Who you are is not what you do: I believe that identity is one of the most under-discussed and understood aspects of leaders. Specifically of young leaders. So often your work becomes your identity. One of the best pivots that happened in my personal life over the past two years is that I am surrounded by community who supports me however they care very little about what I do and care a whole lot about who I am. This was the most important shift I made in my personal life.
As a part of my series about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Caroline Beckman.
Caroline Beckman began her career in the health industry during her teenage years. At 18 years old she joined Suja Juice, one of the fastest growing beverage brands in history, as a founding employee. After dropping out of university to pursue further health research, she was backed by tech entrepreneur, founder of PayPal, and first investor in Facebook, Peter Thiel. Currently 25 years old, Caroline has founded, advised and invested in over 10 food and beverage companies. Caroline is excited to be introducing her new venture Nouri, a company created to deliver gut health solutions that empower consumers to take a proactive approach to their health. Nouri’s first consumer product line delivers clinically-supported proprietary probiotic blends encapsulated within plant-based omegas 3,6, and 9 (Ahiflower oil) and will be launching retail and e-commerce nationally in January 2020.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thank you for having me! I have been a big fan of Thrive for years. It’s awesome to have the opportunity to share more about my journey with you. The career that I am in the midst of today began at an oddly young age. When I was 18 years old I dove in full-time with health and wellness product development. By the time I was 19 I knew I had found my “lane” at the intersection between business and health and wellness. What I am working on specifically with Nouri was born out of my own personal painful realization that we are 10 times more bacteria than we are human and, that bacteria controls how we are feeling in each moment. While working in the “health and wellness” industry, I was personally struggling with gut health related ailments. As I looked from left to right on the market, the solutions spoke to a reactive market versus a proactive market. I dug in deeper and the more that I learned about gut health (such as the fact that our country spent $134 billion dollars on GI related disease last year alone), the more that I believed there was opportunity to deliver proactive solutions to millennials.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
Today I am 25 years old and I have been leading in some capacity since I was 18. That’s young. And no matter how many books you read or podcasts you listen to I believe that wisdom truly comes with time. One of the pitfalls that my lack of wisdom has brought about is a spirit of self-reliance, that I can make it all happen and put more on my plate than what is possible to complete. This is really common of most early-stage startup or organization leaders, because frankly there is so much to do and so few people to make it happen. From this I have learned to vocalize my strengths and weaknesses. Today, I am not afraid to clarify what is in “my lane” and what is not. I allow others around me to lead and trust them to do so.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
There are three aspects of Nouri’s core that I believe will set us apart and ensure we deliver results to our consumers every time: clarity, science, and endurance. First, we stand firm on the belief that clarity is kind. Right now in the category we are entering, many competitors are not clearly labeling where their ingredients are coming from for reasons of sourcing and cost savings. As a result, the quality of product is not always efficacious in delivering what these products promise. Nouri is joining forces with regulatory bodies to ensure that consumers receive clearly labeled products always. Secondly, we believe in science. Before launching any of our products into retail we sponsored our own research study to ensure that everything our technology promises is backed by real science. On the market today, only 35% of probiotics are supported by any sort of science. Nouri is committed to ensuring all we do is rooted and rich in science. And last, I believe our endurance will seperate us. Many brands today are playing a venture-backed race. Often times there are good outcomes however more often than not the consumer is the one who loses. Nouri’s positioning is to be around for decades and decades, delivering solutions to all ages, all across the globe. That is a big vision and big visions require endurance. We take one day at a time, treating each day as if it were simultaneously our first and last day.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
- Listen, listen, listen, and then speak: One of my biggest learning lessons has been to slow myself down before speaking. Even though as the leader you often times do have the answer, that is not the point. To build strength into those around you the best thing to do is to listen three times as much as you speak, specifically during meetings.
- Begin with the end in mind: I will never forget the first time someone asked me where I wanted to be in five years. At the time, I was 20 and honestly hadn’t thought of much past the day that I was living. I quickly realized that the greatest leaders provide the greatest visions of what the end result looks like. At that moment I began to think in decades time. I thought of not only what I wanted to accomplish in 10 years but more importantly who I wanted to be in 10 years from now. Today I continue to make decisions for that version of Caroline, 10 years from now.
- Consistency is the enemy of anxiety: the birth of anything new creates absolutely chaos. As I mentioned earlier, you are continuously battling a long list of “to dos” with a short list of those capable of doing. This makes consistency really difficult. I learned the hard way a few years ago that in order to lead your emotions, and not have your emotions lead you, consistency is essential. Start easy, begin with a dedicated time each day without any media, phone, or other distractions. Begin to train your brain that each day there will be consistency to rely upon.
- Who you are is not what you do: I believe that identity is one of the most under-discussed and understood aspects of leaders. Specifically of young leaders. So often your work becomes your identity. One of the best pivots that happened in my personal life over the past two years is that I am surrounded by community who supports me however they care very little about what I do and care a whole lot about who I am. This was the most important shift I made in my personal life.
- Set boundaries: The results of learning the word “no” and building the muscle of saying that word often will never cease to amaze me. For example, in order to accomplish all of what is being discussed in this interview, there are hundreds of “nos” involved. I hope for all entrepreneurs and CEOs that they relieve themselves of the pressure to be a “yes” person. From my experience thus far, boundaries create a difference in your life that make you more attractive to others, and not vice versa.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Burnout is near and dear to my personal story. By the time I was 21 years old I had entered complete adrenal fatigue due to a lack of boundaries in my work life. So, this has been and continues to be a journey of mine each day. There are many things that have helped me including: diet changes, physical training each day, and time away from work. The most powerful change, however, was implementing quiet time each morning. For the past few years I tend to get up at 4 or 4.30 am and spend the first couple hours of my day reading, writing, and in complete quiet. That hour or two each day requires me to set some massive boundaries around other areas of my life, however it has paid off tenfold. Most weeks I am in multiple cities and moving at a fast pace so I decided that in this season of life I would need to fight burnout each day, not each month or each year. Quiet time in the morning, coupled with changes to diet and daily exercise have helped me tremendously. I strongly recommend doing whatever you need to find at least 30–60 minutes a day of uninterrupted stillness and quiet. And do so consistently. Consistency is the ultimate enemy of anxiety.
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?
The most influential business and personal leader in my life is my Mom. My Mom made a massive sacrifice early on in mine and my siblings lives to homeschool us. This was unconventional at the time and was a decision challenged by many. Today, when I think about how I “learned to learn”, homeschooling plays a part in every aspect of my business life. My mom taught us to be self-starters. There is so much power in the independence and confidence that began without me knowing it at three years old. Mom is an entrepreneur herself yet instead of putting pressure on any one of us to perform, she worked endlessly to provide an environment of creativity, discovery, and growth.
One of my favorite stories happened this past year as we had the opportunity to travel back to London together, a city that we have been going to for the past 14 years. We began going each year to serve a non-profit while being homeschooled. During these trips Mom taught me not to be afraid of the unknown or to hesitate in asking directions, two skills I use everyday now. This year during our visit we were in London for another reason: visiting the suppliers of Nouri. An idea that was spurred out of asking directions and not fearing failure. It was a complete full-circle moment for us both, witnessing the fruit of her sacrifice over the past decades.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
I am continually challenged and inspired to increase human life. This is why working on consumer health has always sparked my curiosity. This year, I joined forces with the World Economic Forum as a Global Shaper. This is a commitment that I have until the time that I am at least 33 years old. Our team will be working on the most important issues globally, including advancements in human health from all angles. Specific to my industry, I am currently focused on providing sustainable resources for daily commodities such as plastics and paper.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
I have never felt like I have “worked” a day in my life. I truly believe this is because each day I am doing what I am called to do. My work and my purpose here on earth are one and the same. A few years ago I learned that the root of the word “vocation” derives from the Latin “vocare” which means “to call”. Our work and our calling are the same, and the two together will build whatever legacy we leave. As long as I continue to live out of this calling and remain honest to what I am individually created to do, I feel that whatever I leave behind will point to something much greater than myself. That is my ultimate goal.
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!
One of my greatest desires while on earth is to see human trafficking come to an end. Most people don’t know that the buying and selling of human beings is currently the fastest growing crime in the world. And this problem is rampant in the United States. This industry is currently generating over $150 billion dollars per year and less than 1% of victims are ever rescued.
I am personally committed and inspired to work as diligently as I can to see an end to this. I would love to see industries created as solutions to the root economic causes of trafficking. For example, I would love to see products distributed by women who would otherwise be selling their bodies and their children into trafficking. I am inspired to create and support “win-win” solutions that increase lives wholistically. Each day we are exploring and working on what this will look like for Nouri in the US and beyond.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow along on our Nouri socials @dailynouri as well as my personal Instagram @caroline_beckman. And as always, feel free to reach out with any questions or feedback. My email is [email protected] and our number is 917–900–8434. We would love to hear from you!