Leading is letting go of the need to micro-manage and trusting the very capable team that you have carefully assembled. It’s knowing when to listen and when to shut up. It’s about being genuine, appreciative and generous. Honor your instincts as well as the instincts of the people you surround yourself with because they may very well be smarter than you. After all, that should be why you hired them to begin with!
Ihad the pleasure of interviewing Joyce Dales, the President of Buzzagogo and the maker of Cold Bee Gone, a homeopathic, Manuka Honey based remedy that you swab in your nose to fight cold, flu, allergies and to protect the nasal biome. Joyce is a mom to two beautiful girls through the gift of international adoption. She and her husband Jeffrey run their company while homeschooling, as they travel the country in their 1972 Airstream. Cold Bee Gone is now sold nationwide and will be launching in CVS April of 2019.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
There are four pivotal life events that set me on this amazing path of natural wellness. Before I get into each event and what gifts evolved…let me start by giving credit where credit is due. First, my love of natural remedies and honey bees comes from my Grammy. She was a tall, lovely Danish woman who knew the value of pickled eggs, dandelions and fresh air. She ran a country store in Maine and I grew up at her knee. Second is my father, Edwin C. Crosby. He was my stepfather until he adopted me at age 14 and he taught me to be confident and entrepreneurial. The two of them are the secret sauce that made me who I am today.
1) My father had a five year battle with lung cancer relating to his exposure to asbestos in the Navy. It was during this phase that I first heard the dreaded word “immunocompromised.”
2) My then fiancé shared with me his recent, life threatening battle with hospital-acquired MRSA infections after an operation. He required an additional eleven surgeries to survive.
3) I landed in the ER after taking an ordinary cold medicine that triggered a dangerous tachycardia. I had an arrhythmia that made ordinary cold medicine off limits and pregnancy high risk.
4) Our newly adopted daughter required emergency open heart surgery in Vietnam as a legacy effect of Agent Orange. When we brought her home, the word “immunocompromised” was part of our lives again.
Each story on it’s own is too long to tell here but I’ll sum the journey up by stating, never tell a wife, daughter or mother that a problem can’t be solved. I quickly learned that once you go down the rabbit hole of bio-hacking….you don’t come back out. It’s not a dark hole, but rather one filled with light, possibilities, healing and empowerment.
These events led me to start my company Buzzagogo and create a cold remedy that actually works called Cold Bee Gone. It’s a homeopathic, super honey based remedy that you swab in your nose to fight cold, flu and allergies. Within five years of creating it we were selling nationwide.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Early on we worried about how we were going to convince people to swab medicinal honey up their noses. It’s an odd concept and despite the public’s increasing appetite for natural products, I thought it might be a hard sell. After all, the gut biome was just becoming mainstream knowledge and I was talking about the nasal biome and boogers. Was it too weird? Apparently, I should not have worried. People just get it. They really understand and are eager to learn more. For example, a few years ago I sent free samples to the Red Sox after hearing the team was suffering from repeated bouts of illness early in the season. I addressed the box to one of the head massage therapists Russell Nua, because I felt he would be open to alternative medicine. Nothing came of it as summer rolled along until one night, at 1 AM, I got an email from this Mr. Nua asking for 25 bottles delivered to Fenway the next day. I woke my husband Jeffrey up and said, “Do you think this is real?” and he said, “ YES! He wants 25 bottles because there are 25 guys on the roster!”
I don’t think Jeffrey got much sleep that night and he enjoyed delivering the product the next day. Now, we are on our third year with the Red Sox and we are official Sponsors at Jet Blue Park, their Spring Training Facility. My father, a life long tortured fan, did live to see them win in 2004 and he would be so proud to see my Cold Bee Gone sign in the outfield today.
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?
All of the mistakes I made involved very large quantities of honey and resulted in a never-ending sticky situation. I would like to say my mad scientist phase was super cool and interesting, like walking through the Edison Museum Laboratory, but it was more like a Lucille Ball episode with a toddler, a cat and the ruination of three separate carpets. I’d rather not relive it.
My advice to entrepreneurs who have amazing recipes, balms, oils, remedies or anything is to get thee to a rental commercial kitchen. Most larger communities have them and you can rent them by the hour. It’s a wonderful resource for the clever “makers” and mad scientists of the world.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Many companies are searching for a niche or a new, unsolved problem, but Buzzagogo is trying to tackle a problem that isn’t unique at all. Everyone gets sick. Everyone has a nose. What makes my product stand out is the effectiveness. It’s made by a mom with real skin in the game because I know how it feels to worry about my own health and my loved ones’ health. It’s now an accepted concept that kids will catch one to two colds per month. What a miserable way to spend childhood, chasing immunity for a virus that has over 200 strains and is perpetually mutating. They say you can’t beat a cold and this is true. You will never gain immunity to all the strains, but why not fight back? That fight starts in the nose. Cold Bee Gone is the only nasal remedy that does not use saline, chemicals or alcohol, all of which can be detrimental to the nasal biome. Once that biome is destroyed you can become more susceptible to repeat bouts of illness. It targets the problem of allergies and seasonal illness from all angles in a thorough way and it’s one of the few remedies safe for the entire family over the age of one. In the beginning, when I was handing it out to friends and family, I would get the same startled reaction: “It really works!” Now, Cold Bee Gone may not work every single time, but when it does work it’s magic. I’ve made an actual dent in the misery of seasonal illness and it gives families one more tool in their arsenal of wellness.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Seasonal illness and allergies are just the tip of the mom worry iceberg. Stomach bugs, coughs, sore throats, cuts, scrapes, rashes and general boo boo’s are all problems that I am currently working on. Anything that has kept me up at night is a problem I want to solve for other people. Buzzagogo has several new partnerships in the works, including international placement. We have secured a deal with a national distributor; Cold Bee Gone will be launching with CVS Nationwide in April of 2019. It’s such an exciting trend to see mainstream retailers reaching out to the natural-minded consumers who are no longer just a small demographic of a particular age or type of person. From organic food to filtered water to chemical free cleaners, people are eager to return to the basic foundations of simple good health. Chemical-free and all-natural products are beginning to overtake traditional products as Millennials to Baby Boomers seek alternatives for all aspects of wellness.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
In the partnerships we have forged, it has been evident that people are only passionate about your company if they are allowed to contribute in a creative way. It’s a delicate balance to stay on-message and not be persuaded to veer off course while still allowing your partners and employees to have input in the direction of the company. Letting go of some control and trusting the team you have assembled is a major challenge but necessary for forward momentum. The moment I did that, I suddenly felt free to focus on the things I felt passionate about in the very beginning. In letting go of some of the burden, I reignited my own fire which I hadn’t even realized was getting snuffed by the responsibilities I had piled on myself. So assemble your team with care and let them in on the dreams you have for your company. If they care…your company will soar.
How do you define “Leadership”?
I’m a control freak by nature and this characteristic is why I refused to believe that the common cold is just a nasty reality we have to live with. I’m the kind of person who believes there is a solution for every problem if we just search hard enough. If you haven’t found the answer then you are not done searching. It’s important when building a team that they operate under this stubborn principal. I deeply respect people who have the same voracity that I have. Leading is letting go of the need to micro-manage and trusting the very capable team that you have carefully assembled. It’s knowing when to listen and when to shut up. It’s about being genuine, appreciative and generous. Honor your instincts as well as the instincts of the people you surround yourself with because they may very well be smarter than you. After all, that should be why you hired them to begin with!
What advice would you give to other CEOs about the best way to manage a large team?
Someday I hope to have an immense team of talented people. We’ll get back to you when that happens.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
When our company began to grow very early on, I reached out to the local Small Business Development Center in Nashua, New Hampshire (NHSBDC). They assigned me a mentor by the name of Hollis McGuire and over the years she has become one of my most valued team members. She has served roles from bolstering me when I felt like quitting to giving me a strong reality check when too many episodes of Shark Tank had gone to my head. Her guidance, connections and enthusiasm helped drive Buzzagogo forward through many rough patches. Small entrepreneurs have no idea of the sheer volume of expertise available! Hollis and the SBDC have taken me from a seedling to being in major retailers across the country. With every milestone, Hollis would steer us into the paths of professionals who would generously offer their time and expertise for whatever phase of growth we were in. When we were ready, she invited us to pitch to a group of local investors who were looking for female-led companies. This is how we secured the seed money that allowed us to take Cold Bee Gone to the next level. Imagine having someone dedicated to you for several years in this capacity as a truly selfless guide. The NHSBDC is the sherpa every small entrepreneur needs to get to the summit and it’s free. Imagine that―free!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I would like to believe that I am inspiring other people who are sitting on a great home remedy, recipe, invention or idea to make it a reality. It’s not just an American Dream, it’s a human dream. Even if you just did it in your spare time, it’s such a wonderful feeling to see it come to life and help others. I got a message from a mom up in Maine who said her little one had the best winter of his young little life because my remedy helped him stay well. Her son is immunocompromised and she lived in fear of every sniffle and cough. I know that feeling all too well. To think my product brought any measure of relief to her family fills me with gratitude and pushes me forward. It’s an honor to be a part of the natural health movement in any small way.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
First, you will want to quit all the time and you can’t. There’s no one to give notice to.
Second, entrepreneurship is like being in a volatile, passion filled relationship but you perpetually have to be your own therapist. It’s some of the best highs and some of the scariest lows but it’s all worth the risk.
Third, you truly are an expert on anything relating to your own company. You need to be confident and assertive and it does not matter that you don’t have an MBA. Push forward like the boss that you are and people will respect your confidence.
Fourth, it actually does take several years for all your seeds to take root. I had heard that it takes years but just like when people told me my kids would grow up fast, I didn’t believe it. Now, I have an eleven year old who wants to be an olympic Jedi knight and I want her back in her footie PJ’s. So while childhood zips by, growing a business takes an eternity. Doing them both at the same time creates a balance in the space-time continuum so I highly recommend it.
Fifth, running your own company is like being on a diet. It’s a long-term lifestyle change that requires support, new daily habits and the ability to be flexible when massive obstacles arise in your path. Otherwise you won’t be able to sustain your success and wind up eating an entire bag of Oreos.
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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could have a soapbox and the ear of the world for a moment I would share my theories on tribal health. I have many theories about how to stay well that I think would really serve people and families like mine. We can’t stop the speed at which our global community is growing. Unless you are willing to live on a small island, you will be exposed to far more human pathogens on a daily basis than what mother nature may have intended. Does this mean we are all doomed? No, certainly not. But as our exposure evolves so must our survival tactics. I want to empower people to know that getting sick is not that complicated and there IS something we can do about it beyond the standard advice of “wash your hands.”
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
This leads me to the one piece of advice I had tattooed on my brain when I was young. My father said to me again and again, in every situation, “It can’t hurt to ask.” I live by this. It helps that I simply don’t have the embarrassment gene that afflicts so many others but you do have to temper the practice with discernment. If you are excessively greedy or forward then it can backfire. Asking for what you need or what you want is an art and I have employed it time and again throughout my life with great success. Put your pride aside and ask for help. I asked for help from the NHSBDC and they were the wind beneath my wings. I asked the Red Sox players to stick honey up their noses and a hefty number of them said, “Okey Dokey!” (Can I take credit for the 2018 win? I think yes). I’ve walked into stores and asked them to consider my product and nine times out of ten they say yes. Some people might find this practice cringeworthy or difficult. I find that if you are genuine and approach people with an open heart then you will be received with enthusiasm. It can’t hurt to ask. It’s true…it really doesn’t hurt at all!
Some of the biggest 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 🙂
Now, I am a loyal New England bean, so I have long admired Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen. Their personal health and parenting efforts are remarkable and very centered on natural living. Their family is the picture of vitality and I would love to share my product and my mission with such influential people who are truly practicing what they preach. They are clearly doing something right in an honest and relatable way despite their immense fame and fortune. I admire Gisele tremendously as a mom and a brunch with the BradyBündch would be a dream. It takes guts to buck the system when you are such a high profile person and they do it bravely.