Kevin Cleary is chief executive officer of Clif Bar & Company, a leading maker of nutritious and organic foods and drinks for people on the go. As CEO, Kevin focuses on expanding Clif Bar’s growth in the sports nutrition and healthy snacks category while leading the company’s day-to-day business operations.
Guided by Five Aspirations – Sustaining our Business, our Brands, our People, our Community and the Planet – Kevin has grown Clif Bar’s product portfolio, expanded national and international distribution, increased the company’s use of organic and sustainable ingredients and launched the company’s first owned and operated bakeries in Twin Falls, Idaho, and Indianapolis, Indiana.
I sat down with Kevin to talk about how he creates a great culture at Clif Bar as well as how the company sustains it.
(GM): Clif Bar & Company has appeared on lists touting "Best Places to Work" - what’s special about working there?
(KC): It starts with our purpose, best put by our owner and co-chief visionary officer, Kit Crawford. “We’re working to run a different kind of company: the kind of place we’d want to work, that makes the kind of food we’d like to eat, and that strives for a healthier, more sustainable world—the kind of world we’d like to pass on to our children.” We measure success against our Five Aspirations: sustaining our business, brands, community, planet and people. Instead of a standalone CSR campaign that is bolted on, these five bottom lines are built into how we operate the business. The Clif team is challenged, inspired, and better connected to our work because we have shared goals that go beyond profit.
(GM): Tell me more about how Clif Bar sustains its people.
(KC): At Clif Bar, we think in terms of work life integration instead of “work-life balance”. The idea of achieving balance overlooks the dynamic nature of the lives we live and the work we do. It’s never as simple as work on one side and life neatly contained on the other. There is only life. And our lives, both at work and at home, should have meaning. That starts with work grounded in purpose.
We also want people to bring their passions to work, not check them at the door. There’s emphasis put on building an authentic sense of community here through our shared values and interests. I’ll give you an example; we have a weekly company meeting that is uniquely ‘CLIF’ in format. Every Thursday, we have breakfast together followed by an all-hands meeting. I don’t control the agenda. It’s an open platform. This is our time to socialize, catch up and share out – company happenings, new hires, successes both personal and professional. Thursdays help us stay connected to the things that are important to us as individuals, as a community, and as a company.
Another essential part of sustaining our people is thoughtful benefits. Notice I didn’t say extravagant or expensive. We ask ourselves, how can we give time back to employees or make their lives healthier and more convenient? We’ve answered these questions in many ways, from an on-site gym and childcare center to a pet-friendly office and time during the workday to volunteer.
(GM): As CEO, do you have the time to take advantage of the unique culture at Clif Bar?
(KC): My mantra is you’ve got to live it and own it. I bring my whole self to work and I want that to be visible to the team. I’m an avid runner and biker. I’m a coach and a father. On any given day you will find me working out in our office gym or fresh off a morning bike ride. On Thursdays, I leave work a little early to coach my kids’ Little League teams. I hope every person at Clif Bar takes time for their version of a bike ride each day. When you give people the space to connect to the things they love, what you get in return is so much more than eight hours logged at a desk. You get the best of them.
To learn more about Clif Bar, go to: http://www.clifbar.com.
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on Twitter @GregJMorton or on Linkedin (with #CEOCorner).