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HUMAN Co-Founder Sean Kelly Named One of CNN Money’s 10 “Generation Next” Entrepreneurs to Watch

We have an exciting update for all of you! HUMAN Healthy Vending’s Chief Humanist, Sean Kelly, was just named one of CNN Money’s 10 “Generation Next” Entrepreneurs to Watch.

This is great recognition for all of us here at HUMAN, and YOU. Without our amazing operators, fantastic locations, fans, and customers, we would not be the company we are today.

The article describes Sean’s story, from the “Aha Moment” he had when he first envisioned healthy vending, to his partnering with Stanford MBA, Andy Mackensen, four years ago.

It’s not often you hear of success stories like ours in a time of economic crisis. When most companies are letting go of their employees to cut costs and stay afloat, we are fortunate enough to be HIRING people.  We recognized an urgent need to fight obesity and malnutrition, so we created a solution. There is another crisis in this country that does not involve money. It involves people. It is our mission to create healthier people, one vending machine at a time.

Again, we say THANK YOU for making healthy vending such a success.

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 7 Steps to a Culture of Innovation

How Tackling Problems with Creative Thinking Will Set You Up for Success

We live in a hustling-and-bustling society. Everywhere you look, there are millions of companies competing for our business. We are instantly connected with smart phones, portable computers, webcams, and social networking. It’s no secret the world has drastically changed with the advent of new technology and innovation. Just compare your life now to ten years ago. Pretty crazy, huh?

In the 21st century, creativity is the new currency. It is the one thing that can’t be outsourced. The most rapidly growing businesses are the most creative. Apple, Facebook, Groupon…all of these are successful because they created something completely different than what we’ve seen before. Creativity is what sets them apart from the rest.

Most companies fail to foster their creativity. They underestimate the value of original thinking and imagination. For a company to succeed in today’s day and age, creativity must be developed on all levels of the organization.

Inc. Magazine recently explored this topic by creating the 7 Steps to a Culture of Innovation:

1. Fuel Passion

We are the first to say that passion is EXTREMELY important to our healthy vending franchise. We founded our business because we are passionate on aiding people to choose healthier lifestyles. Every great invention began with a burning desire to change people’s lives.

With a team full of passion, you can achieve almost anything. Without it, you have nothing.

It’s important to realize, though, that passion alone does not equate to success. That passion must be turned into a purpose. Like our motto states, passion + purpose + philanthropy = success. Having an important purpose will create more passion among your team to fulfill that purpose.

2. Celebrate Ideas 

Ideas are interesting. You have good ideas and bad ideas, and it’s mostly a subjective matter. However, praising good ideas will help foster creativity. Recognize someone when they deliver a good idea. Reward them with praise, perks, and career opportunities.

If you want a creative team, you need to establish an environment that rewards creativity.

3. Foster Autonomy

People like to be able to call their own shots. We want to be able to think on our own and do things on our own. Independence is a societal attribute socialized in us at an early age. An employee who has to run every single detail by his or her boss for approval quickly loses any interest in creative thinking.

Granting autonomy means extended trust, and that means some decisions will be made that you wouldn’t have made  yourself. It is important to deliver a clear message as to what your expectations are. Let your team members know you are behind them and value their judgment and creativity. Your team will be more motivated and confident to do their best work.

It’s a win-win situation.

4. Encourage Courage

Encourage your team members to stand up for what they believe is right, even if it’s controversial. Not everyone will agree on every issue your company faces. Encourage people to disagree and let them explain why. They probably will bring up a problem you never considered.

If you allow your team to be open and honest when it comes to making decisions–whether it be mundane administrative issues or the next huge product launch–you will create a culture of free-thinkers.

5. Fail Forward

We’ve discussed this before, and the message is still the same. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure will happen, but the trick to success to is fail fast and fail cheap. Once you fail, recognize what needs to be done quickly and move on. Don’t let failure extinguish creativity and innovation.

Failing forward means “taking risks and increasing the rate of experimentation…some bets will pay off; some will fail.” Every minute counts in business. The best businesses test out a lot of ideas and let the failures go quickly without remorse.

6. Think Small

Most of the time, it is important to always keep in mind the big picture of whatever you are doing. However, bigger is not always better. Bigger companies often have more red tape, corporate bureaucracy, and a greater lost in translation ratio. Smaller companies tend to have the opposite qualities. They tend to be “more curious and nimble.” They have a stronger sense of urgency and a higher propensity to embrace change.

This doesn’t mean that big companies only think big and small companies only think small. It is important for everyone to think small. Don’t nurture old ideas and protect them from the wild because you are afraid they will be eaten alive. Create new ideas and establish urgency. The half life for great ideas is minuscule, so drop them like it’s hot.

7. Maximize Diversity

Diversity is crucial to any successful business because it creates different perspectives. That means more creative outlets, different specializations, and a vast array of knowledge.

The magic of diversity really happens when these diverse perspectives come into contact with each other to create something new. This “melting pot” approach to business drives some of the most creative company cultures.


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