A Fashion Entrepreneur’s 10 Tips to Persistent Leadership

Payal Singhal is a leading South Asian fashion designer. Her pieces are well known for reflecting attitude, style, and elegance. She mixes tradition and modern design to create one-of-a-kind pieces that are available across a wide range of price points.

When she sat down to discuss her work, business, and South Asian women’s leadership, she had a few need-to-know points to encourage persistent leadership as you build and maintain a company.

1.    Utilize Collaboration

If you like a particular style, brand, or company, and you have an idea to collaborate, do not be afraid to approach that person or that business to discuss how you can work together. Getting ideas and input from other people can help you grow as a professional and expand your company. It can also help both brands create an even better product.

2.    Shift Your Thinking

As a creative person who is selling a product, it can be difficult to see the other side of the coin—what are your customers thinking? However, shifting your focus from the creative and selling to the consumer and buying can help you get ahead in your business.

3.    Focus on Innovation as the Norm

Making subtle mindset changes will often spur innovation. For example, Payal focuses her brand on blending traditional elements with functionality, such as adding pockets or easy fastenings. Innovation in clothing often means developing creative ways to incorporate comfort without compromising style.

4.    Don’t Put All of Your Eggs in One Basket

Having many different types of products or services will help your company survive and thrive when there are market changes. Expanding current product lines can mean the difference between continuing to thrive in a global pandemic, for example, or simply trying to scramble to hold on until things are back to normal.

This general advice applies to products, people, and innovation. Having a diversified business will help a company be successful for years to come.

5.    Don’t Compromise Your Brand

Even as a company makes shifts in its focus from one product or service to another, it is important to maintain the integrity of your brand. This general rule applies in every situation—from collaboration to considering completely new product lines. Even if you think a shift will be lucrative, a company should not undermine their values in favor of profits, expansion, or anything else.

6.    Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

Although innovation and expansion are a good thing, you can go overboard. Going too wide with your product line may end up triggering some push back. Doing too much can water down your brand, leaving customers confused about your true expertise.

7.    Sometimes You Have to Go with the Majority to Stay Competitive

During the current global pandemic, the entire fashion industry is “on sale.” Sales are slower now because people just are not thinking about fashion. As a result, many people are cutting down prices to ensure that sales continue—and there are certain situations where you have to do that. Staying competitive sometimes means that you have to “keep up,” and that is okay.

8.    Use Partnerships to Expand Your Base

If you use your own website as the only means to sell your product, you deliberately limit yourself to selling only to the visitors to your website. While that may be fine in some circumstances, partnering with other businesses can help increase your exposure to others. No partnership is too big or too small to be valuable when you are trying to increase your exposure in the market.

9.    Let Your Influencers Choose You

Letting people choose to wear your brand because they love it is one of the highest compliments. Although you can pine after a specific celebrity or type of person that you want to use your products, having someone ask you to be involved because they genuinely love the products or services you produce is a much more effective marketing strategy in the long-run.

10. Keep Up with Relevant Trends and News

Staying on top of the latest news in the industry will help you adjust to new demands or address problem areas that a company may not have known even existed. For Payal, she is keeping a close eye on the potential for a digital fashion week in India. Because of the pandemic, effectively utilizing technology is a big focus right now.

Women’s leadership in business is all about marketing yourself effectively. Using these tips will help create the image that a woman-led business wants to convey to herself and the world.

If you want more tips, information, and strategies for women leadership, persistence, or other key attributes for South Asian women’s leadership, visit ladydrinks.com. We regularly host luminaries like Payal Singhal and encourage them to share their best tips and insights on getting further as entrepreneurs.

My 9 Tips for Persistent Time Management

Women in my membership often complain “How do I manage my time better?”

Time is such a specter.

It’s become more fluid and without boundaries during the pandemic.

The other question I get is “How do you manage your time?”

Here are my top 9 tips

TAKE QUIET TIME.

I take 20 minutes to sit quietly first thing in the morning. Trevor Blake talks about the practice of taking quiet time in his book Three Simple Steps. Twenty minutes is the magic amount of time it takes for the brain to form new neurons. These neurons have no memory of what has happened before so I tackle my day with a whole new arsenal of decision making power. This daily practice has made me less reactive and less emotional. I see situations for what they are. I don’t take things personally. At the end of my work day, I walk. This allows me to clear my head and may be make new connections between ideas that I had not thought of while sitting at my desk.

MAKE THE FIRST 90 MINUTES OF THE DAY PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT TIME

For years, I rose between 2:30 and 3:45am to get to the television studio for work. There wasn’t ’90 minutes’ to dedicate. I hurtled straight into my work day. When I became a full time entrepreneur running LadyDrinks, I thought to myself, if I can get up at 2:30, I can get up at 5:30am and workout. It took me a year to establish this habit. I started by going to Pure Barre classes. Sadly, I could go, even if I was hungover. Then I added one HIIT training class. Then another. Then another. Today, my first 90 minutes of the day follow the menu featured in Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning. Silence. Affirmations. Visualization with my vision board. Exercise. Reading either a book about a famous business person (Bob Iger or Marc Randolph) or the New York Times. Scribing or writing in my Morning Pages to build self awareness.

PLAN YOUR WEEK ON SUNDAY

Anxiety wells up on Sundays as I think about all the things I have to do. Writing it all down on paper and getting it out of my head is the biggest favor I can do for myself. David Allen calls it the “The Brain Dump Exercise. ” I use 9″ x 12″ artist’s sketchpad to scribble all my personal and professional tasks, down to the grocery list of tofu, garlic shrimp and chickpeas. This bumps me to my next step.

SCHEDULE EVERYTHING INTO YOUR CALENDAR

I look out on the week‘s worth of commitments. Where are the pockets of time to get this errand done? What do I need to get before that meeting on Friday? I schedule in the important phone calls, emails, reminders. If it doesn’t get scheduled, it usually doesn’t get done.

PLAN YOUR DAY THE NIGHT BEFORE

Each night, before I go to bed, I plan out my day. I use Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Planner to list my top three goals and priorities for the day. I list what tasks must be done. I look where the blocks of time are to do the deep work. I love that the planner forces me to think about who I want ‘to be’ the next day. I never did that before. Not intentionally anyway. It forces me to list at least one person I will reach out to and surprise with a note or gift the next day. Sometimes, I’m stumped by the question: What is the one thing you can get excited about. It forces me to take inventory of what I’m doing.

POST YOUR PRIORITIES EVERYWHERE

My women’s empowerment teacher Jennifer Macaluso Gilmore taught my women’s co-hort a valuable piece of advice in 2010: we can only have 2 priorities at a time. We can have five total. But we can truly only focus on 2 priorities at a time. When those are finished, we bump down to the next two. I keep mine listed in my planner. It becomes the filter by which I decide what I say ‘yes’ to and what I say ‘no’ to.

DO 25 OR 50 MINUTE SPRINTS OF WORK

Depending on which technique you subscribe to, either time increment works in getting deep work done. I set the timer on my phone for 25 minutes. I also set my computer notifications to ‘do not disturb’ and put my phone away. For twenty five minutes, also known as the Pomodoro technique, I work in a focused way on a task, such as this article. Brendon Burchard asks folks to find 3 50-minute blocks in the day instead, and do a sprint of work.

TAKE BREAKS. PLAN REWARDS.

I don’t know that my younger self took this seriously. It’s incredibly important to your productivity to take breaks. As the day progresses, it’s important to take longer breaks to allow the brain to hit the re-set button. Former LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner wrote in this well-read blog post, it’s not only important to take breaks, but to plan rewards for those breaks as incentive to finish the work. Make a list of those rewards and post it somewhere you can see it: “Walk around the block. Pedicure. Read Netflix book” so you aren’t scrambling to figure out how to reward yourself when the break comes.

DO A TIME INVENTORY.

If all of this sounds overwhelming, take it down to basics. For one week, write down what you do each hour throughout the day. Author and time management expert Laura Vanderkam created her own trademark spreadsheet to log this kind of activity. Looking it all down on paper is an eye opener. You see where you are wasting time. She created this exercise to debunk the common phrase, “I don’t have time to ______ (fill in the blank.) You do. You just don’t know how long it takes you to do something, like create that end of week report. You also don’t know that you spend 2 hours scrolling through social media each day. Vanderkam is all about the ‘found’ hours in the 168 hour work week.

She’s actually one of my favorite authors of all time. I will be interviewing her next Thursday as she launches her new e-book THE NEW CORNER OFFICE: HOW THE MOST SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE WORK FROM HOME. I would love for you to join me to learn how she counsels folks who are challenged with how to manage time. Sign up here

A Bakery Entrepreneur’s 10 Tips To Persistent Leadership

Janie Deegan is the founder and owner of Janie’s Life Changing Baked Goods. In this chat, she shares a little of her story on the path to becoming a successful entrepreneur and offers tips for other ambitious entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their own business.

1. Build a Business with Purpose

Janie’s story starts out a little differently than you might expect. She was struggling with addiction, living on the streets for a time, and lacking any self-love.

As a child, baking had given her joy, so she bought a little hand mixer and started doing it again. Soon, she found that baking, and watching people enjoy her delicacies, gave her enough purpose and joy to stay sober.

The title of her business comes out of this tragic yet beautiful back story. Janie’s baked goods really are life-changing! She encourages other entrepreneurs to look for something that gives them purpose.

2. Take Opportunities as They Come

At first, she just baked for her friends and family. She would bring something to every event or party she attended and people always raved about her treats.

Eventually, just before Thanksgiving in 2015, a woman asked her to bake a cake for a big event. Janie hesitated because of her lack of experience and training but decided to take a leap of faith. Businesses only grow if you’re willing to seize the day!

3. Believe in Yourself

After this success, she thought perhaps she could sell a pie for Thanksgiving. People always really loved her pies. Maybe if she could sell just one pie for Thanksgiving this was something she could do as a career.

Well, she didn’t sell just one pie — she sold dozens. Thus, Janie’s Life Changing Baked Goods was born.

4. Build a Community

When Janie first started out, she didn’t know very much about the world of entrepreneurship. She even jokes that she had to go look up the word!

She didn’t seek out other bakery business owners or other entrepreneurs because she thought people would be close-mouthed, holding their industry secrets close to their chests.

However, eventually she found a welcoming community among other business owners, people who were 2 or 3 steps ahead of her that could offer advice and support.

To that end, she encourages new business owners to seek out that community. Direct peers, people who technically are the competition, have been some of her best resources and some of the best connections she’s made with other people.

5. Look for Resources

Janie also encourages entrepreneurs to seek out resources to help them grow. Take classes, get in touch with programs that support small businesses.

For her, a local vendors program in Harlem and the MBA mini-course they offered through Columbia Business School was a huge boon. The program offered the course for free and it gave her all the tools she needed to learn how to start a consumer-packaged goods business.

6. Accept Help

She was hesitant to accept help in the beginning, suspicious that people who offered her something were just looking for something in return.

But then she began to realize the incredible spirit of community around her. People who offered her their time or their expertise really wanted to see her grow and help her succeed. All she had to do was accept their help.

7. Be Innovative

Like many small businesses, in March of 2020, Janie’s Life Changing Baked Goods took a big hit. A huge deal she was looking at with an ice cream company fell through and the incubator kitchen that she rented closed because of COVID.

She was completely paralyzed and was unsure what to do for a few weeks.

Then, the incubator kitchen reopened with strict sanitary procedures in place. She couldn’t sell the way she used to, so she decided to try something different. These are the types of businesses that will survive the COVID crisis, the ones that a flexible and innovative.

She started making care packages and selling them online. Now, just a couple short months later, 90% of her business is eCommerce. Her ability to be flexible took her down a path she didn’t expect but saved her business.

8. Partner with Customers

This method of selling was quite successful, but COVID social distancing practices and space limitations quickly put a damper on things. She simply didn’t have enough space to make the variety of flavors that people were asking for.

So, she took to Instagram and set up weekly polls asking people what flavors they wanted. Each week she would roll out a new flavor for her limited-edition care packages.

Janie found that this worked so well, she even ended up creating new flavors based on customer suggestions. And people ate it up — both literally and figuratively!

9. Engage Authentically on Social Media

Janie admits she found social media difficult in the beginning. The number of direct messages she got even annoyed her until she realized how valuable they could be.

People want to feel connected with the brands they buy from and social media gives them the perfect platform to do it on. She began to enjoy interacting with her customers, answering questions and getting valuable feedback that has helped her adapt her business to better serve her customers.

10. Build a Brand

At first, Janie was reticent to talk about her past. Then, when writing an entry for a grant and scholarship from Pepsi, she decided to share her story. That was her truth, after all. Baking had saved her life. She went from a dark place but is now a business owner and has a beautiful life.

Being authentic won the scholarship and the chance to present her baked goods in front of some of the top food industry people in the business. And that’s what Janie continues to do, be authentic with her brand and her customers, and is thriving even in these tough economic times.

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Eight Ways Eight Fashion Brands Pivoted During the Pandemic

 

The pandemic hit in early March. Fashion brands, who otherwise, were looking forward to a bright 2020, had to make big changes. Here are eight ways eight fashion brands pivoted.

 

Some say, it’s a pivot for good.

 

1. Make Hospital Gowns and Masks

When the state governments in India mandated wearing masks, fashion designer Payal Singhalour featured speaker at LadyDrinks this Wednesday, started making them out of her signature floral prints. She raised awareness for the product by asking 50 influencers and movie stars to share photos of themselves wearing them.

“We started this mask campaign with the thought of coming together as a community to spread awareness about wearing a mask, and also thanking our loyal customers for staying home and staying safe,” said Singhal [Source: Scroll.in]

2. Donate Shoes and Hospital Gowns to Frontline Workers

Sustainable footwear brand Allbirds donated shoes to healthcare workers on the front line through its “buy one, give one” campaign. Burberry turned it Yorkshire factory (which usually manufactures trench coats) into a supply house for hospital gowns and masks for the NHS.

3. Make Donations to Hospitals

Mayhoola, the parent company behind Valentino and Balmain, donated an millions to help improve efficiency and security of the Intensive Care Treatment Unit of a hospital in Milan, one of the first cities to feel the impact of the pandemic.

PRADA donated two entire intensive care and resuscitation units each to three of Milan’s biggest hospitals, one of which is a children’s hospital.

4. Make Hand Sanitizer

LVMH, the parent company behind Dior, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton, turned facilities that traditionally made make-up and hand sanitizer fragrance into production factories for hand sanitizer. They donated the product, free of charge, to French hospitals.

5. Make Care Packages For Frontline Workers

As a show of gratitude, luxury fashion house Ralph & Russo crafted care packages that went to essential healthcare workers at the Royal London Hospital.

6. Offer What the Consumer Wants

Samuel Ross, founder of the contemporary menswear label A-Cold-Wall, immediately got busy studying what consumers wanted.

Vogue Business reports Ross mined through 8 seasons of collections to see what consumers reposted. He looked at wholesale figures to see what was selling and Reddit threads to see what product categories and styles were getting mentions. He finally decided to sell three categories: technical outerwear, artisan jersey and minimalist footwear. He cut back his work week at his company to 4 days a week. It resulted in so many efficiencies that he is mulling keeping the schedule permanently.

When the crisis ends, folks will remember how brands behaved when things were bad. They will remember how brands made them feel. They will remember the brands that helped them.

And they will give that back.

The 10 Key Steps to Publishing Persistent Thought Leadership

Selena Rezvani, a best-selling author who teaches women-focused leadership development, shares her top ten tips for how women business owners can publish thought leadership that converts into business.

Find Your Area of Expertise

Imagine yourself at a dinner party or in the boardroom, leading the conversation. What do you tend to speak about? What area do you know inside and out, keeping up to date on the latest research? What sparks joy or interest in you? How about anger and frustration? Is there something not being discussed in your world that should be? The answers to these questions will lead you to your area of expertise – one about which you are both passionate and well-informed.

Use Your Story

The core of finding your voice is telling your own story. Talk about your struggles, your missed opportunities, your mess-ups, your victories. Get comfortable speaking about your accomplishments and your potential. Part of the unique thing you’re bringing to the market is you, so get personal.

 

Lead with your heart and your head. Take your audience on a journey with you. And, of course, always leave them with a relevant takeaway.

Be Consistent

Content marketing is all about consistency. Strive for a steady drum beat, not a one-time waterfall after which nobody will hear from you for six months. Establish the routine and the habit of putting out content. Make it a part of your life.

 

If you struggle with consistency, get help. Find an accountability partner to ask you where your content is for the next month. Another option is to pay someone to create content for you. You can hire somebody to whom you’ll give raw content, ideas, and materials, and they’ll help you turn them into engaging posts that will keep your steady drum beat going.

 

And remember, you don’t have to do every social media platform at once. It’s better to use fewer social media platforms and do them well, with real consistency.

Kick Imposter Syndrome to the Curb

Don’t overestimate what other people can do and underestimate yourself. Everybody is winging it. Try this: pretend you’re the world’s leading expert on something. How does that affect your confidence? Chances are, it gives you the permission to speak with authority that you don’t typically give yourself. So don’t think of yourself as a future expert. You’re an expert today.

 

It’s okay to be scared. Do it anyway. Get on a stage, write an article, publish a book. Confidence is an inside job.

 

And for pete’s sake, don’t tell yourself no before they do. You have just as good a shot at succeeding in this as anybody else does. Endorse yourself and other people will follow suit.

Be a Good Trend Spotter

Ask yourself, “what is my target audience hungry for?”. Be a student and observer of what your target audience is consuming. What do they get excited about? What hashtags are they using? Those are your signposts. Corner that market. Write an article or film a video incorporating these things.

Use Your Superpower

Men tend to be the loud ones in a room. They take up more physical and energetic space. But that doesn’t mean that they know any more than you do or are any better suited for being leaders. Because what women do is listen. They’re perceptive to what customers need and want. Their ability to affirm people and clarify what people really want is a super power.

Respect Your Resume

Don’t be afraid to weave your credibility and experience into a conversation. You can use language like, “Based on my 15 years of experience in commercial real estate, here’s what I’ve observed.” Using your credentials like this reminds the room of your power and expertise, which is especially important for women of color, who aren’t always immediately perceived as powerful. Just be sure to do it skillfully, only when it’s truly relevant. Otherwise you’re just bragging.

Get Comfortable

To avoid freezing up when speaking on stage or in meetings, do what you need to do to feel comfortable. Instead of thinking about what you’re lacking, consider what it will take to make you feel natural and secure. Maybe it’s a pep talk, maybe it’s having notes nearby, maybe it’s doing a quick practice session before your talk.

 

It can help to recite a mantra before you enter a room: “I 400% belong here. I endorse myself.” You don’t need the endorsement or approval of others. You have your own. It’s also helpful to have a sense of humor. Make jokes. There’s power in finding the humor in a situation that may otherwise be intimidating.

Find Your Why

The best way to find your thought leadership sweet spot is to know your why. So ask yourself “why” five times. Why is your business important? And why is that thing important? And why is that thing important?

 

Keep going until you’ve drilled down five times. Once you get there, you’ll usually find there is a deeper reason for what you’re doing. It’s not just about what’s on the surface. There’s a deeper cause and mission driving you. If you can articulate it and build your thought leadership brand around that, you’ll be set up for success, because your work will have meaning.

Use Stories as Social Proof

A big part of your value is your past success. But it may be uncomfortable to just outright say, “I’ve closed ten deals just like this.” So instead, use stories as a way to share your credentials and proactively tell about your expertise, pointing back to a time when you closed a deal, did the legwork, or helped a client. Offer reference points: “When I was working with so-and-so around the corner, here’s how that process played out.” “Here is one best practice I have found as someone who has done this many times.” It allows you to endorse yourself without having to feel bad about it.

. . .

 

I head up a leadership platform for South Asian executive women and founders called LadyDrinks.

 

On this channel I will offer you tips on three things that I believe are needed for persistence in business: Marketing, Innovation, Time management, and the ultimate — -Self care.

 

Sign up for the LadyDrinks newsletter, sharing actionable tips on persistence in your daily life https://ladydrinks.com/signup/

 

Follow my Youtube Channel for daily posts about persistence and how it can help you. https://www.youtube.com/c/joyadassleadership

 

Sign up for my virtual workshops this week at www.ladydrinks.com

 

 

Former Head of the White House Project Shares 10 Keys to Persistent Leadership

Tiffany Dufu, former head of the White House Project, lives her passion for helping women and girls succeed. Here are her top 10 tips for facilitating women’s leadership both in the government and in business.

1. Dropping the Ball

Many women feel like they can never drop the ball. They are juggling quite a few responsibilities, but dropping the ball on any one of them feels like the end of the world. People that are counting on them will be disappointed in them, they will have utterly failed.

Every woman has a moment in her life when she realizes that she can’t keep all the balls in the air. Perhaps it’s the birth of a child, a diagnosis, or even her dream promotion to a leadership position they wanted, but didn’t realize would be so hard.

You need to realize that, while meeting your responsibilities is important, the world will not end if you drop a ball once in a while.

2. Take the Opportunities That Are Presented

When somebody opens a door for you, run through it. Don’t hop and skip and drag your heels. Run through those doors, seize opportunities as they come.

You’ll start making a name for yourself that way. People will see you as a superstar and start offering you more opportunities and taking the time to invest in you.

3. Find the Right Mentor

A good mentor can be an excellent resource. In business, when you need to get from point A to point B you may realize that you don’t have the skills/resources necessary to reach your goal.

So you need to figure out the profile of someone who does. Then go find that person.

Don’t be afraid to be open, mentors can come from unexpected places. They don’t necessarily have to be in the same industry to offer something of value.

4. Abandon, Even When You’ve Made the Investment

However, when something isn’t working out, don’t be afraid to back out. Many women are afraid to back out of something they’ve invested in, whether that be a relationship or a role or even a boss.

But if it isn’t working for you, if it’s something that will harm you, it’s better to abandon the investment and walk away. You’ll only waste more of your life, time, and energy on something that is damaging you.

5. How Will This Serve You?

How do you decide if something is working out or not? Look at how it serves you.

Will following through with a task or relationship or whatever be beneficial to you? Will you gain something positive? Or will you only end up regretting that you stayed? Are you having to make yourself smaller to fit into a role that isn’t right for you?

Many women feel bad about backing out of a commitment because they don’t want to let down other people. But it will be far better for everyone to give the task to someone who is a better fit for it.

6. Learn to Say No

Additionally, you need to learn to say no in the beginning. Women have a tendency to say ‘yes’ to everything. They tend to think they really can do it all.

Ask a woman to write down her to-do list for a day and how long she thinks it will take to complete each task. Most lists will add up to more than 24 hours.

You need to make sure that your list can actually get done in 24 hours (and sleep needs to be on there!). Say no to the things that you don’t want/need to make time for.

7. Schedule Your Tasks, Don’t Create a To-do List

Better yet, avoid making a to-do list altogether. Stick with a calendar-based approach. When something pops up, add it to your calendar instead of writing it on a list. Check to see if you actually have the time to devote to the task.

If you don’t have time, look to see if there is something less important that you can remove. If not, say no to that task. You don’t have time for it.

8. Learn to Delegate

However, just because you can’t do it, doesn’t mean that you can’t help. If someone calls you up with a request you don’t have time for, refer them to an amazing colleague you know who would be a great fit for the task.

Take a look at the responsibilities that you already have. If you’re feeling run ragged, maybe there are some responsibilities you can delegate to other talented people.

9. Stand on the Shoulders of Those Before You

Everybody builds on the shoulders of the ones who came before them. Your success isn’t defined solely by you, or even by your nuclear family.

Mentors, sponsors, even people who you disagree with are all apart of how you got to where you are. Understanding and respecting the sacrifices that were made is important.

10. Say No to Guilt

It’s also important to realize that you won’t always get it right. Sometimes you’ll drop the ball. Sometimes you’ll have to back out of a commitment. And then you’ll end up feeling guilty.

Say no to guilt. Don’t let the negativity pull you down. You’re doing the best you can, feeling guilty about a shortcoming here and there is only going to waste time and keep you from reaching your potential.

Be positive. Look at all the good things you’re doing, all the things you’re doing right. Don’t let guilt over one or two things blind you to your successes or rob you of enjoying them.

 

Being Successful as a Female Leader

Life is challenging. As a woman of color whose family didn’t have a lot of economic resources, Tiffany faced a lot of challenges to get where she is today. She’s learned a lot along the way and these 10 tips just barely scratch the surface of her insight.

For more, check out her book Drop the Ball so you too can learn to “[achieve] more by doing less”.

Ten Tips to Persistence in Leadership from the Boxed.com CEO

Serial entrepreneur Chieh Huang is the philanthropic founder and CEO of online wholesale club Boxed. Along the way, he’s learned some lessons about persistence in leadership. He shared some insight about the subject with on the Virtual Fireside Chat podcast.

Who is Chieh Huang?

A New Jersey native, Huang is the child of Taiwanese immigrants. His mother supported their family of four with a minimum-wage job at a Chinese fast-food restaurant.

Huang spent two years working at a Manhattan law firm before realizing that his heart wasn’t into making partner. After dropping out of the corporate rat race, he partnered with two high school friends to develop Office Heroes, one of the first social games designed for the iPhone.

Nobody played the game, Huang acknowledges, but the app caught the fancy of a Japanese gaming company that acquired it for $800,000. Soon after that, the partners sold their company to a San Francisco-based video game developer.

For their next venture, Huang and his buddies turned to a problem Huang had encountered when he was growing up. In New Jersey, Huang’s family made a trip to a warehouse store every other week. But when they moved to Manhattan, they didn’t have the physical means to access a wholesale club anymore.

When Huang researched the stats, he found that 60% of wholesale club members are boomers or seniors. He decided to build a mobile-friendly online wholesale club targeting millennials, and Boxed was born.

Boxed is known for its frugality. For instance, when the co-founders travel together (in economy class, of course), they share a hotel room. But the company splurges on its people in other ways.

Depending on how long an employee has been with Boxed, the company pays up to $20K for life-changing events like weddings. And Huang pays for employees’ children’s college tuition, after scholarship, with no cost ceiling.

That’s the right thing to do, Huang says. Those people-first perks also help keep company morale high and turnover low, so they’re a long-term way to improve the bottom line.

So that’s some context for Chieh Huang. Here, then, are ten lessons Huang shared about leadership for the long haul.

  1. Act at the right time.

How do you know the right time to take the leap either in starting a business or adopting a new idea or direction? If you have an idea that you’re so obsessed with you’re losing sleep over it, and millions of people have the same problem, then the marriage of those two things is a really powerful thing to go after.

What about if you’re looking to move from a start-up to another phase of business? The key is to try and understand the markets to determine when it’s time to make your move. Get a really good feel for the markets and then double down.

  1. What are you good at?

It’s important to ask yourself foundational questions. What are you good at? Where can you excel? How can you differentiate your business? Huang explains that Boxed excels at price, convenience, brand, and now safety. For the Boxed.com brand, it’s about building connection and social capital, treating employees well, and clearly implementing creative strategies.

  1. Do your homework.

Once you’ve got a compelling value proposition, you need to research your concept and learn more. “Google it over and over again,” Huang advises. Does a market exist? Talk to people who think critically and will give you honest feedback. Flush out the idea with them.

  1. Stay balanced.

Don’t let yourself get too high or too low about yourself or your business. And don’t let external elements such as press, articles, or anything else dictate your emotions. Entrepreneurship can be a wild ride, but you need to keep steady. Wake up, put one foot in front of the other, and move on.

  1. Manage your money well.

Use investor funds to scale your business. Leverage that scale to create partnerships with larger companies such as UPS and FedEx to reduce costs and create sustainability.

If you have a marketing budget, hire a PR consultant to get you placed in a few stories. You can burn through money on Google or Facebook with no results, but a PR person can help you build a story and get you priceless free publicity.

  1. Hold everyone accountable.

Just because Boxed treats its employees well doesn’t mean that they can coast. Whether they’ve been on staff for seven months or seven years, staff have to account for their performance. “You need to hold people accountable and apply it evenly,” Huang advises.

  1. Leverage social media

For a competitive edge, leverage social media. Shift to what customers want to see and issues that customers care about. Use an omnichannel approach in marketing. Look at multi-touch social media to see when a customer converts.

  1. Be courageous and nimble.

You need to muster up your courage to make changes and take a leap in business. Most fear and hesitation you’ll feel is right before you do something. The moment you do it, it’s behind you, and there’s no going back. Recognize that fear is transient and wastes time.

Along with courage, you have to be nimble enough to change with the market. While staying true to your core brand, get creative to respond to customers’ needs and wants.

  1. Get your own house in order.

Make sure you offer a compelling service, fair prices, and top-notch customer services. This opens things up for your business to get its fair share. After you’ve gotten your own house in order, then you can start thinking about competitors.

  1. Let it go.

For your business to scale successfully, you have to let go of managing everything. Give your staff clear direction and the freedom to operate.

Interested in more insights from top leaders?

The leadership lessons from Chieh Huang came from the Virtual Fireside Chat podcast. Although the content is valuable for everyone, the podcast speaks specifically to executive women of color, founders, and South Asian executive women. For more information about the podcast and events featuring luminaries like Huang, click here [hyperlink to your site].

Additional sources woven into the text:

https://hub.jhu.edu/magazine/2016/summer/boxed-chieh-huang-interview/#:~:text=Chieh%20Huang%2C%20A%26S%20’03%2C%20is%20the%20CEO%20of%20Boxed.&text=He%20returned%20to%20convention%E2%80%94law,acquired%20by%20gaming%20giant%20Zynga.

 

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/14/boxed-ceo-chieh-huang-still-flies-economy-and-shares-hotel-rooms.html#:~:text=Whatever%20the%20case%2C%20that’s%20astronomical,have%20to%20adhere%20to%20myself.

 

https://www.grocerydive.com/news/boxed-ceo-sees-2019-as-a-breakout-year/548754/

 

https://njmonthly.com/articles/jersey-living/boxed-ceo-chieh-huang-the-upstart/

 

A Beauty Brand CEO’s 10 Tips to Persistent Leadership

Divya Gugnani, author and CEO of Wander Beauty, has a lot of wisdom to share, especially for female leaders.

 

Here are just some of her most relevant and helpful leadership tips, boiled down to their essence for quick learning.

 

  1. You are who you hire. Your company culture will be built by the people you bring on: outstanding people build outstanding brands. People who are willing to go the extra mile are the ones who will have the ability to create real change in your organization. So know that who you choose to put on the bus is equally as important as who you don’t.

 

  1. Diversity on your team drives diversity of thought, which is necessary to create the fantastic outcomes you desire. For everybody to get a piece of the pie, the pie must get bigger. So hire diverse teams with complementary skillsets.

 

  1. One of the most important qualities for a leader to have is self-awareness. When you understand yourself better, you become a better partner and leader. So take stock of what you are good at and what you can improve on – and be honest.

 

  1. You can do everything; you just can’t do everything at once.

 

  1. Work teams are like sports teams: they have a common goal – to win – and they must use strategy and plan to achieve it. On a competitive sports team, the athletes that help you get started aren’t always the ones that will take you to the finish line. Similarly, in business, the skills you need in the early stages are very different from the ones you need later on. In the start-up phase, team members must be able to skillfully wear many hats. But as your organization grows, you’ll need leaders with domain expertise who have done it before and can help you do it better. Your team’s skillset needs will shift: get ahead of it rather than falling behind.

 

  1. Continuing with the sports analogy: entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to be able to last for the long haul. Surviving is winning.

 

  1. Be a learn-it-all, not a know-it-all. A good leader is a sponge.

 

  1. The business environment isn’t going to adjust to you, so calibrate your strategy and ideas to the current environment. Listen to what is going on around you and then – only then – speak. When you do so, use only a few words – and make them count.

 

  1. To create successful mentor relationships, seek out several mentors with different skill sets. Make sure you have good chemistry and build the relationship slowly and organically over time. Be careful not to only reach out to your mentor when you’re going through tough times. Connect and maintain the relationship when things are going well, too.

 

  1. Your business won’t succeed if its founder (you!) is floundering. Focus on self-care. Take the time to make sure you are mentally and physically healthy. Block out time for quiet alone time as needed.

 

For more tips and advice from inspiring, successful South Asian women leaders, check out our New York City Networking Events for Women.

Social Media Micro-Content

We asked Divya Gugnani, the rock star CEO of Wander Beauty, what the best advice she ever received was. Her answer? “Network to get work.” For more tips like these, check out this article.

Check out CEO of Wander Beauty Divya Gugnani’s top five actionable fundraising tips for business leaders.

  1. Only raise money if you really need it to take your business to a place where you know it will be successful.
  2. Be clear about what type of funding you need.
  3. Connect with networks.
  4. Google funders who have invested in your competitors.
  5. Look for funders who might be interested in your business model.

 

For more advice and wisdom you can use, check out our New York City networking events for women.

Here are CEO of Wander Beauty Divya Gugnani’s four best hiring tips for business leaders that you can actually use.

  1. Take your interviewee to a social setting to see what they are like outside the office.
  2. Nip bad behavior in the bud.
  3. Only hire people you trust and respect. If the trust dissipates, let them go.
  4. Hire slowly and fire fast.

 

For more words of wisdom, check out __Divya’s top ten leadership tips.

Planning to work with influencers for your business? Divya Gugnani, CEO of Wander Beauty, has a tip for you.

Build authentic, organic relationships. Once you start paying people, the relationship becomes transactional, and authenticity is lost. Everyone starts wanting to be paid, and suddenly influencer marketing becomes an unlimited spend area.

For more great tips like these, check out Divya’s __ten most important pieces of leadership advice.

Here are three leadership tips from Wander Beauty CEO Divya Gugnani that you can implement and benefit from today.

  1. Be something to someone instead of everything to everyone. What’s the point of creating 21 products if you can’t sell one? Start with a concentrated effort. Do fewer things but do them well. Begin by being exceptional at one service or product. Build traction around it before expanding.
  2. Figure out who your ideal partnerships are. Build networks, reach out to people, and try to land one of them. Use that partnership to help you pitch to everyone else on your dream partner list.
  3. Failure is okay. Rejection is just a re-direction toward something better for you.

For ten more unique tips that will help transform your business, check out  this article.

A wedding planner‘s 10 tips for pivoting your wedding now

LadyDrinks member and wedding planner Sonal Shah, founder of SJS Events, shares her top ten tips for pivoting client weddings during the pandemic .

  1. Postpone. Don’t Cancel. Initially, April weddings were rescheduled. Now October weddings are getting rescheduled to 2021. “We’re fully supportive of people moving their dates to next year. You want both your family and guests to be in the right frame of mind for this joyous occasion.”
  2. 2021 is getting booked up. Two years worth of weddings are converging on 2021. Dates and vendor availability is scarce, especially in the luxury wedding space.
  3. Be decisive. “Let’s see what happens” is not a recommended way to go. Sonal recommends that brides sit down with families and push to make a decision.
  4. Present options: Sonal recommends, for October, November weddings, for clients to create a grid with the availability of vendors and venues. Come up with options for alternative dates for next year. Don’t pull the trigger yet. “But at least you have all the information and you know what you can potentially do. It makes people feel a little bit better knowing that they have an option B and a backup plan if they really need it.”
  5. Handling social distancing at weddings: Greece is a big destination for weddings and the country just opened up this week. However, the mandate is three to four people on a table that traditionally holds 10-12. If you are booking for a 300 person wedding, book a space that holds 600 people. The United States hasn’t announced guidelines like this yet, but make these decisions now versus closer to the date when the 600 person venue may not be available.
  6. Hiring caterers who can host sit down dinners and not only buffets. Ask about their safety protocol with handling masks, gloves, staffing, food handling. “We as professionals are having these conversations ourselves. What are our best practices for keeping people safe?”
  7. Guests lists. Couple may be deciding on their guest lists, but guests are going to decide for themselves based on their own comfort level around travel and crowds. Send out the invites. See who confirms.
  8. Consider a virtual wedding this year. Host a big celebration in 2021 or 2022. For the couples who want to get married this year, new technology and professional camera crews are affording couples the ability to host virtual weddings against beautiful backdrops. The only people in the same room are the couple and the priest. Guests attend via link. “It’s a very upscale version of zoom, let’s just say.” Plan for a big in person celebration in 2022.
  9. Be open to other dates besides a Saturday wedding. There are limited days that are auspicious. There are limited days that fall on a weekend. Sonal recommends that clients be open to weekday weddings. “Everybody wants to get married on a Saturday, but in India people get married on a Tuesday or Wednesday. If you can get your venue, if you can get your vendors, you can still have a beautiful wedding. Open up these dates so that you’re a little bit more at peace as to what is available and what makes you happy.”
  10. Be open to destinations traditionally considered for honeymoons. Italy offers many cities for smaller weddings. Consider a private buyout of an island resort in the Caribbean or the Maldives where it is just you and your guests. Create an experience for your guests. “ We have an amazing wedding next May that’s taking place in Switzerland. It’s about 300 guests. So I’m very excited about that.”

Video of above interview:

https://youtu.be/7jRW35dxNK0