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Lifeway Foods CEO Preps for the Post-Greek Yogurt Boom

The other thing that I struggle with sometimes is that I know what needs to happen for long-term growth like five years, 10 years from now. Shareholders set their sights on the next three months, what's going to happen this quarter or next quarter. They're not really interested in five years from now. They don't really care necessarily, but I do because I'm here for long-term leadership of the company. So that's one of those things that you have to really balance nicely, giving short-term success for shareholders and laying the groundwork for things that need to happen in five to 10 years.

There is a disproportionate number of female CEOs running public companies. Do you think you have a responsibility to be a role model for other women?

Smolyansky: Absolutely. I never took a business class and somehow I have shown success. So I'm always surprised at it myself because I could have gone either way and [there are] plenty of companies that didn't make it. So I do feel a strong sense of role model, a sense of wanting to be a role model. I also have two daughters myself. I want to really help design the world that I want to leave to them. I think it's absolutely critical and important to the health and safety of every single one of us in our country as well as in the world to make sure that we have strong women in leadership. We know that if women are in leadership roles, then companies are stronger financially, there's a better rate of return on investment, better return on capital, sales and revenues are higher, and they're less likely to be bankrupt.

So this is really important that we bring a certain set of skills to the table that are just not being tapped. Every company should be looking for ways to include more female leadership at the top of their company and continue the pipeline in getting them in to stay on board after having kids, to make sure that we're offering flexibility to both men and women.
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