For Better or for Work: Married to an Entrepreneur

A session at SXSW Interactive 2012

Sunday 11th March, 2012

3:30pm to 4:30pm (CST)

How does someone who is obsessed live peacefully with someone who isn’t? That question—posed by an entrepreneur—elegantly summarizes the quandary faced by company founders and their spouses. In “Balancing Acts,” Meg's regular column in Inc. Magazine, she examines the impacts—for better and for worse—of entrepreneurial businesses on families.

As the spouse of an entrepreneur--married for more than 25 years to both her husband, Gary Hirshberg, and his business, Stonyfield Yogurt--this topic is familiar terrain. Gary co-founded Stonyfield on a farm in 1983. In those days, the business was “seven cows and a dream,” as company literature describes it. At sales of over $370 million, Stonyfield is now the third largest yogurt company in the U.S.

In this session, Gary and Meg will discuss lessons learned about how a marriage and family can survive the wild ride of an entrepreneurial business.

About the speakers

This person is speaking at this event.
Meg Hirshberg

Writer/Columnist, Inc Magazine

Meg is a freelance writer for magazines. In 2009, she began writing a regular column, called “Balancing Acts,” for Inc. magazine. Meg’s column explores the intersection of family and business, and work/life balance issues in an entrepreneurial setting. She also addresses this subject in speaking appearances. (For a compendium of Meg’s writing, see her website, www.meghirshberg.com.) Meg’s book, For Better or For Work: A Survival Guide for Entrepreneurs and Their Families, expands on her column topics. Meg worked in her husband Gary’s company, Stonyfield Yogurt, for the first several years of the business—and of her marriage to Gary, whom she’d met at an organic farming conference. Stonyfield took nine painful years to reach profitability, and now, at $370 million in sales, it is the largest organic yogurt company in the world. After Meg stopped working in the business, she wrote two yogurt cookbooks, and launched her writing career. Her work has appeared in Yankee, New Hampshire Magazine, and the Boston Globe Magazine, among others. Meg also enjoys teaching nonfiction writing at a community college. Meg grew up outside New York City and graduated from Brown University with a degree in Comparative Literature. After college she moved to California to work on an organic farm and run a science education garden for elementary school children. Meg’s interest in organic growing led her to get a Master’s degree from Cornell Agriculture School, after which she was hired to manage a large organic vegetable operation in New Jersey, where she lived until moving up to join Gary at Stonyfield Farm in New Hampshire. Meg and Gary have three children.

This person is speaking at this event.
Gary Hirshberg

Chairman, Stonyfield Yogurt

Biographical Sketch of Gary Hirshberg Gary Hirshberg is the husband of writer Meg Hirshberg and the father of three yogurt eaters. He is Co-Founder and Chairman of Stonyfield Farm, the world’s leading organic yogurt producer, and the author of Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World (Hyperion, 2008). Gary frequently speaks on topics including sustainability, organic agriculture and the profitability of green business. Since 1983, Gary has overseen Stonyfield’s growth, from its infancy as a seven-cow organic farming school to its current $360 million in annual sales. Stonyfield has enjoyed a compounded annual growth rate of over 23% over 21 years, by consistently producing great-tasting products and using innovative marketing that blends the company’s social, environmental, and financial missions. Stonyfield entered into a partnership with Danone in 2001, and Gary is now Managing Director of Stonyfield Europe, with organic brands in Canada, Ireland, and France. Gary serves on several corporate and non-profit boards including Applegate Farms, Honest Tea, Peak Organic Brewing, The Full Yield, Climate Counts, SweetGreen, RAMp Sports, Glenisk, and the Danone Communities Fund. He is the chairman and co-founder of Stonyfield Café, a natural fast food restaurant firm. In 2011, President Obama appointed Gary to serve on the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. He is also co-chair of AGree an agricultural policy initiative formed by the Ford, Gates, Kellogg, Rockefeller, Walton Family and other leading foundations. Recently, he has helped to lead the consumer drive to require genetically engineered foods to be labeled. He is a founding Partner of Just Label It, We Have the Right to Know, the national campaign dedicated to labeling genetically engineered foods, and is co-author of Label It Now – What You Need to Know About Genetically Engineered Foods (New Word City, 2012), the first consumer guide to foods that have been genetically altered. All proceeds from the electronic book benefit Just Label It. Gary has received nine honorary doctorates and numerous awards for corporate and environmental leadership. He was named a Gordon Grand Fellow at Yale, one of “America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs” by Business Week and one of the top ten, “most inspiring people in sustainable food.” by Fast Company. Gary was also featured in the successful 2009 documentary film, "Food, Inc." And you can see him in the “Just Eat Organic” Rap Video he wrote and performed on YouTube.
Stonyfield has garnered several prestigious awards over the past few years including EPA Clean Air Excellence (2009), “Business of the Decade – Manufacturing & Technology” (Business NH Magazine), “2010 Top 10 Leaders of Change Award” (The Foundation for Social Change and UN Office for Partnerships), “One of the Five Best Large Companies to Work for in New Hampshire” (Business NH Magazine & NH Businesses for Social Responsibility, 2010), “Best Environmentally Friendly/’Green’ Business (New Hampshire Business Review, 2011), and the Institute of Packaging Professionals AmeriStar Award for Stonyfield’s Plant-based Yogurt Cup (2011). Previously, he directed the Rural Education Center, the small organic farming school from which Stonyfield was spawned and Executive Director of The New Alchemy Institute – a research and education center dedicated to organic farming, aquaculture, and renewable energy. Before that he was a water-pumping windmill specialist and an environmental education director with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. He also authored books on wind-power and organic gardening.

Next session in Rio Grande Ballroom

5pm From Dorm Room to Board Room by Mangesh Hattikudur and Will Pearson


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7 attendees

  • Scott Nixon 🦄
  • David Padilla
  • Gustavo Diamantino
  • LekanB
  • Meg Hirshberg
  • Noel Coleman
  • Gary Hirshberg

3 trackers

  • Emily Sandison
  • Miki Johnson
  • Roman Karachinsky

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Time 3:30pm4:30pm CST

Date Sun 11th March 2012

Session type

Core Conversation

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Books by speaker

  • For Better or For Work
  • Stirring It Up

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