Know yourself. Get your strengths and weaknesses understood as quickly as you can. Hire the help for the weak points and concentrate on the strengths.
As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Greg Bulgarelli.
While serving in the U.S. Navy, Greg Bulgarelli fine-tuned his affinity for problem-solving, leadership, testing, and quality control. Years later, these would become the cornerstones for his online wellness company, Live Wise Naturals. As founder and Chief Wellness Officer of Live Wise Naturals, Greg leads a world-class research and development team dedicated to bringing you the purest supplements available today.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Seven years ago, I was working on opening a gym while also selling supplements for another company as a side hustle. As a lifelong health nut, I was shocked when I had blood work done and found out my levels of vitamin D and B12 were severely deficient. I began trying different supplements to correct my levels and noticed how many ingredients were in them that weren’t really necessary, and many, if not most, were not good for our bodies. They were included as fillers and flow agents. I already had contacts in the supplement world, so I formulated my own products, starting with vitamin D3+K2 and vitamin B-12. I decided to make products in liquid form as I could do it without the fillers and flow agents. This is something I wish I would have done sooner. The health and wellness industry is exactly where I was meant to be.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
I was fortunate here. I founded Live Wise Naturals in July 2015. I listed my first two products on Amazon, and they took off. My products were a bit different than most of the others they were competing against. I was able to purchase my second run of products off the sales of my first runs and didn’t have to invest more money right away. The one major mistake I made was not adding more products right away. I should have tried to launch another three-to-four products shortly after the first two.
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 made an obvious packaging error for one of our products. Somehow, I managed to make all the packaging for our vitamin B-12 with the information for vitamin D3+K2. I don’t want to take all the credit for the error, although I do believe it is mine to bear since I have to give final approvals. I believe that somehow the two projects managed to get tangled up at the graphics company and I didn’t catch it for some reason. The obvious lesson there is to have at least one other pair of eyeballs checking.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am always formulating and testing new ingredients for products and we will hopefully have another five-to-six new products in 2021. I am also getting certified in some forms of breath work/meditation. I have been doing breathwork for over 15 years. It has helped significantly to calm my body down. It has been great for lowering stress levels. In today’s times, there is a great need for ways to help keep your body calm and lower stress. The breathwork I am getting certified in is scientifically proven to work and can be done in just a few minutes a day.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
- I was told to make sure I had enough money in the bank in case sales picked up unexpectedly or I might put myself out of business. That has almost happened twice. The first two products took off much quicker than anticipated. This left me scrambling to have product made and pay for it. On the second occasion, sales were increasing and I had a lot of products on order while losing the listings on a popular ecommerce site. Sales were lost for a few weeks and I needed to pay for the new product coming out of production. I was able to maneuver around both instances with credit cards and home equity loans.
- Establishing funding sources as quickly as possible. We couldn’t expand at nearly the rate we would have liked because we didn’t have access to enough capital. It stopped us from adding to our product line as quickly as we could have. We now have those sources, both external and internal.
- Should have known this one without anyone telling me. Be careful who you talk to about what is going on with your business. I mentioned some things happening with a product to someone I thought was a friend only to have this person turn around and become a competitor.
- Because of #3, I stopped pushing out new products for a bit. It cost me a lot. Mistakes and roadblocks are going to pop up. You just have to drive through them or around them and keep going.
- Know yourself. Get your strengths and weaknesses understood as quickly as you can. Hire the help for the weak points and concentrate on the strengths.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Have a schedule for your days that includes time off. I like to follow the 20 minutes off every 90–120min. There is some research that shows our bodies go through this cycle throughout the day and taking 20 minutes to break away from work is beneficial. It has been for me. I am not the same if I don’t take my breaks and have a lot more energy throughout the day when I do. I start my days with mobility exercises just to get the body moving. I also do breath work/meditation a couple times a day. Meditation really helps calm the mind and you only need to do it for a few minutes. Part of my morning is also spent reading a book for 20–30 minutes. It is rarely a book that deals with my business.
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 have a grandfather who grew up in an entrepreneurial family. I was always amazed at how he would ask questions it seemed no one else would ask — simply probing for further understanding most of the time. While it seemed like he would get too personal, most people wouldn’t hesitate to give him an answer. He always said, “Don’t be afraid to ask what is on your mind, just smile while you are doing it.” He did this wherever he went. He just wanted to understand how others operated their businesses to see if there was something he might learn for his.
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!
These days, I have a lot of thoughts about getting involved in our government. I am constantly thinking about starting a new party to combat the idiocy of our two-party mess. We need more involvement from the citizens of this country, including myself. The current state of affairs here in the U.S. is embarrassing.
I would also like to get people more involved in what they are putting in their bodies: water, food, etc. If we treated our bodies better, we wouldn’t have the issues we do with viruses like Covid-19 and many of these other ailments currently wreaking havoc. Our cells would be healthy and our cell walls would be able to repel the pathogens with greater ease allowing our bodies to remove them.
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Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.