Take care of yourself. You only get one body for the rest of your life, and you’ll be able to be more effective if you work out daily, eat well, prioritize time with family and friends, and find ways to manage stress.
As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Billy Bosch.
Originally from Baton Rouge, LA, Billy Bosch graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in Business Management & Concentration in HR and has worked throughout various consumer product industries over the past 15 years. In addition to his corporate background, Billy has embraced his entrepreneurial spirit through the creation of several businesses. He has a passion for a healthy lifestyle and has made it the focus of this company.
ICONIC was developed due to a quarter-life health crisis Billy had, which he solved with changes to his diet and the help of a dietician rather than the pharmaceuticals prescribed by his physician. ICONIC’s mission is to fundamentally change the human diet for the better and leave the planet better than we found it. Billy is CEO and Founder of ICONIC, based in sunny Santa Monica, CA.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Ifound myself looking for a product that didn’t exist! A protein drink that tasted delicious, had very little sugar, and clean ingredients.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
I learned that starting a beverage company can be extremely expensive. I’ve learned that it’s critical to look at your margin structure at the start and how realistic scaling impacts that.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
The right humans make all the difference. Young and hungry can be an asset, but having peers or senior team members who have gone the distance in a role before can really speed up how quickly you’re able to scale.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
- Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity. One of my favorite finance authors and CPA, Greg Crabtree, told me this years ago. It took some time for it to stick, but I’ve since come to realize how true this is. There is a lot of hype and even a level of prestige that comes with raising money with startups, but you can still do that with profit!
- A good product is table stakes, the right people make all the difference. There are 3 keys to running a consumer product business — product, people, and money. Think of it as the trinity of CPG. You can have a great product with funding, but not have the right people, and chances are you won’t go very far. The same goes for the company that has an average product, or that is low on funding, but has really smart experienced or high aptitude humans every time. I’ve definitely seen this with my own companies. It’s all about the people.
- Constantly innovate until you find yourself with a product that has “escape velocity.” As a student of the industry, I always watch and learn from products that fail and succeed. There are certain products that really take off, also called “escape velocity”. The technical definition (this is a physics term) is the minimum speed needed for a free, non-propelled object to escape from the gravitational influence of a massive body — that is, to achieve an infinite distance from it. When applied to consumer products, this basically means it sells exponentially faster than the competition. Think of it like this: when a product outsells its competitors, or better yet, is selling 2x or more than its competitors, it has achieved escape velocity.
- Talk to the people buying your product often. It’s easy to just go about your day to day work and think you know what is best for your customers. You asked them what they wanted a while back, right? Or maybe you just created something you needed and it sells, so why ask these other people? I think it’s a mistake not to check in with the people buying your product. You may be surprised at why they are really buying. Perhaps you are pitching your product one way, and they are buying for a whole different reason!
- Enjoy the journey as much as the destination, and keep taking vacations! There’s a stigma in the US around vacations, especially for business owners. They must be “taking it easy” or do not want to work that hard if they are taking a vacation, right? Come on. Take a look around the world. Productivity is NOT just about the hours you put into your work or passion. It’s about how efficient and effective you are with that time. Let’s also keep in mind that you only get one body as far as I know. Would you take better care of your car if you were only allowed to have one for your entire life? I bet you would. That’s how I view my body. If I want to achieve optimum efficiency and maximize effectiveness, then it’s critical I take time for fitness on a daily basis, and nourish my body with the nutrients and down time it needs. This means sleep, time with loved ones, and time out in nature, traveling, or doing what else interests you.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Well, we can start with the last point above. Take care of yourself. You only get one body for the rest of your life, and you’ll be able to be more effective if you work out daily, eat well, prioritize time with family and friends, and find ways to manage stress. What will you do with a big pile of money when you’re old and lonely because you haven’t nurtured the relationships in your life?
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?
I worked for a man among men named Steve Smolinski for a number of years in college and postgraduate. Fast forward a number of years, and I was down in the dumps after a long term relationship ended with an ex-girlfriend one summer. He convinced me to come out to California from New Orleans for a few weeks in an effort to cheer me up and expand my horizons. Wow — if you haven’t experienced southern California, do yourself a favor and check it out. I picked up surfing, dirt bike riding, hiking, and a few other hobbies. Not to mention it’s sunny and 70 year round. As an added bonus I’ve found a number of allstars now on our team and have grown the business at a faster pace. Steve (aka Smo) has been a true friend and mentor.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
I have a never-ending booklist and a real concern I might not make it through the list given my read to add-to-list ratio, so speedreading is something I’m working on. I’m also working on building a successful remote working environment for my team since our coworking space closed due to COVID. I’ve always enjoyed the flexibility of working remotely and find myself more productive. I know that’s not the case for some people, and more importantly, we all enjoyed each other’s company, so finding a way to keep our culture alive is key.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
Improve the human diet for the better and leave the planet better than I found it.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
A mentorship movement. I’ve been lucky enough to have many throughout my life, and I realize that doesn’t exist for so many people. All humans are born with talent, but the right mentors help nurture and develop those talents.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@iconiclife on Instagram, or Billy Bosch on LinkedIn/Facebook