I started my career in social services. I was an in-home family counselor in Chicago working with kids who had been taken out of their homes. I had worked in some really tough neighborhoods and navigated that terrain. I had also been a crisis counselor for a sexual assault community group here in Chicago, a rape victim advocate. I honestly think I got a lot of my crisis-management skills [from these experiences], which really came in handy when I had to jump in and lead Lifeway overnight.
One thing that I really relate to -- and I think that my dad even saw was that he had a hard time relating to his path of the consumer market -- was young mothers and women. He was a Russian man with a thick Russian accent, so when they heard the message from him, it was a little different. When they hear it from a young woman who's kind of faced with the same challenges that they are -- balancing family life and career in many cases or just trying to put healthy foods on the table -- I will not put anything out into the marketplace that I wouldn't give my own children. I think that's kind of the dominating force with how we think about innovation and looking at new products that we're going to develop.
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