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We interviewed JuE Wong, President at Elizabeth Arden, in our latest podcast. Wong shared important tips on managing your team, handling personal tragedy, and insight into how she raised a family while maintaining a fast paced, international career. Here are our favorite highlights:

On Good Management Advice.

When asking JuE what advice she wished she received when she was a first time manager, the most important lesson she learned was to actively groom a #2 that can support and grow alongside her in an organization.

She reinforces this lesson today be ensuring her 8 to 10 direct reports have a #2 that they feel confident can represent them in executive meetings, and can speak on behalf of that overall function. These #2’s are often invited to sit in on executive meetings and 1:1 meetings that JuE has with her direct reports.

JuE also advocates for giving your team a lot of leeway to succeed or fail on their own, but in the case of bad outcomes, always ensuring that you’ve put in place a safety net so that the entire team can fall and bounce-back together.

A memorable example for her was when she was a trader at Cargill. In this particular instance, she had a $200MM position in the market that she was very enthusiastic about. However, she was in over her head with that choice, and eventually was in a spot where she was set to face substantial financial losses for Cargill. But unbeknownst to her at the time, her boss had quietly taken an opposite position to limit the overall company losses.

This mitigated any lasting damage, while still giving JuE the chance to learn and fail on her own.

On Having an Owner’s Mindset.

Regardless of your role in a company, JuE advocates that you should always think in terms of a managing a P&L.

Even if you are in roles that don’t traditionally have a P&L (e.g. if you’re in PR or are an Office Assistant), you should think through what costs (time and money) are you incurring for the organization and what kind of ROI are you getting on those investments.

On Setting Targets.

Wong always had great respect for sales people in her organization. She only set targets which she herself could meet.

She would dedicate time every quarter to be on the sales floor trying to sell individual customers, was proud to hold the record at Strivectin for having the most sales per hour. This continued for her at Elizabeth Arden.

On Dealing with Personal Tragedy.

In 2009, JuE’s husband passed away from a heart attack a few weeks into her first stint as a CEO, where she was leading Astral Brands in Atlanta, Georgia.

She’s become very comfortable talking about this tragedy in her life as she feels that sharing the story will benefit others by showing how she handled the situation, and used it to fuel her life and career.
She reminds us all that we have choices — it’s up to us on how we view and move forward from situations, whether they be good or bad. This time in her life ended up being very pivotal for her career.

She believed the lessons she learned about how to work better with people as a result of this tragedy accelerated her career trajectory as CEO of Strivectin, and President at Elizabeth Arden.

Daniel: Today on Connections.

JuE: It became very apparent that I wasn’t going to let my husband’s passing be just an incident or an event in my life, that his legacy was going to continue, no matter what. And whether it’s through me or through the work that I’m doing, it was part and parcel of who I am. And that’s the one reason why I’m very willing to talk about it, not because it gives me the empathy or the sympathy, but rather because I do want people to know that, at the end of the day, you know, any tragedy, however horrific it can be, you’ve got to, like any failure, you’ve got to either let it help you be better and stronger so that the tragedy is not in vain, or it will eat you up. And you’ve got a choice, all of us have got choices, and we’ve got to decide for ourselves what is it that we want to do. And I generally believe that, you know, it’s not easy, it’s easier to talk about it than to do it. And I believe that this has happened to me for a reason because I can actually talk about it because I’ve done it.

Daniel: My name is Daniel Rodic, and I’m your host at Connections, brought to you by Exact Media. We created this podcast because we realized that a lot of people we spend time with in our day-to-day work, brand managers, marketers, those who are trying to rise quickly in their careers, could benefit from hearing the stories of the leaders they look up to in their industry.

In every episode, we cover the stories that you’ve never heard of: Where did they grow up? How did they get their first job? Or, their successes and failures in their career, and how do they recover from them? My hope is that you will take away some interesting tidbits and tactics that will help you accelerate your careers.

I don’t wanna spend too much time talking about us, but so you have context on how we’re involved in the industry, at Exact Media we work specifically with marketers to help them sample their products through the parcels of online retailers. For example, if you buy running shoes online, we might give you a sample of a healthy granola bar in that parcel. If that interests you at all, visit us at www.exactmedia.io.

Now, on to our guest. Today’s guest is JuE Wong, president at Elizabeth Arden. JuE grew up in Singapore, starting her career with Cargill in the fast moving world of commodity trading, and has since become an incredibly famous and successful turnaround executive in the beauty industry, leading brands such as Strivectin, Dr. Murad, and most recently, Elizabeth Arden, which sold to Revlon.

What I loved most about my conversation with JuE were the tactics and specific examples that she shared on how to be a great manager and leader. For example, the number one piece of advice she wishes she got when she was a first-time manager, was to ensure she was grooming a number two, someone who could fill in her shoes, and grow and develop along with her in the organization. It’s also clear to me that JuE has a very strong owner’s mindset, advocating that, to be a top performer, you should be always thinking in terms of P&L and budgets. That means meticulously tracking what you are spending your time and dollars on in the organization, and showing what ROI the company is getting from your efforts.

Similar to these past interviews, she also emphasizes the importance of humanity in managing others. After her husband passed away in 2009, her management style evolved dramatically to become a more people-oriented person, which she believes is one of the key drivers to her rapid growth in her career since that day.

So, without further ado, here is my interview with JuE Wong.

Again, thanks so much for taking the time to join our in conversation today. And I am curious, like, what are you up to at the moment right now? What are you excited about the year ahead for you?

JuE: Well, I think, you know, given the opportunities that now I have, I have an opportunity to reset and see, you know, what I would like to do. Obviously, the easiest thing to default to is to accept an offer that I have, that is to run a company and to be their CEO, backed by a private equity firm. That would be really exciting. But that’s the sure thing I know, though I’m trying to kind of figure out, can I stretch myself a little bit further. So, maybe in the next couple of weeks, I’ll be able to make that decision more concretely.

Daniel: And if you decided not to go that route, which is, kind of, your bread and butter, your specialty, what else, what other potential ideas have you explored?

JuE: Right. It would be basically joining a, you know, public company and meeting them, which is what I did at Arden, which was really one of the first time I’ve done it. I usually work with small, emerging, private equity brands. So I do like what I’ve done at Elizabeth Arden, the only thing is that I want to be sure that whatever my next move is, is not going to be as temporary, you know, where I really don’t want to look at just an exit, I want to [inaudible 00:05:16] growing a brand.

Daniel: Got it. I mean, maybe we can start there in terms of your, I guess, your approach. You’ve become this legendary turnaround executive within, specifically, the beauty space. But when you go into a company, an emerging company, in the situation where, you know, it’s gonna be turned around or you’re trying to grow it and sell it to an institutional investor, what is your first 90 days, your first, you know, few, I guess, quarters, look like when you’re approaching a new business?

JuE: Right. I mean, that’s a really good question. What I normally do is that, obviously, I look at three things. I look at the structure, meaning that, you know, what are some of the low hanging fruits in terms of the structure that I can really quickly make a difference? So be in gross margin, operations, as well as in distribution. Then I look at, as well, concurrently, the people, you know, where are the gaps in talent, and what talent do we already have that has not been fully exploited? And then, the final thing is to really look at our retail partners, you know, where are we strong with, you know, and where do we rank with our retail partners or with our professional partners? And if we are not in the top 10 or the top 5, why aren’t we, and what can we do to get there? Because it’s much better, as far as I’m concerned, to be an anchor player with your retailers than, you know, something that is smaller but in many doors. So I’d rather do the, you know, be more substantial, deeper, rather than wide, and so have no sticking power.

Daniel: Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, it’s very much like the Proctor & Gamble strategy, where they pretty much culled all brands that weren’t number one or number two in their category, and that’s kinda their play-to-win strategy, like, we’re gonna be number one, and if we’re not, then it’s not a business we’re gonna play in.

JuE: Right. And especially when, you know, whether it’s an emerging brand or an established brand, you always have your niche, and you always have that special leverage that you can truly be a better partner with your retailers, as well as in the distribution channel that you’re in. And what I find is that, if you’re methodical and thoughtful and mindful about that in your presentation to the retailers, especially in your first 90 days, they are all ears because they really believe in you and they really want you to do well. Plus, the fact that you are also golden during the first 90 days with your new employer, so whatever you say is gospel. And then, day 91, they may just decide to bring in a consultant, so you really need to get your act together in that first 90 days.

Daniel: You bring up a good point around talent as well and trying to, you know, not only see where there are gaps, but identify, I guess, talent that is being untapped or is not being used in the right way. When you start in a new organization, tactically, what are you doing in terms of meeting with people, talking to people? You know, what are the questions that you’re asking or the things that you’re looking at to identify who are these hidden eight players that are just not being utilized effectively?

JuE: Yeah, usually, what I do is I kinda gather all of my direct reports, and I basically tell them, you know, that this is kind of my usual thing, where I always say, “Look, none of you joined this organization, however long ago or however recent, with the thought that I’m going to be the worst employee of the company, or I’m gonna get fired, or I’m never gonna make my bonus.” I mean, none of them join a organization thinking that way. On the contrary, everyone joins an organization hoping and wanting to make a difference. And along the way, things they have gotten different for them. Maybe, you know, they got discouraged, they felt like, you know, things did not work out the way they thought. But I would tell them that this is the time for us to reset, because you have somebody who believes in you, you’ve got new leadership that truly wants to turn this thing around.

And given my background, that’s what I usually do. And my background is such that I don’t go in and change the entire team or bring my own team in, because, to me, that really means that you need a lot more time to get situated. And generally speaking, when somebody like me gets brought in, you don’t really have a lot of time. I mean, you are really given a very short time to make a difference. And that’s where I tell the team, “This is where we refocus, we harness the energy and the belief that you have of the brand, and let’s, together, you know, sort of take a stance and move forward decisively and knowing how we want to get that done.” Generally speaking, I will have a team that basically says, “Yes, I want to be behind you. I believe in that and I’m with you,” or you will have people sort of saying, “Look, you know, this is not my cup of tea,” and they will volunteer to exit the organization, which then makes it easier, you know, for all parties concerned.

So, with that said, usually I find that people will step up to the challenge, especially when you tell them that this is not about, you know, me as a new person coming in. It’s really about the brand. And that if all of us look at the brand bigger than ourselves, we will make a lot of headway, you know, instead of moving against any kind of headwinds before us.

Daniel: It sounds like it’s very much inspiring in the decision about, you know, we’re all gonna work on together. Tactically, what does that mean in your, let’s say, your first week or two? And if you’re having a one-on-one conversation that’s being delivered to, kind of, an all-hands meeting, how do you have that, you know, initial, like, “Hey, we’re gonna be all here together,” and how do you make sure that momentum is carried over your first 90 days, so that people…? I’ve been in situations where someone gives an inspiring speech or, you know, we try to do it at our company, but then it doesn’t…the next day everyone walks in and…yeah.

JuE: And then it stops there, yeah. I mean, the first thing I always do is that I will have…I will set up, really, a standing status meeting that is for the entire team. So I usually have about 8 to 10 direct reports, and so I will have an hour on a specific day where all of them are in the room. And they all get to share 15 minutes, you know, because it’s an hour, so it’s very focused, it’s very tight as to what is happening. And then, thereafter, I will have a half hour with each one of them on a one-on-one. And this one-on-one is not about me telling them what I expect of them, this one-on-one is about them telling me what they need me to do to help advance and accelerate whatever project they’re on or whatever ideas that they have. So it is pretty much about them. I would tell them, you know, this meeting, generally speaking, is always very task-driven, but, at the same time, it’s about what things are important to them and who on their team really needs help.

So, I find that when we make sure that something like this happens on a weekly basis, people tend to be a lot more communicative, because they know they have time with you. I don’t like to kind of say, “When you have something, then come to my office. I have an open door policy.” While I do have that, I feel like that is very difficult for people to kind of gauge what is important, what is not important. But when it’s a standing weekly, they know that, you know, that week they will have time with me. And because it’s half an hour, they also kind of do not, sort of, try to cover too much ground. They cover what is important to them.

And, really, I try not to miss anything. Even if, let’s say, I’m traveling, I still will call in. And I also make it a point that if I’m around and it is that group meeting, I do not want anyone to call in. I have them send in their number two so that there’s always a face-to-face and that the number two gets exposure to other people on the team and there’s aspiration to kind of move on up. So, all of this has a subtle way and a direct way of giving people exposure, both to leadership, you know, their peers, as well as the opportunity to voice very specific tactical plans that is with or against the strategy. So, you know, there is time to discuss that with very specific timing given to them, and access to leadership in the process.

Daniel: That’s great. I really like the way you’ve broken it down. And so, it sounds like it’s not just necessarily one-on-one, but your direct report is now bringing in their team as well in some of these conversations, so they get exposure?

JuE: Yes, so that they get exposure. And then, you know, it doesn’t become that it’s always the same group of people having meetings and having discussions. If you can’t be there…So, on some level, if you think about it, for my direct reports, they have the incentive to always be present, or they have to groom a number two that is strong enough to represent them at these meetings, right? The last thing you want is for somebody to come in your place that is a wallflower or have nothing to say or contradict you. So, you know, it gives my direct reports the impetus to train someone and to also come across that, if I really want face time, I have to be there physically. I cannot be the one calling in.

So these are the kind of things that, you know, instead of saying it’s mandatory, I made it in such a way that they have to make themselves available or they have to send somebody who is strong, and that it gives their number two a chance to shine. Because otherwise, what ends up happening, is that you hear from the same people all the time, so you’re talking to yourself.

Daniel: Yeah. It’s a very interesting way to…you’re simultaneously kind of bringing the diversity of ideas, but also deepening your bench of talent where it’s kind of accomplishing two, three things, which is kind of a simple choice to, you know, groom a number two and make sure they can be you or grow into you, and fill your shoes when you’re not there.

JuE: Right. And I hope that, as that continues, what happens is that the number two then sees how their, you know, their leaders, or at least people whom they aspire to become, the directors or the VPs, how they behave, how they interact. That gives them a sense of, you know, sort of a plan, or even to learn by example.

So those are kind of things that I think it’s very difficult to teach. I mean, you can send someone to a class or a seminar, but it’s never quite the same when you are hands-on and rolling up your sleeves and making things happen for yourself. So, I truly believe in that. I believe that, you know, at the end of the day, the best way to learn is to do it. And then, you know, the better way to learn is actually to fail at something, because you never quite remember your successes, you always remember your failures.

Daniel: Mm-hmm. You bring up an interesting question of something I was planning to get to later, but maybe we can tackle now. As you think through, you know, maybe your early career, whether it’s at Cargill or at Pepsi, is there any memorable failures that eventually, looking back, ended up setting you up for success later on? Like, any experience where you learned some particularly tough lessons at, like, “Oh, I’m never gonna do that again,” and how it helped you in the long-term?

JuE: Oh, absolutely. I mean, when I was in Cargill, in trading, as you know, trading, you’re always…you know, you’re taught very early on. And it’s something you learn, but whether you put into practice is a whole different animal, is that never fall in love with your position and never think you can pick the high and pick the low. And I remember very early on in my career, I had a \$200 million trading position that I was very adamant that, you know, I had all of the data points right, I knew what the physical situation was going to be with a crop, in this case it was sugar, and I knew who the buyers out there were short of in the futures market. I felt like I did all the analysis with my team, as well as the analyst that was behind us in Minneapolis at that time. And I was so convinced on my position that I was ignoring a lot of other signals that were happening in the market.

My boss was actually really good. He knew that I was really going down a rabbit hole, but he never did anything. He kind of let me through the process and let me go through that process myself. And finally, when I decided that something wasn’t right, you know, the market was not really moving in the way that I anticipated, and we really had to start closing our books, especially there are certain positions you cannot hold on for it for too long, and that’s why I decided to unwind my position. I did make a loss, but luckily for me, my boss was pre-hedging himself against my position, unbeknownst to me, because he knew that, somehow, you know, this was going to happen, I believed.

And so, when the whole thing kind of came through, I learned two things. I learned that the mantra that the company has told us, “Do not fall in love with your position,” there’s a reason behind it, and you cannot just hear it, you’ve got to practice it. And the second thing I learned from what my boss did for me was that you always allow your people to really stretch themselves, but, at the end of the day, you’ve got to create a net for them, should they fall. Because that is not the time to blame, that is the time to teach. And I think I learned so much, both leadership-wise as well as how to make sure that I don’t, you know, end up being in trouble. That has taken me very, very far in terms of my people relationships.

And I think through today, I practice that. I will always tell my team, “Look, I want you to push yourself to the limit, and I just want you to know that if you fail, you just have to understand this. Good news travels fast but bad news have to travel faster, so that I can see if I can help you. But, at the end of the day, I will try to create a net for you so that, when you do fall, you’re not gonna hit the ground. We are all gonna bounce up together.” So those are the kind of things that I believe that if I can really put them into practice and show my team, because I have been shown that, then it would take us very far down the road. And I think it gives people comfort to know that failures are not, you know, not tolerated, that failures have to be learned. I mean, it’s the classic thing, right, don’t make the same mistake twice, that’s all I ask of them.

Daniel: Makes sense. And so, you started at Cargill in trading.

JuE: Correct.

Daniel: And then, how did that lead for you to get a job at Pepsi?

JuE: Well, what happened was Pepsi, believe it or not, as a company, was buying, as you know, carbonated soft drinks; majority of it is water, carbonation and sugar. And sugar wasn’t something that they were buying at a commodity level, they were buying on a wholesale level across the world. And it became very clear to them that there was a lot of opportunity for them to seek economies of scale if they could bring in a commodities trader like myself to help balance not only foreign exchange for them in markets that do not have a sophisticated banking structures, so, like, Indo-China, China, Russia in those days, as well as Thailand, when it was all pat to the dollar. So, they recruited me to really help manage that whole aspect of their business, as well as hedging their sugar purchases that they were buying across the world.

And from there, I was, you know, with the outcry of…with the magnitude of the business, even though I was managing a \$2.5 billion portfolio by the time I left Cargill…because I wasn’t only doing sugar at that time, I was doing crude oil as well as foreign exchange. So, going into PepsiCo was going back to my first commodity, which was really sugar. And then, I also kind of helped balance foreign exchange for them that related to a lot of stuffed commodities, as we call it. So instead of repatriating funds from a market…I mean, I’ll give you an example. Like, in China, you just cannot take your renminbi that you have sold your soft drinks in and go to a bank and exchange it for US dollars. That’s just no such thing. So you’ve got to take the renminbi and buy commodities in the market, export it, get dollars for it, and then repatriate that back to the US for marketing expenses within the global organization or back into certain key markets. So, I did that for them for a while and found that it was very interesting, because I’ve never thought that big companies like Pepsi and the Kellogg’s and the General Mills of the world, were not hedging their commodities purchases.

Daniel: Yeah, I mean, it’s a huge wasted opportunity, because I feel like…especially one buying at wholesale and then, too, not controlling for the foreign exchange risk.

JuE: But today, you know, today is no such day. I mean, today that’s what they all do, which is a good thing because, otherwise, you know, their investors are not going to be too supportive of where their money goes or where their investments are.

Daniel: One thing I also noticed as well, which I find is either rare or common for people who have kind of become and progressed to become CEO or CMO of some major organization, in your case, starting almost from day one, your career became very international. It looks like you started in Singapore, but then very quickly jumped to Hong Kong, London, New York, once you got in to Pepsi. What were the stories that led to you jumping around? What necessitated that you had to go to all these different places?

JuE: I think I was just being very flexible. I knew that there were a couple of things that I could be differentiated, so to speak. So I basically told Cargill, whom I was working, who gave me a lot of opportunities to go from…you know, I started in Singapore with them and then was an expatriate with them in Hong Kong, London and then Geneva, and then in Thailand. And the reason why I did that was I knew that a lot of my contemporaries were not that willing to be relocated, so if I felt like I could be that, that differentiator could help me, I really wanted to make that clear to them that I was flexible. So that was something that it was very conscious on my part to make it known to them that that was where I was leaning.

And then the other thing is that, when I was in those markets, I was also very clear to my superiors, or to my peers, that, look, you know, if there’s anything that you want me to kind of look into, I would be more than willing to. So just being accessible, being available, and learning the culture and understanding what it takes to kind of advance both yourself as well as the people around you, does give you a voice and a value to the company. And then, so, when they are thinking of people being, you know, representing the company in another foreign market, you then kind of become a natural go-to choice.

And so, you know, with that said, it has been very fortunate. Obviously, I was very fortunate, too, to have, you know, a spouse that was willing to work that kind of a transition with me. You know, I would get a job in one market, he would try to do the same, and then vice versa. And obviously, with kids along the way, those are all the balancing acts that you have to do. But I have to say, to do this, you’ve got to have a partner that really supports you. Otherwise, it can be very difficult for the family and for yourself.

Daniel: How did you…especially because you guys, your family, you had been starting your family around the time you were at Cargill. So in those early days when your kids were born, what was the schedule like? And how did you manage, you know, spending time with family but also being a pretty demanding job in trading, especially a job where you really need to be almost always on? Because when the market moves, like, you have to be there to respond, it’s not something where you can sit back and be passive.

JuE: No, I think, absolutely right. And I think that was where I was very aware, very early on, that I just started a family really early, or I would never have children. So when I was in Singapore and then got transferred to Hong Kong, that was where I realized that even though I was an expatriate, I had help, you know, housing was paid for, there was a lot of perks, and that if the kids wanted to go to school…I mean, I had no idea how long I would be in any one location, but I knew that, for the next several years, that was how Cargill was going to work with me because they have asked me already, “Are you willing to, kind of, keep getting relocated,” and I said, “Yes.” So I knew that if I had kids early on and during the formative years, I would be able to have outside help, you know, domestic help, as well as the ability to pay for school through the company. So that became a very conscious effort on both my husband’s and my part to do just that, because he was also an expatriate. So with the two of us, we were able to really give both the kids and the family that kind of leg-up, and still be able to give the company 100% of ourselves.

Daniel: Makes sense. And when you think about your other peers at the company, beyond, you know…you talked about flexibility, and then obviously, there’s technical competency of doing your specific function well. What other traits did you notice that separated yourself and others as top performers, relative to other people at the company?

JuE: I think as traders go, we were all very much, you know, trying to compete with one another into how quickly we can deliver the P&L. I mean, you know, the thing about trading is you’re only as good as your last trade. So, as traders go, I think we were very aware of the commodities or the products that we were trading, or the financial instruments we were in. Where I think I was different was I gravitated to financial instruments like crude oil and forex, which were very fast moving. So I started in soft commodities like sugar that I still needed to hedge to foreign currency, because we were also trading in the Paris exchange as well as the Tokyo exchange. So I needed to hatch both my yen and my French francs at that time.

So because of my…I wouldn’t say foresight, but because I was willing to kind of take on a lot more, I was able to kind of showcase the fact that I was able to multitask and that I had that flexibility. And I was very aware, too, because I graduated with, you know, in political science and international economics, that people tend to look at me and sort of say, “You really don’t have a financial background,” so I tend to push myself a lot more in those financial instruments to prove that, look, even though I don’t have that, I understand the market enough to be really effective.

But, also, a lot of my peers, I think, were trading a lot in dollars. Some of them were not doing anything in futures market, they were still [inaudible 00:27:58] the construction market was just very strong in certain developing countries, so they were in that kind of space. Others were doing rubber or palm oil. There was very much focus in the Asian markets, so their time was such that they were more awake during the Asian market, even though there were certain trading that was done in the US, I mean, sorry, in the international.

But I just kind of put myself out there and sort of said, “Look, it’s either I can do this and I can spend four hours sleeping,” you know, or…because this is my chance. And I think I’ve always been that way. And that’s what I tell my kids and I tell people that I mentor, that you don’t keep telling yourself, “Oh, when I get to this level, I will change and I will be different.” If you look at your own DNA, chances are you have certain traits in yourself that, whether you want to or you don’t want to admit, it has carried you through your life, and it’s either been very helpful or it has hurt you. And if it’s hurting you, then you need to make a conscientious effort to really address that. And if it’s helping you, you amplify it, you know, use it to your full advantage.

So I’ll give you a good example. Some people kind of say that being aggressive is really a, you know, a double-edged sword, and I agree 100%. You don’t want to be so aggressive that you become abrasive, but you want to be aggressive enough to be assertive. And that is a very fine line for leadership to understand, because you tend to get abrasive when things go wrong, even though you think you’re being aggressive. And then you can…chances are you’ll be more assertive when things are not as bad and you kind of apply yourself. So you really need to be very self-aware, that you need to know. And you need really need to put yourself in other people’s shoes, even in the worst of times, because that is where true leadership really, you know, step up. So with that said, I hope I answered your question. You know, just making sure you amplify your positive traits and address your negative traits, because you can never eradicate it, you can just kind of keep it under control.

Daniel: Well, you’re leading in, kind of, the next topic that I wanted to talk about. It was more about, I mean, when you’re becoming…it sounds like around this time as well, especially when you moved to Pepsi, that you probably would have been managing a team, a group of people for the first time. So when you think back to, kind of, your first experience where you had someone reporting to you, you know, what advice do you wish you received back then as a manager that you think first time managers should be thinking about?

JuE: I think one of the first thing, and even senior managers today have the same challenges, is learn to trust and identify a strong number two. Learn to groom someone in such a way that they have your back and they want you to be successful, and that you want them to be successful. Don’t try to do everything yourself, because, if you did that, all you are doing is…You are only as good as who you are, you are never going to be as good as what you can be, because someone who is with you is going to make you a stronger leader than you standing alone, trying to do everything on your own.

And that was something I learned, you know, very quickly, when I was both in PepsiCo and Cargill, because you can only have so many ideas on your own, especially when you are doing foreign currency balancing, because we had carte blanche, right, at Pepsi. I don’t have to use the money to buy only sugar or shrimps or soybean meal, I can be buying ceramics. I can be buying rubies. I mean, we were buying unpolished rubies in Burma at that time. The question is, how do you know whether the rubies are Grade A, Grade B, Grade C? You need to then trust someone who is a gemologist who can help you. But in order to identify a good expert in that field, you need your number two or someone else in the organization to direct you, because you can’t do your due diligence in all of this.

So I think delegating, respecting people, finding a strong number two, grooming that number two, allowing yourself to admit that you don’t know everything and it’s okay, are all the traits that you need to learn very early on, as well as when you continue to become a seasoned leader. Because as you move on up, there are other people who also want your job. And some people tend to think that, do I put myself out of a job by grooming a number two? It never happens, because unless you think that you can never learn any more, you never put yourself out of a job, because as you get better, you move on up. And there will come a time where, you know, you may want to retire or you feel like, “This is it,” but then you still help other people along the way. So I feel that, you know, as you get more progressive in your career, you tend to have a bigger viewpoint as to what you can do well and do good at the same time.

Daniel: And when you think about the opposite of the question then, is there any advice you’ve heard, you know, repeated often, but it’s really bad advice about managing others? Whether it’s, you know, things people say or clichés or books you’ve read, is there anything that you’ve heard and tried and realized that it’s not very helpful?

JuE: Yeah. I mean, I think one of the worst advice I’ve ever gotten was that, “Oh, you know, don’t worry about not having a P&L,” you know, just kind of go with the flow on things. And to me, even if you don’t have a P&L, you always have a budget. Manage your budget well. Even if you’re in marketing or you’re in PR, you know, you’re in fields that don’t have a real P&L reporting directly back to the company, you still have a budget to kind of…you have an obligation to show how well you are budgeting and what your return on that investment, on that spend is. And I think, you know, early on, in fact, not early on, kind of in my mid-career, somebody kind of said, “Why don’t you, you know, focus more on marketing, because you seem to have a talent for that,” and I’m like, “No, I’m never gonna walk away from a P&L.” I said, “The day I don’t have a P&L is the day that, you know, I believe that I’ve taken a backseat in my own career.”

So, yes. I mean, I always advise people that, don’t think of yourself as a non-P&L person, you will always be managing investment and returns. And ask yourself, how do you best do it? Even if you’re a office manager, you still take care of administration expenses. How do you manage that, and show, you know, the company that you are able to make that the best that you can be and the best returns you can have for the organization.

Daniel: [Inaudible 00:34:57] pretty much that owner mindset, and instilling whether you actually have shares or options in the company, it’s just making sure you’re thinking about how do I save a dollar here, you know, make an extra percentage return, whatever that means for your role, and that’s really what proves your value to an organization.

JuE: Absolutely, yes.

Daniel: And then, so when you left Pepsi, it sounds like there’s…I was reading somewhere that between some of your roles, and my guess is between Pepsi and Dial, you were doing consulting through your own firm. What’s the story? I couldn’t find a lot about it, I’m curious to know more.

JuE: Yeah, what happened was, I relocated to the US. Even though I was married to an American, we’d never really, sort of, applied for a green card the time I was married in Asia, primarily because when you apply for a green card, you can’t travel to the US for two years. So that was never an option. I mean, I was always working for US companies so we didn’t want to do that. But then, what happened was, when I came to the US, I had to apply for a green card and, during that two-year period, I really could not work for anyone, because I wasn’t gonna go on a H1B1 visa and delay my green card application. So while I was getting my green card, I was working for myself and doing a lot of what I call consulting work, and that was how I landed my job with the Dial Corporation, because I was working for the Arizona World Trade Center. I was consulting for them in bringing investment into Arizona, and the Dial Corporation was interested in expanding into Latin America, and that’s how they got in touch with me.

Daniel: It sounded like you kinda had to beat down the door at Dial as well. At least one story I was reading was [inaudible 00:36:37] for your clients.

JuE: Yeah, I mean, it was very interesting because I actually…So, I went directly to them, but then they did not have anything. In fact, the first interview that was scheduled for me was the date they announced restructuring the entire organization, and people were actually given pink slips, leaving the organization, so my interview never happened. And I kept, you know, writing to the senior vice president of international at that time, because I felt like international was something that I could truly be more added value to an organization like Dial, who was looking to expand outside of the US.

And after, you know, several persistent calls and emails, nothing much ever happened. So I told myself, “Look, let’s just try and find an alternative,” and the alternative was through the Arizona World Trade Center that was already a, you know, sort of, looking at Dial as a client. And around about the same time, Dial also acquired Freeman Cosmetics, which was a private, small, little company that had a lot of distribution in international, albeit very, very small. And so, that was the right moment for me. And they called me, and, basically, the opening line to the email from the senior vice president was, “Your persistence paid off.” And that was something that, you know, it took me almost, I think, a year, just trying to get a hold of them and getting them to even give me a chance to speak with them.

Daniel: Wow. That’s quite a lot of fence to chip away at.

JuE: Yeah. The reason why I chose Dial was also because that was the only international company in Arizona. There was no one else. And they were headquartered in Scottsdale, in Arizona. So I told myself, if I didn’t work for them, I don’t know who else I could work for, so…

Daniel: Yeah, makes sense. And given all your…at this point you were settled, but it sounded like you still had to do a lot of travel and, obviously, after that, you located yourself in lots of different places. When you move to a new city or a new place, you know, what are some of the things that you do to get yourself set up, and set up your life there?

JuE: What I really do, and I have to tell you, when I know what I’m going to somewhere, what I do is I actually get the people that I know are ready…So I’ll give you a good example. When I was in LA moving on to New York, I basically got anybody that I know in LA that I trusted, and asked them, “Who should I get to meet when I’m in New York?” even though I know I’m joining a company and I would have corporate people that I can lean in with and talk to. And they would give me names, and then I’ll make sure I reach out to these people. And generally, when I reach out to them, I don’t have to say, “Look, I’m here, I’ve been referred to you by somebody. I would like to meet with you.” I always start by finding out who this person is and kind of say, “Look, I think I can be helpful to you in this area.”

And I’ll give you a specific example. I was referred to the founding president of the Fragrance Foundation, Annette Green, from one of my ex-bosses who used to work with me at Murad. And when she introduced me to Annette, because I was coming to New York, I didn’t just go to Annette and say, “Oh, you know, Sally Yates introduced me. I would like to meet with you.” Instead, I found out a little bit about her, and I realized that she was very interested to move the Fragrance Foundation, the museum, to LA. So I then started talking to, obviously, my ex-boss, who was already in LA, who knows her very well, who knows a lot of people, to kind of say, “Do you have any idea that…who could she be speaking with if she braces with me?” She gave me a few names. So when I initiated contact with Annette Green, I basically told her, “I think I have a couple of names of people who might be interested in looking at the Fragrance Foundation Museum in LA. You know, I think that if we meet, it will be really interesting for you and for me. I know I would love to learn more about you as a person, because of your legacy and your iconic, you know, nature in this beauty business.”

And before I know it, the meeting happened really quickly. She referred me to other people, and to today, she is a mentor. And I have to say, you know, anyone who’s anyone in the beauty business, if I mention her, they think she’s God. And so, I was very fortunate to have met God, you know, early on in New York, so the rest is history, as they say, yeah.

Daniel: I think this is a very, very powerful point. I think that a lot of people struggle with networking or meeting new people, and they try to think about…they go, what is it, you know, how can I be helpful to them, how can I add value to them. But I think you should…it’s not always what can you personally offer, but who do you know, who can you introduce them to, that might be helpful to them? And maybe if you can’t offer that direct value today, you can, you know, help them access other people that could be helpful and solve their problems. And then, down the line, if you can work together, great. If not, it’s still a great way to start that relationship.

JuE: Yeah, I mean, it’s always what’s in it for them, right, because these people are so used to so many people reaching out to them, asking them for help. It will be very difficult. I mean, to her, I’m just another person asking her to do something for me. So if you can, I mean obviously, granted, not everyone can do something for someone, but if you can, then, you know, by all means, do so. And especially, think about, even a very junior person, if they’re working in a company that needs high-caliber advice, they could think of…and if they’re introduced to someone who’s fairly, you know, prominent, they could then tell their company, “Would you like this person to sit on our advisory board,” you know, going to your supervisor and asking, even asking that question. And imagine, if you go to this person before you get…you know, before you sit down with them and say, “Oh, there may be an opportunity for you to speak on my company’s advisory board. I can introduce you to my CEO,” I think that conversation would be a whole different dynamic, versus you just saying, “May I have coffee with you?”

Daniel: “Can I buy you a coffee,” but I can afford the coffee, so that’s not of value to me.

JuE: Yeah.

Daniel: That makes sense. And so, I guess, is that the pattern? And when you think about other mentors that have helped you along your career, is that the way you’ve normally met and gotten to know them?

JuE: Yeah, in many ways, yes. I mean, granted, there are times where I really don’t…and a good example is, you know, getting introduced to Rose Marie Bravo, the former CEO at Burberry. I mean, I got introduced to her primarily through Annette Green. And the reason why I got introduced to her was that when I accepted the job, it was just a newly created position for me at Elizabeth Arden, it was a turnaround situation. And I remember, in my entire career, when I was reading about Rose Marie Bravo and how she turned around Burberry in a very short time. Plus, the fact was, you know, Burberry was a much more difficult brand to turn around because it was fashion, it was not…you know, there’s no real loyalty to anything. It was really seen as a dodgy brand before she did and made, you know, the brand relevant again.

So, when I reached out to my mentor Annette and sort of said, “I really would like to talk to Rose Marie, not to be a nuisance, but really to try to understand from her what she did.” And because the referral came from Annette, she was very willing to talk to me. And so, you know, she picked up the phone, called me a few times and, before I know it, I felt like I made the right decision, joining Arden.

Daniel: That makes a lot of sense. And so, we were talking about your move to Arizona and how you got to Dial. And then, you know, very soon after that, you had a number of different, more senior roles, but eventually you became CEO for the first time at Astral. What’s the story of how you made that jump in your career?

JuE: Well, again that was a referral from one of the people that I worked with at Murad. And again, you know, it’s about leaving an imprint on someone. So what happened at Murad, I remember very clearly. It was a company that was just emerging in the dermatology, you know, the doctor brand, the cosmeceutical category. And there was a coworker of mine who was very much into the direct-to-consumer space. I truly believe in that. I mean, you were talking about, in 2002, where infomercial and, you know, home shopping, selling, these were all seen as almost disreputable channels of sales, and e-commerce was just emerging as a channel. I really saw the channel as truly explosive, and I’ve really partnered with this colleague of mine, and so I would say, “I really believe in you. Let’s see what we can do by taking this same concept into international,” because in the US there was just a lot of baggage. But in international, in Japan and in Korea, people are home shopping, there was less baggage. Germany, there was no baggage. London, you know, UK, there was no baggage.

So I started taking that channel and setting up e-commerce sites for our distributor, selling the Murad products in those markets. And she saw how I really believe in her, and because I believe in her so much, I was able to grow international. Going international meant that her channel was getting prominence by the Murad management. So she always remember what I did for her and with her. And when somebody called her for a referral for this opportunity, and it was a CEO position in Atlanta, Georgia – I was in New York – obviously, a lot of people didn’t want to relocate, that’s where my flexibility came in. When I saw that it was a CEO opportunity for, like, a \$90 million company, I knew that I could do it because it was three different brands in three different channels. And I thought it was very interesting.

And, you know, this was really crazy because my husband just had his first heart attack in March. And I accepted this offer to relocate in June, and I relocated at the end of August, you know, after everything was said and done. So if you think about it, it was a life-changing decision because, you know, having that situation with my husband, but, at the same time, I could not have done this if he wasn’t supportive of it. So, that period was really what I call, you know, an inflection point for me, both personally and professionally. And that was pivotal for me because, from then, from Astral Health and Beauty, my career has really accelerated, really fast, as a result of what I did for that brand in a very, sort of, in a multi-channel way, because there was three different brands and three different channels, and there were economies of scale. So I learned so much from that. I applied so much of my hypothesis and academic knowledge and make it work, that going on to my second CEO job at Strivectin made it so much easier and made me…I had a lot more confidence in making sure that I could deliver.

Daniel: Taking a pause on your start at Astral, you mentioned it was a very difficult time, and the part that I…the kind of question that I always think about as well is when you deal with personal tragedy like you did. How do you decide how you interact with your team? You know, on one side, it’s good to be open and sharing the things you’re going through, but on the other side, sometimes you wanna keep it in and keep it to yourself, because you don’t want your stress to spill over with your team. Can you tell a bit more about what that August-September time was like for you?

JuE: Yeah, I think that’s a definitely a very good question. I mean, it was, you know, it was three weeks into our relocation when he had his second heart attack. And at that time, nobody told me. I mean, all my doctor told me, after the fact, that usually the second heart attack will happen very early in the morning, and that you really need to know how to…learn, you know, how to do CPR. So those two things, after the fact, wasn’t really helpful for me. But how I dealt with it was that, while I did not talk about it personally to my team, my team obviously is aware of it. I then also got the company very much involved with the American Heart Association as a cause for the brand. And generally speaking, the CEO has, sort of, some leeway in deciding where you want to, kind of, if you were going to do any kind of charity giving, what cause you want to, because you’re gonna spend a lot of time supporting it. So through that, I think the team saw how passionate I was and how hands-on I was.

And, plus, the fact was, I actually cold-called the American Heart Association in Texas and just sort of said, “Look, this just happened to me. I want to do something. What can we do as a company?” And we were a very small company still at that time, so by getting the company involved without even sharing with them what was happening to me, they knew this was personal. And they all supported me in their own way by showing me that they will get behind the cause.

And with that said, the proof of the pudding was in the eating, because in that first year I was with the organization, the American Heart asked me to chair the “Go Red For Women” luncheon in Atlanta. And I don’t know anyone in Atlanta, because how are you gonna raise money when you have no support team? So, I went to all my other people that I knew from outside of Atlanta, and they all supported me and pledged multi-year support for the cause. And that kind of gave me the courage to continue doing what I did, or continue doing what I do, and without ever having to share with my team what happened to me.

It became very apparent that I wasn’t going to let my husband’s passing be just an incident or an event in my life, that his legacy was going to continue, no matter what. And whether it’s through me or through the work that I’m doing, it was part and parcel of who I am. And that’s the one reason why I’m very willing to talk about it, not because it gives me the empathy or the sympathy, but rather because I do want people to know that, at the end of the day, you know, any tragedy, however horrific it can be, you’ve got to, like any failure, you’ve got to either let it help you be better and stronger, so that the tragedy is not in vain, or it will eat you up. And you’ve got a choice, all of us have got choices, and we’ve got to decide for ourselves what is it that we want to do. And I generally believe that, you know, it’s not easy. It’s easier to talk about it than to do it. And I believe that this has happened to me for a reason, because I can actually talk about it because I’ve done it.

Daniel: As I’m sure with everything I’ve read about your career since then, you just mentioned now it was really a pivotal moment career-wise for you. What were some of the changes that, looking back, that you’ve noticed in yourself since then, that ended up helping you move faster and, you know, progress your career much more rapidly since that moment?

JuE: I think I’ve become a lot more, you know, as a people person. I mean, like any leadership position, it’s not just the competency of what you do. Most people at a certain level, you know, whether you’re on the mid-market or startups or heritage or more established markets, you tend to have certain…you’re equipped with certain skill sets and certain experiences. What differentiates you is the kind of leader that you are. And I think I took the path, I chose the path of being more, you know, having more empathy and being more empathetic. Because prior to that, I was basically, I believed, at least to myself, that I needed to be very hardcore. I needed to be very, you know, emotionally detached, and that everything that I do needs to be very much about black and white. And there’s no shades of gray. And I tend to be…while I never voiced it, I’m sure my body language, you know, showed it, is that when anyone asked for time to be with their family, to do something, in the back of my mind I was thinking, “Why do you need to do that? Don’t you have a spouse? Or, don’t you have someone that can, you know, relieve you of that?” And it never occurred to me that, you know, children need those times. I mean, it’s not as if like there is a substitute to be a parent.

So with that said, I became a lot more empathetic. I was more a leader that tends to listen more rather than talk a lot more, because, at the end of the day, people will listen to you because you have the position, but whether they follow you is a whole different animal. So, no point talking and no one really listens, you know, and take it in. So, I think I learned that a lot.

And then, I truly…I mean, obviously, it’s one thing to say something but you have to be authentic about it. You’ve got to really believe in it. And I’ve made it a mission of myself to kind of say, “Look, what can I do to make sure that I promote at least one or two people who are working with me within any organization, and make sure they see their own self-worth, and that they can move on up and believe in themselves?” And not everyone is going to want that from me, but those who do, I find that, you know, they don’t become my friends. I mean, most of them, you know, I don’t keep in touch with, but I think what has happened is that they believe in themselves so much more. And periodically, I do get emails from them, or when I run into them they will tell me that was a time where they felt…they really believed, you know, that their career could be more than what it was, or what it is.

So, with that said, I feel I’ve done my part. I will continue to do so because there are so many people out there who are really good, but may have doubts and self-doubts, only because nobody ever tells them what they can do in their next step. I mean, telling someone that they’re good is easy enough, but offering them a little bit of a road map as to what that next step could be, could be very instrumental.

Daniel: I think it’s a really powerful point, is…and I find, I’m sure you go through these periods yourself. There are periods when you’re not performing well and you have a lot of negative self-talk in your mind, where, you know, like, “Oh, so stupid, I did this,” or like, “I’m not very good at this, because I’m beating my head against the wall and then there are no results.” So, when you break down that road map, I don’t know if you have an example of it, but how do you change that negative self-talk that someone has in their head and make them kind of discard and believe in themselves again? Because I think that’s, like, a really powerful skill to have as a leader, but it’s really…it’s actually hard to do. Like, tactically, it’s hard to convince someone of that if they’re really down on themselves.

JuE: Yeah. I think, first of all, you know, usually, people who are down on themselves are usually also very hard on themselves, and there’s always some success behind them. I mean, even if somebody is very new with me, I will have gotten some background information about them because, generally speaking, they’re my direct reports. And I would have known, you know, some of the successes under the belt, things that they have done that were truly over and above and beyond their call of duty. And I tend to bring those successes up to them first so that they understand that I’m not just giving them a pep talk. It’s like saying, “Thank you,” to someone. I mean, if you just say “Thank you” generically, or you just say, you know, anything to anyone without any kind of back up, people don’t take that as seriously as they would if you kind of give them a very specific example.

So I’ll give you a very specific example in this case. I had my senior vice president of marketing. She came to me one day, and she’s a very strong woman. I mean, I would say, you know, one of the strongest that I have ever saw. Emotionally very, very controlled. I wouldn’t say guarded, but has very good self-control. She started telling me something, and then she started weeping, and her whole thing was, “I cannot believe, after five years here, I feel I have not moved the brand in the right direction.” And I didn’t stop her, I let her continue, because I knew that she needed to get that off her chest. And then, when she was done, I told her, “Look, five years, you say you’ve done nothing. But look at where the brand is, you know, has come so far. Maybe materially, you know, in terms of revenue-wise, you may not be happy where you are, but definitely, the needle is being moved.” I kind of ended it at that because she was already embarrassed that, you know, she kind of had this emotional outburst in front of me. She left my office, it was a Friday, and, that weekend, I waited for Saturday to go. And then on Sunday I wrote her an email, and my email title to her was, “Thank you for showing me your emotional strength,” and I told her it took courage to show this much emotion, because you truly believe in the brand this much. And that’s all I said, “You are your own best asset, and never doubt that.” And she came back and she said, “I cannot believe you actually think that I did the right thing by crying in front of you.” I said, “Look, all those things that says ‘Don’t cry at work,’ I’ve done it, and look where I am. If I can be where I am today, you can be further along.” So, I think when you are authentic that way and you show them real, specific examples, people will take it to heart, and it can be very powerful in getting your team and that person to that next level.

Daniel: That’s amazing, I really like that. If you can be very specific, I think that really helps people understand that they do, they can turn things around. Moving back to your, I guess your recent time at Elizabeth Arden, I’m curious more about what your routine was like. So, you know, today, what was your morning routine or evening routine, typically? Like, what time do you get up? It sounded like you also wanted to have a hearty breakfast. Like, what does that morning and evening look like for you?

JuE: Well, I’m a morning person. I mean, I never used to think I was. As I get older, I wake up early. I mean, you know, I think…you might be too young to know, but older executives will agree with, that no matter what time you sleep, you still wake up the same time every morning. So if you need your six or eight hours, make sure you go to bed at the right time. So I’m a real morning person. I’m not much of a breakfast person, unless I have a breakfast meeting. But what I do is I like to get into the office early enough so that I can…even though I don’t really have to read a lot of emails because I actually sleep with my phone, and my phone actually makes noise as emails come in. And I do look at them because I have a different sound for some…for different senders; not all the different senders, but key senders.

So with that said, I generally don’t have any email backlog, so to speak, but I like to get into the office early. I like to kind of be able to get an idea of what my day’s going to be like. And also, where I am, I have less specific tasks and projects that I need to do, but there are a lot of things I need to push forward and facilitate. So I want to make sure that I frame my thought, frame the way I’m gonna approach things, because, at the end of it all, it’s not about whether the project is the right project for the company, it’s how you position it with the person that’s going to make it happen for you. So I spend a lot of time doing that. And then I’m in meetings, and usually, I mean, I used to be able to remember my entire day, you know, just in my head, but today I need my Outlook, I need to kind of look at one meeting after another, so that I can go.

But generally speaking, when I’m in meetings, I tend not to be the first one to speak. I tend to let the team talk because, at the end of the day, I don’t wanna set the agenda. I don’t want to set the tone. I don’t want to be the person where they’re all kind of trying to figure out, “What is it that she wants so that I can talk in the same way,” because that is a recipe for sure disaster, because you’re all gonna think alike, you’re all gonna talk to yourself. And then, meanwhile, the Koreans are coming up with air cushion and we have no clue what we are doing. So I’d rather that they talk. And I always say, you know, I learned that from Dr. Murad, that there are no stupid questions, there are just stupid answers. So basically, I love the questions that they go.

And then, I always end a meeting asking someone who is going to, you know, document the minutes. And I don’t need a copious amount of notes, I just need key action goals and what exactly that they need me to do. So, I will always have them to want me to action something, because there’s no point for me to be in the meeting if I’m not gonna help with something.

So usually, that’s how my day is. And I tend to leave the office…I mean, people tend to think, “Oh my God, do you leave, like, really late?” I don’t, because I know the team also looks at me. If I stay really, really late, they probably feel like, “I can’t leave until she leaves.” So I tend to leave the office pretty much on time. And then I start working again when I’m at home because, you know, China and Asia comes in at around 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. my time, and I’m on the phone again with them. So I find that, you know, that routine helps me, it helps my team, and it gives my team permission to feel like they can have a life as well.

Daniel: And I don’t know if you did this while you were at Arden, Elizabeth Arden, but one of my favorite stories I read about you is that, at Strivectin, where you, in addition to your leadership of the company, you also spent time on the sales floor, and you were the top sales person in terms of sales per hour. What do you think made you the best sales person out of everyone at the company, at Strivectin?

JuE: Well, I still do it at Arden. And, in fact, somebody just gave me a plaque that kind of says, you know, the joy that you have on the floor, plus the fact that you probably publish your sales results after every month on the sales floor. So I do take pride in what I do, because I do tell my account executive that, on that day, it’s my boss who tells me exactly what my goal is, and if I don’t reach my goal, he or she gets to write me up, depending on which account executive and what territory.

I think I have always tremendous respect for salespeople, because I’ve seen it over and over again, when I was working on earlier in my career, where people sit in the corporate office and they do all the scenarios, “Oh, if we have somebody buy a cleanser followed with a serum, you know, we would double up our sales because, instead of selling one item, we sell two items.” And I always tell the corporate people, “Why don’t you go down to the sales floor and see if you can do that consistently? If you can do that, I agree with you. We should tell all the sales people on the sales floor to do just that, and that’s the goal that they should have. But when you can’t do it, then, you know, you’ve got to stop saying that, all the time, to the salespeople, because nothing irks those people more than the fact that you can’t sell and you’re trying to tell them how to do it. So, I make sure that if I’m gonna tell my sales team that I believe that we can grow our business by 30%, I need to show them that it can be done. And if not, I don’t just go down to sales floor and sell, I actually go down to sales floor and network the customers.

So I learned that, actually, very early on when I was at Dr. Obaji. I had to do trunk shows at Henri Bendel. And when I did trunk shows, I have a week to do it. My first day is all about giving up samples to customers that walk in, but when I give them a sample, I take down their information. My second day, it continues to be that. But my third day is where I actually start writing emails to all the people that I’ve given samples to, and I basically tell them, “You have until Sunday, and if you come in and buy something from me, you’re gonna get, you know, this,” and because I have discretion as to the price, I can offer them. So I will offer them, you know, free products or something else, and I generally would end my week really strong.

And I remember my last trunk show at Henri Bendel, and today the same woman that is now in [inaudible 01:05:13], this other brand, still remembers me. I did \$21,000 in that week. Every trunk show is usually \$7,000. I was able to do \$21,000 because of the program, because by that time, I had a database of so many people from all the other trunk shows that I did in the last seven months that were going back to that database and kept going back to the same people. And people were waiting for me to do trunk shows so that they could come in and buy from me. Nobody knew I was the EVP of Obaji. All they knew was that I was a sales girl doing the trunk show, and they wanted to support me. And ever since then, I realized the power of customer acquisition and having a relationship with your customer.

And one of my best story on a sales floor was also at Bendel’s, where I learned never to judge a person by what they wear and how they look, because I was told by the salespeople at Bendel’s, they all told me, “You know, you talk to everyone. Isn’t it a waste of time?” I said, “Why is it a waste of time?” They said, “You should look at the shoes that they are wearing and the handbags that they’re carrying.” They say, “If they don’t wear good shoes and carry good handbags, you don’t want to waste your time.” I did not believe that. The one person that bought \$7,000 from me in one sale was Tony Robbins’ wife. Nobody knew who she was, because she’s never in the limelight. She was dressed very, you know, simply, but I stopped her because I felt like, you know, she would be interested. And by the time I finished and she pulled out her titanium American Express, everybody around me gasped. And they’re like, “How did you know?” I said, “I didn’t know, I just talked to her,” and it was a \$7,000 sale. And, to today, I still keep in touch with her, and she’s, like, one of my best friends, because she lives in the city and she comes, you know, and visits me. And she goes to the Red Door Spa now. And that’s a case in point, that, you know, you never look at someone just like a customer, you look at someone as, what can I do for this person?

And that’s why I enjoy being on the sales floor, because there’s no telling who you might meet, how you can be treated. And I’ve been treated really, really badly, and I understand what it’s like for the sales people. And like I said, I have tremendous respect for them, and they were the first people that I would go to, like, when…to say goodbye to them, you know, when I’m leaving, because I know that they are the ones who’s going to remember that I was there, you know, toe-to-toe, shoulder-to-shoulder, with them.

Daniel: That’s great. When you think back to, I guess, it would be your 25 or 30 year-old self, when you were still at Pepsi or Cargill, is there any advice that you would give yourself back then?

JuE: Yeah, don’t be a smart aleck, don’t think you know everything. I tell you, if I could go back and apologize to everyone that I interacted with when I was in my mid 30s, would be to say I am so sorry, that I must have come across as unbearable, because I thought I knew everything. And now, today, I know that I know nothing. And that is something that I am truly apologetic for, because I really thought that I’ve already…you know, because I was, in my mid-30s, I was already an expatriate for several years, I had a \$2.5 billion portfolio, I was one of the rising traders at Cargill. I mean, the fact that they gave me crude oil and foreign exchange was something that was really prized. You know, a lot of traders wanted that kind of a role. And I thought that, you know, this is it, I’ve arrived. And little did I know, you know, I have not, and there was so much more growing up to do, both personally and professionally.

Daniel: On that point, then, when you think about your next arc of your career, whether, you know, thinking about it personally or professionally, what’s left on your bucket list? What are some dreams that you still wanna check off that list?

JuE: I really, really want to help women executives, especially, to stay on the corporate ladder and move on up, and move on up in such a way that they manage sizable businesses, whether is the Lauder’s and the L’Oreals, you know, of the world, or the LVMH of the world. Because if you look at the trends in beauty, every one of those major corporations is run by men, and every emerging brand that has talked to all these major corporations and all of the innovation, they are run by women. And there is a reason why that is. Women opt out. They opt out in those corporations when their next level could be more senior, because they can’t take the politics and the BS anymore, because they just don’t want to be caught in that situation. So they opt out, they spawn their own company, but they are very successful at it, because they are very meticulous, right? I mean, I’m generalizing here, but majority of women who can run their own thing, they tend to be like an octopus. They can multitask to no degree. But they’re also unbearable, because they don’t want to give it up. And that’s why, by the time you reach to a mid-market level, like around \$100-200 million, they’ve got to sell it because they can’t take that to a \$500 million or a billion dollar business. They need to go give it to someone else or professionals who can do it.

I am hoping that I can have some influence in that group, where if they could stay on and refine their corporate skills, and be able to help move the needle for women executives along this ladder, it could be very meaningful because you are opening doors for women to run Fortune 50, Fortune 100 companies, but also at the same time be on board and be making material money for themselves, as well as for the women behind them. And until we do that, all of the talk of promoting women and advancing our cause, it’s just not gonna happen because you’ve got to be in it to win it. You cannot opt out and then hope to be asked to join, you know, a board for Apple, or be asked to join the Estee Lauder board. It’s never gonna happen if you’re running your own business that’s \$100 million. They’re not gonna want you to be on their board. But they will want you to be on their board if you are running LVMH, or you are a senior vice president of LVMH, somebody in Gucci will want you to be on their board. But you can’t get on to their board, no matter how great you are running your own brand, because that’s not the kind of skill set and the expertise that they’re asking for. So I’m hoping that, you know, I can have an impact on that front, if I can be helpful. Because I’m on the cusp of deciding, you know, what should I do? Should I move on, you know, in the corporate world, or should I reset and do something else? And that, I think, is the \$64,000 question, you know? What am I going to do?

Daniel: And on that goal, my follow up, was gonna ask, how do you see yourself approaching that? Is there an existing organization that you think has the potential, too, that you’d work with, or would that be something you’d do on your own and build a team around to start?

JuE: I think, you know, definitely, there are women’s organizations that I’m part of, like the Committee of 200, as well as the Women’s Forum. I think one of the pet peeves I have, and I’m sure, you know, you read about me, I have a lot of pet peeves. But one of the pet peeves I have is that all these women who try to come out and form their own organization, I think we need to stop. We splinter ourselves too much. We need to look at what the existing strong women organizations there are, and contribute effectively to these people. We don’t have to be the chair. We don’t have to be the one, you know, with our name on the door, to make this happen. You know, men don’t do that. Men join existing organizations and make them stronger and more powerful. So why do women keep coming out and forming their own little splinter, and all you do is you are dividing and diluting yourself, rather? So I would definitely continue with the organizations that I’m in, and see what I can do to be effective that way, because, you know, that foundation is already built, so leverage that foundation and springboard from it.

Daniel: Makes a lot of sense. Makes a lot of sense. Well, I don’t wanna keep you too much longer, though. Before you jump off, I think there are some interesting people that I think you might wanna meet. Some of our past guests could be, I think, interesting people for you to talk to. But, I just first wanted to say thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today, and I think this is one of the most tactical interviews that I’ve done, which I really enjoyed. I think it gives people, you know, some really good ideas they can go back to work with the next day and [inaudible 01:14:16] improve my career and move faster, just by applying some of the techniques you shared today. So, thank you so much for that.

JuE: No, thank you for the opportunity. You know, it always helps to have great questions like what you have given me to think about. So, you know…and really, at the end of the day, it’s organizations like yourselves that kind of put out, very concisely, some of the specific tactical plan and a direction that really helps other people. Even if it’s small, you know, an idea or some thought, it is always going to be very helpful, and I’m glad.

I mean, you know, we all get to a certain place in our life, and we have a certain purpose that we want to push forward. And I think, you know, I have been very fortunate to be able to kind of get to this place, because it was never always easy. I mean, I think the dark period was really when I was trying to decide whether I was gonna be at Dial or, you know, whether I could even get something in Arizona. And I look at that, and that was in 1999, you know, and in, like, under 20 years, a lot has happened in that space. And I think it’s by sheer belief in myself that I can make it happen, and also in people that kind of help me to that level and to this place. And the reason why people help me is because I also want to be helpful to them. So, I think ultimately, it’s really a world that is not only for the young, but for the ones that want to redefine who they are. It can all happen. And that’s why I think it’s so exciting, you know, to be in this day and age where communication is just lot more transparent.

Daniel: If you enjoyed that interview, we would love love love if you gave us a review on wherever you listen to your podcast. It tells our team what we’re doing great, what we could do better on, and helps other people discover this great content. If you wanna learn more and listen to other episodes, visit our website at www.exactmedia.io, and navigate to the podcast section. Thanks so much for listening.