Episode 037: On Mindset, Money Blocks and Being An Architect of Change

Episode 037: On Mindset, Money Blocks and Being An Architect of Change

In this episode, I'm continuing my behind-the-scenes mini-series and sharing how Beautycounter's Leadership Summit shifted my mindset toward business, helped me break through money blocks and reexamined my thoughts on diversity and inclusion.

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Today’s scheduled episode was supposed to have been a behind-the-scenes look at how the process of removing my mercury dental fillings have been going. But I’m going to put that off for another week and instead, share my thoughts that I’ve been processing ever since I got back from Leadership Summit last weekend.

So I spent last weekend, and if you’re listening to this in the future, that would be the first weekend of May 2018, in Minneapolis at a Beautycounter conference.

If you have no idea what Beautycounter is, or what I’m talking about, let me share what is Beautycounter and what Leadership Summit was.

Beautycounter is a direct-retail brand that creates safer, cleaner cosmetics and skincare products.

They go-to-market through a wide range of distribution channels from:

  • independent consultants (like me)
  • to eCommerce (you can purchase products directly from their website)
  • and through limited-time partnerships with other brands (like the one that they had with Target a couple of years ago).

They also educate the public about environmental health issues, as well as advocate for health-protective laws and build a movement for change.

In fact, that’s what the name “Beautycounter” means - to counter the beauty industry.

  • The mission of the company is to get safer products into the hands of everyone and that’s done in three ways:
  • By creating and selling high-performing products
  • Educating about how to avoid harmful ingredients
  • And urging governments to pass laws to better regulate the $62 billion largely unregulated beauty and personal care industry.

Leadership Summit is Beautycounter’s annual conference where all of their independent consultants come together to meet with and spend a few days the corporate team.

Now, working in the tech industry, I’ve been to so many company conferences and I have to tell you, the introvert in me I kinda dreads them. In fact, any of my past managers will tell you, that unless it was specifically mandated that I be there, I don’t go.

But this is my fun job so I was excited to go, but I did expect it to be just like all of the other company conferences I’ve been to where they were like extra long all-hands meetings.

I expected to hear about:

  • The state of the business
  • Progress on the advocacy efforts
  • An update on the product roadmap on what new products are coming out this year (can you tell that I work in a product management team yet)?
  • And I expected to receive training on how to build my Beautycounter business

And all those things happened. And they were delivered in a really thoughtful, engaging way that didn’t make me fall asleep like all the other similar conferences that I’ve been to had.

In fact, I learned a lot that has me really jazzed about what’s coming down the pipeline later this year.

But there were a lot of power things, powerful moments that happened that I didn’t expect. So in no particular order, let me share my takeaways.

I saw what’s possible for me.

Since this episode is a part of my behind-the-scenes mini-series I’m going to take you behind the scenes of my business.

I joined Beautycounter two years ago because it was something that solved a problem I had, and I saw it as a solution that I could offer my health coaching clients too.

Back in 2015, when I was going through the depths of adrenal fatigue, before I even knew I had SIBO, a leaky gut or thyroid issues, Dr. Melissa, who I interviewed in Episode 002, told me that there are environmental toxins that we are exposed to everyday, many inside of our own homes.

And these toxins can disrupt the way our hormones are meant to operate and when that happens, it can cause digestive problems, weight gain, insomnia, and pain and more - basically all the things I was struggling with.

And cosmetics are a big source of toxins, especially for women.

This was the first time that I had even heard that cosmetics could be harmful and was so taken back by it that I drove home from that very appointment and threw out my entire, very expensive cosmetics collection that I had built up from department stores.

And I had nothing else to use in it’s place.

Now I’m not really “crunchy” but I did try using coconut oil and apple cider vinegar for skincare and in the spirit of transparency - they didn’t really work for me.

And when it came to color cosmetics, I didn’t know what to use.

I went to Sephora and I asked for safer brands and instead, they talked to me about cruelty-free brands. Now, I’m an animal lover, and cruelty-free is super important to me, but what about safer for me? These are two very different things.

Then I read online about some better brands that were sold at Ulta, but have you ever tried shopping at Ulta? Trying to even find someone to help me was difficult enough, but when I did, they also couldn’t answer some very basic the questions I had about safer products.

So for a full year, I used a brand that was said to be a bit safer than what I had been using, but it wasn’t high-performing. In fact, I hated the way it made me look. If you look at photos of me between 2015 and 2016, you’ll see that I had a washed out, super powdery look going for me.

But then I saw a photo of Beautycounter’s charcoal bar on Instagram. So I googled the company and read all about their mission and what they were doing. They were talking about the same things that I cared about, so I joined, meaning, I signed up to become an independent consultant.

And while I’ve met the requirements to remain a consultant for the past two years, and while I do have one person on my team, I’ve really done the bare minimum.

I saw my Beautycounter business as an accessory offering to my health coaching practice, so it was always an afterthought.

An afterthought to getting my website published, an afterthought to launching and producing this podcast, an afterthought to creating free resources that you all can download, an afterthought to social media.

And while all those things are important aspects of building a business, they take a lot of time and I never “had time” for my Beautycounter business because, I treated it as an afterthought.

Now this is where we really go behind the scenes.

Anyone who has started their own business will tell you that it’s hard. Entrepreneurship is hard.

The path to profitability is challenging. I’ve definitely rode - and at times am still ride the “feast or famine” cycle that my mentor Racheal Cook talks about.

The pay isn’t great when you’re starting out - I mean, do the math between the amount of hours that we pour into our businesses versus our revenue, it’s pennies on the dollar.

But we know this going on. And we still do it anyway because we are doing what we love. We are doing what’s our passion and more than likely, it doesn’t even feel like work. Right?

But what I saw at Leadership Summit is that Beautycounter can speed up the path to profitability.

I heard from general session speakers and talked one-on-one with other consultants, who are making a sustainable and consistent income with Beautycounter. And some of them have been able to leave their full-time corporate jobs, and now do work they love and choose who they work with.

Pretty amazing, right?

Now here’s where you may be thinking two things:

  1. Tell me more OR
  2. This sounds so icky, I can’t believe you’re talking about money on this podcast

So let me get into both.

First, let’s talk about the ickiness that you might be feeling by me talking about money.

I had those thoughts too.

I used to be super judgemental about bloggers who pimped out brands. And even more judgemental when a brand changed their influencer program and the person suddenly no longer thought that brand was the best thing ever and jumped ship to a new brand.

What I’ve come to learn is that there are many different business models when it comes to building a business, even an online business. Just because someone does business online, doesn’t mean there’s only one way to do it.

Beautycounter uses a direct-to-customer business model which is why it uses independent consultants. Because if you think about it, the story of this mission-based business couldn’t be told effectively in a department store as it is being told person-to-person.

When people hear direct-to-customer, they immediately think of Avon or Tupperware or Mary Kay and then immediately think, “Oh this is a pyramid scheme.”

Well, let me first say that the biggest pyramid scheme out there is corporate America. I mean where else will you work your tail off, only to have a limit on what you can earn, and how far you can advance.

Having 22 years of corporate experience, I 100% can tell you that unless you are the top leader, your compensation will always be limited, it will never match your effort, and promotions and raises are rarely given on merit. Trust me, I’ve seen the behind of the scenes of how these things work.

Now I have no experience with any other direct retail business. I have never worked for another one - so I can only speak to my experience with Beautycounter and it is this: you are paid on performance.

You determine how much you get paid, you determine who you work for and who you work with, and if you find yourself in the situation of needing more income, you have the freedom to make it happen for yourself.

Does that sound like a pyramid scheme to you?

So let me bring this back to me and my business.

When I think about how I used to judge other bloggers, and how I’ve played small in my Beautycounter business, its because I had money blocks. Big money blocks.

In the last episode, Episode 036, I talked about a scarcity mindset, and I’ve 100% had a scarcity mindset when its come to building my business, especially my Beautycounter business.

I kept telling myself:

  • “I can’t sell.”
  • “I don’t want to be that person who floods my social media feed with promotions.”
  • “I don’t want to bother people”

But what I observed at Leadership Summit is that the women who have been successful, who have rose to leadership positions, who have build consistent and sustainable incomes, treat Beautycounter as a business and they don’t feed themselves these stories.

It reflected in the way they dressed, the way they spoke, in how they conducted themselves and how they treated others. This isn’t their hobby, it’s their bonafide business or a significant aspect of their larger business and they put in the work and treated it as such in a professional manner - however a professional manner means TO THEM.

Denise Duffield-Thomas talks a lot about how as woman, we can feel like it’s a dirty thing to talk about money, to earn money, and to want to build a lucrative income. We think we don’t deserve it and we play small and almost feel apologetic about it. And that was me.

But I got into this business for a reason - because I felt so angry that I, that we all, have all been lied to.

I remember how I felt when I learned that - guess what, you can still gain weight even though you burn more calories than you eat - and that can even make you gain weight.

Or when I learned that overtraining can cause serious health repercussions and that taking one or two days off from training isn’t enough.

Or that eating healthy fats does not in fact make you fat.

Or that it is legal for U.S. cosmetics companies to use known carcinogens in the products that we use everyday. In the products that we put on our skin every day. They know its harmful, but they still use it because its legal.

And it’s legal because there hasn’t been a major law passed regulating the beauty industry since 1938.

I felt shocked, horrid, disgusted, lied to when I learned all these things. And that’s why I do the work that I do. This is why I joined Beautycounter - because it solved a solution to a problem that I had.

So why then how can I not share this with people?

What if Dr. Melissa had never told me about toxins in personal care and beauty products?

What if Diane had never posted that image of the charcoal bar on social media?

Where would I be?

What if Gregg Renfrew had never started Beautycounter?

Where would the women who have risen to leadership be if Gregg had never started Beautycounter?

What if I had never told my clients about Beautycounter?

I’d been scared and embarrassed to speak out more about the work that I do as health coach and about Beautycounter, but now I feel even more embarrassed, almost selfish because I haven’t been speaking about it.

So when I came back from Leadership Summit I did an experiment. I got out of my own way and did the most reachout that I’ve ever done.

I reached out to 20 people in one week. And I’m very mindful and deliberate in who I reach out - its people who I genuinely feel care and would be successful doing this kind of work. And 90% of those people responded with, “Yes, I want to know more.” or “I’ve been thinking about joining the company myself.”

And all week I’ve wanted to kick myself because I never asked them earlier.

So that was a long-winded way of sharing how my eyes were open to what’s possible for me. And how I can’t treat Beautycounter as an “accessory offering” or an “afterthought” because its a solution to a big problem so many of my clients, and my community struggles with, whether they know it or not.

My second takeaway came out of nowhere!

Like I said, I arrived in Minneapolis expecting to hear about company performance, what’s ahead and to learn how to do my job better.

And while I did hear about those things, I also heard a great deal about diversity and inclusion. In fact, it was the theme of the conference.

And it made me sit back in my chair and go, “Huh.”

The conference opened with a talk on love and compassion and they even played the very last scene from Love Actually where families are greeting each other with airport homecomings. Because at the end of the day, as human beings all we want is love and connection.

And that lead the way to a lot of talk on diversity and inclusion.

As a minority, I found it….interesting.

And this is where I’m going to get super transparent again.

When I arrived at the hotel, at the Hyatt, I immediately felt intimidated. Because I’m a short, Asian woman and what I saw a lot of was young, tall, blonde beautiful women dressed to the nines. In the most fashionable of fashions - apparently ruffles are really in this season - walking in the highest of heels.

I couldn’t be farther from that. I’m in my early 40s and will choose comfort over fashion any day. I noticed that there weren’t a lot of women who looked like me, but to be honest, I’m kinda used to feeling that way and it didn’t really bother me. Or maybe it did, but it’s my norm so I didn’t really think anything of it.

But to hear our CEO and others on the ELT, the executive leadership team talk about diversity and inclusion, made me sit back and go, “Whoa.” They really dp care about diversity in this company.”

And then I thought back over the past year at the different products that have released.

Now if you’ve been familiar Beautycounter for a long time, you may have been seen the old formulations of color cosmetics. They were not the best for darker skin tones.

But over the past year we’ve seen more vibrant colors released in the color cosmetics with the different eyeshadow palettes and color intense lipsticks.

And suddenly it all started to come together for me.

This discussion on diversity and inclusion that we were having has been an ongoing initiative, an important value of the company, I just hadn’t paid attention. But now they were putting it all out for everyone to hear and understand.

And it made me excited because just a I felt that they “got me” when I was looking for safer, high-performing beauty products, I once again, found myself feeling like, “they understand me” when hearing about the importance the inclusion of women of color.

To give you an idea of how in depth this conversation went, the very last session of the entire event was a panel discussion with Beautycounter’s Chief of Staff, an Asian American woman who’s a consultant, an African American woman who’s the new Vice President of Community Expansion (which by the way means their efforts on diversity and inclusion - which I didn’t get at first - I thought it was like for growing sales regions), and one of the keynote guest speakers who’s also African American.

And this panel talked about how to speak to someone different than you.

And I have to admit, I was a little, no let’s be honest, very surprised that in 2018, in a roomful of adult, intelligent women, we were having a panel discussion on how to speak to someone who’s different than you.

Maybe its because I grew up in Hawaii, where everyone is of mixed race, or maybe it’s because I live in the San Francisco Bay Area where its as diverse as you can get, but I was shocked that this discussion was taking place in a general session to closeout the conference.

And my teammates around me, bless their hearts, told me that they understood how I felt, but I had to understand that that discussion was so needed.

So like my money blocks, I’ve had to go back and think about how I’ve had blocks around diversity and inclusion and how I speak to and treat people who are different than me. I’ve had to ask myself if I’ve been living in a bubble when it comes to this.

Can you see why it’s taken me awhile to process all of this?

I’ve always said that started a business is the biggest lesson you’ll ever receive in personal growth and development, but I never expected it to come from Beautycounter.

This company really is more than a beauty company, it really is a movement.

I’m not a weepy person - at all. I mean, the only time I shed a tear is when Buster Posey hits a homerun and my San Francisco Giants win a World Series championship, but I got emotional more than a few times at Leadership Summit.

Because when they talk about “everyone means everyone” they really do mean “everyone.”

Beautycounter isn’t cheap. It’s not easy to make safe high-performing products. The safety standards that they’ve set for the brand far exceed anything the government has set, and its not easy or cheap to meet those standards.

Their ingredient selection process:

  1. Bans certain ingredients intentionally
  2. Screens rigorously
  3. Sources responsibly
  4. Learning constantly
  5. Sharing transparently

There is no other brand doing that.

Yes, not every ingredient is “natural” or “organic” but it is safe.

Natural or organic doesn’t always mean safer. Poison oak is natural and organic, but is it safe?

Not all chemicals are harmful. As human beings, we are made up of chemicals. Water is a chemical, so is air.

If something is sourced from 100% from plants, but those plants are unknowingly contaminated by toxic water that has lead in it, is it then safe? It’s natural and organic, but is it still safe?

That’s where the sourcing responsibly and screening rigorously comes in because every batch made is tested for safety.

But that’s why we advocate for safer laws. Because if there are safer laws, than ALL companies need to make safer products, not just Beautycounter.

So when we say everyone means everyone, we really do mean, everyone means everyone, because we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our safety, and we shouldn’t have to worry about if what we’re putting on our skin is going to harm us.

Everyone told me that going to Leadership Summit will change your business. I didn’t expect it to change me as a person. To change my mindset and how I view business and people.

I can’t unlearn what I’ve learned, and now that I’ve shared this with you, you can’t unlearn it either.

I’m going to close with something that Maria Shriver said to us. I love her. When I was little, she used to be on The Today Show and I watched it with my Grandma. And my Grandma would always tell me, “That girl is a Kennedy.” And ever since then, I’ve kinda always had a fascination with the Kennedy’s….but is what she said:

“I am here because of all of you and that’s the God honest truth because I can see her (she meant our CEO Gregg) in LA, and the reason that I wanted to be here is because I want to spend my time with people who have a passion and who believe in something that’s bigger than themselves.

I wanted to be here with you because you are all what I like to call “Architects of Change”; people who believe in something, who are trying to make a change, and not waiting for someone else to do it.

There is nobody else doing what you’re doing. I want to say how moved I am by that; by what you’re doing for your families, but really what you’re doing for women everywhere, for families everywhere, for our daughters everywhere, because God only knows there’s no politician who would be working on this if it were not for you. It wouldn’t happen.

I think it’s so important for you all to allow yourself to realize what you’re doing, and how it is what you’re doing, and how proud you should be of what you’re doing. And so that’s why I’m here. I want to be inspired by you and I already am. And that’s that truth.”

So at the end of every episode, I try to leave you with a call to action.

So my call to action this episode is for you to think about what your mindset is, whether that be towards money, or health and safety, or towards diversity and inclusion, or all of it. Is it a scarcity mindset?

Then I want to ask you, what’s possible?

These were my unexpected takeaways from Leadership Summit weekend. And I want to ask you what’s possible for you.

This is not asking you to join the Beautycounter movement, though I would love that!

In this day and age, no one should be doing work that makes them unhappy. If you have access to the internet, anything is possible for you.

If you have unexplained health issues and you’ve addressed diet and exercise, are you missing the environmental toxins piece like I did. This is what Functional Nutrition is all about - peeling back the layers and putting on our detective hats and seeing what’s the going on in our bodies. What’s the root cause? Is it environmental toxins? And if so, what would happen, what might be possible for you if you addressed it?

If you’ve been clueless like I’ve been on diversity and inclusion, how can you change this?

What’s possible for you?


Naomi Nakamura is a Functional Nutrition Health Coach. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, programs, coaching services and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop!
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