In a book there are chapters that, together, create not just a story, but an entire world or reality that you can transport yourself into. Each of our own lives is made up of similar chapters that form the whole story of who you are and what you have become. Entrepreneurs often take elements of their own story and inject them into the businesses they start and the work they do. Few have done that as well as Michael Chernow, the founder of multiple businesses, including The Meatball Shop, Seamore’s, and now, Kreatures of Habit.
“Authenticity is not duplicable right?” Chernow says. “No one can take your authenticity away from you and you can’t create it. You can’t just fabricate it. It either is, or it’s not… The business of businesses is storytelling, and also the business of businesses is relationships, two things that I believe wholeheartedly in. If you’re not able to tell a story with your business, it’s not good. Human beings for hundreds of thousands of years have always sat around a fireplace and told stories and listen to stories and some of the best times in my life, right? Like those moments where you’re engaged and, you know, someone’s telling a great story and people are laughing and crying and those are the moments in life that really make memories. And so how do you do that with a business?”
To understand who Michael is, you have to peel back his layers. And with each layer you uncover, you realize that Michael’s unique life experience, his likes, interests, hobbies, and routines, they not only make up who he is, they reveal the throughline that runs across all of Michael’s business ventures. He has woven together not just one story, but many in a way that is authentically Michael. And we’re getting into all the layers right here on The Journey.
- Finding Lasting Inspiration to Start a Business: If you have a deep connection with the purpose behind the business that you’re creating, you may have an advantage as you hit the market and launch. When you have personally felt the need for what you’re solving, you can bring a solution to life authentically. The mission or purpose behind your company will shine through the products and marketing tactics and carry you through tough times.
- Authenticity Matters as a Founder: Founding a business will take everything from you — all your time, energy, and abilities. Approaching all of it with an authentic reason for “why” will give you a strong foundation to build from. When you and your resources are stretched thin — as they often are in a start-up — you can’t fake it or mask your feelings about what you’re doing. IF you are personally connected to the why of the business, you can share that enthusiasm through your work and your team will be more likely to buy in and work through cchallenges.
- Serial Entrepreneurship vs Founding and Staying: What it takes to found a new business isn’t always what it takes to keep running it. Some people are more drawn to going through the process of getting a new company built, staffed and launched than to sticking with a passion project for your whole life. There’s no right or wrong way to found a company, but know where your skills and passions lie and if you’re hankering for the next start-up project, maybe serial entrepreneurship is for you!
“Authenticity is not duplicable right? No one can take your authenticity away from you and you can’t create it. You can’t just fabricate it. It either is, or it’s not… The business of businesses is storytelling, and also the business of businesses is relationships, two things that I believe wholeheartedly in. If you’re not able to tell a story with your business, it’s not good. Human beings for hundreds of thousands of years have always sat around a fireplace and told stories and listen to stories and some of the best times in my life? Those moments where you’re engaged and, you know, someone’s telling a great story and people are laughing and crying and those are the moments in life that really make memories. And so how do you do that with a business?”
“I believe that entrepreneurs have a superpower that is kind of hard to describe. There’s a threshold that most entrepreneurs that I know have, their threshold for pain is a very, very high. Their abundance of courage is abnormal in comparison to the rest of people. And so I think when I was thinking about doing my own business, The Meatball Shop was my first real business. People were asking me if I was nervous or scared, and I couldn’t relate to that. I really didn’t. I couldn’t. Not that I don’t think there’s an opportunity for failure potentially, but that thought of may, ‘Oh, this might not work,’ did not impede on my absolute optimism and positivity for success.”
“Wellness is the cornerstone of my happiness in life and success is a byproduct of my happiness. I’ve been really, really lucky to have some successes throughout my career. I owe it all to self-care. I owe it all to myself, making a commitment on a daily basis to put myself and my family, but really myself first and I don’t say that in a selfish way. I say that in a way where I know that if I feel well inside, I am the best version of myself. I know that I’m a better husband, a better father, a better employer, a better brother, a better son, better coworker. I am just better. And I learned that pretty soon after I got sober. So 17 years ago when I got sober, these two guys dragged me out of the street and threw me into a kickboxing gym. And they said, you know, you are going to change your life. We are going to help you. We’re going to help you develop a structure and a foundation and a daily plan stacked with positive wins that you might not think are positive ones right now, because you’re dying, but they are, we promise. And this is what it’s going to look like. You’re going to wake up early in the morning, you’re going to have a big bowl of oatmeal. You are going to go to a support group. You are then going to go to the gym and you’re going to train like a mother.”
Michael Chernow, who has founded hospitality ventures The Meatball Shop and Seamore’s, appeared on Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay, Kitchen Casino, and Chopped, co-authored cookbooks, and landed magazine spreads for his Olympian-like physique, possesses a resume with marathon-like momentum. A poster child for how to live a life well-lived and reach business mogul status, Chernow adopted positive habits that allowed him to replace alcohol with nutrition and fitness and propel his ascent in the New York restaurant scene. In this next act, he takes on breakfast.
What originally started as a cafe concept until COVID struck, Kreatures of Habit is Chernow’s new venture in the CPG space and $3.3B pre-packed oats category. Complementing his culinary prowess and hospitality mindset, Michael has tapped former RX Bar CMO Victor Lee to usher Kreature of Habit’s go-to-market strategy and invited serial investor and entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuk as lead investor and advisor. The opportunity of the scalable direct-to-consumer wellness vertical and ability to dream beyond a brick-and-mortar-based business model has accelerated Chernow’s entrepreneurial ambitions.
This season of the Journey is produced by Mission.org and brought to you by UPS. To learn how UPS can help your small business, go to UPS.com/pivot.