Questions and Answers

Q:Why is the founding of Earth's Best, 25 years ago, relevant today to anyone contemplating a business idea or other realm of initiative and enterprise?

People today that are dreaming "big" have to cross the same wasteland separating fantasy and reality that we did 25 years ago. There are no exceptions. Although some of the particular features within that fantastical landscape have changed over the years, the essential elements of the journey remain the same.

And the most essential and fundamentally unchanged element that drives and determines the outcome of any leap into possibility is the entrepreneur, him or herself. Today, The Earth's Best Story will give any student, entrepreneur, or established professional a front row seat into the mindset, naivete, ignorance, arrogance, and chutzpah that converged to manifest a pioneering company. Anyone hoping and dreaming to accomplish something much bigger than themselves in life will have much to learn and benefit from our adventure in actually doing so.

Q: You refer to yourselves as "mutt" entrepreneurs. What do you mean by that?

Conventional thinking prefers homogeneity, where things look more alike than less and people behave predictably. The rules of the road are written and those following the rules take a certain comfort in their established certainty. There are, for example, understandings about acceptable degrees of risk taking and specific academic credentials required for someone to be considered a "qualified" professional.

As defined by "convention," Earth's Best would have never been started in 1987, and we, the Koss brothers, would not have been qualified to be its co-founders. The start-up risks were off the chart and we had an absence of valued credentials.

"Mutt" entrepreneurs are not confined or defined by college credentials, academic institution or corporate name pedigree (i.e., Harvard MBA, Nabisco), or previous experience. They are free to think outside the box. And perhaps they do not fully comprehend just exactly what that "box" is. That's okay, because there is a place for na´ve optimism. It may even be an essential component for the innovation process to take its first breath.

There is an important place for pedigree and convention, so we are not discounting it. Unfortunately pedigree often fails to value and appreciate what is potentially and uniquely powerful and dynamic about those who do not share its privilege.

Q:What is the secret of building a productive and enduring partnership?

Successful partnerships are worthy of being studied because there are so few of them. We succeeded in launching Earth's Best baby foods because of the strength and dynamism of our partnership. Many assume outright that we had this huge advantage because of our twinness, but this assumption is in error. Twins, while sharing the same DNA, are not necessarily compatible, aligned, or on the same page as far as values and ambitions. In many cases twins can evolve to be destructively competitive and estranged due to the incessant comparing that frequently accompanies their childhood.

Partnerships, be they family, best friends, or business associates demand:

  • An unwavering commitment to cultivating a "one for all and all for one" mindset
  • An unwavering commitment to time-sensitive and full-disclosure communication
  • An unwavering adherence to the preceding two commitments in the darkest hour of some unimagined debacle.

Ultimately, partnership is about a love and devotion to a relationship that supersedes any "what's in it for me" or "who's at fault" impulse. Achieve this and you will realize the holy grail of any relationship: trust. We succeeded because of this trust and it allowed us to lift the incalculable weight of an emerging Earth's Best. Without it, our partnership and our big idea would have collapsed upon itself very early on.