How a Simple Innovation Led to Greatness

Beau Coffron wasn’t trained as an artist. He didn’t study at the Culinary Institute in Paris. He didn’t even set out to build a business.

Yet he’s currently running one of the hottest parenting/food sites on the Web, attracting major brand sponsors from around the world and serving up creative ideas to hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic visitors.

Beau (also known as “The LunchBox Dad”) is married with three kids and works with high school students as his day job. Even though he lives in the San Francisco area, he wasn’t focused on building an online media company.

Instead, his real motivation was to show his daughter how much he loved her. He also wanted to encourage her to eat healthy and learn to love nutritious food choices.   After losing his own dad a few years back, Beau reflected on the positive relationship he shared with his father. He really wanted to create a similar bond with his daughter, a kindergartner at the time.

To this end, Beau started crafting healthy, fun, creative bento lunch boxes for his daughter to discover at school. His idea was to fashion them after things she loved — princesses, flowers, ponies, TV shows, and music groups.

These lunchboxes were a huge hit, and as other parents lined up asking for recipes and ideas, Beau launched his site,

Photo credit: Beau Coffron
Photo credit: Beau Coffron

With a flood of “mommy blogs” already online, he wanted to craft a site that promoted the importance of a strong father relationship and to help others connect with their own kids. A hit was born. Today, the site is growing at an extraordinary pace with 100,000-plus page views each month and more than 60,000 social media followers. Major advertisers such as Hewlett-Packard, Chobani, and Quaker Oats are lining up to sponsor the white-hot site.

I recently had the chance to interview Beau. I wanted to better understand what’s driving his incredible success and help extract those valuable lessons for us all. Here are some of the driving factors that have made The LunchBox Dad an international sensation:

Photo credit: Beau Coffron
Photo credit: Beau Coffron

Vision trumps experience. Beau wasn’t trained as an artist or chef, but he didn’t let a lack of formal qualification get in his way. His passion for parenthood cut through the obstacles and his determination helped him quickly learn the necessary skills. In your case, don’t let the things you haven’t yet learned get in the way of pursuing your dream.

Follow your calling and the money will follow. Neither money, fame, nor owning a successful international business was Beau’s primary motivation. He created his site to build better bonds between kids and dads. As a result, financial gain followed. I’ve found throughout my career that pursuing money alone rarely leads to success. Instead, chase after greatness and impact, and the money will come as byproduct.

Photo credit: Beau Coffron
Photo credit: Beau Coffron

Creativity can solve the toughest challenges. As a parent, I can testify how difficult it was to get my kids to eat healthy, especially to enjoy it. That is one of the toughest challenges on the planet, but Beau used creativity to solve it in a fresh way. By making it fun instead of a chore, his daughter (and later his son) couldn’t wait to discover and devour their next healthy lunch. In the business world, our first instinct is to throw money, people, or computing power at our biggest hurdles. Try throwing your imagination at these problems instead, and you may end with a far better result.

Principles win over near-term profits. Coffron routinely rejects offers from companies that want to ride the wave of his success. Instead, he only partners with brands he believes in. Brands that are responsible and truly help kids and parents. By having a strong ethical backbone, his site remains authentic and true to his beliefs, which shows through to his loyal audience and fuels his continued growth. Ads for unhealthy fast food restaurants would probably boost the bottom line but also would undermine his credibility. We’re all tempted to cut ethical corners on a daily basis, but staying true to your values will lead to sustainable success over time.

Photo credit: Beau Coffron
Photo credit: Beau Coffron

The LunchBox Dad is now inspiring parents and businesspeople around the globe. His playbook of Vision, Calling, Creativity, and Principles is one that we can all learn from, helping to reach our full potential while making the world a better place. By flipping a simple idea upside down, Beau has reached incredible success. Find your own simple innovation, and you’ll enjoy the same delicious victory.

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