How I Built 5 Multi-Million Dollar Companies: Marcia Kilgore | E99 | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "How I Built 5 Multi-Million Dollar Companies: Marcia Kilgore | E99".
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Quick one, the Dirova CEO Live, my live show, my live reincarnation of this podcast is coming on tour and it's coming to a city near you. There's a link in the description below, put your email address in and I will email you when tickets go on sale. Can't wait to see ya. - You know, when you have that kind of experience early, you grow up very fast and you know what's important and you prioritize. So another deep question. - All of these deep questions. - Yeah, okay, so. - Did you feel like a bit of a fraud? - No. - No? - I totally thought I knew what I was doing. - People don't do that. They don't just like change. - Well you do, wait 20. - They don't. - People came back, Madonna, Numa Thurman and Oprah. - Marcia Kilgore, I can't actually believe what you're about to hear. I can't actually believe that one human being could have achieved that many successful business exits back to back. She's built companies like Soap and Glory, like Bliss, Beauty Pie, which she's building at the moment. And these companies have sold for tens and hundreds of millions. They've made hundreds of millions in annual revenue. And the remarkable thing is she's not just done it once. She's not just done it twice. Not three times, not four times. She's done it five times. And I sat here with her trying to figure out why her. What was it about Marcia that made her achieve such tremendous things in her life? And I think we finally got there. I think we finally found the answer. And is it something that you can replicate? A lot of it is. And I think that's what makes this podcast today so interesting. So without further ado, I'm Steven Bartlett and this is the DiR of a CEO. I hope nobody's listening. But if you are, then please keep this to yourself. There is so much that makes you unique so much. And sometimes I think, and I think I'm guilty of this to some degree too, we don't always see ourselves as being unique because we're inside of our minds and we're behaving in the way that feels natural to us. But when I look at your story and the decisions you've made since you were very, very young, it's so clear to me that there's something so different about, many things that are so different about you.
Early Life And Career Journey
Your early years (02:00)
And I wanna kinda get to the root of that. What is the foundation of that difference? What was it? What was the culture and the experience that created the person you went on to become for the following? - Wow, that's starting with a very, very deep question, isn't it? - It is, yeah. - Yeah, I mean, I think that I grew up in a very small town and a small city. In Canada at that time was relatively simple. And I always had a hunger to learn more and read more and find out more and kind of knew that I didn't really fit in in a small city. So very early on, I kinda started to think, well, what can I do and how can I get out of here? But I didn't have much guidance. So my father died early and my mom was not necessarily someone who would help me look at universities, for instance, or say, hey, you should really, your grades are really great. Why don't you study and do this and that? 'Cause she had never done it herself. So she, no one really in my family guided me. And at that point, there weren't really university counselors or anyone doing that job in high schools. At least in Canada. So I think for me, I realized quite early, probably when I was a teenager, that I just needed more stimulation. And I needed more than what was there, just to feel fulfilled and keep my curiosity going. Those teenage years, you have a lot of experiences. And apparently what happens during your teenage years because your brain is forming in a very different way. And it's starting to sort of solidify, right? Those kinds of experience really stick with you through your whole life. And I remember having several part time jobs when I was a teenager, all simultaneously while going to high school and never really finding a job where I thought that the person in charge of the business was doing it well. So I worked at a gym, for instance, and I always thought, oh, they could do it so much better if they were just doing this, that, and the other thing. I taught aerobics classes and I thought aerobics was so boring the way it was done and tried to do it in a very different way. So it was more fun for the people who came. And just always trying to improve the experience because I was in quite a mediocre setting, lovely setting, but very average, very middle camera. And so that was probably a bit of the stimulation. - On that point though, that sort of philosophy or even the thought that you could make something better, that's a point of difference that a lot of people don't have. Where did that come from in you so early that if something isn't good enough that you had the power within yourself to do something about it? 'Cause I think most people will go through life just accepting things as they are. - That would be just terribly depressing, wouldn't it? I guess if you can connect the dots and see your way to something that might be more elevating for your mind and then for others or make something a little bit more fun, you can go deep into the childhood stuff, right? And just think about, I mean, there were situations in my childhood and it happens to a lot of people. So by no means unique in this respect, but where for instance, and this would probably be more girls than boys, but at some point in every girl's existence in school, you become the unpopular one. How you feel maybe so much of an outsider when suddenly you're out and how painful that can be. I think probably in my experience when I was suddenly not cool anymore, probably was really painful for me 'cause I also feel things quite acutely. So trying also to think, well, if other people feel left out, how can you make them feel like they're more a part of something? And so most of the businesses that I create are very democratic, bliss even, which was my spa that I created in New York. I mean, we had everybody coming in from like Madonna and Uma Thurman and Oprah, right? But then the 12 year old kids who had chronic acne and their moms would bring them in to have facials. We treated everybody exactly the same way. I think one of my favorite memories from that was when I was actually giving a facial to one of these 12 year old kids that her mom had brought her from Boston and Uma Thurman was in the locker room at the same time and helped her open her locker. So she comes into my team and room and goes, oh, my Thurman just helped me unlock my locker. It was so cute because, you know, everybody was the same and that makes me feel great. I think probably some of that experience as a child, not feeling equal, being left out maybe a little bit. We, after my father passed away, we were not necessarily poor, or, you know, but not certainly not comfortable in any way, shape or form. At one point, we moved back to a small town and we kind of lived on the wrong side of the tracks. If there was a wrong side of the tracks, we lived on the wrong side of the tracks in this very small town where my mother's family was from. So you kind of felt like you weren't quite as good as everyone else, but that wasn't fair. And so very likely the idea of this democratization of the good stuff probably comes from that, but I'm sure you could grab any therapist anywhere and they would give you a different version of it. - The passing of your father seems to be quite a point. You seem to refer to it as like before and after, how life was somewhat different. And after your father passed away, the requirement for you to develop like a real sense of independence seems to sort of really come through. I think that you had three parts on jobs at one point. - Yeah, well, I had to, I mean, my mother was a secretary. So she didn't have a huge income. At the time I was probably 11, right? So I didn't ask her, hey, do we have any money? In the bank, you don't really ask those kinds of questions after the death of your parent. But I assumed just from the way that my mother, you know, acted that we weren't exactly stable or, you know, financially well off. So being, I think the youngest, but yet potentially the most responsible of the three sisters, I kind of felt like I had to help and maybe help in order for her to feel better herself. - Have you ever watched Jim Carrey? He actually talks about, I mean, of course, he've watched him carry, but there's an interview that he gives where he talks about. His mother actually suffered from tremendous depression. And he learned to be funny because he wanted her to laugh and he wanted to see her feel good. And I know there is something about, okay, I'm gonna have a paper wrote and I'm gonna, you know, be a personal trainer or teach a robex and I'm gonna work as a waitress, even though I'm not necessarily old enough to serve alcohol in this establishment. Whatever it was, I would just do it because I wanted to take the stress off of her. I didn't want her to think if I wanted, you know, a car or whatever it was that she was gonna have to pay for it 'cause I knew it was already quite stressful for her to just pay the rent. So I think, you know, you just do whatever's expected of you and it's fine, right? It's great, it's a skill, it's like a gift. In a way you can look at it and just think, well, I developed that skill from 10,000 hours of practice, maybe over a year or two and it was never hard for me to work again. - You mentioned the gym, the personal training? - Oh yeah, so when I moved to New York, it's a long story, but I then moved to New York when I was 18 after my 12th grade and I got accepted to Columbia University and I was supposed to go, but I didn't have any money and my sister who lived in New York said, I'll help you out with your tuition, but then she had a little snafu with her income that year, it was like a tax thing or whatever, you know, again, no big deal. And so I was in New York and I had no money to go to university and it was too late because I was Canadian to get a foreign student loan.
The gym & moving to New York (09:38)
So I decided to use the only skill that I had when I was, and I know you can tell this about me, but I was a bodybuilder. I know it's kind of hard to see now, but I was like a middleweight bodybuilding champion when I was a teenager. Between the three part time jobs, I would then go to the gym at night. - Where did that come from? 'Cause that takes a degree of, dare I say it, dedication to say the least. - Yeah, it was random. I think it was again, my sister started dating this guy whose brother owned a bodybuilding gym. And he said to me, hey, you should come down to the gym 'cause I was a long distance runner. And just to kind of let off steam, I think I just love to always go running. And so he said, oh, you should come down Miss Canada at the time, like Miss Canada lightweight or whatever, she worked out there. And so she put me through the paces and gave me a routine and all this kind of stuff. And I just went because it was something to do. - But even then though, a lot of people go to the gym, the train, whatever, two days, three days a week for you to have gone from just walking in the door to becoming a junior bodybuilding champion or something. - You know, I suppose, again, if you had a therapist come in and say, oh, why would you do that? It's probably to give some kind of semblance control and the ability to achieve something to my life, which at the time, I'm a teenager in a high school in the Melissa Scatuan. School was not so hard for me. - Yeah. - So what else am I gonna do? - Sense of purpose, I guess. - Yeah, and to have that discipline, you also have control, right? So if you can control your body, then you could probably control other things. And if you can achieve things with seeing how far you can take it, then it just adds to, I guess, the challenge. - This is a really-- - Do you like a bit of a challenge? - I do, I love a challenge. I also really love working out and I would go to the gym every single day. And I, you know what it was? I sat here with an entrepreneur and she is very well known. She got millions of followers online for a bit for basically being a bodybuilder. She describes herself as a bodybuilder. She doesn't, you know, she's a very lean bodybuilder, let's say. But, and she told me that when she was in school, she was outcasted a little bit and she would eat her lunch in the toilet. Her name's Chrissy Chella. And her, her going to the gym was in some respects an escape from all of that. It was like her way of, yeah, I think it gave her herself control. - Building herself back up. - Yeah, just yeah, just if you think about physically what's happening, right? She's building herself back up. - Yeah. - Yeah. - And when you start talking about sort of being excluded from the cool kids and stuff and then that your bodybuilding became a big sort of, you know, future in your life at that age, I wondered if there was a link or, 'cause it is an extreme thing. It requires a level of persistence and an okayness with being uncomfortable, physically uncomfortable. - That, you know what, the gym was also full of adults. And I think I was a young adult. So I probably had more of a mindset of an adult early. I'm not, I'm not like the most intelligent human being on, you know, on the earth, but I'm probably slightly more intellectual than most of the people that I was in school with. So I found my friends in an environment where there were people working out and being healthy and just older. And so I think that probably had something to do with it too. You had people to talk to there that you could kind of connect to versus the teenagers who maybe were going through their teenage things. I'd say also, and I've had this conversation with, you know, if you've experienced a death in your family early, or if you've had a parent or a sibling who's, you know, chronically ill or handicapped, you see life in a very different way, right? So if your father dies when you're 11 and you're in a high school with a group of girls and they're all very caddy and you just think, really? You're not going there. It's not interesting to be part of that kind of crowd. You don't want to talk about those kinds of things that are not important and you know it because you've been through something profound very early on. So it's hard to connect to people who haven't, like, you know, when you have that kind of experience early, you grow up very fast and you know what's important and you prioritize. So it's hard to find anyone to relate to if you have a bunch of teenagers who haven't, right? - Are you saying that you didn't fit in? You didn't think you fit it into that? - I don't have any friends from high school. - Yeah, sorry. - Yeah, okay, so did you fit in? - I know. - Yeah, so. - Yeah, I probably didn't fit in. I mean, didn't feel like an outcast in any way, shape, or form, but I had not much to talk to them about, right? What they wanted to talk about at that time just wasn't that interesting to me. So whether or not I was fitting in or not, I just didn't have the same interests, I guess, you know, as the other kids who were maybe able to grow up at a normal pace because of, you know, their normal existence. - So take me back then. So you get the place at Columbia? - Yeah, I got a place at Columbia and then it didn't work out that year. And I thought, oh, maybe I'll save up and I'll go next year, but I have to, here I am in New York, I have $300, right? And my mom, I was the third of three girls and the two older ones were a bit of a handful, right? So she gave me for my grade 12 graduation present, like a backpack that was also a suitcase. No, I was actually the really disciplined, helpful one, but I think she had just had it. Like by then, she'd been through the death of my dad and then my older sister who had moved away quite early and then my middle sister who, you know, was, I wouldn't say complicated, but she'd been in a couple of car accidents, like it was exhausting for my mother. So by the time I was done high school, I think she was just like, "See ya." - Mm, yeah. - And I don't blame her, right? I'm single mom, three girls, you must be like up to here. So she gave me this back and I moved and I actually moved in with my sister who was living in New York. And I needed to work because I had to, you know, it was like, "Well, here I am, I'm not going back "to Saskatchewan." And so I had to figure out what to do and the only skill I had at the time was like the body. And so I got a gym membership at this place called Better Bodies, which was on 19th Street between fifth and sixth. And it was the place where kind of everybody who was anybody, you know, back then, like bodybuilding had started to kind of be a thing. You know, everybody was talking about Arnold. I think pumping iron had kind of maybe just come out. I think this was way before Arnold was a governor. And so I went to the gym and John Clovendam worked out there and his wife Gladys Portuguese, who was also this famous bodybuilder. And then all the kind of cool film directors and fashion designers, whatever, everybody went to this gym. However, they were quite new to it. I had been like bodybuilding by then for three years or four years maybe even. And so I looked great, right? And so did Jean Clovendam and so did Gladys, the rest of them, yet. So I would have people come to me and I'm 18, right? And say, "Hey, I wanna, you know, I wanna look like you." 'Cause I wasn't really bulky. I looked like an Olympic athlete. And so they wanted how I looked. - Yeah, yeah. - And so I'd charge them $15 or $20 an hour and do personal training, which, you know, back then for an 18 year old, it was a lot 'cause minimum wage was probably $3.50. So I thought, "Oh, this is amazing." And so I became a personal trainer to, you know, a lot of kind of celebs and they would then send me to their friend and refer me to this person or that person. And so it started out that way. But I kind of realized working in the gym for 15 bucks an hour was not gonna pay my rent and or anything else and probably was not that sustainable over the long term. And I had no business skills as such, but I knew what good service was like. 'Cause with common sense, you know how you wanna be treated and you know how you would wanna show up and how you wanna treat your customer and how you try to make sure that they enjoy their experience so that they have you back. Now personal training is one of those things where most people who need a personal trainer hate exercise. Otherwise, you wouldn't really need a personal trainer. So there was a lot of thought that went into like the, I guess you could talk about it now as like a loyalty mechanic. - Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, the channels spread around. - Yeah, how can I get them to make sure they don't cancel, right? Because they hate this, otherwise I wouldn't be coming. I have to make sure that this whole experience, they're just looking forward to it so that every Tuesday and Thursday or whatever, I'm showing up and making my 40 bucks, otherwise I wouldn't be able to pay my rent. So I think the early seeds of how do you get someone to come back and how do you give service that's so above and beyond that there's nobody else who will try this hard? It was planted then because-- - As you learn about loyalty and customer attention. - You gotta always be pleasant, right? I mean, you have to be patient, you have to be totally, absolutely focused on your customer, right? So it was about them, it was not about me. And I think there are a lot of people who slip into friend mode, right? Or start to kind of talk about their problems. It's like no one is paying you to listen to your problems. So whether you are a personal trainer or giving a facial or waxing somebody's legs or whatever it is nobody wants to hear about your stuff, that's not why they're paying, right? You're there to focus on them. And no one gets enough attention, maybe some people get enough attention, but most people don't get enough attention, they don't have someone who really listens to them, right? Well, rushing around all the time. So even to just be there, doing whatever it is you're doing, taking them through their paces, running them up flights of stairs, I mean, I took people jogging right around Manhattan. - Nine times a day? - I was fed. - And you went on to start bliss? - Yes, so. - Tell me. - From running around Manhattan, nine times a day, running upstairs in the summer, especially my skin got quite bad. And it had never been great.
The start of Bliss (20:07)
You know, through my teenage years, everybody has a little bit of, you know, acne, et cetera, et cetera, but mine, I'd never quite solved it. And I bought a lot of products to try and solve it. And I actually personally trained somebody who worked at one of the hot, you know, skincare brands at the time. He gave me everything and nothing really worked. And so I thought one summer, in the summer when you're a personal trainer in New York, all of your clients generally will go to the Hamptons. And so for me, that was like two months without income, right? No one pays you when they're not working out. So I thought, I can either go to the Hamptons and be captive in somebody's house because you then become kind of like, people would drag you to the beach and say, oh, here's my personal trainer. And you just, it was not a good dynamic for somebody like me who does not, I want freedom. I want freedom. So I decided, I found this skincare, it was like school. And I decided to take this crash course and how to, you know, fix your own skin. And it was actually how to do facials. But I was taking it for myself. And then I realized I really loved it. And then I convinced my very trusting, and I am so grateful to them, but personal training clients, these were, you know, some A names. And they let me... Name jump. They let me practice on them. Name jump. Like at the time... Hey, Pras? Oh yeah, I've had a, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But when I very, very early on, it was more like Paul Simon and Carrie Fisher. So, I mean, everybody, everybody was anybody kind of came in and let me do their face. And it was a real, it was like a real gift to be trusted with people who relied on their faces for their work. And so the early stage. Your own location in Manhattan. Well, it started with people coming to my apartment. Oh, okay. Yeah. So I would personally train people by running all over Manhattan during the day. And then at night, I, because my sister had some connections with the modeling industry, let's just say, she had some bookers who had some other models who had terrible skin. And so they would send these models to me because I was known, I guess. I mean, I didn't even have a reputation for knowing what I was doing. But, and they would come to my apartment in the East Village and literally lie on the floor. Did you feel like a bit of a fraud in those early days when you were like? No. No. I totally thought I knew what I was doing. Okay. Yeah. Because I worked so hard, right? So I knew the steps of a facial and I had never had a facial somewhere where it was any different than what I was doing. And I knew that I was more, you know, where a normal facial would take an hour. I would spend two and a half on somebody. So I knew that if I didn't necessarily have the best technique, I was going to try harder. Sure. And so I'd make up for it that way. People came back and then they sent me all their friends and then they sent me all their friends. And then suddenly, you know, it was like a social club, you couldn't get people out of the house. So I'd have to get up at 5 a.m. to go do a personal training session with somebody. Someone would have come over for a facial at eight o'clock at night, the night before. I finished them at 10.30 and then they'd want to chat. And it was like, I got to get an office because I got to get these people out of here. We can't because you're kind of stuck in your apartment. And it's hard to then get the client to then go when they're in your house. There seems to be a theme emerging here, which is, I mean, you only just told me about two kind of professional pursuits, the personal training and now the facial business as it started. But you're really, you seem to be someone that's really remarkable at customer experience. Because the fact that you can't get them at your house and that these personal training clients are letting me do. Yeah, letting me experiment on them with wax and things like that. Yeah, that's like a really underrated thing. I mean, what we're talking about there is fundamentally like sales. Sales, I guess, they trust. Yeah. Yeah. Which I think is part of sales, right? Like trust is a super important part of being on. And sales, if you're selling. It sounds bad, I know. Doesn't it? Yeah, because I mean, I hate the idea of sales, but I love selling. Yeah. But I couldn't sell something if I didn't think it was great. Yeah. Don't ask me to sell something I don't love, because I can't do it. But if I love something, I could sell it to anybody. So I guess it's more about aligning your moral conviction with whatever it is that you are then selling. Do you consider yourself a salesperson? Well, what I say, I'm a sales person. That's really hard. So without the stigma, just remove the stigma. Well, everything is sales, right? Exactly. Yeah, you just have to be-- look, you've got to be pleasant, right? Unless you're some kind of genius that people need to have around, the world gets to choose who they're interacting with. And so if you want in any area of your life, if you want to have great team members in your office, you better be pleasant to be around, or they're not going to stay. If you want to meet with an editor or a journalist, or who are they going to write about? Probably the people-- yes, everybody's got an interesting story, but those who they like are probably going to get a little further than those who are assholes, right? Interesting. Yeah, do you consider yourself a salesperson? Yeah. Yeah, but without-- I have the same allergic reaction to the time, where I'm like forcing-- because we're not forcing things upon people that we don't believe in. No, you're helping them find what they probably would have bought the find the right one. Yeah, so it's persuasion at body language. It's communication. It's the way the passion you have for what you're talking about. And it's delivering information in a way that helps somebody make a choice without feeling stressed, because generally, I think if you are trying to get someone to try something, but you're pushing it in the wrong way, that isn't aligning with what they need to hear about it, then that is a failed sale. Yeah. Yes, because actually, you should be listening. And if they don't think you're objective, right? And this is one of the things that I think has been most successful with my longest standing clients from my previous company was they knew that I would come there and I would tell them when our work was bad. Yeah. So I would say, don't do this. It's going to waste your money. Yes. But these things here actually think are going to work really well. So the minute I would say, but these things here, they'd go, yes. Yeah. Because they felt I was-- It's trust. --it's trust, also. It's trust, right, exactly. Yeah, which is sort of number one, isn't it? It's like, worse for us, better for you. Yeah. Yeah. And if people feel like you're aligned with them doing better, which is what you always should be anyway. Yeah, I guess. Because that's just listening to the customer and giving-- I mean, this is so basic, right? It's back to the basics of you listen to them and you give them what they're asking for. And that's sales, actually. So if you-- they'll tell you, any customer will tell you what they want. The customers always know what they want, though. No, no, definitely not, right? Somebody said to me-- and they weren't talking about customers. They were talking about buyers at department stores, so the people who are employed by department stores to purchase the merchandise that then get sold onto customers. And he said, buyers, department store buyers are experts at yesterday, right? And to some extent, it's true. They look at their data from before. And so, of course, if you look at the world, the percentage of people who are visionary enough to think about something new that people might want, it's probably quite a small percentage. And all the rest of the people think in a different way and provide a lot of value to the world in different ways. But there are select few, I suppose, who think of the new stuff. And they're like, that's our job. And then, of course, you have to get people to come with you, which is difficult sometimes. The crisis. Because they don't necessarily see it. So you've got to figure out how to describe it to them, whether that's by pictures or words or however else. That's the sales part, right? Yeah, I suppose so. It's also a lot of psychology. I mean, there's so many barriers, right? I mean, have you ever-- I mean, do you read behavioral economics? Behavioral economics. Yes, I've read like the psychology of money, which I think is pretty much behavioral economics. And then, I did a course on psychology, and I've missed my books and they're a psychology books. There's so many fascinating books, like by Dan Ariely or Richard Thaler or Daniel Kahneman. And they won Nobel Prizes for the behavioral economics, which is the opposite kind of economics and the theories of economics don't include human beings and their behavior and their emotions. So behavioral economics is all about how the emotions that we have interact with economics to create different outcomes from buying decisions that would normally be expected. People will rationalize things based on what they've done before. So this mental framework around old things. So if you're trying to create something new, very often you have to relate it to something existing. And people can more easily understand what you're talking about because you can say, oh, it's like this. But da, da, da, da, da, but very often, it's hard for people for they don't have a mental framework or a mental model of how something already works. If you come in with something really radical and disruptive-- What a place, huh? No. And so it's really so much easier, like with PewDiePie. We're a buyers club in England. Apparently, people don't know what a buyers club is. In America, everybody knows what a buyers club is, right? Because there's Sam's Club and there's Costco, which isn't the same in England as it is in America. Costco in America has the highest household income per customer. Because people just pull up in their range Rover and buy-- they sell diamonds at Costco, right? Oh, bloody hell. But it's always a deal. So PewDiePie is kind of like Costco, but for luxury cosmetics and skincare and wellness products. And so we source from all these fantastic labs and we get the highest quality stuff. And then people can buy it if you're a member of the club. You buy it cheaper than wholesale. But people in England don't know the concept. So you have to think, well, it's kind of like Netflix, right? But then you have to actually pay for your product. So it's not really like Netflix. So it's kind of like-- Yeah. You have to-- You're always doing this mental modeling so that people can understand it really easily. You're understanding by comparison. Yeah. Yeah. So with Bliss, you start this business. You move into your own location. And then talk to me about the experience of-- because that was your first real kind of like business-- Business. Business. Employees. Yes. How was that and scaling that business until the point where it was acquired? Yeah, yeah. So I mean, it was a fantastic experience. We started quite small. I had a tiny place called Let's Face It before I had Bliss. And I had probably five employees, three rooms. So we had a manicurist. We had a receptionist. We had a couple of other facialists. On certain shifts, we'd have a massage therapist come in. Somebody did the laundry that wasn't me. That was-- I used to have to take the laundry out. On Avenue B, I would have to carry these huge bags of laundry from the facials to Avenue A and do the laundry at night, which was also really crazy if you think back. You could never do this if you were older. This is definitely a 19, 20-year-old gig to be working all day and then going doing laundry on Avenue A and Seventh Street all night to get the towels done. But yeah, I opened Let's Face It first and had probably five, six, seven employees. And it was great because it was small enough for me to handle-- I had no experience with employees. So just understanding the operations of a business and scheduling. And I mean, I really rate doing it versus learning about it. And of course, I never learned about it. So I never learned how to go structure a business. I never ended up in business school. I just did it. And then I saw the patterns along way of what goes wrong when you do this or what you should look out for. And especially a lot of patterns with people. I think that being able to recognize patterns is a part of either an emotional intelligence or just some-- it's a type of intelligence that's been very helpful. And the older you get, the faster you recognize the patterns because you've just been around for longer. And you can see also-- I'm sure you've seen this-- types of people. Yeah, yeah. So you know that type of person. And you can almost just people out. After you've spent 10 minutes with them, you kind of know what to expect. It's kind of what you're describing, aren't it? But understanding something by comparison. So I have the same thing now in business where-- and we're talking about there is, you've done more experiments when you get older. So you can kind of predict the outcome. Yeah. That type of person behaves in that type of way. And when you notice this happening, it's probably because of this. And it ends like this. So go fuck that. Over. Exactly that. It's like, oh no, here we go. But also, I think there's a beauty of having it happen to you over and over and over again because you realize, oh, here we go again. When this person does that thing, it ends like this. Oh, the last time it ended like this, well, I hired this person. It ended like this. And it's fine. And so you don't panic as much. When you're younger and you lose people who were working for you in your business, you think the world is going to end. And then very often, it's just different when you hire somebody else. And usually, the new person will bring something completely additive to the table. And so it's actually a good thing. But it takes a long time to get to that point where when someone's quitting, you're going, great. See ya. It doesn't like excruciatingly offensive. Yes. Or that you lose sleep over it. I rarely will lose sleep anymore if someone is going because you always also think if they're not really thrilled to be here and working at top level, then probably they'll be happier somewhere else. And that means more happiness will also come into that spot. And when you're young in business, the story you tell yourself about what that person quitting means is just deeply illogical and riddled with fear and emotion. Yes, and it's about you. It's personal. Yes, instead of it being about that. Yeah. Yes. But when you get older and you see these good people go and come and go, you realize that it is where it is unavoidable. It's an echo system, isn't it? Yeah. It's not a fight you could ever win. No companies ever managed to keep 100% of their employees for a sustained period of time. So how did you get to that point to exiting the business? Oh, OK. So well, at Bliss, we launched Bliss in, I think, July of 2000-- or sorry, 1996. So we opened-- I had three treatment rooms before that in my little place called Let's Face It. And I opened, I think, nine treatment rooms. And then we put a nap room in the next place, which was Cobbless. And back in the '90s, we didn't have-- there wasn't social media. There was no way to really get the word out fast unless you had an article in a magazine. And because-- That really moved the needle. Oh, Mike. It was a completely different moment. Now you get a full page in the New York Times, right? You get trafficked your website for a day. Yeah, nothing. No, nothing, because it's so spliced up, right? Everything is so temporary. Back then, you got an article in Vogue and your phone rang for 18 months. Vogue. Yeah, it was so much easier. However, you had to be good enough to get an article in Vogue. So there were a million people doing what you did. But you had to make sure that the experience that you were offering was cool enough, beautiful enough, desirable, that all of your people were trained well, that the results were good, et cetera, et cetera. And so we were great. We gave great, great service. Can I ask you a question on that? Yeah. Do you think service was better back in those days because there was less ability to-- Because what you said there is you had to be good enough to get on those very few big stages. Whereas these days, you can kind of ship products and ship people can pay to be seen much easier than they probably could have back then. I'm guessing and get an endorsement from a Vogue. So is it-- Well, it's not sustainable though, is it? How many times can you pay if actually people don't come back more than once? And word of mouth then becomes your-- It starts to bring table business down. It's still the same. It's all to say, today is the same. It's just split into different stuff. But if you can't keep that customer from more than one, two, three transactions, you might as well go home. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So you-- You're facing them, babe. Yeah, you've got to figure it out at the beginning. What is going to be so much better? How is going to be that much better? How are you going to deliver it consistently? Make sure that she is never or he is never disappointed or they are never disappointed. And you have to look at-- I mean, if you look at acronyms, this LTV to CAC stuff, which I hate thinking of it that way. But-- Because it's humans, right? Yeah. It's like, well, how many transactions is this person going to come back for three years and be a loyal customer and order stuff from you six times a year? Or are they going to order once and go, eh, it has to be pretty compelling. Where'd you start with your? My recommendation is I think they have a starter box on the website where you can get a sample of all the products. You might not like some of the products. I don't love all of the products. I'm going to be completely honest with you. I don't. But the ones that I do love, I could now not live without. And for me, my starting point was the mixed berry RTD. Didn't really like mixing protein powders before. So when they had a ready-to-drink, I went for that. And secondly, the brand new protein powder, which I've talked about a couple of times in this podcast now, 100 odd calories in total, 26 of your vitamins and nutrients. And it tastes like a delicious smoothie one might get from some fast food establishment, but without all the crap in it. Give it a shot. I don't think you'll regret it. When you look back at why you were successful in that business, is it because of that attention to detail? Oh, yeah. In bliss? Oh my God, yes. How extreme were you?
Attention to detail and maintaining a high standard (38:00)
So extreme. Extreme, extreme, extreme. I mean, everything from how you laid on that table to what the sheets smelled like, to how you bolstered their knees so that the backs of their heels when they were lying for a facial for 60 minutes, the backs of their heels wouldn't ache because their knees were elevated the right way to the wax that you put on their hands, to how much you massage them, to the responses that you would give. And we trained everybody. In terms of the customer says this, it's all about them, right? It's about making them feel good. Not only their face, their body, whatever you're treating, but mentally, right? It's not about you. There are no complaints. You don't worry about anything. It's all about making them thrilled, feel great about themselves, look great. They should walk out of there feeling like, and we had literally, I think the testament to it when you think back is crazy loyalty. So people will come in for their facials and say they came in on Tuesday night at seven, evenings of course, we're always booked. We closed at 10, but so you only have like a 6.30 to eight or eight to nine 30 or, you know, you kind of back it out, usually an hour and a half for our facial. So really there were only two evening slots, unless you left work early and then there were three evening slots, 10 rooms. That means you got 30 people in in the evening. Other people, they want to come in, they got to like make an excuse to their boss and come during the day, right? Or take it out for it to come for their facial, which people actually did, but people would book their spot every month for two years, so that they wouldn't miss it. And if they had to change, they would call and say, could you swap me with somebody else because I don't want to miss it? Or they would have a friend book a different slot and then they would swap with their friend. And so we had a waiting list of people who just wanted to come in and we were booked every day, all day for like probably a year in advance for those 10 treatment rooms. But we would keep a waiting list. And if we didn't get people in, now this is the day, no email, right? Okay, there was a lot of email. I thought you got no emails when doubts like, no, there were no email. Yeah, so you had the phone and you had your computer booking system. But you couldn't just mass email everybody. So we would literally keep a list of people who were waiting for appointments. And at the end of each day, if we didn't get them in on a cancellation, we call every single one and apologize. And then tell them, so at seven o'clock, somebody would start the story calls. We call them the story calls and you would just call them. What you do is that. Me. So Mike, you have clearly very, very high standards. Yes. For detail. Yeah. How do you police that amongst people that might not have the same high standards? Well, they're not my people. So you'd fire them? Well, they would probably be better elsewhere where their standards are more aligned with the business that they were working for. I mean, You're a classic, aren't you? Well, do you, I mean, you hire people and then you see if they can operate in your, I mean, look, if you're the Olympic hockey team and you've got a goalie who's terrible, they can't stay or you're not going to win, are you? So it's not about firing them. It's like, is this a team member who belongs on this team? Yeah, fire, I guess you would say yes, you would fire them. You would try. How uncompromising were you about the standards? Very uncompromising. I mean, we also wrote thank you notes, right? So every person who came in for a treatment, whether it was an eyebrow wax or a manicure or a facial or a massage, the person who did that treatment had to write a thank you note and it got posted at that night. If you weren't uncompromising about those standards, those little thank you notes that apologies, you know, for the waiting list. Well, then they knew we were still thinking about them, right? So they thought, I have a chance, they haven't forgotten about me. And we were grateful that they were waiting to come in and pay us money. I mean, they're giving you a paycheck, aren't they? Do you think you'd be sat here now if you hadn't been uncompromising with the standards in bliss all those years ago in 1996? I think you know the answer to that question. Of course I would have. 'Cause it follows, yeah, compounds. You just know what good looks like. And then you know what people respond to and that people wanna be treated with respect and with gratitude, right? Your customer, your handing over your heart and money to somebody, they better be grateful. And that also keeps you going every day. And there's so much science about gratitude and how just starting your day with thinking, "Wow, I'm so lucky," right? I'm thinking about those things that you're lucky to have. I think I've always operated businesses with that idea of I am grateful that people come to me to buy something or they trust me with their face, right? Or they'll get up at seven o'clock in the morning and pay me $40 to teach the men a robust class in their living room. I mean, they could be sponsoring so many other people but they're sponsoring me and isn't that so generous of them? If I were to ask you on that, if I were to ask you, and this is tough to do in hindsight, but I think we're all capable of doing it, in that period of your life and those early moments and really throughout your career, what is it about you that made you successful? I mean, I've picked up on one which is really high standards.
What is it about you that made you successful (43:09)
The other one I've picked up on, I picked up on the minute you walked the door which is you're just a very pleasant human being. And I'm like, all of these things, if they compound over like 30 years, you're gonna get to a really good place. But is there anything else within, you know, some people are visionaries, they are, you know, whatever, is there anything else where you say, do you know what, that's probably a trait of me that made me successful? Yeah, I connect the dots in new ways. So if that were to be kind of my thing, it's about, have you read the book? It's called Originals by Adam Grant? Yeah, it's on there. Yeah. So someone gave it to me, actually the art teacher in my son's school gave it to me and said, this sounds like you. And I read it and I was like, oh, you know, when you think you're special? Yeah, yeah, yeah. And then you read a book and you're like, nope, I'm not special because everybody, he's got it down, like every chapter is like, oh yeah, this is me, oh yes, this is me, this is me. And he talks about in the book about how you become an expert in your area, right? So you are very deep in expertise in one particular area, but then you're very curious about all this other stuff, which is me, I scan everything, right? Whether or not I'm really interested in it. I got newsletters coming out of my eyeballs and I just kind of scan and I'll click on things. And sometimes I'll just force myself to read something that I have no interest in at all, just because there might be something in there. And I think from doing that, I find new ideas. That's what creativity is, isn't it? Yes. But you have to feed it. Yeah, exactly. It's like top of funnel, mid funnel, bottom of funnel, right? And so if you don't have enough top of funnel, but you dry up at the bottom where, you know, there's nothing that comes through. And then being able to kind of edit a good idea from a mediocre idea, right? Yeah. But I guess if you come up with a lot, so the more you feed the funnel, then the more stuff you have to look at and then being able to know which one is the one that is actually going to resonate with enough people that it's actually a business. Because a lot of people I think can be quite navel gazing in, I have this idea and people will care. So I can also be quite brutal with my own ideas and just go, "Pfft, cares." You think about it for a couple of months and then you have to be able to not fall in love with your own ideas, kind of like with writing. So writers will say, "A really great writer is that you can't fall in love with your own words. You need to be able to go into your writing and just chop it out, right? Just so it's succinct and you can't love what you did. You have to hate what you did. I cut it all down so that just the crispy parts are there. And I think it's the same with ideas. You can spend a lot of time on stuff that nobody cares about. And so you have to be able to edit. - So interesting. I completely agree. And I think about the successes I've had in my life and it was just a process of like multiple sources from multiple disciplines. Pull one little dot, as you've said, from those different disciplines. And then when they come together, so it could be like cryptocurrencies, music and my knowledge of social media. And then you come together and you go, "Oh, together it makes something new and interesting and valuable as these three different points of inspiration." I was gonna ask you the question we were talking about. I was like, "Can you teach someone in your experience to be better at thinking of good ideas?" - I think you can provide the environment.
Can you teach people to have good ideas (46:30)
- Okay. - But not everyone's going to be able to do that. So there is gonna be a cohort of people who just don't think of new ideas. And they're probably really good at other things. And that's okay 'cause the world needs all of them, right? Flix Switzerland, some people are plumbers but they still make 100 grand a year and everybody's happy. So if we put people in the right seats on the bus, there's such a position and that, of course, is management, isn't it? It's trying to find when someone has talent but not in a particular area, you make sure they're doing the right thing. But I think you can, you see this a lot in business school, not that I've been there, but I've sat on a lot of panels with people who are entrepreneurs, right? And they're entrepreneurs because they have done a business plan. I mean, they've done a business model. They've modeled out what, you know, we can do this. They haven't come up with a weight. Just like you said, if I connect this and this and do it this way or, right, then I can make this happen. They've said, well, I've gone to Harvard and now I'm gonna model out this business plan and I think if we do this, something that we can make, oh, look, it's a profit. - Yeah, yeah, yeah. - And so there's two ways to come by it and I guess both are valid and especially these days, there's so much money in the universe that people will invest in so many things that you could actually get to a good result by just putting a business plan down. You're having tons of money. - Having gone to Harvard, which is much easier to get money. - Yes, and being Silicon Valley and being a white male. - All that kind of stuff. - Yeah. So it works. - Yeah. - Is it full of passion? - Yeah. - I don't know. Maybe if you're passionate about making money, that's a passion. It's not my way to do it 'cause I just have to be passionate about whatever it is I'm making or selling or whatever. I think I'm improving. If it's improving people's existence, then I'm passionate about it. And it was so amazing to be at bliss and have people coming in and walk out the door after their treatment feeling like, so happy and you could see it, right? And they just had such a great time and you thought, well, I'm responsible for that and what a great thing to do all day. And then the same with Beauty Pie, right, is wow. People open up these boxes that they get delivered and it's like a fairy tale and it didn't cost them much so they can treat themselves 'cause everybody needs a little lift once in a while and to be able to get this incredibly deluxe stuff for such an affordable price. You know every time one of those boxes opens up that somebody is just feeling thrilled and that is a reason to show up in the morning, right? Yeah. Yeah, one of them sounds like a really sustainable fulfilling intrinsically driven journey and the other one sounds a bit like, yeah, like the pursuit of trying to get rich, which is hardest to sustain quite honestly because-- I think so. And the hard days. On the hard days, I was gonna say, you know it gets excusingly difficult. Yeah. So one day, there's gonna be many days that you'd probably quit if you weren't just truly just living for it-- I'm obsessed. Yeah. Regardless of remuneration. But speaking of money, you sell this at some point. Yeah, so in 1999, we had quite a few interested buyers. It's like three years after? Yeah.
Selling Bliss (49:55)
That's quick. We were great. Yeah, I can tell. Three, selling the company three years later, you know. Yeah, at the age I was. How were you? It was quite hilarious. I would've been 30. Super young. Yeah, 30 when we sold it. So I sold 70% to LVMH. That's nuts. It was nuts. You know, we had a few different large cosmetic conglomerates kind of circling around. Yeah. One came in and gave me a big presentation and they had champagne ready. And we're talking about how they put me in a studio by myself and I could just be creative. You know this, you're talking to a girl who does facials and waxes people's legs. Do I want to go to a studio by myself? I mean, my favorite thing was knowing I'd look at my list of who was coming in that day. And it was like, oh, I get to see this person, this person, the joy was all the people, right? So they, oh, we're gonna give you a loft. And, right. And then we had another one who came in and said, we want to turn your spot into a spot under this brand name, which I thought, why would you buy it if you, yeah. And then there was LVMH who flew me to Paris on the Concord. No, he didn't. Yes, he did. And took me off at lunch. And then, you know, it was quite fabulous though. I have to admit, it was a, wow. And it was hilarious when I got back to Brooklyn, when I flew back from Paris on the Concord. And it was the middle of the West Indian Day parade in Brooklyn. So I'm in a taxi from the airport going back to the spot, although it was a holiday day. And I was going, we had redone the floors. And I was going just to make sure that everything was dry and moved the furniture back into the place. So I'm on the subway 'cause I couldn't get a taxi to take me all the way in 'cause the West Indian Day parade was blocking Flatbush Avenue. And I was on the subway going towards my Prince Street stop. And there was Coke spilled all over it, not Coke, but you know, like, yeah, Coke, Coke. Coke spilled all over the seats and drunk people everywhere. And I'm standing there going, I want to find the only person on this subway who was on the Concord this morning. This morning. I thought you probably, probably all those other people are in their car services. No. It was pretty funny. So anyway, they were most interesting. They loved the business. We were kind of hot at the time. They were looking for American acquisitions. I think they had moved Sephora also into America at the time. So they thought it would be kind of a good partnership. And, you know, the price was right. And I thought, well, I've been starving for since I moved to New York, right? Every month, it was kind of like, do I have enough money to pay the rent? - Blimey. - Yeah. And I just thought, well, was this gonna happen again? You don't know. You don't know if you'll ever be offered like a big chunk of change like that. So I-- - And you were 100% on the company at this point. - Yeah. - Yeah. So you didn't raise the money outside capital. They bought 70% of the business for 10, 10s of millions. - Yeah. - Or just say, right? Unbelievable. - Yeah, I know. - You could've just stopped there, right? You could've just stopped there and-- - Oh my God, it was 30. What are you gonna do? - Yeah, I know. I'm hypocrite. 'Cause I, yeah. - Yeah, you're gonna just stop there while you're gonna go like stand at your fridge all day. - But I mean, most people will just land that one big bag in their life. If they're lucky, if they're extremely lucky and in the minority, but then you went again and you created a business called Soap and Glory, which four people will know in this country. - Yeah, it was big. Soap and Glory was big. - Really big. - At the time, you know, it was, if I was reading a lot of newspapers and there was a lot of collaborating going on between kind of designer brands and, you know, the high street.
Starting Soap and Glory (53:10)
And I thought, wouldn't it be fun just to kind of make a really great brand that has, we couldn't do at drugstore prices. You can't really do high quality, like super high quality product and sell it at a drugstore price when you're going through the retail food chain because there's all the markups, right? So you had to try and make really like, I'd say, I won't say high quality, but good quality products for a price point and make them really fun. And I just thought, you know what, let me try doing something that's using all the puns a bit of a writer. So I love to write copy. And so it was all about making the products kind of fun and, you know, good quality for just the right price to kind of be mass. And I launched in Harvey Nichols and it was actually quite a good success, but Harvey Nichols only has Knightsbridge and then a few other stores around the country. And I knew I wasn't going to be able to make much of a splash just being in Harvey Nichols on a few shelves. So boots came to us and said, you know, would you like to roll out into different boots doors? That was really interesting because I thought this is going to be amazing. Oh my God, we're going to go to the boots. We're going to make like millions. And I remember I think we were in 300 boots doors and you just, for some reason, you just think, okay, if it's in boots, right? Every brand you see in boots, you think, oh, they're making a fortune. And I remember we launched and I think that the first week, I think we did $300? Oh. Yeah. And then I couldn't figure out why. So I go into my local boots and it's on the bottom shelf. And so that was, they don't reset the shelves for 10 months. So you start just thinking, oh my God, I'm going to be making $300 a week for 10 months until they reset the shelves and I fight my way to the top. I need to get back into just the gap there. In that period though, when you've left Bliss and you're not doing anything now, you have a lot of money so you don't really need to worry about the bills or the rent anymore or anything like that. I just, I'm just intrigued because I've- I took a month off. Okay, one month. Yeah. It wasn't enough. That's not a long time. It was enough. It was enough. I took six months between my last sale and figuring out what to do next. Six months was better. One month. One month. So in that one month, what are you doing? I went on holiday to the south of France. Okay, so you're going holiday to France. Then you come back and you're just straight into it. Yeah, yeah, just, you know, ideas. I mean, I always have ideas. So I'll be walking down the street. I'll get my ideas so you kind of drop them down. And then the ones that keep bubbling up to the surface, those are the good ones. I love this.
Coming up with new ideas (55:57)
I read about, I read about you talking about this because it rang so true to me because people like you and creative people generally will get out of time. And you? Yeah, I didn't want to throw myself into it. I'm trying to be humble here. People will get lots of ideas, lots of the time. And the process in which you decide which ones are go is and which ones should just be disregarded. I find fascinating. And I've only been able to understand it in hindsight. Why I pick certain ideas and why I just let other ones go. But how do you filter out the ones that are worth pursuing in the ones aren't? OK, so there's something I call the so what test. OK. So you ask yourself, so what? Tell yourself your idea and then ask, well, so what? And if you cannot explain why you would want to do that or why anybody should care in one's sentence, it's not a good enough idea. Nice. Yeah. But you also let them sit for a while, right? Yeah, because there's so many. You have to. The ones that are just sort of average, they just go away, right? And the good ones kind of stay at the top and you think, I've got to do that. I've got to do that. That's really good. I would buy that. Of course, here's the other cheat, right? I only sell stuff that I would buy. So I can't-- it would be difficult for me if I'm trying to create a business centered around something that I don't want or have a need for. I don't know if I would be as good at it. Super easy to do beauty pie because I love beauty products. I love candles. I love supplements. I know all the good labs. I've worked with them for 30 years. I know where to get the good stuff. I'm going to buy it anyway. I would like to buy the high quality stuff. I don't want to have to pay retail. OK. So obvious, that one, right? With Fitflop, it was I could not find a pair of shoes that actually felt comfortable on my feet. And I love fashion. I can't believe how many businesses you've started and how many of them have done so well. It's not that many. It is a lot of businesses. I have one more. I have one more. But it's not-- I can't tell you. I'll kill you. I can't. Yeah. I'm so pitouper. Yeah, that also-- Oh, you forgot about that one. Yeah, but actually, that one is taking our hair. It's because our supplier shut down during COVID. I do not have my hair. And so it was-- well, it's still around except our supplier shut down. And so we have to reformulate everything. So soap and glory is a business that even I know. And I'm not-- Yeah, you're not a cosmetics guy. Well, you know, well. Because at Christmas at Boots-- I'm a buss man. Oh, maybe it'll be a beauty guy. No, we'll be a beauty guy. But I know the brand. Yeah. It's a-- well, very, very well-known brand, so-- Because we used to take over that week before Christmas at Boots. We would literally have hundreds of thousands of those big pink bags that people would be able to buy for a really crazy deal. That was also, I guess, a learning, just seeing how much people love a deal. And it was almost every year that we would be this sort of Christmas bumper bag. I would see women leaving Boots with like three on each arm because they were buying them for all of their friends. When you think of that business, why was it successful? And what was your-- what's your sort of emotional memory-- recollection and memory of that phase of your life? Gosh, that's a-- another deep question.
Why was Soap and Glory so successful and selling it (59:11)
All of these are deep questions. Yeah, OK. So well, emotional recollection-- I mean, it was great to be able to build something new. It was great to be able to build something that was popular in a different country. So you didn't just do it in America. You also could do it in the UK. Like Ronaldo. Yeah. Maybe not so good with the ball. It was exciting to do something mass-- like, at mass price points-- because you could reach more people. So more people could afford the joy that you were trying to bring through that product. So that's always really nice because having something that's only affordable-- well, I love high quality things. The exclusion of people that comes along with a luxury price point-- I don't like so much. So the idea of luxury for affordable, of course, is also the holy grail. So building-- it was-- building soap and glory was also a real experience in terms of learning how to deal with a retailer who really had a monopolistic grip on a country. Because boots was the power-- the all-powerful. So that was a real learning curve. How big did soap and glory get? I think we sold-- we were selling probably $100 plus million of the stuff a year through boots. Ah, it's a lot of money. It was not bad. It was big-ish. It was not bad, I don't know. It was big-ish. It was big-ish. Yeah, it was big. I mean, it could have been bigger. Could have been bigger. I mean, it was great. For me, what's the difference between 50, 100, 100 weeks? Yeah, same. Yeah. It's like after you can pay your rent and eat and buy as many t-shirts as you need, your life doesn't change that much. But you want to bring out more and see how much you can do and see if you can offer even better stuff. So you sold that business against the boots? Yeah. In 2014? 2014, not so long ago. It really wasn't. Yeah. No. It was 677 years. Yeah. Yeah, they really wanted it. And how did you feel when you made the offer? You accept the offer? Did it feel again like the-- was there a loss of orientation in your life? No, because. Oh, here we go. Yeah, well, at the same time, I have fifth lap, right? OK. So my footwear brand is also big-ish. Yeah, I've had a bunch of-- We're going to be bigger-ish again. Oh, you know, 65 countries, we sell a lot of shoes. It could be bigger. It could be bigger. And it's going to be bigger. Yeah, and so I sort of had one thing to still grip onto and to really focus on and to make sure that that quality and dream about what kind of product we're going to produce for the next season. It's all kind of the same way as product development and then rolling it out and trying to learn, you know, given that feedback loop that you get from the product that you're launching. Remarkable. And your partner is also an entrepreneur. Yes. He does now, Costa Rican echo tourism.
Having an entrepreneurial partner (01:02:17)
How is that working with-- not working with-- how is it to have a partner that's also in the field of entrepreneurship? Because you know what it is. I'm going to ask you a question here, because I'm super curious, and maybe you can help me. I've always wondered if, as an entrepreneur, it would make more sense to be with an entrepreneur or someone that just does nothing, sits at home just, you know? Yeah, being there. Yeah, exactly. Well, it depends, I suppose, on your appetite for risk and if you have risk anymore. So if you've already managed to sell something and you have a little bit of money in the bank, then having two people going out there and risking it all is OK, because you have something to fall back on. I think certainly having a partner who understands what you're going through day to day and will listen to you. Maybe we talked about being able to see someone. It's so important to have someone who sees you and who can understand what it might be like for you on a day that's really hard and offer you that kind of support. My husband is great with that. Like, he-- I couldn't ask for somebody who supports me more. And he does the stuff that I necessarily don't want to do in terms of that family stuff. And we pick up the different programs, I suppose, really beautifully together, because he'll take care of some stuff and I take care of other stuff. And when you come home, are you good at compartments and analyzing the work stuff and then switching off and being present with family? Maybe not always. I appreciate the honesty. I'm not going to tell anybody. I don't know if you can be, right? Because sometimes work is really interesting also, right? So I've got two teenage boys. They sometimes come out of their rooms. I'm not. And so sometimes I'll be on social media chatting with customers, right? Giving them advice, telling what to use on their skin. It's actually-- it's quite social as it is social media. I go home at night because I'm hoping they will come out of their rooms and I can spend time with them. But we have dinner. And then they usually go want to play video games because all their friends are on video games. So if they do come out of their room at some point, I might be in the middle of something. Am I really good at just turning that off and saying, I am here for you, young man? Not always. Sometimes. But sometimes what I'm doing is actually more interesting than talking about the basketball game, that NBA, blah, blah, blah, or whatever it is. And I'm maybe not the best at switching attention gears. But I'm trying. And I'm mindful of it. Yeah, yeah. Is it something that you think you want to be better at? Yes, absolutely. Yes. More of that in the moment, right? Really trying to live just that moment. There's a great podcast. Have you ever listened to making sense with Sam Harris? Yes, once or twice. I'm a big Sam Harris fan. Me too. Yeah. So it is about, OK, you're here right now and live it. And if you could live every moment over again because you want to get one shot, how yes, there's a little daily thing that pops up and you can listen to. And I think he was talking once about how you have one opportunity to live this moment. And you have one opportunity to have an interaction with someone that is this interaction, like make it good. And just thinking, well, I can either look at this as an opportunity and a gift, or I can be down and negative about it. And you just choose. So I try as much as possible to choose, even if I have cranky teenagers or whatever work thing going on, to choose to really be positive about the fact that I'm given the opportunity to live that moment. Do you ever worry that you'll regret being so busy and missing certain things? Always, don't you? Yeah, I do. Yeah, of course. Yeah, especially with the kids. Once with my parents a lot, I think, god, my parents are getting old. And I think I'm going to-- at some point, I'm just going to keep it fast. My parents are going to die.
The death bed test (01:06:26)
And I'm going to think to myself-- I will show it a spent more time with them. Yeah, the deathbed test. I literally wrote down the deathbed test of my notes. Yeah. I was going to ask you about that. Tell me about the deathbed test. Oh, the deathbed test is like, what are you going to-- on your deathbed, think back and go, god, I wish I would have done more of that. Or I wish I would have tried this. Or I wish I tried that. And so if you live, this actually was something that-- I couldn't even was Tina Johnson. She was the CEO of Sex with Avenue. And I remember having a meeting with her. And she said, you know what? I just always use the deathbed test. It's like, I don't want to miss my kids this particular event or ceremony. You will kick yourself if you miss the grade 5 graduation. That is always going to be more important than your conversion rate. Yeah. I wrote an article actually called Deathbed Thinking, which is quite strange when I saw that you had this thing called the deathbed test. And it was inspired by Bronnie Brenny Ware, who was the positive now in Australia, who-- OK. --into the people that they're about to die. Yeah, and what they wish they would have-- Yeah, done with their lives. Have you seen also on social media going around? I've seen it on Instagram. But you see some elderly people. And they're taking pictures of them. Oh, they're signs. Yeah. What is your advice? And it's always very simple. Be nice to everybody. Obvious stuff. Yeah, yeah. But you just think, well, yeah, because you've got to live with yourself. And it's the deathbed test looking back on it. But actually, your deathbed test, Sam Harris would say, is probably taking place every moment of your waking existence. I wish I would have been more polite. I wish it because if you're not, you have to then live with how you feel about yourself. And that is more important than anything. So there's a micro deathbed test taking place every moment, I would argue. Quick one. As a serial entrepreneur, that's currently building multiple projects across multiple industries, everything from the marketing industry to blockchain, to consumer goods, everything. One of the things that has been a lifesaver for me-- and again, a company that I've reached out to to evangelize about on this podcast because I'm a loyal customer, and they ultimately ended up sponsoring this podcast-- is fiver.com, F-I-V-E-R-R. What that site allows me to do is extend my capacity across all of my projects. If I'm looking for a graphic designer, someone to edit a video, someone to do a website for me, it allows me to extend my capacity without hiring people. And the quality of freelancers on Fiver has been amazing. And when the trust and the service you get is that phenomenal and the services offered are that diverse, it's a no-brainer. Whether you have one member of staff, you're a freelancer yourself, or 1,000 members of staff, Fiver can be a game changer for you. And I'd love you guys to check it out. Use the link below. Go to fiver.com/ceo. And send me a screenshot if you end up using the service. I was looking at a couple of things that you'd said, and one of them was about your motto for life, which is about choosing yourself and awaiting 20 minutes or so. What does that mean?
Perspective And Overcoming Failure
Choosing yourself rather than others choosing you (01:09:27)
Well, you can wait around for someone to tell you that you're the one who can do it, or it's your turn, or you can just do it yourself. You're the one who is going to tell you that you can do something. No one is going to pick you out of a line and say, hey, go. You have to put yourself out there. So I remember I had this fantastic writer's name, Emilio Sosa. And he actually worked when he was a budding fashion designer. And in New York a long time ago, and he worked at the front desk at Bliss for a while. And it was just his-- like actors would work at a restaurant. He was the cool guy at the front desk at Bliss. And he designed a few ranges. And they weren't always commercially successful, but he was just the coolest person around. And I remember I lost touch with him for a little while, few years, because he stopped working at this bar. And when I found him again somehow-- because again, this is a pre-email, right? I found him, and he came over for dinner. And he said, so what are you up to? And he said, oh, I'm designing costumes for Winter Marsalis. And I've been on tour with Celine Dion. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, right? And I said, Emilio, what happened? And he said, you know what? I woke up one day, and I just thought, I am worthy. And that was it, right? Like, that was a moment I moved for him. He just had to decide that he was talented and worthy of all of this success. And then he had it. And I think it's the same for so many people that they just aren't convinced. Now, you might just be born convinced. I see some people who are born convinced, right? And they don't necessarily have the experience of the merit to back it up. And then there's some people who've just worked for it. And after you do that much work, and you are-- your expertise is at a level where you actually are convinced because-- You've evidence. You've got evidence. And then this, when you're on the cusp, right? Where you just have to decide so that you can get more practice to become that one. But at some point, you're on that fence, you got to decide. And then you take yourself there. So that's what it's about. It's really more powerful because when you were describing your different business ventures, there was a moment when you described your clients moving to the Hamptons for the summer. And business drops off a little bit. And you said so casually, so I decided to go and do beauty courses to find out how I'm like. Like that moment, I think, is probably the most pivotal, difficult, special moment because you made a decision in a new direction. Yes. That is like-- it sounds so simple. The way you just gloss past it, I was thinking, that's pretty profound. Everyone gets stuck in what they do. It seems. And the certainty of this-- the comfortable certainty of wherever they are to make-- just make the decision one day that I'm going to go do a beauty course to find out why acne skin is the way it is and see if I can do something about it-- is the, for me, the pivotal, unique thing. Yeah, that's actually good observation. Yeah, I was going to stop you on it, but you just glided past it so I thought it was-- Because I never thought of it that way, but you're right. It's like almost how dare you. I'm like, people don't do that. They don't just change-- Well, you do when you're 20, right? They don't. They don't. Well, listen, from what I've read, listened, heard, et cetera, that the new skill that everyone's going to have to have is not to be identified by what you were doing for the last 10 years because there's so many-- there's so many jobs, right? So many careers that will just be gone. And so we have to train the next gen who's coming up to not think, well, I'm this. Labels. Yeah, you have to be ready to say, well, that doesn't exist anymore. I'm going to pivot or I have to go get retrained and not to have your identity completely wrapped up in what you do, right? It's more about your ability to morph and learn. And so being this lifelong learner is so important. When you think about yourself going forward now, you've got-- you're working on multiple businesses at the moment, beauty piping, your main event, I believe. Yeah.
What are you playing for now (01:13:26)
What is it you're playing for now? Because you've got the money, you've got the reputation, you've got wonderful family. What are you playing for now? Well, happiness and stimulation, right? And how do you get that? It's the community. I have a small family, so we're four. And then I don't have two sisters and my mom. And then extended cousins who I don't really connect with that much because they're in Western Canada. And so for me, being able to have this community of people who-- OK, yes, they have it in shop for me, but they're quite fun. And most of our customers are of the same spirit. It's like having hundreds of thousands of friends. And so they're out there chatting about the latest thing. It's just like a social club a little bit. And we happen to all buy beauty products and be really excited when the next thing is launching. So I read a quote once. It said, "For people who have multiple marriages, it's like the first time you marry for love, the second time is for money, and the third time is for companionship." And so I'm probably on companionship, but I want to do it really well because it is-- it's a lot of fun to be able to provide this to so many people. And that love that you get back from it, if you're doing it well, is quite a nice feeling to have every day. So is this your forever business? That's a really great question. I never think of things in forever. I've got a really big check over there in the drawer. They have to be really bad. 1 billion dollars. Not big enough. OK. I mean, listen, it's just fun, right? It's fun to create. It's fun to create. So I don't really think about it as what's the end of this. If I find, OK, actually, I've created all the stuff I know how to create, and now I can-- I don't know, I'm just chatting with the people. But how businesses go through different stages where different skill sets are needed, I'm not your typical great operating person. I need to find that person. I'm not a performance marketing person. I need to find that person. And at some stage, you don't need as much of what I do. You need more of what they do. And so it depends on how much do they need me. But I think just keeping that quality very high is always something that you need a particular personality to be leading. So I think that's where it would be hard to replace what I do. I think what you've achieved is-- I mean, it speaks for itself. It's quite hard to believe, in fact, that in one lifetime, someone could have so many back-to-back successes. Well, I've had a few flops.
Well, yeah, I know. And I heard you talk about that. I heard you say the key to success was failure. But I've not heard you talk about any failures yet. Right, because I think I compartmentalize them. I learn from them, and then I move past them. There's no point in wallowing. But I do think it's really important. And it's funny, a lot of people come to me and ask for mentorship. And I'll do my best in the time that I've got available. But what I really think my own mentor has been failure. And looking at the feedback that you get from that failure and kind of internalizing it, and it becoming part of your DNA. And I really believe that if you don't fail yourself, someone telling you that you might fail is not the same as failing. Mealing out. Yeah, that-- you just have to fail once really hard, and you're not going to make that mistake again. Did you fail once really hard? I don't know how hard it's hard. It's sort of like my appetite for risk. People say, well, that's a risky. I'm like, what? Can you think of something when you're talking about failure that you think-- It failed really hard. Yeah. I mean, sure, we did at Soap and Glory. We did a men's range. It didn't really sell. OK. It's a test. Yeah, well, yeah, whatever. Was the price wrong? Was the packaging the wrong color? It just didn't fly. Do men really not use that many cosmetics that they're going to-- did they just use their partner's stuff? Who knows? But it was an A/B test. It didn't knock the window at your sales. No, rarely does the wind get knocked out of my sales. Because, again, when you're-- I think when you're young and you have a profound loss, you take everything with relativity, right? It's like, OK, so what? So people didn't buy Soap and Glory men's products, but does it really matter? On my deathbed, will I even remember that I did that? Probably not. So you can put it into perspective, which is so important. Do you really think your father's passing helps you put all of the decisions later in your life into perspective and prioritise them differently? Yeah, absolutely. Yes. I think any kind of grief or really emotional situation that you go through, you become a different person. And you can relate to other people who have the same situation or have a difficult home situation in a very quick way, because they see the world in a similar way that you do. That small things don't really matter. And so while we're all doing a lot of small things to kind of push the world along every day, that they're not really that important in the end. People watching this, there'll be a lot of people that are in awe of you, and they'll think you're incredibly awesome, rightfully so. And that can be somewhat alienating, right?
Starting Point Advice
Advice for people of where to start (01:18:48)
Because they can see that what you've achieved in your life. And because of your awesomeness, they'll think, I can't-- she's just too far away from me. I'm never going to be able to get to where she is. So what advice would you give to those people that want to achieve great things in their career in terms of where they should start, where their journey should naturally begin, in order to achieve great things and become successful subjectively, whatever that means to them? That's a great question. I think-- listen, I always started very hands-on, right? I literally gave facials nine times a day, waxed people's legs. And it's the feedback loop and being open to learning. So I'm a real believer of hands-on training. Of course, I never had a business school training, so I can't compare and contrast. But I know that the confidence that comes with learning and perfecting a skill and being able to do it yourself, so that if, for instance, some member of your team up and leaves, you can take over that and do that. There's a real confidence in it, and that confidence allows you to grow. And to put more things underneath you and to feel, I think, more generous with your spirit. So just rolling your sleeves up and learning skills as many as you can and looking without defensiveness at the feedback that you're getting from whatever it is that you're doing. And then always asking yourself, how can I improve this? How can I make this even better? Is this the kind of feedback that I'm trying to get? It's a giant A/B test, right? So life is kind of an A/B test. And if you look at what works and keep doing more of that, and less of the other, right? It's about making more good decisions than bad and being honest with yourself. And yeah, it comes down to something very basic. You treat your customers like you would want to be treated. And I don't know if that always floats to the top for people in business and for large corporations. It is always being about obsessed with whatever that product is that you're trying to deliver and making sure that you yourself would buy it for the price that you're selling it and feel thrilled. And whatever you're doing, right? You can do it well if you keep those kinds of things in mind. Amen. Well, listen, thank you so much for your time. I've taken so much of it, but it's been so inspiring. So unbelievably inspiring. And so I understand the audience that listened to the podcast and what you've shared today is just going to be of just tremendous, tremendous value. So thank you so much. You were super inspired me. I feel like I need to go for a run or something or like I don't know, like I found something to improve on. But yeah, just incredibly, incredibly inspiring. And you are such a wonderful, delightful, bright light. So thank you. And it's been a super big pleasure to sit here with you today. Thank you. This is like the feel good society. Some experience I've learned. I'm trying to look like us. Yeah, this is very good. I applied you. Well done. Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. Thanks.