that bravado. I couldn’t tell people how big I wanted to dream. I had the same problem. So I think that’s the first thing. Like, they got to get over that first. I’m not sure I answered your question.

Diana Fryc: That’s okay, to me, what it sounds like is you haven’t noticed the difference between people with different backgrounds. The biggest and most common obstacle is women as a whole who find it hard to dream big. Or maybe it’s not that they’re afraid to dream big, I think they’re afraid to vocalize it. I think the dream is in there.

Miyoko Schinner: The dream is in there; they’re afraid to vocalize it because they’re afraid of being dismissed or laughed at, because that happened to me. Years ago, somebody said, “So you sold your company. What are you going to do next?” And I said, “Well, I really would like to do a cooking show on TV.” And then this man laughed out loud and he said, “Well, that’s not going to happen. So what are you going to do next?” I just stopped telling people.

[00:25:00]

I did do three seasons on a show that aired on PBS.

Diana Fryc: That’s huge.

Miyoko Schinner: Yeah.

Diana Fryc: Well so as you’re thinking about this, maybe we can step back and kind of go, okay, listening audience everybody, whether its men or women, how can we in our industry start creating a culture where women can be expressive and can reach their goals and the potential of their dreams? What is it that we can be doing with our thought process and our behaviors?

Miyoko Schinner: Well, I think it would really help if we could get the media involved. I’ve noticed this time and time again, male startups get a lot more kudos and media time than women startups. And there are plenty of female entrepreneurs in the plant based space that are just not getting the spotlight at all. Some guy will have an idea; he may not even be in distribution, may just be at the conceptual stage of getting articles in ink and food navigator and things. And I noticed that at an event that I went to, that was trying to pair companies up with the media. It was sort of an interesting dinner- this is a few years ago. And I noticed that there were more kind of women waiting around to talk to journalists than men were. I don’t know, this could have just been chants or whatever, but there just seems to be this –maybe it’s the way we carry ourselves. It’s the lack of confidence we have when we talk to a journalist. But I’m going to ask the media to try to go out of their way to spotlight female entrepreneurs, because that will give them more confidence and the next time they’re interviewed, the next time they have the opportunity to express what their big dreams are, they’ll be able to do so. But we need a helping hand, we really do.

Diana Fryc: Yeah, if it also goes back to that flip side, like what I was telling you earlier about the podcast, where I see women resistant to put forward. I can list half dozen women that I talked to that are like, “I don’t know that my story’s important or relative or my POV is like.” What do we need to be telling those women? Because of course, there are people like you and I that are putting ourselves out there and there are more and more of us. But how do we help these other women or is it just by being here and being who we are, and that’s how we kind of help them along?

Miyoko Schinner: Yeah, definitely being here and being who I would call them again, the people that turned you down, call them again. And I think they have to get used to the idea that they actually do have something to contribute and that’s an interesting thing you just said. I think men grow up with this idea of an inherent value in themselves. They grow up thinking that whatever they do is valuable. And women, I think we have spent so much of our lives trying to please our fathers, please our mothers, please our children, and please our husbands, we’re always looking for self-validation and others telling us that they’re grateful for what we’ve done for them.

Diana Fryc: Yeah, we have to prove our worth.

Miyoko Schinner: We have to prove our worth. Yes. And so these women like my very first business, I remember someone coming up to me 30 years ago and saying, “Oh, my God, thank you for starting this bakery. You’ve really changed my life. I was such as sugar and like now I can have vegan desserts. Thank you so much.” And I’m like, “What are you talking about? All I’m doing is baking cake. It’s like I’ve cured cancer or anything.” And so we still have this. We really don’t feel that we’re of much value and so we have to start shining the spotlight on them and making them feel valued. That is really what’s going to help their growth. They just need more help than men do. They’ve been kept out, women have been suppressed. We all know that and we need to help them and we need to go overboard to help women like that to gain confidence, regain confidence and believe in themselves.

[00:30:00]

Diana Fryc: Now, I know we talked about this, this might be redundant, but I think you’ve already answered this. My question is what do you wish all women leaders could embrace on their journey? And I know that we talked about dreaming big. That might just be it. Like that might just be your platform is about dreaming big and owning the dream.

Miyoko Schinner: Well, I think support from those that they work with as well and learning how to be a leader even when you don’t get the support. Learning to speak up and keep asking for what you want and stating your beliefs even though those that you hire may not support you. And this happens all the time because you bring in the big guns, you bring in the experts and maybe they have more credentials than you do but you may have a better idea. It’s very easy to be swayed by them and the next thing you know it’s not your company anymore, it’s somebody else’s company. Or it doesn’t have to be a company; it could be either in the natural’s space, that’s where my head goes. But maybe you’re a playwright and the director says you need to change this, this and this. At some point despite the pushback and you’re going to get pushback, you’re going to get people that disagree with you, that make you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, that you’re not good or whatever, and you have to find your voice, you have to grow your voice and you have to maintain your voice.

Diana Fryc: I keep hearing in the back of my head there’s a rejection component in here and that women maybe put too much weight on rejection instead of it being an event. There’s some deep meaning behind it. This fraud, this I don’t know what that might be. Am I hearing that correctly?

Miyoko Schinner: Yeah, I think women are very sensitive to rejection. We kind of take it personally. But I’m not saying every woman but a lot of women take it personally. We don’t think of it as just for example, in research and development or as a chef trying to develop a recipe or something, you make stuff and people sometimes don’t like it and the goal has to be, how do I get it to a point where I can commercialize. And oftentimes we personalize, “Oh my God, they don’t like my recipe.” So I don’t find that in research and development where everyone’s a pro. That’s different. But I feel that oftentimes I’ve seen women just get crushed when that first rejection comes about their idea of whatever it is. I think we’re just a little bit too more sensitive than a lot of men. So we need to become more resilient.

Diana Fryc: Yeah, it’s that attachment to wanting to be liked I think. I think going back to something you said earlier, when you think about it, so we’re talking about, okay let’s grow women leaders and we want them to be stronger and blah, blah, blah. What does that future look like when we have more women, more stronger women coming up in the system and we’re growing and we’ve growing this diversity. What’s the possibility for business or what do you see as the possibility for business in the natural’s community if we can get more women to kind of shake it off, open up a little bit?

Miyoko Schinner: I think it’s going to be more in line with what the natural category is supposed to do. And the natural’s category is supposed to take care of people, the planet and animals. That’s the whole movement. It’s about creating a sane and sustainable community for all; and what’s happened is it sort of it started out back in the 60s and 70s is sort of this hippie dippy feel good love. That was the origin and then it has become very corporate. It’s become oftentimes very cutthroat and we need to reinsert that the initial spirit of the natural’s industry. And by having more female leaders, we’re going to start creating more companies that actually take care of people, planet and animals that are going to create more nurturing companies.

Diana Fryc: Yeah, those are kind of all the big core questions around this topic that I wanted to ask.

[00:35:00]

But is there anything that we didn’t really cover today, that you’re like, “I really wanted to get this out? This is really important for me to share.”

Miyoko Schinner: Yeah, I think I don’t know if I already said this or not, but as a female leader, if you are an entrepreneur and your company is going to grow and you’re going to get bigger and bigger and you’re going to go higher up in the ranks and you’re going to be the CEO or maybe you’re a manager and you’re hoping to climb through the ranks, just be prepared for challenges. It’s just a harder road and if things don’t go the way you planned, it may not be because of you, it may not be because you’re a terrible leader. It may be because of many other things, recognize that there is a large piece of sociology and psychology that plays into this. So read up on it, learn about it, and continueto work on yourself. Don’t get to go to the opposite end where you’re blaming everybody else because we’re all part of that problem and it’s not that one of us is part of that. We’ve our own unconscious biases and we’re also creating our own obstacles. So be aware of that, get coaching help, find a great female coach if you can, network, talk to other women entrepreneurs or role models, share stories, be open and be ready always to support other women.

Diana Fryc: Yeah, and I’ll say I have a coach that I work with who happens to be male, and he’s quite a bit older than I am and really a great advocate and what I love about him, because I think you can have a male coach too.

Miyoko Schinner: I agree.

Diana Fryc: But he will oftentimes say something that goes, well, that was a really bonehead. It’s like he’s even going through his own like, well of course, the blah, blah. And so there’s this kind of discovery of seeing the universe through his eyes as we’re going through this as well. So let’s say I totally agree with coaching, really makes you a better person, kind of gets you outside of your head without going through that full therapy. It’s kind of like therapy in some ways.

Miyoko Schinner: It is, yeah. But it’s tied to business.

Diana Fryc: Yes, for sure.

Miyoko Schinner: And tactical behavior; so you know how to respond in certain situations.

Diana Fryc: Yeah, very practical and tactical.

Miyoko Schinner: Yeah.

Diana Fryc: I wonder, we’ve had an opportunity to talk about your point of view, like who are you looking out there at in the marketplace, whether it’s in our natural’s category or outside of category, who is it that you admire or respect from a woman leadership standpoint or just simply want to elevate and why? Why do they have a special place in your world?

Miyoko Schinner: In our category?

Diana Fryc: It could be in our category, it could be outside of category. There I have my favorite lists of people that I constantly look to. I wonder who you might be.

Miyoko Schinner: Yeah, one that comes to mind is Arianna Huffington, for example and one of the funny things about her that I like is that she even talks about the need for sleep.

Diana Fryc: Smart women.

Miyoko Schinner: It’s a very smart thing. So let’s see, I’m trying to think in the natural category. You’re going to have to record my apologies, I know there is someone and I am just kind of blanking right now.

Diana Fryc: That’s okay.

Miyoko Schinner: Let me think because I really do want to contribute a name.

Diana Fryc: If you know what the brand is like, I could probably help you out.

Miyoko Schinner: Yeah, well, one of them is the founder of Sweet Earth. She was a woman.

Diana Fryc: Oh yes. Her name escapes me, but I know exactly who you’re talking about.

Miyoko Schinner: Yeah and even though they were gobbled up by United State, it really stuck to their core beliefs and their products still reflect the values that they lost. I’ve never met her or anything but a test to her dedication to her mission and the direction she wants to go. I remember her name I’m blanking.

Diana Fryc: It’ll come to you about five minutes after we finish recording I’m sure.

[00:40:00]

We’ll link to her and her brand in the podcast. Well, those are kind of the biggy questions. I always love it before I leave; I always have these little anecdotal questions. Not before I leave but before we finish recording. Things about either your industry or your business or your brand, your product, like some sort of what I like to call a cocktail hour tidbit that when I’m talking with my friends, I’ll go, “Did you know that? I don’t know that there are four hundred and seventy shades of red lipstick.” Some sort of interesting fact about you or your brand?

Miyoko Schinner: Some tidbit, some interesting tidbit. Let’s see. That’s a hard one. You’ve got to put me on a loop there. I assume you know about Rancho Compasion.

Diana Fryc: Well, why don’t you talk about that for a moment because I didn’t mention it earlier?

Miyoko Schinner: Okay. Well, Rancho Compasion is a farmed animal sanctuary of Fiber one to three nonprofit that I started and is not necessarily related directly to Miyoko’s. But Miyoko’s employees do volunteer there occasionally. But we rescue farm animals and we have our educational outreach program and school field trips prior to Covid. We have virtual school field trips this year. We try to connect people to the inner lives of animals that have been taken out for the food industry and for agriculture and people get a sneak peek into their antics and quirks and their fun loving selves and makes them think differently about animals as food. So this company really is dedicated to liberty, justice and happiness for all living beings. So we take that seriously and actually at the company, we talk about these topics all the time. We want you to have discussions about so many social justice issues. So we really take it to heart here.

Diana Fryc: Yeah, well, that’s in line with your B Corp status now; we’re a B Corp as well. You kind of have to live and breathe it to be a B corp. So that is definitely — even that effort. There is a testament to your commitment to the planet, people, purpose and planet. What other brands or trends are you finding interesting, are you keeping your eye on right now?

Miyoko Schinner: Just everything that’s happening in plant based I mean, especially in the cheese category, because six years ago when I started, you couldn’t buy vegan cheese online. It didn’t exist. And you didn’t have entire doors at stores filled with vegan cheese. This has happened; the exponential growth over the last six years has been absolutely amazing and there are so many little tiny cheese makers coming out of the woodwork all over the country. So, of course, I’m looking to see what new brands are out all the time. I order things online from small cheese makers, support them and try them out. I don’t know, I just find it really exciting. But I’m always checking out every new vegan product. I’m literally on sites like Vegan Essentials and just all the time looking to see what’s new. So I feel like it’s my job to buy every cheese product that’s out there.

Diana Fryc: Your fridge is amazing.

Miyoko Schinner: Oh, my God. There’s way too much stuff in it.

Diana Fryc: Well, and I think also with the acceleration of people’s diets and health related meaning, not only do we have people that have allergies, but intolerances have continued to grow. So people are vegan for a couple of reasons now where vegan used to be really predominantly people that were animal rights focused. Now we’re looking at health and wellness issues and kind of really getting real about how food impacts individuals and so it’s interesting to see the category exploding and meeting the needs.

Miyoko Schinner: Yes, absolutely. There are so many more choices for everybody, not just vegan. And you know what, I’m just going to say this once again; there are a lot of women entrepreneurs in this space and I’d love to give them a leg up.

[00:45:00]

I really would.

Diana Fryc: Okay, well, so are you looking to mentor more people? Do you want to kind of put that out there or you have a process by which you make decisions that way?

Miyoko Schinner: Well, I don’t have a lot of bandwidth. So I’m usually happy to take a call with someone and just sort of answer some high level questions and coach them briefly. But if that’s something you’re interested in, send me an email. I can’t guarantee that I will be able to do that. Right now I am mentoring one person on about a couple of times a month and it’s so for several months and I really would like to help not just spread it all over. But if I can really help somebody go deeper, that’s also wonderful, too. But yeah, and really I’d like to encourage other women entrepreneurs that are a little further along to do the same; try to mentor someone. And also, I would say that to even men, if you’re a compassionate man; why not help mentor a young female and not necessarily young, but a female entrepreneur who is earlier in her career than not, it would be wonderful to get some male business folks as well to help mentor because we really need really need that encouragement.

Diana Fryc: Yeah, well, what’s interesting is I don’t know if you’ll find this surprising or not, but during this summer and up until a couple of months ago, 2020 has thrown wrenches in a lot of people’s careers. I have met more women in their 40s and 50s, and I want to even say one person in the early 60s that have gone from doing something completely different that have decided this, “I’ve been making this thing for 15 years or 20 years or my whole life, and my family’s told me I should make it happen. So I’ve decided 2020 is going to be the year.” There are women of all ages out there that are starting from scratch. It’s pretty great.

Miyoko Schinner: It is so great and I want everyone to know I started Miyoko’s when I was fifty seven.

Diana Fryc: Oh, there you go.

Miyoko Schinner: There you go. So you can start at any age.

Diana Fryc: Any age. That’s great. Well before we go, why don’t you tell us a little bit about; just give us one way of how you’re keeping yourself sane during all of these?

Miyoko Schinner: Oh my Gosh! Pretty much just going for a run on the trails with my dogs. That is the best time for me, enjoying nature, the fresh air and then that’s really when I do my best thinking. Or I listen to Italian. So I just put my headphones in and I listen to Italian podcasts and really try to understand as much as I can. Sometimes it’s depending on how easy the podcast is.

Diana Fryc: What a great way to learn the language or get stronger at it.

Miyoko Schinner: Yeah.

Diana Fryc: Wow. Miyoko, that’s the end of our time. Thank you so much for joining me today and I hope you got to share what you’re passionate about and really look forward to meeting you in person, maybe with a glass of wine in hand. But if not, I’m sure I’ll see you.

Miyoko Schinner: Absolutely.

Diana Fryc; See you on the airways. Thank you so much.

Miyoko Schinner: All right Diana, it was good. Thank you.

Diana Fryc: Thank you.

This episode is sponsored by Retail Voodoo of creative marketing firm specializing in growing fixing and reinventing brands in the food, beverage, wellness and fitness industries. If your natural’s brand is in need of positioning, package design or marketing activation, we’re here to help. You can find more information at retail-voodoo.com. And so there you go. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Thank you so much for hanging out with us today and if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to this channel and share with your network. Until next time, be well and do gooder.

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Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

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