This week I joined 250 other women in the produce business for an annual conference in Miami, Florida. Like many industries, fresh produce has long been male-dominated. As a matter of fact, my mother, Frieda, was regarded as the first woman business owner in produce when she started our company back in 1962.

Women’s Fresh Perspectives was started by our industry association as a way to reach out, encourage, train, and mentor the many women who have joined our industry. This was the conference’s 5th annual meeting. I found it exciting that for about 50 percent of the women there, it was their first time attending.

We had many speakers and breakout sessions over the three-day conference. One stood out for me—Mel Robbins, a CNN commentator.

MelRobbins

She walked onto the stage with her white, paper Starbucks cup in hand. She wore big, black, blocky eyeglasses. She spoke in a deep, matter-of-fact voice.

Mel warmed us up with this line: “First things first: I got my skirt at Anthropologie, and you can order my glittery Converse tennis shoes online.” If you’re not a woman, this probably doesn’t make sense to you. But most women, when they see another woman wearing something attractive or cute, will ask, “Where did you get that?” So, basically, Mel had us at hello.

She then told us about some crappy times she and her husband had in their professional careers back in 2011. Basically, they both lost their jobs at the same time. Unfortunately for Mel, she was on television and her firing was public.

So, not a surprise, she started to drink, got depressed, and every day was pretty much a pity party for herself. Her husband also got fired and decided to start the pizza restaurant he’d always wanted. With three kids, it was definitely a challenging time.

Her presentation to us was about how she discovered the way to jump-start her life and basically get off her ass. When she discovered the Five-Second Rule and started applying it and seeing the results, she started telling people about it. She was encouraged to give a TEDx talk about it. And in fact, at the end of this post is her 18-minute talk, “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over,” which has become one of the most globally praised TEDx talks ever.

So here’s the definition of the Five-Second Rule:

If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within five seconds or your brain will kill the idea.

For example, if you have a goal of gaining more respect in the workplace, you have to raise your hand the next time you’re in a meeting and you have a great idea. If you have a goal of losing weight, you can take action right now by researching healthy meal options and setting daily reminders on your phone that will prompt you to go to the gym.

Whatever your goals are, show the world, and yourself, that you’re serious by taking action, RIGHT NOW, however insignificant that action may seem. Because when you physically move, your brain starts to build new habits. When you do something you’re not used to doing, you are in the act of building new habits and erasing existing ones.

And that’s the Five-Second Rule. Mel told us that when we have an idea and hesitate, our idea will never happen. But if instead, when we have an idea, we count out loud or in our head, “5-4-3-2-1-GO,” and actually move, our chance for success is amplified. She calls it “activation energy.” (You can read more about how this works on her website.)

I know it sounds simplistic that saying, “5-4-3-2-1-GO,” to yourself will change things. But I have found myself thinking a lot about it the last two days. For example, I wanted to speak up during a conference session and I hesitated. Afterward, I regretted not participating and sharing my comments. If I had used Mel’s insights to take action, I might have gotten even more out of the conference. And I know I am not alone. I sat next to a Walmart executive during Mel’s talk; she basically told me she did the same thing. She didn’t speak up. And she wished she had.

So, think about it. What is it you want to accomplish? Do you know exactly what you want to do? Do you know exactly where you need to start? Is it the momentum to move forward NOW that is preventing you? Well, use that Five-Second Rule and see how that works.

5-4-3-2-1-GO!

Karen

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Produce organizations and professionals join Frieda’s Specialty Produce in honoring supermarket produce staff on social media

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Love Your Produce Manager Day - April 2

Los Alamitos, CA (April 2017) – Produce organizations and professionals joined Frieda’s Specialty Produce in celebrating Love Your Produce Manager® Day on April 2 online and in stores by using hashtag #LYPM on social media to salute the hardworking men and women in supermarket produce departments.

“ShopRite retail dietitians work closely with our produce staff, and we’re happy that we get to show our appreciation on Love Your Produce Manager Day,” said Ashley Cully, MS, RD, retail dietitian manager at ShopRite of Marlton, New Jersey, whose store acknowledged the day on social media. “Produce managers and their teams provide invaluable services to us by bringing in the freshest fruits and vegetables, creating beautiful displays, and helping us guide our customers on their healthy eating and wellness journeys.”

Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s, said, “We’re ecstatic about all the produce professionals engaging with Love Your Produce Manager Day this year. Retail dietitians and produce staff themselves are involved in the celebration, not just the organizations. And that shows the awesome culture and passion of those people, companies, and our industry as a whole.”

Love Your Produce Manager Day participants included:

• AGF.nl (Netherlands and Belgium produce publication)
• And Now U Know
• Arctic Apples
• Brookshire Brothers
• Cal Organic Farms
• Corrigan Mist
• FMI
• Fresh Plaza
• Grimmway Farms
• Grocery Headquarters
• Harris Teeter
• HEB Careers
• Westlakes Hy-Vee
• Lexington Co-Operative Market
• Lunds & Byerlys Woodbury
• Marsh Grocery
• National Mango Board
• Onion Business Magazine
• Perishable News
• Piece of Cake Wellness (Cierra Robbins, RD)
• Produce Marketing Association
• Produce Retailer
• Progressive Grocer
• Quebec Produce Marketing Association
• Russ Davis Wholesale
• ShopRite of Lincoln Park
• ShopRite of Marlton
• ShopRite of West Chester
• ShopRite of Whitman Plaza
• SmartBrief
• Sunripe Produce
• United Supermarkets
• Vince & Joe’s Gourmet Market
• Vermont Hydroponic

In honor of Love Your Produce Manager Day, Frieda’s made a donation to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, a member of the Feeding America national network, on behalf of the above produce organizations and professionals who recognized their produce managers.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce has been inspiring new food experiences for friends, families, and food lovers everywhere since 1962. From kiwifruit to dragon fruit and from Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes to habanero peppers, Frieda’s has introduced more than 200 unique fruits and vegetables to the U.S. marketplace. Founded by produce industry trailblazer Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is 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.

I’ve noticed that many universities and colleges have found an interesting way to expand their community outreach and donor base. They host CEO summits, speaker series, and economic forecast events to appeal to local business owners and hook them on supporting educational institutions.

Earlier this week, I attended a speaker luncheon at one of California’s finest public colleges: Cal Poly Pomona. (Full disclosure: I am a member of the dean’s advisory committee.) As one of two California Polytechnic Universities—the other is located in San Luis Obispo—it is known for “Learn by Doing.” In contrast to most public schools, which teach primarily from theory or research-based curriculums, at Cal Poly, the real world application, internships in the student’s field of study, and on-campus labs and off-campus experiences dominate.

In that spirit, the College of Agriculture at Cal Poly Pomona invited the undisputed most successful grower/marketer/entrepreneur in California, and perhaps one of the preeminent grower/marketers in the U.S., to speak: Stewart Resnick. Stewart’s company, The Wonderful Company, owns many well-known brands: Fiji Water, Wonderful Almonds and Pistachios, Halo Tangerines, Pom Wonderful Juice, and Teleflora.

Stewart Resnick visits Cal Poly on Monday, April 17, 2017.

I’ve known Stewart and his wife, Lynda, (who is a brilliant marketer) for many years. But I’ve never heard Stewart speak at an event. So my observations of him and my learnings from his comments were a bit of a surprise to me.

I was struck by how low key and matter of fact he was. He had been on a tour of the campus before the luncheon, so I wasn’t totally surprised that he was in jeans and a plaid shirt (in California, wearing jeans and a plaid shirt is now considered chic and trendy). And he seemed sincerely interested when I introduced him to a large carrot farmer. (Turns out the farmer’s cousin is Stewart’s real estate broker!)

Stewart Resnick visits Cal Poly on Monday, April 17, 2017.

When Stewart got up to speak, he had no notes, took the microphone, and spent about 10 minutes telling how he got into agriculture. He grew up in New Jersey, then went to UCLA for undergraduate studies and law school. To pay his way, he started a janitorial service (yes, he started by scrubbing toilets), which he eventually sold. He parlayed the profits from that to buy the Franklin Mint, then started buying land. Of course, many years later, he and Lynda are now some of the largest landholders in California and are on Fortune Magazine’s list of billionaires.

During the Q & A session, his comments had some real nuggets of lessons learned:

  1. In the beginning, he didn’t like about 80 percent of the work he did, but loved the other 20 percent. As his career progressed, he spent more time on the things he loved and less time on the things he didn’t. He said he now loves 80 percent of his work, and he knows that the 20 percent he doesn’t like is necessary so he can do what he loves.

Lesson: You have to spend some time on things you don’t like, but that allows you to spend more time on what you love. Manage that time ratio.

  1. The Resnicks’ firm is well known for its marketing and its huge advertising budgets. Stewart said their strategy is to only invest marketing dollars in those things that they have dominant market share. He knows, for example, that in the U.S., they dominate the production of almonds and pistachios, so they’re not afraid to advertise heavily. Since both nuts basically need a desert with access to water, he doesn’t see competition coming easily.

Lesson: Know your competitive advantage so you can leverage it.

  1. In physics, he said, everything is basically an experiment. So when something he tries in business fails, he says, “That was a good experiment.”

Lesson: Everything you do teaches you something, even if it is that you don’t want to do it anymore.

  1. When asked by a (millennial) student in the audience for advice about starting a professional career, he said, “You have to work hard. There are no silver bullets.” He also commented that the leaders he has hired and promoted in his many companies succeeded because they worked hard and contributed. They remained relevant to the business.

Lesson: There is no shortcut to moving up in your career. You have to pay your dues and work hard.

Since everyone was asking Stewart questions about work, I asked him a personal question about what he does for fun. Besides cycling, traveling, and enjoying wine, he said he really has a pretty simple life. He likes his work. He likes making deals. And he seems sincerely curious.

He also made us laugh, with his final comment about why he likes agriculture: “Farmers are nicer to work with than investment bankers.”

As I drove home, I realized that I still have to spend time on things I don’t like doing, but that investment allows me to spend more time on the things that I love. I will continue to manage that time ratio for myself.

Karen

Stewart Resnick visits Cal Poly on Monday, April 17, 2017.

The specialty produce company shines a spotlight on the trending purple yam

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Purple Sweet Potato Guide

Los Alamitos, CA (April 2017) – Prepare your produce teams to answer one of the trickiest questions in food trends: do you sell ube (pronounced “OO-beh”)?

The internet is buzzing with images and stories of purple-tinted desserts made with the elusive purple yam, which is difficult to find fresh in the U.S., and, at the same time, perpetuating misinformation about what fresh ube looks like. The specialty produce experts at Frieda’s Specialty Produce want to demystify common confusion about ube and other purple sweet potato varieties so retailers are ahead of the game on this popular trend.

“Because fresh ube is rarely available in the U.S., most people don’t know what it looks like,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s. “They often mistake Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and Okinawan sweet potatoes for ube because of the purple flesh. Even the internet is confused about that!

“Shoppers may think they are looking for fresh ube, but oftentimes we find they really want a purple sweet potato. We want our customers to be knowledgeable about all of the trending purple tubers, so they can better inspire new food experiences for their shoppers,” added Caplan.

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Also known as a purple yam, fresh ube has brown, bark-like skin, and flesh that ranges from white with purple specks to lilac. This tuber is a staple of the Filipino kitchen. It is well loved all over Asia as a dessert ingredient for its sweet and nutty flavor. However, in most cases, ube desserts are made with either grated frozen roots, powder, flavor extract, or jam (ube halaya), which are all available in Filipino or Asian markets.

Purple sweet potatoes, however, are more commonly available to most consumers. Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes have purple-tinted skin and violet-purple flesh; Okinawan sweet potatoes have beige skin and lavender-purple flesh.

“What Is (or isn’t) Ube?” 1-minute video and a written companion piece, “The Ultimate Purple Sweet Potato Guide,” are now available as a part of the company’s ever growing specialty produce information library. From “Quick Bite” recipe videos to the classic “Produce 101” series, and extensive recipe and product information database, Frieda’s is the go-to resource for specialty produce information.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce has been inspiring new food experiences for friends, families, and food lovers everywhere since 1962. From kiwifruit to dragon fruit and from Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes to habanero peppers, Frieda’s has introduced more than 200 unique fruits and vegetables to the U.S. marketplace. Founded by produce industry trailblazer Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is 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.

If you work in an office, you probably have one coworker who has snacks at his or her desk. You know, when you get the munchies, and just want a little something, you go to their desk to get a small snack.

For me, that is Becky. She is a member of our sales team and has been at Frieda’s for more than 20 years. She has a drawer filled with healthy snacks, and some mornings I just need a fix to hold me over until lunch. Usually it’s Trader Joe’s Simply Almonds, Cashews, and Cranberries Trek Mix.

A few weeks ago, I stopped by for my snack and her drawer was empty. She was out of trail mix. I was devastated and potentially hangry.” (Yes, it is one of the new words added to the Oxford English Dictionary recently.)

So, the ever resourceful Becky, said, “Why don’t you try these?”

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Skippy P.B. Bites

I had no idea what she was handing me, but she started rattling off some of the virtues of Skippy P.B. Bites:

Being the marketing person that I am, I was fascinated with this new product. And I was curious about when it was introduced and the innovative process behind it.

As it turns out Hormel Foods (the owner of Skippy, which it acquired from Unilever in 2013) is well known for innovation. The founder, George Hormel, said it best: “Innovate, don’t imitate.” In 2015 Hormel launched Skippy P.B. Bites, part of its $3 billion pipeline of new products launched since 2000. At that time, the company formed a corporate innovation team to develop “game-changing product innovation that often involves proprietary technology.”

According to one interview, the Bites were inspired by the recent success of unwrapped miniature morsels from top candy bar brands (think mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in a bag).

I was so excited about these P.B. Bites that I went right to my local grocery store to look for them. And I found them on the shelf beside regular peanut butter. I was fascinated by Hormel’s adorable television commercial for the Bites aimed at kids, who are the biggest consumers of and love peanut butter. So cute and relatable:

[youtube=https://youtu.be/eCN46QYeuV8]

However, I think Hormel has missed an opportunity to go after another market. And that’s adult peanut butter lovers, who are also calorie counters. And adult snackers.

As much as I like these Skippy P.B. Bites, I do check in to see that Becky’s stash of Trader Joe’s trek mix is well stocked. Because no one wants me to be hangry at my office!

Karen

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Becky with her Skippy P.B. Bites
My co-worker Becky with her Skippy P.B. Bites

Last week I went to Las Vegas. Does it surprise you that it was a business trip? I was invited to speak at the first Vegas Food Expo. My topic was “How Produce Trends Happen.” It’s always fun for me to demystify how kale or kiwi appeared on the produce scene. “Gradually and then suddenly,” I always say.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Las Vegas and for a few years now, I’ve had something on my bucket list. And that is to take a tour of Zappos headquarters. My dear friend Jack Daly, who is an author and does sales training for a living, has talked about the tour for years. So, with an extra half day available to me, I went online a month ago and booked a tour for Friday morning.

When most people think of Zappos, they think of buying shoes online, free shipping both ways, and founder Tony Hsieh selling the company to Amazon for $1 billion. That is all true.

But the reason the tour is so popular is to learn about the company’s secret sauce, its real competitive advantage. Zappos is known for its culture.

From the moment I went on the website and signed up (and received regular reminders about my upcoming visit), and then as I walked through the front doors, I could tell there was something very special about the place. First of all, everyone is unbelievably happy and friendly. It didn’t seem like they were working. It seemed like they were just hanging out. After signing in, I was offered water, snacks, storage for my luggage, and shopping time at the Z Boutique (the store with promotional merchandise, or  “swag”) located right off the lobby.

Since I arrived early, I wandered into the swag store just to see what they had besides the normal hats, T-shirts, etc. That’s when I met Lindy. She was running the store that day. Actually, she seemed almost too happy to me. But I could tell it was completely sincere, especially since I asked her how she came to work at Zappos. I noticed how naturally she engaged with me, didn’t put any pressure on me to buy anything, and wasn’t in any rush. Of course I had to buy Tony Hsieh’s book, “Delivering Happiness,” plus a T-shirt and shot glasses. (More about shot glasses later.)

IMG_7196
Lindy at the Zappos gift shop

Just before our tour, a few tour guides ushered us into a large alcove, where they played several videos, which clearly demonstrated their culture.

The first video was about how a customer service rep from Zappos really connected with a customer who called to buy tennis shoes for a run she was participating in. As it turned out, the customer was battling breast cancer and this was a big run for her. The customer service rep felt so connected after the call that she wanted to do something to make the customer feel special. So she sent her flowers! And then, through one of Zappos’ funds, Zappos and the rep arranged a party for the customer a few months later to celebrate her birthday! Yes, you are reading this correctly. All the customer did was call in to buy a pair of shoes. And the customer service rep was empowered to “delight” her in any way she saw fit. Talk about winning a client for life! (As you know, they’ve already won over my daughter Alex.)

A second video was about how Tony Hsieh started his company, including how he got the name Zappos. His partner, Nick, suggested they call the company “Zapos,” as a nickname for the Spanish word for shoes, “zapatos.” They added an extra “p” because it looked better and the name “Zappos” was born. I found it super interesting that Tony graduated from Harvard in 1995 and sold his previous company, LinkExchange, to Microsoft for $265 million, which provided the startup money for founding Zappos.

Zappos has a team of six full-time tour guides; that is their full time job at Zappos. Our small group of five had an hour-long tour with our two guides. The facility is the former city hall of Las Vegas. Sadly, it’s a concrete building with not a lot of natural warmth. Our guide, Ryo, told us that they moved there in 2013 and it is much nicer than when they moved in. But Zappos is continuing to remodel to make it feel like home.

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Entrance to the Zappos headquarters

Here are some of the highlights of the tour and things I learned:

I could go on and on about the tour and Zappos. But I think the best thing is if you are intrigued and planning a trip to Las Vegas, go online and book a tour. It’s $10 and well worth the 90 minutes.

Oh, about my produce trends talk. Did you know that kale and kiwifruit have something in common (besides the letter “k”)? Both took about 18 years from the time they were first promoted to them appearing ubiquitous.

Here’s a photo of me in the lobby of Zappos. They have a throne…it truly made me feel like royalty!

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Karen Caplan at Zappos Tour

Karen

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As shoppers trade in hearty winter dishes for lighter, warm-weather fare, produce departments must stock up on spring favorites to meet demand

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Spring Produce Display

Los Alamitos, CA (April 2017) – The cold winter is thawing out and shoppers are trading in winter stews and roasts for light and refreshing vegetable-centric dishes. As retailers get ready to shift from winter to spring merchandising, they can attract shoppers with bountiful and colorful displays of Instagram-perfect spring vegetables like purple asparagus, watermelon radishes, heirloom cherry tomatoes, specialty radishes, and fennel.

“The change of season brings the change in what shoppers want to cook and eat. Warm weather means light, crisp, refreshing food—maybe even grilled,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Spring also provides great opportunities for retailers to promote key drivers starting with fresh horseradish root for Passover, artichokes and colored cauliflower for Easter, and rhubarb and berries with value-added specialties like ready-to-eat French style crêpes for Mother’s Day.”

Frieda's Specialty Produce - French style crepes

Additional spring top-sellers include Brussels sprouts, baby carrots, baby beets, endive, mini sweet peppers, radicchio, Shanghai bok choy, fava beans, sugar snap peas, and English peas.

Call Frieda’s account managers today to help select the best spring product mix to increase basket rings.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce has been inspiring new food experiences for friends, families, and food lovers everywhere since 1962. From kiwifruit to dragon fruit and from Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes to habanero peppers, Frieda’s has introduced more than 200 unique fruits and vegetables to the U.S. marketplace. Founded by produce industry trailblazer Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is 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.