Robert Gay is no stranger to the natural products industry. From his early days in the business at Dean Foods and WhiteWave Foods to his current work with Zevia, he’s been critical to the success of some of the most influential natural brands. It’s no surprise, then, that the industry veteran doesn’t believe in “work-life balance.”
“I’m passionate about work-life integration, not work-life balance. That is a very confrontational concept,” he says. “I don’t think that work-life balance is a successful approach.” So when the opportunity came up to embark on a cross-country bike ride, it seemed only natural to take Zevia along on this passion-fueled journey, seamlessly integrating his professional mission (help people live better, healthier lives with sugar-free beverages) and his personal values (live your best by pursuing your dreams). For many people in the natural products industry, work equals passion. But how many are truly living their values? “What we are doing here at Zevia today is years of work, decades of work, involved in the industry,” says Gay. “But we haven’t necessarily been able to do it ourselves—and now we are doing it.”
Enter: Live Your Best Ride. After having a heartfelt conversation with his late brother, who encouraged him to make this dream a reality and “go all in,” Gay decided it really was the right time to go for it: travel cross-country not as he’s done before—by plane, by car or by bus—but by bike. During the Zevia Live Your Best Ride, which started in August and will stretch through November, Gay is riding about 60 miles per day, stopping in Seattle, Missoula, Minneapolis, Des Moines, Nashville, Atlanta and Key West, talking to retailers and other health changemakers on the way at Zevia-hosted events.
Connection and community are really what it’s all about. Zevia is donating bikes to the national nonprofit Trips for Kids at various chapters along the route, so that children can get out and enjoy the ride, too. And Gay is hearing inspiring stories about what drives people to do the work they do in the natural products industry, sharing their knowledge with customers across the country. “Our retail trips and visits to numerous retailers and co-ops are to hear their stories about why they are doing what they’re doing. The roots of the business are still deeply entrenched in the co-ops. There are great stories in every co-op; you talk to the person stocking the shelf, dedicated and committed to health and wellness.”
Although this journey may seem bold, the message is the opposite: the idea that stringing together little moments throughout life is even more powerful than one big achievement. “It could be an extra hour reading to your children each night or learning to play chess; it doesn’t have to be extreme. It is making it from point A to point B, and that becomes the journey,” Gay says. Gay’s trip is an important reminder of what really matters in life: making every moment the best one yet. “When I finish this, I am not going to wonder where I am going to put my time. I turned 60 this year; I guess it’s a marker event,” he says. “Bringing this all together, I am looking forward to the next decade, the best decade that I have had on this planet. I am looking forward to every single day, month, year, to making the best of every moment.” Gay is ready for the road ahead—no matter what it looks like.
“I am not sure what I am going to experience. Should I be bringing bear spray on the bike?”
Follow the journey at LiveYourBestRide.com or follow Zevia on Instgram (@Zevia).