Mike Keown

 |  December 12, 2022

Started career in “big CPG”at Procter and Gamble. Fell in love with the natural food industry at WhiteWave Foods 20years ago when it was very small. Over the last 10 years I have been a CEO at Farmer Bros (coffee), was Chair of a Global Coffee non-profit (World Coffee Research), CEO at Honey Stinger (Sports Nutrition), and CEO at better for you snacks company Quinn. For fun I run, scuba dive, and geek out on Malcolm Gladwell, Freakonomics and most any history topic.

What area(s) of focus would you most like to address with your mentees?

Connecting mission to strategy to initiatives– and developing the culture and developing a winning team. Bringing this to life as it is often dry and boring!

How do you plan to structure your monthly meetings?

It depends on what works for the mentee(s) and the state of the business(es), but if local, breakfast or lunch is a start! The basic flow is mission/vision– strategic initiatives–3 year plan– next year’s plan, with culture and team constant focusses. Field trips to stores (and restaurants) and case studies will be part of the plan! I like to take learning from outside natural foods as well.

Finally, who would be an ideal mentee for you in this program, given your areas of expertise and experience?

Someone who is passionate with values, but also wants to learn–and grow their skills because that journey should never end. I have made the many mistakes, and am happy to share them as part of learning! A sense of humor is great and also energy and enthusiasm. I would probably be best with businesses over $10-15M versus very early stage. Everyone likes to win– I will probably be most effective with someone who hates to lose!