This week’s conversation is with Jonathan Neman, Co-Founder & CEO of sweetgreen, the destination for simple, seasonal, healthy real food.
Jonathan and his co-founders Nathaniel Ru and Nicolas Jammet started sweetgreen in 2007, opening their first location in Georgetown, DC, just three months out of college.
The mission driven brand’s strong food ethos, embodiment of passion and purpose, tech-forward thinking and investment in local communities has enabled sweetgreen to disrupt the fast casual space and grow into a national brand with over 90 locations.
Jonathan passionately believes in the democratization of real food – it should be convenient and accessible to everyone, which is why sweetgreen is on a mission to build healthier communities by connecting people to real food.
He has been recognized as a key innovator in food and business, named to Fast Company’s “50 Most Innovative Companies”, Inc’s “30 Under 30”, Forbes’ “30 Under 30” and Food & Wine’s “40 Big Food Thinkers 40 and Under,” among other accolades.
I wanted to speak with Jonathan because I went to his restaurant in New York City and loved the vibe.
I wanted to understand how it was built and sure enough, you’ll get a feel for just how thoughtfully they’ve curated their business.
“My job isn’t to know how to do everyone’s job, it’s to set the vision, set the priorities, and figure out how to help us all work together.”
In This Episode:
- What led him to starting Sweet Green and what’s been behind their early success
- Why he’s so passionate about being a mission driven brand
- His process for continuously improving his business acumen
- The hard part of their business: achieving intimacy at scale
- What keeps him up at night as an entrepreneur?
- His process for helping his employees flourish
- What he looks for during the hiring process and his favorite interview question
- His philosophy on pay scale
- How he goes about firing underperforming employees
- Sharing a time when he got in way over his skis
- His strategy for enhancing confidence and taking risks more often
- How surfing has helped him manage stress and improved his quality of life
- Where pressure comes from?
- How he defines mastery