Ever wonder what it’s like to walk a day in someone else’s shoes (or spend a day in someone else’s job, as the case may be)? Us too! In our “Women at work” series, we’re talking to some of the most accomplished women we know about how they got to where they are in their careers, what advice they’d give their younger selves, and any tips & tricks they’ve picked up along the way.
Name: Carly Stein
Job Title: Founder / CEO of Beekeeper’s Naturals
What does a typical day look like for you?
Beekeeper’s Naturals (BKN) is a fast growing startup, so there’s really no such thing as a typical day for me. I have my morning rituals — I take a little time for myself and fit in a quick meditation sesh — but after that anything goes. I am constantly kept on my toes, which is challenging but also really invigorating. As my company grows, my role is continually evolving.
I definitely do spend days doing a solid amount of computer work, but for me, learning and adapting is the most consistent thing I do. The one thing I never knew about being a CEO is that it’s a practice in being a beginner. There’s always something new or unusual that pops into my day, so being good at adopting that beginner mindset is crucial. I know it’s not something most people enjoy — we tend to enjoy being really good at things! But I think being able to thrive and problem-solve in new, uncharted terrains (without giving up or being really harsh with yourself) is a pretty valuable key to success in both business and life.
What role has your gender or racial identity played in your career to date?
I want my personal identity to be defined by what I create and how I make the people around me feel. But I know full well that less than 5% of Fortune 500 company CEOs are female and that, with the gender wage gap, women are still earning an average of 19.6% less than male colleagues, which is crazy for 2018! I and every strong woman I know work our asses off to get where we are. I am proud to be a female CEO and so proud of the strong female leaders on my team.
I feel strongly about being vocal about the importance of stepping forward as a female CEO, sharing my experience and making sure other women can use my missteps and learnings to do better. I am hopeful that we can start to shift the state of leadership to a more balanced one.
But still, I’m always surprised when I encounter gender biases because I work so hard to not let any of my fixed traits define me. In my previous life working in finance, I had many unfortunate moments when my gender was highlighted. But now I have an incredible team of individuals who work together and don’t allow labels to bias their views, it’s a powerful work environment.
As a CEO, there have also been moments when my age also plays into it, along with gender. I have had customers ask to talk to my boss, or there have been times when freelancers have assumed that my male 30-something COO was the one in charge. When these sorts of things happen, I’m clear about my role at the company and set it straight in a kind way as soon as it comes up. I am a 20-something female CEO and that’s a fact, let’s move on. You can’t be afraid to tell someone like it is.
How do you define success and how do you measure it?
I define success by impact. How did I make an impact today? I try to have an impact daily in small ways. Am I there for my team, am I supporting them, am I helping them feel more inspired and empowered?
Big picture, I care deeply about the impact BKN makes on the wellness landscape and the environment. We are dedicated to giving people natural and effective solutions to wellness and healing that are backed by real science. And we also care about doing good for the environment and saving the bees. To me, success isn’t one or the other. It’s striving for purpose and impact daily in everything I do, whether it’s a one-on-one meeting with a member of my team or an exciting new product launch.
Can you share the best professional advice that someone has given you along the way?
Someone once told me that most people won’t remember what you say, but they will remember how you made them feel. This is the best personal and career advice I’ve ever gotten.
Another bit of advice I love is: the answer is ‘no’ to 100% of the things you don’t ask. It can be really intimidating to ask for things, and the fear of rejection is real and deep-seated. But why not ask, since you’re facing rejection anyways if you don’t? Simply asking opens up a world of possibilities that wouldn’t be available to you otherwise. It just takes the tiniest ounce of courage to change your reality.
What advice would you give your 25-year old self about navigating your own career?
Be bold. Don’t waste so much time doubting yourself. Put aside the negative self talk and get to work, because you’re going to do the work either way. Make it a positive experience by believing in yourself. Doubting yourself at every step along the way is exhausting—it really just slows you down. Ditch the ego at the curb, make fear sit in the back seat, blast some loving self-talk, and make things happen.
Who has inspired you in your life and why?
My dad. He’s one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met, and he somehow balanced that with being incredibly present parent. Growing up, he ensured that my sister and I valued knowledge and impact over material. He and my mom instilled a growth mindset in us—that we are all equal and capable of anything. He taught me that it’s about what you’re willing to put into it, not some innate talent. That idea isn’t always easy to embrace, but I still strive towards it daily.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I absolutely love building a team. Having passionate people to work with and learn from—and then watching them take real ownership of this thing we create—is incredible. I started Beekeeper’s Naturals on my own, and now I have this group of super talented people who care about the vision and are working to make it their own and keep building it with me. They are all rockstars and I really couldn’t do what I do without them!
Someone might be surprised to learn:
I used to work on the trading floor at Goldman Sachs and began building my company as a hobby, which quickly turned into a side hustle while at GS.
Favorite book you’ve read in the last year:
Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card. Ender’s Game is a long time fave but I re-read Ender’s Shadow recently and was pulled back into that world. While I read a lot of non-fiction as well, especially to help gain perspective and build certain skills, (and this could just be the sci fi nerd in me) I think fiction and escaping into a new world and watching how characters create and solve problems can teach us unlikely lessons as well.
“You only fail when you stop trying.” It’s not attributed to anyone, but I think it’s just an evolution of Einstein’s “You never fail until you stop trying.”
Favorite health hack:
Propolis, big shocker, right! Our Propolis Throat Spray is my go-to immune booster and a serious life saver during cold and flu season, especially with all the traveling I do.
Favorite life hack:
Definitely journaling. It’s like free therapy, accessible to anyone at anytime. For me journaling has a the ability to totally shift my mental state and really help anxiety.