The first piece of advice I would give is to lead with love and compassion. Love is a big word, but it’s irreplaceable. The bible tells us to love one another first, before ourselves. It is hard to care for and understand somebody without loving them first. In business, you don’t hear much about genuine love, but I think that is a big part of our success at Clean Juice.
As a part of my series about leaders who integrate mindfulness and spiritual practices into their work culture, I had the pleasure of interviewing Landon Eckles, founder and chief executive officer of Clean Juice.
Clean Juice is the first and most prolific USDA certified organic juice bar in the United States. Since 2015, Clean Juice has opened more than 100 locations with currently more than 40 in development. As CEO, Eckles oversees the growth, direction, and vision of the organization in a way that infuses the faith that’s so integral to this company’s story.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you please share your “backstory” with us? What would you say your spiritual journey has been so far?
Spirituality for me is my connection to God. I always grew up in a household that said we were Christian, but it was very passive. You know, we were those Christmas and Easter only types. But around seven years ago, I took a big step forward in my relationship with Christ. I’d been relying on my own judgement and my own strength, and it led to me making a great deal of personal mistakes. I realized I wanted to rely on something bigger and better than myself, so I finally accepted Christ as my Savior. Since then, it’s been night and day. My life has been 10 times more rewarding and fulfilling.
What role did mindfulness or spiritual practice play in your life growing up? Do you have a funny or touching story about that?
Like I said before, my upbringing wasn’t overly religious. As I was growing up, I was pretty self-focused. Ask any of my teachers and they’d for sure tell you I didn’t have a lack of confidence. I thought my own strengths and instincts were all I could rely on. In my late teens and early 20s, that took me to some places I’d rather not have experienced. It’s not as if I don’t ever make mistakes now — I still do — I’m human, after all. But the biggest difference is I know there’s a strength greater than mine that I can rely on. That makes me more confident than I ever was before.
How do your mindfulness or spiritual practices affect your business and personal life today?
I don’t believe you can be somebody different at work than who you are at home. Whether I am sitting at work as the CEO of Clean Juice, or at home spending time with my kids, I first and foremost know that I am a follower of Christ, a follower of God. At Clean Juice, our core values are biblically based and we are very transparent with our guests, our staff, our Franchise Partners, and everybody else we do business with. For example, we start every week with our Monday Morning Prayer Circle. That’s not just a tradition. It’s a literal covering of God’s grace, protection, and strength. Why would I not want that for my team?
Do you find that you are more successful or less successful because of your integration of spiritual and mindful practices? Can you share an example or story about that with us?
Oh, it’s not even close. I’m 100 percent more successful with faith integrated into our business. When I lived a life void of God, I did everything aimlessly and without purpose. Imagine trying to lead a company like that. Today is much different. God guides me and I don’t make big decisions, business, personal, or otherwise, without prayer. To be honest, I don’t know where I would be today had I not surrendered my life to Him.
What would you say is the foundational principle for one to “lead a good life”? Can you share a story that illustrates that?
The most central foundational principle for my life, which I think is a good life, is to put God first. When human beings try to rely on themselves, they over-complicate things. I think that’s because our viewpoint is small, and limited. We need the kind of eternal eyesight that only our savior can provide. As we get more comfortable with who we are, we get to live our life the way He wants us to, and there is something incredibly peaceful about that.
Can you share a story about one of the most impactful moments in your spiritual/mindful life?
I decided to accept Christ into my life and heart at the same time I decided to quit drinking alcohol. That’s the one for sure, the moment the most foundational moment of my faith. That crossroads of alcoholism is a scary, intimidating moment. You know the change you need to make, but it seems so insurmountable. When I encounter someone who is at that crossroads, I can speak to them about how I found my strength to overcome through God. The most significant impact I hope to achieve is to help others facing that same challenge.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Steven Furtick is the lead pastor at Elevation Church based here in Charlotte. When my wife and I married 13 years ago, we attended church occasionally, but I never really wanted to be there. I was very checked out during the whole experience. Then, I started listening to Steven’s podcasts and sermons online. Listening to him felt as if he was speaking directly to me. He was able to express situations I was going through in a way I had never considered. He was a big reason and influence for me to turn my life over to God. Steven was a vessel for me to connect and genuinely understand God.
Can you share 3 or 4 pieces of advice about how leaders can create a very “healthy and uplifting” work culture?
The first piece of advice I would give is to lead with love and compassion. Love is a big word, but it’s irreplaceable. The bible tells us to love one another first, before ourselves. It is hard to care for and understand somebody without loving them first. In business, you don’t hear much about genuine love, but I think that is a big part of our success at Clean Juice. Number two is honesty. Being honest is paramount, especially when it comes to setting expectations within the work culture. Being transparent about yourself and your expectations with others in a business setting is the only way for true alignment and shared vision to be achieved. You can’t hold someone accountable for a goal that you haven’t communicated honestly. And just because you love them doesn’t mean you skip the tough conversations. That’s just another form of love. Number three is to be genuine. Do not be a chameleon. Be true to who you are in everything you do, and you will attract the right people.
You are a person of significant influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I believe in clean, healthy eating and this year has been an awakening with the number of people getting sick from coronavirus and other diseases. I want to inspire a movement of clean, healthy eating habits. I genuinely believe you are what you eat, and food can be your medicine or contribute to sickness. I pray and hope people understand that. Clean Juice, in many ways, is that movement and is why we take time, effort, and responsibility to educate and inform people on the benefits of healthy eating.
How can people follow you and find out more about you?
Readers can follow me on the following social media channels:
LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/landoneckles/
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/cleanjuice
Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/cleanjuice/