The Ella’s Kitchen founder and life-long advocate shares his insights on creating companies built for sustainable impact.
Many of our guests are on a journey to social purpose – developing it, finding it, evolving it. What’s rarer are the companies that are founded for a purpose; built from day one to address an urgent social need.
Ella’s Kitchen founder Paul Lindley created his baby food company, Ella’s Kitchen, to give babies a healthy start in life – improving their lives and helping them develop a healthy relationship with food. That may not sound unique, but Lindley’s success can be attributed to his approach: to “put children right at the heart of the company and build everything around them.”
Further, Lindley adopted a toddler’s way of thinking in building and evolving his business. Between ages 3 – 5, 98% of children think divergently, concentrating on one thing, then another, then another, in a non-linear pattern. Divergent thinking is a measure of creativity. By the time those children mature to 25 years old, however, only 2% think divergently. “I argue that we should grow down more to think like that again,” Lindley says. Toddlers are full of self-confidence, ambition, free thinking, imagination, and determination – traits that today’s leaders would do well to embody.
Lindley’s thriving business – which became the UK’s leading baby food brand – went far beyond its products in addressing a social issue. With Ella’s Kitchen, Paul created a platform for the issue of early childhood nutrition, doubling down on critical moments in a child’s development such as the weaning period. The brand and its founder are vocal advocates for childhood nutrition and the healthy development of toddlers, creating reports, commissioning reviews of existing research, convening expert roundtables, introducing legislation to Parliament, implementing pilot programs, and forming coalitions to drive impact.
Lindley has since sold Ella’s Kitchen, but his work is far from over. He serves on the board of Toast Ale, which makes beer out of bread that would be wasted; helped launch Equity for Good, where investors dedicate their successful investments to social impact projects; serves as trustee and board member for Sesame Workshop to create educational experiences for children across the globe; and a lot more.
What Lindley’s ventures have in common is their drive to unearth new ways to approach old problems. “What drives me every day is climbing new mountains and not believing that the world is limited. It is unlimited.”
Here are a few of our favorite insights from Paul Lindley:
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