Michael Chernow: Founder of Kreatures of Habit

Episode 279

You won’t want to miss this next guest! Michael Chernow is a serial entrepreneur, restaurateur, podcast host, and most recently founded Kreatures of Habit, a terrific company whose first product is an amazing yummy oatmeal you need to try. Not just any oatmeal either. Hear more about the product, his company, and his journey – which stemmed from Chernow’s own life celebrating 17 years of sobriety. And his journey of being a successful NYC restauranteur as well. Lots of learnings in this episode. Listen and learn. This episode is HOT so get ready! On this episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow.

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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be I want to be, you just want to make sure you will get knocked down. But just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone and welcome to the Kara Goldin show. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go. Hi, everyone, it’s Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin show. And I am so excited to have my next guest. Here we have Michael Chernow, who is the founder of creatures of habit. And you may know Michael from a few other things that he’s done in the past, but he’s a serial entrepreneur, a restaurant tour, a podcast host and expert in the World of wellness, fitness and nutrition. And I’m so honored to have him here today where we can learn just from his experience and his stories. And most recently, as I mentioned, he founded a company about a year ago called creatures of habit, that he’ll share more about that product and what he’s learned and sort of where it’s going overall. But it’s a terrific lifestyle and wellness brand that is absolutely delicious, as well. So the idea for creatures of habit stemmed from terrenos own life celebrating health and wellness and 17 years ago, became sober. So really focusing on that aspect of his life on how he continues to get healthy and be better and show us all sort of what he’s learned along the way. He isn’t new to the food scene. So this was not surprising probably to many of his friends that he was starting a product. But he’s also a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, and is built some of New York City’s most beloved restaurants, including the meatball shop, and also Seymours. And last but not least, you may have seen him on shows including Food Network’s beat Bobby Flay, and chop. So without further ado, Michael,

Michael Chernow 2:31
welcome. Wow, what an intro. I think we could just end it there at that. I’m excited to be here.

Kara Goldin 2:41
Absolutely. And you’re the host of creatures of habit where you actually interviewed me for your show, which was a lot of fun. I love that you are diving into people’s routines and their habits. And I think just by listening to your show and hearing about how people live their life, and especially successful people and people who have changed and all those things that you really focus on, it’s a great program as well. So I’m really, really excited to learn more about you and also just about, you know, your entrepreneurial journey, but I want to go way back to you as a kid. So did you know that you were going to be an entrepreneur? Who was Michael?

Michael Chernow 3:24
It’s a great question. I believe I have the answer. Before I hosted the creatures of habit podcast, I had a podcast called born or made, because I really do wonder whether people are born with their inherent or innate natural talent, or if they were made over time, we did over 100 episodes of that podcast, it was kind of 5050 down the middle, because I would always ask the guests whether they think they were born or made, and I was trying to interview as many people as I could, that really inspired me over the years and many others. I believe I was born an entrepreneur, I thought entrepreneurially from as early as I can remember, I wasn’t one of those kids that like, stacked his toys in the toy box. I grew up in New York City. I grew up in Manhattan on 87th Street between first and second avenue. And I clearly remember being probably somewhere between four and five, and asking my older sister to walk downstairs with me, so I could sell my toys on the corner of 87th Street and Second Avenue. And I remember the first time I did it, I brought down a sheet. I put a sheet down on the ground, and I lined up my toys, my humans, my you know, whatever, whatever they were action figures, and I sold them for $1. And, you know, people were buying them because there was this five year old kid selling selling toys but I became totally enamored with being able to sell something. So I didn’t let that go until this very second that I’m on here with you. I got into baseball cards, basketball cards and comic books and you know, I go to the comic book store and the baseball card store around In the corner from my house and I would go inside, I grab a bunch of cards, I buy some cards and the cards that I didn’t want, I’d stand outside, and I tried to sell the people walking in and out. I mean, I was always thinking about ways to make, do and create. And so when I was 12 years old, I got a job in a restaurant. And when I got that job, I felt like I had arrived, I felt like and I, you know, it was in a vegan restaurant of all places, you know, I, my first business was called the meatball shop, and I started in the candle cafe. But I, I really felt like I could express myself to the fullest. And what I learned early on, is that really what I’m passionate about, really where my skill set resides is in connecting with human beings engaging with and connecting with human beings. And that skill had sharpened over the years of working in restaurants, because I worked in restaurants up until, you know, two and a half years ago when I decided to take a step back for a little while. But that skill honed and I’m not ashamed to say that I’m very, very good at connecting with and engaging with humans. It’s something that I’m genuinely passionate about. I love listening to other people appreciating what they’re saying, adding my creative influence to it, and then developing atmospheres environments and products to make them happier than they currently are. And I think that that’s what I do well, so I worked in restaurants all through high school. After high school, I went to college for a year realized that I was it was a waste of my time and money. Ultimately went to culinary school while I was there, Cornell was putting on a restaurant management, a truncated version of their hotel school program there. And so I decided to enroll in that graduated when I was 26, wrote a business plan from 27 to 28, and opened up my first business in February of 2010. Right after my 29th birthday, and it was called the meatball shop. And that’s when everything really started for me.

Kara Goldin 6:55
So the meatball shop, talk to me a little bit about that. Like how did you get the idea to do meatballs? I mean, where did this come about?

Michael Chernow 7:03
My last job. Before I opened my first business was at an Italian restaurant in the East Village called Frank. I was there for a long time. I was like the magnet of the restaurant. It was a small restaurant, very popular packed all the time. Food delicious. I worked there for eight years. I got hired there when I was 20. I worked every position in that restaurant. And I worked there until I opened up the meatball shop literally a week before I actually opened the door of the meatball shop to the public. I worked at Frank restaurant and there’s a dish on the menu there called the rigatoni l Ragu. There’s unbelievable food there the simplest dish, however, the most delicious dish, the rigatoni Ragu was what people came there for rigatoni, pasta, meatballs and sausage in a tomato sauce. And, you know, for years I would order the rigatoni Ragu Saans, the rigatoni so I would just get the tomato sauce, meatballs and sausage in a bowl with a side of broccoli and a side of spinach sometimes in arugula salad, sometimes beet salad will just be a bunch of sides, and this bowl of of meatballs and sausages, and that was my staff meal. And, you know, over the years, people say, what are you eating? What do you mean when. And then finally, I said, you know, the truth of the matter is, people just love meatballs. No matter how you slice it, when people see like, meatballs on a menu in an Italian restaurant. There’s something that that gravitates them towards it. And I said, you know, the beauty of meatballs is that you really it’s very versatile. You can make anything into a meatball, even vegetables, you can you can make vegetables. And so I started creating recipes, all different kinds of meatballs, all different kinds of proteins, vegetables, cooking a bunch of different sides. And my best friend from childhood and my business partner at the meatball shop, Daniel Holzman, I dragged him back from California to come and work on this project with me. And we cooked meatballs and side dinners at my house in my apartment in Brooklyn for all of our friends for months. And that’s how it was created. You know, I owe a lot to my, my mentor Frank prison, Donna, who’s the owner of Frank restaurant, I mean that that guy really, really gave me an opportunity to cut my teeth. He did not micromanage me. He really left me to learn on my own in that restaurant, and I learned an enormous amount in all aspects. But yeah, that’s where the meatball shop started.

Kara Goldin 9:21
You have said a bunch of things and describing that experience. So you know, besides knowing how to make incredible things, what do you think going to school, like at the French Culinary Institute taught you about food?

Michael Chernow 9:36
Interestingly, I will always advise people to learn in the field. That’s where I have learned the absolute brunt of my knowledge in the field, for sure. You cannot pay for that kind of learning. You know, in the field learning. The thing that I learned at the French Culinary Institute, I’ve never worked in a fine dining restaurant. I’ve never had an N interest in working in a fine dining restaurant, it’s never been something that I was I don’t enjoy eating in fine dining restaurants really I do it because I’m in the industry. But like when I walked out of $1,000 meal for my wife and I, nine out of 10 times, I’m like, I would have preferred, you know, sushi. But I’d never worked in a finite establish. So I really, really got to harness the intricacies of French technical cooking, which was amazing. And something that I will always have, even though today, no matter like, how I cook today’s is, if I was to open up a restaurant today, I mean, I know what it would be. And it’s it’s as simple as it gets. I only cook with olive oil, salt, and lemon, everything, everything. I cook it with olive oil, salt, and lemon, every once in a while I’ll use some pepper. Every once in a while, I’ll use some onion and garlic, nine out of 10 things that I cook for myself and my family is with olive oil, salt and lemon. And I tried to use the best of the best ingredients. And that’s it. And so if I had a restaurant today, it would really be like, awesome menu. But everything would be done with oil, salt. And

Kara Goldin 11:09
I think that’s the name of the restaurant. Yeah.

Michael Chernow 11:13
about it, right? Like, there’s three things that you need to create incredible flavor, right? You need fat, you need, you need salts, and you need acid. So like those three things, paired with incredibly seasonal, perfect ingredients. You know, I don’t think you need much else. And so that’s what I would do today if I was going to open up another restaurant.

Kara Goldin 11:36
But I think the other pieces that I heard you talk about was that you had somebody who inspired you

Michael Chernow 11:42
to I’ll tell you why I went to culinary school. And this is actually truth. I was 25 years old 2425. I’ll also quickly talk about, you know, you had mentioned that I made a decision to get sober. So when I was, you know, I started working in restaurants in New York City at 12 years old, literally, I was working at night in New York City at 12 years old. And I worked at night, you know, all the time, when you’re young, and you’re working at night in New York City. You know, people think it’s fun to like, get drunk with you and party with you. And you know, because you’re like this young kid running around, and like, you know, it’s like out of a movie. I mean, I was literally working in like New York City’s hottest nightclub at 16 years old. So I got exposed to a lot of amazing things that I would never ever change. I wouldn’t change any of my history or my past. But I also was exposed to some some pretty significantly dark things in the world of drug abuse and alcohol abuse. When I was 23 years old. I knew that if I didn’t stop doing what I was doing and walking the path I was walking, I was going to die based on how I was, you know, conducting. And so I reached out for help, and I found somebody to help help me get sober. When I got sober. At 23 My life changed very quickly. wellness, fitness and nutrition swooped in and saved my life. I dove headfirst, I replaced all of my bad habits with really great ones. And I had a great support system around me to help help carry me through that and introduced me to these to these awesome new habits. And so within within 60 days, 90 days, I was a completely different movie. I was in the best shape of my life. I was running long distance training, Muay Thai kickboxing, eating incredibly healthy, like everything changed my mother, my fan, everybody was like, Oh my God, what happened to this guy? How was this? So when I was 25 years old, I’ve been working at Frank, I was I was early working at Frank, you know, before I got sober for a number of years, two to three years. got sober, Frank, you know, was basically like a father figure ish to me. And he saw me he was he fired me before I got sober and said, You know, I can’t do this. I can’t want you to do this to yourself. And that is really one of the things that inspired me to get sober because I said, I can’t let this guy down. And I love my job so much. And so when I was 25, I said, Hey, Frank, you know, I know I’m moving a little quickly here, but I want to open up my own place. I know, this is what I want to do. And he looked at me, it was in his loft, and Soho, and he looked at me and he said, Mikey, I love you, man. And I’m so proud of where you’ve come. I just don’t think you have it in you. I just I just don’t think you have it in you. And that was the farmer that I needed to ignite the man I am today. He challenged you. He challenged me. And I said, Oh, is that like, okay, like, I’m not your, you know, your 15 years my senior like, I believe you. In a lot of the things that you do. I just don’t believe you in this one. Like I don’t I don’t actually think you’re right. So if you were me, and you wanted to prove you wrong, what would you do? And he was like, I would go to culinary school. And I was like Okay, I immediately enrolled in culinary school. So that’s what really inspired me to go to culinary school. But yeah, I you know, and the beauty of, of what happened was, I told Frank exactly my plan, I said, I’m gonna go to culinary school, when I graduate from culinary school in 18 months or 24 months, I’m gonna write a business plan. You know, all these regulars that Frank restaurant had been have watched me grow from a boy to a man, I’m going to drop a business plan in front of as many of them as I can. And I’m going to try to open up a restaurant. And he was like, Dude, you know, go for it, go for it. And that’s exactly what I did. And that’s exactly what happened. And I put the meatball shop business plan in front of must have been 30 regulars that really it was a real regular spot. I mean, people were coming in there, I was the king of selling a $13 bowl of pasta, and a $1,300 bottle of Quintarelli wine, you know, like the wine list was insane. And the food was pretty reasonable. But the wine list was like what the best Italian wine list in New York. And so I was just the king of like really getting to know people really understanding what people wanted. And when somebody would come in that I knew was interested in the wine list, I would give them the experience of a lifetime, because I was so passionate about it. I did that. And then 14 regulars wrote me my first my first check into business, so 14 guys wrote me a $25,000 check. And you know, we were off to the races. I’m going

Kara Goldin 16:23
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Michael Chernow 18:35
Well, it’s funny, because now you know after so So I opened up the ball shop and we and it was like gangbusters crazy. I mean, gangbusters for our weights every single night around the block. Within six months, I paid off our debt pay back our investors. I mean, we were cooking meatballs, and Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon, Chelsea Handler, Good Morning, America today’s show. I mean, it was Khorasan for that first year and a half really. And Frank was calling me and asking me for advice on on PR and, you know, talking to me about all these things that I was doing. And I asked them, I said, you know, did you really? Did you really mean that when we were when I told you what I wanted to do? And he said, You know, I think that I said what I said to inspire you. But in my heart of hearts, I didn’t know if you had what it took because of your past. And I didn’t know if you were going to be able to overcome that to the level of where you are today. I didn’t know if it was going to come back and bite you. And and so he’ll he’ll say today you know that that he did it to inspire me. But we’re amazing friends to this day. I mean, and you know, he’s actually taking over an old restaurant of mine. I mean, he’s, we’re we love each other. I love that guy.

Kara Goldin 19:54
And now it’s a great story, but it’s a story of you have a choice. Allow the Dow odors are the people that put a target on your list to go and achieve and you can be frustrated, you can say they don’t know what they’re talking about. Or you can actually use it as fuel to go and do something really inspiring, like what you did. So really, really incredible. So then you leave the restaurant industry and you decide to launch a consumer product. So what was the thinking behind this? I mean, obviously, you’ve been in the food industry, this product is a little bit different. So do you want to describe a little bit behind creatures of habit and sort of how you decided to launch initially as a direct to consumer product, as you and I were talking about, but hopefully, one day soon, it will also be in stores. But I’d love to hear sort of the backstory of that.

Michael Chernow 20:46
Well, just quickly, you know, so meatball shop, I launched in 2010. I scaled it to six restaurants, I wanted to see if I had what it took to create another concept in the restaurant space, I was passionate about sustainable seafood. So I then launched a concept called Seymour’s in 2015. And I scaled that one, it was a similar story to meatball shop, very successful. You know, when you do something successful in the restaurant business, people just want to throw money at you, you know, so I was just trying to figure out how to navigate that. But I ended up scaling that one to six restaurants. And I learned through the 12 years of creating running and scaling restaurants, that what I really love to do, I love connecting with an engaging with human beings and creating these environments, atmospheres and products for them. But really, I also love creating like that, that back at half of that creating things that people love, like I love creating brand, I love building, I love lifting up rocks and and doing that debt, that dirty work of really, really like zero to 60 I love that piece of it. So, in 2018, I said to my partner, Jay at Seymours, they said, hey, oh, actually, we had talked about it early on when he when he originally came on, I said You know, chances are I’m gonna want to run this thing with you for five years, sell some equity if we’re successful, and then go create another brand. And he said, you know, his his skill set is scaling from five to 500. So I, you know, he was like, great, we did that in 2019 creatures of habit was initially going to be a restaurant, I wanted to open up a dinner, it would be open for lunch as well. But I wanted to open up a dinner focused restaurant that was healthy, that had an environment and an atmosphere and a vibe most healthy restaurants in New York City, specifically dinner restaurants are very crunchy. You know, it’s very, like hippie dippie tapestry on the wall, not like a place that you want to go hang out with your friends, like, you know, people that go to sweet greens every day, don’t necessarily have like a, like a dinner place that they want to go hang out at every night. And I wanted to create that. And what I was going to do with that brand was I was going to use this awesome restaurant as an incubator for a line of CPG that I could sell retail and direct to consumer. So we would really be having, you know, it would be a like a, like a food lab with an in real time test market to see what people were picking up off the shelf. pandemic, right, the pandemic hit in 2020. And I had all my investors lined up, I had the location lined up, I was literally about to sign the lease in the in the beginning of March. And I had to change course.

I packed up my bags with you know, after after a few months of being in New York City, my wife and I decided to pack up our bags and take our kids to our weekend home in upstate New York. And that bag just got bigger and bigger. We ended up renting out our place in Brooklyn for a year. And then ultimately, I said, you know, the lifestyle is just far better where we are in upstate and you know, half of New York City has moved up here anyway. So you know, the talent pool has actually become pretty awesome where I am. We sold our place and we’re full time up here. But really what inspired the first hit the hero product of creatures of habit, which is this incident overnight protein oatmeal blend, was my sober story. When I got sober. These two guys that I was lucky enough to meet were competitive athletes, and they were sober. And they saw something in me. And they took me under their wing and said, We’re going to write you a fitness plan. We’re going to write you a nutrition plan, and we’re going to hold your hand to get sober. And they were like probably eight or nine years older than me I really looked up to these guys and I hadn’t looked up to anybody in a long time. I was so in a dark place I really didn’t have anybody to to look up to and when these guys were introduced to me I said oh wow like the you know I just didn’t know that that was possible. In the world of sobriety, you know, I thought I was gonna be sitting with a bunch of squares, you know, like old guys, and you know, in like, raincoats, trench coats in the basement of a church. And so that was not the story for me. The first thing these these guys told me to eat every single day was was oatmeal. First thing they said, they said, Look, you know, don’t don’t ask questions, he said, the first thing we want you to eat every day is oatmeal. And then we want you to go to a meeting. And then we want you to come to the gym, and trained Muay Thai with us. And we’re going to teach you how to defend yourself. And we’re going to teach about discipline and integrity and humility, and honor and commitment and getting back up and all these things that I learned through martial arts from these guys. And then they said, You’re gonna go have chicken and broccoli for lunch, you are going to go home and take a nap, you’re going to go to work, you’re going to have chicken and broccoli for dinner. And you’re going to do the exact same thing tomorrow. And I said, Okay, and when I was on a run, you know, when we finally made the decision to come up here, I was on a run, and I was like, What am I going to do? With creatures of habit, I knew I had to do something creatures of habit. And so I drew a line to the restaurant, of course, and then I just said, oatmeal. I’ve been eating this oatmeal concoction for the last almost 18 years. Well, at that time, it was 17 years. And every morning I make my oatmeal with with plant based protein. I make it with chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, pink Himalayan salt, water. And then on the side of that I’ve got my probiotic, my digestive enzymes, my vitamin d3, and my omega three fatty acids. And I was on this run, and I said, you know, I’ve been feeding myself this every single day for years, I look forward to it every morning, I do not get sick of it, it makes me feel good, look good. I want to be able to share, I want to be able to package this thing and sell it because I know that if it was available, I buy it. Because I know what it does for me, I know that it gives me this awesome nutritional win every single morning, every single morning, I have it, I win, period. And if I could start my day with a nutritional win, which is what I do, the chances of me succeeding throughout the rest of the day nutritionally, are far greater than if I start with a doughnut or a bagel, or a, you know, sugary cereal. You know, I just have a much better shot at fulfilling what I know makes me feel good, which is to be healthy, and live long be able to like hang with my kids for you know, I’m 42 years old. I feel like I mean, I know I’ve got bleached blonde hair, but I feel like I’m like 25 Yeah, you know. And so I started, I became obsessed with trying to figure out how to how to package this. I hired a natural food scientist in California, we worked on it for a year, finally came to something that I thought was was was was pretty close to ready. And I said, you know, I’m not going to open up an oatmeal business, I’m going to open up a lifestyle and wellness brand that I’m going to be able to help people change their lives, because I know that my life was changed through wellness. And it really started with oatmeal. So I get and it’s not about the oatmeal, it’s about the decisions we make on a daily basis, define whether we are going to be successful or not. It’s just that simple. There is no pill you can take there is no switch, you can flip, there is no easy way out. There’s no easy way in, it is all going to take work. And it is all based on a string of decisions that we get the chance to make every single day, also known as habits, we get to make the decisions. No one makes them for us unless we give them that power. And so if I can get people to make better decisions with their nutrition, similar exactly to what you’ve done. If I can make if I can give them a tool to make a better decision in the beginning of their day. Then I’ve won and I’ve also been able to tell my story of change and overcome and you know, it’s never too late. And that’s creatures of habit. So we launched it last August, we’re coming up on a year things are going really well. The product is awesome. It’s got all the things that I just said it’s got 30 grams of plant based protein premium gluten free oats, omega three fatty acids, vitamin d3, chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, pink salt, you can make it overnight, which is the way most people like to eat it you can make it instant with hot water which is actually my favorite way. Um, you can throw it in the microwave. You can make a smoothie out of it. A lot of people bake cookies with it, but it is really a unique product because it sort of blends the barrier of functional oatmeal and vitamins and supplements in one pouch. So it’s kind of like a one stop shop. It is a you know it’s a complete incredibly healthy delicious meal that I take everywhere with me and everyone

Kara Goldin 29:59
has to try it. It’s great. I was going to ask you the question what it means to develop a mission based brand to you. But I think you just answered that. I mean, with such passion, and you know that it’s not just about launching a consumer product. For me, what I was really hearing is that it’s meaningful to you, because you want to bring what you’ve experienced in your life and what makes you feel good. And what makes you feel healthy and be healthy to a lot of other people, which I think is a powerful thing. And it’s something that I think, many mission based, I’m certainly a mission based entrepreneur as well that I didn’t, there’s a lot of choices that you can make and in your life and different jobs that you can do. But when you become a mission based entrepreneur, like you are, I think it’s it has a different meaning. Right, and it’s coming from a place of, of wanting to help people. And so it’s a, it’s a really powerful thing. What do you think is one of the biggest challenges you faced in launching this brand, obviously, you know, it’s an oatmeal, but more in a very crowded category of oatmeal, I mean, is differentiating the product versus other oatmeals out there getting the message out there, what has been kind of one of the bigger challenges that you faced,

Michael Chernow 31:19
I mean, I think you hit the nail on the head with kicking it off with that, right, this is not just oatmeal. And again, like I said it earlier, I have no interest in being an oatmeal brand. I want to be the habit brand, that helps people make better decisions. So because there are oats in our product, it does make sense to call a some form of oatmeal, because you make it similarly to how you would make oatmeal, however, there’s so much more in it than just oatmeal or then then just oats, it really becomes this unique product. And so being able to educate that, because if you know, there are people that are accustomed to protein powder, for instance, and get it and try it and they’re like Holy smokes, this is like unbelievable, I love this product. I’ve been making my own protein and oatmeal for years. It takes forever, like it’s clumpy, like this thing is perfect. It saves me so much time. And then there are the people that order the you know, the oatmeal and are not accustomed to protein powder or anything else in their oatmeal. They’re accustomed to Quaker Oats instant, or I mean, oh, you know, instant oats. And they try this product. And they’re like, What the hell is this? I have no idea what this is I ordered oatmeal. This is definitely not what I’m used to. And so that piece of the puzzle is something that we have been really focused on trying to overcome in terms of how do we how do we educate the person that is already taking a leap by spending more money with us than they are with their either Quaker, Bob’s Red Mill, but but understanding that, you know, for under five bucks a meal, you’re getting this full, complete, absolutely complete, incredibly healthy meal that checks all the wellness boxes, really, you don’t need to supplement with other things in the beginning of your day, specifically, if you have this product, so trying to be able to figure out that and then I think the the other piece for me is, you know, I think I’ve I know from being a restaurant tour, I’m not going to please everyone, I’m just I’m just never I never going to please everyone. And price sensitive people are price sensitive, it doesn’t matter if it’s $1.50 or $575. Someone who is a price sensitive person, which I have nothing against actually, I think price sensitive people are probably are probably winning, but I’m not going to be able to convince a price sensitive person to spend more money than they’re comfortable spending. Right? And so, you know, I’m just not, and that’s okay, because there are non price sensitive people, or people that are willing or want to spend more money on their health and wellness than others. So that, you know, that is that that has also been a thing because we’re not $1 Of course a serving. If you if you buy one time, it’s just under $5. And if you subscribe, it’s it’s $4 a meal. And when you think about that, like people spend more money than that on their Frappuccino from Starbucks and their McDonald’s breakfast meal. But when people categorize us with oatmeal, that becomes a bit of a different story. That’s what I’m putting.

Kara Goldin 34:34
Yeah, that’s what you’re fighting the category and sort of basically they’re living in a box and they’re putting you into a box and so how do you actually articulate that and I think the story behind what you’re doing is very powerful. I know you talked about how you’ve got a lot of people you know influencers on different platforms talking about the product to how important do you think storytelling is and Bill thing brands today. I mean, I think first of all, you have to have a great product that tastes good. I think I pick on Red Bull, like Gone are the days where you could launch a product like Red Bull that no one has ever thought tasted great. People didn’t consume Red Bull because they thought, oh, it tastes so delicious. It’s just that it gave you wings, right or gave you, you know, energy and lots of other things. But today, you have to have a product that tastes good, not to everybody, but to a chunk of consumers. And that’s what’s important. But in addition, I think that people attach brands and price becomes less important when they really understand who’s behind it. I think today, the distrust of large companies is massive, right? I think that having the people behind the the brands and how people feel about brands is really important. And I was fortunate to be able to go to Necker Island a month ago and get to talk to Richard Branson. And I mean, you know, when you think about storytelling, and how people feel about the brands, I mean, I think he’s just the master behind so many brands, and I think your story and sort of what you’ve been able to overcome and, and get healthy and all those things are definitely a part of this too. But I’m curious to hear what you think

Michael Chernow 36:25
the business of business does storytelling, and then relationships, and then culture, those three things in that order, I believe are what makes successful businesses sustain, you got to be able to tell a story with what you’re doing, without having the founder or the CEO or the president of the company standing at the door everywhere, telling everybody that story. You know, and I was able to learn that through creating environments. And when I created the meatball shop, I wasn’t creating an Italian restaurant, I was creating an Old School New York City institution, which is what ultimately it is, it is now and has been, you know has become and still is. And when you walk into the meatball shop that is like you immediately get like hit with this feeling of that environment that I was out to set out to create with Seymours. The story I’m telling there is Cape Cod meets mom sock meets, you know, Maryland, in New York City, inexpensive, super approachable seafood with an awesome vibe like I want you to get transported into into one of these places. You walk into Seymour’s any one of those restaurants, you walk through the door, it could be zero degrees in New York City, you walk through the door, and it’s like, boom, I am like in a different place. That’s us telling the story. That is That is how we tell tell the story in the restaurant. And then of course, you know, when the story is clear, the staff and the people that work within the organization are stoked, and they feel supported. And that’s where the relationships come in. Right? That is like, the relationships I have with my team are the most important relationships I can have in business, the relationship I have with the people I work with, how they feel about the company, how they feel about their job, how they feel about me, how they feel about how I am leading those relationships are the relationships that I really want to garner. And then ultimately, those relationships are great, the sky’s the limit. Because if you could tell your story, you’ve got these amazing relationships with the people that you work with, you can spread the gospel, you know, anybody that encounters the company, or the business or the restaurant, or the or whatever it is, the product is gonna feel that in some way, shape or form, right. And then then the culture is what you sell the culture is because the story is there, the relationships around the stories there. That is ultimately the culture, how you walk, how you talk, how you celebrate how you mourn, how you dance, what you eat, the things you read the music, you listen to, like all those things that define a culture. Like when I travel, and I say to my, I say to my wife, and myself, I’m like, gosh, like I would love to go there. But I really want to dig into the food, like I want to, I want to get to the I want to get to the farmers market. I want to meet the people growing this stuff. I want to dance with them at night. I want to sit in their restaurants, I want to like I want to celebrate with them. I want to understand how these people live. And that’s how I think about a business culture so that when somebody comes to visit us, they’re like, Wow, that is something else. I want to be a part of that. I mean, I do believe that between culture, relationships and storytelling, I think that trifecta is what makes a business sing. And the sky’s the limit with what you can do if you can if you can really make those things a priority. Obviously, financials are important. Operations are important. All those things are important, but those things are actually never going to really work out. out, unless you have a story to tell relationships to build, and a culture to uphold. That’s how I feel about business. Yeah. And then consumers want to be a part of that. And then the operators have things to operate and the financial guys have, you know, strings to pull. But without that stuff, what are they? What are you selling?

Kara Goldin 40:17
What are you selling? Now? It’s absolutely it’s so true. Well, it was such a pleasure talking to you, Michael. And everybody needs to go out and not go out actually go online and get your product where’s the best place for people to purchase it?

Michael Chernow 40:32
Creatures of habit.com It’s, it’s creatures with a K, creatures of habit.com could pop over there, check out what we got. We also have some really, really cool apparel to sort of give the community and the and the people that support us an opportunity to feel a little bit more part of the team. Because a really cool apparel that we sell, but you know, the product is available in six different flavors. Check out creatures of habit.com with a K,

Kara Goldin 40:57
what’s your favorite flavor?

Michael Chernow 40:59
Oh, that’s so hard. I love the peanut butter banana. I’m a peanut butter dude. So and that’s our latch. That’s our newest flavor. The peanut butter banana we dropped a couple of months ago, we have a new flavor coming up very soon. I would say it’s probably between the peanut butter banana and, and the chocolate because I make but I make the chocolate with with hot coffee. I love it. Instead of using hot water. I mix it with hot coffee. And it’s just delicious.

Kara Goldin 41:24
I love it. Well, thank you so much. And thanks everybody for listening. Definitely give this episode five star rating. Michael is just absolutely awesome. And I’m super excited for you all to try this product and support Michael and I can’t wait to see what comes next as well for creatures of habit. And if you haven’t listened to his podcast, to definitely do that as well. And we are here now every Monday, Wednesday and Friday with incredible stories across all industries of founders and leaders sharing all kinds of lessons like Michael has with us today. So thank you everyone. And thanks again Michael and goodbye for now. Have a great rest of the week, everyone. Before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. Successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the book.com and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara Goldin. Thanks for listening