LIZANNE FALSETTO ‘81 is an entrepreneur, founder of thinkThin®, CEO of Pink Talented Angels and LF Advisory, a mentor, mother, wellness pioneer, and speaker. Lizanne agreed to serve as a guest contributor for our magazine, this is her story. ◆
Raised in Seattle in a large Italian family, I developed an early connection to food and well-being from my grandparents who grew much of their own food and made simple healthy meals. We didn’t eat processed products, we had what was in season and in the garden. I have always been athletic, but basketball was my sport. When graduating from John F. Kennedy (now Kennedy Catholic), I was offered the choice between a college basketball scholarship or a contract to model in Japan. I opted to take the less conventional route and embarked on a successful decade-long career as an international model living and working in Tokyo, Paris, Milan, Sydney, Madrid and New York. While modeling, I identified a gap in the food industry – there were no healthy on-the-go food options that could give me the boost I needed to feed not only my body, but my mind as well, during long busy work days. Gluten and sugar made me feel terrible, but I craved protein – which is what I needed to get the energy to keep going throughout the day.
It wasn’t until I moved back to the U.S. that I got to work in my kitchen modifying my grandmother’s cookie recipes to develop a portable meal that was protein-rich, with no sugar, and gluten-free. And thus, thinkThin® was born. thinkThin® nutrition bars and products quickly scaled nationally and globally in the face of a fast-changing retail environment and started the gluten-free conversation as it was one of the first products to have “Gluten-Free” on the packaging.
What began as a clear market opportunity in health foods ended up as my 20-year tenure as CEO of one of the fastest-growing protein-rich health food snacks in history.
Young entrepreneurs often ask me what my secret is. It’s not actually a secret, it’s my superpower – my intuition. I had found a white space in the nutrition bar category, there was nothing else like it on the market at the time. Just Clif and Balance bars, which were designed for extreme athletes, and a diet bar. In my gut, I knew I had a winning concept. Truly, thinkThin® started and succeeded on my intuition.
But being entrepreneurial is also about understanding who you are, where you came from, and never apologizing (for who you are) – those are the keys to self-growth, business success. Oh, and of course, doing the work. To be very clear, it involves a lot of work.
If you have the drive, determination and spirit to forge your own path, I also offer this advice: Believe in yourself. Never give up. Surround yourself with the best, and if you don’t know something utilize mentors and business advisors to help grow your business. Last but not least, in business and in life treat those around you with kindness. You will get further with kindness. ◆
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