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Project7-4Tyler Merrick is a business owner, family man and innovator of chewing gum. We were intrigued by Tyler's story after meeting him in New York City, which was when we discovered that just like us and many of our readers, Tyler has been on a journey to create something good for change.

Tyler Merrick is the founder of Project 7, a gum product line that gives back to 7 areas of need. Tyler's Project 7 company has gone through many pivots, but today it is a sustainable product line and giving model. In fact, Project 7 was awarded the Most Innovative Gum Award in 2014 from the Candy Industry, and you can find his product line in stores throughout the nation. However, his process hasn’t been without its challenges from business to family, and so through his experience we can learn from his valuable lessons. We invited Tyler to share his story to gain his advice on starting / running a company and raising a family.

Dive into meet Tyler Merrick and discover his lessons for business, life, family, and changing the conversation.

Q | TYLER, TELL US ABOUT PROJECT 7 - THE VISION, THE JOURNEY, AND WHAT'S NEXT
Project 7 is coincidentally in its 7 year and its definitely been a journey… Today we’re a specialty gum and mint brand that makes fun flavors that give back to 7 areas of need.  However it didn’t always look that way.  The original model was much wider and distracted in product scope that didn’t pan out too well.  I ambitiously believed that when I started out 7 years ago things would look a lot different than they do today.  However, the process of the journey has taught me more than I honestly would have hoped I had to learn but grateful that God was gracious with me to let me learn it and keep learning.

Today we’ve been through many an iteration of what we are, who we are and the heart of why we started this company is still there… to give and give sustainably.  The learning process for me has been in realizing that our product scope was too wide.  About a year ago we re-focused the brand to be around one core product and that was gum.  We needed to be good at something and truly carve out a product identity and not just a cause identity.  As a result our team has put in a lot of hard work and the blessing has been that there is fruit in focus.

We received the Most Innovative Gum Award in 2014 from the Candy Industry and have had a lot of fun creating fun flavors like Birthday Cake, Coconut Lime, Front Porch Lemonade and Sour Caramel Apple to name a few.  Our giving DNA is still there but we’ve become a better products company in the hard learning process of failing and as a result are putting ourselves in a better place and potential for building a sustainable giving model off of a true product line.

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Q | AS A DAD AND BUSINESS OWNER, WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE OUR READERS ABOUT WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Take as short of trips as possible and get on the earlier flight home if your schedule ends up allowing it. Communicate to your spouse and children this over and over. They need to know that you won’t stay out away from them an hour longer than you have to.  That they are the prize that you want to get home to.  This does a couple of things – it builds trust with your family that they know you prioritize them and truly only go on the road when you have to but that you will make it as quick as possible.  For you, it keeps things the main things… you have accountability to that ethos now and that’s a good thing. 

  1. Call your kids every night no matter what and talk to each one individually, pray with them, talk about their day… whatever you do at home, try to do that when you’re on the road… I literally mean, excuse yourself from the restaurant for 10 minutes if that is how the time zones fall and call home… don’t text, etc. or call ahead of time if you know you are going to be tied up later that evening.
  2. Pick up a little prize on the road for your kids from time to time or leave them notes when you go, send them a video message from a place you’re visiting… mix it up but take the time and effort show them they matter.
  3. Have a  blast at home… but invest in your spouse first and then your kids.  I see too many families where they make it all about the kids and then the marriage falls apart or after the kids leave home, the spouses don’t know how to date each other, be with each other… Date your spouse and put effort into your marriage and home.  You put a lot into your work and jump through hoops for a client - do the same at home.  Do fun stuff, surprises, extra long snuggle time, surprise trip for ice cream in your PJ’s.
  4. Be with your family - put your phone away.  My wife and I do the same with each other… If one of us starts talking to the other one and they happen to have their phone out doing something… they will put their phone down and listen intently to the other one and after they are done, then they pick up their phone.  It sounds silly but its a sign of respect and to you the person putting down the phone it makes you realize that this person in the flesh is way more important and you prioritize them.  My wife and I don’t sit on the couch at night or out on a date both instagramming our food… that isn’t being rude to others that do that but hopefully a reminder – be with each other and not the social network.  Show your kids that they are more important than the phone.

Q | AT CONSCIOUS MAGAZINE, WE'RE ALL ABOUT CHANGING THE CONVERSATION - WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU?
Be vulnerable – today we live in a culture that is constantly glossed over with a curated social media “front porch” and most people get really good at putting on appearances and those appearances deceive the observer and make the person creating them a prisoner of their own handiwork.  Admit that you don’t have it figured out, that you are struggling in these area(s) but you’re learning.  Share your failures and watch others let down their guard and share theirs and before you know it, real community is being birthed but more than anything, freedom for you is real.

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FROM THE EDITOR
At Conscious, remarkable people and organizations inspire us, and so we set out to tell stories that highlight human interest stories, global initiatives, innovation, community development, and social impact. You can read more stories like this when you subscribe.

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