How Zevia CEO Paddy Spence Uses Goals to do “More” to Help Him Succeed

Paddy Spence

For so many of us, setting SMART goals feels natural. It feels like the most promising way to achieve success. For Paddy Spence, CEO and Chairman of Zevia, there’s a time and place for time-boxed, specific goals, but there’s also room for much, much more when it comes to goal setting.

On this episode of #WeGotGoals, I got a dose of Spence’s refreshing take on non-binary goal setting, and heard how it played into his business journey that led him to purchase the massive sugar-free soft drink brand.

“You plot your course, but you just don’t know where you’re going to go,” Spence said. “I knew I wanted to run a business, I knew I wanted to be in the natural foods industry, and didn’t know much beyond that.”

His first post-graduate school job was with Kashi cereals, a time he describes as “constant discovery, learning, and trial and error.”

Spence explained further his non-linear journey, with steps forward and equal or more steps backward, while exploring the natural foods industry. But he attributes his outlook on goals in a non-binary way as what really led him to success and helped him stay sane along the way.

“Accomplishment is never linear. It’s a zig-zag, it’s lumpy. There were so many twists along the way.”

And if you only see goals as black or white, achieved or not achieved, those twists along your journey can be quite de-motivating. So Spence uses the words “more” and “less” to define some of the things he works toward.

Like “Spend more time with my kids, or floss my teeth more. What’s more? it just means ‘more.’ The finish line type of goals are satisfying, but so many of the things we try to do on a daily basis, there’s no finish line. There’s no finish line to being a good dad. There’s no finish line to being healthy. It’s all about continuous improvement.”

But Spence also has this keen awareness that success can be both a continuous journey and, simultaneously, something you’ve already achieved.

“We don’t tell ourselves that enough,” Spence noted. Too often, he told me, he sees young people that believe “‘If I don’t do steps X, Y and Z I won’t have succeeded.’

“I tell people, you know what, you’ve already succeeded. You’re a college grad, you’re in a job, you have a roof over your head, you have a paycheck. That sounds pretty good to me. Success isn’t something that’s out in the future, it’s within our grasp today.”

This summer, Spence suffered from a detached retina, an experience that, although necessitated an eight-week intense recovery period, allowed him to ultimately see clearly what was most meaningful in his life.

Post-surgery, Spence couldn’t read, write, lie down, exercise or travel for eight weeks.

“I had to sit in a dark room for that period of time and really couldn’t do much. One of the things I realized is how much I was missing, how much I missed the interaction with my family and co-workers … It made me so much more grateful for everything – to be able to see, to interact with people, to be able to take my kids to school.”

And during that time, Spence did what he could: he meditated. “It’s a joke to say you’re good or not good at meditation, but I know I got a lot better of those eight weeks.”

Of the things Spence values most, his family is at the very top. In fact, one of the biggest goals he’s proud to say he’s achieved is all around his connection to his family.

In this episode you’ll hear just how much he values it, the steps he’s taken to keep his time and attention prioritized on family, and how he continues to use meditation to set his daily intention on what’s most important in his life for his family and for Zevia.

Hear the full episode with Paddy Spence on #WeGotGoals anywhere you get your podcasts — including Spotify! If you like what you hear, please leave us a rating and a review. 

And remember, if you’re working on a big goal, small goal, or a new goal setting method for yourself, we want to hear about it! Send your stories and lessons learned as a voice memo to Cindy Kuzma at [email protected] and you could be featured on a future episode of #WeGotGoals.



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About Maggie Umberger

Maggie moved to Chicago from North Carolina in 2014 with a degree in Journalism and Spanish, a 200-hour yoga certification, a group fitness cert and a passion to teach and to sweat. It wasn't until she found aSweatLife that she really started to feel at home. Here, she's incorporated her passion for health and wellness into her career as she helps to build the network of Ambassadors, trainers and fitness enthusiasts that exist within the aSweatLife ecosystem. You can also find her coaching at CrossTown Fitness and teaching yoga classes at Bare Feet Power Yoga, Yoga Six and exhale.