The Thrive Questionnaire//

Bluemercury’s Marla Beck Shares How Rejection and Failure Led to Huge Success

"I've always had to hustle."

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Marla Beck: I read a lesson in daily wisdom from both Joseph Telushkin’s Day-by-Day Guide to Ethical Living and Ryan Holiday’s The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and The Art of Living. I have both books on my all my devices. I truly believe if you spend a couple minutes every day reading a snippet of wisdom, you will be calmer, more grounded and make better decisions.

TG: What gives you energy?
MB: I like to do the Precision Running high-intensity interval class on the treadmill at Equinox. It is hard and intense and a great way to clear the mind and reset.

TG: What daily habit or practice helps you thrive?
MB: Walking! My husband and I go for a walk almost every night together. We started this tradition when we launched Bluemercury. We were in the startup phase, with a lot of stress, and we’d walk every night to blow off steam. We have continued the tradition for 19 years! During our nightly four-mile walk we catch up on each other’s day, we talk about the kids, and we bounce ideas off each other.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
MB: How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen. His basic guidelines ― “build meaningful relationships, find meaningful work and don’t go to jail” are lessons for everyone.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
MB: I have a love-hate relationship with my phone. I love it for reading and quick communication, but it can be incredibly distracting. I’ve solved for this by blocking tech-free time in my schedule each day to be creative. During this time, I test products and work through a particular issue or opportunity without the distraction of technology.

(I keep my phone in my home office at night. Close enough so I can use the alarm function but far enough away, so it is not the first thing I see in the morning.)

TG: How do you deal with email?
MB: I think email is good to communicate quick questions and decisions, but I am not really a fan of more complex ideas. I am still a fan of building relationships and talking through new ideas or challenges by phone or in person.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
MB: I pop into one of our locations and talk with our beauty experts and customers. I love to ask, “What are you loving right now?” It tells you so much. The conversations become inspiration for new products and innovation.

TG: What advice would you give your younger self?
MB: Get in the game! If there is something you think you may want to do, you need to dive in and start. You may not make the right choice up front, but you will be closer to your dreams. I started Bluemercury in 1999 when I was in my 20s as a beauty e-commerce company. We were too early and transitioned to opening stores. Over the past 19 years we have completely disrupted the way beauty is purchased. By diving in, even with the wrong idea at first, I was able to find the right path.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
MB: This is one of our family mottoes ― “If it feels both terrifying and amazing you should definitely pursue it.” When something feels uncomfortable is when you are stretching and growing. You need to take risks and fail ― that is how you grow and achieve.  

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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