I am a regular reader of Fast Company magazine. And it was interesting to me that Beyoncé graced the cover of the July/August edition.

The cover blurb was “CREATE. DEFY. SLAY. What Every Business Can Learn From Beyoncé.”

And then last Friday, there she was again. This time, in full color on page D-1 of the Wall Street Journal! The article was titled “Beyoncé’s Biggest Project Yet: CEO.”

I respect these two business publications very much, so I knew they must be on to something. But first, my recent personal experience with Beyoncé.

beyonce-cover

My eldest daughter, Alex, is obsessed with Beyoncé. When I say obsessed, I mean there is something about Beyoncé that has attracted Alex to her and her music. She goes to every concert, knows the words to every song, and basically knows her life story. So, I asked her what it was. She said:

From what I’ve read (and saw for myself at her Formation World Tour), each detail of the staging, the program, the choreography, and the costuming had Beyoncé’s name written all over it. She is creative, yet a perfectionist.

In reading the two articles on Beyoncé, here are a few highlights that I learned about her success. All of these are excellent lessons for CEOs.

  1. She started reviewing her own profit and loss statements as a teenager. (How many of us in family businesses expose our children to P&Ls over the dinner table?)
  2. She knows what she stands for. And, she hasn’t been afraid to “fire” (some of) her fans (we call this alignment). Beyoncé received backlash from some fans when she went political during her February 2016 Super Bowl performance, but she didn’t back down.
  3. She values marketing and doesn’t dilute her brand.
  4. She’s a risk taker, but does it with discipline. She also embraces disruption. She was the first artist to drop an album unannounced, and it went straight to the top of the Billboard chart.
  5. She plays the long game—with great thought and investment. (Check out her new clothing brand, Ivy Park).

In the Fast Company article, Airbnb Chief Marketing Officer Jonathan Mildenhall is quoted: “We’re asking ourselves, so, what’s our lemonade? Because we don’t ever want to become predictable. Every time we engage with our consumers, our target audience, our community, we want to surprise them, to inspire them, to delight them. And we want to do it in a way that then drives a disproportionate share of popular conversation.”

If the chief marketing officer of Airbnb is a student of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, then I think I can be too. Business lessons can come from anywhere!

And in the words of Beyoncé, “Who needs a degree when you’re schoolin’ life?”

Karen

Shoppers demand fresh turmeric for health benefits and brilliant color

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Turmeric - Fresh & Trending

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (September 2016) — “Fresh is best” applies to turmeric, this year’s hottest trend in food that shows no sign of slowing down. From popular websites to printed magazines, turmeric is cropping up everywhere. Savvy shoppers have discovered the benefits of the fresh rhizome over its dried or powdered counterpart, and are looking in the produce aisle for the fresh spice for its nutritional boost, brilliant color, and fresh flavor.

The Google Food Trends 2016 Report confirms that turmeric is a top trending search word—with searches increasing 56 percent between November 2015 and January 2016, and “turmeric root” as one of its top phrases.

Leading food and cooking websites Food52, The Kitchn, and Epicurious all prefer fresh turmeric for its brighter color, more earthy-peppery flavor, and more concentrated level of curcumin, a beneficial compound with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

The therapeutic, turmeric-infused dairy or plant-based milk beverage known as “golden milk” was the trending summer topic, showing up at every corner of the internet from fitness sites Shape and Pop Sugar Fitness, and lifestyle site The Social (Canada), to news source The Guardian.

Most recently, the October issue of Cooking Light magazine features fresh turmeric as one of the “Trending Tastes from Cooking Light’s Editors” in a 3-page article.

“We see more retailers adding fresh turmeric to their produce departments because shoppers are asking for it,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “It’s great merchandised alongside ginger or paired with juicing ingredients like beets.”

Frieda’s shows customers and consumers some quick and easy turmeric recipes with three of its Quick Bite videos on its YouTube playlist: Fragrant Yellow Rice, Thai Grilled Turmeric Chicken, and Grilled Purple Sweet Potato Wedges with Turmeric Aioli.

Get on the Frieda’s turmeric train today by calling Frieda’s account managers. Consistent supplies of fresh turmeric root from Jamaica and Fiji are available in convenient 4-ounce, 6-ounce, and 8-ounce clamshells, and in bulk.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a 54-year legacy of inspiring new food experiences for friends, family, and food lovers everywhere. Credited with introducing more than 200 specialty fruits and vegetables to U.S. supermarkets, Frieda’s has helped launch unique items like kiwi fruits, Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, habanero peppers, Sunchokes®, and organic finger limes. Founded in 1962 by produce industry icon Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is now owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, in Orange County, California. Find Frieda’s on Facebook, @FriedasProduce, and Friedas.com. Inspire. Taste. Love.

Many years ago, when I first started working for my mother, my position was primarily handling consumer and public relations. The goal set for me was to get to know every food editor in America, personally.

Remember, this was back in the 1980s, before we used the internet and email at our company, so developing relationships was about meeting people in person, corresponding by mail, and having meaningful conversations.

One of the first publications I targeted was Sunset magazine. The beautiful glossy magazine caught my attention, and the stories and recipes were top-notch. Our initial relationship was one my mother developed with the editor, Walter Doty, who was also involved in publishing Sunset magazine books. Through him, I was introduced to the food editor, Jerry Anne Di Vecchio.

Jerry and I developed a relationship, and at one point I put on my bucket list to visit the magazine campus in Menlo Park, California. Well, one day, on a trip to Northern California, I was able to arrange a visit. Jerry and her team in the test kitchen welcomed me with open arms. I got a VIP tour of the gardens, the test kitchen, and the editorial offices.

And then we went to lunch.

That is when I learned a valuable lesson from this inspiring and well-respected person. Jerry told me her secrets to interviewing potential job candidates for Sunset.

She took them to lunch. And ordered wine. Jerry told me that when you take a candidate out of the office, and to a meal, they tend to let their guard down. Also, she told me that you can learn a lot about a person by how they handle themselves at a meal. Do they have good manners? Are they adventurous (would they try something new)? Can they easily make conversation?

And then, her secret weapon, the wine. She told me that she found that people really loosened up when they had a glass of wine. And it was during this part of the informal interview that she learned whether she really wanted to hire a candidate.

Jerry Anne Di Vecchio

Jerry also told me that she took her time when deciding to hire someone. She said that if a candidate got antsy and impatient with the length of time for the interview process (sometimes weeks or months), then they would never do well at Sunset, as processes at the magazine tended to take a long time. Things did not happen quickly.

Now, more than 30 years later, I can tell you that I use these same practices at my company. Jerry was a great teacher, and she was also a generous and mentoring person. She willingly accepted my invitation to participate in a panel discussion for a produce industry convention in the 1980s and invited one of her favorite chefs to join us—Wolfgang Puck! That was my favorite panel.

After being a student of Jerry’s wisdom for more than three decades, I found out last week that I was able to share some of my learning with her.

Minutes after posting my blog entitled, “Using Uber Without a Smartphone,” I received this email from her:

“karen, what a help the phone access to uber is for me! not only is your produce wonderful, your life realities are in tune! my partner david is 88 and has finally accepted not driving. but, as you say, smart phone isn’t feasible—he won’t even use a computer. but he does love the phone.

“keep at it, my dear. the column takes time, but i read you faithfully. and give a big hug to frieda from me. keeping busy keeps the wheels turning. xxx jerry”

Her email almost brought tears to my eyes, as my discovery of GoGoGrandparent is making her life better!

Once the student, I now became the teacher. And that is what drives me every week to write a blog, even when I feel like I don’t have the time. My subject is sometimes about business, sometimes about produce, sometimes about trends, and oftentimes about life.

But like Jerry so wisely said, “My dear, the column takes time…keeping busy keeps the wheels turning.”

Karen

As our parents age, one of the biggest challenges is maintaining their “mobility.” You know what I mean: doctors’ appointments, grocery shopping, attending lunches with friends. As someone who has a parent (the famed Frieda) that no longer drives, I understand the challenge—who is going to drive them to all their appointments and social events?

If you’re one of the designated drivers, it can really cut into your own time, and eventually can become a burden.

Don’t you just want to say to your parent, “Can’t you just call Uber?”

Well, most folks who no longer drive also do not have smartphones. Which means, they cannot take advantage of Uber or Lyft. Wouldn’t it be great if someone would invent a way to use Uber or Lyft without a smartphone?

Well, someone did.

Enter “GoGoGrandparent,” created by Justin Boogaard. It turns out that Justin was living with his grandmother and she noticed him Ubering everywhere. She asked him how she could use it. Without a smartphone and the ability to download the app, he said she couldn’t. She challenged him: create a company that would allow her to use Uber!

And so he did!

You can read more of the details at TechCrunch.

And how did we hear about it? I have written many times about what a voracious reader my 93-year-old mother is. Well, in reading one of her many magazines, she came across an article on GoGoGrandparent. She clipped the article and shared it with my sister, Jackie. I think Jackie got so excited that she immediately did her own research and within a few hours had my mom signed up!

GoGoGrandparent

The service is amazingly intuitive. When you register, you provide your home address (so it knows where to pick you up). When you get a ride to a destination, it remembers where you went so it knows where to pick you up when you’re finished. And the most brilliant part—it notifies a family member of every step of the way, via text message. Here’s a sample:

gogomeme-com

Thank goodness Justin lived with his grandmother. They say necessity is the mother (or in this case, grandmother) of invention.

And now you know!

Karen

Research on the Okinawan diet reveals a connection between longevity and the vibrant tubers

Organic Stokes Purple Sweet Potato

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (September 2016) – Shoppers around the world are discovering the potential health benefits of purple sweet potatoes, thanks to media coverage by a recent BBC documentary series and research from the Blue Zones organization.

In April 2016, the BBC aired a documentary series called “How to Stay Young” featuring a segment on the Okinawan diet. According to a decade-long study of the Okinawan people, it appears that a key factor in the Okinawans’ vigorous health and longevity can be attributed to the consumption of purple sweet potatoes. Okinawans reportedly eat an average of half a kilo (1 pound) of purple sweet potatoes per day.

“After the program aired, we were deluged with emails from people in the U.K. and the U.S. looking for purple sweet potatoes,” said Karen Caplan, President and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Our California-grown Stokes® Purple sweet potatoes are a different variety than the Okinawan sweet potatoes, but they actually have an even darker, vibrant, purple flesh.”

Blue Zones, an organization founded by National Geographic fellow Dan Buettner, is another source of information about the Okinawan diet—a diet specific to an island in Japan—and purple sweet potatoes. Buettner has written three books on the topic of how lifestyle and diet impact longevity.

In addition to vitamin C, fiber, carotenoids, and slow-burning carbohydrates, researchers believe that the presence of anthocyanins, the natural phytochemicals that give purple sweet potatoes their deep violet color, may be the key. Numerous studies have shown that anthocyanins may have disease-fighting properties.

The beige-skinned, lavender-fleshed Okinawan sweet potato is available on a limited basis in the U.S., as it is typically grown in Hawaii and must be irradiated before reaching the mainland.

In comparison, Frieda’s California-grown Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes are available in plentiful supplies to retailers and wholesalers throughout North America. The Stokes variety features dark purple skin and dense, vibrant, purple flesh that intensifies in color when cooked.

“Our goal is to have Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes available year-round,” said Caplan. “But because they are so popular, we tend to sell out before summer begins.”

The 2016-17 Stokes Purple® sweet potato season has just begun and Frieda’s has excellent supplies of both organic and conventional packs (15 lb. and 40 lb. cartons). Organic is also available in 12/3 lb. bags. Join in and give purple power back to the people by contacting your Frieda’s account manager about Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes today.

Frieda’s also features several fan-favorite recipes including “Stokes Purple® Sweet Potato Medallions with Chipotle Cream,” “Purple Power Breakfast Bowl,” and “Stokes Purple® Sweet Potato Oven Fries.”

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a 54-year legacy of inspiring new food experiences for friends, family, and food lovers everywhere. Credited with introducing more than 200 specialty fruits and vegetables to U.S. supermarkets, Frieda’s has helped launch unique items like kiwi fruits, Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, habanero peppers, Sunchokes®, and organic finger limes. Founded in 1962 by produce industry icon Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is now owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, in Orange County, California. Find Frieda’s on Facebook, @FriedasProduce, and Friedas.com. Inspire. Taste. Love.

Delight and attract shoppers with weird and wonderful exotic fruit displays

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Spook Foods

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (September 2016) — Shoppers are looking for stranger things this Halloween, and there is no better place than the produce department.

“Alien-looking tropical fruits always turn up in science fiction movies and television shows because of their unique look. Halloween is the perfect time to show them off,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Let your produce teams use their creativity and build fun displays for Halloween with all the ‘weird stuff’ usually hidden in the back of the department.

“This is the time to let the freak flag fly in the produce department, so to speak,” added Caplan.

Halloween classic spooky foods include Kiwano®, Buddha’s hand citron, dragon fruit, rambutan, blood oranges, and chayote squash. New, trending favorites now include jackfruit, ghost peppers, organic finger limes, and turmeric.

Summon Frieda’s account managers today to connect you with spooky foods fit for your horde of shoppers.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a 54-year legacy of inspiring new food experiences for friends, family, and food lovers everywhere. Credited with introducing more than 200 specialty fruits and vegetables to U.S. supermarkets, Frieda’s has helped launch unique items like kiwi fruits, Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, habanero peppers, Sunchokes®, and organic finger limes. Founded in 1962 by produce industry icon Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is now owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, in Orange County, California. Find Frieda’s on Facebook, @FriedasProduce, and Friedas.com. Inspire. Taste. Love.

Take advantage of the Jewish New Year tradition by showcasing your specialty fruit selection

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Specialty Fruits

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (September 2016) – Jewish New Year is a prime opportunity for retailers to ramp up their specialty fruit displays. Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on October 2 and ends on the evening of October 4. During this two-day celebration of Rosh Hashanah, it is traditional to try a new fruit to celebrate the New Year.

“Our clients who create displays for Rosh Hashanah see an increase in fruit sales during the week leading up to the holiday,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Every retailer has told us that in addition to prominent grocery displays, plentiful displays of tropical and specialty fruits are well received during the Jewish New Year holidays.

“We recommend building these destination displays the week before the actual New Year to take advantage of heavy shopping for this holiday,” added Caplan. “You are not only attracting Jewish customers with big, gorgeous displays of tropical fruits, but you are also drawing in curious shoppers.”

Frieda’s top Jewish New Year sellers include dragon fruit, Meyer lemons, pepino melons, kumquats, blood oranges, papaya, and rambutan. The traditional Medjool dates, raisins on the vine, pomegranates, and pomegranate arils are also in demand, along with apples, baby apples, and honey as they signify the sweetness of the New Year.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a 54-year legacy of inspiring new food experiences for friends, family, and food lovers everywhere. Credited with introducing more than 200 specialty fruits and vegetables to U.S. supermarkets, Frieda’s has helped launch unique items like kiwi fruits, Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, habanero peppers, Sunchokes®, and organic finger limes. Founded in 1962 by produce industry icon Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is now owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, in Orange County, California. Find Frieda’s on Facebook, @FriedasProduce, and Friedas.com. Inspire. Taste. Love.

Save

All of us who have kids, especially those with daughters, know that day will finally come. The day that your daughter (or son) tells you they want to get married.

If you’re like me, you will have figured it out far in advance of them telling you.

A little over four years ago, my eldest daughter, Alex, met an awesome guy named Ben— online. Yes, there is a Jewish dating website, called “J Date.” And even though some of us who are a bit older find it odd to think about meeting the love of our lives online, it is actually pretty commonplace. Statistics show that 33 percent of people meet their future spouses online. At first Alex didn’t want to tell anyone how they met, but over time (and after she found out one of her friends does the marketing for J-date and that she and Ben could be used as a testimonial couple), it turned out to be a great part of their love story.

Alex at her wedding
My beautiful daughter walking down the aisle
Alex and Ben tying the knot!
Alex and Ben tying the knot!
Alex and Ben dancing at their wedding
Alex and Ben dancing at their wedding

Ben and Alex got engaged about 15 months ago and set their wedding date pretty quickly (it was this past weekend, on September 4). Then I started getting warnings from my friends: they said to be careful because for many families the tension of wedding planning and the power struggle—between the bride and everyone else—can become almost intolerable. Well, I’m happy to report that the past 15 months have been fantastic and almost tension-free for my daughter and me. So, I thought it might be helpful to share my secrets:

  1. Have great in-laws. Early on, our two families started inviting each other to family gatherings. We got to know Ben’s extended family—grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, family friends. And during this bonding time, his parents were super gracious and proposed we all share in the cost of their probable wedding—even before they got engaged. We could all tell that this was going to be a long-term relationship, so both sets of parents agreed to be joint hosts of the wedding, which made things much easier. This practice is not uncommon today and if your child is going to be getting married, don’t be afraid to broach the subject. And the sooner the better. It makes it easier on all parties.
  2. Ask your kids what role they want you to play in the planning. I’ve heard stories of how many mothers of the bride act as if it’s their wedding, which causes a lot of tension between mother, daughter, and future son-in-law. I told my daughter that I would do or not do whatever she wanted me to. I realized my most important role was to ask, “What would you like, sweetie?” I’ve found that most brides-to-be know exactly what they want. And they get frustrated when everyone around them is offering advice. Since I knew my daughter was going to have a wedding planner, I made myself available only when she asked me to do so.
  3. Get a wedding planner. If bride, groom, and parents all have full-time jobs, planning a wedding becomes like a second job. It is actually quite affordable to hire a planner. Not only does he or she help with all the planning and booking details, this professional is also on hand the day of the wedding to make sure everything goes perfectly.
  4. Make sure your kids know everyone at the wedding. I told my daughter that she and Ben should know everyone at the wedding because it’s their wedding. And thus, I told her it was OK with me if she put together the guest list. I would support her even if she didn’t want to include every one of my family and my friends. And, in fact, like most families, she couldn’t invite everyone. As it turns out, my closest friends and most of my extended family were able to attend, and the kids knew everyone at the wedding.
  5. Check in periodically to ask if you can do anything to help them. Because Alex and the planner were handling most everything, by checking in with my daughter, I got a regular update of what was happening. And, as the wedding date drew closer, I did get asked to do things, like check on late RSVPs, visit the florist and caterer with her, and go to dress fittings.
  6. Offer to get your daughter a periodic massage. I can only imagine what it’s like to have a full-time job and a busy social life, plus plan a wedding. So occasionally, I would offer to arrange for Alex to get a massage. It gave her some alone time and a break from the intense weekends filled with wedding stuff.
  7. Remember what it was like when you were planning your wedding. When I would get frustrated or would feel left out of Alex’s wedding planning, I would remind myself what I felt like when I was preparing for my own wedding. I remember my dad always telling me it was ridiculous what things cost. I didn’t want to worry about those details. He didn’t understand what a bride feels like when she is planning for her most special day. And my mom, who admittedly is not very domestic and eloped to Las Vegas when she and my dad got married, always deferred to him. I didn’t want to put my daughter through that angst. So we set a budget, gave Alex and Ben the money, and let them figure out the rest.

With all that being said, the wedding exceeded my expectations. My daughter invited me to spend the entire day with her and the bridesmaids as we got our hair and makeup done together. It was a wonderful bonding experience that I will never forget.

Karen Caplan with daughter Alex Jackson on wedding day
Me and my daughter Alex getting ready before the wedding

Each parent has to make his or her own decision when it comes to wedding arrangements. But no matter the budget or size of the wedding, we could all use a lot less tension and a lot more love and understanding.

It certainly worked in our case.

Karen