#21 Alissa Leinonen
What Fuels You
Alissa Leinonen started Gourmondo, Seattle’s leading catering and gourmet box lunch company, 24 years ago. Back in 1996, Alissa had a dream that she turned into a reality by refinancing her car and opening a 470 square-foot, four table café. Gourmondo has now tripled the size of the company in the last three years, serving between 3,000-4,000 guests per day across all divisions (box lunches, catering, and cafes) with more than 250 employees. Alissa is known for building her business around the working parent model, having led by example for many years raising her two children. She shares tips on running a business in a family-first way, how she brought the company back after a near-death mistake in 2006, and how her daughter’s persistence resulted in their number one selling sandwich. Alissa is resilient, thoughtful and fueled by lifting up people who want to work hard and just need someone to give them a shot.
In this episode
- 10:34 - How does someone juggle being a mom and desiring to work in the food industry ?
- 18:51 - What pivotal events can shift the success of a catering business ?
- 22:31 - What are tangible ways to handle failure when running a business ?
- 27:49 - How can CEOs continue to add value to their businesses ?
- 29:13 - What should entrepreneurs keep in mind when hiring employees ?
- 35:09 - How can a business owner handle guilt they may experience?
- 36:51 - What are important traits for leaders to model for their children ?
Smash Notes summary for this episode
How does someone juggle being a mom and desiring to work in the food industry ?
A lot can be born out of necessity. Creativity and ingenuity are key.
What pivotal events can shift the success of a catering business ?
Some companies are influenced by major orders. Others may enter new markets that can be profoundly impactful on operations.
What are tangible ways to handle failure when running a business ?
A business owner must put the shame and frustration of failure aside and think critically on how to overcome tough, emergent situations. Integrity and honesty with vendors and employees are necessary. Community is so important.
How can CEOs continue to add value to their businesses ?
CEOs often feel the pressure to work all of the time, wear every hat, lead by example, etc. But, it is important for each individual leader to analyze areas where they truly add value to their business and areas where they get in the way. In the areas where a CEO may be lacking, they have the responsibility to bring in strong leaders to fill those gaps.
What should entrepreneurs keep in mind when hiring employees ?
Individuals who are smart, more educated, and more experienced are beneficial. However, it is more than that. The magic happens when leaders move out of the way of their employees in order for them to do what they are capable of doing. The leader's role should be to provide their employees with the necessary resources and support to do great things.
How can a business owner handle guilt they may experience?
Dealing with guilt is all about managing expectations for both the leader and their employees. Open chains of communications assist with this.