Nabeel Alamgir of Lunchbox: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a C-Suite Executive

Building a culture of teamwork, trust, and empowerment creates a better environment for everyone involved internally and externally. It’s important to support one another and push team members to do great things because you genuinely believe in their potential.

As part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company” I had the pleasure of interviewing Nabeel Alamgir.

Nabeel Alamgir was born in Bangladesh, moved to Kuwait 7 years later, and to Queens, New York 7 years after that. Nabeel began his career as the first busboy at the Bareburger flagship store in Astoria, and spent his free time devising marketing objectives for the CEO. In 2019 he founded Lunchbox, a next-gen online ordering company, that was built out of the frustration of trying to build his own digital ordering system at Bareburger. In just a short period, Lunchbox has established itself as the premier product in the digital ordering space, partnering with industry leaders such as Clean Juice, Wings Over, Bareburger, and more.

Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I was born in Bangladesh, moved to Kuwait 7 years later, and to Queens, New York 7 years after that. I didn’t speak English but picked up the language by watching Scorcese movies. I began working as a busboy at Bareburger — where I continued learning English — eventually working my way up to CMO of the company. As CMO, I witnessed first hand what problems faced the restaurant industry as digital ordering gained popularity, and decided to be a part of the solution by launching Lunchbox in 2019.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

One of the funnier things that has happened in my career was the initial meeting of Lunchbox’s CTO, Andrew Boryk. At the time — this was pre-Lunchbox — I was having some fun on LinkedIn by listing my real job titles with fake job descriptions. Andrew came across it and sent me a direct message (aka he slid into my DMs) asking if he could steal the idea. After some banter, I asked him if he wanted to meet up. I later learned that Andrew wasn’t sure if it was going to be a date and was prepared to turn me down. The only reason he came was that I asked him to meet up at where I was working at the time, Bareburger, which happened to be one of Andrew’s favorite spots to eat, and figured that the worst thing that could happen is that he’d get a free meal. This was 2014 and we’ve been working together ever since.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

It’s not really a Life Lesson Quote but “Maktub” is something I have always had as a North Star in my life. It means “It is Written” from the book, The Alchemist, and I also have the phrase tattooed on my arm. To me, it’s a reminder that we are all the author of our own fate and have control over the life you “write” or create.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on your leadership style? Can you share a story or an example of that?

Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell

I learned so much from this book, but one of the biggest takeaways pertaining to leadership style is that you can never assume something is what it seems. There is a story behind everyone and everything and it is always beneficial to look at things from a different perspective outside what is seen as the “normal” point of view.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The major thing that sets Lunchbox apart is that we ourselves were restaurateurs, we know our client’s pain points because we’ve lived them. I, myself, worked my way up at Bareburger from busboy to CMO, working nearly every job in between. This experience allows us to have an end-to-end understanding of the industry and a keen awareness of the value we can add to the mix.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

Take care of yourself through exercise, a healthy diet, and an adequate sleep schedule. Surround yourself with a team of trustworthy individuals who share the same values and goals. It’s vital to avoid hiring for your needs today and instead hire with your needs 6 months from now in mind.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

“Take every meeting, you never know what may come of it.” While I agree with this to a point, it needs to be refined: take every meeting…with a clear vision. It also leans on not always saying “yes”. Your time is precious and you can work to create efficiency by having a clear idea of what each meeting you have is trying to accomplish.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Grit, Agility, and Data Minded Decisions

Grit- It takes a lot of grit to hold onto the reins of a company with a dedication to financials, the individuals that comprise the company, and the overall culture of the workplace.

Agility — I informally picked up English quickly by watching a lot of films. Primarily movies from the great Martin Scorsese. It’s crucial to continue evolving ahead of the times as an individual and as a company.

Data Minded Decisions — We love data at Lunchbox, as the data we’ve collected on third-party apps validates our mission and shows just how predatory these platforms are. For example, third-parties take an average of 30% of each order placed on their platforms and don’t share data with their customers. We love sharing data!

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a C-Suite executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what a C-Level executive does that is different from the responsibilities of other leaders?

My role is to provide a clear vision for where the company is going and work with the teams to ensure they have what they need to accomplish their goals. My job is to be the best captain on the ship and create an environment that empowers the vision and the individuals of our company to be their very best.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive? Can you explain what you mean?

There is a myth that CEOs sit high in the castle of every company and are hard to access and get time 1:1 with. While my schedule may be busy, I make a point with all new hires that they have access to meet with me and provide both feedback and input into how the company can operate and where it can go.

What are the most common leadership mistakes you have seen C-Suite leaders make when they start leading a new team? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Not providing enough transparency in decision-making. To work effectively as a team you need to be honest with your team. It leads to stronger conversations and decisions that keep the vision of the company aligned.

In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

You are constantly in the spotlight. On top of being the public-facing person of the company, you are so internally as well. Everything that goes wrong is on you, as is continuing to inspire team members as the company grows. I like to take a transparent accountability approach as I am constantly striving to improve — my team has full access to give me feedback regularly.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading From the C-Suite”? Please share a story or an example for each.

It’s important to spend time with your co-founders and leaders. Those times can bring about fantastic new ideas for the company and its culture.

Hire for the team you need 6 months from now.

A talented CFO/COO is a CEO’s secret tool.

The position can be extremely lonely.

A good morning and evening routine can do wonders.

In your opinion, what are a few ways that executives can help to create a fantastic work culture? Can you share a story or an example?

Building a culture of teamwork, trust, and empowerment creates a better environment for everyone involved internally and externally. It’s important to support one another and push team members to do great things because you genuinely believe in their potential.

We have leadership reviews, which help to keep everyone accountable for change. My stance is that if you believe in the power of the individual, you will in turn empower the team.

We also strive to always create opportunities for our team to grow professionally. We host regular summits and panels just for staff, giving them access to talent, mentors, and the like while also fostering networking opportunities.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I think the work we are doing at Lunchbox is a step towards that great movement. The restaurant industry is a lifeline for countless people here in the United States, and we saw that when this pandemic hit. We need to continuously empower our restaurants.

How can our readers further follow you online?

Personal Twitter: @nabeeleats

LinkedIn: nabeeleats

Instagram: @nabeeleats

Authority Magazine

In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Pop Culture, Business, Tech, Wellness, & Social Impact

Authority Magazine

In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

Written by

Entrepreneur, angel investor and syndicated columnist, as well as a yoga, holistic health, breathwork and meditation enthusiast. Unlock the deepest powers

Authority Magazine

In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.