I was a guest on the Sirius XM Radio program Dollars & Change, produced by Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania. It was nice to speak about Laughing Man and my personal journey as a social entrepreneur.
David Steingard began his career as an entrepreneur and CEO, first of a marketing firm and then of a technology company for public schools. Following his heart, he departed from his life in business to attend law school and become a criminal prosecutor in Brooklyn. David surprised colleagues when he left his legal practice to return to the private sector and open a coffee shop with actor Hugh Jackman. The new social enterprise, Laughing Man Coffee and Tea, combined David’s interest in justice with a philosophy of life and work, succinctly expressed in the company tagline: “All Be Happy.”
As CEO of Laughing Man Coffee and Tea, David began by working closely with a struggling Ethiopian coffee farmer named Dukale. The business and personal relationship challenged his imagination and problem-solving abilities. He began to evaluate the real meaning of success and question what consumers really want when they make purchases.
In perseverance he found that it was possible to produce coffee of superior quality while honoring everyone involved in the transaction. Providing consumers with the right opportunities to express their concerns could help them make better choices.
Witnessing the success of David’s vision, Green Mountain, the largest distributor and buyer of organic and fair trade coffee in the world, bought Laughing Man and has continued to invest in his vision. To this day, he remains involved in the brand.
The experience of building a social business lead David to realize that the potential of Laughing Man was bigger than the company. He was ready to engage a broader community and share what he had learned. As an instructor of twenty years at the School of Practical Philosophy, David began to apply his love of teaching to supporting others seeking change in themselves and the world.