Darin Olien is the co-creator of Shakeology. In this article he describes how the idea of a super-functional nutrient-dense shake went from an idea on a piece of paper to “The Healthiest Meal of the Day”.
The Birth of Shakeology
By Darin Olien, “The Ingredient Hunter”
Sometime in the middle of 2006 I was well into traveling, hunting, and discovering many plants, nuts, fruits, and other superfoods around the planet. I was heading to the source and meeting the people in the fields, rainforests, and mountaintops of places like Peru, Costa Rica, Bhutan, Australia, Tahiti, and places in between—drawn by an insatiable curiosity of what is out there. The places I have been are some of the most abundant and ecologically diverse places in the world and home to an amazing display of vibrant, health-filled plants. With the herbal discoveries I was making I was passionately formulating many concoctions—testing, eating, experimenting, importing these miracles of earth. I fueled myself as well as friends and some extreme athletes and celebrity peeps.
One day in 2006, I got a call from my Argentine friend, Miguel, who had met a woman at our local vitamin shop who was doing some similar things on the nutrition front. I met and had an amazing, synchronistic conversation with the vibrant and brilliant Isabelle Daikeler! We had very similar points of view and many synergies on nutrition, wellness, and life, really. It is rare that I find someone who is living, demonstrating, and traveling on a path of true commitment to vibrant living like Isabelle is. She told me she had heard of and even tried some of my formulas and thought there might be an opportunity for me to work with her husband’s company. A week or so later, I was back at their home, out by the pool, and met Carl Daikeler for the first time.
Carl, too, was very open, caring, and willing to share where he was coming from. He shared with me his vision of the company, where they are now and where he really would like to go and his desire to impact the lives of millions of people and crank up the company’s nutritional division! He said he was thinking about a meal replacement called “The Healthiest Meal of the Day.” He said to me, “I know you have formulated these other things but could you take us in this direction and formulate a top-notch, incredibly nutritious, yummy meal replacement?” The first thought was: Of course I could do that, it’s what I love to do!
You see, I have so many ideas in my head for developing avant-garde formulas and using exotic ingredients that of course I want to get them out there to people, millions of people. And here is this guy, giving me an opportunity to do my thing – to take the ball and run with this vision – well, I am in! And I know without a doubt nothing would have happened if it hadn’t been for Isabelle trailblazing her knowledge and understanding to Carl, slowly downloading him information about this world of Super-Functional nutrition! And she was such a blessing and hugely instrumental for me then and now, even being able to have this groundbreaking opportunity by the ground she forged with the company well before I arrived. And I have to tell ya, the thing that sealed the deal for me was who Carl and Isabelle were as people, the caring they had and the large vision, rooted in creating a rewarding impact for millions of people.
I have never set out to work for a big company or a corporation or other people, for that matter. I have always been an entrepreneur, doing my own thing… traveling around, formulating, discovering, adventuring, answering to no one… doing exactly what I wanted to do. So, to even consider working with a big company was a big deal for me… probably because I am a control freak and didn’t want to have to compromise or cut corners like so many companies end up doing.
I have had my experiences with other very large nutrition companies saying they wanted the latest and the greatest, and when it came down to it they were not really willing to do what it takes, not willing to take the risk of giving the customer something extraordinary without cutting corners. That is gonna be a deal breaker for me because I don’t cut corners so I naturally turned away from them and continued to do my own thing. It always came down to $$, margins, and their lack of vision from my point of view.
It’s like when Ferrari made their car… they put the very best parts in it and said, “We are not skimping on quality and if people want the best they will pay for it,” so they did it! Well, I knew I wasn’t gonna skimp and Carl proved he wasn’t gonna either, so we were able to put the Ferrari of shakes together in Shakeology®. Now, Carl knows better than me, but I remember the tension in those meetings at Beachbody when I told them how much it would cost to put something like this together and there were more than a few business dudes in that room who thought I was nuts and it probably couldn’t and wouldn’t work! Well, the big boss man, Carl, always pulled through and saw it and believed in it even when others didn’t… he knew we had to do it no matter what it takes, even if it was more expensive than the average swag product on market.
All of that and the invitation from Carl and Isabelle made the difference for me. And from my point of view, Carl basically said in the beginning, “I trust you can do this, so go do your thing!” He supported me in being me and gave me the freedom to create what is best for the product and people. So we had a deal, and with a smile and a handshake we started rollin’!
How do I put a formula – this formula – together? I first had to start from scratch, a clean slate! I didn’t want to start with a point of view of something or someone else’s ideas. My first question was… what is “Shakeology“? (Of course we were not calling it that at the time. Carl came up with that brilliant name later.) When Carl asked me to create “The Healthiest Meal of the Day,” I was beyond stoked! Because I have seen, smelled, tasted, discovered, and experienced some very amazing superfoods in my life and in my travels, the opportunity to start getting that potency and vibrant nutrition into as many BODIES as possible was and is exciting. And given where some of the plants are from and how they are grown, there is no way most people would be able to experience these superfoods otherwise.
It can be quite a daunting task to formulate something that is for everybody when every body is different! However, there are things that are universal when you start to look at what is missing in most people’s diets in our society today. That is where I started to formulate from – by filling in the gaps of what people’s bodies require, what the typical Beachbody customer’s body requires. I asked myself, what are the nutrients that are not being delivered in “normal” eating conditions today? In addition, one of the biggest keys was using ingredients that are as close to their natural, whole-food state as possible. And last, I know firsthand that it doesn’t matter how good it is nutritionally if it doesn’t taste good.
If it’s not convenient and good-tasting, it will not work and no one is going to consume it. But, I knew it was possible to make it taste good… it hadn’t been done before but I knew I could do it while not making the fatal mistakes others make, like cutting corners and using synthetic, artificial sweeteners and lower-quality ingredients… not this one, not a chance! With all those potent herbs, grasses, and exotics in there… whew, it took some time but we pulled it off! Hats off to all the guys in the lab… we spent many hours, days, and months playing with the formula and ingredients to get it to not only deliver super nutrition but to taste delicious!
It is an exciting thing because even though there are thousands upon thousands of supplements, foods, herbs, and perceived miracles out there, there are so very few that are any good. One of my philosophies when I put formulas together (and, really, how I approach all of life) is to treat others as if they already KNOW even if they don’t know! So, even if they don’t know cognitively on some level their body does! Meaning, I put the best product together I can at the time with the highest-quality ingredients, testing, sourcing, using sustainable means, period. The selling will come from that integrity, quality, and nurturing we put into the entire process and product. People know when they are being told the truth or a lie.
Long story short, that golden rule thing is something that naturally comes out in what I do and formulate… because for me, that’s what I would want in a supplement, myself. Have I told you that I am selfish? I don’t do anything I don’t want to do especially when it comes to quality eating and supplementation. My friends certainly know this! I think of myself when putting together supplements and I only put the things in that I would myself consume. I have never understood why people would do things or promote things that they do not do or believe in themselves. So, of all formulas I produce, foods I consume, recommendations I give, chances are I have lived it and am living it! I certainly did with Shakeology. (And, by the way, I drink it every day!)
In the video below Darin, Isabelle, and Carl share their thoughts on the birth of Shakeology.
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