Lisa Curtis is the CEO of Kuli Kuli. Lisa Curtis is a thought leader, influencer, and risk taker, and Lisa has provided the vision and energy that has inspired the creation of Kuli Kuli. Lisa Curtis joins other leading CEOs and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series.The DotCom Magazine editorial team has awarded Kuli Kuli as an Impact Company of 2019, and we are delighted to have Lisa join us for our Leader Round Table Interview. The Kuli Kuli story is very interesting, and we are very excited to not only interview Lisa, but also put Lisa through our popular speed round as well!
Lisa, thank so much for taking the time out of your busy day for this interview, and answering some questions about leadership, your vision, and your passion.
1. Many of our readers are just starting to build a company. What advice can you give CEO’s just starting out regarding keeping a company moving forward, and please tell us the key to your company’s success?
It’s a bit cliche but I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve had to channel the “fake it until you make it” mentality. So much of being a new entrepreneur is just overcoming the perception that you don’t know what you’re doing. Eventually, the feelings that you’re just “faking it” will subside and you’ll realize that you’re leading a team of people towards making a positive impact in the world.
2. For other entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as yours, what advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?
The most important thing, and often the hardest thing to do when things get stressful is to take the time to take care of yourself. If you aren’t in a good place mentally and physically, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else. I am an avid reader, runner and hiker. I spend as much time as I can outside. Even during work hours, I take every call and meeting I can walking around the lake near our office. Every morning I meditate for 10 minutes, giving my mind the freedom to relax prior to putting on my CEO cap and heading to work.
3. How important is the commitment to client satisfaction at Kuli Kuli, and how do you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
As a new company pioneering an entirely new ingredient on a relatively small budget, we go the extra mile to ensure that our customers turn into brand ambassadors. We also have over 30 field marketers who collectively demo at hundreds of supermarkets a month. Through their interactions with customers – and more importantly, supermarket employees- they are able to leave a positive impression in the minds of customers.
4. What is the one thing Kuli Kuli does to have great communication with their customers?
We are able to reach a wide breadth of customers via our field marketers, but beyond that, we interact with customers through our social media and our blog. We have built a community of customers who are excited about sharing their favorite moringa recipe or the latest research they discovered concerning the health benefits of moringa. We always want to ensure that they feel up to date and apart of Kuli Kuli’s mission.
5. In today’s fast changing business environment, what do you do to keep up with the changes? What do you read to stay abreast of things?
I’ve found that its key to read the top articles on a regular basis. For the natural food industry, I love reading Food + Tech Connect which aggregates the top headlines in the industry and sends them out on a weekly basis.
6. What is your “Why”? Why do you get up in the morning, and how do you keep yourself at peak performance to lead Kuli Kuli?
Building a company based off elevating some of the most vulnerable population, women in developing nations, has created a strong, fiery “why” in me. Traveling to Haiti, Niger and Ghana over the past few years and meeting with the women we work with has only furthered this passion. Their lives’ have changed dramatically due to our moringa purchases. I wake up at 6am everyday with my first thought towards them and all the incredible entrepreneurs in the Global South who could accomplish so much if only given the chance.
7. Can you recommend a book that has had an influence in your career? How did it influence you?
A book that has been highlighted, scribbled in, and will always remain on my bookshelf, is Building Social Business by Muhammad Yunus. Yunus redefines social business and encourages a new way of looking at economic organization that combines a social, ethical, or environmental objective with a commercial or financial one.
8. When communicating with your staff, can you tell us the most important thing you do so that they are able to carry out the objectives that you set forth at Kuli Kuli?
Working at a startup inherently means that every one human has the responsibilities of three. Through finding staff that is passionate about our mission and willing to dedicate a large chunk of their life to the cause, we are able to run the leading moringa company in the United States with less than ten full time employees out of our 1,000 square foot office in Oakland. This can create a high stress environment if effective communication is neglected. I highly prioritize checking in with my staff. From seasonal intern to co-founder, I routinely sit down with individuals and listen to their “rose, bud and thorn” or their highlight, exciting upcoming venture and something that is not going so well. Getting to know them on an individual level allows for the whole operation to run smoothly and let’s me jump in to de-escalate situations need be.
9. Can you describe in one sentence, what your company does?
Kuli Kuli connects people in the US in search of nutritious food to those in the developing world who need it through moringa, one of the most nutritious plants on the planet.
10. In one sentence, can you give some advice to fellow entrepreneurs wishing to build a company as exciting as Kuli Kuli?
Stay true to yourself and the reasons you chose the not-always-easy route of entrepreneurship.
We would like to have some fun and do a “First Reaction” round with you!
We will ask you ten more questions that we want you to answer in just one to three words only. Here you go!
1. In three words or less, What makes a successful CEO?
Compassion, Dedication, Humor
2. Describe your business in one word?
3. Describe your customers in one word?
4. What one attribute do you look for when hiring an employee?
5. What is the one word you want your customers to say after delivery?
6. In three words or less, describe your passion?
Nutrition for all
7. In three words or less, describe what it takes to be successful?
Not giving up.
8. In three words or less, describe your first year in business at Kuli Kuli?
9. In three words or less, describe how running a successful company has changed you?
Opened my world.
10. What is the one word that you believe has the most power in the English Language?
Lisa Curtis, thank you so much for sitting down with us at our DotCom Magazine Impact Player Round Table. We very much appreciate the time you spent helping others to learn more about what it takes to be a leader and a success. We are sure your interview will help our readers, and we wish you, your family, and of course Kuli Kuli, nothing but the best. Thanks again!