THE STORY

In 1978, childhood buddies Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield decided to start a small company. Bagel shop? If only. It turned out equipment was expensive. So, they decided to make ice cream instead. After a $5 ice-cream course, they opened their shop in a converted gas station in Vermont.

Ben had an inability to smell. So, they put big chunks in the ice cream for better mouth feel. The hippy duo also created crazy flavours, like Jamaican Me Crazy and Karamel Sutra. Business took off as people loved Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream!

However, their alternative management style didn’t go down well with investors. In 1999, the stock dipped. Threats from shareholders led them to sell their souls to Unilever for over $300m. For the next 8 years, Unilever went about business the “normal” way: cost-cutting and playing nice with the press. Yawn.

After tense negotiations, Unilever allowed the company to maintain an independent board of directors. And like kids given free rein, the forever playful Ben & Jerry’s got its groove back!

Each pint of ice cream serves as a social campaign. Their fudge-y chunks of brownie are made in a bakery that helps the unemployable. Melted ice cream is used to illustrate climate change. “Hubby Hubby” flavour championed gay marriage. “Yes, Pecan!” campaigned for Obama. Even when their efforts spark controversy—and they have!—they stay true to their values.

For the people that dreamed up Chunky Monkey, no goal is too lofty. And there’s nothing vanilla about that.

Jerry Greenfield and Ben Cohen in Vermont in 1980.

 

ARE YOU ENJOYING THE RIDE?

We tend to focus so much on business, metrics, and daily challenges that we often forget to enjoy the ride. Since reaching your goals might take (tens of) years, make sure your mindset is not to enjoy life when you reach your goals, but to enjoy life while you reach your goals, all the while staying true to your values.

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© Story by Tarek Issa.

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