Here’s Why I refuse to use the B-Word

Jun 05, 2014 Published under Entrepreneurship and Management, KIND Snacks


Daniel Lubetzky, founder and CEO of KIND Healthy Snacks, refuses to use the B-word.

  JUN. 4, 2014, 3:00 PM

Boss, that is.

“I’ve never liked what that word connotes,” he tells Business Insider. “A ‘boss’ has all the answers, whereas a team leader has the final word, but his or her decisions emanate from the wisdom of the team and from earnest discussion.”

A “boss” might also feel as if they’re above the rest, Lubetzky, a Mexico City native, explains. While a team leader treats everyone equally.

Another reason he doesn’t use the B-word: It detracts from the “sense of communal ownership that we promote at KIND by making every team member a shareholder and owner of the company.” And, finally, he says, words like “boss” can devalue the role of team members, when everyone has an equally important role to play.

So, when did Lubetzky decide to eliminate “boss” from KIND’s vocabulary?

Before the company even started.

“When the brand was conceived in 2003 with just a handful of team members, there was a shared sense of ownership and accountability — just as there is today,” he explains. Lubetzky and his team were committed to building something special together — and as the company continued to grow (its products are now sold in over 80,000 stores), they all worked hard to remain true to KIND’s core values, and to maintain the culture they set out with. So, there was never a moment in time where they paused and decided to stop using the word “boss,” he says. “We just never used it in the first place.”

Since its inception, Lubetzky has found that not using this word ensures open dialogue and maximum communication, which is important in any relationship. “It empowers team members at all levels of the organization to speak up, share their opinions, and respectfully disagree with those around them.”

But some team members — especially those who haven’t been part of the company since the beginning — find it difficult to refrain from using the B-word.

“I do have some people on the team, particularly those with 20 or 30 years’ experience, who are used to introducing me to others as their ‘boss’ or as ‘the owner,’ or they instinctively give me advice using, ‘your company’ or ’for you,’” Lubetzky says. “It takes a few reminders that it’s not ‘me’ but rather ‘us,’ and it’s not ‘my company’ — it’s ‘our company.’ And ‘we’ are all the owners.”

Interestingly, he says it ends up being these team members who most appreciate the attitude. “And because they are co-owners — financially, emotionally, culturally, and in terms of how decisions are reached — they don’t take it for granted.”

So, how do people refer to Lubetzky, the company’s chief executive?

“It’s most commonly just as ‘Daniel,’ or maybe, ‘the dude with the confused accent,’” he says.

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