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Today’s episode is with my friend Jenny Stojkovic on the future of food is vegan. Jenny is a passionate entrepreneurial leader who is supporting the rise of women founders who are invested towards a more sustainable and humane future through advancing vegan foods, fashion, beauty, & technology. In the last few years, Jenny has launched the Vegan Women’s Summit and has gathered thousands of women all over the world who are supporting a more conscious and inclusive way of leading and who are committed to business being a force for good in the world.
In this inspiring podcast interview, Jenny and I talk about her motivation for this movement, her close relationship with Miyoko Schinner, the founder of Miyoko’s Creamery, and the many event opportunities that you will have as a listener to participate with these businesses whom are hiring and/or would love to wow you with their vegan products. You don’t want to miss this one.
Vegan Women Summit — https://veganwomensummit.com/
VWS Connect — https://veganwomensummit.com/vws–connect
“Why I Think the Future of Food Will Be Women Led” Rolling Stone article — https://www.rollingstone.com/culture–council/articles/future–food–led–women-1202169/
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The Imperfect Shownotes
0:01 Carley Hauck
Hi, welcome to the SHINE podcast. My name is Carley Hauck, I am your host. This podcast focuses on the intersection of the application and scientific literature of conscious, inclusive leadership, the recipe for high performing teams and awareness practices that you can cultivate to be the kind of leader our world needs now. I facilitate two to three episodes a month.
And before I tell you about our fascinating topic today, can you please go over to Apple podcasts and hit the subscribe button. This way you don’t miss any of our inspiring episodes. Thank you.
We are in season six of the SHINE podcast. And we have had some incredible interviews. And the focus of this season is on how we optimize the way we live, work and play. How can we create a workplace culture and world that is mindful of our consumption, our energy leaks, and optimizing for our own well being, our co-workers, our communities and the planet.
Today’s episode is with my friend Jenny Stojkovic on the future of food is vegan. Jenny is a passionate executive leader who is supporting the rise of women founders invested towards a more sustainable and humane future by advancing plant based and alternative proteins. In the last few years, Jenny has launched the Vegan Women’s Summit and has gathered thousands of women all over the world, who are supporting a more conscious and inclusive way of leading and who are committed to business being a force for good in the world.
In this inspiring podcast interview, Jenny and I talk about her motivation for this movement, her close relationship with Miyoko Schinner, the founder of Miyoko’s Creamery and the many opportunities that you will have as a listener to enter virtually into some of the events and ways to learn more about this fascinating industry. You don’t want to miss this one.
Carley Hauck 2:33
Hello, SHINE podcast listeners. This is Carley and I am here with my new friend Jenny Stojkovic, the founder of the Vegan Women’s Summit. I am so excited to have this conversation. Jenny, thanks for joining me.
Jenny Stojkovic 2:47
Thank you so much for having me. And also nailing that pronunciation.
Carley Hauck 2:55
Haha, thank you. So one of the first questions I usually ask folks and guests on the podcast, because the podcast focuses on conscious inclusive leadership is What does conscious inclusive leadership mean to you?
Jenny Stojkovic 3:15
Conscious, inclusive leadership to me is at the core of everything that I do. I believe that we have an obligation to the planet and our fellow beings to make sure that anything that we’re doing in our daily life is conscious of that impact. And so, to me, it’s really the core focus of mission driven leadership and what it means to be in a mission driven space. I think that there are a lot of people in the last few years in the pandemic that have started to look inwards, about how they can be more conscious about how they are spending their professional time, and what they’re doing for a living. And so to me, I really think that it is finding that purpose driven way to lead your life both professionally and personally.
Carley Hauck 4:04
Hmm, great answer. Thank you for sharing that. And I know that you probably get this question asked a lot. But I feel really curious what started your interest in passion and plant based and alternative proteins.
So my journey with the food system started seven years ago now. And it really came from a somewhat unique place when it comes to talking about plant based diets. So lots of people have their story of their why and you know, why did you go plant based. I think as I was telling you earlier before we jumped on, it’s the number one question that we all get in this space. And for myself, unfortunately I went through a very deep personal tragedy. When I was quite young, my husband and I, unfortunately had our best man and his best friend murdered at a very young age, and it was a very senseless act of violence that happened to us and going through the grieving process and going through the trials and tribulations of, of the legal system. And there’s an entire trial that goes with such a, you know, horrible situation.
And we decided to look inwards. Much like a lot of what you practice, we decided to learn about meditation, to learn about mindfulness, to read a lot of the Buddha’s writings to really understand our purpose on the planet, when we were going through so much pain. And through that journey, we ended up actually going to the prison and forgiving the murderer, for what had happened. And we decided that if we were going to find compassion in this situation, we would have to be bringing it to our daily lives in every situation.
And so the most compassionate thing that you can really do is look at your impact that you’re doing every single day, three times a day, and that’s the meals that you’re eating. So we decided right then in there for very much philosophical and ethical reasons that we would go plant based, my husband and I, and that has been seven years since.
Carley Hauck 6:11
Wow, I love that story. Thank you for sharing that. And I feel care hearing about your loss. And it sounds like it’s been quite a learning journey for you, if you’ve really used it as not, why did this happen to me? But how did this happen for me, right? Like, what can I learn and grow from it?
Jenny Stojkovic 6:30
Absolutely, it’s the best worst thing that has ever happened. And it has completely shifted my entire, the fiber of my being. That’s how I think about myself, the humility that I bring to the planet and the understanding of, of all of the other inhabitants that we have here the responsibility to others, or responsibility to everybody else, human and non human.
And so I think that it’s very important for folks that are listening, especially going through the pandemic, to find catharsis for, you know, what might have been trauma that happened to them, there’s been a lot of loss in the last few years, there’s a lot of loss, it’s going to happen, you know, unfortunately, in the world, as we’ve kind of seen on the news this week, so finding a way to take that trauma and, and heal and use it for good is something that I’d like to talk about often. And something I don’t hear talked about in the professional space as much as, as it really should be.
Carley Hauck 7:27
I love that you just highlighted that I agree with you. I mean, I think that we all have trauma. And we all have attachment trauma, I think that’s actually one of the the bigger pieces of trauma that is not really talked about, which is, you know, maybe coming from childhood or coming from the attachment or, or non attachment that we have from different relationships in our life, whether it’s personal or professional.
And I think part of that we’ve been seeing and all the mental health concerns that has really just had more light shined on it, I think it’s always been there underneath. And when we actually choose to look at something and observe it, I think there’s much more opportunity to heal and transform it versus covering it up. And, you know, part of why I wrote Shine my book and why it’s called that is because, you know, again, I I like to shine the light on what’s really happening on the truth.
And it’s not always pretty, you know, it’s not always pleasant. But we can’t change it, unless we’re willing to look at it and see how did it get this way? And that actually brings us to our food system, right? We have a lot of work to do. And you’re part of changemakers that’s really amplifying this.
So, tell me and the listeners a bit more about the Vegan Women’s Summit. I know it’s had a lot of growth in the last few years, pretty much the entire time of the pandemic.
Jenny Stojkovic 9:09
Yeah, absolutely. So VWS, Vegan Women’s Summit, started two years ago, literally two years ago, February. We’re kind of a baby or a toddler still as an organization. And it really started out of a need that I perceived a few years back, being in the tech industry. So I built my career in Silicon Valley. I’ve been able to work with all of you know, the most exciting, you know, tech brands in the world and help build startups and innovation. And one of the things that was very unfortunate about that experience is that I was often the only woman in the room. It was a very, very homogenous group of folks that have really led the tech industry. It’s not really a surprise for anyone to hear that it’s not a secret. We all know that FIn Tech has quite a diversity problem.
And I discovered that food tech was really starting to take off. It was something that I had personally seen and followed because of my plant based diet, but I hadn’t professionally engaged in the space. And so starting in 2018, I started to do more and more work in the future of food programming, and discovered quite quickly that as the space was gaining more and more momentum and traction, it was unfortunately suffering from a lot of that same lack of representation of the tech industry.
So vegan Women’s Summit VWS was founded to empower women to build a kinder, more sustainable world. And so we are here to inspire the nearly 4 billion women on the planet to join the mission driven space, we focus on the future of both food as well as fashion, very much beauty, biotechnology, animal free innovation, and we are inspiring women to create companies build companies invest in companies get jobs in these companies, be consumer advocates for these companies, any way that we can help push a more diverse and equitable future of food and beyond. That’s, that’s where you’re gonna find us.
Carley Hauck 11:01
Awesome. Wonderful. So being that this has really taken off pretty much the entire time of the pandemic, I feel really curious, what are some of the important lessons that you’ve learned? This is clearly very purposeful for you, this mission, this business, I’m sure there’s lots of lessons but maybe like narrow it down to two or three.
Jenny Stojkovic 11:25
So when we went into the pandemic we as as a share, we are a very, very young organization that had just done one in person conference, before we built out a global platform, which we are today, we were faced with this decision of do we put this whole thing on the backburner because we’re going into the pandemic? Or do we just go all in on how we can build this global community?
And I have just been blown away, we went from 250 Women in a room to over 40,000 women across six continents in this virtual space, because the barriers that are broken down by the virtual setting are profound. And that was probably the best lesson that I learned was that if you really truly want to be a diverse and equitable organization that is focused on removing the challenges and barriers that women face, women in particular, you’re going to have to meet them where they’re at. And so many women just don’t have the opportunity to network and engage in the types of external opportunities that were so commonplace before the pandemic, because of, you know, financial constraints, because, you know, half of the women in our community are parents or guardians, most of them are the majority caregiver, there’s just so many different things that affect women’s ability to, to really network and be part of the space. So the virtual setting, to me, was probably the best lesson that I learned.
And the other lesson that I learned is just how profound the networking gap is, too. It is just the constraints that are placed upon us, when we are from a, you know, different walks of life and have a different background that does not match that of, you know, the folks in Silicon Valley that were born on the peninsula. You know, we were just talking earlier before we jumped on the pod that we both kind of came from other places to make our way to the Bay Area. It’s a leap, it’s a hurdle. And so if you can create virtual spaces that are helping to create that network, and that community that these women, and especially women of color wouldn’t otherwise have, you can really, really make a difference. We’ve had women that have created entire companies after coming to our summits. I have women that write to me every day and say, You inspire me. And look, I just raised X amount of money for this company. I started after we learned from your content.
Carley Hauck 13:43
Beautiful. So what I’m hearing is that the two important lessons were really the aspect of the virtual space allowed women that needed more flexibility to be able to participate in these types of conversations, and also just how important the network was, and that there was a real gap, and giving women women from all over the world, this type of network to learn and grow and actually support each other.
And, you know, one of the things that I love about being a woman, a woman identifying, is that there is such a strong sisterhood of women. It’s always been my experience. And it’s also something that you have to look for often, you know, and find your people.
I was part of the Emerging Women conference, which was hosted for many years, and then ended in 2019. And then there was also another really incredible organization that actually stopped having their in person events right before the pandemic hit in February 2020. I was actually at the last Conscious Companies Women’s Summit, but they were gathering women from all over the world as well. to support other entrepreneurs that were interested in more mission and purposeful, driven businesses, like the one that you have created, and that the ones that you’re supporting. So those are great lessons.
I have seen you highlight Miyoko Schinner, the founder of Miyoko’s Creamery. And for those folks listening that don’t know what Miyoko’s Creamery is, it’s it’s a wonderful company based in Petaluma only about an hour from where I am currently in Marin County, that specializes in dairy free products, different types of cheeses, typically using the traditional cheese making cultures but with cashews, oats, chickpea flour. And Jenny, you may even have more to say on that, because I know that you’re close with the founder, but she, at least from the outside represents one of the first women of color in the plant based and alternative protein space, it’s really made some traction.
And I know that she was an early supporter of VWS. But you’ve also been a supporter of hers, and she’s one of the speakers for the upcoming VWS Summit this April, which I know will speak to a little bit later. But I’ve just had this intuition that the two of you have a strong friendship and partnership. And I could be completely wrong. But I just feel curious, how did that relationship evolve to where it is now?
Jenny Stojkovic 16:27
So the intuition was right. Absolutely. So I have been fortunate to know Miyoko for, say, five or six years now perhaps, and she has very much been an early champion of myself, of VWS. I’m really fortunate to call her a friend and a mentor and, and she really represents in my opinion, what a conscious 21st century leader is.
One of the things that’s so inspiring to me about Miyoko’s story and this is something that needs to get out, I think in the public much more. She created three, four, maybe five companies before she launched Miyoko’s Creamery, which has now raised, you know, $60- $70 million, is one of the fastest growing plant based dairy companies in the world. Massive, massive company that’s hugely disrupted the industry.
And she went through so many businesses over and over and over again, before she, you know, hit the nail on the head. But this one, she was 57 years old when she started her company. And so her story is not some 25 year old, you know, white tech bro whiz kid that just like invented an app in, you know, Palo Alto, she, she really, to me exemplifies one of the many, many stories of what an entrepreneur is. And that’s what is so unique and so incredibly important in this space is we have this idea and this archetype of who a founder is who an entrepreneur is. But in reality, all of us can be entrepreneurs, all of us can be founders. And the more we have women like Miyoko, that can speak out and explain actually, here’s all the times I failed forward, before I created me, oh, goes are actually at 57, you can start a business at 21, you can start a business, it’s never too late. It’s never too early. Those are the types of lessons that have been really important for me to learn myself and for us to teach to the women in the VWS community.
Carley Hauck 18:25
Wonderful, thanks for sharing all of that. And I’ve listened to her talk about her path. And it’s, it’s quite inspiring. I’d actually love to have her on the podcast and give her a little bit of light here.
So I also know that you, having this network of women from all over the world and really understanding some of the challenges that women and marginalized communities have to really struggle with around resources and capital. I was wondering if you could share what the current stats are right now that you’re privy to.
Jenny Stojkovic 19:06
This is an unfortunate turn of the conversation, it is not trending in the right direction, to put it succinctly. So we actually were making quite a bit of gains for capital investment into women founders up until about the pandemic or so. And we are now in a downward trend, because in the pandemic, many investors invested more heavily into male founders, because the going kind of story in the industry is that male founders are seen as more trustworthy backs, unfortunately. And that really gets into an entire conversation of the types of bias that women face in this space.
So VWS conducts the only industry wide survey in the future of food and animal alternative space. So we speak to hundreds of women CEOs and founders every year and collect data around their experiences, their challenges and opportunities in the industry. And unfortunately, we saw increase reports of bias from investors. Gender bias is still a very significant factor of the women wait, about half the women reported experiencing bias from investors and of the women who did report it, like 80% stated gender bias, just a shockingly high amount. Close you close a close second to that was racial bias. And then of course, there’s ageism and appearance bias and other things as well. We found that women of color founders in the community were experiencing rates of bias and discrimination that was one and a half times that of the white founders in the community, which was also very troubling, especially considering much of what has happened culturally speaking, since you know, the the George Floyd murder as well. So that’s, that’s really scary to see that things have made that turn.
Globally speaking, of all venture capital that was invested last year, food tech and other industries included, less than 3% went to women founders and about 0.5% went to women founders of color. So the the results are still quite staggering.
Carley Hauck 21:08
Thank you for sharing that. Well, it’s not surprising. And I think the more that we talk about it, the more that we bring it to the surface, that’s where we can change it. And I don’t know if Curt’s gonna like me, outing him in this way. But one of my friends, because I’m very passionate about amplifying plant based and alternative proteins into the market, so that we can really have a more harmonious relationship with the planet and all beings and be eating in a way that is supporting life is one of my friends is Curt Albright, who is one of the founding partners of Clear Current Capital, and they have several portfolio companies that they’re supporting in this space.
And for those women listening, I just wonder if there’s any opportunity within his investment firm, he’s actually a vegan investment banker, which is super exciting. And Unovis Partners is also doing a lot to fund the space as well. And so those might need just institutions, organizations that folks can reach out to. So just something that I’m plugging at the moment.
Jenny Stojkovic 22:32
I know both of them well. Unovis is is a very big supporter of VWS and has been since the beginning as well.
Carley Hauck 22:38
Mm hmm. They’re incredible. I imagined to you did, but I’m happy to hear. So let’s shift a little bit into how well you’re supporting yourself in this, you know, fast paced time that you’re in as an entrepreneur, but also as VWS is getting a lot more momentum, one of the things that I like to ask guests on the podcast is really about their inner game. And so the inner game really refers to some of what I’ve talked about in my latest book, but also, you know, one of the things that I’ve really watched in leaders and observed and helped cultivate and the 10 years of supporting lots of different companies and some of the students that I’ve worked with at UC Berkeley and Stanford. And so it refers to self awareness, emotional intelligence, well being resilience, love, authenticity. And so I imagine you have pieces of all of these Jenny, but I feel curious, which is the one that’s really supporting you to rise and, you know, be able to be courageous. And what I imagine is the roller coaster of entrepreneurship.
Jenny Stojkovic 23:56
Each of these elements which you listed certainly play a role in any founder’s journey. But for myself, the one that sticks out the most at this current juncture in time is certainly authenticity. I think that authenticity is something that people really crave from those around them and it is something that is really lacking in the business space in particular.
We have so many people that have been kind of putting on this professional me face you know, like wake up in the morning, put the professional me clothes on but the professional smile and you know, the professional facade and then there’s the personal me. And for folks in the pandemic I think over these last few years, it started to blur quite a bit in a good way. And so I decided, a little while ago, that I would start to become more outwardly authentic to my personal self and less concerned with putting on that professional Jenny suit and smile and it has led to some really, really fantastic conversations and partnerships. And really drawn the attention of so many people that I think otherwise would have perhaps glazed over and what I’m speaking about, I think that people are getting very interested even from the non, you know, Future of Food, food tech plant based space, I received so many remarks from people that are inspired by by some of the work that I’m doing simply because I’m just connecting with them in a way that is authentic to them as a person.
And I think that’s very important, because it was kind of a niche industry, and still is a niche industry in so many ways. And so for us to redefine what it means to be a leader in the future of food, and to be a plant based leader. I think it’s really important. And that’s what’s going to really spread the message beyond just the 1% of vegans, but to the 99% of other folks.
Carley Hauck 25:47
Wonderful. Yeah, so I am going to dig a little bit deeper. And I know, because you’re really leading with a lot of authenticity, I imagine you’ll meet me here. So in the moments that you might feel fear, you know, to, to put on your red lipstick, let’s say, which is awesome, love it. Or to really kind of just share a part of yourself that you’re not used to sharing in the public eye, take off the mask, so to speak. How do you support yourself to step into that arena? Even when there’s fear, even when there’s maybe a thought of Oh, my gosh, what if I have backlash for doing this? What if I, you know, I just feel curious, how are you navigating that maybe inner talk?
Jenny Stojkovic 26:34
There’s a quote that I’ve actually been repeating to myself as a mantra very recently, this one, it just sticks out- Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one. It’s Bruce Lee. And I think that that’s the most important thing to me is just building up that resilience and that grit. I think that that is the difference between the people that never get off the starting line, and those that just go for it. And it can be very vulnerable and very lonely. And, it is very difficult at times to put yourself out there to build something on your own to have no idea if people are going to receive what you’re putting out there. And I just think about, you know, most people have ideas, and they have talk, and they never take action.
And that is so so important that we realize that and for us, I think that women in particular, we lack representation. So it’s easy to not believe that you belong in the space to begin with, we suffer from imposter syndrome at much higher rates than than some of our other counterparts, particularly those of us that do not come from these types of networks and alumni groups. And so if you’ve never seen someone in this space, then you might think that are never seen someone that looks like you in this space, you might think that you don’t belong.
So just remembering that being resilient, you know, leading in a way that you are fearless, but calculated and and just prepare for the fact that not everyone is going to receive what you’re doing the way you want them to. And at some point that’s out of your control.
Carley Hauck 28:20
Love that. That’s great. Thank you so much. Yeah, I think that also, you know, one of the aspects of authenticity, the inner game of authenticity is really knowing what your yes is, what your no is, you know, really owning your truth. And then that’s how we can actually lead from the outside with it. And that takes time to cultivate. And then you have the vulnerability of really bringing your whole self and being the fact that I facilitate and bring a lot of opportunities for teams and leaders to showcase their vulnerability. Because that’s going to support more trust, more psychological safety. It is really something that we are all craving. And I think we’ve had more opportunity to bring our whole selves to work and to life in the midst of the pandemic, because we’re all in each other’s living rooms, right or in our, in our bedrooms, or there’s a toddler running across the street, or we’re shoving food in our mouth on a zoom call, right? It’s just it’s just kind of removed barriers in a way that we didn’t have access to.
And what I feel really excited about in the future of work and how we’re going to lead and team together is how do we create a workplace that really does work for everyone and supports for inclusion, and this authenticity and this vulnerability, where there’s not as much posturing and there is a lot more flexibility for women and people of color, to be able to work in a way that fits their lifestyle.
I think, you know, we’re not going to go back into the office in the way that we used to. And I, I’m really hoping that we pause and take all the lessons we’ve learned, because we’re in this incredible time where we get to build it, we get to redesign and shift what wasn’t working into something that does work. And I, that was not something that I was gonna ask you about. But what do you think about that? How does that land for you?
Jenny Stojkovic 30:32
I totally agree with you, we have a unique opportunity right now, where we are completely, you know, rebuilding it, it’s like a whiteboard, right? We can, we all and all these companies very much are, my husband’s an HR executive. And so all these companies are facing this completely new paradigm of how people live in work and in their organizations. And they’re all kind of throwing stuff at the wall, like, what does this one fit? Does this one fit, some companies are saying we’re staying fully zoom, other companies are saying, come back to the office, other companies are saying somewhere in the middle, you know, we’re redistributing the workforce, we’re decentralizing the talent and skills and the opportunities, that’s the thing that really really excites me the most about this in the way that our virtual community at VWS was able to decentralize by going online, and reaching women across six continents, women in Mumbai, and Manila and places where they would otherwise never get access to Silicon Valley investors.
We are seeing that with talent, too, right? You and I both know, being in the Bay Area, that the barrier is an extremely expensive place, it’s about $4,000 for a one bedroom or a two bedroom as of this month, that’s the median rent right now. And so it was seen as a place that many people could not ever, you know, have as a feasible place to live and work. And now that we are redistributing where these jobs can be, we’re able to hire all over and reach these marginalized communities and folks that would otherwise never ever get this opportunity. So that’s what excites me the most and, and I think that that is an amazing, amazing opportunity. Yet also the challenge of how you have a cohesive culture that is threaded across screens is also a little bit difficult. And what did the hours look like? Because I think we all know now, being in this virtual setting, we kind of mesh our life and work together. I don’t know about you, do you find yourself working longer hours, but you do. You break it up more? That’s what my experience has been.
Carley Hauck 32:42
I’ve been an entrepreneur for over a decade now. I am definitely a high performer. And I tend to work a lot of hours, but make sure that I’m taking breaks. And that may mean that I’m working for hours on Sunday, you know, because I give myself more of that time during the week because I’m tired, or my creative juices just aren’t firing. So it’s, you know, it’s getting the work done, but doing it in a way that’s optimizing my well being and giving myself a chance to recover.
And actually, that was what I was going to ask you. But before I do, I want to actually go back one more step because you have been privy to some incredible founders. And we talked about Miyoko. But I feel curious, are there maybe two or three others that you’d like to highlight about their company, how they’re leading what you’re learning about them, they could be upcoming, you know, speakers, or they’ve been past speakers, I’d love to hear and just give these founders a little light.
Jenny Stojkovic 33:50
So there’s so so many, but to pick a few Deborah Torres is a very incredible woman whose name you perhaps have not heard yet, but that will change very soon. She’s the founder of Atlas Monroe. She is a you know, single black female founder in San Diego that has built her entire plant based protein company from the ground up without any venture capital funding. She has the largest vegan chicken manufacturing plant in North America. And she’s done it all on her own dime, bootstrapping this thing, growing this thing and she famously was on Shark Tank and Mark Cuban offered to buy her company and she walked away.
So just an incredible story, an incredible story. I’m one that you don’t hear enough, right. So, she’s amazing. She’ll be at the summit on April 8, of course, I’m lucky to call her a close friend.
I also am really inspired by many of the women that are in the future of infant and pregnancy space. This is an area where I have a very deep personal interest. I’ve seen such a huge huge spike in companies that are addressing stainable alternatives to infant formula. So dairy infant formula accounts for 10% of the global liquid dairy market. So it’s a massive, massive industry. And nobody has created alternatives up until now. So Michelle, who you mentioned earlier, before we started the call in bio milk, Michelle Egger, she’s a fantastic young millennial founder that is creating, sell cultivated breast milk alternatives.
So she is growing real breast milk in a lab so that it can be packaged and sold on grocery store shelves, so that mothers can feel confident that they can give a real alternative to their breast milk to their babies and not feel guilty about, you know, giving them formula that is not, you know, bioidentical and mammalian specific to them. This is actual real breast milk that she is recreating so that women can be empowered. And that is something that I think is so important, because there are just biological challenges that come with being a mother that are barriers for women’s success in business. And, you know, you want to make sure that your child has the very best nutrition and, and has the best chance at life yet. How are you going to scale your company, if you’re spending three years breastfeeding, then which is what the World Health Organization recommends, like that’s a real challenge in modern day life. And she’s got an actual product that can solve that. And that’s very exciting to me.
Carley Hauck 36:29
Awesome, wonderful. So let’s pivot back to well being we were talking a little bit about that flexibility and the hours that we keep, you know, in entrepreneurship, but let’s face it, like any people leader, especially in the midst of the pandemic, and probably even before, I mean, there’s people that are working in learning and development, HR, like your husband. I mean, those people have been in such service in the midst of the pandemic. And I just think the companies that are still standing owe a lot to them, you know, that they’ve been really having to care for the people in ways that was never required before.
And so how have you been optimizing for your own well being and you know, please be authentic, where we all learn from one another? What are some of the practices that are really necessary for you, which are the ones that maybe you wish you were able to kind of dial in a bit more.
Jenny Stojkovic 37:33
So I have a few very specific things that I have done to really make myself my best self. So obviously, I eat a plant based diet, 80% probably whole foods, plant based diet and about 20%, you know, garden nuggets or treats like Miyoko’s. So diet and nutrition, I think, is very, very important.
But I also typically exercise every day, the last few weeks, I’ve been a little bit out of it, some healing an injury, but I typically like to make sure that I am physically active. And some of the other things I’ve done more recently, in the last few years, I don’t drink any alcohol. Actually, I don’t do any sort of drugs. And so sobriety is something that I think is really kind of starting to catch on. A lot of people are talking more about that. I myself, I never had, I was lucky, I never had an issue with alcohol addiction, I actually would drink perhaps once a month out with friends. And then I realized that alcohol was no longer serving me and it would really kind of reduce my mental and physical capacities. So I cut it out entirely about three years ago. And I really enjoyed being more clear minded and bright eyed in that regard. And I value sleep and go to bed at 9pm every night.
Carley Hauck 38:50
Great. Thank you. Well, I hope others will be inspired by those practices. Sounds like they’re serving you well, Jenny. I also eat a plant based diet and I actually just had Miyoko’s in my morning breakfast. So giving a little bit of a little bit of their farmhouse chatter. So good. Yeah. Yeah, very good.
Jenny Stojkovic 39:15
It’s key. It’s key. You have to have a little bit of, you know, I eat lots of vegetables and lots of tofu and stuff. You got to have some of the treats every now and then. I think that balance is extremely important.
Carley Hauck 39:22
Yeah. I’m also a big fan. It’s funny. I think I saw you post about this. What is it called? It’s
like Midday, Midday Squares. Ah, those are so good. And they’re full of protein.
Jenny Stojkovic 39:40
Yes. That’s another shout out. Yeah. So if you go to the VW Pathfinders podcast, I have a great sit down with their CEO Lez Karls, who’s a friend of mine. We were an early supporter, before Midday Square’s even got to the US and Lez has a really inspiring story. I’ll just do a quick plug for her. Right she has a number of learning disorders, including you know, quite significant dislike and a few others, whose name I can’t remember the exact title of but she was told growing up in school that she just in terms of, you know, academics and things like that would would never be able to make it because of having so many learning disorders.
And she has created her role as CEO built around the neuro diversity that she has. And she, you know, she has led in a way where she’s honest about having these learning disabilities and she embraces them and it’s made her such an incredible CEO. And I just think that we don’t really talk about some of these superpowers. And so we have an entire podcast and an entire piece we did on using disability as your superpower.
Carley Hauck 40:48
I also just really felt the love that you had in your voice, just your staunch support of her and your respect and admiration. So thank you for sharing that. And thanks for the energy that you bring in support of so many of these founders and women, it’s really, it’s really touching Jenny.
So, on that note, let’s talk about this passion that you have and how you brought it into the Vegan Women’s Summit, but also some of these virtual job fairs. Tell us about the upcoming April 8 Vegan Women’s Summit in LA. Whoo.
Jenny Stojkovic 41:21
So for folks that are listening, we would love to have you live in person in Los Angeles at our flagship summit, The Vegan Women’s Summit, it is our only big in person summit that we do a year. Our first one was in San Francisco, this one’s in LA. I will have more news about our 2023 one, we’re going really big because we’re about to sell out for 2022 for next year. And so this summit is the only place in the entire world that is focused specifically on how we can build the future generation of changemakers. We’ve got hundreds and hundreds of women and male professionals flying in from all over the world to come learn and participate in this one of a kind event where we will be featuring dozens of women celebs, athletes, CEOs, investors, all speaking, we’ve got a really big headliner that we’re announcing next week.
By the time this airs, it will be out So Alicia Silverstone will be headlining which is amazing. We also have a number of folks like Deborah, who I mentioned earlier, and then we will have 40 plus plant based brands from around the world for you to come sample. So the future of food, fashion beauty, we are trying to inspire everyone and anyone that is interested in learning how they can be a part of the future of food and how they can create a kind of more sustainable world to come out, engage with the community, listen to who is leading the community, be inspired, try the products, hopefully make some changes yourself get a job in the space.
To your point about the job fair that we do, VWS Connect is our Virtual Job Fair, where we work with all the top employers in the space everybody from Beyond and Impossible to Miyoko’s, you know, all kinds of different plant based companies to help fill their roles at their companies, with our job seekers. So we’re really looking to fire on all cylinders to help get women’s representation at all aspects of this industry, whether it’s helping you get a job, found a company, become an investor. That’s what we’re doing at VWS.
Carley Hauck 43:26
Wonderful, and I’m just gonna give a little plug for Omni foods because I believe they’re going to be one of the booths at your VWS. And David is one of the leaders that I’ve highlighted in my book and Ananda Bhavani has been one of my best friends for like seven years. So I think she’s, I think she’s gonna be there and she and I and her sister who also work for meat. We all yep, yep. We were all at the food seed and wine conference in Miami. And I was in their booth with them and loved the product and it got an incredible response from the community in Miami. So I hope it’ll have a similar response in LA.
Jenny Stojkovic 44:14
Yeah, absolutely. Winona, Ananda, and I was actually, we might have met then the person not realized. I spoke, Pinkie Colin and I keynoted seafood and wine on this past November. Is that the one you’re talking about?
Carley Hauck 44:30
Jenny Stojkovic 44:32
Cool. Well, there we go.
Carley Hauck 44:34
I was buzzing around but I was in the booth. I was on a press pass. So I was trying to like you know, talk to some important folks there but awesome. Awesome.
So speaking of books, you have one coming out, let’s hear a little bit about it.
Jenny Stojkovic 44:50
I do so this is like on the very DL, everybody. We haven’t even publicly announced it yet. But The Future of Food is Female will be published in April. It is the first book in the industry that’s focused on women’s leadership in plant based innovation, cell based innovation, all things animal free. We spoke to women all around the world, everyone from celebrities to a member of the European Parliament, all kinds of women that are changing the food system. And it is just incredible how much is going on, that folks maybe don’t realize, and so I am both proud, yet disappointed to say it is the very first book in the entire industry focused on women’s leadership. And I can’t wait to get it out there.
Carley Hauck 45:40
Well wait to be a trailblazer. And I imagine there will be more after you. So, and maybe you’ll have a second book, everyone’s like, when are you writing your second book, I’m like, Ah, I need a break. This was a big baby.
Jenny Stojkovic 45:55
I’ve got ideas, I’ve already got a lot, a lot of ideas. And the goal of the book is so that anywhere around the world, a woman can pick it up. And we have almost 4 billion women in the world. And you can pick it up and you can see a woman that comes from a place that you came from, or looks like you or just anything out there, the representation out there is so, so scant, there just is not enough.
There’s not enough publications and platforms that are highlighting that women from all over of all backgrounds are doing these incredible things. So my goal is that you will find someone you connect with in this book and you will be inspired no matter who you are male or female. But in particular, for women that are reading it, young women, were taking the book to a ton of different universities, they can be inspired to become a leader too.
Carley Hauck 46:45
Wonderful. And on the kind of end of our conversation, although I’d love to talk to you for hours, I feel curious, what is some of the best leadership guidance that you have received?
Jenny Stojkovic 47:00
I think the most important thing is to make sure that you maintain your humility and that you enter every single day with a low ego mindset. That’s one of the biggest mistakes that leaders and especially startup founders make, in my opinion, and I assume you’re working with a lot of leaders, you’ve seen the same thing. I think a low ego environment allows for us to be our best selves. And it allows for us to embrace the best ideas and to have a creative workplace where we can really grow from one another. And we don’t feel the need to posture or defend ourselves or feel offended by folks that perhaps counter the types of perspectives that we have. And that’s really conscious, inclusive leadership as well.
Carley Hauck 47:50
Mm hmm. Humility and low ego mindset. Love that. Well, Jenny, this has been such a delight to talk to you. I love all the common values and passion that we both share for the space. Is there anything else you’d like to leave our listeners with, I will definitely link to all the, you know, the event and the show links will be available for people.
Jenny Stojkovic 48:16
I just encourage everybody that is trying to figure out perhaps what their next big thing is trying to find that North Star, we have an incredible challenge on our hands with what’s going on on the planet. And we need every single person’s skills, expertise and passion to tackle it. For myself, I focus on the food system. It’s the single largest cause of the issues that we’re facing with climate change. And so if you’re feeling inspired by this conversation, come follow us with VWS, come learn about how you can be a part of these solutions. We need everybody. So everybody’s welcome.
Carley Hauck 48:50
Thank you, Jenny for your passion and purpose. Joining me today on the SHINE podcast. I love this conversation. Love this movement, super committed just as you are to seeing it rise and flourish for all beings and for our planet. A link to all the wonderful resources that Jenny and I mentioned are in the show notes including how you can participate in the sold out vegan Women’s Summit that will be broadcast for you to participate in virtually from Los Angeles on April 8.
The SHINE podcast has been self sponsored since May 2019. It is freely offered from my heartfelt desire to be in service in support of a workplace and world that works for everyone and is living in greater harmony with the Earth from conscious inclusive leadership and socially responsible business practice.
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And thank you for tuning in and being part of this community. I have some powerful episodes coming up through the end of the season, especially as we get closer to Earth Day. So until we meet again, be the light and shine the light.