Hire for culture first, then skill but preferably both. Building a world class culture for your organization is paramount to building a thriving and successful business. Your team has to align first and foremost with the culture of your company.
As a part of our series about strong women leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tina Anderson. Tina is the co-founder and CEO of Just Thrive, a supplement company based in Chicago, Illinois, that focuses on the critical importance of gut health. Just Thrive products can be found in over 1,000 retail locations, online at www.JustThriveHealth.com and Amazon. Tina left a successful career as an attorney in the pharmaceutical industry to pursue her true passion of bringing health into the lives of others…in particular, gut health. As the CEO Tina strives to empower others to take control of their health, feel amazing and Just Thrive!
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is it about the position of CEO the most attracted you to it?
As the co-founder of our company, I felt it was important for my passion for our brand to come through in all aspects of our company. The best way to do that is to lead the company as CEO.
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?
The CEO is the visionary of the organization and looks at the entire organization as a whole, while other executives generally focus on their particular area of concentration. The CEO should be working “on the business”, not “in the business”. At the end of the day, the final responsibility falls on the CEO, good or bad.
What were your biggest struggles throughout your professional life and how did you overcome them?
By far my biggest struggle was balancing life. The part of my life I am the absolute most proud of is my family life — having a great marriage to my husband and business partner, Billy, raising three of the most incredible kids and maintaining a strong family unit. As CEO, I vowed to not compromise the beautiful family that we had built and so I didn’t. Instead, I “did it all” and at times at the expense of my own well-being. I have used many tools to help achieve balance such as meditation, breathing exercises, daily affirmations and working out. Even more impactful was hiring the most talented people to take many of the day to day duties off my plate. Interestingly, when you do that your business grows exponentially.
One of my earlier struggles was a lack of expertise in my field. And while I didn’t have many core competencies in launching a probiotic business, I did have a burning passion to help make the world a healthier place. As an attorney, I also knew how to research and dig deep. I learned everything on my own by reading books, articles, attending masterminds and meeting with experts. I spent hours and hours researching everything — from payment processors to the clinical studies on gut health. When you are passionate about something, you can learn anything!
What are the biggest challenges faced by women CEOs that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
While other women may have experienced gender bias challenges as a CEO, I fortunately have not. Unlike other industries, there are many female CEOs in the natural health and wellness space.
What is the one thing that you enjoy most about being a CEO?
What I enjoy most about being a CEO is growing our team both personally and professionally. Aside from our mission of making the world a healthier place, I love empowering our team members. I encourage everyone on our team to take both personal and professional development classes/workshops on the company dime and on company time. I love each and every one of our team members and want to see them thrive in every aspect of their lives. We are a family and I would love to know that I had a small part in making their lives more fulfilling and rewarding.
What are the downsides of being a CEO?
The day-to-day pressure and the stress. As much as I rely on the talented team I have, I know that the buck stops here and that has certainly kept me up many nights.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I attended a mastermind and was surrounded by incredibly successful entrepreneurs and digital marketing experts, but I noticed that so many of the smartest people in the room were in their 20’s. To this day, I am blown away by how different doing business looks today than it did years ago. Young millennials have so many opportunities and so many of them are seizing those opportunities. In fact, I consistently find myself going to them for advice and I love applauding them for their success.
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 was on a media tour in New York City and was meeting with one of the largest health publications in the country. I insisted on walking to the interview because I love to walk and I love exploring different cities. However, I forgot to check the weather and was caught in a massive downpour without an umbrella and walked into these swanky offices completely disheveled and soaking wet. I learned to be better prepared for important meetings (and always check the weather forecast).
Specifically, what is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
When I first started, we had a very thorough business plan and I thought I knew the direction we were going. However, the market dictated changes in our plan and I listened. We shifted direction quickly. I thought the focus of our business would be primarily retail stores and while retail is still a large portion of our business, we have grown the e-commerce and Amazon business quite dramatically as well. In order to do so, I spent endless hours learning and researching digital marketing and finding some of the best experts out there to help our team Just Thrive!
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?
One of the biggest traits of a CEO is someone that is a visionary and a quick-starter. It takes someone with a mind that never shuts down who has wildly crazy ideas that miraculously come to life. People that should avoid being a CEO are integrators and people who enjoy operations and being in the day-to-day aspects of the business.
What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?
Always follow your passion. Take your talents into an industry that you care deeply and passionately about. Care about your employees like you would care about your own children. Push them to grow themselves both personally and professionally and do all you can to help them reach their own goals. Focus on serving the world to make it a better, healthier, cleaner place.
Who inspired/inspires you and why?
My father and mother both inspired me. They are immigrants who came to this country without speaking a word of English, with little more than the clothes on their backs. What they did have was a drive for a better life for themselves and their family. They are both business owners and have built an extremely successful business from scratch. Their support, positivity, accomplishments, and generosity continue to inspire me every single day.
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?
My father used to wake me up as a child energetically proclaiming, “Wake up Tina! You’re getting better and better every day and in every way!” Throughout my entire life, and even to this day, my father gives me motivational quotes and reminds me to implement them on a daily basis. I was raised to always find the positive in life and to focus on the good around us. I owe so much of that to my father’s teachings. He taught me to choose my words carefully because your subconscious mind hears you. He introduced me to some of my favorite authors and set an incredible example that you can achieve whatever it is that you put your mind to. Your future is yours to create.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
By educating and empowering our customers on the critical importance of gut health. And to help them take health into their own hands by getting to the root cause of a health condition rather than treating symptoms alone. I have had the honor to speak with so many of our customers who have experienced life changing results from using our product. I have saved voicemails, emails and hand-written notes from grateful customers. Our mission is to continue to empower the world to seek optimal health by first taking care of their gut, because so many diseases start in the gut.
I have also done my best to continue to spread my father’s positivity to my kids, my family and friends through the years. I love nothing more than to help a friend through a tough time by implementing all the lessons I have learned through the years.
Just Thrive has also partnered with Vitamin Angels, a non-profit organization that provides critical vitamins to pregnant moms and children in undernourished countries.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Trust Your Gut. As a CEO, it’s incredibly important to constantly consult with experts, your leadership team and those in your industry, but ultimately you have to go with what your gut tells you and then live and die with that decision. Considering we’re gut health experts, we know that there’s actual science behind the idea that your gut communicates with your brain so it’s important to listen to it.
- Hire for culture first, then skill but preferably both. Building a world class culture for your organization is paramount to building a thriving and successful business. Your team has to align first and foremost with the culture of your company.
- Invest in your team. As your company grows, it’s important to have your team grow alongside the business. Invest in classes, professional development events, masterminds, etc. for your employees so that they grow as the company grows.
- Stay focused on what’s working. It’s critical to remain focused on the areas of the business that are successful and it’s equally as critical to steer clear of tempting and “shiny” new projects that may become detrimental to the success of your company.
- Measure, measure, measure. Create and track KPIs (key performance indicators) for your company as well as your team. Numbers don’t lie.
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.
To change the food supply in this country by eliminating glyphosates (the active ingredient in Round-up), harmful preservatives and additives, antibiotics in our food, etc. — and especially in children’s food. Our kids’ guts are being attacked on a daily basis from the food they are given. We need to provide our children with organic, clean, whole foods. Our kids are raised to think they should eat sugary cereal and happy meals when it’s kids that need whole, clean foods the most. They don’t need sugary snacks. Instead we’ve been programmed to give those treats to our kids by marketing messages. Imagine the wonderful lives our children would have without allergies, auto-immune disease, ADD and ADHD, etc. During all my years in grammar school through high school, I knew only one child with an allergy but now there is an epidemic of children with allergies and auto-immune diseases. It’s time to start looking at the food supply and what our children are eating.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
The famous Theodore Roosevelt quote — Daring Greatly. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
This quote has been extremely relevant in my life because while there are many opportunities as a CEO to succeed, there are just as many opportunities to fail. And when you fail and especially fail publicly, there are critics. This quote has helped me become immune to the fear of critics and has also helped me take risks and chances that have moved Just Thrive Probiotic forward — because I put myself in the arena and that’s how you make progress and change the world.
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 know it’s an obvious answer, but I would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with Oprah. She is such a deep thinker and I know we would “geek out” on all things motivational, spiritual and inspirational.
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About the author:
Phil La Duke is a popular speaker & writer with more than 350 works in print. His most recent book is Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention listed as #16 on Pretty Progressive magazine’s list of 49 books that powerful women study in detail. Follow Phil on Twitter @philladuke