Daniel Lubetzky, Founder of KIND Snacks, Inspires Kindness at SXSW
On March 12, 2023, Daniel Lubetzky (left) sits down with Kmele Foster (right) at SXSW for a talk on “Our Role in Overcoming America’s Division.” Photo Credit: Wendy Goodman
By Wendy Goodman
Daniel Lubetzky, founder of KIND Snacks and the Starts With Us social movement, captivated the audience at SXSW 2023 with an inspiring talk moderated by telecommunications entrepreneur Kmele Foster.
At the beginning of his talk, Lubetzky opened up about his background as a Jewish Mexican American and son of a Holocaust survivor, adding a personal and cultural dimension to his message. He shared how his Jewish heritage and upbringing influenced his values, including the importance of compassion, justice and community. Lubetzky immigated to San Antonio, Texas as a teenager where he graduated from Trinity University.
Lubetzky emphasized that his Jewish identity has played a significant role in shaping his entrepreneurial journey and commitment to social impact. He draws upon the teachings of Judaism that promote kindness, empathy and tikkun olam (repairing the world).
“When I was very young, my father told me the stories of his experience in Dachau concentration camp. Hearing about what my father and many others suffered through instilled in me a strong sense of purpose to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.
“Throughout my life, through both my business and civic ventures, I have sought to build bridges across perceived divides and to help people unite around our shared humanity. Part of what was amazing about my dad was that even though he had experienced the worst of humanity, he never lost faith in people. He assumed positive intent from everyone. We all need to do more of that today,” Lubetzky told The Jewish Outlook.
Lubetzky’s first peace-building endeavor was Peaceworks, a company dedicated to promoting peace and economic cooperation in conflict regions. Lubetzky explained how his experiences traveling to areas of conflict, such as the Middle East, inspired him to create a business that could contribute to positive change. With Peaceworks, he aimed to bridge divides and foster economic opportunities by partnering with local farmers and producers from different regions.
“Peaceworks made me fall in love with the concept of using market forces to drive change and to make a small contribution toward making a better world,” Lubetzky said during his SXSW talk.
This early experience with Peaceworks laid the foundation for Lubetzky’s subsequent ventures, including KIND Snacks, where he continues to prioritize values-driven business practices and social responsibility.
In addition to founding Peaceworks, Lubetzky also shared about his pivotal role in establishing the OneVoice movement, which aimed to empower Israeli and Palestinian youth to advocate for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Lubetzky recounted his personal experiences and interactions with individuals from both sides of the conflict during his travels. Witnessing the deep divisions and lack of understanding, he recognized the urgent need for grassroots efforts to bridge the gap and amplify the voices of those seeking peace.
Lubetzky brings this concept to the United States with his Starts With Us venture, a social movement which aims to address and overcome the deep divisions in America. Lubetzky recognized the polarization and societal challenges the country faces and emphasized the need for collective action.
“I, alongside 200 foremost leaders, kicked off this movement for 87% of Americans across the political spectrum who are tired of hyper-partisan division and who want to build commonsense solutions that benefit the majority of citizens. Starts With Us is about seizing back the agenda from a small group of people with the most extreme points of view by exercising our power and responsibility to shape the future of our nation,” Lubetzky told The Jewish Outlook.
During his talk, Lubetzky highlighted three areas in which society can grow. He said, “When we did our research, the three buckets of skills we need to develop are the three c’s: curiosity, compassion and courage.”
The Starts With Us movement encourages people to engage in meaningful conversations, listen to different perspectives and find common ground. It emphasizes the importance of empathy, respect and kindness as fundamental principles to bridge the divides that separate people. Lubetzky called upon individuals in the audience to actively participate in this movement, emphasizing the transformative impact that collective action can have on society.
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