Take time to breathe. It can feel like everything needs to be done in two minutes and sometimes that is true but you need to take care of yourself in the process of running your company. Burning out and totally depleting yourself doesn’t do you or your team any good. Taking small breaks during the day and also small getaways every so often replenishes you!
As a part of our series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Beatrice Feliu-Espada, founder and CEO of The Honey Pot Company.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is it about the position of CEO the most attracted you to it?
It wasn’t necessarily that I was attracted to the CEO position — it just naturally happened that way as I am the creator of the wash that launched The Honey Pot Company into existence. I knew that if I was going to be serious about launching this company, I had to take the lead and run the show. It’s a challenging role but one that has provided me with so much professional and personal growth.
Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO does, but in just a few words can you explain what a CEO does that is different from the responsibilities of the other executives?
I see the CEO position as the ringleader meaning they have to keep everything moving. I work with all of my department leaders on ensuring things are all moving in the right direction and that we are firing on all cylinders. It’s also about being the face of the brand and doing panels and interviews and press. One of the aspects of being a CEO that has been truly life-changing has been the fundraising. It’s one thing to manage your team and it’s another to go into a room with investors and convince them to give you millions of dollars to grow your business. CEOs are so many things — inventors, visionaries, managers, confidants, ring leaders, therapists and fundraisers.
What were your biggest struggles throughout your professional life and how did you overcome them?
My biggest struggles have been raising money and learning to not take things personally when they don’t work out. I’ve had ups and downs professionally as all CEOs do but I have really worked hard to take the personal stuff out of it and focus on solutions. Leaving your emotions out of things is how you push past challenges in a much more efficient way.
What are the biggest challenges faced by women CEOs that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
Being taken seriously and raising money. Many times, women CEOs are not listened to in the same way men are. Many times, we aren’t respected or heard in the way our male counterparts are. We often have to go out of our way to prove ourselves and that we have a profitable idea and business and many times male CEOs don’t have to jump through hoops.
What is the one thing that you enjoy most about being a CEO?
I enjoy that one day is never the same. I literally may have a planning meeting with my team about 2020 one minute and the next I am testing samples for new products that I’m formulating and then right after that I’m on a call with an investor. It’s truly a whirlwind every single day.
What are the downsides of being a CEO?
I have to push myself and my team to rise above the status quo. I also have to fire people and be the person to represent my company when something isn’t up to par or is unsatisfactory. I don’t like having to be aggressive sometimes but it’s what I have to do in order to get things done.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
It was 2016 and we were working hard on the business and I received an email from the Target buyer for feminine care and she was interested in bringing our brand into Target stores. I had never experienced anything like that before! It’s a rare thing in the world of retail.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to be a vendor at a major event in the summer. I was super excited because I thought we would get the chance to be in front of thousands of potential customers and make some serious money in sales. When my team and I arrived at the location, we found out that the promoter had duped us and that we were not going to be inside the event where all of the action was but outside in the parking lot. It was July in the summer in the south, so it was insanely hot. We had to set up our booth and tent outside and had to move three times in the span of three days. On the final day, there was a bad thunderstorm that nearly blew our tent down. It was a rough experience and one we can laugh at now. We actually went back to that event this year and did it the right way, so it was a full circle moment.
Specifically, what is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
I never realized how much fundraising would be a big part of my role when I first launched this business. I also didn’t realize how much I would be on the road and doing interviews. I never thought I would become a public figure. I just thought I would be in the business and not the face of the business.
Certainly, not everyone is cut out to be a CEO, what specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful CEO and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be a CEO?
You have to be tenacious, determined, hard-working, relentless, creative, strong, focused and driven. Someone who wants to be a CEO has to be able to multitask. You have to be good at managing people. You need to be decisive, passionate, focused and able to express yourself in a way that’s clear and matter of fact. You also have to be a risk taker. Every move and decision you make is risky and that’s what makes gets me excited about my role because I have to take risks daily and swing for the fences.
The type of person who would not be a successful CEO would be someone who is not into change or who doesn’t adapt to change well. Someone who wants a set schedule and doesn’t want to have to work more than 40 hours a week. Someone who needs structure and guidance wouldn’t thrive as a CEO as there’s plenty of times when you’re winging it and don’t have a clue what to do but you have to just make things happen.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
Really focus on not second guessing yourself, especially in front of your team. It’s so crucial that you showcase a strong sense of self and a strong sense of direction so that your team builds confidence in you and your decisions. Also, be sure to give good feedback to the team so they know when they are thriving or when they need to step on the gas.
Who inspired/inspires you and why?
I am inspired by a lot of people including my mother who is the strongest person I know. I am also inspired by other female entrepreneurs like myself. I love strong women who aren’t afraid to go for what they want!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have so many people that I am grateful towards from fellow entrepreneurs to friends and family and business mentors. I can’t really single out one person or one moment. All of the advice, support and assistance I’ve received along the way has made me into who I am and allowed me to make bold choices and moves in my life.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I’ve really been blessed to be in the position I am, so I go out of my way to talk to young women who seek to be entrepreneurs. I do a lot of speaking engagements about my journey as an entrepreneur. My company also donates product to #HappyPeriod which is a national nonprofit that passes out feminine care products to homeless women, runaways and prostitutes. It’s just a few ways I can make a difference.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- You cannot trust everyone. Unfortunately, I’ve had a few experiences with people that I trusted and things went downhill. It was hard to realize that not everyone that presents themselves as your friend or someone you can trust has your best interest at heart. It’s been a hard lesson to learn but a necessary one. I’ve learned to vet those who are presenting themselves as consultants, employees or possible business partners before you get involved.
- Raising Capital is hard. I never realized how much of my role as a CEO is raising capital. I’m always either thinking about money, raising more money or figuring out how to spend the money I just received. Money is one of the main aspects of my role and it’s one that takes a ton of perseverance, dedication and patience. It also takes tenacity, boldness and a fearlessness that will stay with you forever.
- Don’t take anything personal. Early on in my career I tended to take things people said or did extremely personal. I’ve learned over time that most of the time, people aren’t truly trying to hurt you or disrespect you, it’s just that they have an opinion that’s different than yours and that’s not anything to get upset over.
- Build a kick ass team. You cannot build a business alone. You need a team, one that has the same passion and energy and belief in your brand as you do. Find people who are great at what they do so you don’t have to micromanage them. Find people who are professional but are also sharp and nimble as you’ll have to do a lot of pivoting when you’re launching a start-up and your team needs to be able to move fast. Find someone who has good character and ethics as you want to always do things from a place of integrity.
- Take time to breathe. It can feel like everything needs to be done in two minutes and sometimes that is true but you need to take care of yourself in the process of running your company. Burning out and totally depleting yourself doesn’t do you or your team any good. Taking small breaks during the day and also small getaways every so often replenishes you!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would love to inspire a sort of self-care movement that would require people to disconnect from social media at least once a few times a week so that they are getting more in touch with themselves. I feel we are in a time where social media has truly caused a lot of self-doubt, self-hate and depression. The more we check out of social and check in with ourselves, the healthier we will be!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Don’t take things personally”. This is relevant in my life because it saves me so much anguish and frustration. When you take the personal angle out of things it really helps you see what the issues are and better resolve those issues without the emotional aspect.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them
I would love to meet with Robert Smith. He’s an amazing example of strength, resilience and diligence. I respect and admire him!
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.