Craig Groeschel - Leading with Authenticity
— Hey, shout out to our YouTube community. Welcome to the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast. I'd love to know where you're watching from. If you wanna just drop in the comment section wherever you are, it's an honor to have you with us in today, I have a very special I with Jamie Kern Lima, she is the author of the amazing book "Believe It", New York Times bestselling book. Her story is incredible. She went from being a waitress at Denny's coming up with an idea and created It Cosmetics, a company with over a thousand employees that ended up selling to L'Oreal for $1.2 billion cash. Her story is incredible. You'll learn from her wisdom and you will be inspired. Let's now go to my interview with Jamie. Hey, Jamie, I have to say that I am probably as excited or more excited to interview you than anybody else we've had on the podcast. Welcome to the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast.
— Oh, thank you so much. I am grateful, honored and super excited as well to be here. So thank you.
— Well, I've had the honor of hanging out with you a little bit, you and Paulo, Amy and I got to meet you guys at the Global Leadership Summit. And then we got to spend some time at another event. And what I wanna do, Jamie, is I wanna dig into your leadership journey, which is incredibly special and powerful. And then I wanna do what I haven't heard a whole lot of people do is I wanna dig in to some of the specifics of how you think and how you created what you did. But if you can, if you don't mind kind of starting off a little bit at the beginning, like all the way back, I understand you might have been a waitress at Denny's at one point and then started to build something special. Can you give us a kind of an overview of how you started your business and walk us through a little bit of the early journey?
— Yeah, absolutely. And I, you know, I think you and I have talked about this just at a dinner table once, but I really believe our steps are ordered, you know, I really truly believe that. And there's a lot of people maybe that just know of me as building this billion dollar business. But no, I believe the days I was a Denny's waitress and bagged groceries at a grocery store and all of those things, like the lessons I learned, the work ethic, the understanding of people. I think all of those things really lead us to our calling and to be able to even carry the weight of our successes in other areas once we get them. So, yeah, I think my whole life I've always worked really hard and I always felt even from the time I was a little girl and maybe a lot of people listening and watching us can relate to this, but I always felt like God had put something inside of me, like I was destined to do something great and I believe all of us are. And I spent most of my life actually doubting my own greatness and it was kind of a journey. My journey really has been one of going, gosh, I feel like I'm called to do something, but I'm kind of doubting it anyways. And it was this struggle. So I remember even the days working as a Denny's waitress and I would have thoughts, Craig, when I was waitressing, like how would I run this place? If I owned this restaurant, you know, I'd have those kind of thoughts. And it's funny because we had major operational issues in the kitchen. So pancakes would always take over an hour. And I was always having customers leave and not tip 'cause they were really upset and I really needed those tips at the time. And so I got pretty good at talking to people and you know, kind of like, you know, building connections then just trying to prevent them from leaving the restaurant. But I also realized early on, and of course I didn't realize at the time why I was learning these lessons, but I was like, okay, if I do run a business one day, if I do lead a team one day, you've gotta get your operations right. You have to get the back end, the kind of stuff that's not very fun to talk about and a lot of people don't enjoy doing, but I remember even learning at Denny's that you have to get your operations right. And so, but yeah, I worked at Denny's, had all kinds of jobs to pay my way through school and thought when I was in college, I started writing for the paper and then in graduate school as well, I'd write for the school paper, even though I went to school for business and I loved interviewing other people so much. And so I thought that's what I would do in my career and I just loved it. And so when I got out of graduate school, I went to Columbia and got my MBA, but I set the record for the lowest salary ever out of Columbia Business School. And I took a job in a small market television news station for $23,500 and anchored the news and reported and shared other people's stories, and I loved it and I thought I was gonna do that my whole career. Like I moved up in markets and I was anchoring the news in Portland, Oregon. And then I had this big moment in my life happen that I thought was one of the biggest setbacks, professionally, that I'd ever had. I started developing a skin condition called rosacea, which is hereditary and there's no cure for it and I'd be anchoring the news live and what started happening, Craig, was that I would get these big red welts, like all over my face and my forehead. And so I'd cover them up with tons of makeup and hoping no one would notice until they did. And I'd be anchoring the news live and hear in my ear piece from the producer, "There's something on your face, you need to wipe it off, you need to wipe it off". And meanwhile, I'm live, you know, and I glanced down in the little makeup mirror and I knew what it was. And every time in the commercial breaks, I'd try to cover it. And eventually, I wasn't able to cover it and it would start coming through all the broadcast. And so I went through this big season where I thought like, okay, God, what is going on? 'Cause I thought I knew I'm in my dream job. This is what I'm supposed to do. You know, and so it felt like a big setback happening to me because I literally would be anchoring the news live thinking, am I gonna get fired? Like are viewers changing the channel right now as I'm talking. And it was a big season of self-doubt and I started, you know, taking my tiny paycheck and trying every makeup product I could find out there on the market and none of them would work. And two things happened, Craig, I know I've heard so many of your shows where you really get into detail where people talk about like their vision, their mission for their company and their why and the problems they're solving. And what I didn't realize was happening was it was, you know, so often, right, a big setback is really God's set up for something we're actually called to do or an impact we're supposed to have. And what I realized was that, oh my gosh, if there's millions of companies out there selling makeup, why can't I find anything to work for me? And then I realized there's no other models out there with this bright red rosacea saying, "Look, this product works". And I had this realization that if I could figure out how to create something that worked for me, it'd probably help a whole lot of other people. So I had this sort of like entrepreneurial spark, right, this idea, that feeling in my gut, like what if I could do it? And then all the self-doubt came in like, oh, but you don't know anything about that industry, the beauty industry, you have no connections, no money, you know, you're not qualified. So I sat in that place of having this gut feeling like, almost like God whispering to me, like you're supposed to take this chance, right. But then my head was like, oh no, but you're in your dream job and you're not qualified. And I think, you know, sometimes in life, like knowing when to let go of a dream is also as important as knowing when to go after one. 'Cause I felt like I was telling myself I was in my dream job, but I kept having this feeling like I was supposed to take this chance and supposed to take this risk and go after it. And the big thing that did it for me that pushed me over the edge was, and I did this early on and I think I would love anyone listening who's really done the work for their business or their teams or even themselves on their why, early on, you know, I wanted of course to create a product that worked for other people, that worked for me, that helped a lot of people. But a big thing happened where I went really deep on that why and it's what really pushed me over the edge to take a step out in faith and launch the business. And that was that I realized, oh my gosh, my whole life, like I've seen these beauty commercials and I've loved them and I've always wanted to look like them. But like deep down inside, they always made me feel like I wasn't enough. Even when I was a little girl and I would see those commercials and I had this kind of big God-sized dream that partly was like, oh, let me create great product and whatever, but it was bigger than that. It was like what if I could change the whole beauty industry? What if I could put real women, every age and shape and size and skin problem and skin tone and use them as models and call them beautiful and mean it. And what if I could like shift the definition of beauty for every little girl out there who's about to start doubting herself and every grown woman who still does. So I had this huge God-sized dream. Meanwhile, I'm sitting there with no money at a news anchor desk getting yelled at for my, you know what I mean? But I just felt it. I felt it, I just decided to take a step out in faith probably 'cause I didn't know how hard it was gonna be, but that's kind of how everything started with the launch of It Cosmetics.
— So I've got a million questions. First of all, Jamie, I wanna wrap back to when you're sacking groceries or when you're a Denny's waitress and the reality that you were still looking to make things better, you were studying, you weren't just doing a job, but you were a student of greatness and I can only imagine how many people are listing right now that might be in a place that they really don't like and they'd like to do something else. And I love the fact that your time there wasn't wasted. And in so many ways, it was preparing you to do what you would do later on. And so I wanna drill down a little bit before we move on, because I think there's some people probably in a similar place to you. So you had this idea and I imagine a lot of people have an idea, what I'd like to know is what do you recommend someone does next? I'll give you a few thoughts. Do you drill down a vision? Do you create a plan? Do you try to assemble the right people? Do you go out and start an LLC? Do you start pitching it and raising money? When you have an idea, what do you recommend that someone does next to move their idea forward?
— I love that I get to answer this having made so many mistakes now that I would look back on I'm so excited to answer that and I wanna say one more thing if I can, 'cause I just got goosebumps when you said that, you know what I realize when you're saying that and then anyone listening right now, Craig, who maybe they're in a job they don't love. Maybe they're, you know, whatever it is. Like I feel like that whole journey I was in preparation season for like what was to come. And I feel like when we look at it that way and any season we're in right now, any, you know, 'cause there's so many people that have a big dream on their heart, but they know it's not right yet to take that big step, right. Or they're leading a team and they're like, I don't understand why it's not coming together right now. Or they're having a big setback in their business, when we look at it from that framework of I'm in preparation season, and I'm a student of greatness right now and I'm gonna take it all in 'cause my steps are ordered I think that is so powerful, 'cause there's no moments that are wasted when we're in that mindset. And so, I just have goosebumps when you said that, but for anyone who wants to like what to do when you're about to take that leap to start your business or to go after that big idea, so, okay, I'm gonna keep it really real. I'm gonna keep it really real on the show. The most important, here's where I see entrepreneurs right now and even leaders, frankly, 'cause their teams are influenced by this as well. We are in a world right now that is so dramatically different than it was even five years ago or 10 years ago and especially in terms of social media and in terms of things that people think are important, that they prioritize when they shouldn't, right. I think so many people launch ideas and fail because they have their priorities wrong and because their egos get in the way. When we launched our business, I had no, so my husband and I put all of our savings into it. I had no idea it would be three years, over three years before I could pay myself. I had no idea that I would get hundreds and hundreds of nos and rejection from everyone. And when I look back at how, 'cause there was a, you know, everyone sees the outcome now. They see the homepage of the Wall Street Journal and go, "Oh, you know, Denny's waitress sells company for over a billion dollars cash". And it just looks like a big fairytale, right? Anybody who is a true leader, who is leading a team, who has started a business, who has taken a risk knows it's not a fairytale. And usually when you make it, it's not an accident. You know what I mean? It's like a lot of hard work. And when I look back at, you know, and I made so many mistakes, but how we ended up surviving all of those challenging years and so many friends I have even, and people that I adore with their own businesses didn't survive launching their companies. And I think it's because a lot of people put flash over cash, right? They put things that look really good for their customers or social media or make their employees feel like they're in a gorgeous office and all these things. They spend money when they need to be like literally, so focused on the bottom line with everything and so disciplined in terms of cash flow. And so the first thing I would say if someone's getting ready to launch, I would protect every penny you can and invest it where it actually matters for the customer and where it matters for the quality of the product and the vision, not just what looks really good and what fuels your ego. And that seems like such common sense, but it's amazing how few people do it. It's amazing.
— Right, in today's culture, it's often an image over substance. And I mean, you're the person that did it and you are right, and you know, we don't talk a lot about kind of cash management or we did one episode on resource allocation, but anytime you see anybody scale any kind of business or ministry up, the way you hand handle assets early on, it matters so, so, so, so much. And I love what you're saying there too. The cash over flash that you have to steward everything and you didn't pay yourself for three years. So everybody says, 'Hey, there's this glamorous success story.' And one of the things we say a lot on this podcast is we say that it's the things that no one sees that leads to the results that everyone wants. So we read the headlines about you, but there were hundreds or thousands of personal sacrifices, private disciplines that others didn't see. And what I'd like to do, Jamie, is I'd like to hear about a couple of them that I would call not headliners, meaning, we're gonna to talk more and I want hear more about you being rejected. I want you to tell the story about someone being really rude to you and then working for you later on, because I think that's just so much fun, I love that. I wanna hear you about getting turned down and then being the dominant product producer on the show that turned you down. I wanna hear all that, your resilience is amazing. But there are some things you did in the early years that are not as public, that were private sacrifices that you made that Paulo made that were painful. Could you tell me about one or two of those that don't make the magazine article?
— Yeah, so many of those, and thanks for asking about those is, and also about rejection. I think that the thing that fills my soul talking about this is I just know there's people that are listening or watching this right now that like feel like they're alone in their rejection, you know, because when we're going through it and we are taking a step of faith and putting our idea out there, or we're leading a team, right? This is the thing I find, I've had the blessing of meeting tens of thousands of entrepreneurs now in my journey, and so many people feel like once they are the boss, or once they are the leader of the team, they're supposed to hide their self doubt or they're supposed to like be embarrassed about their failures or their rejections, or it's only them. But especially with entrepreneurs that take that step out there, you know, in a world where everything looks good on social media, a lot of people feel alone when it's not working out behind the scenes or when it doesn't feel behind the scenes like it looks online everywhere. And you know, you and I were an event where Albert Tate talked about this idea of being overexposed and underdeveloped. And I have just been obsessed with that idea recently, because I think that this is a really big topic no one's talking about. So many people right now who are entrepreneurs, who are leaders, who are launching their dream, are in this new world where everyone has direct access, direct to consumer and everyone can be an expert, everyone can, you know, look like they have a great business and so many people right now are overexposed, but underdeveloped. And I think that that is a big risk. And so, you know, when it comes to the development part. I look at a lot of that as what you're talking about those early years, that a lot of people don't know those sacrifices that, you know, I'm super honored to share because I know someone out there needs to hear it and know that they are not alone and it is not all glamorous and it's not just them. And I believe, Craig, that no matter how hard or unglamorous the situation or how big the setback or how painful the rejection, I believe it is no, I don't believe, I know, it is no indication of your ability to succeed. It's no indication of is your idea gonna work or is your company gonna make it because the more conversations like this that I have with friends, and I love that we're having this one publicly on your show, and I've had a lot of these privately of people that have built huge companies, it happens to all of us, right? We go through massive setbacks, massive rejection, massive seasons of people saying your idea's not gonna work. You don't have what it takes. I don't see you working in our industry. I don't think there'll be a demand for this. And just knowing that is just so important, and in the early years of building at cosmetics, I didn't know these things yet. So I spent a lot of nights crying myself to sleep. You know, early on we had no money and I mean no money, no, no, no money. And it was like, we finally, after all the retailers were saying no, right, 'cause we'd poured every penny we had into creating a product. And I just thought, if you create a product that's amazing, right, and as long as your product is better than what's out there and I believed our first product was, it's just gonna sell. And I just thought that it would, and it didn't. And I sent it out to all of the big beauty stores, the big department stores, and every single of them said no. And some of them, it wasn't just like, no, it was not, no for now. It was like, no forever. Like, no. And so, you know, we eventually, I eventually thought let's go direct to consumer and my husband, we couldn't afford to hire anybody. So my husband built our first website. He bought that book, that big yellow book called HTML for dummies and figured out how to build our first website. And I've shared this story with you. But when our website finally went live, I thought it was just gonna be this massive success. And the day it went live, we got no orders. And the next day, no orders. And this went on for weeks. And I finally, anyone who works with their partner, this is so easy to do, but I'm like, it's broken. You did it wrong. Like there's no way that, this product is so good, there's no way this website's working, we're just getting no orders for this product. There's no way. And then I remember the first that day, our very first order ever came in and I was like screaming and running around our office, which was our living room. And he says, "That was me. I placed that order to prove to you".
— That it works.
— Our website's not broken. Yeah, and I was just like, ugh. And this went on for a long time. And you know, every penny mattered, every penny mattered. I remember, I mean really mattered. And so, you know, and it went into our product and into our mission and we were teetering on this balance of under a thousand dollars in our bank account for the company and personal combined for a very long time, which meant that if orders didn't keep coming in like two orders a day, three orders a day, we'd be out of business. And it was this way for a very long time. And I remember seasons where I would go to the ATM and just like, if I needed $20 and I would hit no receipt, 'cause like I couldn't even stomach it like to, you know what I mean? And it was this constant are we about to go bankrupt for a very long time And it's tough when in those moments. Oh, and then one big thing to share just in case someone needs to hear this today. When we finally got on QVC and had been on for a little while, which is a long story I can share in a minute if you want me to, but we still, all of our money was tied up in working capital at that point. So we still weren't paying ourselves, we still had no money and I found out this giant competitor who was also on QVC in all the department stores, they loved the product they saw when we were starting to have some success and some momentum and they were huge. And I learned that they went to our manufacturer and they bought, they paid them off to get our formula. And so legally we owned it, right? But we couldn't afford to sue anyone or do anything. And I went through this devastating season where I learned they're about to launch this exact duplicate of our formula, of our product on QVC and in all the department stores, they were everywhere. And I was just like gutted and literally physically sick to my stomach. Like everything we have in our life has gone into this for years and this product is finally getting momentum, and now this huge competitor is gonna swoop in. And by the way, their brand positioning, their DNA of their company is totally different than ours. Like, our positioning as our company was, you know, was clinically proven products, you know, amazing for your skin, real women, and theirs was totally different. And I was like, this product doesn't authentically fit their brand positioning. They just saw this under the radar company getting momentum and thought they can make it big with our product. And I guess that's what happens everywhere in business. But, the lesson in this, that I don't think I've ever shared on a show, so I just wanna share it, 'cause I know so many people are in leadership and business listening to this, there's so many people with big ideas or worried about people copying them or whatever. I learned the most powerful lesson of authenticity probably my entire life. And this is when we were very small and had no money and they did knock us off and then I found out when it's launching on QVC and I sat there and I watched their launch, right. And there was nothing we could do. And this is what's tough about being small is you have no money to do anything about anything. You know what I mean? And it's like, it's painful because no one wins when you sue anyways. And it's just like, so I worried though, Craig, that they were gonna take us out. I worried that they would get credit for this amazing product because we were so small and they were so big and they launched it on QVC, they launched it everywhere and it just did okay. It just did okay. Meanwhile, I kept getting booked to go on QVC and sell the same product, right, people didn't know it was the same. I knew it was the same, it had a different package, but it was the same formula. I was going on and we're crushing it. Like numbers are huge and they are bigger than us and it's just doing okay. And I was sick to my stomach for months over this until I watched this before my eyes and I learned that lesson that you cannot fake authenticity. Like customers are smart and you just can't fake authenticity and this was a product that even though it was a great one was incongruent with their positioning. And anyhow, it was a big lesson that I learned. And I remember vowing to myself that one day we would be bigger than that company and they wouldn't even think about doing that to us. And then that happened. And the little company in my living room is so much larger than they are today. And one funny thing real quick is, you know, I remember watching there was a message Joel Osteen did on TV, where he talked about the bull weevils, and he talked about how the cotton crops and coffee crops and farmers were devastated and bull weevils were eating them, anyways, we were so poor, but my husband made me these t-shirts and he drew an S and a J and a J, like a superhero for super JJ on the front, and then like a little bull weevil on the back. And I literally wore those shirts to and from QVC under my coat, just to try and stay focused, 'cause Craig, I was in the green room with the competitor that knocked me off and with all the other brands and I didn't say anything to anybody, 'cause it doesn't help, gossip doesn't help and being anything other than professional doesn't help. It was like, I was at war. I was at war, but I just knew, I just knew God was on my side. I knew that I would ultimately win. I knew I just didn't know how, but it was a really tough season. So when you say, what are some of the scrappy things you did in the beginning? For some reason, those t-shirts just came to mind and I don't think I've ever shared that story before.
— Well, I love your scrappiness. And one of the things I like to do is just try to learn, analyze any story of greatness, any sort of success and try to determine and put language on what are the unique attributes in this story. And you raised one Jamie, that I think is more true for you than anybody I know and should be true for more business and ministry leaders. And so if we look at your story, one is, great idea. Two is great product, three is great execution. Four, you've got tenacity, overcoming obstacles. You've got rejection, you've got good business sense. You've got the ability to scale. You're creating the right culture. So we've got all those things that we typically think about. There's an ingredient that I don't hear often and that is what you said and that is authenticity, and mission and leadership. What you have is a very rare authenticity. And the reason I wanna drill in on this is because it's not all about systems, it's not all about strategy, it's not all about location, it's not all about ideas. Sometimes you just have to be believable as a leader. And you had a problem and you had a solution and then your problem that you were attacking was bigger than just skin issues, but it was actually kind of a culture that maybe would shame people for not being something that someone else is. And that authenticity is one of probably the least talked about, most important tools of great leadership. And in my just humble admiration of your story, I think that's one of the lead lines of the success that I wanna highlight and help other leaders see, we say it this way that, you know, be yourself as a leader because people would rather follow someone who's real than someone who's right and you're just that. And I hope that other leaders will it. When they study you, you write about it a lot in your book, I wanna hold it up, if anybody's watching, "Believe It, how to get from underestimated to unstoppable" just fantastic, New York Times bestselling book with every good reason. You write a lot about kind of that in there and I wanna drill down into something. I think that there's, who knows how many people are listing right now are working in a company and they have resistance. They have an idea and it's getting shot down. They're trying to start a ministry and it's not going well. And they're facing rejection. You said earlier, you said it's not all glamorous. I would say probably almost all of it's not glamorous. Like there's very little glamorous and almost every great story of success is filled with rejection. I was turned down for ordination. So I'm a pastor and I was rejected for ordination and almost every story like that has an overcoming rejection. Can you tell us, Jamie, what was one of the greatest points of rejection and what did, what happened internally that kept you going when so many people would've quit?
— Mm, yeah. I believe, when we change our relationship with rejection, like we literally can change our whole lives.
— I have to stop you. I'm so sorry, you have to stop you to say that again and I wanna let that sink in, then I want you to keep going. Just say it one more time. I want our listeners to feel that. This is like, this is worth the whole whole time. Say it again, please and then unpack it for us.
— When we change our relationship with rejection, we change our entire lives. We change our teams, we change our business. We change, I believe we can never reach our true calling and our true potential and our true greatness, unless we literally learn how to change our relationship with rejection. And when we see it as something that comes with the territory of being a brave one, one willing to go after your calling, one willing to go after your potential, one willing to bet on yourself and bet on the vision God's put in you, you're a brave one. And I think that when you are going after anything great, and anything brave, it comes with rejection. So I've literally in my life, and I still get rejected to this day, to this day, right. And like, it's so funny, it rolls right off me now, Craig. It doesn't hurt me anymore. I see it as like, yeah. It's like a reminder, oh, I just got rejected again. Yup, I'm a brave one. I'm going after it. I am not gonna get to heaven one day and be like, "God, I lived as half as who you need me to be. God, I stepped into a quarter of my greatness. God, I know you put all these big things inside of me, and I did some of them". Like I keep reminding myself, I wanna arrive there and be like, I like have nothing left. Be like I gave it my all. And so I've flipped my mindset into, okay, rejection, rejection, boom, boom. I don't hear it anymore as you're not enough, right. I used to always hear rejection as a, almost like a reminder of something I wish I didn't believe which is that I'm not enough. And that was a really big thing to get over in my life. And so, you know, part of launching It Cosmetics, right, long before it was this, you know, we built a team of over a thousand employees, became the largest number one luxury makeup company in the country, in the United States. All these things happened and a lot of people just know that part, but the real journey is a girl who literally I started believing I wasn't enough. And I tried to enter this beauty industry to change the conversation and help everyone feel like, oh wait, you are enough and let's try to shift the conversation around that. But the journey was filled with so many rejections and, you know, to talk about, I don't even know how I could pick one. There were so, so many. And here's the thing is so many of the people that rejected me along the way were who I would consider experts, right? And sometimes it's so easy to put experts on this pedestal and be like, well, if they're telling me I don't have what it takes or they're saying, I'm not gonna succeed. Like it's very hard not to let those words of rejection turn into self-doubt in our own heads. And so on my journey, you know, of sending the product out to all these retailers and I really believed in it. And two quick rejections that stand out, one was after hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of rejections from every retailer out there, we got a phone call from a potential investor, who's a big private equity company and they had gotten ahold of our product and loved the product and wanted to have a meeting. And I was so excited, Craig, 'cause I thought, oh my gosh, they've taken so many of these unknown brands and made them into huge consumer product companies that we all shop for in grocery stores and know of, and I thought if they invest then A, I won't go bankrupt and B, maybe they can use their leverage to get us into all of these retailers that keep telling me no. And so we did all the meetings, meeting after meeting, after meeting, we entered the diligence phase, right, which is when they start looking into all of our financial projections, our future product pipeline. And it came down to the final meeting and my husband and I flew up for it and the head guy at the private equity company, he was really kind, his whole team was awesome. And at the end he says to me, and by the way, this is now after a couple years, and hundreds of rejections, right. So we're at that under a thousand dollar in our bank account, maybe going bankrupt to any moment situation. And we're in person and he was about three feet from me and he says to me, "You know, congratulations. We really believe in your product, it's a great product. But it's a no, we're gonna pass on investing It Cosmetics". And I was just like, ugh, like devastated, right. And I was like, okay, but I was so used to hearing no at this point. And I said, "Well, can you tell me why"? 'Cause feedback is usually a gift. I said, "Can you tell me why"? And he got really quiet and there was a long pause. And he says, "Do you want me to be really honest with you"? And I'm like, "Yes, please". And he says, "I just don't think women will buy makeup from someone who looks like you with your body and your weight". And I remember when you said those words, well, first of all, it was like a lifetime of body doubt, self doubt, like flooded my whole body. And I never felt any anger toward him or anything like that. But I remember one moment that I just wanna call this out, 'cause I feel like these are the moments and we all have them. We've all had someone look at us and tell us we're not enough or whatever version of rejection we face and sometimes it's someone in our family who loves us and just doesn't see our dream. Sometimes it's a partner, sometimes it's in business, but we've all had these moments and what I'll never forget, Craig, literally like it was yesterday is when he was saying those words to my face, he says, "I just don't think women will buy makeup from someone who looks like you with your body and your weight". I got this feeling deep down in like the pit of my stomach that said he's wrong, like I felt it. I felt it so strongly. And I still went out in my car and cried. I still, all those things. And for many years, you know, when I would hear those words, you know how we hear the words sometimes that someone says to us that hurt, I would like imagine myself turning down the volume on them and turning the volume up and that feeling I had, which I realized is a knowing, it's an intuition. It's a still small voice. It's God telling us, you know, oh, he's telling you no, but I'm giving you a knowing, right. It's that knowing we have inside. And I believe our life comes down to the moments when we trust our knowing over the nos. Our knowing over what we can't see in front of us, what looks like, you know, is it gonna happen or is it gonna come to pass or is it, you know what I mean? And by the way, six years later, six years later, and I'm skipping over so many things. But six years later, when L'Oreal bought this little tiny company I started in my living room for 1.2 billion cash, and it was their largest acquisition in the US and the US history for them, they made me the first woman to hold a CEO title in their a hundred plus year history of any brand, and it was a whole thing. So it was on the homepage of the Wall Street Journal the day that it happened online. And that's when I heard from that investor for the first time. And he said, "Congratulations". I hadn't heard from him in six years. And he said, "Congratulations, I was wrong. I'm so happy for".
— And you're so much politer than I am because I would've said to him, "And I'll give you 1.2 billion reasons why you're wrong".
— I love that's so lit.
— I don't recommend that anyone else says that.
— So good.
— Yeah, we don't wanna rub it in his face. But I wanna dig into something that you said, because I think it's really important and it'll be a little bit complicated to get this question out, but do you ever watch Shark Tank?
— Yes, I have, yes.
— Okay, so do you know that there are times when there is, there's an entrepreneur that has an idea and the sharks are kind of giving them advice and you can kind of tell it's good advice and the entrepreneur's not really listening and they're kind of digging in and not listening. How do you know the difference between when someone pushes back and you're like, "No, I know I'm right". And they're actually not. They're actually giving you good advice, you're not listening versus when there's something inside of you that you actually are right. Because in any great leadership story, intuition, discernment, that knowing it's really, it's something import, it's incredibly indescribably important and it's really hard to teach. Can you help us? Because I'm sure someone right now, they might be getting some or some pushback and the advice might be really good and they need to listen or it might be really wrong. How do you know the difference?
— Yes, that's such a good point. So yeah, because I've had so many, so many rejections, right. In every single rejection, even though it often hurt, I considered everything they said, right. So when he said no, in the investor case, I was like, well, can you tell me why. I wanna hear, I wanna hear the feedback always. And because I think often there is so much value in that feedback. And I think, you know, for me, I love to just get still, pray about it, and say what truly feels right. And for me, and I think this is important for everyone building that muscle of intuition or discernment over what's right or wrong is so, so important, right. I think, you know, one thing that's coming to mind is, you know, from the time we're a little kid, we can walk into a room and kind of feel like were they talking about me, or we kind of feel if our mom or dad is not happy. And when we say, "How are you"? And they say, "We're fine". You start to dull your own ability of hearing, of trusting that discernment, right. And we go through our whole lives with, without ever really being taught how do you hear your own intuition and how do you have discernment? And so one of the things that I do for anyone looking to kind of build that muscle of intuition, 'cause I think it's a muscle that we build over time and I think it's a lifelong journey. And I think as a leader, it is so important. I think that, you know, you said something once, I heard you say it was so powerful that when we do something that offends everyone the least, it's often not the most effective thing as a leader, right. I would also say when we lead by consensus, it's often not the most effective decision.
— Exactly, yeah.
— And I think, yeah, for anyone in a position of leadership, really learning how to turn down the volume on all the noise and listen to year intuition, I believe it's so powerful. One of the things I do often is I take some time and this is for anyone looking to build their muscle of intuition. I think back to times in my life where I just knew I was right, I had a gut feeling, but I didn't listen to it. And I think about what happened then in those cases, and by the way, these could be simple things, like I was dating a guy and he said his phone broke. Like, and you know his phone didn't break, but you're like, oh, but you're in love. And you're like, oh, but maybe it broke and whatever, right? All of these, we have hundreds of thousands of moments like this in our lives, or we're with a group of friends and we just feel like something is wrong or someone is hurt, is hurting, and they're like, "No, no, no, I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine". And we look back and we learn later, "Oh, they were". Or on the flip side, we, you know, times we've trusted ourselves and times we haven't and what happened when we did in both occasion and the more we reflect on those, the more we're able to build our muscle of intuition over time and really learn to trust ourselves. And what I wanna say is, I believe that I truly, truly believe when we are on our true path and our true calling and our true journey that every time you trust yourself in a decision, even if it turns out wrong, it was the right move, every time. I believe every time you trust yourself, even when it turns out to be wrong, I believe it was part of your destiny to learn that experience and to learn that calling. So it was still the right decision to trust yourself and you're still building that muscle. And when I think back like two big things stand out to me that were life changing and company changing and industry changing that all came down to me trusting my intuition or my discernment. And you know, when we, after years and years of nos, and after me finally getting the head of all of QVC, he'd built this billion dollar beauty industry, finally got him on the phone, Allen Burke. And he told me definitively, "You are not the right fit for QVC or for our customers. It's a no, and I wish you the best". And you know, all this stuff after years of this, I finally got this one shot on QVC, which meant I was gonna get it, you know, we were still, by the way, Craig, just selling two to three orders a day on our website. I was gonna get this one shot live on television in front of a hundred million homes to sell our product, which was our concealer. And I learned that I would have 10 minutes, get this one shot, and I'd have to sell over 6,000 units of our concealer to hit their sales goal in a 10-minute window. 'Cause that's how much you sell there. And I'm like, okay and all the things. And I was so excited and then I learned it was consignment. It was a consignment offer. And what that meant was we had to somehow figure out how to pay for, manufacture, pass all of their legal and quality control, everything, get all the inventory to them, still having not getting paid, and then we would only be paid for whatever sold in that 10-minute window. If we didn't hit sales goals, everything would be shipped back, which in our case meant we would go to business.
— It's a make or break, yeah.
— Make or break big time. And it ended up coming down to this huge moment of intuition for me and we had applied for SBA loans. We couldn't afford to do this. So we applied for SBA loans, 22 bank said no. The 23rd bank, which was California Bank and Trust. I don't know what they were thinking, but they said, yes, they gave us a loan for just the amount to cover the purchase order for our shot on QVC. And it all came down to this make or break moment. And these are, again, the moments I think that define our destiny. We hired third party consultants that help a lot of people sell on television and in stores. And here's what happened is they all told me the same thing. They said, if you wanna shot at succeeding, if you wanna hit these sales goals, here's what you need to do. You to have this type of model, which was all girls with flawless skin, same skin tone, same age. You need to produce your 10-minute segment this way. And I said to them, and this goes back to our talk on authenticity, but also in intuition, I would say to them, "Okay, but like that's not my why. My why that I created this product was to change everything you're telling me to do. Like my why is, you know what"? And I'd say, "What if I take my own makeup off and show my bright red rosacea and I could prove live on TV that the product's so good that it works. And what if I put models in their 70s and 80s and you know, teenagers dealing with acne and just all real people"? And they were mortified. And here's the thing is they wanted me to win, right? They really wanted me to win and they were giving me the best advice they knew how, which is if you wanna succeed, here's what we believe you need to do. And I just wanna call this out really fast, Craig, true leaders have novel ideas. And most leaders are scared to act on them, but true leaders have novel ideas and here is what I've learned. If you are doing anything novel, anything novel by definition or anything authentic for that matter, there's a only one of you. So if you're doing anything authentic, by definition, it's never been done before. Right, and what I believe is there are a lot of experts out there, even though they have elements of being a visionary, there are a lot of experts that subconsciously cannot believe something's gonna succeed, unless they've already seen it succeed before, unless there's already social proof in their mind that it's succeeded before. And had I learned that lesson, I would've saved myself so many nights crying myself to sleep because so many of these people that rejected me that said it would never work, they didn't mean any harm, it wasn't personal. They just believed based on their own life's experience, that what I was doing, which was novel, wasn't gonna work. And I don't think they realized that, you know, 'cause I think a lot of them believe they're visionaries. My whole point is don't take it personal if people don't see your vision or your dream, especially if you are doing something that's never been done before, because most people cheer you on after you've made it.
— Right, yep.
— Right. So we got the big, you know, one shot on QVC and all these experts were telling me what to do. And here's a thing is I found myself in this moment where I was tempted to challenge my own integrity and I was tempted to do something inauthentically. I was in the spot where I was like, oh my gosh, we have one shot. And if this doesn't work, we're done. And my dream is so big, I wanna change this industry so badly. But like, it hasn't worked yet. Everyone's told me no so far, hundreds of nos. Now I get this one shot and I sat there and I drove. So I flew to QVC, which is in Pennsylvania, I drove to their parking lot in this rental car. And I sat there every day for a week leading up to our one big shot on the air. And I just sat alone in the parking lot, just like watching the front door, which sounds really weird. But everything I was going through felt so heavy for me because it was like all in the line. And I just remember sitting there praying, asking God to take it from me, 'cause it felt so heavy. And just trying to figure out what to do because I was like, okay, well maybe if I do it their way and it works, then I'll make some money and then I could do it my way. Like I had all these thoughts and there is this moment and I know, I know that, you know, you can't fake authenticity. I know that if I were to show up on air and show models of perfect skin, like, I believe this, I write about this in my book, "Believe It" a lot because I think that this will take an entrepreneur down faster than anything, that authenticity alone doesn't automatically guarantee success, but inauthenticity guarantees failure. And I've seen that play out now thousands of times. But when we're in the moment, when everything's on the line, that's when it's really hard to have discernment. And I remember sitting in that car crying, praying, just feeling like it was so heavy. And I had this moment where I thought, who is our customer? Like I'm about to go live in front of a hundred million homes on television. And I just thought like, if someone's gonna turn that television on and bless me with a few precious seconds of their time, you know, what is it I wanna stand for? And, for whatever reason, I kept imagining a single mom in Nebraska, folding laundry, like who was too busy to remember that she mattered, that she's beautiful. And I just had this moment in that car where I thought, if she's gonna turn that television on, see me for three seconds. Like, I don't care if she was gonna buy anything, I'd rather have her see me showing women who look like her, like calling them beautiful and meaning it. And I'd rather stand for that than sell a whole bunch of product and stand for nothing. And so I knew what I had to do, but I was scared, like scared. And I walked into that building and this was September of 2010. We had one shot 10 minutes and I remember like walking in and I showed, I had written out, I think you and I are this way a little bit, I was like so prepared for this. I had written out my whole 10-minute segment by the second. I was like so prepared. And you get a host meeting a few minutes before your show. And I showed the host and I'm like, "Here's what I'd like to do". And she took one glance at it, threw it out. She's like, "Thank you sugar, but here's what we're gonna do". And I was like freaking out, right. And I was like, I can't get a argument right now 'cause I gotta just trust and I gotta pray. And I remember walking out to the studio and there's all the cameras and then there's the big clocks on the ground. And I saw the 10-minute counter. And I knew I was like, okay, I have 10 minutes. Then I learned you're not even guaranteed the 10 minutes. If I go love and we're like a minute or two into the sell and I'm not hitting numbers, you might think you have eight minutes left and boom, in a second, your clock goes down to two minutes or one minute and you know, you're like done. And so much pressure. So in that moment, I remember the camera lights turned on, on air, the big on-air lights. And I knew I was live in front of a hundred million homes. I saw the clock, it was like 9:59, 9:58. And I was just like, and the host was amazing by the way. And I tried to do this demonstration on my wrist. I'd practiced a thousand times in my bathroom showing how our concealer doesn't crease compared to the other two. And when you bend your wrist and I was trying to do it, and I wasn't nervous for television, it was I was nervous because I didn't wanna go bankrupt. And so my hand was shaking so bad and I couldn't even do the demonstration and the host grabbed my hand and pushed it under the podium. And she was like, "Thank you, sugar". And she took off and she took over. And I remember the moment, my bright red bare face before shot came up on TV. And I remember walking over to the models, all different skin tones and ages and sizes and calling them beautiful and meaning it and I didn't know what was going on, Craig. I was a hot mess. I was sweating profusely and I had on two double spanks, two pairs of spanks.
— And you were real.
— Not 'cause I cared what looked because I was trying to absorb the sweat. I was so nervous and I didn't know how we were doing.
— What happened with sales that day?
— So, I didn't know how we were doing, but they didn't cut me. And there was about a minute left and I heard the host say, "The deep shade's almost gone. The tan shade's almost sold out". And then literally right at the 10-minute mark, the giant sold sign came up across the screen. And they cut and went to like Dyson vacuum or something, or Vitamix. And I started crying on national TV. And my husband came running through the double doors of the studio and I was like, "Real women has spoken". And he's like, "We're not going bankrupt".
— That's so amazing.
— And that one airing turned into five that year, 101 the next year, eventually over 250 live shows a year. We built the biggest beauty brand in QVC's history. And it is right now at this moment.
— And don't you hold the record for the biggest sales?
— We might, yeah, for like a single day.
— Do you hold the record?
— Yeah, there's a lot of days we would do 10-million dollar sales in a day, over 200 million sales in a year there in that one account. And I've done over a thousand live shows myself there. And you know, part of, maybe this is a part two conversation, but part of building a business to exit or to avoid burnout, all those other things is I eventually had to scale a big team, right. We hired to over a thousand employees. And after doing a thousand live shows myself while trying to do all the other jobs as well, I was working a hundred hour weeks for years and totally addicted to work, which is a whole other topic that I know you and I share in common. Went through whole seasons of burnout, which is a whole other thing, which is part of why we eventually chose to sell the business. But in the process, just to wrap up that story, two things, we eventually got yeses from all the stores that told us no and became top brands in those stores. And then the guy, Allen Burke, who told me, "No, you're not right for QVC or for our customers". He was their head of beauty there. After we eventually got that one shot and launched on QVC, he became a dear friend and a mentor, one of the greatest mentors in my life and he still is to this day. And then after he retired from QVC, we hired him in a paid position on our advisory board at It Cosmetics. So the guy that had rejected me was now working for me, right.
— What a great story.
— And it's like, when I in moments, I'm like, no one can tell you your dream is too big.
— No. And he was just happy to be on your train at that point. So, it's a great story. I wanna highlight a couple things you said, because it's too good to pass up. And then I wanna make this interview really hard for you in just a minute. So hang on, it's gonna get challenging, but with a purpose. Two things that I wanna highlight, you said authenticity doesn't guarantee success, but inauthenticity guarantees failure, it's so powerful. And I just want every leader to let that sink in. And then I love the imagery that you gave kind of the metaphors, Jamie, turn down the volume. Sometimes when there's too much outside noise, outside criticism, outside rejection, even just advice that might even be good, turn that down. And I love, I haven't heard it described this way, but develop the muscle of intuition. And again, this is so important. And for example, in what I lead, there's probably one to two times-ish a year when I intuit or discern something that needs to change. And it's not like twice a week, it's one or two times a year where it's a big discernment and it's usually before its initiative, it's something that needs to be different. And in any great leadership story, you have to discern it, you have to act on it. And the more you act on it, the more you're developing that muscle and you're more confident you become in it. So I just wanna tell the leaders, like you said, follow that discernment, build the muscle. I wanna make it a little bit difficult on you because I wanna are lot, or I want to cover some important stuff. I'm gonna ask you to try to keep your answers to like one or two words, one or two sentences to drill on a few things. You built this, you didn't build this, you had a team that helped you build it. You brought on a thousand people and you had great people. In a word, a few words, a couple sentences, what qualities do you look for when you're adding great people to your team?
— Congruency of mission. Congruency of mission. I think this is really important. How I was able to replace myself on QVC and I hired three other people to carry a $200 million account? I didn't hire TV sales people, like most people do. I hired three women who authentically had their life changed by the product. And then I had them shadow me for a few years, taught them sales and taught them television. So in that one example, it was congruency and authenticity of mission and a belief that I think was the most powerful thing.
— That's helpful. When you're creating a culture, how important is a culture to your business?
— You know, the scripture, without vision, people perish? It is so important. More than ever, people need to know why they're doing what they're doing. And I think a big part of the great resignation and all the things happening in society right now is it's easy as a leader to forget that your team may not truly know why they're doing what they're doing for you and with you. Craig, we had these little cutouts, like literally paper cutouts that had our why in the middle and it had our customer in the center and it had our four pillars of our mission at It Cosmetics and they were on every person's desk. And I would ask our team whenever they're making a decision, whether it is a product development decision, or a hiring decision or a marketing decision that they try to run it through the lens of that image of what matters to us, where we're going, why we're doing what we're doing. And I think that's really what unified everybody. I don't think people thought their job was just their job. I think that they truly realized their job was changing the entire beauty industry and healing not enoughness and so many people affected by it.
— So good, one more question then I'm gonna go in kind of the lightning round, where we'll just fire a bunch at you. So from all measures, you're incredibly successful, but a lot of people don't succeed when they're successful. They fall apart, they burn out, it goes to their head. What advice do you have to people who are succeeding to stay successful at what matters most?
— This is something that I continue to struggle with to be totally honest. I think that as someone who's always been, I've always felt like God has put a great calling in my life. And I don't believe we're born to compete in with anyone else. I believe we're here to compete with what we know we're capable of becoming. And I struggle every day feeling like I'm nowhere close to becoming the potential God gave me. And so to this day, I have to challenge myself to work less, to stop thinking about how I'm gonna serve an impact obsessively and actually enjoy my daughter singing to the Elmo song. I need to intentionally be present with my husband at dinner when I am tempted to daydream about creating, building, serving, and impacting, and it is a daily struggle for me. So, and maybe other people listening can relate to that as well. But it's something that I'm just being really intentional because I can look back and go, okay, I've achieved all of these incredible things that they only write about in movies. And yet the moments that fill my soul the most, aren't usually those achievements, right? They're the times when, you know, my daughter was born or, you know, but they're also, let me say this and maybe you have these moments too, like just this morning when I get a letter from someone who says like, "I read 'Believe It' or I, you know, whatever, and I decided to trust myself and it worked". Or things like that, like those are the moments that fill my soul. So, you know, I am trying to be intentional about doing both, about being someone who I feel is called to serve in a great way, but also trying to not look back at life and say, "Gosh, I forgot to enjoy it".
— That's so good, and you used the word three or four times, the word intentional. I think anybody who's a high performer like you and the vast majority of our community, they're visionaries. They're growing, they're stretching themselves. We don't wanna be successful just in the business and not be successful at home. And it's what happens in the home, it's what happens in your heart. That's that where the true lasting measure of success is. And so congratulations if you can do both, but if we're gonna do one, we don't need to sell the business for $1.2 billion and lose everything else that matters even more. We wanna really be intentional, as you are, and it's hard it takes work because when you can do a lot, you tend to wanna do a lot, but you don't wanna do a lot of what doesn't matter as much as a lot of what does matter most. And I congratulate you and Paulo on being great at both, producing great value and staying centered or working to stay centered at the things that matter most. The name of the book is "Believe It" get it, "Believe It" is incredible. Lightning round, Jamie, I'm gonna ask you a bunch of quick questions just for fun. Don't think about it just tell me whatever comes to mind. What's your biggest leadership pet peeve? What drives you crazy? You're thinking too long,
— Okay, don't think about It.
— Be honest.
— What drives me crazy?
— Yes, you know what it is.
— What drives me crazy incongruency. Incongruency. Yeah, incongruency. I think when you show up fully authentically is when you're your most powerful. I think your authenticity's your super power. I think most leaders are scared to be authentic.
— Before you speak at the Global Leadership Summit, or before you go on live with Tony Robbins or John Maxwell, wherever you are, what do you say to yourself right before you give a talk?
— God use me, love use me.
— Love it. What is a recent discipline or habit that you've added to your life that you're excited about?
— 4:30 AM, wake ups.
— Oh, let's go.
— Getting time, that still time in the morning. That still time is been healing and also just inspiring.
— I wonder what percentage of the highest performers actually have a very early wake up time? I don't know what that is, but I'm guessing it's pretty high. That time in the morning is very important to me. And I think that's true for a lot of leaders. Is there a favorite book that you've read recently?
— I'm reading "The Way of Integrity" right now with Martha Beck, which is really interesting. Also about congruency with your truth, which is really powerful. Love that one. I'm reading so many books. You know what happens when you write a book? Like "Believe It" came out, now all of a sudden, everyone wants me to read their books to get an endorsement. I'm like, there's so many books. But it's really fun. So, actually I should change my answer. "Believe It", "Believe It, how to go from underestimated to unstoppable".
— It is, well, I do wanna congratulate you on the book hitting New York Times bestseller and it's really fun to see that your influence is increasing every single day. I think your message is one that is so, so, so encouraging. And I just would say, as a student of leadership, thank you for every single sacrifice that you made, every rejection that you endured, every obstacle that you overcame to give us a story that we applaud and just learn from because it's thousands upon thousands of lessons. And the great thing is, when you were a waitress at Denny's or sacking groceries, that was preparation when you're building your business. Interestingly enough, that was preparation when you sold it and became the first female CEO for L'Oreal, that was preparation for what you you're doing today, which is an even bigger influence. And what you're doing today is preparing you for what you're gonna do in the years to come. And so I just love being a fan cheering you on and congratulate you on a life that really is making a difference, Jamie.
— Ah, thank you so much. All of those things back to you and I think I shared this on stage actually at Global Leadership Summit, but I just am so grateful for you and I feel like you inspire so many people and leaders to feel less alone and more enough and that is so powerful. That is so powerful.
— Yeah, thank you.
— And you do that for me as well and so I just wanna say thank you so much, Craig.
— Well, I can't wait to hear the stories that come on the other side of this podcast, as you speak to the hearts of so many leaders out there. If you want to find out more about Jamie, your website, where should people go?
— Sure, yeah. jamiekernlima.com and I'm on Instagram, jamiekernlima and all those great things, or just on Craig's Instagram, liking all his posts. One of those thoughts.
— There you go, I'll post on you and try to get as many people to hear your great content. If you are new with us to the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast, we post a new episode on the first Thursday of each month. I wanna give a little shout out to some people who are posting about the podcast. Thank you to Bridget Dodson, Jaden Darrow, Abby Gibson, and Chris Odel. Thank you for sharing on social media. If this is helpful to you and you wanna invite others to be a part, that would mean the world to me. We do have a leader guide, which summarizes all of the content and the amazing quotes that Jamie shared today. You can go to life.church/leadershippodcast, click on the link, and we'll send you that every time that we release an episode. Thank you in a big way, Jamie, for your investment in us and wanna tell our community, thank you for being a part in investing in your leadership, because we know that everyone wins when the leader gets better.