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Tips From The Top: One On One With Eva Sadej

I spoke to Eva Sadej, founder and CEO of Floss Bar, about her journey and best advice

Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and your advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people? 

Eva: I was the fastest mile runner in all of NYC at one time! In high school, I ran a 4:49 Olympic mile.

Adam: What experiences, failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth? What are your best lessons learned? 

Eva: In the past I’ve overvalued the wrong people and neglected the practical day-to-day impact. I’ve learned now to be equitable in who I focus on for retention within the company. I’ve also learned the hard way what can happen when you trust the wrong people. I’ve learned to believe in my own instincts about who to trust rather than who looks good on paper. 

Adam: Can you walk us through your fundraising process and how you were able to attract Colgate as an investor? What are your best tips for those interested in raising money? 

Eva: The most important things to focus on when you’re raising money are your team and your narrative. You need to have a great narrative on the purpose, the strategy and your success. If you have that, it attracts talent and is a story that people rally behind. You also need a team that’s stacked with great and highly intelligent people, who are strategic about how to frame your messaging. This way, you’ll likely get investments quicker.

Colgate actually reached out to Floss Bar directly when we were a newer company that was still consumer-facing. Floss Bar was always a natural fit for Colgate because our service aligns with their product. We’re naturally aligned on the same mission to provide dental care locally and globally. We weren’t ready yet for investment, but reached back out to Colgate later on after Floss Bar had grown larger and more successful. Our relationship with Colgate grew as Floss Bar grew. I reopened the lines of communication once we were at the right level they could fund.

The takeaway here: if funding isn’t a fit at one moment doesn’t mean down the road you can’t re-engage. 

Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level? 

Eva: An effective leader needs to frequently communicate with the team while acting “human.” When executives aren’t acting superior and are actually focused on making sure the team feels valued, the team can then rely on them as an effective leader. My goal as a leader is to remove obstacles rather than ordering people around. At Floss Bar, we always say, “stay in your lane- don’t drift outside of your responsibilities and trust that others are keeping things flowing.”

However, I do encourage everyone on my team to think outside of their lane. Leaders need to guide team members to speak up when they see areas that could be improved — even if it’s outside of their day-to-day responsibilities – to recommend ideas from their perspective.

I also think executives should surround themselves with people who come from different backgrounds and are smarter than them in certain areas. They need to put themselves in more uncomfortable situations. Having good people there to push you to think outside of the box will help you as a leader, as well as help the company. 

Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?

Eva: 

  1. Stop underdressing – Silicon Valley has not taken over NYC! You do need to still dress the part. Your clients are not the same as your startup culture so you need to dress up for the clients you’re going for and investors you’re researching. You can still be a unique butterfly, but try to keep your unique butterfly quality to one thing and be normal in other aspects of business. 
  2.  A leader’s job is to make things calm in chaos. Keeping a cool head is key for executives. They need the ability to put situations into perspective and calm people down. When things are going well, leaders need to push forward and prepare for potential problems. They are the temper to chaos as well as the excitement needed to keep the company balanced and moving forward.
  3.  It’s okay to burn bridges. As an executive, you don’t have the time for everyone. Whether it’s an employee, a potential investor or a new client, if it doesn’t feel good to you, don’t waste your time keeping those toxic relationships going. 

Adam: What are your three best tips on dental hygiene?

Eva:  

  1. Flossing! Flossing is very important and often not done enough. 40% of Americans don’t go to the dentist and 70% of millennials deny going. Flossing goes a long way if you’re trying to fight off gum disease. 42% of adults over 30 have gum disease. Some don’t even know it!
  2. Do you have smile shame? 28% of Americans don’t smile because they’re uncomfortable with their teeth. Smiling is key to creating a positive environment for engaging with others. If you’re uncomfortable with your smile, you’re unlikely to show confidence and self esteem outwardly. Your teeth are your face jewelry. Protect them and wear them proudly!
  3. Create a morning sequence – wake up, brush, eat– and don’t vary! You need to get automatically used to it – if you vary you may forget!

Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?

Eva: Get a hobby. You’re going to love your work as an entrepreneur, but you need some balance in your life. Having that thing that disconnects you from the person you are during the day helps you have a perspective that there is more to life than just your job. It also helps you to stop stressing about the small things.

Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?

Eva: Give back to your mentors! They actually really want to know that you’ve made it! As what you can do for them in return for all of the great advice you’ve received over the years. Not everyone realizes that you can actually provide valuable advice to older friends & colleagues. Mentees can actually reverse engineer later in life to become mentors to those who have helped them earlier on in their careers.  

Adam: Is there anything else you would like to share? 

Eva: Don’t forget your parents! Everyone is so busy but it’s important to take some time to thank them. Go hang out with them! 

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