Finnegans Brew Co. founder Jacquie Berglund first developed a case of the “inner itchies” nearly 30 years ago, as a young recruiter for Andcor, an executive search firm in Minneapolis where her clients included hot startups like Rollerblade. “I thought, this is really fun, but for me, there was no social purpose,” Berglund says. The itch drove her overseas and into social service, but a second flare-up of philosophical discomfort brought her back to Minnesota (turns out, even Paris does not provide immunity) and into a marketing director role with Kieran Folliard’s Irish pubs, where she finally identified her cure: “I wanted to have a for-profit company that was economically sustainable to fund the good I want to do.” Nineteen years later, she runs the world’s first beer company to donate 100 percent of profits to charity. She fends off any recurrence of inner itchies with additional projects: the recently opened Finnegans Brewery and Tap Room, along with the Finnovation Lab, where she is incubating socially minded startups.
John Puckett and his wife, Kim, had a case of “the Mondays” that struck almost as soon as they landed corporate jobs after business school. “Life is too short to spend Sunday night dreading going in to work on Monday,” Puckett says. “We felt like life is … too precious to not really feel connected to your work and passionate about what you’re doing.” That conviction led to the creation of Caribou Coffee, now the No. 2 coffee chain in the world—except in Minnesota which, to this day, is the one market Starbucks doesn’t dominate. That’s because of several strategic decisions Puckett walks us through, in By All Means, a new podcast from Twin Cities Business.
Perhaps you’ve heard the Caribou story, or even remember the headlines as tensions rose between the Pucketts and their board of directors in the late 1990s. But there’s something extraordinarily captivating about hearing it all put into context by the founder himself: the excitement, the drive, the missteps, the frustration, the exit, the lessons, the pride. For me, sitting down with Puckett in a small, soundproof room with two chairs and two mics was a special treat. It gave me the chance to connect the dots that had always eluded me a bit: Why, after the success of Caribou, Puckett has spent almost 20 years working on a local pizza business. Of course, Minnesotans know: Punch is no ordinary pizza shop. Its commitment to living wages, values-driven philosophy, and slow growth are the direct result of Puckett’s Caribou experience and his determination to build a different sort of company the second time around. It really resonates when you hear the whole story.
And that’s why I’m so excited about By All Means. Our podcast offers a deeper dive into the stories of beloved Minnesota companies—a chance to understand what drives leadership and innovation, and to gain insights that can apply to your own ventures, whether it’s how to add a charitable mission to a for-profit business, like Love Your Melon, or how to use video or social media for maximum impact, as Minneapolis–based Mighteor has done for numerous brands, including the NFL and even Facebook.
When I started doing live radio a dozen years ago, it initially drove me crazy that I couldn’t edit. I would obsess for days over a question I wished I’d phrased differently or a punchline I didn’t think of until the show was over—first a writer, always a writer. But as I settled into my radio side-hustle with Hubbard Broadcasting’s myTalk107.1, I grew to love the dynamic of sharing an unfiltered conversation—laughs, blunders and all. There’s a special intimacy to listening in on a chat between two people that you just don’t get in any other medium. Combine the power of audio with the convenience of on-demand listening that technology affords us today, and it’s easy to see why the audience for podcasts continues to grow—from 11 percent of Americans age 12 and older in 2006 to 44 percent in 2018. That’s 124 million people who have listened to a podcast, according to Edison Research.
As a storyteller, I’m energized by the opportunity to experiment in a new medium (no inner itchies!)—one that’s easy to consume in the car, on a walk, while doing laundry or the myriad other tasks that prevent us from sitting down to (sigh) read as much as we’d like. TCB’s core mission of sharing the stories behind the headlines translates perfectly to podcasting. I’m also thrilled that the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business jumped on board for the chance to add to the conversation. After each interview in our first season, a St. Thomas professor highlights relevant trends and lessons that can be gleaned from our founders’ stories.
If you’re already a podcast fan like me, I’m confident you’ll enjoy our candid conversations with Minnesota business leaders, both accomplished and on the rise. You’ll find By All Means on all the major podcast platforms: iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Sound Cloud. You can also access episodes directly through our website, at tcbmag.com/byallmeans.
If you’ve yet to press that purple “podcast” button on your smartphone, now’s the time to see what all the buzz is about. And whether you’re a newbie or a longtime podcast consumer, we welcome your feedback.