Clif Bar c.e.o. makes a splash on 'American Ninja Warrior'

by Eric Schroeder
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Kevin Cleary competes on NBC obstacle course competition.

VENICE, CALIF. — Kevin Cleary is an athlete, a father of three and chief executive officer of nutrition bar maker Clif Bar & Company. He also has another title: American Ninja Warrior participant.

Mr. Cleary, who joined Clif Bar in 2004 as executive vice-president of sales before moving on to chief operating officer in 2006, president in 2009 and c.e.o. in 2013, was a contestant on the NBC television show “American Ninja Warrior” that aired May 25. The show is a sports entertainment competition in which competitors try to complete a series of obstacle courses of increasing difficulty.

Mr. Cleary cleared the Quad Steps, but was eliminated on the Mini Silk Slider when he failed to make the transition from the silk to the rope, landing in the water.

Prior to taking part in the competition, Mr. Cleary spoke about why he decided to try out.

“We are all about creating delicious, nutritious, organic food to feed and inspire adventure in all of us,” Mr. Cleary said in an interview on NBC. “And that’s what we do. And this is all part of that — me running this course is very close to that. It’s me living that adventurous spirit that the company inspires.”

Prior to competing, Mr. Cleary said he was “pretty fired up,” saying he has watched the show for years. But his interest in the show goes beyond just sitting at home and watching. He also helped spearhead an effort to get everyone at Clif Bar involved.

“We have an American Ninja Warrior training class at our work,” he said. “We’ve got a gym there. We’ve got some trainers on staff. We’ve been setting up all the obstacles, from the quintuple steps to the rope climbs and everything else have been part of the training that the whole company is doing.”

Asked to describe what kind of bar Clif might create for an American Ninja Warrior, Mr. Cleary said, “If we created a bar it would absolutely be about power, about dexterity, about grip strength, about heart and commitment. Because one of the things that I know about this show is that when you attack these obstacles, you got to commit 100%. If you don’t commit 100%, it ain’t gonna happen. And that’s the same for life.”
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