“5 things I wish someone told me before I became a CEO” with Romy Taormina

Cut yourself some slack. Sometimes we have to take two (or more) steps back in order to take a step forward. Remain steadfast and accountable but give yourself some grace around making mistakes (“learning opportunities”), encountering problems (and then finding solutions), and moving things forward. Every day is a new day. I had the pleasure to […]

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Cut yourself some slack. Sometimes we have to take two (or more) steps back in order to take a step forward. Remain steadfast and accountable but give yourself some grace around making mistakes (“learning opportunities”), encountering problems (and then finding solutions), and moving things forward. Every day is a new day.

I had the pleasure to interview Romy Taormina. Puking was what inspired Romy, Founder/CEO of Psi Bands, to take the leap of faith into the entrepreneurial stratosphere. Romy suffered from debilitating morning sickness during both of her pregnancies. She found nausea relief through acupressure wrist bands but was dissatisfied with existing products on the market. So she set out to create a superior product to help those who suffer from nausea due to motion sickness, morning sickness, anesthesia, and chemotherapy. And Psi Bands were born. Psi Bands are acupressure wrist bands, a clinically-proven, FDA-cleared, and patented medical device for nausea relief. Psi Bands sell at Target, CVS, REI, Sprouts, Destination Maternity, Amazon, etc.; hospitals; and internationally. Psi Bands are an Oprah Magazine “O Pick” and Entrepreneur Magazine calls Psi Bands a “strokes of genius.”

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is it about the position of CEO that most attracted you to it?

I welcome the opportunity to be challenged. It keeps my mind active and working towards growth. While I have a business degree, I do not have a masters, and I have used my entrepreneurial platform as my MBA. For me, and I’d argue for most others, hands-on learning is the best way for growth.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

With more than ten entrepreneurial years under my belt I have many interesting stories. The one that many others seem to find the most interesting is my appearance on Shark Tank. It’s not the outcome that others seem to find so interesting, it’s just the fact that I was featured on the show that immediately develops interest. How did I get on the show? I was willing to put myself out there, and I had the stamina to work through an arduous process to get on the show. Lessons that I would share on this experience: “1) Own your voice. We each have a unique voice. Tell your story and share what makes you uniquely you. Your voice, whether you are ‘loud’ or ‘Quiet’ (Susan Cain is a master on this topic), is a powerful one. 2) Be willing to take risks because when we do, we grow and ’Thrive’ from those that cause us the most discomfort. 3) Work hard. Sounds so cliché, but stop the talking and DO.I recently heard Adam Grant say that “passion is the consequence of effort” and it so rang true for me. Most of us do not wake up one day and say “this is what I want to be when I grow up” and then actually stick to it. College students change their majors a lot. Most of us work numerous jobs throughout our lifetime. Discovering one’s passion comes as the result of working hard. The more we work at something, like any muscle, the stronger it gets. So work hard to discover what resonates with you. Tweak it over time.

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?

I admit that seeing humor in my mistakes is a challenge. It’s a muscle, that I am working to develop. I refer to mistakes as “learning opportunities” as they help me to grow. I made the mistake of flying to Chicago from California in the dead of winter during a major snowstorm. I arrived to my meeting with a major retailer on time, barely. The buyer knew I was coming from across the country to meet with him, so he made the effort to shovel the snow from his driveway and make the commute in bad weather/traffic in order to get to the office to meet with me instead of taking a “snow day” — even though he was 1 ½ hours late to the meeting. I, for sure, appreciated that effort. However, it was a mistake to have had that meeting. We were both not in the right mental place for this meeting, and while it didn’t go bad, it could have been better/different if the circumstances hadn’t been so stressful leading up to it. Lesson learned: sometimes it is better to let things go than to force them; then, later, find an agreeable solution.

Specifically, what is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

I feel a great sense of responsibility to those on my team, and I didn’t realize the full weight that would entail when I started off on this entrepreneurial journey. I feel that when you hire someone, you are responsible to not only that person but to that person’s family for their financial security. It’s not just about starting a business and hiring people to fill roles. We should be honoring our commitments. Establishing trust is one key to having a loyal team.

What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?

I feel that women tend to either be the type to try to make it their mission to do it all and, therefore, they do not ask for help because they feel they are somehow burdening others or because they fear rejection. I believe, as a whole, that people want to help others. It makes them feel good to do so. Let them help by asking. The answer is going to be “no” until you do ask for help, and then that “no” may be a “yes”. Do not expect others to read your mind. Ask for what you want and need. If you get a “no”, that is a learning opportunity to take that “rejection” and turn it into “redirection.”

What advice would you give to other women leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

I would offer both men and women the same advice, and that is to lead by example and to be willing to do whatever you ask someone on your team to do. To women specifically, I would ask for what you want/need (see above) and use your intuition as a guidepost.

Who inspired/inspires you and why?

There are many people who inspire me and fill my different buckets. While I could list some famous people — and I have within this article (i.e. Oprah and Susan Cain as examples), it’s the people who I am most personally and deeply connected with that truly touch my heart. It’s their courage, character, loyalty, ability to actively listen and/or authentically share, and/or positive attitude that inspire me.

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 am grateful to my dad who, for decades, was in the Public Relations Department for a well-known phone company as a writer, journalist, and photographer, and who exposed her time and again to the impact of the “word” and storytelling. I believe that expressing oneself in your unique voice is important. We are constantly having to sell our preferences, needs, and wishes in order to get buy-in from others. Be clear in your communication and have your voice be your guide to help you obtain what it is you need and want.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

One of the ways that I make the world a better place is by volunteering for Camp BizSmart, the premier entrepreneur academy for ages 11–19, which was recently named by CNN Money as one of the five most unique camps in the U.S. Additionally, I have spoken at numerous conferences, including several times at Quickbooks Connect — to and with other entrepreneurs — and at colleges and high schools, where I share about my entrepreneurial journey and offer tips to help teach and inspire others.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Cut yourself some slack. Sometimes we have to take two (or more) steps back in order to take a step forward. Remain steadfast and accountable but give yourself some grace around making mistakes (“learning opportunities”), encountering problems (and then finding solutions), and moving things forward. Every day is a new day.
  2. Embrace rejection. No one likes rejection. Just the word can cause pain and discomfort. But we need to ask for what we want and need because no one can read our minds. Prepare yourself for a bunch of no’s. You may discover so much more when you receive a no. It’s an opportunity to fine tune, regroup, reshape, and then approach the situation and/or a person again with a new perspective. And possibly turn that no into a yes. And, when you receive that yes, it feels so empowering and can give you greater confidence to make even more requests in the future. And the more you put yourself out there, the more successful you will be because you’ve increased your odds.
  3. Hire slow. Fire fast. Hiring the right people for a job is key. I take the hiring process seriously and slowly. I would rather not have a position filled than filled with the wrong person. I often hear other entrepreneurs say that their biggest challenge is that they don’t have the right people. Or worse, they have people who cause toxicity. The investment of time and energy into filling a position should be taken slow. Hiring decisions should include an alignment with company principals and mission, core competencies and how they align with the job function, attitude, and gut. Additionally, read “Quiet” by Susan Cain about her “revolution” (a link to her web site is included above).
  4. Take a reliable and valid personality test. A very popular one is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®). Per MBTI: “The goal of knowing about personality type is to understand and appreciate differences between people. Personality type should be used as a way of understanding yourself and for assisting you in making choices.” Having greater insight into how you make decisions and your own perceptions can lead to a more enriching life, both in and out of the workplace. It helps with networking, hiring, dating, and establishing meaningful relationships.
  5. Savor the journey. I often relate running a business to riding a roller coaster. It’s filled with highs and lows, bumps and turns. Embrace the ride and savor the moments. I believe that small things DO matter. Small things add up to big things.

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 believe that you should be grateful and show your appreciation. It makes people feel good when they are recognized, seen, and heard. Kindness begets kindness. Acts of appreciation can take shape in many different forms. Say thank you. Write a thank you card. Send someone an email letting them know they made a positive difference. Thank you’s do not need to cost anything — other than your time.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda

I believe that you should DO your hardest. DO your best. It may not be perfect but it may be amazing. And you will have created movement. It’s so much easier to have momentum when you are already acting. It’s when you stop that things become static. So, DO. My example: I created a product, Psi Bands, and took it to market and it now sells at Target, CVS, REI, Destination Maternity, Amazon, etc.; and internationally.”

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 🙂

Oprah. She is incredibly inspirational and has so much perspective and wisdom. A few years ago, I attended the Oprah’s The Life You Want Tour, which delivered on its promise to be transformative. I had the opportunity to meet Gayle King and Adam Glassman and listen to a host of dynamic speakers on important topics, including gratitude. When asked recently by the Founders of Camp BizSmart (see above for more information on this program) what I would suggest as their 2019 theme (they choose one word each year to incorporate into their program), I proposed gratitude. They went with it!

About the author:

Phil La Duke is a popular speaker & writer with more than 350 works in print. He is the author of two books, I Know My Shoes Are Untied Mind Your Own Business, and Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention. Follow Phil on Twitter @philladuke

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