That Time Ben & Jerry Gave Me The Scoop

In the 1980’s, I reached out to Ben Cohen to see if he would like to make a Rachel’s Brownies Ice Cream. My wife and & I owned Rachel’s Brownies, a wholesale bakery from 1975–1989. Ben Cohen is the Ben, from Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream fame. It sounded like a marriage made in dessert heaven.

Ben knew our brownies from flying on People’s Express Airline, a now-defunct airline that sold the brownies on flights up and down the east coast. We met in the early 80’s at a sushi restaurant in NYC. In fact, it was the first time my wife and I ever ate sushi. We ended up making Rachel’s Brownies ice cream, and there was a time in the 90’s when it was available in eight hundred of their stores.

One Scoop at a Time

Ben and Jerry were boyhood friends who after meandering around for many years in their twenties, decided to open an ice cream parlor in Burlington, Vermont. They started their business around 1978, and when we met them, they still had scoop shops but had started expanding by selling pints of ice cream through retail locations. They had recently been on the cover of Time Magazine as the “makers of the world’s finest ice cream.”

Like Ben & Jerry, my wife and I were not business people who understood what we were doing. We had an amazing, highly differentiated product from our competitors. But the struggles each day with all the issues involved with running a business were overwhelming.

I recall asking Ben & Jerry how they coped. Did he have any advice for another food entrepreneur?

I’m almost certain it was Ben who said, we just take everything one scoop at a time. We can’t figure out how to solve all the challenges we face, but we can focus on the one “scoop” in front of us.

How We Built This

Ben’s advice came back to me today as I listened to Guy Raz’s interview on his podcast, How I Built This, where he interviews industry legends from the founder of Starbucks, Virgin, Chipotle, Nike and Spanx. During this interview, Ben mentions how they learned to just focus on the next step and not to worry about the next one.

You know the old joke, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Essentially, that was Ben’s advice to me. He said he loved the scoop metaphor since all he could do was scoop one ice cream cone at a time.

Lessons Learned

Can you concentrate on one issue at a time before moving forward to the next one? If you think of your marketing or businesses challenges as steps, just take one at a time. It makes sense.

For more than forty years in business, I know that if I can focus on one thing at a time and block out the other stuff on the to-do list, I’ll be fine. It sounds like simple advice, but I have followed during my career and it has served me well.

So when you are back at work faced with a million things to do, just focus on the scoop in front of you.

Need a marketing guide to provide you with a plan? Need business coaching advice? Need a scoop of ice cream? I can help with all three. Text me at 919 720 0995 or email me at

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