Building Better Communities with Retail Brand Partnerships

Starting my business around my kitchen table as a North Dakota farm wife shaped my worldview. EarthKind’s flagship product, Fresh Cab Rodent Repellent, was invented because I personally knew the devastation of costly rodent damage in tractor cabs and farm equipment. As a mother and homeowner, I knew a safe and effective rodent repellent would be a game changer for millions of people. However, the popularity of Fresh Cab at a chain of urban hardware stores in Baltimore still caught me by surprise!

I had to find out why this store outsold all others. Our product costs more than its closest competitor, and local cash on hand was lower than the national average. Something special was happening here!

Visiting A Few Cool Hardware Stores, the chain of ACE Hardware stores operated in the Baltimore area by Gina Schaefer, opened my eyes. What I witnessed was a REAL community being built with the help of a small hardware store, and it was part of an evergreen model. After opening her first store in 2003, Gina  knew there was a serious need for convenient materials. Baltimore and D.C. residents were upgrading and renovating old neighborhoods at a rapid pace. Despite the worry that lower-income urban areas wouldn’t support a niche store, the locations have experienced continued success.

Millennials are breathing new life into older neighborhoods while dealing with the day to day maintenance of Victorian-era homes and new construction. Practicality and sustainability are traits consumers are drawn to, and they are key components of women owned businesses. This mix of demands makes A Few Cool Hardware Stores a perfect match for the Baltimore and DC area. 

Helping local residents create their own dreams for themselves turned out to help Gina and her husband create their own dream too. Customers across the metro area began asking the Schafer’s to open stores in their neighborhoods, and the Schafer’s were able to work with communities, opening nearly a dozen locations over the past decade. In fact, the Washington Post even took notice a few years back, with the writer stating: “The real hidden gem in the neighborhood is Logan Hardware. There is no better customer service in the District.”

Logan Hardware Fresh Cab EarthKind Kari Warberg Block.jpg

Little things like a store cat (see Benjamin from Waverly Baltimore Ace below), or regular Ladies Night events have added up to create a sense of community that has grown incredibly strong.

Driving social change through business while helping beautify a community, they have created raving fans and a vibrant community of home improvement advocates. This little group of stores is a living, breathing representation of the home improvement industry’s most recognized slogan: Ace the Helpful Place.

Why I Joined Burt’s Bees Natural Launchpad


I can confidently tell you as a farmer, and nature lover, that making the world green requires more than just soil, water and sunshine. Our entire ecosystem depends on pollinators, like bees, to cross-pollinate nearly 1/3 of the world’s crops and 90% of wild plants. 

I can also confidently tell you as an award-winning entrepreneur that making a business grow is similar. Growing a business, especially a new kind of business built solely from plants, requires cross-pollination to prosper. Successful entrepreneurs will tell you that they couldn’t have made it without help from ‘believers’ in their purpose. I call these believers pollinators. Much like bees, they are critical intermediaries between growth at the micro level and survival at the macro level. Like bees, they are essential to helping a business build resilience within its niche and gain a foothold in the market. 

A Natural Pollinator for Business Growth 

Enter Burt’s Bees. Through Burt’s Bees Natural Launchpad, a group of 10 women-owned green businesses are selected to get some much-needed pollination each year. Executive advice, networking and $10,000 in cash is provided to small businesses like mine who face extreme conditions in the marketplace. A willingness to ‘pay it forward,’ sharing their own expertise and experiences with the group, and Burt’s Bees employees who want to keep entrepreneurial thinking alive within their culture are key factors to the program’s success. I had the great honor to compete, and be selected to the inaugural class of 2016, and the experience has been even better than anticipated. 

How Burt’s Bees Natural Launchpad Helped EarthKind 

  • We toured the Burt’s Bees factory in North Carolina to help us better plan for own expansion from 50,000 square feet to 100,000 and spared us from potential big mistakes 

  • We attended a Burt’s Bees Culture Day to give us a clearer understanding of how to build best in class ratings on employee culture. Two executives attended EarthKind’s first Culture Day, after which they invited our staff to participate in their Drink the Honey brand immersion workshop. 

  • Burt’s Bees team members aided in preparing for two key line reviews with major retailers, and in turn, widened their own perspective on being a small business in a big box world. 

  • We’ve engaged with other Launchpad members at a regular cadence to deepen and broaden our collective DNA and share best practices at Expo West and on webinars. Each time yielding new (highly practical) insights that we could put to work right away. 

Here’s what Burt’s Bees has to say about EarthKind’s participation in the program: 

“Kari is a true force of nature in her own right. We knew when Kari decided to join the program that she’d be an influencer. Kari’s engagement throughout the program as a guest presenter and participant during our community calls as well as her involvement during our Expo West recruitment events made her an asset to the program. How she and EarthKind took full advantage of what Natural Launchpad had to offer will make her a great guest presenter at our upcoming Natural Launchpad Cohort #3 CEO Exchange at our HQ October 24-26.”  Paula Alexander

Please reach out to me if you are considering applying, or would like more information on the program. I went through many questions in my own mind before applying. 

As Benjamin Disraeli said, "The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own." 



3 Strategies for Creating Change


“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the New.”  Socrates


Change though inevitable can be scary. The thought of making a life change can at times be so intimidating that even though your coworkers may want to be the master of their own destiny, they'll end up doing nothing – or settling for less than they deserve – simply because fear and paralysis sets in. 

In today’s fast-moving world, leading change must be part of a CEO’s daily checklist, because without change there is no creativity, innovation, or incentive for improvement

Simply put, organizations (and individuals) who initiate change in a way that engages at all levels, will have a better opportunity to create the desired outcome than those who do not.

There is no single checklist I’ve found to lead change, so here's 3 strategies I’ve employed to inspire my coworkers to become visionaries, rather than observers, in creating our collective future. 

1) Tell the truth, build trust

Demonstrate integrity, honesty, and credibility, and don’t make promises you can’t keep – both as a CEO and a brand.  By looking for the candid honest truth in every area of your organization, regardless of track record, and financial consequences you will always engender trust. Trust cannot be bought, it has to be earned. 

In my industry, being a disrupter finding an ‘unseen’ efficiency and leveraging it when it's least expected was and still is a game changer. Operating from a position of trust allows innovation to thrive.

To keep innovation ‘innovative’ and manageable, simply focus on a different aspect of the company each year - structure, rewards, processes, resources, ecosystems – wherever you feel you need to impact the most each year to create a breakthrough competitive advantage. This fluidity also breaks up outdated power structures and will make an organization as a whole more creative, and adaptable to market innovation.

2) Seeing the forest through the trees

There's a persistent problem among many growing companies: the failure to spot new opportunities in the marketplace and initiate new developments in a timely manner. Innovation so often declines when a company grows, but it doesn't have to if the CEO makes it part of the company DNA. 

My top focus as a CEO is to consistently inspire others to think as visionaries, rather than reactionaries. Here are two ways that have worked to take my teams to new heights: 

-Empower others to stay focused on what they ‘want’ to create, rather than focus on things they      ‘don’t want’, which ends up creating fear instead of inspired action with clear goals. 

-The best way to do this is to expose people to new aspects of their tasks and encourage new ways of   collaboration on the big picture. We all need to see it to believe it. 

What happens is that people start asking bigger questions, pushing boundaries, thinking of their work in new ways as it relates to other areas both internally and externally. This kind of thinking always spurs innovation

3) Count on ‘Purpose’ to power your mission

Purpose is one word with a whole universe of power. Just as the sun powers the earth, in business numbers power progress. 

What gets measured gets done. When people are under constraints to deliver efficiency, effectiveness, and engagement, they'll think, act, and create change on purpose to make their numbers. Nature evolves under constraint, and as humans, we do to. Ask yourself daily, how are we progressing on our purpose, at every point of change? 

New research from HeartMath proves that our heart has a mind, and creates the hormones that drive us. I recently became aware that babies develop a heart before a brain. This tells me why 87% of consumers believe companies perform best over time if their purpose goes beyond profit.* It all begins in the heart, and always has.

At EarthKind®, we’re on a mission to reduce the need for families to use toxic chemicals in the home to control pests. Our goal is to reduce chemicals 50% by 2023. When we began, the category was 98% toxic, today it's 90%. 

To reach that goal, everyone has to be thinking like a leader.  They need to collectively think: "how do we create products that work as effectively as chemicals? How do we make them affordable? How do we make them available to all homeowners? How do we get the word out without big marketing budgets? It takes everyone in the company working on answers to these questions to effect change.

When people believe in what they're working for, that truth is what connects the heart, mind, and gut in each of us to be proactive leaders creating our own destinies and initiating innovative change for our own futures. 




Necessity Entrepreneurship


That was me. I was fresh out of alternatives. I knew I had to do something, anything, and make it work somehow. 

That’s how many entrepreneurs especially women begin—out of necessity.

With that 99cent packet of pumpkin seeds in my hand, I had no idea that I would go on to build a $20 million dollar business. I didn’t even know what being an entrepreneur meant and I had certainly never heard of necessity entrepreneurship. I just knew I had to turn things around. Living on the financial edge every day is wearing. All I could think about is when the next (equipment) breakdown was going to be, how were we going to pay for that, and where the money was to pay for sports equipment and school activity fees. Things that many families, especially in rural communities deal with every day of their lives.

And I know this, not just because I lived it, but because I have been fortunate enough to work with organizations like NWBC and SBA. Currently I’m a Council Member of NWBC (National Women’s Business Council) on the research committee and this is where it all begins—research that creates dialog that leads to solutions that create policy. It’s policy at our government level that secures the necessary funding for all the different programs that SBA (Small Business Administration) operate. 

It's amazing how many industries and big brands started with SBA providing initial capital, Chobani, Great Clips, and Constant Contact to name a few.

 I admit, I’m a bit of an information junkie, you have to be to be interested in research, but what I find so exciting and fulfilling, is that you can use the data to effect change—change that can positively impact the lives of families and communities for generations to come. That to me is what being an entrepreneur is all about. Making money, sure that’s great, but using your knowledge, influence and skills for the greater good, well that’s a privilege.

Now, here’s some interesting stats that came out ofa recent research report form the NWBC that I was involved Necessity as a Driver of Women’s Entrepreneurship”.

 •  81 percent of women-owned businesses see fewer than $50,000 in receipts per year.

•  Women start a business not exclusively due to the lack of employment options, but also because the options available are either not preferable or are not sufficient to achieve a desired outcome.

•  Research explored in the literature review suggests that countries with better paid leave, subsidized childcare, and more part-time opportunities demonstrate a negative correlation with necessity entrepreneurship and a positive correlation with growth-oriented forms of entrepreneurship.

 All of those stats related to me back in the early 90’s. I turned to entrepreneurship for all the reasons in the study:

•          Lack of employment opportunities in my rural community

•          The economic disparities facing women in the workforce

•          Lack of child care support for my kids

Without even realizing it, I made the necessity entrepreneurship decision to survive and thrive as business a owner and leader.

And, tomorrow (August 24th) Senator Heitkamp will be at our EarthKind® plant in Bismak, ND as part of NWBC’s Solutions Lab Roundtables. I will be welcoming them and local women business leaders and entrepreneurs to discuss Necessity Entrepreneurship in general, but in particular North Dakota being a bounce back state for women business owners since the recession. North Dakota mirrors the nation in percentage of women-owned firms bringing in less than $50,000 in receipts, so how can we help them scale up and what can we do to boost innovation in rural communities which Senator Heitikamp is championing with her Startup Entrepreneur Empowerment Delivery (SEED) Act.

There will be a lot more to come and stay tuned to my social media channels for as it happens information.

So excited and honored to be a part of building women’s business in my home state and the nation.

Raising the Bar and Re-Setting

Just when you think you have “made it” the universe reminds you that it’s just the beginning!

I have always thought that if I worked hard and worked towards a goal, that eventually success would follow. And to a certain degree it has. But there is so much more to building a successful company and taking it to a new level than just hard work. I’m a problem-solver, my comfort zone is all about getting the impossible done. I am confident when I have a task ahead of me that requires my total immersion with the job at hand. Whether that’s inventing a new product, wading through scientific papers or filing for various approvals with the government—it’s work that requires a logical, thoughtful approach. I’m also a bit of an ideas machine, continually thinking, reading and unearthing new discoveries that might match a future opportunity I've identified.  Not everything sticks, but this process is how I’ve managed to stay ahead, and take me to where I am today.

So shifting priorities and operating outside my comfort zone, while necessary, is daunting and quite frankly uncomfortable. All successful entrepreneurs hit this point, the time when it becomes more about stepping into your own presence, and realizing it’s your greatest power. 

Being “one of a kind" comes naturally to all leading innovators, which makes it a double-edged sword when it comes to effectively leading a path forward with confidence and poise—we’re always recreating!  To help, I had (and still do) a fantastic coach and great mentors who work with me to develop a more polished public presence (and encourage me to step into my own personal power, which is there for all of us.) 

But that’s how I’ve always looked at it—a public presence —not really who 'I' am. I am naturally shy and soft spoken but when I’m talking about building a business with purpose and working in harmony with nature, I become very passionate. So, now, I am facing a very different kind of challenge as my business scales. One that requires me to shed old patterns and embrace a new way of being as a leader. I’ve realized (not without a lot of prompting) that I can break out and take this all the way as long as I can step into this calling and empower my team to do the same—creating visions of the world we want to see, and then manifesting it. 

I need to do a “mind switch” to think differently. It’s not that I’ve necessarily been doing anything wrong, but there really is a whole new level of awareness I've recently switched on. It's not just to be a leader - it’s to be a dynamic one. Something I read recently really sums this up for me:

Dynamic leaders do not let a person, company, or disruption come along and recreate their destiny for them—they change with the trends, innovate, and lead their team through the accompanying changes. Dynamic leaders adapt to new technologies and pivot with changing markets and customer attitudes and desires.” – The Leadership Mind Switch by Kylie Wright-Ford.

I realize I have to be willing to leave my comfortable domain and embrace a new sense of business savvy, tech savvy, emotional intelligence and cultural fluency. I have to be seen to outwardly do and be all the things I inwardly embrace and believe in.

I’m ready to take my company to the $100 million mark, I’m ready to step into my personal power to make that “mind switch” because someone is going to take the lead and it might as well be me! 

Working up to an Investor


I have seen many very successful entrepreneurs take on investors only to regret it. Painfully, regret it. 

There could be many reasons for this, and I have always been wary, turning down many offers of investment money that would have given me quite a nest egg by taking chips off the table. It never felt right though. 

My journey has taken a very different path from most business people, because I started with nothing, literally. I just knew that when I started EarthKind® with a 99 cent package of garden seeds, and a dream, that I would turn it into something special one day. Now with a company worth over $20 million I can honestly say that I’ve never done things in the “traditional way”.

I hoped for a better future, a future where I was in charge and could make a living protecting the planet and families from dangerous pesticides. 

Let’s start at the beginning, so you can see that it is possible to start and grow a company without outside investment, much like many of our countries early immigrants seeking the American dream. I began by using what I had. Being a farm wife, I had the availability of clean, organic soil and water. I bought a book on how to make $10,000 cash off your backyard. I sold produce for cash every Saturday morning. I’d keep all the money and continue to reinvest for our growth. The only cash I'd take out was what I'd pay my kids for helping me and for the lot fees at the farmers markets. Believe it or not, it was possible to make $10,000 a year from a parcel of idle land, selling the produce, and living off my harvests throughout the year. In case you are wondering, we lived pretty frugally –we didn’t have running water, or air conditioning in our farmhouse back then. We lived on $18,500 a year. My kids tell me today they didn't know we were land rich and cash poor. 

I then joined a co-op to grow everlastings on my space. My plan was to turn that $10,000 into $30,000 a year. The co-op failed and I was stuck with thousands of dollars of dried flowers - with no way to market them. I got creative (after a lot of crying), and cut them into 1"-2" pieces, mixed them with North Dakota wild-crafted yucca and bittersweet, added essential oils for aroma, and marketed them as North Dakota potpourri for $12.50/bag. People living with allergies and chemical sensitivities loved them!  I made the rounds with a tank full of gas, and attended regional trade shows. Before long I had over 200 stores continually reordering my beautiful blends. Eventually the other growers who’d lost their tails from the same co-op group, sold me their flowers at a discount once they saw my success. I was making $30,000 a year, the SBA noted ceiling of revenue for most small businesses, but, I wanted to go bigger. Customers however were transitioning to scented candles instead of potpourri. I couldn’t believe that people would prefer to burn petroleum wax with toxic fragrance, but they did. So, plan B! I made the conscious effort at this time to commercialize the tractor cab potpourri that I had developed and been using on the farm to keep mice out of our equipment, and so Fresh Cab was born.

Fast-forward 7 years, we’re selling our plant and essential oil based pest repellents (a few stores still call them cab potpourri) into Ace, TSC, Lowe’s, Target and many more retailers. I’m now getting a six figure salary (I honestly never thought I’d be worth that!) It’s crazy to think that only 4% of companies in the USA make it to this size, and only 1% are still privately held. Clearly I am making more good decisions than bad, and still managing coins in a way that they continue to multiply. Just this past year investor inquires numbered over one hundred.  What they had to say forced me to think a little differently, and I started to change my mind about going it alone.

As I delved into the process, I’m looking at it a little differently (surprise)! It’s certainly not typical for companies to do a valuation process on potential investors, yet it provides a wider lens of ‘value’ when you put a pen to paper.

Here are the top 3 things I’m evaluating:

1) I put pen to paper on the value of mistakes

They used to be small, now they’re big. They happen. So, I wanted to find a minority investor with the same purpose who’d been a CEO that successfully scaled a company, and created a new category. In the beginning our mistakes were costing around $3,000, this rose to $30,000 and now the cost of our mistakes are $300,000+. When you add scale, scope and complexity, it simply adds time and cost. I figured out that saving money on my newbie CEO mistakes (which can now go into the millions) would ultimately save customers money, which is key to fulfilling our mission to reduce the % of hazardous household pesticides to 50% by 2022. When I began EarthKind® it was 98%.

2) I put pen to paper on the value of social capital. 

You can’t put social capital on a balance sheet, yet it’s been proven that companies with a strong purpose perform 30% better as a result of it—building goodwill amongst all stakeholders, effectively creating wealth for each person along the way. I’ve always thought of wealth building in the literal sense of the meaning of the word: ‘weal’ = well-being. I knew if I found an investor that understood the concept of social capital, they’d support me in making the best long-term decisions in the same way as I always had, considering people, planet, and profit equally. 

3) I put pen to paper on my own value as a CEO. 

Looking back at what I’ve learned in the past 10 years is staggering (I don’t often do this, which is one reason I love to keep this blog as a journal). The fact that I now know how lead an industry, inspire people to become leaders in their own lives, and create wealth among all stakeholders, helps me to quantify the value of my ability. As I looked to the future in another 10 years with the right investor group, I compared my salary, and influence, to that of other CEO’s of like companies 10X my size. The gap was as huge as the last 10 years to now have been. 

Joining forces with other like-minded CEO’s and creating a global network of purpose driven companies is valuable, life-changing, and highly exciting to me both personally and professionally. 

I can’t help but wonder what the next 10 years has in store for me. Will I still be blogging? I’ll be sure to look back at this post and add comments along the way!

Leadership – Energize the Vision

Leadership is, of course, subjective. But its foundation stems from one thing: the ability of an individual to establish a following among other individuals or teams. Some people appear natural born leaders, while the rest of us have to work at it. But, whatever your style or strategy, you need to ask yourself the difficult question:

“Are you creating believers or doubters?”

At the core, good leaders bring out the best in others, making them accomplish more than they otherwise would. In many ways, leading a company is a lot like leading a competitive rowing crew, there are no individual star performers in a crew, only successful teams. While technical skill and strength are enough to move a boat, relationships and quality of coordination among the members create team success or failure.

If members of your team are not fully on board, if they do not believe in your vision, they will not succeed and ultimately neither will you. Your job as a leader is to build consensus around a common goal.

Here are three other questions to think about as you hone your leadership skills:


1.        Vision

Is your vision altruistic or is it promoting personal gain?

Leaders inspire positive change and create movements where people feel valued and fulfilled being a part of it all. Your vision will ultimately be at the core of your success or failure. If it’s only about personal gain, it won’t inspire others to join the team.

2.        Execution

Do you plan around the vision and stay consistent?

Focus and discipline show your commitment to others. Most people need to see it before they can believe it!  A leader usually possess the instinct to know when the time's right to do something, and has the courage to do it before anyone sees it was the right thing to do.  Leadership isn’t for the faint hearted.

3.        Alignment

Do you have the right people to fulfill your vision?

This is often easy to tell. Is there resistance, or drag? Are their first words "don't, shouldn't, can't? " rather than " do, should and can?" 

Those who resist create bottlenecks, and they drag the whole team down through their world of doubt. Those who are curious and awed by challenges and transformations happening are simply more resourceful.They look for solutions. They work to find ways around or over roadblocks. They roll up their sleeves and don’t say “No, why me?" They say “Hell yes, pick me!”

And finally, back to the rowing analogy. This is something I read that really stuck with me. Jim Rosebush, the CEO and founder of and a former Reagan White House official was writing about a friend of his, a business leader and champion rower. This is what his friend had to say when asked, “in rowing, what makes a leader?”

"The leader in the boat empties the gas tank in every race — he goes full force, puts all his energy into the race, every time, in every competition. This is the way natural leaders emerge in the boat — it's the ones who expend the most energy in winning, work the hardest. They stand out because they run the course with more obvious commitment and power and energize others in the boat to follow." 

Are you ready to go full force? Are you ready to lead?


Today is National Pink Day, and as it happens to be one of my favorite colors, I thought it would be fun to explore its origins and impact on our society.

First used as a color name in the late 17th century, it derived its name from a flower “pink”. Like all colors, pink is very diverse. The word itself conjures up a variety of different images and concepts—romance, flowers, femininity, Barbie, breast cancer, lightheartedness, etc. It also, like all colors, is contradictory. Pink is primarily recognized as a feminine color. It is for this reason that the color is used as a universal symbol of hope and awareness in the fight against breast cancer. However, in Japan, pink has a masculine association. Pink cherry tree blossoms are said to represent fallen Japanese warriors.

Psychologically, pink is a powerful color. It embodies the feminine principle and depending on the shade of pink used, its usage has the power to direct communication in a powerful way.

Communicating a similar energy as the color red, bright and warm pinks are said to have the power to increase one’s blood pressure and pulse rate as well as motivate action and fuel creative thought. However, subdued and muted pinks tell a different story—in fact, some studies of the color pink suggest that male weightlifters seem to lose strength in pink rooms, while women weightlifters tend to become stronger around the color.

I see pink as empowering, a symbol of unconditional love and nurturing and isn’t that just what’s needed to build a successful business?

The contradictions that the color evokes are basically the same contradictions that women face in business, especially in manufacturing, but all that is beginning to change. According to a recent report “Women in Manufacturing” from The Manufacturing Institute, Deloitte and Apics, women are making an unprecedented impact on manufacturing, according to Jay Timmons President and CEO, National Association of Manufacturers.

“ Many outstanding women leaders are making huge strides

in building and promoting the manufacturing industry and

are demonstrating what modern manufacturing offers –

rewarding and fulfilling careers with limitless opportunity for

growth. Today’s manufacturing employees are building and

designing the future, and women in manufacturing serve as

ambassadors to move this industry forward.“

Some of the survey findings reported that having women on the leadership team can help manufacturers unleash the positive potential of diversity and innovation by delivering:

•          88% diverse perspectives in decision-making

•          84% innovative and creative approaches and solutions

•          74% balanced organizational management

•          49% improved financial performance

When women are among leaders in organizations, there is a wider lens of strategic thinking; groups/divisions can weather problems and issues better, and can identify innovative solutions faster.

Recently I was given the boot—the pink, glass boot to be exact – as a Manufacturing Institute 2017 STEP Award Honoree. Everything we do at EarthKind® is with the objective of being an environmentally sustainable business, and we are close to reaching our goal of being carbon neutral. Community is at the core of our purpose and we adapted our plant so special members of our workforce—around 20%, our “handi-capable” team—can have fulfilling long-term jobs. I believe my leadership role is to change the way manufacturing operates, to make it more innovative and purpose driven, to not only be financially viable, but civically responsible.

With the STEP Ahead initiative, the Manufacturing Institute is promoting the role of women in manufacturing, which serves to mentor and recognize women while also leading research efforts tackling this important topic. Over the last 5 years, STEP Ahead Award winners have impacted more than 300,000 individuals – from peers in the industry to school age children. I’m honored to be part of this movement to help women achieve their true potential.

Professionally, I’m passionate about manufacturing because it contributes more to the well-being of our economy than any other industry, and personally because it provides me with a platform to use business as a force for good. Only by mentoring and nurturing the next generation of strong, empowered women can we bring about positive change in not only manufacturing, but all industries.

A parting thought, a little pink trivia:

But of all the word’s meanings, the oldest on record is one that appears in only the most comprehensive dictionaries: pink used to be yellow. Or rather, pink used to be the name of a murky yellow-green color—or, as the Oxford English Dictionary explains it: "A yellowish or greenish-yellow lake pigment made by combining a vegetable colouring matter with a white base, such as a metallic oxide."

It seems that word pink dates back to the early 1400s at least, and in fact, it wasn’t until the mid-17th century that pink came to refer to the pale reddish color it does today.

So, maybe pink is not what you think it is!

10-Steps To Make High Impact Decisions

Making decisions is difficult. Making good decisions can be downright gut wrenching, especially when you’re an innovator or inventor and there’s no road map to go by.

Every decision we make as a business owner has an impact, so why not make the best decision possible for the highest impact?

Here’s a checklist of the 10 questions I’ve put together for myself, and my team, to help us be consistent in making better decisions:

1)   Have you carefully considered how this decision supports your strategy?

-           Refer back to your business plan to see if the decision detours away from your core strategy. If it does, rethink it.

2)   Have you compared your business practices to the highest standards in your industry?

-           For different businesses they will vary of course, but for my EarthKind® business, I always need to reference EPA, RMA’s, GAPP, SEO, etc.

3)   Have you considered all the options?

-                Never take the first option, always pick three before deciding—contracts, vendors, staffing, etc., one option is not enough. When you begin to compare different options you will notice you make different decisions.

4)   Have you tested this idea in a reliable way?

-                Never underestimate the importance of background checks, references, social checks, industry checks. It’s better to flush out any potential problems before committing to a final decision.

5)   Will this decision be a good in a month?  a year?

-           Think: Integrity, ethical standards, profitability, social capital, the short and long term implications of the decision need to be in line.

6)   Have you looked at the impact the decision will have on all stakeholders?

-           Remember while you may be alone in making the decision, the outcome could effect a wide number of people—customers, employees, suppliers, vendors, partners—even the industry you work in.

7)   Have you asked, “What variables must be true for this to be the best choice?

-                Refer to your business model, your company culture, your company mission, your core values. For EarthKind® it has to work with our core mission of “Business with purpose” and so:


We THINK with purpose by making customer driven innovation a top   


 We ACT with purpose by focusing on the things that matter most for our brand, and customers

We GROW with purpose by creating healthy and harmonious business practices and products for homes everywhere

8)   Have you discussed this decision with trusted advisors?

-           My go to people are my coach, my business advisors, my peer WPO group or EY (Winning Women with specific business experience). It’s important to have a group of trusted advisors to give you perspective, a different point of view and a second opinion.

9)   Is this decision supported by both your reflective analysis and intuition?

-                The best decisions are a good balance of both; for me it’s usually 70/30. But if I go against my gut instinct it often turns out to be the wrong decision. That’s because the brain uses a combination of logic and emotion when making decisions of any kind. We possess the capacity to feel, and thereby the ability to know things without consciously reasoning. The "gut feeling" is real, so use it.

10)                    How will you cascade the communication around the decision?

-           The cascading effect requires more than you as CEO simply stating your decision and issuing a list of instructions.  Managers at each level need to translate the information and get their teams on board. They need to communicate in a way that makes sense to everyone.


I hope some of these steps will work for you. Let me know how you make your high impact decisions.

5 Keys to Become a Game- Changing Entrepreneur

1) Raise your standards

In all areas of your life, surround yourself with people who challenge and inspire you to higher standards. It really is true that you become the sum of your five closest friends. I continue to volunteer for all kinds of things to be around people I aspire to be like. Then, not only do I become more like them, I pick up increasingly valuable skills that can't be learned in school or through the people I normally spend time with. 

2) Change your limiting beliefs

When you believe something is impossible, all you can see is what is stopping you. When you believe that anything is possible, you'll be open to new ways of doing things that no one has discovered before. Fear is limiting. Years ago, when in a fit of fear, I grabbed my perfume and used it to quickly spray mice out of the farm vehicle I was in, and it changed my destiny. No longer afraid, I'm able to remove all self-limiting beliefs that prevent me from asking more purposeful questions like: 

Why lure mice in to kill them; why not keep them out to start with? Why not make pest control fashion forward? Why not make it 100% sustainable, so it could offer new ways for family farmers to benefit? Why not hire handi-capable workers in our business—it's unacceptable that 80% unemployment exists in their communities.  

Today, turning that fear into action and removing all limitations has resulted in $50M in retail sales of Fresh Cab rodent repellent! 

3) Model what works

You don't always need to recreate the wheel. Find someone who's already accomplished what you want to do in another market or category and partner with them, or ask them to be an advisor. The Ernst & Young (EY) Strategic Forum, held each fall in Palm Springs, CA, is a great example of this. Every year the nation’s top 1% of entrepreneurs meet there to ignite new growth for their businesses through high-energy collaboration to take 'what works' to a whole new level. 

4) Increase your intensity

Start with what you can, with what you have, wherever you are. Find a way to move forward no matter what, and commit to it with every fiber of your being. My business started with a 99-cent package of garden seeds… today it's a $10M dollar business, 100% privately owned by me and growing by leaps and bounds. Now, as I continue to grow, things will change, but I will adjust my thinking and refocus. I’ve seen this work over and over again and once that intensity is lost, businesses falter.

5) Always give more than you expect to receive 

True transformation happens when you stop looking for the minimum that you can get by with, and start focusing on the maximum that you can give of your time and talents to create something bigger than yourself. I used to have a poverty mentality. I was on food stamps, spending hours figuring out how to get out of paying taxes, saving money, and to get anything for free that I could. 

Once I shifted my thinking away from my pain and problems, and focused on how I could help alleviate that disharmony for others, everything changed.

I became a game-changing entrepreneur. I added new value to family farms that live near poverty levels, yet feed the world, and at the same time reduced toxins in our homes and environment. 


Have you struggled with self-limiting beliefs? We all do—there’s no shame in it. I'd love for you to share with me, because believe me, it’s easier when you can share your challenges with others who have been able to overcome them. 

5 Steps to Success

1.             Disrupt

In order to succeed, you must create your own rules and disrupt before being disrupted. No doubt we live in extremely transformative times. With the fourth industrial revolution and a stream of technological innovations rapidly creating whole new industries, products, services, and occupations, the race to seize this upside of disruption is off and running. I have learned the entrepreneurs who are more disruptive grow faster, create more jobs and attract more capital. You can’t disrupt the market by doing the same as everyone else

2.             Network

Putting yourself out there can be tough, it was for me! I’m naturally shy and so I had to force myself to become a “joiner” and not be afraid to walk into a room not knowing anyone there. I looked for positive role models that I admired and found supportive communities to help me think bigger and learn by example. And, I’ve found that if you ask for help, people are very willing to share their time and knowledge. Just be prepared to learn from successful, influential people wo have already made their mistakes! I have made some amazing connections that will help propel my business to the next level. Without my constant networking, it would not have been possible. 

3.             Purpose

One thing I decided early on is that I wanted to run a business on my own terms, which meant I wanted a business with purpose. I wanted my company to stand for sustainable values and do no harm and I set out to work towards that unified purpose.

Purpose-led companies are focused on doing work that makes a real difference, so they are committed to becoming the best, rather than the biggest. When ‘purpose’ becomes a company’s compass, it spurs creativity, which in turn drives innovation and customer focused growth.  While it has not always been easy, there’s a great deal of satisfaction that comes with knowing you have stuck to your values and got everyone aligned to achieve business success.

4.             Finance

It’s tough to get a business off the ground without money, and no one wants to finance you when you don’t a have a track record, three years of good numbers under your belt and a 5-year business plan! In my case, I was awarded a small agricultural diversification grant to test the waters with my new invention – a new approach to rodent control. With the assistance of the North Dakota Ag Department, I was able to bring new jobs to the state as my business grew. You have to get really creative at the beginning and then surround yourself with very smart people as you grow. Good financial planning is key to the health and wealth of your business.

5.             Believe

There are times when you will doubt your sanity. When those around you think you should just go and get a “real job”. But it’s your dream, your destiny. If you care about what others think then get out or get a thicker skin. Tough it out—especially when the going gets tough, as it will. But above all else believe, in yourself, your idea and your ability to make this happen.