Michael Kuech of ‘Your Super’: “Focus time and thinking time”

Focus time and thinking time: Having time to think about and strategize about things I want to do. We’re often so driven by slack, meetings and emails and reacting always — giving yourself time to be proactive, following-up on strategies and what you want to achieve makes a huge difference. Often when we refer to wellness, we […]

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Focus time and thinking time: Having time to think about and strategize about things I want to do. We’re often so driven by slack, meetings and emails and reacting always — giving yourself time to be proactive, following-up on strategies and what you want to achieve makes a huge difference.

Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?

As a part of our series about “How We Can Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Kuech.

Michael Kuech is the Co-Founder of Your Super, a next-gen industry leader in plant-based living, transparent supply chain, and 1:1 giving. The company was founded when Kuech was playing tennis at the semi-pro level and was diagnosed with cancer at age 24. His partner and Co-Founder Kristel de Groot began developing superfood and plant protein mixes to boost his immunity, and the company was born out of the couple’s mission to improve people’s health with the power of super plants. The direct-to-consumer business was founded in Berlin but quickly spread to 6 continents and in 2018 the headquarters were moved to Venice, California.

Your Super’s plant-based Superfood and Protein mixes and bars contain 5–6 naturally dried superfoods. Every ingredient is grown, harvested, 3rd party tested, and packaged 100% sustainably. The ingredients are certified organic, Non-GMO certified, Glyphosate-Free, plant-based and gluten-free. You’ll never find any sweeteners, stevia, artificial flavors, fillers, preservatives or additives.

Michael has been featured in Forbes, Thrive Magazine, Cheddar TV and Good Day LA. Prior to founding Your Super, Kuech was a consultant for Deutsche Bank, Ernst & Young and more. He holds an BBA in finance and management from Valdosta State University, and MSC in finance from EBS Business School in Germany, and an MBA from Indian Institute Management in Bangalore, India.

In 2020, Your Super raised 10 million dollars in Series B funding via Power Plant Ventures (Beyond Meat, Thrive Market, Veggie Grill).

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I grew up in a small town in Aachen, Germany as the youngest of 4. Both of my parents are doctors and I early on started to play tennis intensely and then pursued a career as a professional Tennis player. I have been an athlete all my life.

Both of my parents are doctors so I always heard stories of how they were helping people improve their health. All my childhood/teenage years I always wanted to become a doctor to do the same. Right after high school I received a tennis scholarship to play and study in the US. I studied in Valdosta, Georgia for 4 years and loved it.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

So it’s a very personal story: I started our company Your Super because I was diagnosed with cancer at age 24 and going through that experience, I realized you can’t control everything in your life, but you can control what you eat. So I realized that a lot of times what we put in our bodies can be the reason why people get sick. So I really focused on the one piece we can control, and that’s our diet. And at the same time, my fiance Kristel (girlfriend at the time) and co-founder gave me all these superfoods and I was thinking “what are superfoods? I’ve never heard of superfoods before.” I started studying superfoods and learned how they have been around for hundreds of thousands of years and how people around the world have used superfoods and food as medicine — this inspired me to help more people eat healthy. This was the start of the business and how I got into this career. I have a huge passion to improve people’s health with the power of plants.

Also, I was always really inspired by social businesses. We always wanted to start a social business to do the right thing. How we do it right now is through our transparent supply chain, where we are really able to empower small farmers around the world. This was inspired by businesses like Toms, Patagonia and other B corporations (just like us) where the model is: business as a force for good.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

The person that has always been supporting me in my success is Kristel, my co-founder and fiance. We have been together now for 12 years and she has been the reason our business is where it is at as well as where I am at in my personal career. She has always encouraged me to be better, think bigger and dream bigger and to just go for it. She has really empowered me to really be myself! I’m so happy I get to run the business with her and to also be together with her, she is just a huge huge inspiration for me every day!

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

There are so many mistakes within the business as every entrepreneur probably can share. Mistakes that felt so big in the first couple years now seem like small mistakes as problems get bigger as one’s company grows. I can recall so many funny stories from the beginning and even now when we think back, I wonder what we were thinking. When we first started the company I made my first ever order of our superfood cans. When the company who we ordered from was trying to deliver the cans, they assumed we were located in a big factory and came to deliver to us in their 45 ton truck. At the time we were in the middle of a residential area in Amsterdam and this huge truck couldn’t get through. So they ended up having to park 10 streets away and we had to carry these cans hand by hand back to our home office. A few weeks later we had a good laugh thinking about how the company thought we were a huge company, but really we were a very tiny startup and were mixing our mixes from from the kitchen in our organic certified room in our house in Amsterdam.

Another example is when we thought our business was over. It was our first Christmas shopping experience and we had received more orders than ever before — about 50 orders which took us about 50 hours to put together and we were hustling to really get these out on time. Then we had 30 out of the 50 customers call us and say that our cans were exploding. We were wondering why the logistics company fulfilled our orders so terribly, but the logistics company told us we should have added more packing paper to keep the products from exploding. At the time we never heard about things such as packing paper and items that can protect your goods and packages. This is just another story of when we thought we would never recover and a reminder to us and to others to keep going forward a little bit every day!

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

I have two main points of advice that have helped me to build Your Super into a household and international brand.

Think big and start small: So many people start so big and want to tackle everything when they are a small company. While this might seem like a good strategy, I would always recommend to start small and learn everything about the business first. Stay close to your customers so that you can learn from them. So start small and then scale up.

Always think big, always believe in yourself, always think that everything is possible. We’ve always had this mindset since we were a tiny company imagining that we were a big international brand and used English as our main language and shipped worldwide. Think big but start small.

Just do it: We never really had a business plan or were wasting time on doing market research for 3, 4, 5 months. We just started it! And every day we are learning and still doing that. Just do it!

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

My first personal development book back then years ago was Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. This book had a huge impact on me because for the first time I realized that I can really improve my business if I improve myself as a person, leader, CEO, founder. How the book describes it, is to really take time in the morning to work on yourself — read a book, learn something about business but also participate in sports, being in super good shape and also journaling and putting down your dreams and goals. This morning routine changed everything for me and for the company. We started growing, hiring, and thought bigger as we had this anchor time in the morning to think big.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“It always seems impossible until it’s done,” a quote from Nelson Mandela.

This resonates so much to me because everything is possible — this is my main mantra! You can do anything you want to achieve if you just believe in it and take the right action steps to move forward every day. There are so many examples of this in our business career. We were a Dutch, German — European start up and everybody told us we would never be able to move to the US and raise money and build a business because we don’t have a network, we don’t have money, we don’t know anybody and nobody will invest in us. We always had this mantra that no, we can do it and everything is possible just like in the quote and we did it!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
At Your Super, our mission is to improve people’s help with the power of plants. So we are excited because we’re reaching so many people around the US and the world and really helping change their lifestyle to be more plant-based. This is exciting because this makes them healthier, helps them have more energy and it actually changes their families because everyone in the family sees the impact and people inspire each other. We have our Superfoods MIxes, which are very functional so you can really easily use them in your daily diet with water, put them in your cereal, in your smoothies or yogurt. We also just launched Ready-to-Eat bars. This is another step to really make it so easy for people to eat healthy. And this is our goal, to get into millions of peoples households and really make a shift in the way they eat. Statistics show that 70% of Americans are obese, 1 of 3 people get cancer and that diabetes rates are skyrocketing. It shows that we are living in a health crisis, which makes it more important than ever to eat healthy. We are helping millions of people and I’m excited to be part of this!

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

I recently came across this quote I learned from Tony Robbins. It’s “how you do anything is how you do everything” and what I love about this, is that this is all about your daily habits. How the little things have a huge impact on whether you are successful or whether you follow through with things. So this quote is something I think about a lot because we all have those days where we don’t feel great, but that’s when it’s really important to follow through and do things you maybe didn’t feel doing but to really honor your great habits. You want to make progress every single day on all of your habits.

Whether it’s playing a sport, like how I played tennis, making small steps every single day will have a huge and tremendous impact on your overall performance, strength, and really everything. So how we do anything is how you do everything. Habits means progress and then you can really tackle the big goals! Nothing is created overnight — I’m a huge believer in working hard and putting in work every day.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

A few habits that have been tremendously helpful in my success and journey:

Positive mindset: It’s funny because Kristel is always laughing because every morning in the shower I tell myself it’s going to be a great day over and over. I’m really trying to condition myself to think that I’m going to have a great day.

Working out: I can tell I’m losing energy and not myself if I don’t work out consistently. I make it a habit now every morning to work out.

Eating: Eating super clean and plant-based has been my success formula. I have so much more energy, I feel so much better and have so much more brain power and brain space to actually do all the things I want to do. So changing the way I eat and how I fuel my body with all the good stuff was a huge unlock in my career and my success.

Goal Setting: Writing down your goals and being clear on what I want. One example is that we wrote down for years that we wanted to have an office in LA and everyone told us that it wouldn’t work but we wrote it down and talked about it and finally an opportunity came and it happened. Be clear on your goals and what you want, because this will push you forward to make it happen.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

Good habits are all about consistency! Just be consistent. Have a plan and stick to the plan. If I create my morning routine or workout schedule — I stick to it. You can be flexible on this, but consistency for a long period of time really plays a role into actually having good habits.

My advice on how to stop bad habits: Having awareness and pausing and looking at different areas of your life and seeing what serves you and what doesn’t serve you. We all get caught up in a lot of work, thoughts and busy life, but really thinking and slowing down and seeing what makes you happy, why does it make me happy and then from there developing new habits. On a quarterly basis, I review what I’m doing, what serves me, what doesn’t serve me, what doesn’t make me feel good and I’ll change it. I also take time to look at different habits from successful people — I look at my role model’s habits and see what they’re doing. I make sure to pause what I’m doing and learn what they’re doing to incorporate into my own life.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

Daily morning routine: Having a schedule when you set aside time every morning, for example 30 minutes, an hour, 2 hours, to do a specific morning routine. Where you move your body to really wake up, where you review your goals on what you want to achieve over the next 6 months to a year, where you have time to meditate to calm down, and where you plan your day and write down what you want to achieve. This is so crucial, because we all get stressed. An example is that you’re stressed at the first meeting of the day because you didn’t prepare for the day. So really take the time before you start to work to work on yourself to make sure you’re not in a stressful mode when you start your day.

Food: When you’re working in an entrepreneurial environment, in sports, or really anywhere how we feel is directly linked to what we eat. Focusing on healthy eating is so important. I start every morning with a green smoothie to get all the energy from all the green vegetables in. I’ll then eat a big salad and at night i’ll eat rice, veggies or a bowl of curry. Really clean, great food is really important.

Daily evening routine: As we’re always stressed from the work day and from what’s going on in the world, I recently added to my evening routine to calm down, really pausing and having time to de-stress and calm down. I drink a warm tea or latte and listen to music, read and include enough time to sleep. We really need to prioritize sleep as sleep is so important. I try to get 8 hours in.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Allow daily meditation to be part of your morning routine. Have a goal or success journal where you write goals for the day. Accountability with friends is another practice you can do. Talk to friends and make sure you all work out at the same time and hold each other accountable. Follow a plan, and make it fun, don’t be so rigid!

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

 1. Eating regimen is so important for your overall performance and sport and at work. You are what you eat. If you eat a ton of inflammatory foods your body will not feel good. I highly recommend looking at the way you eat and really opting for more plant-based foods.

Hydrating is so important. You need to hydrate more to keep your mind fresh and focused.

Recovery is also important. After a long day, give yourself time to wind down and allow your body to rest.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

You can follow people who eat healthy and see how they do it and start cooking more and buy take out less. When you cook something on your own it’s much healthier and cleaner. Try to really stay away from convenient fast food as it really doesn’t serve you and your performance. And really develop a daily routine as I mentioned before.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

Meditation: Really slowing down as meditating is so important. I realized this past year how important it is to detach from the noise, the news, social media and to sit down and be with your thoughts, whatever may pop up as calming down the mind and focusing.

Focus time and thinking time: Having time to think about and strategize about things I want to do. We’re often so driven by slack, meetings and emails and reacting always — giving yourself time to be proactive, following-up on strategies and what you want to achieve makes a huge difference.

Goal Setting: Make sure you know why you’re doing what you’re doing and know where you want to go.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Have routines where you don’t have to think about them, but you do them automatically. That is a big thing I want to point out: schedule your days and put in time to look at your goals and journal, but create habits where you don’t have to think about it.

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

Stop the noise around you! Just turn everything off: all the slacks, notifications, whats apps, and be with your thoughts or your blank paper to write things as we get bombarded by so many things. Turn everything off, be with yourself and have some time to really execute on things.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

We are working on this with our staff at Your Super but we’re all about really inspiring people to eat more plants. We all know that if we eat more plants that we feel better, we have more energy and we can actually pursue our dreams as we have the energy to go and improve our lives. This is the biggest mission I am on and it’s my life’s mission to inspire people to eat healthier and as a result have less people get sick.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

There are so many personalities I get inspiration from.

On the sports side, I’d love to get lunch with Tom Brady. He’s a fantastic example of how his habits have led him to success. Also he’s been at peak performance for so long which is a testament to how good his habits are and how good his habits are.

On the business side, I’d love to connect with Richard Branson, he has inspired me through his books and life stories as I started my business. I am also inspired by the way he enjoys life, enjoys adventures and I am always so humbled at how he gives back.

Lastly, I would also love to sit down with Tony Robbins. He had a major influence not only in my life but so many others, with his ability to shift people’s mindsets in people and get the best out of people and their abilities. The mindset that there is no limit to what you can achieve in life.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Follow along our Your Super Website for blog posts, products updates and more and visit our instagram: @yoursuperfoods for all the latest info from our company.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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