Confession: Devouring Daina Trout’s war stories is my self-care.
The CEO and co-founder of Health-Ade has some doozies.
Oh, you flipped your truck full of kombucha on the highway and still delivered drinks to the event when you should have been checking into a hospital? You too, were once drowning in student debt? You Scotch-taped your labels of booch at the farmer’s market, and now you’re running an iconic beverage brand?
As an early-stage food startup founder, who is also the mom of two young boys, I’ve been known to curl up with her interviews, or scroll her Instafeed in moments of crushing self-doubt.
I think, if she survived all that and lived to tell it on How I Built This, maybe I can conquer this production snag or fundraising pitch while keeping my kids alive and relatively happy.
If you’re like wait, I thought this was going to be about food? I promise, she shares what’s in her fridge at the end (girlfriend has great taste in ice cream). But whether you’re running a business, or raising a family, the past 12-ish months have caused just about everyone I know to want to make some changes, and what better time than spring to reflect and reset — with a woman who knows a thing or two about resilience and forging your own path. You guys, it’s called NOT JUST a food blog, for a reason.
So to all my fellow mamas and go-getters out there, settle in with a kombucha, or perhaps a (just dropped!) Health-Ade cocktail, and get ready to feel SEEN and supported by Daina Trout.
CS: Rather than put Instagram gloss on everything, you’re like, “These are all the punches, and this is how we’re rolling with them.” I feel like whether you’re an entrepreneur or you’re a mother, that kind of outlook and way of framing the daily juggle is a really positive thing. What made you decide to share all that?
DT: You know, I think everybody’s life is hard. Especially if you’re parenting. Especially if you’re going out there and trying to do something great, or you’ve got a really tough job. It’s hard; and yet there was this period of time where we showed only “the best picture”. And I think that did a disservice to a lot of others, especially younger people. Because you see only that beautiful picture, and you think, why is my life so hard when everybody else has this glamorous perfect thing? I really committed myself to showing the real picture and communicating about the real experience, which is more likely a familiar one and a shared one. And perhaps in doing that, we can encourage people to enter entrepreneurship more. To go after their big dreams… Because you see, “Oh, well she’s got the same problems as me.” Or, “I’ve got a hard life, she’s got a hard life. I can do that too.”
CS: How do you manage all the moving pieces in your very full life?
DT: It’s a constant and continuous effort of prioritizing things. Taking things off that don’t belong. Recognizing that you can’t do it all. You have to pick what things you can do. What you’re going to do. All the things that are really important to you should be on that list. Not just work and kids. It’s also got to be you. Maybe you and your husband. Maybe you and your friends. That all has to fit in somehow. That means maybe a lot of things have to come off. But I found that those things can fit in if you’re really good about managing everything that’s on there and not doing more than needs to be.
CS: Note to self: Ruthless prioritization is key.
DT: It’s not something you can do every day. Every day I can’t be a great friend, a great CEO, a great mom, a great wife. That’s ridiculous. It’s also managing your expectations. In a month I can plan out time for me to feel good about all those things so that on the whole I’m feeling good.
CS: I’m at a point where I really struggle to extract myself from the rollercoaster of work, and not be consumed by how I perceive the company to be doing at any given moment. Any advice for how to zoom out a bit and see the bigger picture when we’re in the weeds?
DT: There was a period of time where I was so intertwined with the business that my whole self worth was defined by how we did that week. That is a very tumultuous way to live. I lived it. I know. It took me a year or maybe even more to de-couple myself from that. To recognize I am not my numbers. I am not my business. Perhaps some people could say that too, about how they’re connected to their kids. You are not only a mother or a father. You are not only your kids. That’s not your only job. In doing that, you start to recognize what else you are. That will actually help you stay centered as things happen around you – because they will happen. Especially in business. It’s all curve balls.
CS: It sounds like when you unclenched little bit, it wasn’t that everything fell apart. It’s that you were a better able to roll with it. If that is true, do you have any practical advice for shutting it off, the work stuff, and being present?
DT: I don’t want to minimize it and say there’s some kind of easy tool or tip. I mean, it just like anything else, as you do it longer, you stop getting so affected by it. You kind of become desensitized. The first step, for me at least, was “I am not only my numbers. I also have other things about me. Let’s figure out what those are and feed them a bit.” Once I started feeding those things, I started to gain some self confidence in those that would hold true regardless of what the business did, that has kept my happiness level or stress levels normal, despite the surroundings.
CS: Ok, time for me to get to the food, because I hear you are an excellent cook.
DT: This is an important one as it relates to the conversation before. We talked about prioritization. Do I love to cook? Yes, I love it. But in my entrepreneurial days in particular, it really couldn’t fit. It couldn’t fit at the same time as raising a family and raising a business and trying to be good to myself. I remember having a moment where I had to recognize I wasn’t going to be able to do it all. So that was something that had to come off for a temporary time.
CS: When you do have time to cook, what does that look like?
DT: If I were going to do something at home during the week, it would be a quick 30 minute meal, probably a pasta with shrimp or something like that. Or a fish with rice. Something simple, easy and delish. But if I’m going to be doing a Saturday cooking, it’s going to be braised chicken with like green olives and a Moroccan spice saucy-deliciousness
In The Kitchen With Daina.... Here are her essentials.
“I mix it and I sip on it before I have my coffee. Somehow since doing that, I have noticed a lot more clear skin, regularity, energy, not as much hunger during the morning. Overall. It is a go-to. I even do it on my vacations, which is how I know I really love it.”
Channeling Julia Child:
“Okay, I don’t have any sauces left or anything to make a sauce with, but I have butter, so I can pretty much do everything!”
“I’m not saying this because I started Health-Ade. For me, Health-Ade is is my treat at 3:00 PM. No matter what. If I don’t have my Health-Ade at 3:00 PM, I’m like, “Something’s happening to me!” Or, I start going into the fridge and looking for snacks. And usually at that time, it’s not the good kind of snack.”
“I don’t know that any other family goes through as many carrots. You know those three pound bags? Big ones. Almost the Costco size. We go through one or two of those a week, which is just like really surprising. So, we have really good eyesight here. I wonder if that’s why.”
5. Ice cream
“I have 20 different kinds of ice cream in the fridge. Always. You come to my house, I’m like, “What flavor you want?”
Favorites: Jeni’s Brambleberry Crisp, Coolhaus ice cream sandwiches, McConnell’s Salted Caramel Chip. I do love my dessert.”