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A Day in the Life: Blue Frog Breakfast's Scotty Baragwanath

A Day in the Life: Blue Frog Breakfast's Scotty Baragwanath

Scotty Baragwanath is the founder of ​Blue Frog Breakfast, a New Zealand breakfast company with all natural ingredients that creates breakfast cereals in food-grade concrete mixers, as well as the first-ever probiotic porridge. Here's how he gets through the day, how he organises his time and how he handles being in the breakfast business. 

What time do you wake up? 

4.45am during weekdays, ideally 7am during the weekend – but my body doesn’t always obey me.

What’s the ideal way to start your day?

With the family – even though Monday to Friday its filled with making multiple lunches, coersing 4 kids to eat breakfast and do their jobs (walk the dog, empty the dishwasher and vacuum), all while chatting about the day ahead – and invariably discussing new breakfast cereal product ideas!

Do you have any morning rituals? I like to start my day at the gym.

This is a critical part to getting me in the right headspace for the day ahead, both mentally and physically. I always have through my corporate career, however during the early days of starting Blue Frog and while working 100+ hour weeks I avoided the gym – so about 3 years. This started to have an adverse effect on my health and clarity of thought. So now, once again, come rain, shine or disturbances by young children, I am at the gym by 5.30am.

How soon do you begin doing work-related things, i.e. checking phone or emails?

Hmmm, to be honest as soon as I wake. I like to do a quick scan of my phone and check to see if there are any major changes to my planned day ahead – but I am done within 5 minutes and ready for the gym.

What’s your media consumption or interaction like from the morning onwards – do you listen to podcasts, radio, watch videos, read books and magazines, visit new sites?

Very low during the week, I usually try and catch breakfast TV at 7am to get a quick overview of events from the last 24 hours. In the weekend its not much better with quality family time and kids sports.

What kind of work do you do?

We spread breakfast joy every morning across our markets in NZ and Australia. At Blue Frog we believe if something tastes good then it should be good for you, and if its good for you then it should taste good. It takes a lot of work and attention to detail to deliver against this mantra!

What’s unique about your line of work?

That I fucking love what I do – is that unique? I honestly think so.  I cannot think of anything I would rather be doing and I get to do this every day. I work with the best people possible and we make sure that we all get to do what we do best everyday. We get to be highly creative and disruptive in a category which has been traditionally incredibly vanilla and boring. We challenge everything we do – to ensure our approach and delivery is bold and unique – memorable, and delivers a wee bit of joy each day to our customers. I get phone calls from people in car parks who have just opened a bag of cereal and are ringing to say how amazing it tastes – while still in the carpark – this is pretty cool. We also make stuff happen – really quickly – our latest product we developed in full in just 7 weeks – from concept to shelf – this just didn’t happen in the corporate world – and I love that.

What responsibility does that involve in a typical day? What takes up most of your time?

Being a small business my role is incredibly varied as is most of the team. We all have core areas of responsibility but also the reality of mucking in as required in any area of the business. I along with my leadership team set the vision and strategy for the business, I then help to deliver this. I try for an even split of defining strategic projects, working on new market opportunities, and supporting my team in finance and marketing and sales. Outside of my role as CEO, my key functional role is around all product innovation and design – this is where I have real fun.

Who do you see/talk to?

Everyday is highly varied. Firstly it’s the Blue Frog team. We have a really tight team covering production, marketing, sales and finance. Our manufacturing site is very ‘efficient’ (small) so we all bump into each other many times during the day. I love starting the days with a walk around checking in with everyone to make sure they are all good – it’s a great time for a chuckle – usually at my expense. The days then vary, but usually involve high quality time with my leadership team. Invariably most days I have a meeting with trade partners, suppliers and general mix of interesting entreprenuers I have been connected with to discuss opportunities. I am very fortunate that I have some incredibly talented and generous people in my tribe whom I have meet over this 5 year journey, who are selfless and want to help us to succeed. I always come away from these meeting highly energized and focused.

Where do your best ideas come from?

I am permanently on high alert – I see something and make a connection – this then typically percolates for a while and will start to crystalize – usually when I am switched off. This could be while driving or at home with music on,  I quickly get onto a very creative place. I do like to look at great design books and websites for inspiration – I genuinely love food, flavours and design so I am always immersed in this space. We have also been fortunate enough to head to Expo West for the last two years running – this is one of the worlds largest wholefood expo’s held in LA each March. Here we get to view the latest innovations in wholefoods from the last 12 months.

How do you juggle all your responsibilities?

You can’t grow a business by yourself – tried for the first few years. I have now surrounded myself with the best talent possible – people way smarter than me in their respective areas – but as passionate as me about our Blue Frog journey and  destination.

What kind of breaks do you take throughout the day?

I am pretty bad at taking breaks. Most are during a walk to make a cup of tea I stop and have a chat with the team. As our office is small and open plan, I do take the odd call outside in the sunshine – does this count?

What’s the most enjoyable part of your day?

Getting to the end of the day and at home with the family knowing we have made another step forward in creating a brand that delivers a wee bit of joy and magic.

What about the least enjoyable?

Dealing with IT to sort my computer.

Do you procrastinate? Is it good or bad?

Yes, I have answered this question last after reading it five times.

Do you measure your accomplishments or productivity? If so, how?

Not personally. Of course there is a broad metric on business performance as the result of our team. But for me its all about the vibe of the team and watching them thrive and get energized by our results. Its also getting that extra long hug from your kids at the end of the day – and them asking “Is Blue Frog famous yet Dad?”

What’s your interaction with friends and family throughout the day? Can you be both a successful entrepreneur and a good mother/partner/friend?

Yes you can, but the balance does get skewed at times, that’s just the reality. The business is all consuming and when you are on you are on. I do miss more kids events during the day that I would like, but I am fortunate that the schools are all within a 5 minute drive so on the whole I can attend most things. I do reach out to friends and family during the day but usually during a moment of down time such as driving to a meeting – otherwise usually on my way home from work. The biggest challenge has been in the weekends – during the early days I would be at trade shows and weekend markets on both Saturdays and Sundays – so family snippets were afternoons and evenings. Luckily that time has passed but it was very intense during the first 2 years.

Do you get stressed? If so, how do you manage it? Do you practice any mindfulness or meditation?

Yes I do, running your own business is very stressful, especially when you put everything on the line like my wife and I have, we have no Plan B – but we do have 4 amazing kids. This stress changes as the business grows. This is both a positive and a negative. I usually can channel this to give me energy and clear thought – and the bigger the challenge the calmer I am – I have an amazing leadership team who I can call on for support. If I do feel myself becoming overwhelmed I just take a 5 minute walk, get some fresh air and gather my thoughts, this allows be some space to think through the issue and avoid being reactive. I have tried meditation but it did get bumped earlier this year. Its on my to do list……..

What do you do once you get home? Can you switch off?

I get home around 6pm and  love to connect with the family. We check in on the day, and talk about highlights while making dinner – the kids drift n and out and share snippets of their day – and they are also great asking about my day – and genuinely enjoy talking about the business. I can switch off during this time. Once kids are in bed I settle back down to get my ‘thinking’ work done. This is a precious time to work on design or business strategy – it just seems to work for me.

What time do you go to sleep?

I now try to be in bed by 10.30 – 11pm – I am very lucky that I can be working one minute and fast a sleep just minutes later. Its now 10.46pm so I am off to bed…

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