Laurin Mills, The Dinner Daily (Part 2)



Last week, Laurin shared how a personal solution to her end her weeknight dinner rut evolved into an award-winning platform. If you haven’t already read part 1, find it here. This week, we’re diving deeper to learn Laurin’s take on the Corporate Wellness industry, financial wellness, and how she personally maintains a work-life balance as her business grows.

 Time to read: 6 min


Interviewer: So you’ve talked about how the idea for Dinner Daily started when you were working as a CPA –  I’m curious about your experience coming from a corporate environment and accounting background, not necessarily having in depth knowledge of healthcare, what tools we use to really navigate this industry and make Dinner Daily a part of the conversation?

Laurin: In terms of understanding healthcare and understanding the corporate wellness industry, we do a couple things. First we attend to few key conferences during the year, typically as an exhibitor, but we’re able to attend all the workshops and listen in on the keynote speakers. That’s a really informative way to understand what the key concerns are in the industry, but also connect with people that are out in the field: whether they’re registered dietitians, doctors, HR people, or even academics who are involved in teaching about wellness or doing research. We’ve made some great connections at conferences with people that are in the field, and that’s been helpful.

We also employ registered dietitians out of the Tufts Friedman School. They guide us in recipe development and more health-conscious menus, beyond just your generic low calorie or low carb. Right now, we’re working on disease management menus for things like heart disease and diabetes, and they will be guiding us to create menus that will work for those very real dietary concerns for a lot of people.

Some of these dieticians have also worked in corporate wellness in different capacities. They have been a great resource for us in terms of helping us make decisions about our program that will resonate with the corporate wellness side of our business.


Interviewer: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. As you’re talking to all these key opinion leaders and all that, what do you think are the most trends in shaping the future of healthcare and employee wellness?

Laurin: Definitely nutrition –  of course I’m really happy to see this becoming a much bigger part of the dialogue, as it should be.

One of the most compelling talks I’ve attended was at this worksite wellness conference a couple years ago… A cardiologist from The Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts University gave this talk to a group of wellness professionals and he talked about how as much as programs such as Fit Bit,Weight Watchers, smoking cessation are helpful, you need to focus on nutrition. Because poor nutrition causes more expensive disease outcomes, it is critical to help employees eat better.

That was very encouraging for us because we believe through and through that what you eat is so important to health. It used to just be about exercise, going to the gym and not smoking. The other thing that we see and hear a lot going to these conferences and in talking to other professionals is a focus on financial wellness. Money is a big source of stress in people’s lives.

Interviewer: We hear that a lot as well from our members.

Laurin: Of course you do! And employees are stressed about it, so it affects their productivity. Wellness is now becoming more broadly defined in terms of the whole person, because the research has piled up that people are stressed out and that affects their well being. So you see a lot of programs around meditation and mindfulness and trying to help people relax, which I think is fantastic.

The definition of wellness has had to broaden to encompass many different parts of people’s lives.


Interviewer: That’s a great point. Very close to that is this topic of work-life balance. You’ve talked a lot about the Dinner Daily concept being a tool you developed initially to achieve better balance in your days as a CPA. I’m curious how that balance has evolved as an entrepreneur – how do you protect your personal time?

Laurin: Work-life balance is always going to be challenging. Even though I work for myself now, eventhough I left the corporate world and I have more flexibility in other ways, it still requires everyday effort. I think when you work for yourself, when you’re an entrepreneur, you can be so passionate about your business it becomes part of you. I live and breathe this business in a way that I never did for my job.

So for me, work-life balance means being much more aware of when I need to shut it off. I work from home a lot, so it’s very easy for me to just keep working. I don’t have the stop time that you do when you’re working at a physical location with a whole group of people and it’s 6 pm or 7 pm so it’s time to go home. That’s a struggle for me. When you’re very passionate about what you’re doing, it’s sometimes hard to turn it off.

My kids are older now so they’re more independent. That makes it easier. But I think mentally what I’ve learned from being an entrepreneur and navigating the whole work-life balance equation is that you have to be very focused on turning work off for at least some part of your life. It’s very easy to let it take over your whole world. You have to be really mindful of that.

Interviewer:  That’s huge. Now before we wrap up, I’d love to know what’s next for you and The Dinner Daily. What’s your dream for the business as it grows?

Laurin: I really just want The Dinner Daily to become a household name for busy families across the country that really need an economical way of getting dinner done. For people to know they can eat healthily and it doesn’t have to break the bank.

Right now, our biggest challenge is getting the word out that we’re here to help people. That we are affordable, and we’re there to support you. So my dream is that everyone knows who we are and can take advantage of it. And that the corporate wellness industry will continue to embrace the power of nutrition and we become the industry standard to give employees the tools to eat better every day.


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