The Great 8 of Personal Accountability

BTS_Great8Most gyms and health food stores are bursting with eager masses on January 1st. However, a short month later, yoga classes are back to normal attendance and Whole Foods is back to just its crunchy regulars. Within a month, our once lofty goals of weight loss, budgeting, and apocalyptic meal planning are turning into McDonalds, Netflix, and busy schedules.

Going into February, we want to focus on the most difficult part of goal setting, personal accountability. Whether setting health, personal, or corporate goals, The Great 8 of Personal Accountability can turn your goal setting into goal achieving.

1. Forget the past. Thoughts of “what should have happened”, “who was supposed to do it”, and “why we are in this situation” are a waste of time. What matters most is what is currently happening, what is being done about it, and what solutions are on the table. Invest time in present and future outcomes; do not waste time by blaming, complaining, or accusing.
2. BYOB, Be Your Own Boss. Start telling your days what to do, not letting situations, distractions, or people dictate your time. The most successful leaders plan, prepare, and manage their time based on quarterly, weekly, daily, and even hourly expectations. Respect your time, give it purpose and parameters, and you will gain flexibility to respond and react rather than disrupt and distract.
3. Say No. “No” can be an incredibly empowering word. Get in the habit of responding honestly and setting yourself free from overcommitting and overcompensating.
4. Do it now or schedule it now. Most people fall into procrastination, creeping deadlines, or forgotten responsibilities by taking notes, mentally or physically, that never get revisited. Either do a task immediately or schedule a time when you can complete it. No exceptions.
5. Own the outcome. Valued leaders take responsibility for 100% of the outcome regardless of success or failure. They manage through the result. Success is a celebratory tool, and failure is a vehicle for improvements and lessons learned.
6. Remove negative language, rewrite your internal dialogue. Eradicate the phrases, “not my job” or “not my issue”. Leaders are problem solvers and solution-oriented. Instead, they ask questions like “How can I help?” and “What am I doing to solve this problem?”.
7. Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who is the most responsible of all? Reflect on your previous actions, language, and performance; are you a finger pointer or a helping hand? “Who is responsible here?” is the wrong question to ask. Be accountable for your actions and involvement, and you will answer your own questions, find solutions, and excel rather than drowning in problems that you create.

“The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither.”- Confucius

8. One rabbit focus. Good leaders must set their sights on a unanimous goal and operate their team as a hunter seeking one reward.

We hope, that for this February, you are able to accomplish all goals you set your sights on!

5 Commandments for Successful Shipping in 2016

BTS_Shipping Header

Spring cleaning is in full effect at VHC Brands. Computers and forklifts are humming from holiday activity, and we are still buzzing from too many sugar cookies and Uncle Billy’s eggnog. The hustle and bustle inspired us to start strategizing for 2016 by looking at successes and lessons learned in 2015.

Year after year, our Shipping Department continues to be the shining star on the vest of our corporate profile. We are fast. Verging on the brink of light speed fast.

So, just in time for your corporate New Year’s resolutions, we are giving you our 5 Commandments for Successful Shipping in 2016:

  1. Orders are King. The backbone of any organization is cash flow, and the flow’s speed and dependability rely on timely transaction fulfillment. Understanding this concept is the key to mentally esteeming orders as a top priority, daily and hourly.
  2. Know thy product. The difference between a Walmart employee and a Best-Buy employee is in-depth training, product knowledge and simply, a passion for the product and the industry. We believe the same passion is needed on a shipping floor. Every member of our shipping team starts by pulling product, a system designed to make expert staffers through repetition and familiarity of handling the product daily.
  3. Cross-train, Cross-train, Cross-train. Every member of our shipping team has a specific role. However, each team member is also cross-trained as well, so the wheels of our highly efficient operation do not dismantle with absences. Each team member is like a versatile spoke, moving around within the department to fill in holes and support where needed.
  4.  Strive for Perfection. Errors are manageable when systems and operational expectations are advocated with dedication and rigor. For every single package that ships from VHC, it has been inspected and verified by no less than 4 people. This level of verification eliminates and prohibits discrepancies by 99.5%. We set our goals high by modeling after industry leading retailers like Amazon, who published their Leadership Principles here. One principle is “Insist on the Highest Standards” which states that leaders should be “continually raising the bar and driving their teams to deliver high quality products, services and processes.” We couldn’t agree more.
  5. Cut the Clutter. The last commandment is more logistic than operational, but it is the reason our team can work with such high efficiency. The Shipping Department’s environment is spotless, diligently organized and is equipped to handle impromptu situations. For every single product launch, the warehouse completely resets to eliminate chaotic overflow areas, no “leave for tomorrow” clutter and absolutely no obstacle-causing crowded aisles.

These commandments are more than just a cheesy motivational poster in the break room. They are rules that shape our operations, guide our employees, and provide a public outline for our customers that shows the reliability of our business. Whether we are shipping one little coaster to Iowa or hundreds of boxes to New York, each order is pulled quickly and accurately because of our ability to implement these commandments.

Happy shipping in 2016 from VHC Brands. We hope your corporate New Year’s resolutions involve a few shipping updates themselves!


-VHC Brands, the fastest shippers in the biz.

Freshly Picked

 VHC_Victory_GardenWith June beginning to warm up, we are seeing the first harvest out of our VHC Victory Garden. Seems like the mid-April planting was ages ago and now, after weeks of rain and cloudy skies, we have our first yield. In honor of National Fresh Veggie Day, we headed down to the garden, donned in wellies and gloves, to celebrate.

An hour later, we carted back softball sized dragon-egg cucumbers; pounds of zucchini, yellow squash and red potatoes; bushels of green beans; stacks of green onions and banana peppers, and the first barely ripe tomato. With the first bounty laid out in the break room, the office smells of fresh dirt and the crisp, sweet smell of organic vegetables. Is there anything more representative of spring than a table full of ripe, colorful vegetables?

Each year, we look at the bare soil and dream up a larger footprint, thinking, “this is going to be our best garden ever!” And each year, we are surprised by the quantity and vitality of our little garden. For us, it is more than just harvesting full-flavored, responsibly-grown vegetables. It is the pride and understanding that comes with hard work. That, and a summer of unlimited break room zucchini concoctions!

VHC_Victory_Garden_JunePost-WEBHappy National Fresh Veggie Day from VHC Brands!


The No-Pasta Lasagna

As I’ve aged a little (I’m 45), I’ve started to back away from the starches as a main course, side or food group. Sure, we eat pastas and breads etc, but in MUCH smaller amounts than in my 20’s and early 30’s. Without getting into the politics of starches and obesity and etc. I wanted to share a version of my NO PASTA Lasagna – a different, perhaps somewhat healthier version than the Italian classic. We have this meal about 2 dinners every 3 months, and it’s usually by request.I use Butternut Squash as the lasagna noodle substitute. In this case, it’s not even a front-and-center Italian flavor profile I am going for – no sauce here. I am using the word “lasagna” to refer generally to the layering of the ingredients, and to the baking thereof, but there is a cheese factor here as you will find below. Don’t be disappointed or pre-judge – this recipe turns out a great presentation that plates really well for dinner guests.

The No-Pasta Lasagna
A different, perhaps somewhat healthier version than the Italian classic using Butternut Squash as the noodle substitute.
Write a review
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
50 min
2101 calories
43 g
459 g
142 g
162 g
88 g
999 g
5271 g
9 g
0 g
45 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 2101
Calories from Fat 1250
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 142g
Saturated Fat 88g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 41g
Cholesterol 459mg
Sodium 5271mg
Total Carbohydrates 43g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 9g
Protein 162g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1 or 2 Butternut Squash (thinly sliced)
  2. 1 thin-sliced purple onion
  3. 1 or 2 thin-sliced red bell peppers
  4. Kale, Swiss Chard, or Spinach.
  5. Ricotta Cheese
  6. Fresh Mozzarella
  7. Fresh Parmesan
  8. Pine Nuts
  9. Italian Seasoning – homemade or premixed
  10. Olive Oil
  11. Cracked Pepper/Salt to taste
  1. Slice and cook the squash and set aside to cool. Slice the onion and red bell pepper and caramelize/cook in olive oil for 5 minutes. Set aside
  2. Slice the cheeses or grate them, your preference.
  3. Use a casserole baking dish and rub or spray olive oil. Be sure to get the sides of the dish as well. Working in layers, place squash slices, spread a thin layer of ricotta, then onion/pepper slices, sprinkled kale, and cheeses and spices, then repeat. I find the ricotta works best on the squash layer, but the other ingredients can be layered however you like. I press down all the layers before the final top layer of kale and pine nuts is added, and I don’t use pine nuts except on the top. Skip them if you aren't into them. Finish with a sprinkling of Mozzarella and Parmesan. Drizzle olive oil.
  4. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes or so at 325 to 350. Remove the foil covering, and bake a little more to ensure the top cheeses are melted and it gives you a nice “lasagna” style look.
  1. IMPORTANT: As with any layered lasagna-type casserole, all your hard work will come to nothing if you try to slice it up right out of the oven. Might as well have served goulash out of a pot, because that’s what you’ll get if you don’t let it cool off and firm up for slicing. I allow a minimum 10 minutes of rest after cooking before I slice. Another key trick is to use a spatula and work around all 4 sides of the lasagna, separating the lower layers from sticking to the dish. This prevents crying on your part as you attempt to plate each thick slice and find that half the lasagna slice is still in the baking pan, looking sad and torn up.
Behind The Seams

Now, anyone who knows me and has been to my kitchen, knows that presentation is easily half of my focus at meal times. Even to the point of miscellaneous items cannot be in the room, on the counter, etc – when food is plated and presented. I even do this with my 3 children and wife when there are no guests. This is a DINING experience – we aren’t eating from a bag here. Atmosphere matters. Every time. And I swear, the food tastes better. But I digress.

Assuming you’re dining area and kitchen can now pass the food inspector, the critic, and a Food Network contest, and assuming you have separated the lasagna from the sides of the baking pan, the lasagna may now be sliced. Be careful! Be sure to cut it nice and clean, and you have a fork or knife in your other hand, to gently slide it off the spatula and on to the serving plate. Many times a pretty lasagna has been ruined by not gently pushing it off the spatula with an alternate utensil.

For final showiness, I drizzle a little olive oil, and either sprinkle a parsley or chive or basil on the side of the dish. Sometimes I use paprika as a dusting which also looks good. Every once in a while I do a zig-zag of balsamic reduction. You choice, just make it look nice.


Ken Kline