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🔑 Key Takeaways

  1. Personal experiences and upbringing greatly impact our aspirations and goals. It is essential to gain practical experience and education to better prepare for success in both corporate and entrepreneurial endeavors.
  2. Following your passion, collaborating with like-minded individuals, and pursuing entrepreneurship can enable positive change and create a platform for innovation and success.
  3. Embracing diversity within your organization can foster collaboration, generate new ideas, and enable agile market adaptation, but be mindful of the potential overshadowing of certain brands and embrace the value of fresh perspectives.
  4. A strong sense of belonging and mission-driven environment can foster deep relationships and dedication among team members, resulting in a supportive and inclusive work culture.
  5. Fostering a strong company culture requires a balance of intentional efforts and natural occurrences, with an emphasis on genuine care, fun, and work-life balance. Hiring adaptable individuals is crucial.
  6. Work-life balance is unique to each individual and can change over time. It requires support, understanding, and adaptability, and a culture of kindness and belonging in the workplace.
  7. Self-awareness and the willingness to ask for help can drive positive changes and success in a growing organization, even if the CEO doesn't possess all the necessary skills.
  8. Staying true to oneself, acknowledging strengths and weaknesses, and delegating tasks to trusted individuals leads to authentic leadership and fosters success within a team. Transparency in the skincare industry challenges traditional notions of quality and pricing.
  9. Follow your vision, even in the face of rejection, and trust your instincts. Success comes from staying true to your unique approach and not conforming to industry norms.
  10. Brandon's sudden change in behavior, including his coldness, disconnection, and interest in altering his mind, raises concerns about the team's understanding of their visionary leader and calls for a reevaluation of their approach to work.
  11. Understanding and supporting individuals with mental health and substance abuse issues is crucial, as sudden changes in behavior may indicate underlying problems.
  12. Professional help and a strong support system are crucial when dealing with a loved one's mental illness.
  13. Creating an inclusive and accepting work environment is crucial for ensuring that everyone feels valued and accepted for their true selves, regardless of their personal relationships or identities.
  14. Authentic communication, understanding childhood experiences, and addressing mental health struggles are vital in supporting those facing identity challenges and addiction.
  15. Nicola Kilner, despite facing immense challenges, showed remarkable leadership by assembling a crucial team and stabilizing the organization. Being a CEO involves juggling responsibilities and prioritizing safety and stability.
  16. In times of tragedy, compassion, understanding, and unity among team members can provide crucial support and help navigate the difficult process of grieving and handling challenging situations.
  17. Take the time to process and confront your emotions after the loss of a loved one. Seek professional help and give yourself the space needed to heal and come to terms with the tragedy.
  18. Trust, love, and adaptability are key in personal and professional relationships, helping individuals navigate challenges and achieve success while staying true to their core values.
  19. Strong products, diverse teams, and unwavering values are key to business success, fostering trust, driving innovation, and achieving unique outcomes.
  20. Stay calm and approach situations with a positive attitude, while understanding addiction as a mental illness and showing empathy towards those affected.
  21. Gratitude, self-acceptance, and finding joy in the present are essential for a meaningful life, regardless of past tragedies or future plans.
  22. Nicola Kilner's approach to business, driven by kindness and authenticity, is a shining example of how success and kindness can coexist in leadership, inspiring others to do the same.

📝 Podcast Summary

The Influence of Personal Experiences on Future Aspirations and Goals

Personal experiences and upbringing shape our aspirations and goals for the future. Nicola Kilner shares how her parents' different personalities influenced her own dreams and desires. She admired her mother's maternal role but also yearned for freedom and the ability to make her own choices. She saw entrepreneurship as a path to financial freedom and decided to study management studies to gain the necessary skills and knowledge. However, she also emphasizes the importance of gaining corporate experience to learn from established organizations and understand their strengths and limitations. From this, she recommends that her own children consider working in a corporate setting before pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams. This suggests that a combination of practical experience and education can better prepare individuals for success.

The Power of Entrepreneurship: Collaborating, Innovating, and Building Relationships to Make a Difference

Entrepreneurship can be a powerful way to make a change and contribute to the world. Nicola Kilner highlights the energy and value of joining a startup, emphasizing the importance of collaboration, innovation, and building relationships. Her experience in a corporate role exposed her to various departments and taught her about consumer goods and demand. Meeting Brandon, a business owner full of positivity and passion, had a profound impact on her. They worked together to launch successful products and shared a desire to make a difference. Eventually, they both left their respective positions and decided to launch their own business, driven by their shared vision of creating a platform that ranks beauty products. This conversation underscores the value of following one's passion, collaborating with like-minded individuals, and pursuing entrepreneurship as a means to enact positive change.

Balancing Multiple Brands for Collaborative Success and Innovation

Doing multiple things at once can have benefits, even though it goes against the traditional advice of focusing on one thing. By having multiple brands and a diverse ecosystem, Nicola Kilner was able to create an environment of collaboration and generate numerous ideas. This approach allowed them to have their own manufacturing and in-house capabilities, reducing the need for outsourcing. It also provided flexibility to try new things and quickly adapt based on market traction. However, the downside of having multiple brands is that some may get pushed aside when one brand becomes a massive success. Additionally, hiring a team with fresh perspectives and minimal experience helped them think differently and challenge industry norms.

Building a Family-Like Environment: Creating a Supportive and Inclusive Work Culture

The founder and CEO of the company, Brandon, had a strong desire to build a family-like environment within the company. This stemmed from his troubled upbringing and his longing for a sense of belonging. He wanted everyone in the team to feel like they had a place at the company, regardless of their background or beliefs. This family-like atmosphere created deep relationships and a sense of dedication among the team members. It was a mission-driven environment where everyone believed in the company's vision and supported each other. Despite the challenges they faced, the love and passion within the team made it difficult to navigate through tough times. Overall, the conversation highlights the importance of creating a supportive and inclusive work culture that fosters strong relationships and a shared sense of purpose.

Building a Strong Company Culture: Balancing Intentional Efforts and Natural Occurrences

Building a strong and dedicated company culture requires a combination of intentional efforts and natural occurrences. It's important to create an environment where people genuinely care about the company and each other. Fun and creativity outside of work play a significant role in fostering this type of culture. Enjoying the workplace and having a healthy work-life balance are crucial for long-term success. While early startup culture may have lacked balance, the enthusiasm and collaboration among a small group of individuals were instrumental in achieving initial success. Hiring individuals who are willing to wear multiple hats and adapt to changing circumstances is essential during the early stages of a company.

The Evolving Journey of Work-Life Balance: Flexibility and Understanding

Finding work-life balance is a personal journey that evolves over time. It is not a one-size-fits-all concept, and what works for one person may not work for another. Nicola Kilner explains that during her twenties, she was content with prioritizing work over other aspects of her life because she was passionate and happy in her role. However, she acknowledges that this balance may shift during different stages of life, such as when facing family responsibilities or personal challenges. It is important to support and understand each other's needs and make necessary adjustments. Additionally, the conversation highlights the importance of a family culture in the workplace, where belonging, care, and kindness are fostered. Critically, kindness should not be mistaken for weakness or superficial niceness but rather as genuine support and guidance in helping individuals reach their potential, even if it means making tough decisions such as career change or termination.

The Importance of Recognizing Limitations and Seeking Help in CEO Role

Being a CEO requires a diverse skill set, especially when leading a growing organization. Nicola Kilner, the CEO, acknowledges that she may not possess all the necessary skills and qualifications to effectively handle the challenges of a larger company. However, she emphasizes the importance of teamwork and bringing in experienced individuals to fill those gaps. By recognizing her limitations and seeking help, Nicola was able to bring in a capable general manager who transformed the business by implementing essential organizational systems. This experience highlights the significance of finding the right balance between expertise and passion in different areas of the company. Ultimately, the key takeaway is that being self-aware and humble enough to seek assistance when needed can lead to significant positive changes within an organization.

Authenticity and self-awareness in leadership- the success story of Nicola Kilner and Deum.

Authenticity and self-awareness are crucial in leadership. Nicola Kilner emphasizes the importance of staying true to oneself and acknowledging both strengths and weaknesses. Instead of trying to be someone she's not, she delegates tasks to trusted individuals who excel in those areas. This approach not only allows her to focus on her own strengths but also fosters authenticity within the team. By being aware of her own limitations and bringing in knowledgeable and talented individuals, Nicola Kilner has been able to lead her company, Deum, successfully. Additionally, the conversation highlights the value of transparency in the skincare industry, which was the driving force behind the launch of The Ordinary. The brand's aim was to provide consumers with clear information about ingredients and pricing, challenging the notion that higher prices necessarily mean better quality.

The Ordinary: A Journey of Transparency, Confidence, and Success

Nicola Kilner and her team at The Ordinary believed in the concept of transparency in the beauty industry and stuck to their unique approach despite initial rejection from retailers. They had the confidence to follow their gut and prioritize their vision over conforming to industry norms. This ultimately paid off, as The Ordinary became a huge success, with retailers struggling to keep up with demand even six years after its launch. The brand's success attracted the attention of investors, and after meeting with various firms, they found a perfect match with S.A. Lauder Companies. The deal was signed within a short span of time, highlighting the energy and passion of Nicola and her team. Today, their partnership has flourished, with S.A. Lauder Companies gradually acquiring a majority stake in The Ordinary. The journey has been filled with learning and mutual respect, ultimately leading to remarkable success.

The Troubling Transformation of Brandon and its Impact on the Company Dynamics

There was a significant change in Brandon's behavior at the end of 2017, which affected the dynamics of the company. Despite the rapid success and growth of their brand, Brandon's transformation seemed sudden and troubling. Nicola's description of his coldness and disconnection from the team indicates a drastic shift in his personality. Brandon's interest in magic mushrooms and altering his mind further contributed to the concern and confusion among the team members. They found it difficult to understand his new perspective on time, with his suggestion to meet without specifying a specific time. This sudden change raised questions about whether the team was misinterpreting their visionary leader's intentions and whether they should reevaluate their approach to their work.

The Impact of Mental Health Issues and Substance Abuse on Behavior

Sudden and drastic changes in behavior can be indicators of mental health issues, especially when combined with substance abuse. Nicola Kilner describes a close relationship that quickly turned cold and hostile, with her former partner exhibiting anger, shouting, and crying. He made irrational business decisions and eventually fired her without following proper protocols. The conversation highlights the difficulty of dealing with someone whose brain is affected by mental health issues, as they may not recognize their own behavior or be able to engage in rational conversations. Additionally, it emphasizes the importance of supporting and protecting individuals struggling with mental health and substance abuse, even when their actions might be hurtful or confusing.

Dealing with someone who is mentally unwell and unpredictable can be incredibly challenging and emotionally draining. Nicola Kilner's experience highlights the confusion and fear that comes with trying to help a loved one who is acting irrationally. Despite her best efforts, she found herself unable to make a significant impact on Brandon's well-being, as he continued to spiral and get sectioned multiple times. The lack of a cohesive connection between countries' medical systems made it even more difficult to provide the necessary support. This conversation underscores the importance of seeking professional help and emphasizing the need for a strong support system for both individuals struggling with mental health and the people around them.

The Struggle for Acceptance and Belonging in a Family-Like Company Environment

Brendan, the founder of the company, had a deep desire to create a family-like environment within the company. However, he struggled with feeling accepted for who he truly was, which was a tremendous source of pain for him. Despite the company's inclusive culture, Brendan felt the need to hide his long-term romantic relationship with another man, fearing that he wouldn't be accepted. This sheds light on the challenges he faced in his early years and his constant search for acceptance. It's heartbreaking to realize that someone who dedicated themselves to creating a family bond within the company never truly felt a sense of belonging himself. This conversation underscores the importance of creating a truly inclusive environment where everyone feels accepted and valued for who they are.

The Burden of Identity and Struggles with Mental Health

Nicola Kilner's friend, who hailed from Iran, struggled to authentically express his identity and faced the burden of keeping aspects of his life a secret. His mother's death and strained relationship with his father added to his challenges. Nicola wishes she could have asked him more about his childhood, reasons for secrecy, and signs of mental health struggles. The friend's addiction to crystal meth worsened his situation, leading to his removal from the UK and association with questionable individuals. Despite efforts to support and help him, he ultimately pushed away those who cared for him. His announcement on Instagram about shutting down the company could have been a cry for help, but instead, it led to his removal from the company.

Balancing Chaos and Stability: A CEO's Journey Towards Success

Nicola Kilner, who became the CEO of a company in chaos, faced immense challenges and uncertainty. Despite being seven months pregnant, she assembled a team of key people who had been fired during the chaos and were crucial to the company's values and success. The demand for products skyrocketed due to the controversy surrounding the brand, but Nicola recognized the need to stabilize the organization. She also shared her difficulty in accepting that people only knew the founder through the public turmoil, not his true qualities. Furthermore, she revealed that the founder's behavior, including parking outside the office, posed a threat to the company. Balancing responsibilities as CEO and ensuring the safety and stability of the company proved to be a challenging task.

Facing Tragedy: Navigating Loss, Grief, and Unity in the Face of Adversity

Nicola Kilner and her team experienced a heartbreaking and tragic loss when their founder and close friend, Brendan, passed away due to drug abuse and mental health struggles. Nicola recounts the shock and disbelief she felt upon learning of Brendan's death, as she had hoped he would eventually get better. The team had to quickly navigate the process of informing Brendan's loved ones and their company, while also handling a press inquiry. Despite the pain and sadness they endured, Nicola emphasizes the strong bond that formed among the team members who supported each other through this difficult time. This conversation highlights the importance of compassion, understanding, and unity in the face of adversity.

Coping with the Loss of a Loved One: Nicola Kilner's Journey of Grief and Healing

Processing the loss of a loved one takes time and finding the right moment to confront emotions is essential. Nicola Kilner, co-founder and former co-CEO, shares her struggle with processing the passing of her friend and co-founder. Despite the busyness of work and personal commitments, the grief remains raw. Nicola acknowledges the need to seek professional help and address the emotions surrounding the tragedy. She reflects on the complex feelings of regret and questions whether there was more that could have been done. However, finding solace in the final wishes expressed in the will, Nicola realizes the genuine love that existed between them. The key takeaway highlights the importance of giving oneself the time and space needed to heal and come to terms with loss.

Importance of Trust, Love, and Adaptability in Personal and Professional Relationships

Trust and love are essential in personal and professional relationships. Nicola Kilner reflects on the comfort she finds in her partner's trust and love for her, evidenced by his willingness to make personal decisions on her behalf. Losing a loved one brings loneliness and a sense of responsibility, while navigating the challenges of growth and expansion in business requires finding a balance between core values and strategic planning. Initially, the company operated without a formal strategy, embracing agility and the ability to adapt as a startup. However, as the company grew, a strategy became necessary to articulate goals and achieve success. Ultimately, the company's strategy has evolved to encompass both growth and making a positive impact on the world. Trust, love, and adaptability are crucial elements in both personal and professional endeavors.

Key Factors for Business Success: Product Quality, Diversity, and Core Values

Product quality and a diverse workforce are crucial for success in a business. The speaker emphasizes that starting with a strong product and focusing on delivering results builds trust and allows for growth. Additionally, having a diverse team with different viewpoints drives innovation and creativity. The speaker highlights the importance of kindness, authenticity, and doing the right thing even when no one is watching as non-negotiable values in a company. Taking inspiration from outside the industry, rather than following what everyone else is doing, can lead to unique and successful outcomes. The conversation also reveals the company's impressive statistics, including having over 50% women in leadership positions and being the most searched skincare brand on TikTok.

The importance of staying calm and finding positivity in tough times and understanding addiction as a mental health issue.

Staying calm and finding positivity in everything can be crucial in navigating through tough times. It's important to approach situations with an air of calmness and avoid getting stressed out, as it can help in overcoming challenges. The conversation also highlights the impact of addiction and the need to understand it as a mental health issue. It emphasizes that addiction is an illness and should be treated as such, just like any other disease. The conversation sheds light on the struggles faced by individuals dealing with addiction and the importance of empathy and understanding. It reminds us to be supportive and compassionate towards those battling addiction, as they are dealing with an uncontrollable situation caused by an illness.

Embracing Acceptance and Contentment for a Fulfilling Life

Acceptance and contentment are crucial in finding happiness and fulfillment in life. Despite facing tragedies and challenges, Nicola Kilner expresses her gratitude for the love, support, and joy she experiences in her life. She highlights the importance of a stable and loving childhood in setting a strong foundation for later life. Nicola also values her role as a mother and prioritizes it above any other plans or ambitions. Through her journey, she emphasizes the significance of accepting oneself and finding contentment in the present moment. This conversation reminds us that being grateful for what we have and embracing our true selves can lead to a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Combining Success and Kindness in Leadership: Nicola Kilner's Inspiring Story

Success and kindness are not mutually exclusive in leadership. Nicola Kilner's approach to business, driven by her qualities as a dedicated mother, has shaped the positive culture at S E M. Despite the conflicts that may arise from associating work with personal life, Nicola remains content and true to herself. She emphasizes the importance of approaching things with kindness and being a shining example of success without cruelty or selfishness. Nicola's story is inspiring and has the power to induce light and liberation in others. By sharing her experiences with wisdom and vulnerability, she has helped countless people, even if she may never fully grasp the extent of her impact.