Worry about everything, panic about nothing. If you can rationally worry through a situation, you can problem solve it more efficiently or even forecast possible problems down the road and prepare for them. But panicking about the same situation solves nothing. Panicking gets you that low while worrying can help you avoid that dip and maybe even result in a new high.
Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrea Wightwick.
A 20-year veteran of Corporate America, Andrea Wightwick has a passion for consumer marketing. After working with dozens of global brands, she decided to launch her own functional wellness brand, Hapsy. Founded and made in Georgia, Andrea is focused on supporting the local economy through Hapsy, giving back locally through Giving Kitchen, and doing right by the consumer all the while with truth and transparency in business.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Thank you for having me! It is a pleasure. I started out as a receptionist in corporate America at PepsiCo while I put myself through undergrad at night. I couldn’t afford unpaid internships or co-op programs, so I felt this was a great way for me to get ahead of the competition after graduation. Thankfully, that worked! I ended up having a very fulfilling 20 years in corporate America. After spending two decades helping grow other brands, I felt it was time to go out and give it a whirl myself.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
When the Farm Bill passed in 2018, retailers and manufacturers were trying to understand how and if hemp can fit into their portfolios. As a marketer, I was in heaven. It is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to work in a category that has a negative connotation but can be a helpful product in the right amount. All of this can be changed with marketing, of course. However, as a consumer, I was not seeing the truth and transparency from products in this space nor was I seeing a product I felt confident in. Combining my passion to do right by the consumer with my own frustrations of the marketplace fueled me to take the leap and try to make a product that met the standards I was looking for.
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
I would emphatically say “no”! I honestly think this is an aptitude I’m still developing and will continue to hone. While I enjoy being a leader, I naturally crave stability at work and in my daily schedule. Being an entrepreneur is quite the opposite of that, wouldn’t you agree?
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
Being a member of a dual-income household, my husband and I had conversations about how this shift could work in advance of it happening. We have two young children, so it was important to set the tone for how this would look not only financially but also on a day-to-day routine for our lives. Having these conversations helped me start on the path confidently knowing he and I were on a similar page from the onset.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The consumer is at the forefront of Hapsy’s mission. Hapsy is designed to be with you when you need a moment of pause, empowering you to reset without compromising your day. We use the word “compromise” purposefully because many other brands in this space have consumers compromising. This might be in a package they don’t feel comfortable being seen with or it could be in the taste or smell of the product itself. We have high standards for what we want in a hemp product and we know our customers do as well.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
I have a strong desire to do what is morally right or just. Behind that, I come to the table with care and grit. So, I care for things to be right or fair and I have the resilience to make that happen.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
While going through training on how to give presentations, I was told that I am too animated and passionate about the material I was presenting. While the enthusiasm was genuine, the feedback was around not being taken seriously with that style. This was from someone four levels higher, so I took the advice and dimmed my style of presentation for a bit. Over time, I heard the opposite from clients as I allowed my passion to be heard and seen in my presentations and I regret taking that advice, albeit for a short time.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
Burnout or toxic work environments stem from the top. If you allow it, it will thrive organically. I have a 24-hour feedback rule: whether good or bad news, you will hear it then and not 3 months later in some formal review. I also am transparent as a leader. I tell everyone I schedule send my emails to go out during work hours despite when they are written, if I am going back and forth in email with someone on edits I always try to end the day with a note of “this is my last email to you on this subject; we will pick up tomorrow” so they aren’t left waiting and wondering, and I share all of these tips with my teams in hopes of helping each other find healthy ways of working.
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Be willing to listen more than talk. It may seem counterintuitive but only by listening to others can you grow, can you hear what consumers want, and can you know what the market needs out of you. By keeping it a two-way conversation with your team and with your consumer, you can build and gain those things in return.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
I think gone are the days of a business not having a face. Consumers are smarter now and more engaged now in their shopping habits (they can see all their receipts piling up in their inboxes!) So, it is imperative to your business to be a leader the consumer can trust.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Saying “yes” too many times. I have said no to certain product forms, to specific retail channels, and to funding interests all within just this first year. Saying “no” or “not right now” to many things that have popped up along this path has helped me keep that laser focus on our desire to do right by the consumer and grow from that vs. growing volume and sales quickly in ways that do not match our mission.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
Well, in a “regular job”, there is a constant feedback loop externally! You send a deck to someone, you get a “thanks” or an “I need this changed” and you continually know where you stand and are routinely given some sort of gratitude (at least I hope everyone reading this is!) When you are an entrepreneur, that feedback loop is not externally existing. You have the one inside your head, helping you steer the ship. But there is not the same external validation of the work. Except that there are but it is a lot of “yes” words to you becauseyou are the CEO. And good feedback is great! But it is hard to discern what is sincere and what is placating because of who you are. Without this continual feedback, you are left to judge the quality of the work on what is happening in the day. Since the day can be filled with a lot of failure as an entrepreneur, I feel many equate the overall effect to a lot of highs and lows.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Shortly after Hapsy launched, a friend confided in me that she has been suffering with stress and anxiety while working at home with two young kids in school virtually at the same time. She tried Hapsy and it helped her keep a level head while still dealing with all the issues at hand. While I knew this was our mission, I didn’t foresee how heartwarming the feedback would feel.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
I doubt many start-ups would admit this, but I’ll stay humble. We had a dry spell of about 6 days with no sales. That was a real low. It is long enough to make self-doubt creep in. Thankfully that 7th day we had multiple orders. But I told my husband I hope I never experience that again!
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
Well, I allowed myself an hour to have a pity party for one. And then I got to work on ways to continue to grow the business to avoid another dry spell like that.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Knowing when to stop a workstream, either altogether or for a period. You can be a determined person and that is vital to success, but it is also important to know when to leave well enough alone.
- Have an attitude of gratitude. Even on bad days at work, I find I feel better if I at least put forth in emails and calls an attitude of gratitude to those I’m giving my attention to. It does not change the situation, but my attitude isn’t compromised as a result of that bad day at work and I’m not taking it out on others.
- Worry about everything, panic about nothing. If you can rationally worry through a situation, you can problem solve it more efficiently or even forecast possible problems down the road and prepare for them. But panicking about the same situation solves nothing. Panicking gets you that low while worrying can help you avoid that dip and maybe even result in a new high.
- Someone to whom you can call and vent. In a “regular job” you usually have coworkers to commiserate with about the commute, a meeting, etc. You can’t really do this with your team. So, designate someone and let them know you want them as your outlet! Just venting about the nuisances of the day can release those emotions. You don’t need a problem solver at that moment; you just need a listening ear.
- Have fun with the highs. One of the goals I was working toward was having interstate commerce for Hapsy so we could then finish our trademark protection and get registered. I made a guessing game with friends like people do when they have babies. I had everyone making predictions on what state and what day the sale would officially allow Hapsy to have protection. It’s a small thing but it made the high so much more fun for everyone around!
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
For me, resilience is not about the speed with which you recover. Allow yourself the time to process the situation, learn from it, and then get back to work. People who are truly resilient are not the ones who fall down, break their ankles, and painfully get back up and hobble over the finish line. It is people who take the time to nurse that ankle to a point, and then move toward the finish line now equipped with the experience of falling but the desire to keep going.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
Well, sadly I had too many to name. I grew up in an affluent area but was a part of a single dad, working for a poor family. I not only was “visibly poor” as I lacked the trendy things or a new backpack, but I also have a differently-abled brother who I had to look after starting about the age of 9. So, many people judged me on an external appearance vs. the content of my own character, including some parents who would not let their children be friends with me or date me in high school. While these are experiences I wish upon no one nor do I care to relive, I am thankful for the ongoing challenges that faced me as a child as it provided me a strong footing on which to stand as an adult. Not only in the pride and care for my work but in how I treat others.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
Overall, yes. I get to the positive attitude by going through a process of thinking through all the possible ways the situation could be worse or could get worse from where we are. After allowing myself that process, I’m able to then put on a can-do attitude and get to work.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
As the leader, you are looked at as the flight attendant. If you’re calm, everyone is calm. But it’s not enough to be calm and positive. You need to be truthful with a desire to resolve and improve. That way, everyone trusts that you’ll 1) tell the situation like it is and 2) be the calm leader to guide everyone out of that situation.
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present”. I love this quote. It helps me not dwell on anything bad that happened the day before but also be mindful that some things can be left to handle the following day. Enjoy the full day for what it is. The gift of being alive and of sound mind and body to experience it all.
How can our readers further follow you online?
I’m on LinkedIn at Andrea Wightwick, Clubhouse at @andrea_w, and you can follow us at @behapsy on Instagram and Facebook or www.behapsy.com
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!
Thank you again for your time! Take care & Be Hapsy!