During those first few months of the lockdown, we all learned a lot about ourselves. However, one thing I didn’t learn about myself was that all these years I had been suppressing a secret talent for cooking.
Friends and colleagues would ask every day ‘What have you been cooking?’ As if for years the whole ‘I really can’t cook nor like to cook’ had just been a facade I wanted my friends to believe. I was just eating Cup a Soup because making Beef Bourguignon was just too showy.
I mean I was still eating the 20-something ‘I’m broke meal’ of crackers and cheese well into my 30s. I also perfected a dish called Doritos salad which I won’t even justify with an explanation. I once burned rice…and still ate it. So, I really didn’t understand why everyone thought I had been waiting for a pandemic to reveal that I had just wanted to make sourdough bread this whole time.
Yes, ordering food was always an option but eventually, that grew tiresome and I was in need of some real hearty vegetables (I’m not sure if people still get scurvy but I feel like I came quite close.) Cue Daily Harvest. A way for lazy people like me who hate cooking to brag to their friends about all the healthy meals they eat.
The subscription-based health food startup, that sells frozen smoothies and veggie bowls, was started by Rachel Drori in 2015 and had a strong following pre-pandemic (not to mention notable investors like Serena Williams and Gwyneth Paltrow.)
Unlike a Blue Apron or CSA where you are sent tons of food (often too much) that you then had to cook, DailyHarvest literally requires no prep except putting a dish in a microwave, and yet you are still getting a completely nutritious and deeply healthy meal.
But unlike so many businesses that were completely ravaged during the lockdown, the $125 million business thrived as food (that wasn’t pizza or chicken nuggets) you could keep in the freezer for months became indispensable.
It also was the solution for people that had finally burned out on making all that bread (and perhaps had outgrown their pants as these are light, low caloric meals.) The food which includes soups, snacks, lattes, oat bowls, chia bowls, flatbreads, and plant-based ice creams, can come in packages of nine, 14, or 24 items and can be delivered weekly or monthly. Everything is free of gluten, dairy, refined sugars, preservatives, etc., So the opposite of Doritos salad.
“I feel so grateful that we had a solid and responsive supply chain heading into the pandemic, so we were relatively well-positioned to handle the unexpected,” Drori told Ladders News.
Of course, the company did not have its fair share of challenges to face including the national dry ice shortage. “We spent all of February securing our raw materials and our operations team did an incredible job mitigating disruptions as best as possible so we could focus on feeding people across the country clean, nourishing food.”
She attributes her “collaborative, scrappy, and hardworking” team to making it all work. “And I have to say, our customers were incredibly supportive. We were transparent all the way through and at times they even swooped in with helpful contacts and solutions,” she added.
Drori spoke with Ladders News about the pivot to remote work for her company, how she continues to support her employees and what she looks for in job candidates.
How has working remotely been for you as CEO?
On a personal level, working from home has given me the opportunity to eat lunch with my husband and kids every day, which is pretty special. I’m cherishing the extra time with my family! Obviously, working full time with two little monkeys running around comes with its own set of challenges. I know a lot of parents out there are juggling work, daycare, school, and so much more. At least, I get to put my two boys to work and have them taste test new recipes that are in development. They’re brutally honest!
What are you doing to help your employees during the pandemic?
I’ve always believed in putting people first and leading with empathy. It’s always been my way, but now more than ever.
That means checking in often, communicating as much as possible, making time for conversation that is not just about work, and creating open, anonymous channels so people can easily share concerns, questions, uncertainties, or whatever is on their minds.
There is no longer a barrier between work life and home life. This means making room for your needs and the needs of others – it is increased flexibility like we haven’t had to experience before.
We encourage everyone to make use of our unlimited PTO policy, and we invest in having team member assistance programs available. I can do a lot for my team, but I can’t do it all. So, we offer access to outside resources and expertise to support those who are feeling overwhelmed.
Since we have been working remotely and living the Zoom life since mid-March, we have also done a lot of the same things that many similar companies have:
- Sending “WFH kits” to everyone to help make the experience more comfortable.
- Hosting virtual activities like a company-wide talent show, trivia night, happy hours, yoga sessions, and gratitude circles.
- A very active #wfh Slack channel where we share recipes, playlists, scheduling impromptu hangouts, and trade tips on how we’re staying sane.
- Reimbursing team members for their monthly wellness expenses. We all have different wants and needs, so we let the team choose the most meaningful way to spend their monthly stipend: whether it be an online fitness platform or a meditation app, etc.
- Keeping our team member’s freezers stocked with Daily Harvest
The reality is, we are navigating Zoom fatigue and this virtual environment alongside everyone else. It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that there is no perfect recipe – what matters is checking in with your people, finding ways to infuse fun, making space to be flexible with what people need, and co-creating the remote work culture that works for you.
Do you have any tips for people who are interviewing now virtually?
It’s definitely a strange time to be interviewing. The most important thing you can do is show your passion and hunger! If it’s authentic, then it will translate over video chat.
Also, do your homework! This is as true as it was pre-pandemic, and can give you a competitive edge. When you have done your research on the company, it shows – in the questions you ask, the responses you give, and the depth of conversation you can have with your interviewer.
But here are a few easy tips for navigating the virtual world:
- If you’re worried about Wi-Fi or tech issues, just address it right off the bat. I know I’ve had my fair share of connectivity issues so everyone can relate.
- Mimic “eye contact” by looking directly at the camera that’s capturing your live video.
- If you’re taking notes, tell the interviewer so it’s clear to the interviewer and doesn’t come across as multitasking.
- Approach it like you would an in-person interview. Show your personality, share your experiences + expertise, do your research, and come with a POV.
What are the skills you are especially looking for in candidates going into 2021, especially if this candidate will most likely be working remotely for the near future?
We may be working remotely for the near future, but the things we look for when recruiting really haven’t changed.
We look for candidates who are aligned with our values and believe in our mission, who are strong communicators and team players.
Especially in a remote world, collaboration is key – and it is not always easy. We want candidates who proactively look for ways to connect, pay attention to signals, and check in with people.
What do you look for in a candidate?
Like I said, at Daily Harvest, we look for people who align with our values and believes in our mission.
Having a team that understands your vision and is just as passionate about your mission as you are is the key to growing a brand that solves the right problems and stays nimble. Every single team member at Daily Harvest not only believes in our mission to “take care of food, so food can take care of you,” but works hard every single day to make it a reality for our customers.
We also look for strong communicators, who can articulate what they need and expect of themselves and others. This helps us all be successful as we navigate the rapid changes of a growing business.
What is your advice for those who are job searching right now?
Keep your chin up and don’t lose confidence. The job market is incredibly tough right now, but be persistent and believe that you’re worthy of a great opportunity.
Networking is key. In some ways, it’s harder right now, but in some ways, it’s easier. If you are not a natural networker you can use this as an opportunity to push out of your comfort zone from the comfort of your own couch. You can look at notes and prompts if you need to and no one will be the wiser. When making connections, it’s important to never let a lead go dry. If someone within your network can’t help, ask them to connect you with someone who may be able to. Keep pulling at strings, following up, and reaching out to new people.
What is the best career advice you ever got?
Find team members, partners, and investors who are aligned with your values and believe in what you’re trying to do. For me, it’s very much about value alignment above anything else, and this has remained true throughout every phase of the business. As you build out your team and seek investment, have honest conversations to make sure you’re partnering with people who are on the same page. That way, you’ll avoid surprises down the road.
How are you separating work from life if you are home all the time now?
I’m not. Work and home life are blurred like never before, and everyone has their own challenges to manage.
What has worked best for me is just leaning in and normalizing it – the kids running into meetings to say hello, my husband commenting on my work calls (whether feedback has been solicited or not!)
One tactic that has been helpful for us is a Stoplight System. I have a red piece of paper for when I’m really heads down, and a green piece of paper for when it’s ok to come in. I post the paper on the door. I also have a red hat that I wear when I’m walking around the house taking a call, or running to the kitchen for a snack. These simple things have become a fun game for my kids and have helped me navigate the “mommy’s here, but she isn’t” phenomenon.
When it comes to my team, I know that not everyone has the same WFH set up and many of us have personal responsibilities to tend to during “normal” business hours. My philosophy is to encourage open dialogue between each team member and their manager to make sure we are doing our best to create and respect boundaries, support one another, and still get stuff done!