Mike Salguero is the founder of ButcherBox, the leading high-quality, direct-to-consumer meats brand. Since its launch in 2015, the company has grown to become a $600 million business, all while putting an emphasis on animal welfare, the environment, and supporting farmers and fishermen. ButcherBox is a certified B Corporation, signaling the brand’s commitment to using its business as a force for good.
In 2020, Mike was named an Entrepreneur Of The Year® National Award winner by Ernst & Young.
In this episode we discuss:
✅ Lessons from a failed start-up that informed the approach to building ButcherBox
✅ What it looks like to develop the whole human (personal and professional) at work
✅ How Mike would like every employee—past, present, and future—to feel about their time at ButcherBox
3 episode takeaways (listen to the full episode for a lot more gems!):
1️⃣ ButcherBox relies heavily on suppliers to support its business. Not just farmers and fishermen, but also box manufacturers, website developers, and many other service providers. Often businesses will choose to create these things in-house, but there is beauty in ButcherBox’s approach.
First, it enables ButcherBox to focus on what they’re good at.
Second, by going to suppliers with a request for a sustainable box (for example), ButcherBox causes a ripple effect by creating demand for goods and services that will benefit many other companies.
This approach reminded me of the African Proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” It’s the “together” piece that’s needed to create systemic change.
2️⃣ I can’t help but see parallels between common-day cubicle life and feedlots. Both were created to maximize efficiency, with a sole focus on profit. Both are unnatural habitats. Both have damaging consequences.
The basic principle of the feedlot is to confine the animal in order to fatten it up as quickly as possible. The cramped quarters make animals distressed and prone to disease. In cubicle life, employees are confined for better management oversight. Research shows that cubicles result in less productivity, because of constant distractions. Plus, the uninspired environment reinforces a message that each employee is a replaceable cog in the machine (not great for mental health).
Trying to liven up corporate environments with foosball tables and free drinks is like adding disco balls to feedlots to drive cow happiness and engagement. Broken systems need a complete overhaul. A shiny disco ball band-aid won’t make cows healthier or workers happier.
3️⃣ Regenerative agriculture moves away from conventional mono-crop farming (which takes from the soil without giving much back) to mirroring mother nature in its design. Regenerative agriculture embodies a natural cycle of give and take that improves soil health, biodiversity, and climate resilience.
As Mike shared his leadership approach, I couldn’t help but think of it as regenerative leadership. Here’s why. The relationship between an employee and an employer usually resembles this: the employee gets a paycheck for showing up to perform a mono-function. The employer is taking energy out of the employee, and mainly replenishing through a transactional payment. It’s lopsided.
Mike talked about developing both the professional side and the personal side of his workforce. Not compartmentalizing—only investing in the “work version” of employees—but investing in employees to grow holistically as individuals.
When you compartmentalize, you show up as less than yourself, a fractional compartment of who you are.
I’m willing to bet that regenerative leadership results in a more healthy, more innovative, and more resilient workforce.
- Follow Mike on Twitter and let him know what you think about this episode
- Connect with Mike on LinkedIn
- ButcherBox (New members can get $30 off their first box by entering the promo code “Mike sent me”)
- You can learn more about the B Corp movement here