09/03/2014 11:23 am ET Updated Nov 03, 2014

Women in Business: Q&A with Kim Love, founder and CEO of The LoveLife Program

Kim Love is the founder of LoveLife Program, a food discovery system that helps individuals identify the impact food has on their body and mind. Aimed at helping people live at peak performance, LoveLife has helped thousands uncover what their bodies uniquely need to live life well.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
From a young age, I had many different health challenges. The traditional medical paths did not link the different issues but my intuition told me they were all connected. Curiosity, an adventurous spirit and a fierce belief that we all deserve to feel well, be healthy and live a happy life, led me on a 25-year quest to find answers.

Yoga, meditation and food were my doorways in to optimal health. I became a vegetarian at age 12, got a nutrition degree, experimented with every healing diet and cleanse throughout my 20s, got my mantra at 21 and began yoga at 23. But while the yoga and mind practices were amazing, the health challenges continued. It wasn't until my early 30's when I got very sick with a 100-degree fever that lasted for an entire year, that I realized, I was missing the point and was suffering from info overload. The more I listened to everyone else's dietary opinions (many diets are rooted in opinions or inconclusive science), the more confused I became.

Getting sick was an enormous gift. It allowed me to use my practices to finally begin listening to MY body and to find out what it truly needed and what was holding it back. Through this process of resetting my system and listening for the very first time, to my body, I became well. Fevers disappeared and other health issues I had been dealing with since birth, vanished.

Through an iterative process of truly tuning in and noticing what was working and what wasn't, I was able to uncover life-changing information. LoveLife's program is rooted in this iterative process and our tools are the basis for helping clients translate intelligence into what works for them.

Though I didn't realize it at the time, this process of listening to the body, experimenting, and continuing to iterate to health and happiness is very similar to a popular start-up philosophy based on a book called "The Lean StartUp."

This 'adaptive' iterative process is also core to my leadership style. When I read "The Lean Startup", it suddenly made sense to me why our method has been so appealing to CEO's and Entrepreneurs. Iteration and mindfulness is core to innovation and success.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at LoveLife Program?
I've always loved to work and experienced a sense of fulfillment from it, even from a young age. As a teen, I was an optical assistant, sales associate, ice cream server and waitress. In my 20s, I worked for entrepreneurs and start-ups. I loved the start-up energy and craziness! But I had a nagging feeling that I wasn't living my true purpose and I could not settle for anything less. So I struck out on my own and started a jewelry company. Being in 80 stores in 6 months was certainly energizing, but the fashion business didn't feel like my 'home'. I've always believed we all have a purpose we are meant to live, yet, similar to finding my perfect diet, finding my purpose seemed like a riddle. The irony is that it was right under my nose the entire time. While I was always incredibly passionate about the healing power of food and the happiness available to us when we harness the power of our mind, I would have felt like a fraud (even with my nutrition degree), saying I could help others, if I couldn't first and foremost help myself. But from there the rest organically unfolded. After my friends saw me get well they began coming to me for help and I loved diving in to do whatever I could to assist them in finding their own answers. Helping one friend turned into helping another, and pretty soon I was working 12 hours a day and it occurred to me - Ohhhh, I think this is it! 6 years later I still feel enormous gratitude every single day that I get to do this work and live this amazing life.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at LoveLife Program?
All of our highlights start and end with our clients. I'm struck so often by the incredible clients we get to serve. Our food partners and vendors regularly comment on what a special community of people we have. This makes our work such a delight. And as if that wasn't enough, even better is the incredible life changing discoveries our clients make every single day. Some realize nuts cause their migraines, others rediscover soaring energy levels that haven't been felt in 30 years or that digestion issues result from eating tomatoes. These insights are our reason for being and it never gets boring.

As far as challenges go, trying to stay true to the heart of the program while growing and scaling the business can be very difficult. This isn't easy as there can be creative differences and differing opinions every where you turn as to how one should market and develop their business and alignment with the partners with whom you work is absolutely essential. We've realized that no matter what, we need to stay true to our core values and incorporate this in everything we build, as well as who we work with to best serve our clients. During these past few months we've learned so much from the experience of launching a start-up, you have to iterate quickly, learn from mistakes, and the learning curve is short. It could have broken us, but we have come out the other side and are so much stronger FOR it. Our core values were created out of realizing what we 'don't want'. And our mission and purpose is clearer than ever.

How is the LoveLife program transforming people's lives?
Food is a potent source of healing and thriving. But it can also be our ultimate saboteur leading to weight gain, low energy, pre-mature aging, cancer, heart disease, early death and every health malady in existence.

We get to help people tune into the transformative power of foods once they drop the diet dogma and instead, listen to their bodies' innate intelligence to personalize diets. Insights revealed are truly life changing, and I know that phrase can sound cheesy and cliché, but sometimes cliché's exist for a reason! When someone discovers their lifelong allergies and weight gain were due to citrus. Or migraines and back pain were due to chicken. Or they feel truly empowered in their own answer to the question - Vegetarian or Caveman? Gluten or No Gluten? When you undeniably KNOW these answers, it becomes much simpler and more motivating to live them.

What advice can you offer women who want to follow a similar career path?
Do it! Follow your bliss. But also know the path is fraught with twists and turns and frankly, it's not all roses. You'll need to call upon that ferocious passion when times are tough and they will be... No matter what the calling, moving towards "it" is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves, our communities and the world. Be smart about it, do research, but at some point, stop over thinking it and make the leap.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Danielle LaPorte has one of my very favorite quotes on work-life balance - "Life balance is a myth, and the pursuit of it is causing us more stress then the craving for balance itself."

Personally, I vacillate between feeling like it's over-rated versus feeling like I must have it. Now!

The more I'm doing the work I LOVE rather than being buried in spreadsheets, the more balance I feel. I think this is one of the gifts that comes from living our purpose. But I also think we are all living our lives constantly "on," and that this 'on-ness" is a serious issue for our society. Joy and peace come through presence. And presence requires white space. The more connected we are, the less moments there are to just be. Be-Ing is a choice. Yet it's becoming increasingly difficult to do. We're on our phones in the checkout lines, at red lights, at the dinner table. When I feel myself hungering for balance it's frequently a recognition that I am not present and have instead become caught up in the world rather than living from my own core. It's so easy to let this slip away in an increasingly hectic world with more demands. And yet of course, paradoxically, this is when it's all the more important. I have had a personal practice for almost 20 years and my day or life, is night and day, with and without it. It includes reading something to nourish my mind, reflection, journaling, meditation and gratitude. These allow me to live my full life feeling centered.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Self Doubt.

Too often we underestimate the value we bring to the workplace in the terms of productivity, relationships, empathy and skill sets. The amazing gift women tend to have is "self-awareness", but sometimes this is a double edge sword ,especially in an effort of being humble we don't sell our strengths enough and display authentic confidence. Especially when we're up against others that confidently claim they can do anything and they might or might not deliver on those claims but frequently their self-belief becomes a self-perpetuating trend in the work place. If we can keep the strong self-awareness while also pairing it with the knowledge that we're always improving and learning, we will remain true while also projecting authentic confidence and throwing out self- doubt. We are much more powerful than we realize.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Having people believe in me, enough to invest their time in nurturing my ultimate goal is a palpable and rewarding feeling. By working so intimately with my clients, many who are CEO's and leaders in the community, I've had many go on to become mentors and even investors in my business. LoveLife would not be what it is today were it not for their knowledge, belief and nurturing.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Leymah Gbowee is a modern day Ghandi. Through leading a women's peace movement, she spear-headed an end to the Libyan Civil War. Through her powerful and peaceful presence, she and her fellow female leaders took down the dictator of Libya. Peacefully. I got to hear her speak and it was one of the most moving speeches of my life. She is a force of pure, palpable power and her message of female empowerment in the midst of unthinkable tragedy, made me want to rise up and follow her lead. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.

One of my very favorites is Marie Forleo. She is the 'leaders leader' and is a great example of someone sharing their own unique and huge gift, which includes helping others live their gifts, so they can shine their light brightly. Marie is quirky, sassy, super intelligent and happily marches to her own entertaining drum. She is an engine for helping women have the courage to live their own purpose and yet she also speaks to the many pitfalls of blazing your own trail and she inspires you to push beyond it.

What are your hopes for the future of LoveLife Program?
I hope that through LoveLife, people begin to automatically become more aware of what is possible in our lives. First of all to realize that fatigue is not a normal part of aging, that pain might not be due to an "injury" and that we don't have to battle the scales or raid our medicine cabinets when the pollen blows through. Or worse, live our lives, so unaware that we don't even realize we are fatigued or lackluster. My hope is that we realize feeling great and firing on all cylinders is an aspiration worth seeking out. And more often than not, the answers are within us.
Learning which foods nurture and balance our unique constitution is a gift that will serve us for the rest of our lives. If LoveLife can spur this movement towards the quest of a personalized diet and lead others to uncover what's uniquely right for each individual, that will be our ultimate success.