Lynn Power of MASAMI: “Cash flow management is hard”

It’s 24/7. I knew that being an entrepreneur is an around-the-clock job, but dealing with a customer question at midnight or delivering product on the weekend is pretty much the standard. Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started […]

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It’s 24/7. I knew that being an entrepreneur is an around-the-clock job, but dealing with a customer question at midnight or delivering product on the weekend is pretty much the standard.

Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.

How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?

In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lynn Power.

Lynn is a long time advertising executive who spent 30 years building iconic brands. She left advertising in 2018 to launch MASAMI, clean premium haircare. Lynn loves building high performing teams, disrupting the status quo and helping women find their voices.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I was raised in Chicago by entrepreneurial parents and I have two brothers. My parents were small biz owners (an insurance agency and a travel agency) and I got to see first-hand not just how hard they worked, but also how much control they had over their lives. Unfortunately, both of those industries are now almost completely digital, so I saw their struggle of trying to stay relevant. Running a small biz must be in my genes, my brother does it also and works with me on MASAMI.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Beware; for i am fearless. And therefore powerful.” — Mary Shelly, Frankenstein

I’ve found that there is very little room for fear if you want to do you own thing. You need to acknowledge it and move on. Too much to do!

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

  1. Resilience — it’s so critical to not let yourself be beaten down (which is easy to do). There will always be challenges but you need to look beyond the day-to-day to the bigger goal. I felt very beaten down by the “Me Too” lawsuit that happened two years into my job at J. Walter Thompson, but I stayed another 2 years to see it through. I thought that was the right thing to do even though it was grueling most days.
  2. Empathy — having an understanding and appreciation of where other people are coming from, and what they are dealing with is incredibly helpful to building a high performing team. This has been especially critical during Covid, when we don’t see each other every day. We need to go out of our way to make sure everyone has what they need to get by. We do weekly check-ins and I’m lucky enough to work with friends, so we talk constantly. That helps a ton.
  3. Dot connecting — I believe that dot connecting is the new “creativity”. Being able to see analogies from one business to another or translating skill sets. I’ve always been an avid networker and have enjoyed meeting people who challenge me (usually outside of my industry). Don’t think of this as a time suck, think of it as expanding your universe to let serendipity happen. I recently met another entrepreneur who has a seaweed nutritional business and we are looking to collaborate, so you never know.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?

I spent 30 years in the advertising industry, working my way up from my first job as a receptionist at a small agency to CEO of J. Walter Thompson NY, one of the oldest and largest ad agencies in the world. I loved the world of advertising, especially the ability to work on lots of different brands and categories and I was fortunate enough to work on iconic brands such as American Express, Clinique, Hershey’s and Campari. I’ve worked at some of the top ad agencies throughout my career including Ogilvy & Mather, BBDO, McCann, Arnold and Grey.

And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?

After I left JWT, I started doing brand consulting — putting all of the years of knowledge I had spent building large brands to help startups. I found this incredibly fulfilling because you could see the impact almost immediately (whereas it takes months or even years for large brands and corporations to implement change). But then, I met my co-founder, James, in 2018. He had been working on haircare formulations for almost 10 years and when he started telling me his story, my advertising cynicism kicked in. But I tried the products and was converted. So, we decided to launch MASAMI, combining his formulation knowledge and my branding and marketing expertise.

Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?

I found that the more senior I got in advertising, the more removed I was from doing what I loved — which was building brands. I was spending my days putting out fires (but not in a fun way), dealing with HR, legal, and finance. The lawsuit we were dealing with at JWT was really debilitating to the business and I ultimately decided it was time to take control of my life. Life is just too short to spend your time doing things you don’t love.

What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?

I found that I’m very well suited for the entrepreneurial world. It requires using a lot of different parts of your brain — one day I’m focused more on analytics and finances, another day I’m dealing with content creation. And while I did a lot of this in advertising, the speed at which we can operate now has been fantastic. I have discovered that starting a business later in life makes it much easier to make decisions — so important to get faster traction. My biggest barrier has been time management, just figuring out how to juggle and prioritize everything. I’m a bit more organized with looking at both short and long term goals.

How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.

It’s tough to launch any business during a pandemic! But we’ve been lucky that people want clean beauty solutions — and self-care. We have been able to get into some stellar salons like Spoke & Weal (they have 8 locations nationwide), DreamDry and BLVD. We’ve also partnered with other indie brands and believe that we can be stronger together. We’ve done giveaways, gift with purchase exchanges, blogs, livestreams and have worked with great brands like Serucell, Isle de Nature, Romer Skincare, The Sexiest Beauty, Marea Wellness, Aila, Veronique Gabai, Ramen Hero and Misaky Tokyo.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’m really fortunate that my co-founder, James is an amazing human and great partner. Many people don’t have that kind of relationship with their co-founder. It’s such a critical relationship that can have a dramatic impact on the business (good or bad). I knew we were going to get along when I first met him. He came over for dinner with his husband, Masa, and they loved my dogs (and my dogs liked them — which is critical!)

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

I’ve had some brutal ageism situations. I knew that being an older founder may not be as “popular” as being a founder in my 20’s, but it really hit me when my husband was on the phone with an investor. He was an early investor in Living Proof and didn’t know I was listening on the call. He asked my husband about the team and when Bill started describing me, the investor interrupted and asked, “how old is she?”. Bill said 51 and was met with an immediate response of “It will never work. She won’t have the energy.” I was definitely taken aback. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t have a problem with a “lack of energy”, so I decided to forgo looking for outside investment money for now. We are totally self-funded.

Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?

This was never really a concern. I’ve done so much work for other people building brands that I knew I could do it for myself. Of course, launching a business is super hard and there are days when I wake up and think I’m crazy for doing this. My struggle is finding time for myself and throttling back on the work — I have a hard time with that.

In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?

I’m a big believer in building a network of peers, advisors, mentors, supporters and friends who can help you on the journey. Some of my most valuable insights have come from other founders who are in a similar position to me. And some of my best learning has been from younger people who go deep into a specialization (like SEO or TikTok for example).

Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?

I don’t like to be on camera, that’s definitely out of my comfort zone. But now, I find that people want to know who is behind the brand. So, I’m slowly getting more used to doing vlogs, live streams and on-camera interviews. I’m not sure I’ll ever really be truly comfortable, but I just don’t look at the videos afterward. That way I can pretend they don’t exist!

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. It’s 24/7. I knew that being an entrepreneur is an around-the-clock job, but dealing with a customer question at midnight or delivering product on the weekend is pretty much the standard.
  2. Don’t try to master everything. Like many people, I want to know enough to be dangerous. But it’s so important to get expert help when you need it for things that you just don’t have the depth of knowledge about. I have help with SEO, Facebook ads, CRM and finance and it’s invaluable.
  3. Cash flow management is hard. When you’re a small business, there are a lot of demands on your cash. Given we are self-funded and also want to invest in our next product innovation, it’s tricky managing the cash flow to get ahead and is a daily job. We needed to figure out how to fund our large size refillable bottles (and important innovation that aligns with our brand values) and ended up getting a QuickBooks loan, so sometimes you have to look at unconventional solutions.
  4. There are just some things that can’t be measured. Like influencer posts. Or podcast conversion. But you do them anyhow because it’s about building the brand, just don’t kill yourself trying to put an ROI on everything.
  5. Press is hard. It takes a lot of time and energy to get PR traction, even if you have a team on board. We have also learned that during Covid, media priorities have shifted, so you need to be committed to a long process.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Embracing clean beauty — there are a shocking number of harmful ingredients in most of our beauty products. And many of them are not just harmful to us but also to the environment.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. :-).

I’d love to pick Gwyneth Paltrow’s brain about Goop

How can our readers further follow your work online? or @lovemasamihair on any of our social channels (FB, IG, Twitter, Pinterest)

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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