Why This Entrepreneur Relies on Gratitude

Plus the multifaceted way he deals with email.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What's the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Kevin Lavelle: Head for some coffee, spend a few minutes journaling, then head to my garage for a workout and/or a run with my dog.

TG: What gives you energy?
KL: Love and building. Love for and from my family, my close friends, my great colleagues, and my dog is what matters most. Building Mizzen+Main and creating opportunity for all those who are a part of this journey is a tremendous privilege that I am grateful for every day. It isn’t without its challenges, but it’s invigorating and exciting beyond explanation.

TG: What's your secret life hack?
KL: Gratitude. We’ve had tragedy strike our family. We’ve gone through extreme highs and lows. Gratitude doesn’t mean overlooking the difficulties or tragedies life can bring. It means focusing your energy and attention on all that you have to be grateful for and acknowledging the difficulties life can bring your way. Gratitude is indescribably powerful.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
KL: “The Tail End” by Tim Urban - not a book but a post on Wait But Why that meaningfully changed my life. I recommend it to everyone. Link here: https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html To answer the question appropriately, the other is Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. Neither Tim nor I actually work 4 hours a week, but there are some critical principles in that book that I read early on in starting Mizzen+Main that have helped me not only survive this journey but thrive. His follow-up books are gold as well including Tools of Titans and Tribe of Mentors. There is so much great material to absorb and make your own it’s truly staggering.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
KL: It was toxic. It’s gotten a lot better but with an always on culture, some by choice some by necessity, it’s a nonstop challenge for me. I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone and have turned off every notification except phone calls and texts. When handled appropriately, the pros outweigh the cons of the omnipresent phone!

TG: How do you deal with email?
KL: This has been a multiyear effort that has paid healthy dividends. I abandoned my easily found email address because of spam/unwanted inbounds. I also “trained” my email with a ton of filters so I can find things if I need them but know do not need to be read. We utilize Slack internally so have virtually no email between team members. Finally, I utilize an app called “Spark” with a ton of shortcuts and groupings that makes managing it on a daily basis much more manageable.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
KL: Catch up with family or friends or meditate.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
KL: Given extensive travel and a significant amount of commitments, it’s been an intense few months, but I’ve worked hard over the last few years around helping build up and relying on my team, focusing on mental well being, and practicing gratitude.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
KL: This holiday season has resulted in a massive failure for our customers due to system errors and shortcomings with a supply chain partner. As Jocko Willink preaches, everything is your responsibility. So while many of the issues weren’t our fault, at the end of the day, everything is. There are things we should have done differently, including demanding higher accountability and better responses from our partners. We’re adding some additional capabilities to our team to ensure our team members can utilize their comparative advantages and properly execute their responsibilities, including getting in front of challenges. I am also working through accountability protocols as well. Live, learn, and get better!


Kevin Lavelle is the Founder and CEO of Mizzen+Main, an innovative company transforming the landscape of the apparel industry by making the world’s most comfortable dress shirt. Mizzen+Main combines advanced performance fabrics with traditional menswear with a dress shirt that is moisture wicking and wrinkle free, has four way stretch, and requires no ironing or dry cleaning. Kevin launched the company in July 2012 to create the next great American brand. The shirt has quickly become a favorite among a variety of customers with a strong adoption among professional athletes. Mizzen+Main is carried in well over 450 retail locations in addition to its rapidly expanding e-commerce presence. Its products are proudly cut and sewn in America. The company has a long standing commitment to giving back to the veteran community through partnerships with Adaptive Training Foundation and the Navy SEAL Foundation.


Prior to founding Mizzen+Main, Kevin worked at the venture capital group of the Hunt Consolidated focusing on emerging energy technologies. Before that, Kevin worked for international consulting firm Oliver Wyman in the Middle East and the US. Kevin graduated summa cum laude from Southern Methodist University with a B.S. in Engineering. In 2016, Kevin was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and Southern Methodist University's Distinguished Alumni Emerging Leader recipient. Kevin is a member of YPO and lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife and Mizzen+Main cofounder Jen and their son Jack.


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