Billion Dollar NIGHTMARE! The Tragedy Of A Billion $$ Beauty Business - Nicola Kilner, The Ordinary | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Billion Dollar NIGHTMARE! The Tragedy Of A Billion $$ Beauty Business - Nicola Kilner, The Ordinary".


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Intro (00:00)

Just a tragic story and a tragic ending. It's hard to say if it's regret, but is there anything different we could have done? Nicola Kilner, co-founder and CEO of Decium and the Ordinary. This is the unthinkable, inspirational and tragic story of how she built a $2.2 billion empire. I always just had this feeling that the only way to achieve financial freedom is entrepreneurship. And then I met Brandon. Brandon Truex. Founder of Decium and the Ordinary. One of the fastest growing skin care companies in the world. A success story. The minute it launched, we couldn't keep it and stop, producing 400,000 units every single day and valued at $2.2 billion US dollars. It truly happened what felt like over nine. And this is really where Brandon's behaviour started to change. You'd come from someone who there was just so much warmth, just this coldness in his eyes. I was suddenly pushed out of everything. And then I got fired. Use of emails were being sent, firing people and copying the whole company in. Everything was played out on Instagram. Saying he was shutting down the entire company. The shareholders had to step in, but then things just seemed to keep spiralling. And I don't know what to do to help him. We've got breaking news right now of the founder of Decium Has Died. What would you do if the person closest to you, your best friend, your partner, the person you've built your life with, seemingly lost their sanity overnight, and went from working with you to turning against you? This story is as profound as it is heartbreaking. It is as haunting as it is heroic. Of all the stories we've shared on this podcast, this is the most chilling. It is the most hard to believe. And right at the end of this conversation, there is a twist that I did not see coming. When you learn in the most tragic way, that history is just repeating itself. An incredible business story. An unthinkable tragedy. An affirmable entrepreneur that stood tall when most would fall. And a genius lost to the world too soon. So pause. Take a deep breath. Because what comes next is not ordinary. It is certainly extraordinary. Michela.

Entrepreneurship Journey And Challenges

Where do you come from? (02:39)

Paint a picture for me. Paint a picture for me of where you have come from. So I think quite a traditional, you know, because mom stayed at home, so she did do the cooking, the cleaning, and just a very caring, you know, she's just with my children today. And it makes me so happy because I know what kind of mom she was and just knowing that love that they're going to have. My father was very great sense of humor, always very playful, very inspiring, very charismatic, always had kind of big ideas, kind of high energy. My mum was much more reserved, more of an introvert. My dad was kind of always the people person, always kind of very busy socially. Mum was very calm. Dad would have a temper sometimes, but you know, nothing too much. And at that age, at that young age, sort of like around that 10, 11, 12 age, what were your aspirations and hopes for your future if I'd asked you, where did you think you were going to end up? It's actually a combination of kind of almost two, what I don't think needs to be extreme anymore, but kind of I think originally would have been seen as two. One was actually a stay at home mum, because I think I'd seen my mum obviously just in that role. And I've always been very maternal, I'd always dreamt of having children, except I always wanted freedom. I never wanted to rely on anyone else. And I think I'd always kind of been interested in entrepreneurship, what's dragon's den from you know quite a young age. I always just had this feeling that actually the only way to really achieve financial freedom is probably through entrepreneurship in some way. So I always kind of had this dream of almost just doing something of my 20s, kind of making all the sacrifices to build up enough freedom that they're actually going on to have a family. I could make the choices to really spend my time where I wanted to. Is that why you went and studied management studies? Yes, why it was actually interesting because I never knew if I wanted to go to university or not, because you know, I believe in university very much if you want to become a doctor, you want to become a lawyer. You know, there are subjects that you really need to learn. Business is one of those where it's always hard like, do you learn that at university or do you learn that in doing? So I came across this course which was business management in company, which is quite a unique course which was at Nottingham Trent University. So it's sponsored by different blue chip companies. So Rolls Royce, Boots, Barclays, Tesco's, companies like that. They take on 40 people into this course. We would work four and a half days a week for whichever company are sponsoring us. And then the other half day was kind of our study time, although there was much more than that. And actually we were then, we'd go so I chose Boots. Well, we went through interviews. Boots was my first choice and I was lucky to get there. Boots for anyone that doesn't know the store if you're overseas in America or something, it's kind of like CVS or something, isn't it?

Skills you learnt working at a big corporation (05:36)

Pretty much that's the equivalent. So if we just pause there then, what's your opinion now on university? When your children get to that age where they're about to make that decision, you've got two young children, when they get to 18 years old, and if they said, "Mommy, I want to be entrepreneur like you," what advice would you give them based on your experience? So I actually would always probably recommend doing a few years in a corporate because I have to say at Boots, I learnt so much. You learn the things that they do really well. You learn the things that they do not necessarily wrong, but just the drawbacks of being such a big organisation. So I think more than going to university, like the two placement years I did at Boots, I learnt incredibly so much. And depending on the kind of person you are, if you go to a big corporate, it's so difficult to impart the culture there. Because there's just so many people, there's so much history. And if you are someone who's got this strong drive to make your change, then entrepreneurship, I think, is just an incredible area. And even if it's not your idea but going to join a startup, it's just incredible energy. And it would always be what I would recommend. At that point, if there was a key skill or a key set of skills that you took from your time working in a corporate at Boots, that then proved to be incredibly valuable as you went on. What were those skills? So when I graduated, I then stayed on and I was an assistant by speaking with, and then I got promoted to buying money for them, which was really around relationships. It was about collaboration. It was about looking around the world, seeing new technologies, finding the innovation new brands, and then really hand-holding those, which mainly were entrepreneurs, to come into Boots to actually show them, "Look, this is how we could launch." You know, we had a stand, it was called "Late Expines." We would launch a new innovation for a period of three months as a trial to see if it would work, would Boots consumers like this, if it did, they would get a listing with Boots kind of long-term. And that just really suited my skill set because it was a very entrepreneurial role, because actually, you know, I very much guided them with PR agencies and actually how to build the plan. And, you know, we used to have a saying of, like, launch and love because actually, it's one thing to get a listing of Boots. It's another thing for your product to actually be picked and taken off the shelf. Like, the listing is just the first thing, you know, you have to drive consumers, you have to have that entire plan. And I think it was just a really good way of actually learning from working with supply chain, working with finance, doing the checks. With legal, can we do this? What can we say? It was a really good sense of actually working with so many different departments and actually starting to understand, I think, consumer goods, learning demand, learning how to create it. And so I feel like that role was created, which really just suited my skill set incredibly well and I'm very fortunate for that. And then that's also how I met Brandon. So actually, he had a huge impact and obviously my next age too. And Brandon was a business you were maybe, he had a business you were maybe looking at? Yeah, so he was with his previous business, which was called Indeed Labs. And we launched a couple of their products through this program, latest finds. So I'd worked with him and I remember, you know, and actually when I, this sounds alien now so many years ago, but you couldn't check your emails when you left the office. So often every morning I'd come in and I was dealing with a lot of international entrepreneurs. So I'd always come into like an inbox full of emails. I always remember like looking for his name because his email was always so full of energy. He always signed off Smiles Brandon, you know, just someone who's positivity, his passion just kind of really shone through that I'd always go straight to his emails kind of open it. And you know, the launches that we did with Brandon, Indeed Labs was some of the most successful we did through the innovation program. And he was just, you know, when he used to come to the boots head office and Nottingham just, it was bouncing off the walls with kind of this infectious energy. And I remember just from the day I met him thinking, gosh, I always want this person in my life because he just had this Aurora and just someone who you knew wanted to actually also make the world a better place and kind of really cared about doing good and doing things differently. And at some point you start having a conversation with him privately about launching a business, your own business, and then he's launching his business, right?

Starting your own business (10:13)

Yeah, so I remember he suddenly left Indeed Labs. Now, Indeed Labs, he founded it. It was a rocket ship. It was kind of doing super well. I remember getting this message from him that he left and just being like shocked as in like what has happened. So then when he was next in London, I met up with him. And obviously he told me about his reasons for leaving. He was going to do this next thing. And I'd always kind of had this viewpoint of wanting to do my own business. And ever since I worked in beauty, I found that I always had friends, family, everyone asking, what's the best mascara? What's the best foundation? And just how we'd go to TripAdvisor to look at kind of ratings and reviews for restaurants and hotels. I wanted to create the same thing for beauty that actually ranked the products. So I told Brendan my idea and said, I want to do this. Like, what do you think? Do you have any advice? He told me he wanted to start something called Decium, which is from the Latin word for the number 10. It wasn't designed to be a beauty engine at that time. There was a beauty concept, but there was a technology concept. There was a food concept. There were just lots of different ideas generating. But with this viewpoint of doing 10 things at once. So he said, why don't you come and help do Decium with me? And I'll help do the beauty. We went on to call it beauty wise with you. So then obviously I made the decision to leave boots, which obviously I was at the age of 24, 23, 24. And I remember telling mum and everyone's like, oh, like you're in a really good business. You've got a good, like you're already achieving things. But I just knew that I wasn't meant to be there forever. So I left 10, 10 years ago and then it was the start of Decium. I've got to say this idea of doing 10 brands at one that seems like it's counterintuitive to all anything you might read in a business book that speaks to the importance of focus. Was there any sense in that, in your view? So in actually our office in Melbourne, we used to have on the wall focuses overrated because everyone does tell you not to do 10 things at once. And actually there were so many benefits to doing 10 things at once. So first of all, was this viewpoint of trying to create this ecosystem of how do we have our own manufacturing do our own comms in house? Because, and again, it takes funds to set up that ecosystem, but also so many entrepreneurs, which I understand why they're in this situation, but so many entrepreneurs have to outsource everything. They go to the PR agency, they go to a lab, they go to someone to do your own tea. And then you're really just coordinating all of those efforts. Rather than, I mean, so it was a privilege we could build this whole ecosystem because then at the table, everyone sat there. Everyone's generating ideas. The other thing you can look at it is 10% of everyone's salary. If I'm flying to Australia to me to buy a wall, do I want to present one brand or do I present 10 brands? And also just this, you know, area of you don't know what's going to until if you're in consumer brand, until it starts selling, you don't really know what's going to be. You can do all the research and all the insights in the world until something gets traction, you don't really know what's going to work. So we could just set up this incredible structure that we could fail. We could keep trying things. We could fail relatively, cheaply, quickly and kind of start the next thing. What's the downside though of doing 10 brands? So I'd say the downside in the later years is because the ordinary has become such a huge success. When the ordinary took off, the other brands got pushed aside because it's very difficult. If you have one brand that's really driving such a huge portion of your revenues, when everyone is facing high workload, that always gets prioritized. So then you end up ignoring the other brands versus if they had a dedicated team. Here's something now we want to actually restart our incubator engine and actually the only way we can do that is by having a dedicated team to that. So there are downsides. I think the other thing that made a huge difference for us, because we didn't have much money as a startup and we obviously wanted to hire all of these people, we couldn't afford experience. So everyone who was hired was pretty much straight out of university, straight out of college, just applied for their first job. And actually that meant no one really had pre-conditioned ideas about the beauty industry, about the way things should be. Everyone was approaching it just with a almost a very practical viewpoint. And I think that made a big difference too, how do we think differently, how do we do what others aren't doing. It was almost never something that had to be discussed because people hadn't worked with the other con The way that you came together was quite unique.

Co-founders relationships (15:14)

It wasn't necessarily an initial interest in being co-founders. You were both going to do two separate things. You then kind of got drawn towards each other. If I put your personality on this side and Brandon's here, what are the differences? How are they complementary but also uncomplementary? So Brandon was eccentric. He was, I'd say we're both very passionate. He was a lot more eccentric and I'm a lot more calm. I think would be a big difference. But I guess also from a skillset, he was so into the, he was a genius when it came to science. He was a tech person originally, so he came from things with a very, he didn't understand grey. It was black and white. And actually that was quite a good way to actually approach the science, I think, behind beauty products. He was at time short tempered. I'd be the kind of smoothing things out and he would kind of be a little bit more hot headed. But again, I think it was, you know, a startup culture is not for everyone, but for me those first few years were incredible. But he also just had this amazing way of making things fun. You know, like when we would plan trips to go on meetings, he would be prioritizing which restaurants we were going to. Whereas got the best ice cream. What are we going to go and do here? And actually the work was something that came alongside it. He also had this, you know, he had this philosophy. He wanted to build a family. He'd had, you know, a troubled upbringing. I think he'd always, you know, he'd, he'd actually had this pattern. I think of always leaving a business when it kind of just went on the verge of success. And Dessian was his fourth business. He had a tech business and he had two beauty businesses, you were, then indeed, before, before Dessian. And each time what hurt him was actually leaving the relationships and the people behind. So his viewpoint of Dessian was actually, how do we build a family, like a work family? But I think he, it was never work. And I think that's what so many of us felt. We can, evenings, like we wanted to be doing Dessian because we were all friends. We were all eating together. We were going to Niagara Falls on the weekend. We were going to a theme park in Toronto. Like we were just having fun whilst we were doing everything. The part you said about he wanted to build a family because he had a sort of troubled upbringing. I'm trying to understand now how his upbringing, you believe shaped his perspective on how you assemble a company.

Building the best team culture (17:49)

It sounds there like he was building the family he might not have had or there's clearly some attachment challenges there if he wants to sell the brands, but not the people. And again, the heartbreak associated with leaving these companies was all about losing relationships. A lot of that speaks to something that must have happened early. Yeah, so I think it was around building a family of he never wanted anyone to leave him. And he wanted Dessian to be a place of belonging. And actually, even now we have belonging as our kind of North Star. The most important thing anyone in our team should feel is that they belong at Dessian. Whoever they are, whatever they believe in, there is a place for them at Dessian. And I think that really comes from this sense of family. And I think, again, even like my husband's world, I do think startups because you're working in a very intense environment. It does build relationships far deeper than I ever experienced at Boots and I think would exist in corporates. So this sense of family, I think, we would have taken a bullet for each other. And I think even now within Dessian, we're 1500 people now, but we still have so many of those early team members. Sounds like a cult. It is, but actually a very happy world. You did it like a... This morning I did a talk and I said, "Listen, I'm going to say something here which might get me in trouble." I'm like, "You've got to scale from a cult." I always have to disclaimer it and explain cults are really bad, of course. And they manipulate people. But this is not what I mean. It's that sense of dedication. We're all in this together. Inspirational founder. Mission you will believe in. And you believe you're right regardless of what the outside world says. You're on a mission. You're sleeping under the tent. Yeah. Well, it is. They always say that you can complain about your parents, but if anyone else says a bad word about your parents, even if it is the same thing you've said. And Dessian's like that you can complain like in turn, maybe there's not this process. But if anyone says a bad word, you come straight to the defense. But I think it was just so much love and passion. And again, Brandon cared for all of us. He had so much love that you gave it back. And that's why it was so difficult. When we went through the unthinkable and things became so difficult because it wasn't a colleague like you've just lived this incredible journey of us all traveling together, building something so special. Like, just such a sense of we're all in this together. Like, even when times are hard, like, we've got each other's backs and things may not work out, but actually, let's just have fun. Let's learn things. And let's just keep trying. Like, let's never be afraid to fail. And let's just do it together. People hear that and they see the outcome. So everything you've described there is the outcome. You've got this great culture. People are dedicated. They're loyal. They're on this mission. What people will be thinking because they'll be sat in their offices now working similar or they'll be building a company of their own. In fact, this young lady came up to me this morning and asked me this question when I was doing this talk. She said, "I've got this small team and I'm trying to create exactly what you've described." That kind of real dedicated, kind of cult-like company culture where everyone's in it. How? How does one create it? So it's actually quite difficult to explain how it comes together because in many cases from what I've observed, it's not necessarily intentional. It wasn't like a strategic drawn-up plan to make people really care. It was quite a natural thing that resulted in that deep sense of care from the team members. I'll offer up one thing, which you said, which I thought was spot-on, which people often overlook, which is fun. People think of, you know, people think, "Well, we'll give perks and this and this." But it's all the things that happen outside of the work that seem to do most of the work in creating that cult. And you come up with the best ideas when you're doing something on the weekend and you're not in that kind of Monday to Friday, 9 till 5 zone. That's when that creativity, I think, happens. And I think, you know, people spend so long in the workplace. And that's why it's so important that actually people enjoy coming in. The one thing that I say like is definitely being like a purposeful shift is I look back at early startup culture and I don't know if it's always kind. There's very high expectations. And again, if you're working, you know, I'm calm. Brandon is very high-passion. High expectations. You know, there's this people feel like they need to work on the weekends and the evenings. And is that healthy, even though I'm actually trying to get that balance? And I think it'd be interesting, you know, and again, with my husband who's a different stage of startup, I always just find it interesting around like, I think especially in today's world, like we're so much more aware about mental health and burnout and actually has to be much more respectful of balance, which I don't know if we necessarily had back then. But luckily I feel like, again, we were pretty much a bunch of young 20-year-olds with Brandon, you know, being a little bit older. We're all just happy and loved what we were doing. And when you start creating things and you start to see the results of your work, then that drives you even further and then that makes it even more exciting because, you know, you can see what you're achieving is actually meaning something. Do you think you could have achieved the success with Decium and the ordinary and the other brands, if you didn't have that lack of balance and early culture? No. And again, like I think in the early days, everyone's round the same table. You've got Fredby who's making formulations, Dionne who's doing comms and brand, like everyone's just there talking, coming up with ideas. And that collaboration is so special and, you know, you're in WhatsApp groups and you're like, "Have you seen this? Let's do this." And also, I think, you know, the other thing in the early days, being agile is so important. And everyone was okay. You could work on something. And the next day, there'd be a change of decision or someone had a different view and you're like, "Oh, actually, let's go in that direction now." That gets harder, I think, as you get bigger and actually there are many more teams and there's more people involved. So that's interesting. I have to say, I agree. With any business I've ever been in, I look back at those first, what, 10, 20 people and the way they behaved, and that's ultimately what we scaled, but it's that energy enthusiasm that got us from like zero to one. Does that therefore mean that there is a certain type of person you should be looking to hire at that early phase that maybe can afford to have more of an unbalanced life? I think it is, you need someone who's prepared to wear every hat. So in our early days, we would say yes to it. Like, we'd get an order from booze. If we didn't think we could fulfill it, we would say yes and we'd figure it out afterwards. And that would often mean Brandon, myself, like all of the, whoever was working in the office at the time, we'd go and work in the factory. We would pull all nighters making the products. And back then, like I remember with hand chemistry, we had like a hand crimping machine, but it didn't seal that well. And about one in 10 actually exploded if you squeezed too hard. So we'd be like, "No, I like making them, squeezing them." Like, "Okay, they can pass." So you have to have people that are prepared to get on production line, to pack the boxes. And again, like, you know, my, even later on, like when it was, you know, times around November, Black Friday, which, you know, more recently we boycotted and we, well, we have November our campaign. But those periods where it's busy, everyone gets into the warehouses and they help ship the products out. So I think the ability to wear whichever hat is needed for you at that moment is the most important skill set. What do you think of this concept of work-life balance?

Work-life balance (26:02)

You know, I had someone on the podcast the other day and it's called Alex Amozi. And he was saying that, um, he was like, people need to stop having a conversation around work-life balance because it kind of assumes that there is such a thing as a universal balance that we should all be striking. Whereas as you described it, you were happy. And you, okay, your life might have been slightly one-dimensional, but, but you were happy. And surely that happiness is the most important thing. Alex Amozi says, listen, I do two things. I work and I play video games. That's it. And I'm happy. So stop telling me to do work-life balance. I'm happy. Yeah, 100% agree. And I think, you know, it comes down to what's, what's the right balance to you? And it changes at different periods of your life. So I was in my twenties. I was fine. And I maybe sacrificed nights out and kind of doing other things. But I was so happy being traveling all the time, being in this kind of destiny and bubble, creating all of this magic. And to me, that's such a powerful concept around how do we achieve balance in different periods of your life? We're all going to have periods where we can be working every hour and we love it. And actually it's our, it's our work, but also it's our hobby. It's our downtime because we just love it so much. Then you have another period of your life where, you know, maybe you have an elderly parent that needs your support. Maybe you're going through some challenges. You've got young children. How do we step up and support each other to say, do you know what? I've got you here. You do this bit. I'll cover those bits for you because in another few years, maybe it switches around. And again, that's something that I think is so unique to when we say a family culture. That to me is an example of kindness that I think really actually demonstrates it. There has been a debate, hasn't there, about the use of the word family in the corporate world. People think it means it kind of asserts that there's a lack of boundaries. And these are not, you know, Netflix's whole culture document, which is like, we're not a family. We're a high performance team. And I think I have struggled to figure out where I sit on it because there are many elements of the family culture that I always want in my businesses. That sort of care that going above and beyond the way, you know, a deeper sense of relationship that's non-transactional. And then also, on the other hand, you don't fire your family. You know, so what is that balance between family and high performance team? So for me, family is about belonging. And everyone just really feeling like they have a safe place to be and that they are loved. I think kindness sometimes is mistaken for weakness. And also, I think there's a conflict between the words being kind and being nice. Being nice is kind, but can be superficial, you see a stranger on the street. You're like, "Hi, how are you?" You open the door. It's nice, but do you truly mean like, "How are you?" Or are you just kind of passing it? If someone's not performing at work, it's not necessarily a nice thing to have that conversation with them. But it is the kind thing, because if your intention is to help them and the help maybe, this is maybe a different role that we see in the company which we think you're more suited for. It may be that we think you need this coaching, this training to get to where you need to be. And it may be that, "Look, you're in this role, but we're not seeing the delivery here. We actually think the better option for you is outside." And now, when we've done terminations, you know, we've done things around like, "How do we do?" Counseling, where actually it helps someone to look for another career depending on kind of what role it is and the reasons why we're leaving. Because to me, then that's a kind of way we're actually trying to help that person. And the other thing, you know, our business, we were like kind of this and we like had a rocket ship kind of boomed. And then we came to a dimpt just after kind of COVID. It hit me when I realized if our numbers don't pick up again, we're going to have to let people go. Because actually, that is the consequence of business. Like, you're there to kind of do many things, but ultimately, like one factor of that is to be a business and to make money. And if you start to not hit your numbers, ultimately like, "You can't lose money for long. People will start to say, "You have to save money. Where does that come from, headcount?" And I think that then hit me again that, "Okay, we have to perform. So to be kind to everyone, we have to be a performing team." So again, I think you can be high performing. But by being kind, I think you can make everyone feel safe and trusted that again, if you have to make the hard decision, you're going to do it in the way to be as kind as possible and actually, you know, have the action to try and help. Quick one, before we get back to this episode, just give me 30 seconds of your time. Two things I wanted to say. The first thing is a huge thank you for listening and tuning into the show week after week. It means the world to all of us. And this really is a dream that we absolutely never had and couldn't have imagined getting to this place. But secondly, it's a dream where we feel like we're only just getting started. And if you enjoy what we do here, please join the 24% of people who watch this channel regularly and have hit that subscribe button. It means more than I can say. And if you hit that subscribe button, here's a promise I'm going to make to you. I'm going to do everything in my power to make this show as good as I can now and into the future. We're going to deliver the guests that you want me to speak to. And we're going to continue to keep doing all of the things you love about this show. Thank you. Thank you so much. Back to the episode. I heard you say something which was that you're the least qualified CEO ever.

Why do you call yourself 'an unqualified CEO’ (31:38)

You don't sound like the least qualified CEO ever. I guess you've been through some shit. So... Oh, definitely. I mean, again, you know, you have to... I was there from the beginning. And being someone who can, you know, play a lead effort, an organization of 10 people, 20 people, 100 people is a very different skill set. So, you know, we are 1,500 people. We now have a majority ownership from SA Lorde companies who are a public company. Our whole world has changed. And rightly so, because being a much bigger organization, we have to be far more organized and planning. And I wouldn't say those are necessarily my skill sets. And again, when, you know, the kind of dip I mentioned, it was a very difficult period because we'd just been on this rocket ship of, you know, even when things were difficult, the one thing that always... We were always ahead of budget, targets, whatever anyone set for us. We always were just overachieving. Which feels incredible when you emphasize, like, if you hit numbers and everything else just falls into place. And I remember, like, you lose confidence. And I remember actually saying to Stefan who is... we were putting to it, ELC, who's like an incredible person. But each time when I used to say, "Oh, like, you know, this is not going to be right." And I said, like, "I'll resign like I'm not the person." But Dad was like, "I need help." Like, I was like, "I can't do this." Like, I'm not the CEO who understands numbers in the right way, who plans like, "I changed my mind." And again, like, you think about all the things as a startup, you can do things quickly, you can change. If you change your mind on a decision when you now have many more people working on it, you demoterate people. You become chaos is fun and a startup. In a large organization, chaos can become demotivating. So then I was very fortunate that we did bring in a very incredible general manager who joined us about a year ago. And he has had such a transformation on the company because he can't believe just the basics we didn't have in place. And because we've grown so quickly and it's now to get that balance between, you know, there's areas we don't want. Any experience but decisions when it comes to like brand and innovation, our values, things that we are so passionate about. When it comes to supply chain and scaling and new markets, we need experience. So actually having the GM come in that actually could kind of take control of those and then actually allow me to focus on the areas which I'm much more passionate about, which is the brand area, our people, culture, belonging, social impact. It's just made a huge difference to the business. So there are two things that you offering up your essentially resignation from your role when things were a little bit tricky. It's giving me imposter syndrome. I like to think more just like a real list of... Have you ever had imposter syndrome? Because you know, saying this quote here about being the least qualified CEO ever. From a traditional perspective, for example, if I went now to, you know, another company with revenues nearing a billion dollars a year with 1500 employees, I wouldn't be a good CEO. I think I could be a good people person. I think I could help on values on brand. Now obviously there's an argument of like a modern CEO and I think especially for, there's no one more qualified for desiames than me because of the history. But when I think about just the pure metrics and the size of the business, it needed someone with some more experience. And again, I'm a big believer on, you know, anyone who thinks they're the expert at everything, they're not. And I think I'm a good person at relationships and I hope you're bringing people on for the journey, hopefully people feeling how appreciative and truly grateful I am that they choose to kind of be a dusting and give their all every day. But there are many areas that I'm not good at all. And actually having trusted people to support that is amazing. And I always do think myself more, you know, it's kind of like the conductor of an orchestra, like being aware, etc. I'm not very organized. So the bigger you get, then suddenly you do need someone that maybe has got more technical skills. It's interesting because when I asked that question about the imposter syndrome thing, I immediately reflected upon it. And I thought, it's funny how imposter syndrome and self awareness can sound very, very similar. And that's in fact, from speaking to some of your team, one of the things they repeatedly said to us was about your self awareness. And I even reflect going back early to your time at Boots where you were considering contemplating becoming a buyer. And the first thing you're doing there is saying, does that suit my skill set and what makes me happy? I mean, your team said it. They said your quote is that she isn't afraid to tell you and she instinctively knows what her strengths and weaknesses are. But I think it's the only way to be authentic, you know, trying to be something that you're not or something that doesn't make you happy. It's not really good for anyone. And I actually think like authenticity in today's world, I think is a value that is, is one of the most important because otherwise you get cooled out. It'd be crazy for me to say that I'm good at the finance piece. I'm not. It's not a strength. But we have an incredible VP of finance. We've got an incredible general manager that truly understands it. So I think actually just playing to your strengths and allowing others to play to their strengths is actually what brings authenticity. I should probably read this. Your team said she delegates a lot and very well. She very instinctively knows her strengths and her weaknesses. She isn't afraid to bring on knowledge and talent for those weaknesses. Her team says she's incredibly self-aware. And also she is literally a ray of sunshine. How much did you pay? Jenny in marketing. It was kind. 2017. You launch the ordinary in 2016?

The Ordinary's success (37:54)

Yeah, at the end of 2016. At the end of 2016. And then 2017 is the ordinary's breakout year. Yeah. Breakout year. How do you quantify that? Give us an idea. The minute it launched, we couldn't keep it in stock. It was an end again from... We'd come up to the ordinary was the 11th brand that we came up with a concept for. Wait, that violates the name. I know. It would be 10. But we don't focus so we can change our mind. Wow. So we kept going and... What's the Latin word for 11? 10, maybe. Maybe a company named change. With the ordinary, I don't think we ever thought it would... We never dreamt it would become what it's become today. We launched the ordinary in our frustration that there wasn't enough transparency in the world of skincare. And we took inspiration from the world of pharmacy. If you have a headache, you can go into a pharmacy, you buy paracetamol. You're going to be paying 50 p.t. 3 pounds. It's a very small window. No one can sell you paracetamol for 100 pounds. Because you know the ingredient, you know the milligram. The trust is there because the transparency has been in that industry. That didn't exist in the world of skincare. Which meant that if you walked into a beauty hall to pick a skincare product, you may see actually a relatively similar formula being sold for 10 pounds, being sold for 100 pounds. And actually not really understanding what's the difference. You know, is it the marketing you're paying for? We kind of have this assumption. Does like paying more mean more? But if you go into boots and you see a new 100 pound painkiller, are you going to trust it or are you just going to take the ingredient that's safe and effective and trusted? And I think the reason we were feeling frustrated was because for NIOAD, we were really using brand new technologies that were very expensive and no one else was using these. It was kind of true innovation. So we said, well actually let's take this approach of people because again, some of the ingredients we use in the ordinary, they may have been around for decades. That's not a bad thing. If something's been around for a long time, there's so much research done. There's so much safety. And again, just like paracetamol aspirin, we don't always need new if you've actually found a solution that has incredible effects. We presented the concept of the ordinary to two significant retailers, two of our big partners now, who both said no to launching the brand. And this was when we kind of saw a concept stage before we even created like produce the first product. They said it was too confusing. White boxes will collect dust. You need to just rename the products to be anti-aging serum, raging serum. Effectively just what everyone else looked like in the industry. And because we had this umbrella and we had different brands, it gave us the confidence to say no because we were doing okay for ourselves. Like we could cover everyone's payroll. We kind of had traction with some of the other brands. We said, no, let's follow our gut, which again, it's a privilege to be able to say that because I know for so many entrepreneurs, cash flow is a killer and it can be so difficult to say no to, a listing that you know could be worth significant money. But we said actually, we really believe that actually this transparency is what's missing in the beauty industry. So, you know, we, the ordinary launch and it just honestly was a rocket ship that even today, we, throughout our VPS supply chain, we're producing 400,000 units every single day at the moment in our manufacturing in Toronto. We still have retailers. If you go into boots, you'll still see lots of out of stock on the shelf. Like we still struggle to keep up with demand six years later since we launched the brand. And that has been, it's just been an incredible story, but I mean, we look back at 2017. We knew we needed kind of more money to scale, so we started looking for investment. Which is how many months after launch? The ordering was like three months old. Decium was four years old. And again, we were doing okay, like we had some success stories, not anywhere near the scale of kind of where the ordering went to. We met with different private equity firms. There was like another huge conglomerate who we had lots of meetings with. And we ended up meeting with SA Lord of Companies in April. And it was eight weeks from our very first meeting to the deal being signed. Which was due diligence, negotiations, everything. It was especially for a corporate with a board, a public company. It was just this huge energy from the moment they came to Toronto, the kind of M&A team, and they were like, "We need you to come to New York. We want you to meet Lynette. We want to meet you for Britsier, our CEO. We want you to kind of meet this team." And I remember seeing for Britsier, the CEO, who have a huge amount of respect and admiration for. And the deal was done within like 30 minutes of meeting because they just saw this, I think, the energy, particularly from Brandon. Like Brandon and I were in the room, like just this creativity, this passion. And the ordering was just starting to kind of create these kind of rumbles. And I think they ultimately they believed in the concept. They believed in what we wanted to do. So the deal signed in June, they became a minority investor, they took 29% of the company. And actually, with Decium today, we have had more time with ELC than without ELC. ELC. The ELC, Lord of Companies. When acquisitions happen, I think companies go from 0 to 100%. You know, we're at 70, they own 76% now of Decium and it will go to 100% next summer. And actually that process will have been seven years. Which actually is one I think quite a forward. I haven't seen many deals like that done, I think, between kind of a startup and a larger company. But actually, it's just been this amazing different chapters of us both getting to know each other, learning each other's strengths. And I think having a lot of respect for where we need help and where we kind of need to be left alone. So actually, it's just been this really nice journey. Decium, we're in our 10th year this year. And in six years of those, we've had the partnership of Esto, Lord of Companies. 29% they took. And it's rumored the valuation was about 1.5 billion. So in the last, in the 2021 investment. Okay, right. Yeah, it was, I think, valued at 2.2 billion US dollars. And at that early stage, I'm trying to figure out for your four years into Decium, Esto, Lord of Put Some Money in. What was the valuation at that point when they took the 29%? It had been about 160 million. Okay, Jesus. Okay. Super interesting. I mean, it's a very quick trajectory relative to most companies in that space to achieve those valuations in such a space of time. We move on then from 2017 to 2018.

My co-founder started acting differently (45:14)

And this is really where Brandon's behavior started to change. It truly happened, what felt like overnight. So at the end of 2017, so we close the investment in the summer. And again, the ordinary, at the end of 2017, it's a year old. It's having this incredible, just people are warming to it. People are loving the concept. I always think the ordinary is like a community brand because it really was spread through word of mouth endorsements. And I remember my husband and I, we went to New Zealand and Australia for kind of the Christmas break. And then I remember getting this call from Brandon saying, you know, you need to go straight to the airport with what it, like, he was like, have you got your passport? And I said, yes, he said, you go straight to the airport now, book a first class flight, come straight to Toronto on the next flight, turn your phone off, turn your emails. He was just like calm down. Let's be relaxed, but you need to come immediately. So he didn't tell you why? No, but I could just sense it was an entirely different person I was speaking to. All of a sudden. Over that, over that break in the holidays. I mean, the flight from Australia to Toronto, I think I was on the plane now, traveling for about 20 hours. I cried the entire way because I knew something really bad was happening. And I guess just kind of towards the end of 2017. And they're going to have to say, Brandon is someone who, he would have like one drink in the month. Like he barely drank. I mean, we spent so much time together like what to do drugs was just a, he was high on energy and happy. He's just drinking Diet Coke and eating fries with ketchup type person. Towards the end of 2017, he'd become intrigued, I think, by magic mushrooms and just kind of this idea of, you know, can you access different parts of your brain? And again, this was just something like in Amsterdam where it's legal and it's kind of just this, almost just this inquisitive. Actually, how does the mind work? And I knew he'd plan to go to Amsterdam over a new year to kind of experiment with some of his learnings on kind of mushrooms and different dosages. And I'm someone who's quite anti-drugs. Like I've always been kind of, I like to be well behaved. I don't like to kind of break any rules in those senses. And I just had this awful feeling and I came back to Toronto and he summoned, you know, around 10 of us to have this meeting in the distillery store, which was one of our Decium stores in Toronto's that we closed for the day. And everything had changed. And it was just like talking to a stranger. He had this like coldness in his eyes and he'd come from someone who, you know, the second you see him, they'd be hugged because there was just so much warmth. You know, all of his emails would have hearts on. There was just kind of all of this love in messages and kind of just being. It's just this almost kind of zoned out cold person that suddenly almost felt like kind of just had this like... It's like he didn't understand. There was no understanding anymore between him and any of us. He spoke around things where, you know, we were too caught up now in the concept of time. So for example, he said to me like the next day when, you know, we'd meet for coffee and, you know, our routine for the previous four years has been... He texted me, like I'll pick you up at 7 a.m. We'd go to a coffee shop, we'd get, you know, breakfast and head to the office. And he suddenly was like, "There's no time anymore. I'm going to meet you in the coffee shop tomorrow, but we don't need to tell each other a time. We'll just be there when we're supposed to be there." And I remember finding it really hard because he truly was such a genius and a visionary. And this has happened so quickly. And I remember like ringing, ringing Sean and saying like, does he have a point like, "Are we too caught up in time like..." Is this just like, are we taking things the wrong way? That's why I had a lot of confusion just around how could something change so quickly? And again, this is someone who, you know, over the four or five years of being like insanely close to him. You know, we... I was going to Toronto at this point for like three weeks out of the month and we'd have every dinner together, breakfast together, lunch together, every weekend together. I'd never seen any episodes of mental health or anything changing. So suddenly you have this drastic change. If someone you loved but someone suddenly who feels like he's completely closing the door to you and kind of pushing you out, this wasn't a different person who was angry, shouting, crying, scary. It was suddenly very cold to everyone. And then... so what everyone's very confused, very upset. And then there's business things that start to happen. That make no sense that are actually quite mean, you know, canceling a brand on Instagram, a big partnership we had done with someone, canceling a retailer on Instagram. So you went on Instagram and told them, said to you're following on Instagram that... This brand's no longer going to exist. Before telling them. Yeah. So we'd spent all of this time with Dr. Esho building this brand. Oh, no, Dr. Esho. Yeah. And then it cancelled. Like Tijon found out on Instagram with everyone else that this brand that he'd put all this passion and energy in was ended. Retailers were ended. It became... it was just horrible. So I did challenge him. And what happened when I challenged him was I got a meanest, meanest response around how I just don't understand him of all the people I should understand. Gaslight. And just yeah, and be like, you look back and like nothing was making any sense. And then I got fired. Because again, and he wasn't technically allowed to like, you know, you need board approval and all of these things, but there was no Russian, rational actions at this time. So this, this just accelerated so quickly. And then it's so difficult because then anyone who's trying to help gets pushed down. So then everyone's in again, like in the background, like I'm, because it's all of these early team members, like everyone wants to help him and protect him. And everyone's like, what do we do? And you know, that's the hardest thing about, you know, mental health and drug abuse, which then like circle together. But ultimately, when it's affecting someone's brain, they can't necessarily recognise that themselves. And someone said to me, it's like you're speaking Polish to them. You may think you're speaking English or common language. There is no understanding in that conversation of what each other is saying. And actually that, that did start to make sense. But it was just very difficult. And I think, you know, again, I got fired in February, so like a month into this. And it's been the worst month of my life, like truly like horrendous, like so emotionally difficult. What happened in that break? Do you know? Have you got any suspicions? Yeah, I think he's, well, yeah, he was very curious. And I think he took everything to an extreme. And I think he'd been reading a lot around psychedelics and kind of had to access different parts of your brain. And I think he experimented a lot during that break. And do you think that triggered some kind of psychotic episode? Yeah. So on that point about being fired. Yeah. How were you fired?

He fired me from my own company! (53:05)

I knew it was coming. Wow. Why? Because he'd had gone from being, we were inseparable. I was suddenly pushed out of everything excluded from conversation, conversations, emails. He'd came to London. He was in London at the time when I got fired. And again, when he'd landed in London, from the minute he landed to the minute he left, we would be together. And I didn't, I barely saw him. How did that feel? So hurtful because hurtful and confusing and just really hard. And I guess you have like a whole team who are like, what's happening? Everyone is scared because it's a very strong personality who now could take anything. Anyone in the team said the wrong way and kind of someone could be at the end of quite, you know, an explosion of anger, which again was never there before. So it's just a very difficult situation of one where you just, you don't even understand it, which I think is what makes it so hard. But I'd also, I think at that point, we didn't maybe know the extent of how, how things were going to spiral from there or how mentally and well he was because I mean, six weeks earlier, he'd been, he'd been the Brandon, like we all knew and loved. So it was such a quick turnaround and change. And I remember getting a call from, from the, the person who ran our HR at the time. And I remember just saying, like, I know, like, he wants to fire me. And obviously she said, yeah. And then, and I remember just like, crime, I was like, oh, and actually at the time. The, the, the person from the state law to companies who was on the M and 18, who was based in New York. And he was in London at the time. And it went to me him. I know I'm just saying, like, I'm scared because I don't know what's happening. And this is someone who's just entirely changed. And I don't know what to do to help him. And I remember the, you know, the confusion of someone's now acting. It doesn't matter what agreements are in place. This is now someone acting irrationally. But we've got to act in a certain way because it's someone who is so unpredictable in the way. And again, I think at this point, I hadn't really realized how bad things were going to be. And, you know, probably things like maybe it is me like, maybe I'm not the right person to be there anymore. And maybe for whatever reason, like he thinks I don't believe in the vision or things have just changed. My husband, who's like the most supportive person in the world, but also very calm, takes such a like, relaxed approach to anything like nothing is a problem to him in his world in a very positive way. He like booked as a holiday. He was like, let's just get away. You know, it's been like a very hard month right now, Brendan, like doesn't want you. We can't change that. So let's just focus on just like taking a moment just to kind of reflect. And obviously I'd always wanted children. We'd be married for a few years at this time. I'd never wanted them last. I wasn't like the visiting est of Decium because I wanted the time to enjoy being, you know, a mum of young children. So we're like, let's try and have a baby. So I got pregnant in the March and... A month later. Yeah. And then at that point things were spiraling with Brendan and, you know, abusive emails were being sent targeting everyone. He was firing so many people within the business, firing people and copying the whole company in, copying retailers in, press in. And it became clear that things were really unwell. And I remember, I think being about it so weak, surprisingly. And I was being targeted on like some of these emails and I remember thinking, if I tell him I'm pregnant because I know he's so kind. And maybe he'll leave me alone or if I like impress something. And then he announced it on Instagram. And I was like, as we as pregnant. And something like that happens. You know, someone's not rational. Like, no good human being does that to someone. And then it became really hard because I was still in this situation of loving him so much, wanting to help him, feeling just not knowing what to do. Also having like the company and like having everyone still coming to me asking me like, what should we do? Because you've got someone saying things that make no sense and being, you know, he was just very, very unwell. So I was still trying to help people in the background keep things going with the business. Obviously, you know, trying to be in the early stages of pregnancy, which now see the whole world new. And it was just really, really hard. And I remember when he first got sectioned, feeling such a sense of relief that he was finally going to get the treatment he needed to get better. And it was actually in London when he got sectioned for the first time. And then he was out five days later. And then that was the start of, you know, over that 2018. He got sectioned five times across London, across Canada, across America. And each time we'll just get released a short period after. And then that's what I started to almost kind of, you lose the hope of like, how can we help this person when he keeps getting into these terrible, like, you know, to get sectioned, you're in a terrible situation for authorities to actually come in and remove you for your own safety. But then this would just happen again. And it's almost like there wasn't even a connection between like the countries and the medical systems and kind of like how that all works is confusing. But he, he asked in the, in the June, you know, he was sending me videos crying and just saying like, I need you back. I don't know what I've done. Like, I'm so sorry. And I remember feeling like I could, I can't help if I'm not there. Maybe if I'm with him, maybe I can help him. So I went back. And the first week I went back, we went to Morocco because he was like, you know, we need to plan like we need to get the business thing sorted again. And actually it felt like a normalish conversation. So I remember feeling like, you know, maybe, maybe things can get better. And I remember the week in Morocco just things were worse than ever. Things had got even worse at that time. I'd be in a way. And it's just, it's a helpless situation. And I have so much empathy for anyone who, or one, the people who's driven by the people who are in the world, and one, the people who struggle with mental health and addiction, but also for the people surrounding them because it's a very toxic environment to be in. One, because you're being abused. But secondly, you're losing the loved person. And thirdly, you just feel like you can't help. Because again, with so many other health issues, when you're not battling with the brain, you're not accepting the acceptance of treatment to get better. But that just doesn't exist in the same way. I can tell how much you loved him. Honestly, he was like, and this is what I find so hard. He really was so kind. And like, would you do anything? And again, like, you know, when I talk about Dessiam being a family, in his estate, in his will, every single beneficiary is a Dessiam employee. Like, that's this family bond that was just so strong. So just to see that go. And again, like, everything was played out on Instagram. Brandon was doing all of these posts in terrible situations. And it's a very hard line. I mean, we talked to Instagram like this. It's such a free, it's such a difficult, you have free speech. You have someone like it's a platform like people can post what they want. You know, some things would get removed, others wouldn't. But it was just an awful situation to be in. And I think everyone just had such a huge desire to help him. And like, in this time period, I mean, even like essay Lord companies were behind the scenes. They were so supportive to us. But again, you have, you know, you go on Instagram and you see all these comments. Why is no one helping him while you're all doing? And again, it's so hard because people don't see that situation. It is pretty much impossible to help. And then you have people that say, look, someone has to reach rock bottom. Like they have to just reach rock bottom until they get better. So then in October, Brendan had done an Instagram post basically saying he was shutting down the entire company. And there would be no more deciM. And obviously that was the point when the shareholders had to step in. Because suddenly, you know, there's, I think at that point, we had 800 employees. Like there was everyone's jobs on the line. And again, you think, look, maybe, maybe this is the kind of bottom point he needs to reach to actually understand he needs to get help. So that's when the call order happened to remove Brendan from the company, which again is an incredibly hard situation. Because no one wants to remove the founder who they care so much about. And, you know, a founder who is such a visionary and is the brand like to feel like he is being forcibly removed from his own company is very difficult. But you've also got a situation where everything was public. So every email sent the whole company on CC had all the journalists had all of our retailers had customers on Instagram posts were obviously going to everyone. So you're also living this out in public, which I think also makes it a lot harder. So in October, he got removed as the CEO. Reflecting on what you said to me at this earlier in the conversation about him wanting to keep the family together and be part of the family based on his own early experiences, maybe his own family at bringing that must have been particularly painful for him.

We had to take drastic measures (01:04:03)

Seems like he designed design this company to be a family. And that's clearly one of the most important things for him. So for him to be ousted from his quote unquote family must have been tremendously painful. Did you ever learn about his early years? Did you ever learn about his his own background, his family? I actually, it's interesting because for how close I was to him, when he became unwell, I actually learned how much I didn't know about him. And I think, you know, he just, I think he had a lot of challenges of never feeling accepted for who he was, which makes me so sad because me as a person, and especially like the destiny that we have now, we truly accept anyone and love anyone. It doesn't matter who you choose to love, where you're from. Like, you belong to us and like, we are grateful. If you want to be part of the family, you are the family. So I find it hard that he never felt like he could be his true self, which I think I only learned more when he became unwell. How? Like he'd had, he'd had this incredible life partner for ten years that I didn't even know about. A romantic partner? Yeah. Husband. A boyfriend. Pretty much, yeah. And again, like those things, when, I mean, that's a big thing to hide from someone. Why was he hiding it? Well, I can only think that was him feeling like he wouldn't be accepted for it. And I mean... Because it's a man. Yeah. And I mean, well, in the world today, but I mean, especially the beauty, like, it's... I'm so proud of the, you know, the diverse team we have, like he would have been so accepted, but I mean, he was from Iran. I think he maybe just had... Well, I don't know, I can't say the reason because... Yeah. But he clearly never felt like he could share with the world too. He truly wasn't. I mean, that's a huge thing to carry. What about his parents? So his mother died when he was very young, and I think he had a challenge relationship with his father. But again, I only learned a lot when he became ill. And I also have a battle with... If he didn't want to tell me, he didn't want people to know. So this kind of a balance of, you know, I have so many things that, gosh, I wish I could ask him. What are those things? About his childhood, about who he is, about why he felt the need to keep things secret. And then also just to understand, because, you know, people say to me, like, did he have any signs of mental health challenges before? And again, it depends what you consider traits of mental health. But no, I mean, he was eccentric, and he was, you know, high intensity and many things that I think are traits often are founders. I mean, I would love to understand more. Like, how do we support people with mental health? Because again, I mean, for someone to be sectioned five times. Why was he sectioned? He would just be in very bad situations. Police would come and get involved, and then drugs. Drugs? And again, it's so hard to diagnose. Of course, I'm not fat. Because, yeah, they both kind of spiraled each other quite dramatically. He was doing meth in the UK, I read as well, and then he got arrested for... Yeah, and again, my limited understanding of drugs, but I think Crystal meth is as bad as it gets, I think, in many ways. So then in October, he got removed, and again, I remember feeling like maybe this will show him, like, be the push he needs to get help. But it wasn't. Things just kept spiraling. And again, what's so difficult in these situations is, at this point, I think he's pushed pretty much everyone away, who really loved him. And he's now... Because you have to remember, he also had funds, he had, you know, resources, which meant, you know, at this point, he was now flying private jets everywhere, and he was kind of surrounded by people that I had never met before, and who I don't think were particularly good people for him to have around. But I mean, you don't have control over another human being. And I think that's a thing that I really struggled with, was how much everyone wanted to help him and loved him. But at some point, you know, so by October, I mean, we've had 10 months of so much hurt, so much trying to help him. So much, you know, you have moments when you think you're getting through, and maybe like, this is going to, like, be a change, and then things just fall down again. So he, then, when you've got sort of 700 employees, takes to Instagram and announces that he's shutting down the company.

He shut down the company (01:09:12)

And did he mean that? Yeah, I think he did. Again, I don't know if he meant it or if he was just wanting to be removed, and almost, you know, if that was the reason he was kind of doing some of these behaviours, there had been things that had been very extreme. And I sometimes don't know if he would have thought like, you know, what else do I need to do for someone to just take me out of this? So then obviously at that point, you know, the board, the child, there's no choice but to now remove Brendan from the company. Did they contact you after that? Yeah, they might. Probably, I mean, before the lawsuit and all that started, they'd said, "Listen, Nicola, we're going to have to do something here." Yeah, and I mean, throughout this process, there were many conversations because, again, you know, every shareholder loved Brendan and cared for him. And like, everyone's a good person, and it's like everyone wants to help someone that they've seen this brilliance in, kind of seen this quick, quick downfall. And I think the viewpoint was always, how do we protect DeciM so that Brendan can get better and come back? So it was always just a temporary order, and obviously they rang me because it would name me as becoming salty, kind of the interim period. And again, you know, I had this thought there. Maybe this is what is needed for him to actually get the help because sometimes they say, you know, you have to lose everything to hit rock bottom to then be accepting that you need help. But that didn't happen. And I think when the court order happened in October, which is what, three days after he announces he's shutting down the company, was it more? It was a very quick period. I can't remember exactly, but yeah, I think it was within days. But then things just seem to keep spiraling. And obviously, you know, at that point in October, I was seven months pregnant. So I remember I had like one last travel before I was at the kind of no flying stage. So I went to Toronto. And actually, the first thing I did was bringing back a lot of the incredible team members that had gone during the period of 2018. So I need to pause there because that's pretty astounding. Your seven months pregnant, the founder has been ousted by a huge multinational billion dollar conglomerate. And you're thrust in as CEO of the company of 700 people who have just gone through chaos. What do you do day one? And so, so, so, assemble the team. So, you know, the key people who were incredibly close to Brendan, who had also been fired and kind of pushed out in all of this chaos. They needed to come back to the company because they were also co-founders. They were also people who had been there from the beginning and understood the values and we desperately needed. I remember going for dinner with Stephen and saying like, I need you to come back. So Stephen was our CFO at the time and then we came back as a COO. And again, like we just needed to get organisation because I mean, in this period of 2018, you had to remember the, our demand for the products. I went through the roof because I mean, there was a lot of noise around what was happening and... Did it help sales? Massively, which is frustrating, but you know, because we had such good products, that was also in the conversation. But it was like, have you seen what's happening? Have you seen this Instagram? Have you seen this sound like it's... I'll be honest with you, the only time I'd heard, because I'm not a buyer of the products, the ordinary products. The only time I'd heard about the brand was I heard a story when I was in New York. I think in 2017, 2018, when I was living in New York about this founder that had hijacked the Instagram and was posting like a dead sheep. He posted like a picture of a dead sheep or something. And I remember clicking on, this is a so funny issue, I clicked onto the Instagram to like see what was going on. It's kind of like being nosy or whatever. And I was like, that branding's cool. So for the last five years, I've known it from that first moment, but I remember thinking that branding is really on the money. Well, in 2018, I mean, the brand was only one a year old. Crazy. So actually, you know, many people's first interaction with the brand was probably through, you know, being told, have you seen this person on Instagram? Have you seen this breakdown that's happening in public? So that was, and I think that's one thing I find very hard is that Brandon was an incredible human being. He was so kind. He was such a visionary. He was so high energy. He truly was a genius that I find it hard that people didn't really know him from before. And actually so many people only learn about him through that period, which is very sometimes difficult to accept. But this is also the reality of just the situation and social media and the appetite for controversy that I think kind of exists today. When the lawsuit was happening and he was being ousted, was there a point during that couple of days, that period where he called you? He became, you couldn't reach him. He turned all his phones off. He didn't go to the court or, like, you know, he was obviously sort of in normal world, like, would have a representation and would you know, it was just, just vanished. So you come into the office, you assemble the team, you pull the people back? Yeah. And, and again, so then for those next couple of months, you know, we, we did hit like Brandon would sometimes be part outside of our office in Toronto. And again, you have to remember, this is people who love him. But now there's a character who is, is still acting at times, you know, frustrated. Upset. And it's just a very difficult environment to be in. You've got a responsibility now as CEO. You've got this guy parked outside the office. You're trying to focus the team. There's a guy parked outside the office who's capable of causing chaos to the company, to the team members, to the employees, you know, really not, you know, stable. Surely you've got a responsibility to call the police or something or get him out of there, you know, is that there's a conflict of injury. It's, it's, it's such a hot because you try everything. And actually, you have to remember as well, during this period, I was back in the UK. So actually it was even harder because I mean, at this point, I'm like eight months pregnant, nine months pregnant. So hearing this, but actually not being in Toronto to actually be there in head office with the team. And again, that's where Stephen and kind of other other members were incredible. And again, it's difficult because, you know, Stephen, like there'd be a conversation with Brandon and then you get to the point where people were just believing out the back exit to kind of, because it's such a horrible situation. I mean, he's, he's not doing anything wrong sitting in his car on the road. So it's kind of, you couldn't even ring the police unless he was actually acting abusive, but sitting in the car alone. Like, we're not worried. Everything was small, just sadness. Like how he would be feeling at that time. And then you just get frustrated at yourself because, you know, I think we're, we're so used to figuring out the answer of figuring out solutions. So then when you're in this heartbreaking situation of, you know, trying to be nice, trying to be there, trying to ask if he's okay, being away, being distant. Nothing works. And actually that feels very hard, I think, to, to actually accept, especially as someone who, you know, I like to find solutions as a problem. Like we find the answer. So it was a hard period. And then my daughter was born at December 29th, just four days after, after Christmas. And then I remember in the January, getting a message. So, so Dion had, the press had got in touch with us, says it true, Brandon's died.

Managing Crisis And Lessons Learned

A journalist told us the horrific news (01:17:27)

We had heard nothing at this point. And you remember thinking surely not like we wouldn't be hearing from a reporter asking us the question. So I said to John McCall, I'll ask Stephen to see if he can hear anything. So Stephen went to the police station who confirmed they'd found his body and he'd passed away. I remember Stephen ringing me and I was breastfeeding my daughter at the time and just feeling this shot because you just never think that's actually the ending that's going to come. Like I think I always did just think at some point he would get better and actually not within a year. Someone could go from like being the person you know and you love and who is normal and sin for them to a year later that this, this is such a fast downward spiral has happened that that's kind of had that ending. And then you also, I then realized that I don't think his partner knew. I don't think any of our deci and family like no one knew other than that reporter. But if the press know that means quite quickly everyone's going to know. It's then having to go through this process of ringing his partner, ringing like the people I knew were incredibly close personally to him. Ringing essay, Lord of Companies like telling the people I had to know. I mean quite quickly having the email drafted because also you know this press inquiry has gone to our general media at desk, the inbox, which means the team are already knowing that this inquiry is out there. So something is like, okay, gosh, like I need everyone to hear this in the right order. So trying to like make those phone calls, send those messages. Did you process it yourself? No, I think I went into, I remember just the shock of, I really didn't think it was going to end in that way or that soon. And then I think it was just, okay, let's like go through the motions like who do we need to tell like, how do we handle this from here. And then remember like then we need to get a meal or a passport because we flew to Toronto like five days later. And yeah, just go into like, how do we, because again it's not just a company that's left to founder is a family, it's a friend, it's someone who's so close to all of us. And it's also hard because it's just such a, just a tragic story and a tragic ending. And you know, and I think back to sometimes like our family bond and especially the bond that we still have now so many people who are there at the beginning. But I mean, we lived through this like we had this year and we're messaging each other around. This has just happened. What do you think we should do? How do we handle this situation? Like we lived that pain together, which I think is, is probably why there is a bond that I think is still incredibly strong that wouldn't normally exist because it does strengthen when you go through those tough times together. He was he was on his own when he passed away. Yeah, he, he posted Instagram videos on that night. So, you know, we, we know from various things that he was obviously still in this cycle of drug abuse and then kind of mental health. We don't know, no one was there. He, he fell off the balcony. I don't believe it was suicide with an intention to end his life because he'd have, I believe he'd have left a note, he'd have sent an email. He was, he was big on words like he always had something to say that I find it hard to think that he would. And again, you know, even if it was videos like there was, there was always kind of communication coming from him, but I find it hard to believe he would purposefully end things without having a last kind of voice in the world. And again, you know, when you are in that situation, I don't know if he was sat on the edge and kind of, but he was a high floor apartment. There was kind of huge storms and winds that night, but I mean, none of us were there, so we'll, we'll never truly know what happened. As well as your job to sort of communicating this to your team and dealing with the ram, the after effects of his passing. When, when do you process it? This is someone you love. This is your friend that you've just found out has died. This is your co-founder, your former co CEO, someone you've been on an incredible journey with. When do you have a chance to stop and just really work through the emotions? I actually don't know if I ever have even to this day because it's just hard when, you know, work was, the scene was so busy because we've just gone through this year of turmoil where demand has gone through the roof. And yet behind the scenes, you know, people have done an amazing job of holding things together, but it also been a year of no leadership kind of decisions being made in the wrong way, a lot of chaos there. So you suddenly have this situation of like, there's a lot to fix. There's a lot to sort out. And I'm, and I'm not talking even from like culture and emotions, but just actually from like business practicalities because this is a brand that's exploding with this kind of soaring demand that's had this chaos, that now needs stability in these kinds of all of this love put back into it and back into the team and people. And then I'll also have a newborn baby at this time. So I feel like almost just that period since then, like things have just been so busy. And I'm just a big believer in like there are, there are, you pick the times in your life when you're ready to focus on something. And I know there's a period in my life. I want to sit down with a psychologist and just go through everything that happened to have a better understanding of it. But I feel like that's, it needs to be the right time when I'm ready. And actually to really like, I'm someone that when I put my energy into something, it becomes such a big focus and you know I want to do it right. And I know at the moment with everything going on, I wouldn't have the right time to dedicate to it. And also probably partly healing like it's still not be five years in January since he passed away. It's coming to a time when I think it maybe gets easier, but it's also still very raw because I think it's hard to say if it's regrets, but you always have those feelings of, is there anything different we could have done because you feel so helpless about how things just spiraled. That's what I was, I was, I was going to ask is upon getting that news, the people often talk about this when they talk about the passing of a parent or something they look back on the relationship from a new perspective now because, as you said in your own words you didn't ever envisage it would end that way so when it does end that way, your perspective on the situation can shift to what you as you said you know thoughts of regret or words unsaid or things that maybe we could have done and and that can be quite that can consume ones thoughts was there a lot of that during that time. I think because you know the year 2018 I'd had a lot of reflections of maybe we weren't as close as I thought because you know if you could have this life partner in and all of these things and not even feel comfortable to tell me, then maybe I thought we were this closest that we actually weren't you start to kind of question those things. And actually the the area which I then kind of got the comfort back that it was genuine and it was the love that I felt that he he felt was when we when we got a copy of of his his estate of his will of his kind of last wishes. And when it said around the decision on what should happen with his body, it first went to his partner of 10 years and then it said an in absence of that person. I want Nicola to decide what happens to my body. And actually that was a very comforting thing because I mean there's nothing more personal than to trust someone with if something happens to me. This person can decide what happens to like my remains so that then actually gave me the comfort that like it was genuine. It was a true love like he did see me as that other than his his his partner like his kind of best friend his partner someone who was incredibly close who he would feel like that was the right person to me that decision so I'd kind of gone on this cycle of feeling you know very pushed out very targeted very maybe maybe it wasn't all real maybe I was just a colleague and kind of it was just business to actually know it was just a business. To actually know it was family it was love so I kind of had that reflection and I think that gave me a lot of comfort. Do you miss Brandon? Incredibly much. You know it's quite lonely because when you've gone from having someone where every decision you're you're texting you're together you're kind of you're doing it together gives you the confidence that you're going in the right way.

Carrying on his legacy (01:27:21)

So it's very difficult to lose that and you know it's like you go from a two parent to just one parent and you feel responsible for this incredible child but also a child that's growing very fast and you know you want to do the best by everyone. And it's and it also like it's a huge change I mean the company we are today is very different and you know like with any any kind of fast growth business you have to try and find the balance of you know never compromising on our values and things that are so core to our purpose. But then finding a way that you can can actually grow and scale and and actually you know when we in the early years we've never had a strategy and it was kind of never anything of that. I thought we would do but then obviously you go to a size that you start thinking about these things and it was interesting because the first time we did strategy. I think it's worth pausing there and just highlighting what you've just said you had a philosophy early on where you didn't you didn't have a company strategy.

Our company didn't have a strategy (01:28:34)

It was never planned never have a strategy. That was your ethos. Yeah. Why? We actually again we had all of these slogans and our offices and one with strategy is is also overrated. And you need to be agile as a startup. And again I think you know a big thing. Brando is a big believer in this. He always used to say we've got to be the small rabbit running into the holes that the big elephants can't get to. And the big elephants obviously been there the big congruence because they've got far more money than us far more resources. There is no point as doing what they're doing but with far less. Let's find the holes and part of that is again being agile. I mean again you think the ordinary was the eleventh brand and as much as we had like elements of success before then you know the ordinary it took 11 attempts to really get it right. Now a strategy can't plan for that because our strategy was to keep failing until it got until we kind of got it right. Now as you get bigger it changes because suddenly you know you need to articulate things in a different way. But it was interesting because when we did our first process of strategy and obviously I'm still very at this point was very on the fence of I don't think we're a company that kind of needs a big document. So it's quite nice after we kind of had all these conversations we came down to basically having our entire strategy was build growth, power good. That was the strategy because almost it was and again I'm very proud that I feel like we're more than just a beauty company. We want to have a good impact on the world. We believe in making incredible products but also having a good impact on the planet. You know I believe the world of skincare is now a better place because there is more transparency, there's more awareness and regions like Neocinamide. I think there's better price points. I think there is, you know we talk about quality, quality and actually been in skincare. I think that's something that now is much more accessible to people. So I believe like we are having a good impact and I think that businesses can do that and you know I like if you ever get a good impact and I think that businesses can do that and you know I like if you ever get a good impact on the planet. If you ever get the chance to come to Toronto and you know I welcome anyone to come look around our offices, our production facility because the warmth you find from people is unlike anywhere I've ever, I think could exist. Ladies and gentlemen as you know Zoe is now sponsoring this podcast and I'm a proud investor in the company and I've been going on the Zoe journey myself. It all starts with this home testing kit you get sent in the post which measures your gut health, your blood sugar and your blood fat. I've had this little device this blood sugar glucose sensor on my arm which came in the home testing kit to understand how all of the different foods that I eat day to day have an impact on my body and it's been pretty unbelievable. A big thing for me is feeling tired after I've eaten something and not understanding why. Historically I didn't understand. Now I do understand. I've been eating I think it was like a rice stir fry with a bit of chicken and some chili sauce in there and I saw in my blood glucose chart on my phone which is connected to the device that Zoe sent me this huge spike. And then later in the day I saw a huge dip when I started feeling that sort of post lunch slump and what will happen next is Tim tells me they'll take all of that data and give me my own personalized zoe scores for any food so I can figure out what I should be eating and what I should avoid if I want to avoid those often in slumps and if you want to get started on your zoe journey with me use the code we've got an exclusive code here CEO 10 for 10% off and let me know how you get on when it arrives back to the episode. If I was to ask you then again we're looking there at like the finished painting. I want to know the colors that went into the painting. So how and you were there the whole time so you got to see what what created that end product.

The small details that got Deciem where it is today (01:32:19)

I'm a professor at the founder listening to this now and I go okay, Nicola I'm very start and I want that end product to be 10 years in super successful and everyone's happy. What are the most important things for them to understand embody and sort of implement into their companies just maybe like top line. So from a business perspective product quality is the only way to be successful and therefore I mean the only reason we're now in a position where I think we can invest so much in sustainability social impact and people. It's because if we started with science we made the very best product that people know they get results with which ultimately has allowed us to grow and again it comes back to this the more we build growth the more we can power good and this is a continuous circle that we're now in that I think is just the bigger we get the bigger impact we can have which I think is very powerful. And then I think from from a people perspective I mean any founder can now write the new rules and again for us it's around like belonging everyone belongs a decim like that's our North Star like we have so much work on how we make people feel belong. Why does that matter. I'm playing double advocate here obviously. Why does that matter what does it help me be successful. Because you want humans to feel supported to feel safe to feel trusted to if you want to get the best from someone and also we have such a diverse workforce. I mean even 50% of our team 50% of our leaderships bipod and we continue to kind of strive to do more. But I think that diversity like the more different viewpoints you have in a room the more you're going to drive innovation you're going to drive creativity you're going to move things forward. And actually a favorite quote I had a friend and was he said I always just find fascinating. Like people are skeptical and then one day planes do fly and again if you think back to like there would be a point where someone saying what we can fly in an airplane in the sky and it's you know like that would have been baffling. And then it happens so actually incredible change and advances can happen and it starts with small changes it starts with some you know we always say like we started as a group of just good people having fun wanting to do the right thing. And then it's kind of letter where we are today. What are your non negotiables. You know because you're now then you're the chief disciple of decim you're the one that knows exactly what a decim person is how they behave what a decim decision looks like what decim behavior looks like. What are your non negotiables. Definitely kindness. And I also always say like you have to do the right thing even when no one is looking. And for me that's like the authenticity piece. And then that's also the difference I think between being nice and being kind is that actually even if someone's not looking you're always just doing the right thing. Caring about the small things because actually the small things become the big things over time so I think really nurturing that. And just thinking differently and again it's something where if you're taking inspiration from the industrial category you're already in. There's no point because you're just going to end up doing what everyone else is doing. You need to take inspiration from everywhere but the industry and category you're playing it because you know as I said like the ordinary inspiration came from pharmacy from healthcare. If we took inspiration from the world of beauty and skincare we'd have just done what everyone else is doing but with far less resources and kind of ability behind us. So I think where you take inspiration from is very important. I'm going to do a little bit of a quick fire here I hate quick fires and interviews because it's so shitty and authentic but I just want to make sure my stats are correct.

Deciem stats (01:36:21)

How many staff do you have today? Ed, just shy 1500. How many stores have you got? We've got 32 of our own stores. How many of the positions in your company are held by women? We're over 50%. The vast majority of your products are still under $10. Yes our best selling ones are. Okay. You're the most searched skincare brand on TikTok. Yes we're very proud of our TikTok virality. You're the most popular skincare brand in boots as well. Yes I know maybe on Do you know how many products you sell a second? I love stuff like that. I lose track is it two seconds? I've no idea. I don't have a winner from Algiers. I thought you had it there. No I think with Nieson and I did maybe two seconds. Right. Yeah. Looking back at the career you've covered so far.

Advice to your younger self starting up (01:37:27)

What's the advice that you wish someone had given you? Let's say let me say the day you met Brandon. If I could have just ring ring your phone goes. And it's you at 34 years old. 34 now yeah. 34 years old. And you got to speak to Nicola back then on the phone 60 seconds. You get to give us some advice. Stay calm. Always find the positive in everything because I think that positivity is what's infectious and actually makes other people believe in what you want to do and kind of can get you through the toughest times by just being calm being kind and just you know have belief in the end game like we're on this planet for such a small amount of time. Some things you can control some things you can't life isn't fair you have your own situation and I think I've always found coming to things just with an air of calmness has always been the best way. Okay I don't get stressed out and I think that's an important quality. It's not easy. Don't get stressed out. Takes a lot. What do you what does your mother think of everything that's happened in your career? Incredibly proud. And I'm incredibly close to my mum like I see her every week and you know what's also been nice is she's traveled so much with me. You know she's so often my childcare kind of looking after them when we travel and you know Sean's parents they're very close to you but yeah I think she's just incredibly proud of how everything's turned out. You're for the past when you are. When I was 20 and again it is very hard because probably see some similarities I think between kind of what happened back then and I guess just the uncontrollability and the ability to help the situation because you know up until the age of when I was 18 like two years before he passed away I mean he was healthy he was well he liked to drink but you know not to the point of being an alcoholic and then very quickly things spiraled. So he loved being a roger presenter like that was his life but I think it is a hard industry where suddenly you're not current anymore and there's younger presenters coming through and he'd you know he'd gone from presenting on on the the radio station for literally 25 years or something you know he started 18 and it'd be very successful in kind of the in you know the big kind of South Yorkshire radio station and suddenly it was taken away from him. I think that created just a spiral and you know he also I think had challenges with his upbringing and alcohol just became a coping mechanism and again I think it just both times it surprised me how quickly it can happen and again with two years I'm a father had gone. Give me a hug. I wouldn't be a guest if I wasn't crafting. My grandma died on Monday as well so it's just actual amity of all the emotions. You okay? We're going to get some tissues. Jackie do you have some tissues there? Thank you. The conversation around around addiction we don't. It's taken us some time to understand its relationship with mental health right in in that situation what you describe is the like the loss of your father's purpose and how that turned him to alcohol. And then within a short period of time I'm guessing there was an alcohol related death. When you were 20 the world wasn't in it certainly wasn't in a place that's sort of 14 15 years ago wasn't in a place where it would have understood alcoholism in the same way. Were you were you able to understand the causes of your father's behavior at that time. I was I felt like I could understand it. As in in the way of and I'm one of the doctors saying to us because he was in hospital quite a few times like you have to treat this as a terminal illness because even if he gets better is there and it can come back within the brain at any time when it's a severe addiction. So I think I kind of understood what was happening again found it incredibly difficult if being helpless in terms of can you go from someone who you love and who loves you and who would do anything for you and for their family. Just again this not talking the same language and again it's very hard I think with addiction and then you like how call abuse because you find it hard like why can't they just stop. They love us like why do they want to be in this situation and again it takes like the rethinking around like they can't help it like this is an illness just like cancer like other diseases like their brain is ill and they can't think of anything other than how they can get an illness like a drink. I think it's just a heart it's a hard thing to accept feeling helpless but there isn't a medication you know it can in the UK you can't put someone into rehab unless they want to go but they've got their brain battling with them that won't allow them to make a decision. And when everything happened with Brandon it was like history repeating itself again you watch someone you love slowly slip away into. Yeah it was I guess the one of the differences with my dad he never became he was still very loving and kind even though you know he couldn't stop was I think with Brandon it was things were much more it was more anger and it was kind of more. Yeah. My dad always still had the love and the kindness coming through even when he was ill. Were you were you able to process that your father passing did you did you take the time did you get the support did you have any anyone there to speak to about that. Not really. I think I've always just I just keep busy and actually I'm a very I'm generally a very like positive calm happy like I truly have a high level of happiness in my life despite all that tragedy that has happened. And I get so much joy and so much love and I have so much support from my husband and my mom and my sister and you know some of the best friends in the world who be my best friends since we were in school that I've just. Is it strange to go through everything that's happened but actually still feel very just secure and I think I have to say this like despite what happened I mean I had 18 years. If probably a very boring but very stable loving happy childhood that I think really does set the foundations for later life. Now we're here.

Present Day Status

How are you today? (01:45:52)

And you've got a wonderful husband you've got to gorgeous wonderful beautiful children happy and healthy and you've got 1500 children. And that's the who would do it just great as well. How are you feeling. And I'm a very privileged very lucky. I mean to be like 34 and feel like actually I've accomplished so many of my dreams like having my children having an incredible husband having an amazing home and amazing life together. And then also like I mean how lucky that it 24 deci came into my life and I met the most incredible people have best friends now from the company. I get. I live in such an exciting world like you know I get to work with one of the best friends and companies in the world and and also actually I like to think influence and set the footprint for actually what business can be like it can be a place where. Where leaders can be kind they don't you know if you can if you think around business from 20 30 years ago I'm probably the polar opposite to what would be expected to be a leader. You don't have a big glass box you don't sit in your own big glass office above everybody else I heard you hot desk your team your team told me you hot desk with them. I've never had my own desk in any office at SEM probably the only person to never have my own desk and actually I love it first of all because I'm traveling in you know whenever I'm somewhere. I always want to spend time with people so normally am in meetings I want to be in just getting to know everyone. And if I do have time on my desk hot desking is far better like who's not in today or goes in there just because then you get to talk to another team you get to be around people. And so I've always kind of just enjoyed the the floating piece of just getting to know everyone in the team.

Interaction With Previous Guest

The last guest’s question (01:47:49)

We have a closing tradition on this podcast as you know because clearly you just had you watched an episode before so this is this will not be a surprise we have a closing tradition where the last guest leaves the question for the next guest this is a bit of a long long. The question is. I can't figure out what this word is that's why I was mumbling around because I can't. Okay, Stasis is a lie. In every moment we are either progressing towards the better self within or regressing. So the question is. Who are you becoming. I think I'm becoming. Someone who is just accepting. Of who they are and actually just being very content and being happy with who I am and I think you know. Like people always ask me like and I have no plans to leave desk but people will say like after desking what do you want to do. And they always don't believe when I say like I want to be a mum like that's so important to me like. And again I talk about chapters in life like if that's that period. That I get one chance at life to do then I want to prioritize that and I think you know it's sometimes. People. You know it's not a social because you've been like business and you've been driven that becomes a conflict and that but it doesn't because also I think the qualities that make me want to dedicate so much to my children and being a good mum. I probably also would actually make the culture what it is at Decium today. So I think just accepting that actually we're all unique and. I am very content at this moment in life I feel. I don't particularly have any regrets. I want to know more about if things could have been differently in this you know the bad situations that have happened. But I think because I've always feel like I've approached things with kindness. That I've been true to myself that actually that's something that I kind of want to continue to be. Well you certainly do embody kindness and you know your team described you as being a rev centering. That is my experience of you. That is also my experience of your husband who I met a year ago who's also a wonderful human being. Thank you. Thank you for so much. Thank you for the inspiration. You really are an example that in order to be a successful leader in business you don't need to be what we used to see in movies which is like screaming and shouting at people and throwing things from the glass box and being cruel and being selfish and so. Being selfish and being a leech on society or the earth or whatever it might be. You are one of those shining examples that success and kind aren't mutually exclusive. In fact in clearly in your case from speaking to your team and seeing how much they adore you. It's additive to the outcome of success. It doesn't deduct from it. But your story as well that it should be a movie and I'm sure you're going to, I'm sure it will be a movie someday or at least an incredible, incredible series of books. It's one that is so incredible, so inspiring, so unthinkable at times. And the way that you share it with such wisdom and vulnerability is going to induce so much light and inspiration and liberation in everyone that's listened today. So sometimes when I do this podcast I realize that I have to thank you on behalf of the listener because I realize the listener is at home and they are going to DM you and all that stuff. Because they do that a lot which is fantastic. But I would really like to thank you on behalf of everyone that listened to this conversation because I know how many of them in so many ways that you'll never understand. You'll see maybe 1% of it. You'll never understand how much you've helped. And you don't have to. You don't have to come and do these things and share the way you do and open yourself up like this. You do have a choice in that and you've chosen to do that and I know why you've chosen to do that. And it's because of the value that you've shared today. So thank you, Nicola. It's been a pleasure to meet you. You're very much the reason why I do what I do here is to find the stories like this and to share them with the world. And you'll continue to inspire me for many years to come through all those chapters of your life that you described. Amazing. Thank you for having me. Thank you for listening. Right now I'm incredibly busy. I'm running my fund where we're investing in slightly later stage companies. I've got my venture business where we invest in early stage companies. I've got a third web out in San Francisco in New York City where we've got a big team of about 40 people and the companies growing very quickly. Flight story here in the UK. I've got the podcast and I am days away from going up north to film Dragon's Den for two months. And if there's ever a point in my life where I want to stay focused on my health, but it's challenging to do so, it is right now. And for me, that is exactly where he all comes in. Allowing me to stay healthy and have a nutritionally complete diet even when my professional life descends into chaos. And it's in these moments where he was RTD's become my right hand man and save my life because when my world descends to be a part of my life, when my world descends into professional chaos and I get very, very busy, the first thing that tends to give way is my nutritional choices. So having fuel in my life has been a lifesaver for the last four or so years. And if you haven't tried fuel yet, which is I'd be shocked. You must be living under a rock if you haven't yet. Give it a shot. Coming into summer, things getting busy. Health matters always. RTD is there to hold your hand.

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