Last week I spent Thanksgiving in Dallas with my husband Garry’s family. Because we all travel from various cities, we stay at a hotel near the airport.

This is the second year we have stayed at the Embassy Suites at the DFW airport.

It was a lovely three days – and the highlight is that I get to spend quality time with my 94-year-old mother-in-law. But it was actually the short ride on the hotel shuttle back to the airport that changed my life.

I was the only passenger on the shuttle and Stephen was my driver. I noticed that he had bandages on both forearms, so I had to ask.

He told me that the hotel has a “no visible tattoos” policy, and he forgot his regular armbands that day, so he had to cover his tattoos up with ace bandages. For some reason I asked him about his tattoos.

The one on his right arm has the name of his little sister.

And his left arm says “No regrets.”

Turns out Stephen served in the Marine Corps for four years. He was deployed to Somalia for two years and was there during the pirate encounters. His second tour of duty was in Afghanistan, where he was a driver of a large transport vehicle.

Stephen took the time to tell me the reason behind the tattoo on his left arm.

He was driving in a convoy through many hills and ravines in Afghanistan. His vehicle was following in the exact path of the one in front, to reduce the chance of hitting landmines.

As he was getting ready to go down a particular ravine, he had a bad feeling. He turned to his partner who told him he had the same feeling.

Stephen said to his partner, “Hey man, we have to have no regrets.” A few seconds later, a landmine went off directly under Stephen’s seat.

He was shaken up, had a few bruises, but because the vehicle was so heavy and well designed, he and his partner got out relatively unscathed.

So when he got home, he got the tattoo, “No regrets.”

When we arrived at the airport I shook his hand and thanked him for the ride and for sharing his personal story. And of course for serving our country.

I have struggled with the popularity of tattoos and why so many people decorate their bodies with them. But now, thanks to Stephen, I have a new appreciation for why some choose to commemorate a person or event that happened in their life. 

I won’t be getting a tattoo anytime soon, but the saying, “Live your life with no regrets,” has a whole new meaning for me.


As I travel around the country visiting supermarkets, there is one big thing that annoys me: those unnecessarily long cash register receipts!

You know what I’m talking about. You only buy one or two items, yet your receipt is so long that it has to be folded several times to fit into your wallet.

I have often thought that supermarkets waste so much money on that coated paper. How many trees or how much petroleum is used to print those receipts? Can’t they make them shorter?

And then, last week, my dream came true.

I was in San Luis Obispo, California, attending a board meeting at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. I decided to stop at a local store to purchase some vegan food.

I picked out a few things and took them to the cashier. When I looked at the receipt, I thought it was odd that there was no total.

Then I realized it was a two-sided receipt!

The technology is out there to make this possible! I was elated. Why aren’t more supermarkets doing this? What a great way to show your shoppers that you really do care about the environment.

If you agree that this is a good idea – please tell your local market.

But then again, I wonder how long it will be before supermarkets start doing what Nordstrom has been doing for more than a year: They ask you for your email address and they just email you your receipt.  No paper needed.

I call that a fantastic 21st Century practice. Instead of trying to improve a practice, just leapfrog to a whole new process.


Clearly it is not a day of celebration, but rather a day to bring awareness to one of the worlds’ most prevalent and debilitating diseases.

I first recall hearing about diabetes when actress Mary Tyler Moore disclosed that she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes shortly after she launched the “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in the early 1970s.

Around the same time, one of my high school friends was diagnosed with diabetes and started daily shots of insulin. I remember wondering what caused her diabetes since she was not overweight and did not consume excessive amounts of sugar (which were two misnomers at that time).

Of course we now know that there are primarily 2 types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin enables cells to take in glucose from the blood and use it for energy. Some people are actually born with type 1 diabetes, which is caused by an auto-immune reaction. I have a good friend whose daughter was born with type 1 diabetes. Their family had to make dramatic lifestyle changes to accommodate this, and deal with uncaring and incorrect comments from many people who do not understand the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is of biggest concern because it is preventable. It is often a result of obesity, driven by excessive consumption of sugar, fat and carbohydrates as well as a lack of regular exercise and movement. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% of all cases of diabetes.

Did you know that the latest numbers from the World Health Organization indicate that one in 10 people have diabetes? That is more than 347 million people worldwide, making it the 7th leading cause of death in the United States!

For some of the latest research about diabetes, check out this newsletter that I received this morning from Israel 21C (which stands for Israel 21st century).  I have found that some of the most cutting edge research comes out of Israel, so I always voraciously read this weekly electronic newsletter. I encourage you to subscribe. Just enter your email address at the top of the webpage. 

Back to diabetes. If Mary Tyler Moore was my first recollection of diabetes, then Paula Deen is my most recent. I hope Paula Deen uses her platform on the Food Network to change her eating and cooking habits and focus on a healthier lifestyle with more fresh fruits and vegetables and exercise.

Maybe she and Jamie Oliver will join forces?

Think about it!


Like many company owners and chief executive officers, I belong to an executive roundtable group. This group of fellow CEOs from non-competing companies and industries serves as my unofficial “board of advisors.” It’s quite useful to have access to other CEOs to vet out issues and challenges, especially for a privately owned company.

My group is called Vistage, and it has more than 20,000 members all over the world. The majority of the members are based in the United States, and my particular group is based in Southern California. On the second Tuesday of each month, I meet with 14 fellow CEO members.

Interestingly – I am the only female member of my group. And that’s the way it has been since I joined 5 years ago. My group chair is constantly looking for other Los Angeles-based women CEOs to join our group, but no luck… yet!

Once a year, our group convenes for a Spouse Retreat Weekend, where our significant others join us. It’s a mostly social gathering, but we always have a speaker who is appropriate for both members and their spouses.

This weekend our speaker was Carolyn Strauss, a “collaborationships” expert who specializes in creating optimal workplaces. Carolyn runs a successful coaching and business consulting practice, and she also has a second business which makes her a regular on the Home Shopping Network (HSN): The Carolyn Strauss Collection – comfortable travel-friendly clothing for busy women.

Carolyn was not at our retreat to talk about clothing or business, however. She was there to talk about how to optimize your life via relationships. Because we were there with our spouses, her talk highlighted how men and women listen differently during conversations:

Men listen with their perspective of being hunters and providers. They are focused and only concentrate on one result at a time. When they are listening to you, they are constantly thinking, “Get to the point. What’s the problem and how do I fix it?” And they don’t play, unless they can win.

Women, on the other hand, listen with their perspective of being gatherers and nurturers. They have an awareness of everything and are adept at multi-tasking. When they are listening to you, they are asking themselves, what does this have to do with me? And they will play as long as they are safe.

One of my male colleagues, Cuyler, commented to me that he found Carolyn’s comments enriching. He said that it only makes sense that more women are being asked to lead divisions and companies, as women seem more naturally wired to multi-task and nurture their team members. I think his perspective is definitely influenced by his wife and her success as a head of global marketing for a large Hollywood studio.

There was also a lesson there for me. Because all the teams at my company have both women and men, I need to consciously appeal to both of their natural tendencies and leadership capabilities. I have to balance the “get to the point” with “giving a full perspective.” For some, I can pile on the work without priorities, and for others, I need to help them understand what needs to be done first and what can wait.

I believe we all have this challenge, whether it’s at work or at home. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who has noticed that men and women think differently!


Did you know that YouTube is the #2 search engine, after Google?  I learned that at a seminar I recently attended. 

It made me smile, because Frieda’s started producing our own YouTube videos a few years ago, and eventually decided to have our own channel.

Because we sell such crazy looking fruits and vegetables, it was natural to do short, fun, quirky videos about our unique produce.

Our video on Blood Oranges has a Halloween theme with vampires and our video on Coconuts highlights the best way to open a Coconut. (We prefer the “Nail, Hammer, Towel” method.)

Link to video:

Link to video:

We even produced a short video highlighting some of the hundreds of produce items we have introduced to American consumers over the last 50 years.

Just last month, we produced and published a video highlighting Rambutan fruit. Also known as a “Hairy Lychee,” the Rambutan’s inner flesh resembles a Lychee, but it has hairy “tentacles” on the outside.

As you browse our YouTube video library, you may wonder, who are those people on the screen? Well, they are actually members of the Frieda’s sales and marketing team!  We love to demonstrate our fun loving company culture and recruit team members to get in front of the camera.

My coworker Terri, who is our Director of Marketing, tells me that we don’t talk often enough about our company culture. As a family-owned company for more than 50 years, and a woman-owned and managed business, I think we are a pretty unique company – and not just for the produce industry. Plus, we are like a giant family, which is probably why one of our employee-actors, Adam, allowed us to spray paint his hair RED for the very end of our Rambutan video!

So, thank you Hazel, the voice of Frieda’s YouTube videos, Mark, Alex, and Adam for helping us show our unique products and company culture.  And a big thank you to our Creative Director, Marliese, who shoots, edits and produces them all!

By the way, we started producing these YouTube videos as an easy and short (less than 2 minutes) educational offering for our retail clients. Even produce managers are perplexed by Buddha’s Hand Citrus, Horned Melons and our latest introduction, the Stokes Purple® Sweet Potato.