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Veronica Garza headshot
Miguel Garza headshot
February 22, 2021

Food, Family, and Scaling a Business

with Veronica Garza & Miguel Garza

On this episode of Dare to Lead

You can’t spell podcast without tacos. I’m talking to Veronica and Miguel Garza, the co-founders of Siete Family Foods, a family-owned Mexican American food brand of heritage-inspired products. Their story is one of family, love, tenacity, and how you build a successful company that is fueled by authenticity and servant leadership to make food approved by abuelas everywhere.

Transcript

Brené Brown: Hi, everyone. I’m Brené Brown and welcome to the Dare to Lead podcast. Okay, one question for you: What’s better than a chorizo y huevo taco on a gluten-free tortilla? Not much. And today, I’m talking to Veronica and Miguel Garza, the co-founders of Siete Family Foods, a family-owned Mexican-American food brand that offers a line-up of 46 heritage-inspired products. And products that if you’ve — like me, you’ve got a child who’s gluten-free — have revolutionized your table. Their story is incredible. It’s a story of family, of perseverance, of love, of health struggles, of tenacity, and how you build a company that is fueled by love and authenticity and servant leadership. Just an incredible conversation.

[music]

BB: Before we meet and start talking with Veronica and Miguel Garza, let me tell you a little bit about them. So, Veronica is the Co-Founder and President and Chief Innovation Officer of Siete Family Foods. And her story is really the start of this business. I’m not going to tell you much about it because you’re going to hear about it in the conversation, but what started out as a family banding together to support someone struggling with health issues has become a massive business. In fact, in 2019, Siete raised $91 million in funding from Stripes Group, joined the less than 2% of VC-backed companies led by Latinx founders. As a Mexican-American and female founder, Veronica sees a responsibility to serve as a guide for other minority-owned businesses and founders hoping to build successful brands. Today, she continues to lead product development and innovation at Siete, fulfilling a deep desire to embrace and share her culture with an extended familia of customers by providing alternatives to beloved Mexican-American foods with simple ingredients. She has a BA from the University of Texas at Austin in Mexican-American studies and an MBA in Digital Media Management from St. Edward’s University.

BB: Along with Veronica, I’m talking to her little brother, baby of the Garza family, Miguel, who is a Co-Founder of Siete and the CEO. He graduated from law school at UT Austin in 2012. He remained in Austin and started looking for a job, was coaching at a local gym here, kind of involved in a business back in Laredo where the Garzas are from, had a conversation with his sister, and Siete was born. He is just so full of love. I can’t even tell you. Just to get to know him is to know that this is a guy full of love, leading a company that is based in love. Miguel leads Siete as one of the top three fastest-growing natural brands in grocery with products in over 16,000 grocery stores nationwide. Siete Family Foods is represented among the mere 3% of Latinx-owned businesses. They drive over $1 million in annual revenue. And in 2017, Miguel was included in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. He has his Bachelors in Arts and Science from UT Austin and his law degree from UT Austin. Hook ’em Horns. Y’all are going to love this conversation, it just… When good people do good work and you see good things happen, it’s just the inspiration we need today.

[music]

BB: The first question I have to ask is tell me the Siete story and absolutely zero chance that I’m going to let you leave out your abuela.

Veronica Garza: Okay.

BB: So, when does it all start? Does it start when the business starts, or does it start before?

VG: Yeah, so our business started in 2014, but I really think that the story of Siete, the business, really got started probably in 1999 when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition called ITP, which is really just low platelet counts. Unknown cause, which is why it’s autoimmune.

BB: Got it.

VG: And I was 17 years old when that happened and was dealing with that for many years, had to be put on lots of medication, wasn’t feeling well, and started off college in that state of poor health. Left to Austin for school at UT from my hometown of Laredo with this autoimmune condition that I really didn’t know what to do about. So over the years since then, I’ve been diagnosed with three more autoimmune conditions and in about 2009, ’08 maybe, my older brother, Rob, had started doing CrossFit workouts. And through that, he had learned about this different way of eating that we were all unfamiliar with, which required eliminating lots of different foods from your diet like grains, legumes, certain sugars, lots of processed food. And it was basically a Paleo diet, and it was just sort of something that he had heard other CrossFitters — many who had autoimmune issues — were doing, and feeling better because they were doing so. So, he had suggested that I start following that diet, and I actually have emails from him where he’s… Yeah, he’s living in Sugar Land outside of Houston, and I’m living in Austin in grad school at the time, getting my MBA, and he’s just sending me these emails saying, “I think you should try it. I feel like it could help you.” Because at that time, I was dealing with ITP, and then I had also been diagnosed with lupus, so…

BB: That’s hard.

VG: There were additional symptoms that had been layered onto that. And nobody in my family had ever dealt with anything like that or really, any health issues, so it was just me. And obviously, my family was really concerned for me, and my brother’s sort of the researcher for the family. Maybe you want to know any information, he’ll send you 50 links that you can read up on.

BB: This is Rob, right?

VG: This is Rob, my older brother, yeah.

BB: Where is Rob in birth order?

VG: He’s second oldest, so I have an older sister, Linda, and then Rob, and then me, so I’m right in the middle. And then my younger sister, Becky, and then Mike — Miguel — is the baby. So, I would refer to him as Mike, but most people will know him as Miguel.

BB: Oh, okay. This is a very good context for me to have early on, that Miguel is the baby, because that already tells me a lot of stuff. And that Veronica is the middle child. And Rob, who is the researcher for the family, is second to oldest. Okay, so Rob’s sending you these things and is he kind of nudging you, “Have you tried this Paleo thing yet, sis?”

VG: Yes, and he sent me all these links and I really wasn’t interested in reading them because I was working on my MBA and reading lots of case studies and doing stuff like that. I’m like, “This is not another thing I want to worry about.” So, I kind of ignored him, and he did keep pestering. I actually remember we had gotten together for dinner, the whole family, and there was a bit of a dispute over this diet because my brother brought it up in front of the whole family and it was something we were all unfamiliar with. And even my younger sister was finishing up her master’s degree in health education, so she was learning a little bit about nutrition and diets, and I remember them kind of arguing with each other about this and whether it would even be helpful for me.

BB: So, let me ask you this, at the Garza family table — are parents there as well?

VG: Yes.

BB: So now you’ve got seven, five kids, mom and dad, seven Siete, right?

VG: Yeah, and this probably wasn’t any special event. We often get together and have meals as a family.

BB: What does a dispute look like? Are they fun and heated? And is everyone like, “Oh man, there’s Rob and Becky going at it. Rob knows it all.” What’s the vibe?

VG: I think we’re usually pretty gentle in the way we speak to each other, so no yelling or anything like that, but there’s often crying. That happens when… I know any time I argue with somebody in my family, you’re going to see more emotion.

BB: Yeah, of course.

VG: Because I think you feel free to not hold back. So yeah, I think there was a lot of emotion behind it, but it wasn’t too bad. It could never get too bad, especially if my mom is at the table with us, because she just would not allow us to talk to each other in a disrespectful way or just not get along with each other. This probably goes back to, even when we were younger, we knew that we had to get along or we would have to go sit on the sofa together for 10 minutes and just hug until it turned into us just laughing, because it was so ridiculous and we couldn’t stand it, but it would just turn into a laugh fest.

BB: Mama Garza is not playing. She’s not playing on the getting along. Okay.

VG: No.

BB: That’s awesome. I’m going to try that with my kids. Okay, so then what happens from there? You’re still not budging yet.

VG: Yeah, I ignored, ignored. I think I even went to a doctor and asked him about it. He was my nephrologist that I was seeing for my lupus issues, and I said, “You know, my brother mentioned this diet to me, it’s called Paleo,” and he said, maybe not eating grains could be helpful.” And he was like, “Look, you have lupus. There’s really nothing that you can do to change that. So, I don’t even think it’s worth it for you to try.” So, I was like, “Hm…Okay.” I trust my doctors and I listen to them. I would take medication when they want me to take it. But this was one thing where I thought, “It doesn’t seem like just changing some things about my diet could do much harm, so I feel like I want to try it anyway, especially because you told me that it probably wouldn’t work.”

BB: Girl after my own heart. I love this about you already.

VG: And I don’t think I’m normally like that, but in this case, for some reason, I was. So that made me more interested in it, but it really wasn’t until 2009. I had already finished my MBA and I had these plans to move to New York and try to work in the music industry. And that didn’t end up happening. I ended up back in Laredo, on pause, trying to figure out what my next steps were. And I was teaching, and my whole family had started exercising together. And it just sort of happened, my brother, Mike, and some of his friends started doing CrossFit after hearing so much about it from my brother Rob, and they were doing it in my parents’ backyard. I was staying at my parents’ house at the time, so I would just see them in the backyard exercising together. It looked really fun but also very scary. And I didn’t want to work out in front of other people, but eventually I got out there. I had the courage to go out there and do squats and stuff in front of people.

VG: And just doing that, I did immediately feel better, just adding some exercise into my life. But we all just decided that we would eat this way that my brother had suggested. I think just being part of the CrossFit community, it was something that we were willing to adopt, because then we started to see with our own eyes all of these people that were part of the community that we were in, that were adopting the same diet. So, I honestly don’t know if there was a discussion behind my back or maybe I just don’t remember, but I know that the whole family… I don’t know if they did it for me but I’m sure there might have been discussions when I wasn’t around, like “This is the way we have to eat because you know, Vero, she probably won’t want to follow the diet if she’s the only one that has to do it.” Which is true. It would have felt very lonely to be the only person at the table eating a lettuce wrap taco, when everybody else was eating tortillas.

BB: So, I have to pause you here, because I’m seeing Miguel shake his head, that, “Yes, there were some conversations.” Were there conversations, Miguel?

Miguel Garza: Yeah, for sure. I’m surprised that Vero would acknowledge that there could be conversations, because normally she would probably say, “The family didn’t do it because of her.” But we remember that time we were having sidebar convos about like, “Hey, we’re going to do this grain-free thing. Nobody make a big deal about it.” Because, she was being honest earlier, but the fact is if you tell her that she can’t do something, she’ll figure out how to do it. But then on the flip side, if you acknowledge that she is doing something, all of a sudden, she’ll stop doing it. It’s kind of a deal. Like, “Oh wow, you’re doing that so well,” and it’s like, “Oh, never mind, I’m not going to do it anymore.” I don’t have the same background that you do, but I imagine that there’s some middle child-ness to my sister’s personality. And so, I think we weren’t necessarily trying to be deceitful. We were just saying, “Okay, we want to be supportive through action, so we’re not going to bring up that we’re all going grain-free, it’s just going to happen.” And we did it, because it’s not fair that some people just happen to have some sort of condition, and so we want to make sure that we’re being supportive if there are opportunities for Vero to be able to manage it.

MG: And it’s actually not that hard. I don’t want to make it seem like we’re saints or anything for going grain-free. It was just like Vero said, “We always got together as a family. We always ate together as a family,” and that is one thing that our family has. there’s always this, “One for all, all for one,” type of mentality. So, I think we were willing, because we wanted her to get back into feeling healthy again.

BB: What an act of conspiratorial love. I like it. So, you all go grain-free.

VG: We all go grain-free. And we’re exercising together in my parents’ backyard, the whole family. I think there ended up being like 20 of us. It was like, neighbors had joined us and friends. That ended up turning into a first family business together. It started as a CrossFit gym and then we became a strength training gym.

MG: Yeah, like a strength and conditioning gym. I feel like we’re more connected than you know, Brené, in that all of us went to UT. And when I was graduating from UT, I was obsessed with this new exercise competition called CrossFit. And so, my parents, for my graduation gift, got me a barbell and Olympic plate, rubber bumper plate. And we were working out in the backyard, and it kind of came to be that all of a sudden, the whole family was, and all of a sudden, neighbors were. And all of a sudden, people were paying us 50 bucks to come work out in the backyard. And then I actually kind of just up and left, because I had to go to law school. This was over a summer, so I started heading back to Austin. And then Vero and Becky started the gym, started the business. Found a space bigger than the backyard, and all of a sudden, this was their afternoon after-work hustle, they were showing up to a facility and training people and… Yeah.

VG: Okay, wait, you say you just up and left, but that’s not really true. Nobody dragged you, but I guess… He actually wanted to stay.

MG: Oh yeah.

VG: He had a discussion with my dad, just saying, “I don’t want to go to law school, I want to be part of this business that you guys are starting. I love doing this, so I want to maybe wait a year to go to law school.”

BB: How did Papa Garza respond?

[chuckle]

MG: If he’s listening to this, he’d probably be laughing. I just remember saying something and him telling me to not be facetious. “You’re going to law school. You got into law school. That’s what you’re going to do. And that’s it.” And I remember being like, “Well, I don’t want to, but my dad just said I had to. And I guess that’s what I’m going to do.” [chuckle] So, I ended up meeting my wife, so he was right. And he’ll hold that over my head. I’m about to have a baby in a week, so he’ll probably tell me for the rest of my life, “I’m pretty sure I gave you the right decision to make.”

[laughter]

BB: All right. So, so far, I’m not messing with Mama or Papa Garza.

VG: No.

BB: I’m the oldest of four, I don’t want to hug it out with my siblings. Yeah, and I don’t like anything my dad can hold over my head, which is already a lot of stuff. So, you’ve gone from struggling with your health, now you’ve got a business where you’re running a gym.

VG: Yeah. Running a gym, and I had started feeling better through the exercise and following this grain-free diet, and my family and I were still gathering probably after every class that we held in the evenings, definitely four times a week. We would get together just after and enjoy each other’s company, but also talk business, so we were always talking about the gym and how do we get more members and enjoying these meals together, but not enjoying them the same way we had enjoyed them before. Because there were a lot of things that we could no longer eat. And growing up and living in Laredo, Texas, it’s right on the border. Mexican food is everywhere.

BB: The holy grail, right there, in Laredo, in Nuevo Laredo. I mean, yeah.

VG: Delicious food, delicious. And everything centers around the delicious tortilla and in our case, usually flour, being the northern border of Mexico. So that was definitely something that we were missing. We would get together for spontaneous weekend carne asadas, which is barbecue, grilling fajitas in the backyard. And I would have to pull out a bag of lettuce so that I could make a taco, which just wasn’t the same. And it was okay, because I was doing this with my family, and we were all eating that way. But then if I would go to a friend’s house to join them for a carne asada, it was very weird when you pulled out that bag of lettuce…

BB: Totally.

VG: To make your taco, and you would get made fun of. And gluten-free wasn’t as adopted as it is now, and so I would get questions from people, like, “Why are you doing that?” Oh, it’s not an allergy. This is some fake thing.

BB: This is not real.

VG: Yeah, yeah. It’s just some fad diet that you’re following. And it didn’t make sense to anybody.

BB: Oh God, it’s so frustrating.

VG: Yeah. And it really felt… especially when I was not with my family, and I was around other people who were eating all of the normal food. I felt left out and then I also felt like I was missing part of my culture.

VG: That was so important to me. I didn’t even realize how important it was to me until I was without it. And I hadn’t realized how important food was to my culture until I could no longer eat something like a tortilla. So, I don’t have any sort of cooking background other than just tinker in the kitchen, but I had memories of making tortillas with my grandmother and memories of eating the most delicious tortillas that she would make.

VG: Whenever we would go visit her in Baytown, Texas, we would always walk in the door to this beautiful smell of freshly made tortillas that were just sitting in a pile waiting for us in the kitchen next to a big pot of beans to enjoy with it. Probably all of her grandchildren and then even great-grandchildren had a chance to get in the kitchen with her and make tortillas. She would let you make the little dough balls or you could help her by rolling out into the tortilla. So just probably a few times I was able to do that.

VG: So just taking those memories, I started looking for ingredients that were grain-free, more nutrient-dense, that I could throw together. And I was just kind of hoping that I would come up with something that was reminiscent of a tortilla. I didn’t expect that it would be just like it. It was definitely a goal of mine, but I think I had low expectations at the time. And so, I landed on almond flour because I had been playing around with that ingredient. Along with my mom and my sister, Becky, we were making lots of different substitute foods like for bread using almond flour, pizza crust using almond flour. And it just dawned on me like, if we can make a pizza crust out of this, why couldn’t I make a tortilla, just a thinner version of a pizza crust in some ways?

VG: So, I threw the ingredients together and came up with something that was probably a little more like a tostada than a tortilla. But I think there was probably a day where I didn’t say much, but I just sort of put the tortillas on the table while we were having dinner together and waited to see how my family reacted.

[chuckle]

VG: I get really nervous any time anybody tries my food. And I think sometimes it’s even worse with family, like you want to please them…

BB: I think so too, yeah.

VG: Yeah.

[chuckle]

VG: And so I didn’t say much, but watched their reactions and they seemed to like them and started asking me what was in them. Could I make more? And so, I just got in the kitchen and started really working on it. I had to recruit my mom to stand there and watch me as I threw together ingredients, because even to this day, I’m very bad about making it a job…

BB: Yeah.

VG: Measuring ingredients and stuff like that. It needs to feel just like I’m just having fun in the kitchen. So sometimes, I have to put a video camera on myself to watch what I’m doing because it doesn’t feel fun to me to have to write down this much this, this much that. So, my mom watched me and sort of wrote down the recipe, and she joined me in the kitchen most weekends where we would just make batches for my family to enjoy.

BB: Are you thinking at this point, “There’s a business in here?”

VG: I don’t know if I thought there was a business. Maybe in my mind I thought, “I could sell these at like a farmer’s market.”

BB: Got it.

VG: “So I’m not going to give anybody the recipe.” I could do this as a side hustle.

BB: Mm-hmm.

VG: “So I probably shouldn’t let anybody else know what’s the exact ingredients and ratios of everything.” But no, I wasn’t really thinking of it as a business, at least not what it turned out to be. But I did start noticing that there were people who were very interested in them. A lot of the members of the gym — they became familiar with them because we would have gatherings with them. The same way we do with our business now, it’s just — we wanted to gather with our community and we would have these parties on the weekends or carne asadas with the whole group.

VG: And there were several times where I would just take batches of tortillas for people to try, and they knew nothing about what was in them other than they are almond based, and I wouldn’t tell anybody any other ingredient. I’m like: “You can try them if you want, but I can’t tell you more than that.” And they weren’t eating the way we were eating.

BB: Right.

VG: Most people were not following a Paleo diet then. They were living in Laredo and still eating their tacos with flour tortillas and corn tortillas. But people wanted to buy them from me, and they were like, “These just taste better than the flour tortillas that I buy. And I need to keep a batch, hidden in my freezer because even my husband loves them and I don’t want him to eat them.” So, that said a lot to me that these Mexican-Americans who grew up in Laredo eating mostly flour tortillas would want to replace them with this almond tortilla.

BB: That’s saying something because I think about my husband who identifies as Mirish — half-Mexican and half-Irish — and when he first got Siete tortillas, he was like, “Brené, I grew up with flour tortillas and not just flour tortillas, flour tortillas made with lard.” And the first thing he said to me is, “This is going to be one of the situations where you try to sneak like the soyrizo in instead of the Chorizo.”

[laughter]

BB: And I was like, “No, this is not the soyrizo debacle.”

[laughter]

BB: And then it became a fight for Ellen, who’s gluten-free, my daughter, because she’s like, “Who’s in my tortillas?”

[laughter]

BB: “Who’s eating my tortillas? If you’ve not been diagnosed, you need to leave my tortillas alone.” So, I could see it as a litmus test saying, “These are Mexican-Americans, they live on the border. They’ve got access to the best tortillas and food around, and they’re choosing this.” That’s something, right?

VG: Yes. Mm-hmm. So, that meant a lot.

BB: Your inner MBA has to be thinking something at this point.

[laughter]

VG: Yeah. I was teaching at the time, and I had health insurance through that teaching job, and it was very scary. Other than just starting the gym together as a family, which made it feel a lot less daunting than had I started the gym alone, I had no idea how to start a food business. And I also didn’t feel like I had the time to focus on how to start a food business. But yeah, the comments from members of the gym and friends meant a lot. But I think it really said something about our product, the product that I was making when my grandmother was able to try them. My grandmother who had made flour tortillas all of her adult life, every week. Without my mom telling me, my mom had gone up to Baytown to visit my grandmother one weekend and took a sample of the tortillas that I had been making and let my grandma try them. Had I known, I would not have let her do that, because my grandma’s opinion meant a lot to me, especially when it came to food and I never wanted to disappoint my grandmother.

VG: But, my grandma tried them and we actually have it on video, my mom recorded it, her saying that, “Oh, these tortillas are delicious. They’re better than mine.” And I usually stop at telling people what she said there, but she did add, “They’re a little too expensive for my belly, but they’re still good.”

[laughter]

VG: Yeah. See, that’s her honesty.

BB: Yeah, it’s the perfect grandmother sentiment with that part on it, “Yeah, they’re expensive mija, but okay.”

VG: Yes. Yeah, she knew that my mom and I had started making them for a lot of the CrossFit members and members of our gym that were asking for them and we were selling them for like — I don’t know — $12, for maybe 10 or 12 tortillas. So, I think my mom had told her that and while she liked them, of course, she had to add in that comment. It makes it so much better, I think.

BB: She would lose her grandmother qualification had she not added that part.

VG: Yeah.

BB: Either it’s that or some unsolicited advice, that would lose her grandmother standing, right?

VG: Yes, yeah. So I think I started getting a little more serious about the idea of it being a business. And I started looking into different equipment that I might be able to purchase to scale this. And even then, I think it was still so that I can sell them at the farmer’s market. I didn’t really know that there was a real possibility of getting them in any stores or anything like that. I don’t think I saw it that big. So, I had my grandmother’s stamp of approval, which is why the back of all of our products, and especially our tortillas, say, “Abuela approved.”

BB: Oh yeah.

MG: Yeah, there you go. Yeah.

BB: Oh my God. I made it. So, do you know about the tortillas situation at home in Laredo when you were in law school at UT?

MG: Yeah. So, I was still very involved with the gym, and then I was involved in CrossFit in Austin, and at that point in time, as I was going to law school, I was coaching at a gym in town called CrossFit Austin. And there were times when Vero would actually bring products up with my parents, or my parents would bring tortillas that Vero made over a weekend, and we would sell them to these members of the gym up in Austin.

BB: And what was their response?

MG: Oh, they loved them. They would ask me, “Hey, when is your sister making another batch because I’m doing the Paleo thing and I miss my breakfast tacos. So, is she coming in a weekend? Is she coming in a couple of months? What’s the time frame?” So, I was very aware, and I think being in Austin was pretty important in that I was fascinated… So, as I was graduating? One, I didn’t want to wear a suit and I remember telling my dad that I didn’t understand why people wear suits. It just didn’t make sense to me. So, I was like, “Man, I don’t know if I can be a lawyer that wears a suit.” And then I was more fascinated by walking around Whole Foods or Starbucks and seeing people working from their laptop and oftentimes doing really cool things, building stuff. You had no idea what they were building, but they were just building stuff.

MG: And so that concept of owning your own business or entrepreneurship was fascinating to me, and part of this is probably because I was job hunting. But it was around that time I was job hunting in 2013, and I actually started to have conversations with Vero about turning it into a business that sells into retail stores. And so, we had several conversations, as I recall, where I would tell her like, “Hey, you can do this part-time and we can just see what happens, and I have time because I’m job hunting. So, if you make them, I’ll deliver them and sell them. You don’t have to worry about that.” And I will say that the thing that always held her back was the fear that existed around not having health insurance…

BB: Yeah, that’s real.

MG: That was a big thing that my parents would tell her. My parents would tell us like, “Hey, Vero can’t leave her job, because Vero needs health insurance, and she’s working for the university and gets a pretty good insurance like that.” So, I wanted to de-risk it for her because I thought there was a potential business there. And then I think the way that I ended up convincing her was appealing a little bit to her competitiveness by saying that she was either going to regret having to buy the product from somebody else in the future, because somebody was going to make the product…

BB: That’s rough.

MG: Or we would start the business and it wouldn’t do well, and who cares? What’s the harm in that? And so, I don’t remember the exact date, but that was around the time, I think a switch flipped for her. And I remember her driving up to Austin with a freshly made batch of tortillas meeting at Wheatsville on South Lamar here in Austin and going into the retailer and asking to talk to the buyer and having the buyer try a warm tortilla on the retail floor. And he tried it.

VG: Because you told him he had to.

MG: Oh yeah, I’m insistent and persistent. So, he was going to take it to his back office and I told him, “No, you should try that out here because I want real feedback.” And so I remember him putting it in his mouth, eating the tortilla and you could kind of see like it was going from, “What am I eating?” to “Wow, this is actually good,” to, “Hey, if you guys start a business, and if you do all of the things that our website says you have to do to become a supplier? I’ll put this on the shelf.” And I think that’s important to the story, because I feel like people starting a business there’s often this concept that they’re risk-seeking. And we’re not risk-seeking people. We’re actually all pretty risk averse. My dad’s an attorney and my oldest sister Lina’s an attorney, and I’m an attorney. And I feel like thinking in that way gives you some risk aversion. Yeah, and so we had made a decision that we wanted to make sure to have a customer before we started a business. And so Wheatsville became that customer, that was kind of an, “Oh, crap moment” where now they said, “Yes,” we’re on the phone with my mom.

MG: As many things have happened whenever there’s good news, my mom starts crying immediately as we’re on the phone with her, so my mom’s crying and she’s like, “I’m so proud of you guys. This is amazing. We’ll figure it out. I’m so proud.” And so that’s exactly what we did. We ended up finding a commercial kitchen, a gluten-free certified commercial kitchen. We ended up incorporating the business, had to get insurance. We had to do all of these things that, as Vero mentioned earlier — they’re very daunting.

BB: Oh God, yes.

MG: They’re not actually hard, but it’s just a lot.

BB: It’s a lot.

MG: We ended up spending a weekend at this commercial kitchen, Better Bites Bakery out in Dripping Springs. She let us use the kitchen. Just kind of one of those blessing moments. She was kind of like an initial guardian angel for the business because we knocked on her door and I had the product and I said, “Hey, we want to make this in your kitchen. Do you have any hours where we can do this?” And she tasted it and she was like, “Yes, y’all can use the kitchen on the weekends.” And then she would sometimes hang out at the kitchen on the weekends when we were there making the product and kind of showed us, the ropes on, “Yeah, this is who I use for insurance, and this is who I use for this, and this is how I deliver the product.”

MG: And I feel like we’ve had those moments throughout where there’s this mentor-like figure for a certain period of time. And so we ended up putting products on the shelf around early May of 2014, and I came back the next day after putting products on the shelf. And we were totally sold out.

BB: No.

MG: Yeah, and I had put two cases on the shelf, so this was something where we thought, “Oh, this is going to last us maybe about a week, based on the numbers the buyer gave us, we think this will last about a week.” We made five cases over the weekend, so that’s about two and a half weeks. My parents and Vero were still… This part is actually crazy to me because I don’t know how they did it to this day, they were leaving their full-time jobs at 5:00 PM On Friday night, driving up to Austin, getting here at about 8:30 or 9:00. We would spend a few hours at the kitchen making tortillas. We would spend all day Saturday making tortillas. Although we would always finish around 8:00 PM, so we could go have a beer and a cider and a gluten-free pizza, at the Alamo Drafthouse, and they would do the same thing on Sunday, and then they would go home at around 5:00 or 6:00 PM, go to bed and go to work for the week, their full-time jobs. And they did this for a good eight to 12 months, and so…

BB: Oh my gosh.

MG: Yeah, I really don’t know how they did it, but we had made five cases of product in a weekend, anticipated that would last about two and a half weeks. It was gone in one day, and so that meant we were starting this cycle where Vero slowly moved to Austin, and my parents were coming every weekend, for a year, just driving back and forth, back and forth.

BB: Was it scary when you quit your job at the university?

VG: I think I had been in that job for six years, and from the moment I started it, it always felt like it was going to be just a hold over.

BB: A transition.

VG: Like just a pause until I figured out what was next. And I never loved it. I don’t feel like I was great at it, to be very honest. It wasn’t something that I was very passionate about, so I was unhappy in the job, so I think that helped. I wanted to leave from probably day one and I often had conversations with my family about leaving, but they were always scared for what that might mean for my health. But I think I left maybe six or seven months into the business starting and even though at that point, I still wasn’t even able to pay myself a salary, I left with a small chunk of retirement like really small. $10,000, something like that, that I could use to just support myself where I thought, “Well, I’m going to hang out at Mike’s house and he’s going let me sleep in one of his bedrooms and this should last me like six months at least,” and that is kind of the way it worked out. But I think I had less fear because at that point, I don’t know why my family decided, “Yeah, we’re on board with this.” My parents were like, ‘We know you’re not happy. We think that you can do something with this business that we’ve started,” And it was just more optimistic at that point for some reason. And for me, it felt like an easy move because my parents and my family were supportive of it.

[music]

BB: It’s so interesting to me because I’ve talked to so many entrepreneurs who are not only fighting the daunting things that you were talking about Miguel, like just the paperwork and the insurance, but also fighting their partners, their family, the whole way who are saying, “Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it.” And I’ve never heard an entrepreneurial story that did not involve a big crazy leap. And now it’s not such a leap when you spring tortillas to the store and they’re supposed to last two and a half weeks, but they’re gone in 24 hours. That feels like proof of concept, if you ever needed it. How does the scaling start to work?

MG: Sometimes when I say it, it kind of sounds like I’m making it sound simple, but we’re meeting a consumer need. And so we make one pack of tortillas and we’re not paying ourselves money, so then we take the profits from that and we go make two. And then we take the profits from that, we make four. So, on the financial side, we were letting the business fund itself, and then it was a lot of knocking on doors and trying to connect with the consumer. And so, knocking on doors sometimes meant that nobody ever answered. And it also sometimes means that because my sister created a really good product, there are elements of — and I would say this for almost any business, luck plays a factor. And you can call it luck, I think. Depending on your faith, you’d call it a blessing. To get on the shelves of Whole Foods, it was no, no, no, no, in fact, at some point, not even answering emails. And then this individual happened to be directing or producing a movie where Whole Foods was funding it, and so there was this function and this individual happened to tell John Mackey about our product.

MG: At that point in time, I’ll be honest, we were so new to the industry, that this individual said, “Hey, I just told John Mackey about your product.” I had no idea who that was or what that meant. I was so new to the industry, so I was Googling… There is a rule of thumb I have though, that oftentimes when people use first and last name, that means that they’re probably important. So, I started Googling, and I was like, “Oh wow, the CEO of Whole Foods, maybe this is our big break.” And it did end up being our big break, in that there was an email that got forwarded and forwarded and forwarded. And eventually, the local buyer was given the go ahead to bring our product in.

MG: And so, at first, it was just one store, but the same thing happened, where we put two cases of product on the shelf and we were utilizing some of the things that we had learned from having a gym. Like, the services-based business, using social media marketing tactics that you would use for a services-based business, but using them for a consumer product. And we were using Instagram, using Facebook and getting the word out. And so, put the product on the shelf, February 11th of 2015, after finally getting the go ahead and came back February 12th of 2015, and the product was sold out. And then all of the other local Whole Foods started to get word that the downtown store had our tortillas. And so they started to bring it in, and all of a sudden, I was driving my Xterra once or twice a week, all around Austin, plus down to San Antonio. And as that was happening, we were really trying to figure out, “Okay, how do you actually scale this thing? How do you start making more product? What machines can you buy?” And then it was around that time that we started to think about, “Okay, what does it look like to grow the team?” And you start seeking out mentors really, or people that have started any business. And you start trying to lay the groundwork for hopefully what ends up being something successful.

BB: Did you have good mentors?

MG: We had each other. We had my parents. We have networks of people who had started different businesses. Like we said, we had the bakery where we were running out of. And then Austin had a community of folks, so we ended up doing the local accelerator skew, and that’s actually when we transitioned from — the brand name had been ‘Must B Nutty,’ before it was ‘Siete’. That is my claim to fame in branding, the first and only brand name that I’m allowed to create.

VG: He’s not on the marketing team.

MG: No. So that’s when we transitioned to becoming Siete, and where we were introduced to a lot of different people who had started, scaled and worked for food, beverage and CPG companies. And we just started asking a lot of questions and really trying to dig into how people had built businesses before we had. And then what we actually started to find was that we wanted to build the business the way we wanted to build it. And so, we weren’t going to necessarily reinvent the wheel on everything, but we did this fun exercise. And this was as we were trying to come up with the Siete brand name. But we did this exercise where on a white board, you put everything that you’re for and everything that you’re against. And so, at that point in time, the business is small enough that this, ‘for and against white board’ is really coming from the family. That’s who’s putting these things on the whiteboard.

BB: Is it everybody? Is it Linda and Rob and Becky, and Mom and Dad? Is it everybody?

VG: It was in some instances, just me and Mike, and then taking some of these ideas to my parents. I definitely remember my parents being around.

BB: In the white board exercise, is it just the four of y’all? Mom, Dad, and the two of you?

MG: Yeah, yeah, at that point, and we had the white board in this commercial kitchen that we had started renting down in Kyle to keep producing the product. And so, we had this up and we were putting stuff on the for side, stuff on the against side. And we were, I would say, inadvertently starting to lay the framework for what the company’s values would end up becoming. Because we thought that we were trying to come up with our brand, and we did end up coming up with Siete. But we were also starting to lay the foundation for the how of what we would be doing. And I think that’s important because there’s a big emphasis on the why of the business, and what I started to find as I reflect on things that we did — we were actually laser-focused on how of what we were building. With this idea being how means family first, family second, business third, is our first core value. Juntas es mejor, or together is better. Doing everything with love.

MG: The reason for our existence, the why that some may say, started to be placed into this idea that we wanted to build a business where we would put our people first, and that it would become a place that felt like family. And I think sometimes people hear that, and it, I don’t know, maybe that sounds daunting, or it sounds unrealistic. But I think the thing about family is that you trust each other. You love each other. There are these inherent things that come with it. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that as you’re building the thing, that it’s not without disagreement, and that it’s not without fighting, and that it’s not without all of the things that come with the entire human existence.

BB: For sure.

MG: So, yeah, that’s how we ended up becoming Siete. But at the same time, we were kind of laying this idea for how we wanted to build a business.

BB: Yeah, it’s so funny, too, because I split my time between Austin and Houston, and everyone’s like, “Don’t you want to work for Siete? Have you seen the Siete website? Do you see the stuff they do together?” Everybody wants to work for Siete. I’m like, “Yeah, it just is amazing. And it feels like you can feel the love in the food, but you can also feel the love when you talk to people who interact with y’all in any way.” And so, congratulations on executing against that value, because a lot of people have that value, but they don’t start with it internally, so they don’t have it to give. And so it sounds like y’all came from a very close family where there was disagreement, and Rob’s got all his facts and you got those things, but it sounds like there’s, you know, you might have to hug it out on the couch for 10 minutes under duress and… But there’s love, and so you had it to give.

BB: I’ll tell you my quick Siete story. A daughter who, we thought, maybe, she had to come home from every sleepover and couldn’t make it through camp, because she was homesick or she was scared, but she was an adventurous kid. And so, we couldn’t reconcile it. And then, we realized when she was in maybe seventh or eighth grade that it was a gluten allergy. And so, the reason why she had to be picked up at 1 o’clock in the sleepover is because of the cake and the pizza. And the reason why she couldn’t do camp and why she had the stomachache and didn’t feel good wasn’t because of anything, but she didn’t actually feel good. And it’s funny because my husband… Mexican food is a big part of his history and it’s how he stays connected to his family, and so chorizo and egg tacos are our family thing. We have it for dinner probably two nights a week and breakfast.

VG: We do that, too.

BB: Yeah. And it’s like the whole deal, cilantro, you know, it’s like the whole thing, homemade salsa. And Ellen would get a bowl where everybody else was eating. And so, we went to Whole Foods to see what the options were, and they said… It was interesting because it must have been early on, they said, “We have Siete almond flour tortillas, and they’re in an endcap in a refrigerator. But you have to get here fast right after the delivery happens because they go really quick.” And they said, “People hoard them. They freeze them.” And so, I was like, “Jesus, these gluten-free hoarders.” Yeah.

[chuckle]

BB: And so, it meant more than food to our family because this was a big tradition in our family. So then, Steve started poaching that stuff and then it just became that’s kind of all we bought, really. But tell me the state of your business now because I feel like we have 20 different Siete products in our house. So, I’m addicted to the jalapeno hot sauce. I think you all have hands down the best taco seasoning of any taco seasoning without a bunch of crap in it. It’s just great. And then, you can’t keep the little bunuelos cinnamon chip. You have so many delicious things. And I just want to make sure I read this right. You also have a $90 million investment from an investor group.

VG: Yeah.

BB: What the heck?

VG: Well… [chuckle]

BB: I mean, wait, let me just say this. You got amazing products, everyone wants to work for you, and you have a $90 million investment in your company. What do you think when you hear that?

VG: It’s surreal, but hearing you tell the story about your daughter now being able to enjoy tortillas with the rest of the family, so that she can eat her Chorizo con Huevo tacos. That is the big reason why we’re doing all of this and why we created more products just from the almond tortilla that we started with. I really saw a desire in myself to solve problems for people, because we would get messages like that from people. My kid hasn’t had a taco in five years because he has celiac or he has whatever issue. So, that is what motivates me, leading product innovation for Siete. I want to solve people’s problems so that they can sit at the table with their family and friends and not feel like the weird person and enjoy the foods that they love. So, it was important for us to expand into lots of different categories where I felt like we could solve problems for people. And the $90 million was part of the plan to be able to do that, so that we could grow and reach as many people as possible.

BB: I love it when good things happen to good people, don’t you? I mean, really. It doesn’t feel like you’ve strayed from the values you grew up with in Laredo either. I will say, I see both of them on Zoom right now and Miguel is in a serious three-piece suit. But now, [chuckle] I think he’s in a basement or a closet with a Siete baseball hat on and a hoodie. So, I just love the fact that it takes a big heart to scale authenticity and love. There are many distractions that can move you from that, right? How do you stay true?

MG: It’s a big focus for us, and I think that that’s number one. And we have this conversation a lot because people will tell us, “Yeah, you guys seem very authentic. How would another brand go about being authentic?” And I think what we found is that, for us, being authentic means like a true expression of one’s self. So, it’s hard to manufacture that because you have to know who you are first. And so, I think we’re lucky in that I’m the youngest, and so I’ve had 33 years to figure out what that means within the context of my family. What does it mean to be a Garza? And so, we were able to take that and that started the initial values of the company. But I will say that the company’s values have now exceeded what my family’s values were, in that we’re taking care of a bigger family. And the bigger family is… I think you asked about the state of the business. We’re like 85 to 90 people now, and that continues to grow. But we are just insanely focused on living out our values.

MG: So every week we have a leadership meeting where the main focus is culture and culture being really like how we get along with each other. And my sister said earlier that my mom would sit us on a couch and we’d hug it out. What she didn’t tell you though is I was the only one that enjoyed that practice because it was like I’m the annoying little brother that gets to hug all of my siblings and they are forced to do it. But all kidding aside, my mom has told us, as a family, if you guys aren’t getting along, or if we can’t figure this out, then we shouldn’t have the business anymore, because it’s just not worth it.

MG: So, bringing it up all the time, actually making decisions based on those values… And a lot of our values are actually held in tension with one another. So, it’s not family, family, family, family, family, It’s family first, family second, business third. So, there is this idea that we’re still creating something and we’re still trying to provide value to consumers. Another one of our core values is passion with compassion, boldness with humility. And so, what does that mean? That means that you’re bringing an intense energy towards what we’re trying to accomplish, but it’s never at the expense of somebody else. So that means you have to be compassionate in your pursuit. And then if you’re going to be bold, which is something that I think my sister was in creating this product, and that people are as we go out in our endeavor, you also have to be humble. And so, humility is very important.

MG: So, we have these core values that are living in tension. And then the last one is to do everything with love. And doing everything with love means meeting people where they are. It means being there for them when they need you. It means being real with them when you have to. And then it also means it’s probably going to be a little messy, it’s probably going to take a lot of work. And you’re not always going to get it right, but even over the past nine to 12 months, as we’ve been dealing with the COVID pandemic as a company, a thing that I’ve been repeating to the team… And it’s me talking to myself just as much as I’m talking to the team. Every Monday, I’m telling the team, you have to operate with grace and compassion because none of us know how any of us are dealing…

BB: That’s right.

MG: With the pandemic. And so, put yourself in somebody else’s shoes, maybe that’s, put yourself in one of our customer’s shoes, or one of our service provider’s shoes, or just any partner. And so, I think that that’s how you do it, is you authentically live out your values. And by doing so, for us, it continues to manifest itself in love within the organization, but then, outside of the organization. And that’s not the Garza family. And I think that that’s super important to understand. We hire for humility and we hire for all of the core values. And so what people feel is, when they interact with us, they’re actually interacting with the Siete family, and I think that’s something that shouldn’t be missed. Me, my sister, and my parents, all of my siblings — we are insanely blessed in that we have the opportunity to work with amazing people, people that are so much better than all of us at many different things. And for some reason, they have decided to trust us with their financial security. This is their job and they’ve decided to come and say, “Hey, I want to work here and I want to be a part of this family. I want to be a part of this team and I want to go build an iconic Mexican-American food brand, arm in arm with you guys.”

MG: And when that happens, a link-up does happen, and it’s like we’re all marching. And we’ve just had an incredible ride where we’re partnering with really good people. There are really amazing people that work at Siete, and I’ve told my wife who works with us too, I don’t know why people do it. I know we try and create a fun environment, but it’s very humbling to know that they’re proud to be building this thing too. It’s just crazy.

BB: Isn’t it amazing that you look and you think people are showing up and sharing their talents with us to build this thing? It is humbling. And realizing it is humbling, maybe, is the mark of servant leadership. Not that we deserve to have that, but we’re humbled by the fact that you’re sharing your talents with us, it’s a big deal. All right. Are you ready for the quick-fire?

MG: Yeah. I heard this was going to happen and I didn’t prepare, so I am…

VG: Probably not.

MG: I’ll be ready. [chuckle]

BB: Okay. I think you’re going to be ready. Veronica, you’ll go first. Same question to both of you.

VG: Oh goodness.

BB: Well, before I get to that, let me ask, anything you can tell us about something we can expect to come, that we don’t know about? Any big secret that you can share? Any product that I’ll be really excited about?

MG: I think so. We haven’t made formal announcements about it, but just this month —  grain-free cookies. So Mexican Wedding Cookies, Mexican Chocolate, Mexican Shortbread. Yeah, they’re delicious. Delicious. Yeah.

BB: No.

MG: And then I would say in honor of the Mercado street fairs, kind of street food. We are launching some kettle-cooked potato chips, so Chipotle BBQ, Fuego, Serrano, Sea Salt and Vinegar. And I will say that Vero and her team do really, really amazing work. So that stuff’s coming out this month and next month. There hasn’t been a formal announcement, but we’re super pumped about it.

BB: Oh my God, you know when the next time you see me, I’ll have powdered sugar all over my face. I’ll be like, “Hey.” You’ll be like, “Did you find the cookies?”

VG: Well, you had also mentioned you really liked the buñuelos that we were selling for the holidays.

BB: Oh God, yes.

VG: And our new churro strips are a year-round, very similar flavor to the bunuelos. I think you’ll find them just as delicious.

BB: I’m looking at my sister who — we work together — and her daughter’s gluten-free, and so we’re always Siete-ing. We’re always sharing what we’re doing with things. I just can’t be like, “Did you hear that? Did you hear that?” Because she’s sitting right over here.

MG: And I almost interrupted you earlier because you talked about chorizo con huevo tacos. And so, Vero and her team created a clean chorizo seasoning so you can add it to any protein to make chorizo and a slow-cooker carnitas seasoning, so you could just add that to a crock pot with your choice of protein.

BB: You just had Barrett… You have to just come over here. This is my sister who’s here, and show them the sign that you’re making. [laughter] Yes. Because she’s in this dilemma, now that we’re like at our age, she’s like, “I just was raised to believe that it wasn’t really a chorizo con huevo taco if I didn’t have orange stuff running down my forearm.” But I can’t do that anymore. And so, I was like, “Let me just try this Soyrizo.” And he’s like, “It’s not the way of my people.” He said “My grandmother would just… If she could see this, she’d be heartbroken. I can’t eat Soyrizo.” So now, can I put this seasoning on like ground turkey?

MG: Yeah. And it’s delicious.

VG: Yes. Yeah. Chicken, turkey.

MG: It is delicious.

BB: When is that coming?

MG: We just made that formal announcement, and those are already on shelves across the country at Whole Foods and soon to be Sprouts.

BB: Veronica, are you still having fun in the kitchen?

VG: I am. So, I try to get in the kitchen more on days where I don’t have a lot of meetings scheduled. This is the good thing about working from home right now where I can stay in my pajamas and get in the kitchen. Otherwise, it sometimes can feel like work. But yeah, it is still fun. That’s something that I love. I was able to be in a position with this company where it gets to be fun, creating products that lots of people get to enjoy. And it can be stressful, but it’s also very fun.

BB: I do what I love too and I’m so lucky that way. Even when you do what you love and you’re grateful for it and humbled by it every day, it can still get stressful because you still have deliverables and timelines and so… And I can see also developing and creating under pressure versus… I’ve never come up with a good recipe where I didn’t have on my woollies and my hair pulled back and so I get that. All right, you’re ready for the rapidfire?

MG: Oh yeah.

VG: Yeah. I actually did not prepare for this so…

BB: Veronica’s giving you the hardcore muscle menace look. Okay. Fill in the blank. Vulnerability is…

VG: I have two answers for this, so chatting here with you because I actually do have a major fear of public speaking, and really bad experiences giving any sort of public speech. But I think on a daily basis, it is me leading a team of professional chefs and food scientists that know what they’re doing when I often feel like I don’t.

BB: Oh God. Beautiful. Okay, Miguel. Vulnerability is…

MG: Well, I guess vulnerability for me right now would be continuously having a sense of impostor syndrome and having to — I would say for the sake of leadership — being able to tell other people that you have impostor syndrome while still instilling confidence in them and yourself.

BB: Yes. I don’t ever want to be led by someone who doesn’t wrestle with impostor syndrome, so that’s awesome. Okay. Veronica, what’s one thing that people often get wrong about you?

VG: That I am very confident and comfortable talking on a podcast.

[laughter]

BB: Fair enough. Miguel?

MG: I think at first glance, people don’t realize that I make all the meals at our house and do the laundry and enjoy every aspect of that. So, on Sunday mornings, I’m often baking cinnamon rolls or something like that over the past few weeks. So, I don’t think people think I make good food, but I feel I do. Or at least my wife eats it.

VG: I think you do.

BB: Your wife and your sister endorse, so yes. Okay. What is, Veronica, one piece of leadership advice that you’ve been given that has been so helpful you need to share it, or so shitty you need to warn us?

VG: I think probably one would be — this is good advice — to trust other people in their abilities and sometimes you just need to get out of their way.

BB: Yeah, it’s hard. Yeah.

VG: Let them do their thing. I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten any really shitty leadership advice.

BB: That’s a miracle in itself.

VG: If I did, I forgot about it or just ignored it.

BB: You blocked it immediately. [laughter] I like that. What about you, Miguel?

MG: So, it’s a couple of things actually. One of my first mentors shared with me the concept of servant leadership, and I think I’m still figuring out exactly…because he didn’t give me a true definition of it, but he demonstrated it. And so, I would say leading by example, and rolling up your sleeves and being a servant leader. And then number two, the idea of mentorship and learning from others. And that’s been something I’ve heard over and over again, and I repeat it to everybody that I know because I think it’s just so important to be willing and able to learn from paths that people have walked before us.

BB: Yeah, and I think that’s part of the definition of humility. We need other people. Veronica, favorite meal?

VG: Pizza.

BB: [laughter] What do you order on your pizza?

VG: Pepperoni, and sometimes jalapeños, if I’m being really adventurous, but I’m a plain pepperoni and cheese girl.

BB: Do you have a favorite gluten-free crust in Austin?

VG: There’s a place called 40 North that has a good crust. For me, I also have an egg allergy, so it’s really hard to find gluten-free baked products that don’t have eggs in it, but the crust that they use at 40 North is really good. But I often just do pizza at home and I make my own pizza crust and I think it’s pretty good.

BB: Of course. I bet. Are we ever going to see one of those from Siete?

VG: Oh, I don’t know if that quite qualifies as Mexican-American food.

BB: It does not, yeah. Dang it.

VG: But if we could qualify it, then maybe.

BB: Yes, I’ll work on that qualification. Miguel, favorite meal.

MG: Favorite meal, anything on the menu at Laurel, here in Austin.

BB: Oh man. Yeah, not….fair enough. Okay, last thing you binged and loved, Veronica, on TV.

VG: I binge a lot of stuff, but the last thing I remember really loving, was a show called Modern Love. I think it’s on maybe Amazon Prime, so good. I’m waiting to see when they come out with season two, it was just so…

BB: I loved it.

VG: Touching and just… Yeah, it was amazing.

BB: Wasn’t it great? Yes.

VG: Just to see all of the different ways that love can present itself. It wasn’t all about romantic love. I think it was really beautiful.

BB: This is why I started playing tennis with my husband, that show. Do you know the episode I’m talking about, with Tina Fey?

VG: Oh, yeah. [chuckle]

BB: Okay, Miguel.

MG: I don’t binge a lot, because Alex, my wife, has been doing most of the choosing of binging, but I am a big fan of This Is Us, and it doesn’t matter what’s happening. It’s a good cry, every time.

BB: Beautiful, yes, said by the sibling who liked the enforced couch time. It’s all coming together now. All right, Veronica, what is the hard leadership lesson that the universe just keeps putting it in front of you, and it will continue to keep putting in front of you until you learn it?

VG: This is not fair that I’m going first, Mike. [chuckle] I think going into this, like my brother, I’ve always had imposter syndrome. And I think I’m always telling myself, “You need to know these things, you need to be the example, you need to be the leader.” And that’s not really true, and the leaders don’t have to have all the answers. I’m finally figuring that out. It’s okay.

BB: We have a big quote here that says Leaders don’t have all the answers. They just ask really good questions. So that is absolutely also a leadership lesson the universe keeps pounding me with. Miguel?

MG: I would say, what I have to keep learning over and over and over again is that I’m not always right, even though I want to be. [chuckle]

BB: Yeah, fair enough. All right, Miguel, first on these last three. What’s one thing you’re really excited about right now?

MG: That’s an easy one. I’m having a baby in a week.

BB: Oh my God. Congratulations.

MG: Thank you.

VG: Veronica, what are you really excited about right now?

VG: I just got married a month ago, after being with my fiancé for 12-plus years, almost 13 years. So I’m excited to start a married life together.

BB: Congratulations. That’s beautiful.

VG: Thank you.

BB: Okay, Miguel, what’s one thing you’re deeply grateful for right now?

MG: My wife. You realize, as we’re preparing to have a baby, and I feel like I’ve probably always known this, but you can put it in perspective and have more appreciation. I’m like, “Holy crap, she’s a beast. Golly.” And then I’m sitting through classes where they’re telling us about the birth and everything and I’m almost crying. Because I’m like, “I can be supportive, but you’re about to do all of this, and I’m kind of just there with you and I don’t know how you’re not scared.” So, I’m grateful for her.

BB: Veronica, what are you grateful for right now?

VG: My health and the health of my family and our larger Siete family as well, especially during this pandemic.

BB: We just cannot ever take that serious enough, can you, right now? It’s just so scary. All right, we asked for five songs you couldn’t live without. Veronica, you’re going to go first. “Guiding Light,” Mumford and Sons, “Como La Flor” by Selena. It’s so good. “Rivers and Roads,” Head in the Heart. “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles, and “She Used to be Mine,” Sara Bareilles, from the play, Waitress. In one sentence, what does your mini mix tape say about you, Veronica?

VG: That I have struggled with a lot of things in life, and I can really relate to music also, about struggle. But I think a lot of the songs are also very hopeful. So, I look to music and people for hope, just as much as I look in myself for it.

BB: Beautiful. Oh my God, that’s amazing. Okay, Miguel, “Rise Up,” Andra Day, “Don’t Stop Me Now,” Queen, “One last time, 44 Remix,” featuring Obama, Christopher Jackson, Barack Obama, Bebe Winans — it’s a remix of the Hamilton song. “Colors,” by the Black Pumas and “All of Me,” by Billie Holiday. One sentence, what does your mix tape say about you?

MG: It was kind of funny, as I was putting the list together… This is more than a sentence, but I never know all of the lyrics to any song, but I enjoy singing them. All of those songs elicit a certain emotion from me, and I appreciate every one of those emotions. So, like “Rise Up,” I feel like sometimes I’m about to cry as I’m listening to it, but cry from this sense of hope. “Don’t Stop Me Now,” whenever that plays in our house, my feet just start moving really fast, and I feel like I’m moving backwards and putting my hands in the air and putting my hands down and just dancing. And so, I feel like for all of those, they make me think, reflect and maybe enjoy life a little bit more.

BB: Yeah, especially if you’re moving around backwards with your hands up and down. Thank you all so much. It’s such a pleasure talking to y’all and getting to know you and getting to know the people behind the brand that we’ve just all fallen in love with. You’re at our dinner table so often, so it’s nice to meet you.

MG: Thank you. Yeah, very nice to meet you too.

VG: Thank you.

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BB: I’m so grateful that Veronica and Miguel agreed to talk to us and tell us about the start and the birth of this remarkable business, and you can learn more about Siete online, at @sietefoods, on Twitter and Instagram. Their website is sietefoods.com. We’ll have links to everything on our episode page on brenebrown.com. Just go to brenebrown.com, click on Podcast, and then click for any of the Dare to Lead podcast, Dare to Lead, for Unlocking Us, Unlocking Us, it’ll take you to the whole directory of all of them, and all the episode pages. Last week on Unlocking Us, I talked with Jennifer Rudolph Walsh and Ashley Ford, on the transformative power of storytelling and their new anthology, Hungry Hearts: Essays on Courage, Desire, and Belonging. So please give that a listen, to Ashley and Jennifer, just on fire about changing the world and changing the conversation. As always, everyone can listen to both Dare to Lead and Unlocking Us for free on Spotify. Really grateful to you all, to this community. Make yourself a really good chorizo y huevo taco on a Siete tortilla. And now, they don’t just have almond. I’m looking at Barrett. Do they have a bunch of other… Coconut flour, if you don’t have nuts? They have three or four different kinds. I just love that celebrating their heritage, innovating and meeting customer needs. It’s just….it’s awesome.

BB: Thanks, y’all. The Dare to Lead podcast is a Spotify original from Parcast. It’s hosted by me, Brené Brown, produced by Max Cutler, Kristen Acevedo, Carleigh Madden and by Weird Lucy Productions. The sound design is by Kristen Acevedo, and the music is by The Suffers.

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© 2021 Brené Brown Education and Research Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Brown, B. (Host). (2021, February 22). Brené with Veronica and Miguel Garza on Food, Family, and Scaling a Business. [Audio podcast episode]. In Dare to Lead with Brené Brown. Parcast Network. https://brenebrown.com/podcast/brene-with-veronica-and-miguel-garza-on-food-family-and-scaling-a-business/