…there are countless studies that have proven that social support can make a difference when trying to lead a healthier and happier life. Whether you’re just getting into a healthy, active lifestyle or have been doing it for years, having an accountability partner is one of the most effective ways to sustain good nutrition habits and a healthy behavior.
As part of my series about health and wellness leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ibi Montesino. Ibi is the senior vice president and managing director for Herbalife Nutrition’s North America region. Montesino is responsible for all business, strategic, sales and marketing functions across the region, which includes the U.S., Canada, Jamaica and the Caribbean. In 2011, Poder Hispanic magazine included Montesino in the prestigious annual list of the “Nation’s 100 Most Influential Hispanics” in the U.S.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Ibi! What is your “backstory”?
My family originally migrated from Cuba when I was four years old. I grew up in Los Angeles, and received my Bachelor’s in Business Administration from National University.
I joined Herbalife Nutrition in 1998, and began my career as an assistant to the vice president of personal care training. After that, I became a global product marketing manager before joining the North America regional team.
From there, I went on to work in multiple capacities; first as manager of the West Coast and then was promoted to director, then senior director, and was then eventually promoted to vice president of sales and marketing for the U.S. Latin market.
Now, myself and my team of sales staff are responsible for supporting the Company’s network of wellness entrepreneurs. We provide them with the tools, responsible business practices, and education (via online webinars and in-person conferences and seminars) they need to build their skills and expertise in order to lead successful nutrition businesses, while also focusing on caring for and encouraging one another in their client’s health journeys and communities — we call this our “distributor difference.” I truly believe that this supportive aspect of our company culture has remained the center of the Company’s continued success for nearly 40 years.
Can you share the interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I believe that having migrated to the U.S., and growing up bilingual has opened the door for many opportunities. It certainly has helped lead me to the position I’m in today, working for an international company like Herbalife Nutrition.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
We’re continuously working on creating tools to support our Distributor’s businesses. Most currently, we’ve created an app for those who operate Nutrition Clubs, which are locations where customers are invited to enjoy good nutrition from a network of support. With this app, distributors will be able to keep track of their sales and team members, while continuing to support and educate customers in their individual wellness goals.
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 about that?
Tom Harms is another executive in the Company, and has been one of my mentors who has always been straight and honest with me. While there were times I didn’t always like his answer to a problem or concern I would raise; when I thought about it later, he was, for the most part, always right. Most times, people only say what they think people want to hear and I believe that is a disservice for the other person because if you really care about the person’s future and growth on your team or in the Company, it’s important to provide constructive cristisim, so they can learn from it. This is what Tom has always done for me anytime I have gone to him seeking advise or support. Having the honesty and tactfulness to provide true, constructive feedback to allow the opportunity for growth is something that I feel every leader should have for their staff.
Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that will help people feel great?
The top three lifestyle tweaks, or behavior management strategies, we teach our distributors as a part of their coaching methods include self-monitoring, stress reduction and social support.
Being aware of where you stand in your personal wellness and monitoring your behaviors where you feel you fall short is the first step to address what you’re currently doing “wrong,” and identify what you want to change. This can be done through physical activity logs, food diaries or by using the countless apps we have on our phones to record eating or fitness habits. The more self-aware you are, the more you’ll also be able to identify what triggers the negative behavior you want to correct, and in turn will help you change your environment (physical or mental) to encourage positive behaviors in your journey.
Secondly, we know that stress is a primary trigger for overeating, as well as multiple types of unhealthy behavior, which can affect your mental as well. Reducing your stress levels is a vital part of changing behaviors to promote successful wellness results. This can be done through deep breathing, exercise, or meditation — and has been proven to reduce distraction that can interview with adoption and maintaining new, healthy lifestyle behaviors.
Finally, there are countless studies that have proven that social support can make a difference when trying to lead a healthier and happier life. Whether you’re just getting into a healthy, active lifestyle or have been doing it for years, having an accountability partner is one of the most effective ways to sustain good nutrition habits and a healthy behavior.
Is there a particular book that made an impact on you? Can you share a story?
“The Art of Communicating” by Thich Nhat Hanh. Everything in life, from our personal relationships to our work relationships, involves communication and as easy as that sounds, it is sometimes the hardest thing to master. Communicating with empathy is so important in building great relationships and one of the most important parts of good communication is listening. I have learned through my career that if you take time to listen to others, allowing them to feel that what they’re saying matters and that you care, they’ll be happier, produce good work and go the extra mile.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I feel fortunate to be a part of a Company whose mission has always been to change people’s lives through improving better nutritional habits to people around the world.
Our purpose has never been more important or relevant than it is now — with the global obesity rates growing continuing at a rapid pace. More consumers, young and old, are looking to adopt better health and wellness solutions to avoid any nutrition-related diseases down the line. I couldn’t be prouder of our company and our amazing distributors who put in so much time and passion towards helping our customers along their individual wellness journeys.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I am eternally grateful for the women who have paved the way for other women in business, and I realize that I’m fortunate to be in the position I am in now as a female executive, because there’s still a huge disparity between men and women in leadership roles. Career mentorship, especially to other women in my team as well as women in the Latinx community, is something I hope to implement every day. One of the strengths we need to focus on as women in business is complimenting one another, instead of working against each other. I try to encourage the women on my team to have the self-esteem to advocate for themselves and others in the workplace, in order to keep working towards having more of us in those corner offices, C-Suites, and boardrooms.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- It’s not as easy as it looks. Ascending the corporate ladder is something that many people aspire to do, but often don’t realize all the challenges we’ll face until we get there.
- Always be nice, but firm. While it’s important to be nice and treat your colleagues with respect, that doesn’t mean that you won’t need to make tough decisions that are going to be seen as “not so nice,” like having to let go of someone. As a leader at the end of the day, your priorities should always be within the best interest of the organization and helping everyone succeed.
- Yes, as women, we do need to work harder to succeed and there’s room for all of us. As a female working your way up in a company, once we do finally reach leadership positions, the rules of how to engage and play are often held to different standards. We are not going to get anywhere by continuously pointing out the differences between men and women — the differences are clear. One of the strengths we need to focus on as women in business is complementing one another, instead of working against each other.
- Never change who you are — it’s what got you there. I’ve seen so many people rise to the top and when they get the position they have worked so hard for, they change how they interact with others thinking that this is what a “boss” needs to do.
- Breathe…. because things will eventually go wrong. Don’t get so down on yourself when you make mistakes and instead, try and learn from these instances.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“Through your daily interactions, always lead with kindness.”
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Readers can view other articles I’ve contributed to on www.MyHerbalifeNutriton.com and can also follow Herbalife Nutrition on Instagram: @herbalife and @herbalife24