Dreamers: “They told me It was impossible and I did it anyway” With Joshua Weiner & Philip Brossy…

Dreamers: “They told me It was impossible and I did it anyway” With Joshua Weiner & Philip Brossy of Oh, Shoot

Respect your physical and mental health. Never burn the candle at both ends. Eat right, work out and sleep well. Make time for yourself and your personal passions. I love to make art and the creative thought process plays a big part in my day to day as an entrepreneur.

As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joshua Weiner & Philip Brossy.

Josh Weiner is from an entrepreneur from Chicago. From a young age he loved taking things apart and putting them back together. As he got older, he dived into the world of technology and eventually learned to develop software professionally. In his free time, he enjoys playing basketball and doing art projects. Josh is currently an undergraduate student at Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business.

Philip Brossy grew up in southern Connecticut and went to a boarding high school called Episcopal in DC. He grew up being an avid hiker and explores as much as possible. Philip has a textbook reselling business in high school where he would sell hundreds of textbooks a semester. Philip can be caught playing chess, tearing up the dance floor, sailing, and exploring as much as possible. Philip is currently an undergraduate student at Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?

We were freshmen roommates at Tulane University. Oh, Shoot was founded out of our dorm room at the end of our freshman year just fixing phones in our spare time for their friends. We are both born entrepreneurial and often spent nights exchanging side hustle ideas. Philip was actually the one who thought of making an iPhone repair company for the college campus and Josh designed rinky dinky website and a logo. We quickly realized that there was a strong demand for high-quality repairs where the repairman came right to you on campus. At the start of our sophomore year, now a “come to you” iPhone repair company hired 10+ college students to fix phones on 8 college campuses.

Philip has been hustling his entire life, whether it be investing in stocks or buying and reselling textbooks giving him a “he just will get anything done” attitude. Contrastingly, Josh grew up designing websites for small businesses, later he attended a coding bootcamp and become a certified software developer after his sophomore year at Tulane. Coupling both young entrepreneurs’ skills, they spent night’s meeting with each other around the clock to expand Oh Shoot. In the beginning of their junior year, Oh Shoot released Tutoring and Cleaning services to Oh Shoot’s offerings employing over 55+ part time jobs for solely college students. Oh Shoot is soon to become the one stop shop for college students to book high quality services that come to you right on campus and employ thousands of part time college students in the process that can work in their free time.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Oh Shoot’s engineering team is developing an extremely robust back end with an emphasis on data analysis to allow Oh Shoot to become a more automated and efficient business. Moreover, our booking and scheduling will soon offer more services and be even easier to use. Oh Shoot is excited to keep on expanding to additional colleges in the upcoming semesters. Also, the Oh Shoot App will be released to the App store.

In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?

At the core of this business, Oh Shoot provides high-quality services for college students, yet allows college students to work in their free time earning above-average wages. There is a growing student debt crisis and with Oh Shoot, part-time workers can make as much as $40 an hour right on campus to pay off student debt or have spending money. Now, Oh Shoot has multiple student contractors earning over $1,000 a month working with Oh Shoot’s platform.

Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?

To build a business from scratch you have to an intense amount of self-belief. We have a lot of people who provide helpful, constructive criticism. We listen and centralize all of that — but if your saying no for the sake of saying no, we don’t pay attention.

Our own company advisers pushed heavily against our pivot we had this semester to add additional services. Our iPhone repair business was going well…yet we saw an opportunity to make a major pivot to add tutoring and cleaning services and mold Oh Shoot into a platform to have many services for college students. In response to the push-back from our advisors, we put our heads down and worked hard days… 12–14 hours every day for about 3 months to finally launch Oh Shoot’s platform this semester.

In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? 🙂

In the end, there will always be naysayers, people who don’t believe in your idea or people who are not supportive. Josh and I are here to keep on working and building Oh Shoot brick by brick for all the college students around us.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

We are grateful to everyone that has helped us. From our best friends understanding when we must make sacrifices in our social lives for the business to Tulane Business school professors providing us interesting perspectives on a difficult question. A few people really stand out, John Clarke, associate dean of the Freeman Graduate Business School, who is always available to take a call and help us out. Lydia and Marco, the founders of Rent Check, have offered great advice and shown us their expertise.

It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?

We come from hard-working families. My parents worked their way through school, working multiple jobs and both earned an advanced degree. Being hardworking in the Shawver / Weiner household is the expectation. I am also dyslexic, growing up school was always a challenge — I think those early days of struggling with learning disabilities helped cement my work ethic. It taught me to learn from failure. — Josh

When I was in 4th grade, my dad kicked me out of the house at the end of a snowstorm and handed me a shovel. He told me to go up and down the street asking people to shovel their walks for money. This taught me resilience from a young age. As a sophomore in high school, I ran a trail running marathon to raise money for Autism and a month later hiked 34 miles in a day in the mountains in Alaska in hypothermic conditions. I love resilience. — Philip

Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)

Josh’s 5 strategies

  • Always believe in yourself, believe that you can do whatever it is you want to do. When you are building your business, you will be constantly entering the unknown, self-belief will help you dive in headfirst.
  • Welcome failure with open arms. Loving failure will help you take risks that others won’t. I learn the most from failure and being the competitive person, it motivates me to keep learning.
  • Be autodidactic. You must always be learning; having a wealth of knowledge will help you beat the competition. Whether it directly relates to your business or not. You never know when a snippet of information may prove itself useful.
  • Respect your physical and mental health. Never burn the candle at both ends. Eat right, work out and sleep well. Make time for yourself and your personal passions. I love to make art and the creative thought process plays a big part in my day to day as an entrepreneur.
  • Understand your weaknesses. For example, time management is something that does not come naturally, I use a calendar and a slew of productivity apps to help maximize my output.

Philip’s 5 Strategies

  • No one owes you anything. If you want something, work the hardest to take it.
  • Do every activity at 110%. If not, why waste the energy? When I am in my first or last reps at the gym, I will always think to myself that this needs to get 110% effort if I want to get my body where I want it.
  • Drink 2 cups of 12oz water when you wake up. You are dehydrated after you sleep. This gets you going everyday like coffee.
  • Make your bed after you wake up. This completes a task giving you a sense of satisfaction right after you wake up. I do this every day.
  • Hard work beats talent when talent refuses to work. I am not the smartest, but I will outwork you. A hard-working mindset is what I like having.

What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” — Robert F. Kennedy

“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal it is the courage to continue that counts” — Winston Churchill

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

The class disparity in the United States is very concerning. I think we must educate our most privileged country mates of the reality of poverty in order to make way for equal standards of living. How else do we expect to help our most disenfranchised Americans if our most fortunate are completely unaware of the difficult conditions many Americans go through every day

Can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram: @ohshoot.io

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ohshootio/

Personal Instagram: @philipbrossy

Personal Instagram: @jshver

Thank you for these great stories. We wish you only continued success!


Dreamers: “They told me It was impossible and I did it anyway” With Joshua Weiner & Philip Brossy… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Future of Beauty: “How to close the wealth disparity in skincare results” With Dr.

The Future of Beauty: “How to close the wealth disparity in skincare results” With Dr. Farhan Taghizadeh

The main drawback to the technology is related more to the societal impact of skincare, which the Huffington Post and others have covered. The technology is so effective now for improving skin that it really creates a world where the class divide is visible inside the cost and availability of these procedures. The same disparity in wealth is now seen in the skincare industry and results, and many of our current projects like the AVRA initiative is to create a process where everyone can have great skin in the future.

As a part of our series about how technology will be changing the beauty industry over the next five years, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Farhan Taghizadeh, M.D.

Dr. Farhan Taghizadeh, M.D. is the owner of Arizona Facial Plastics, a leading plastic surgery practice and innovative med spa in Phoenix. Dr. Taghizadeh has more than 15 years of experience working in aesthetic medicine and is a highly experienced surgeon specializing in facial plastic surgery. In addition, Dr. Taghizadeh is the innovator behind many aesthetic products and treatments used internationally. Over the years, he has created numerous other non-invasive procedures to help patients achieve the best results thanks to technology. Dr. Taghizadeh and his team are always at the forefront with technology at Arizona Facial Plastics.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always been very interested in technology, especially lasers, and the impact it has on facial plastics. About twenty years ago, I began to see the trend of people wanting less invasive opportunities for facial aesthetic improvement and my career really focused on working to finding ways to integrate technology into our surgical repertoire of procedures.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

In the Fall of 2008, I was in a Facial Plastics Meeting and the meeting took place as the stock market collapsed. In fact, two of the three days we were at this meeting were two of the largest drops on the Dow in history. Physicians were on their new phones, some weeping as the news came in. I had written a business plan to integrate a new laser into facial cosmetic practices and I thought my idea was lost. While I sat in the meeting, a contact of mine who had read the business plan pulled me to a bagel shop next door to the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago to get away from the sadness of the meeting and told me he thought the plan would work. We implemented what at the time was the second-largest laser integration in a vertical practice spanning over 90 clinics, saving that company from being impacted by the recession that hit the following year. To this day I think of lasers every time I eat a bagel.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

The tipping point really came around 2012 when it became clear that non-surgical aesthetic revenue would eventually exceed surgical revenue. This happened in 2019. The lessons from the change are that patients, as consumers, always look for achieving the most with the least pain and discomfort. We recognized this years before but to see the curves cross was very fulfilling.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Gordon Quick was the CEO who pulled me into that bagel store and changed my life forever. In the middle of a horrific recession, he took a risk on me, and to this day it has been the single most impactful moment of my career.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The beauty industry today has access to technology that was inconceivable only a short time ago. Can you tell us about the “cutting edge” (pardon the pun) technologies that you are working with or introducing? How do you think that will help people?

I am working on two main technologies currently. One is our AVRA project at UCF to create robotic aesthetic devices using cutting edge technology. The goal of this technology is to reduce the cost and increase the availability of procedures for the masses. The second project is the use of new laser frequencies and lenses to improve the quality of treatments while reducing the risks.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

The main drawback to the technology is related more to the societal impact of skincare, which the Huffington Post and others have covered. The technology is so effective now for improving skin that it really creates a world where the class divide is visible inside the cost and availability of these procedures. The same disparity in wealth is now seen in the skincare industry and results, and many of our current projects like the AVRA initiative is to create a process where everyone can have great skin in the future.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the “beauty-tech” industry?

  1. Its growth worldwide.
  2. The improvement in technology and the reduced risk of devices.
  3. Robotics preparing for the mass availability of these procedures.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

  1. Regulatory. I feel there are ways that we can improve the regulatory processes that relate to the aesthetics industry, especially as it relates to Bioceuticals. I feel there should be more categories and processes for these devices.
  2. Globalization: I feel that while this has provided more technologies at a lesser cost to more clinics and patients, the process of distribution of these devices has remained challenged, with large companies taking advantage of independent representatives. More can be done industrywide to protect small business owners who have the potential to reach more physicians and clinics and ultimately make devices affordable to more markets.
  3. Incubators: There need to be more federal regulations around incubators that purport to support the aesthetics industry but end up cheating physicians and entrepreneurs in this space. This industry can be a great job creator, but there have been many instances of economic development dollars being offered but not properly delivered to our industry, and this needs to change.

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share 5 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Take care of your skin. How you live globally impacts the skin, and better you take care of your body, the better your skin will look. A good story here is how not wearing sunscreen can quickly age the skin.
  2. Get your skin analyzed. The technology exists today using polarized light to have the skin analyzed to show the current condition and help you understand what treatments are best. A good story is to show images off the VISIA.
  3. Don’t be fooled by expensive skincare products. Sometimes the simplest products will yield the best results. Share the story of Romans using basic mud and polyfulmates to improve the skin.
  4. Has skincare performed prior to having photos taken? Skincare devices can really help create a good shine to the skin, reducing your need for photoshop. Good skin always looks better on film or camera. Good story here is how much 4K TV mandates good skin as every complexion issue will be seen.
  5. Have people around you who support your skin looking great. Inside every social network is the need for supporting your choices. Story: the hidden benefit of Botox parties, where skincare is done socially.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am a big proponent for supporting everyone getting good skincare. It is very important for health AND it is a great way to keep people’s emotions and sense of confidence up.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters — 204 if you are in Japan”

In the end, you must keep trying no matter what.

How can our readers follow you online?

www.arizonafacialplastics.com and on social media.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


The Future of Beauty: “How to close the wealth disparity in skincare results” With Dr. was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Future Of Beauty: “AI Can Help You Choose Your Correct Color Shade” With Kerry Yates of Colour…

The Future Of Beauty: “AI Can Help You Choose Your Correct Color Shade” With Kerry Yates of Colour Collective

“Being a strong woman does not mean that you need to act like a man it just means you need to act like a better woman”. I was very lucky to have three generations of strong, independent women in my life starting with my great-grandmother, grandmother, and my mother. They all taught me to embrace your family, build a true network of friends, be kind instead of cruel, pursue every educational opportunity, bring another woman up as you succeed and never step on anyone to get ahead.

As a part of our series about how technology will be changing the beauty industry over the next five years, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kerry Yates.

Kerry is an accomplished inventor of brands, creator of concepts and a recognized expert of beauty in every form. Her love of beauty started at F.I.T., where she graduated with a B.S. in Cosmetic, Fragrance and Toiletries Marketing. She was featured in WWD at the age of 22 as a beauty leader to watch and held various leadership roles. Yates has created many of the recognizable brands found at Revlon, LVMH, L’Oreal and Unilever. Passionate about the beauty industry, Yates has over +20 years of beauty experience with 15 years focused on marketing and developing brands within the hair category. Uniquely experienced, she created, Colour Collective, a company with a tailored, seamless approach to the design, develop and delivery process at the heart of bringing a product to market. Colour Collective’s mission is simple, bring to life beauty brands that disrupt the market.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Originally, I set out to become a fashion designer. While attending FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in NYC, I worked part-time at the Clinique counter to help pay for college. I fell in love with the world of beauty. Key reason, beauty products fit every size, budget and person; this category is all-inclusive which is different from fashion. FIT recently started a program dedicated to creating beauty products in 1989. As a result, I decided to change my major and graduated in 1992 and have been working in beauty ever since.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

One experience that really sticks out for me happened at the Essence Awards many moons ago. I was working for Revlon assisting with the Colour style brand. As we were sponsoring the event, I was given access to the various award winners which means I got to meet the fierce and fabulous Rosa Parks. I was awestruck, Rose Parks was beautiful, stunning, friendly, welcoming and surprisingly quite small for a woman that in my mind is larger than life. I was honestly so awestruck I could not speak clearly….I basically just stared at her with my mouth hanging open as I was gripping her hand for dear life. Ms. Parks took pity on me and just laughed the whole thing off. Amazing woman and an inspirational figure for me to this day!

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

Starting out I had a tendency to second guess myself especially when it came to speaking out during meetings or in trying to communicate my to a room filled with experienced beauty geniuses. At 24, I thought how lucky I was to just be invited into the meeting and was so sure that anything coming from my mouth would be considered stupid; I literally had no confidence in my abilities. But that changed for me after I was forced to present my budget proposal to Bernard Arnault. The Christian Dior Perfumes’ marketing director left right before the budget presentation and the VP pushed me to proceed in her stead. My nerves were shot but I excelled and after that, I realized I was hired for my own skillset. After that successful meeting, I was given additional responsibilities that led to new projects and opportunities.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There were two amazing women that taught me valuable lessons along the way. The first woman was Caroline Geerlings, VP of Marketing at Christian Dior Perfumes. I want to thank her for instilling the need to keep everything real and for reminding me that it is perfectly okay to not know an answer to a question. More importantly she was the one that put me in front of Mr. Arnault which in turn gave me a big confidence boost. The second woman I must thank is Jerri Baccus Glover, SR VP of Marketing at Revlon. Jerri gave me my start in the industry, allowed me to participate in projects that at the time would have been considered above my “paygrade”. As a result, I gained experience not only in marketing but also was able to participate and eventually lead in product development, sales and education. Jerri ensured my experience was well rounded which allowed me to easily move into leadership roles within the beauty industry.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The beauty industry today has access to technology that was inconceivable only a short time ago. Can you tell us about the “cutting edge” (pardon the pun) technologies that you are working with or introducing? How do you think that will help people?

I have been working a lot with AI technology and love the way people can now assess product results especially when it comes to choosing the right hair color. Home hair color users have continually struggled with shade choices and this new technology allows them to flawlessly find the shade based on their starting colour and hair type. This technology even takes it one step further by guiding the user through the application process ensuring the end-users feels fabulous with their results. Our hair defines who we are and how we feel and having a bad hair experience can really impact a person’s confidence and overall feeling of self.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

I think some AI technologies can give you a false sense of self, presenting an unrealistic picture of how you could look with their product that is really not achievable. Instead of showing what is truly possible, the different techs show you an idea that the product cannot deliver which leaves the user feeling deflated and upset with the results. However, I do not think we should give up on technology. It is continually changing and improving at a rapid pace and in the future. I can see AI technologies directing product choice and potential product formulation on the spot. I would not be surprised if one day there is a mirror/instant product creator that will assess our current appearance, then based on a chosen look within the program will physically create the needed product to create the look. Taking it even further what if there was a product that contained super nano-sized screens that when applied transmit the desired look onto your face. Crazy as it sounds I think it could be a reality.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the “beauty-tech” industry?

Effective Beauty Tools: Love the new beauty tools that work in partnership with a product to improve product efficacy. This saves on product waste and ensures the users sees the most out of their product of choice.

Remote Beauty Consultations: Honestly not a big fan of the malls so I love the idea that I can receive real advice remotely as it pertains to shade choices, product formulas etc. The consultants are either real people or AI-generated consultants, but they are available when you need them vs. only being available during store hours. In addition, in some cases they are more knowledgeable then the consultants you might find in store.

Beauty Printer: Have not seen a truly working beauty printer but I know they are in the development. I would love to be able to create a shade on-demand or adjust my skincare product to support what my skin may be experiencing/needing that day. I know the technology is coming and I cannot wait!

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

Factual Claims: It bothers me that we, as beauty inventors get a bit overzealous with our claims. Unreal claims like those related to natural beauty are just not real and as a result make consumer skeptical. As an industry, we need to do a better job of keeping it real.

Unreal Imagery: Snapchat design overlays have become real physical elements to permanently add to your skin. The applications of these permanent elements can be dangerous and there should be a more rigorous understanding of long-term implications as well as a set of rules to keep the user safe.

In the Kitchen Formulators: This is a real thing as selling platforms like ETSY embrace the kitchen beauty expert. Unfortunately, these formulas can contain unsafe levels of allergens or low levels of preservatives to maintain product safety. As an industry we should provide better education to kitchen formulators to ensure what they create is safe for their end-user. I do not want to limit their opportunities but there must be some way we can be sure their users are protected. Poorly formulated beauty products can lead to a serious skin or eye infections.

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share 5 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Smile: I know it sounds crazy but just the act of smiling immediately brightens your face, lifts your eyes and your jawline. Plus, it just feels good to smile!

Get a Blowout: Talk about an instant confidence boost. I always feel gorgeous after having a proper blowout. Only a professional can deliver smooth super shiny locks that make me just want to swing my hair like a Pantene model!

Have a makeover: I know the makeup counter girls can be daunting but they are skilled makeup artists and sometimes you just need to make a change. Next time you find yourself at the beauty counter, ask to visit with a makeup artist, give them a budget and let them work their magic. I have found many a new way to apply my eyeshadow in addition to embracing a new blush shade that really has livened up my appearance!

Gift yourself a facial: There is nothing better than having a facial as they help to give your skin a bit of a reset. I find periodically my skin will have a few more bumps or sections of my skin are overly dry and I cannot seem to correct either challenge with my home products. An esthetician can help define the challenges, assist in fixing the issues on the spot and prescribe products for the long-term. Facials can be expensive so if you are on a budget try volunteering at one of the beauty schools. I had a friend take me over to the Aveda School which I have to stay was stunning. It was like walking into a very high-end spa and my esthetician was brilliant.

Buy some new lipstick/nail enamel: Sometimes a pop of color is all I need to give myself a little pep in my step. Corny phrase I know but seriously for under $10 I can instantly feel uplifted with a quick beauty treat.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Comment Police: I know there are rules and bots that help control content on the internet. However, it is doing a very poor job of stopping the bullying comments. I really wish there was an element on the various social media platforms that will instantly delete any hateful comment that users will inevitably receive within their page feeds. Online bullying has gotten out of control and I am tired of young people being terrorized by faceless bullies. Enough is enough. If we cannot make comment police a reality then perhaps we can as individuals be sure to offer a compliment to a minimum of one person every day. Letting someone know that you think they are fabulous could really make a difference in that person’s life.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Being a strong woman does not mean that you need to act like a man it just means you need to act like a better woman”. I was very lucky to have three generations of strong, independent women in my life starting with my great-grandmother, grandmother, and my mother. They all taught me to embrace your family, build a true network of friends, be kind instead of cruel, pursue every educational opportunity, bring another woman up as you succeed and never step on anyone to get ahead.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can follow my company on Facebook or Instagram at colourcollectivebeauty


The Future Of Beauty: “AI Can Help You Choose Your Correct Color Shade” With Kerry Yates of Colour… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Dreamers: “They told me It was impossible, and I did it anyway” with Helene Rutledge of Upgraid

I have always been impatient with the pace of change, but the world must provide the environment for ideas to be successful. I ultimately overcame the naysayers with a combination of patience and working outside the system to create a startup that would start a new reality.

As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Helene Rutledge.

Helene Rutledge was a career corporate pharmaceutical and health and wellness executive until she suddenly found herself unwilling to take the very products that she was in charge of developing. So, she left, co-founded Upgraid, and flipped the script on synthetic quick fixes. Now she’s behind Upgraid’s line of fully organic, scientifically tested supplements designed to be both safe and effective. Formerly, Rutledge was chief innovation officer, New Avon, in charge of infrastructure, implementation and virtual development. While there, she led a development team that launched the Espira Nutritional Supplement line and achieved a no animal testing claim for the company’s entire NA portfolio. Prior to that, Rutledge was vice-president, R&D, NBTY (Nature’s Bounty Co.), and before then, head of global open innovation, GlaxoSmithKline; and director, global clinical supplies, Pfizer. She holds an EMBA degree from New York University Stern School of Business; and BEchE, Chemical Engineering degree in Chemistry from Manhattan College. Rutledge lives in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood and enjoys an active lifestyle, recovering from rotator cuff surgery but itching to get back in the water for triathlon training.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us your backstory?

I was a career corporate pharmaceutical and health and wellness executive for companies such as Pfizer GlaxoSmithKline, where I was head of Global Open Innovation, and Avon, where I was chief innovation officer. I am a person who likes to think big and get things done, so my innovation roles had the mixed blessing of giving me access to cutting-edge technologies and ideas that tasked me to compel large organizations to see the need to change for the future. My motivation to change came when I got pregnant and started to worry about exposure to synthetic chemicals. That led me to realize that it’s the chemicals we ingest every day that can be cumulatively more dangerous to our health. I found myself unwilling to take the very products that I was in charge of developing. My passion for change was to disrupt the narrow, profit-focused view of big pharma and create people-centered solutions. So, I left the corporate world to co-found Upgraid, to help people un-pharma themselves with products that are both effective and better for people and the planet.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I co-founded Upgraid with the belief that real wellness doesn’t come from synthetic chemical quick fixes. We are using organic, clinically supported ingredients to create products that provide a better solution for everyday health. Our first product contains highly bioavailable turmeric, ashwagandha, ginger root, and tart cherry to promote a healthy response to daily inflammation in the body. I formulated the product to shorten muscle recovery time and reduce daily stress, aches, and soreness with all organic ingredients when taken daily for about two weeks. We are excited to hear from our customers about the difference Upgraid has made in their lives already. Some have experienced results in less than a week.

In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?

At Upgraid, we are using a pharmaceutical mindset and process to develop organic products that work, creating a new category of products. We stand out because our nutritional supplement products will not claim results that aren’t supported by science. We stake our reputations on making products that people can trust to be active and better for their bodies and the planet by taking a preventative, daily health approach to get a little better every day.

Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?

During my Executive MBA studies, our visit to China included seeing a traditional Chinese medical facility, and I was fascinated with the differences between eastern and western medical practices. My idea was to use elements of western science to curate effective ingredients and provide holistic health products. However, in every big corporate role I had since that visit, I tried to get support for research in this area but was denied approval every time. The naysayers claimed that, financially, these products would be a niche market at best and never justify the work and money needed to develop them. Technically, many western scientists doubted they worked at all.

I have always been impatient with the pace of change, but the world must provide the environment for ideas to be successful. I ultimately overcame the naysayers with a combination of patience and working outside the system to create a startup that would start a new reality. The need for more natural products has been a steadily growing consumer trend over the past several years. Still, the industry can’t even define what “natural” means, leading to more consumer confusion and frustration. So, now the demand is established, and Upgraid is filling the need with science-backed organic products.

In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong?

We’ve just launched and already have a solid subscriber base and partners that are leaders in nutrition such as Sam Kass, Obama’s former chef and advisor, foodie writer Cameron Rogers, and a host of athletes and fitness leaders, such as U.S. wrestling champion Reece Humphrey. Best of all are the testimonials from our customers that our product has made a huge positive impact on their daily lives.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I would say my children helped me to take this leap. Becoming a mom heightened my instincts for choosing very carefully what I put in my body and theirs and started the journey that led to Upgraid. Having children also puts a focus on making a better world for their futures, and I wanted my legacy to be that I created positive change. When I met my co-founder, Justin Kamine, we aligned on wanting to do good things with good people, and what better idea could I wish for my children. Both challenge me every day, and I am grateful for seeing the world through their eyes.

It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?

My Dad was a New York City police sergeant who always challenged me to work hard, do the right thing, and to improve and do good things for others. However, growing up in the Bronx, I also learned that the world isn’t fair and that you must learn to adapt and find the gray areas to get ahead. My parents taught me a valuable lesson that it is essential to stand up to bullies. As a kid, we sat on benches during lunch, and I was assigned to the end seat and would getting pushed off and laughed at when I would fall on the floor. Bronx code would not let you tell the teacher, so I suffered over this until my mom noticed some bruises. My father sat me down and asked why I didn’t think I had a right to sit at the table with everyone else. When I explained how the kids pushed me, he told me to hang on tight to my seat. From that day forward, I kept my seat and my ability to stand up to bad behavior.

Based on your experience, can you share five strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)

1. Embrace experiences that push you to uncomfortable limits.

I believe that people have more potential than they ever explore. One strategy I have used in my life, in general, is to take on challenges that require every ounce of my effort and that I know I did the best I possibly could. I did my first Olympic-distance triathlon to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It was the first time I pushed myself like this athletically, and completing it not only increased my confidence, but it benefited a good cause, and, in this experience, I met three of my best friends that are still in my life to this day. Many times, when I am facing a challenge that seems impossible, I call on that same inner strength that pushed me during the race, and it gives me the resilience to go on.

2. Set big goals, but monitor your daily progress and adapt.

Trying to accomplish a big goal has many psychological hurdles. As the leader of disruptive change, I have found that people who benefit from the status quo look for the opportunity to exploit any reason to undermine progress. A strategy I have used is to set the vision for the general direction but “load the deck” with some quick wins along the way to get positive momentum and support. Regular monitoring allows you to see patterns and adapt. Setting these interim goals also makes the endgame feel more achievable. In business, most big projects are not marathons but a series of sprints with rest in between to regroup and redirect so you don’t go off course. At Upgraid, we believe in making small changes to get a little better every day. We launched our first product in six months, compared to 18–24 months, which is standard in a big company. We believe it is better to get our products in consumers’ hands to start benefitting them sooner and to give us a chance to incorporate their feedback as we continuously improve our product.

3. If you want to go far, go together and so bring others with you, even the negative ones.

Early in my career, when I encountered people who didn’t agree with my views, I found ways to work around them. I didn’t realize I was planting the seeds for those same people to undermine my work in subtle ways later by withholding support or with a negative whisper in the right ear. Luckily, I had the gift of great feedback and learned that my style was hurting me because my desire to go fast was perceived as a lack of respect for their point of view. Moving into the innovation space, I then realized that diverse perspectives yield better solutions every time! It takes time and effort, but understanding why people are rejecting your ideas can make them even stronger. Building successful teams also benefit from diversity; “group think” is the outcome when everyone is too alike, but if you are consciously choosing people with opposite personalities and perspectives leads to richer solutions. Finally, when everyone feels heard, it is less likely that projects will be torpedoed out of nowhere. I score off the charts as an intuitive thinker (N on the Myers-Briggs profile). In past roles, I have purposely found a person with predominantly S thinking to challenge me, even though at times I was pulling out my hair with frustration.

4. Be a lifetime learner since all your education is obsolete almost immediately.

The pace of change in the world has accelerated, and it is no longer possible to rely on formal education to equip you for all you need to do in a lifetime of work. We have all heard about people who spent their entire career with one company or in one job, but it is now commonplace to change jobs every two to three years. I was ahead of this trend because of my focus on change and innovation, and it has served me well to be always learning and challenging my assumptions. One great example is when I first met my Upgraid co-founder, Justin Kamine, he asked me to make a fully organic product that would work to help with daily inflammation. I told him that was impossible — of course, I thought I knew this answer immediately, having just recently been the VP of R&D for Nature’s Bounty Vitamins, but it nagged me that something may have happened since then. I did some research and found that new ingredients have been developed that made it possible, and that’s how we launched Upgraid.

5. Don’t lose your sense of wonder

The worst thing that can happen is to become cynical when you aren’t able to achieve your goals. I used to laugh at the expression that “old age is when a narrow waist and a broad mind change places,” but sadly, I see so many people lose the willingness to believe that things can get better. The ultimate victory of naysayers is when you allow them to make you give up. One strategy to combat this is to remember your sense of wonder. For some people, it is what you loved when you were eight years old. For others, it is nature or something beautiful. Whatever that is, finding time to reconnect with that emotion can rekindle the memory and positivity of striving for an important goal.

What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?

I was not born with roses in my chest to be afraid of thorns. I was born to bloom in spite of them.

-Vinati Bhola


Dreamers: “They told me It was impossible, and I did it anyway” with Helene Rutledge of Upgraid was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Dreamers: “They told me It was impossible and I did it anyway” With Debi Lane of LunchboxWax

Be real. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions and struggles. Being a leader doesn’t mean you are always right and won’t make mistakes. When you do, own it! Surround yourself with people who genuinely share your dream. Develop a culture that like-minded people want to be a part of. And, much like being a good parent — take time for yourself to recharge, and you’ll be a better leader. When you’re happy, your team is happy, and that will trickle all the way down to your customers.

As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Debi Lane.

Debi Lane is the Founder and CEO of LunchboxWax, the fastest growing salon fully dedicated to waxing services.

Lane founded LunchboxWax in 2010 after spending five years running TRū, an ultra-chic multi-service day spa in Ketchum, Idaho. Recognizing a need in the personal care industry for a waxing-only service, Lane launched the first LunchboxWax salon in Boise, Idaho in 2010 and began franchising the business in 2013.

It was Lane’s personal life challenges and feeling like an outsider, that drove her to want to start a business that is inclusive, collaborative and empowering. Lane’s unique approach to business and goals to revolutionize the waxing industry through inclusiveness is what continues to help the brand expand and gain recognition as more than just a salon that offers elevated waxing services in under 30 minutes, but one that has a purpose.

With Lane at the helm, LunchboxWax continues to be a purpose-driven company that takes a culture-first approach and gives back to the community in ways such as creating a comfortable environment for its consumers, creating equal career opportunities and empowering young women to have a voice.

Under Lane’s direction, LunchboxWax, an already LGBTQ+ friendly business, expanded its efforts to become trans-embracing last year by eliminating male and female gender checkboxes.

LunchboxWax has since expanded to 45 locations throughout Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Utah. Lane remains active in the business as the Chief Executive Officer at LunchboxWax, overseeing the vetting process of more than 344 waxologists across the nation and continues to steer the development of LunchboxWax’s line of waxing products. LunchboxWax’s growing product line is sold through its salons throughout the U.S.

Lane is also an active member of the Female Founder Collective (FFC) — a network of businesses led by women, supporting women — co-founded by designer Rebecca Minkoff.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?

In 2011, we opened the first LunchboxWax salon in Downtown Boise, followed by another in a nearby community. When word of mouth spread, I knew we were onto something special. In 2012, we wanted to scale the business but lacked the capital, so we began franchising. We worked on the franchise system for about a year and a half, and in 2013, we sold our first franchise. We have continued to add franchisees each year, and we now have 45 LunchboxWax salons across the country.

In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?

The programs that we are building for our waxologists at LunchboxWax are unique to us, and something that makes our company stand out from the crowd. Building a learning-based business which allows our waxologists a path to become financially independent, but also teach them how to be successful in business and empowered and proud, regardless of where they came from or the challenges they may have had to overcome — this is my greatest success.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We are so excited for the upcoming launch of our new eyebrow product line, DEFINE, which will be available in salons nationwide this month. Making the leap from wax-only services to offering beauty products has always been part of our vision. Giving our guests a great set of brows is our signature at LunchboxWax. Now, whether it’s achieving fuller brows or the perfect arch, guests can do just that with our new DEFINE brow collection.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?

I can’t recall anyone telling me I couldn’t do it, but even if they had, I still would have proven them wrong. Focusing on the noise would have been a distraction to my vision, which was to build a heart-driven business that specializes in the art of waxing. During a meditation retreat in 2012, the idea to franchise came to me — I still don’t know where the first thought came from, and I don’t question it. When I got out of the retreat, I immediately started researching. I was lit up — everything inside me said this was the right path. LunchboxWax was going to become a franchise. Some of my greatest ideas have come from silence.

In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong?

I choose not to listen to naysayers. My mission has always been very clear, that my business is not just a waxing business — it is so much more. After my experience at the meditation retreat, I started to believe that I could use my life experiences to help others. My meditation practice has sparked ideas like implementing a mindfulness module in our learning management system (LMS) at LunchboxWax. Giving the gift of mindfulness to all in our organization is something I am very passionate about.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My daughter Lily. She has taught me more about what is current and going on in the world around than I could ever imagine. This has helped me to understand every aspect of my business. This obviously evolves, but it has helped me gain respect and valuable insights. She has been my partner in crime through it all, and I am grateful for her love, support and the bond that we share.

It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resilience? Can you share the story with us?

My resilience comes from my past, not from naysayers. Growing up, I left home right around 15 years old, and quit school around this time. Although I got my GED eventually, I didn’t have any formal education after this time. I had a very challenging childhood and that continued through young-adulthood. In my mid-forties, I decided to make some very big changes in my life. I got sober and started my healing journey. This is exactly the same time I started to build LunchboxWax. I know this was put in front of me not only as a pathway for my own personal healing but as a way to give back.

Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)

  1. Do your healing. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t leaned into the difficult chapters of my early life and made peace with my past. Meditation was a gift from the universe in my life, and since I’ve been sober, the world continues to shower me with opportunities and a lot of joy.
  2. Give back. My purpose in life is to give back to everyone who works for LunchboxWax, especially our waxologists. I want to empower them with the economic tools they need to feel confident and lead successful lives where they can control their future and fulfill their potential.
  3. Know your worth. Despite my early struggles and many difficult chapters in my life, I never doubted that I would do something great. Growing up, I barely knew what a five-star hotel was, but I knew I wanted to stay in them, as often as possible. So, at age 19, I started my first business, a travel agency, in part because I knew travel agents got free trips in really nice places. When you come from my background and have no real education or practical work experience you have to create your own opportunity. And that’s what I’ve done and continued to do in business.
  4. Don’t be a chameleon. Most of my life can be defined by whatever relationship I was in at the time. I was an expert at changing myself to fit into whatever the guy I was with wanted me to be. It was exhausting and fueled my destructive behavior for many years. There were some great men along the way, but who I was got lost. Once I realized who I was inside and embraced that, my success in business only grew.
  5. Learn what you don’t know. You don’t have to be an expert to start a business. I knew nothing about starting a franchise; I just knew I had to do it. When we went through our first capital raise recently, I didn’t know how to build a pitch deck or model our finances. I basically got an MBA on the job in less than a year. I’m smarter for it, and so is our business. What I learned gives me confidence and makes me a stronger leader for LunchboxWax.

What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?

Be real. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions and struggles. Being a leader doesn’t mean you are always right and won’t make mistakes. When you do, own it! Surround yourself with people who genuinely share your dream. Develop a culture that like-minded people want to be a part of. And, much like being a good parent — take time for yourself to recharge, and you’ll be a better leader. When you’re happy, your team is happy, and that will trickle all the way down to your customers.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

If I could inspire a movement, it would be to encourage everyone to travel! I learn something about myself every time I travel — no matter where it is. I really take the time to experience whatever place I go to — even if it is to a place I have been to before. I go out of my way to experience what the locals are doing and eating.


Dreamers: “They told me It was impossible and I did it anyway” With Debi Lane of LunchboxWax was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Dreamers: “They told me It was impossible and I did it anyway” With Victoria Repa of BetterMe

The thing is that the tech industry is pretty flexible and it’s possible to enter it anytime if you are ready to learn and expand your borders. I was ready, and I succeeded. Moreover, my example inspired some of my colleagues to do the same and take a risk of a change. I believe that if you are eager to work hard and learn new things you can succeed in any industry.

As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Victoria Repa.

Victoria Repa is CEO and Co-Founder of BetterMe — an ecosystem of Health&Fitness apps, and one of the top iOS publishers in the world. Victoria used to work in a large FMCG company but switched to tech to pursue her mission of making people happy and healthy. When she was only 24 she co-founded BetterMe and after 3 months she released the first app with a team of three. Within three years her company published 8 apps with over 50 million installs in more than 10 countries. She is a Stanford Executive program and Apple Entrepreneur Camp alumna.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?

Thank you for the opportunity to share my story!

My backstory is not very typical. I was raised in a tiny village in the East of Ukraine with no benefits of big city life. There were so few kids in my school that I had only 12 classmates and the lessons lasted 20 minutes. I made my way through self-education and lots of reading: everything that I could reach, from classics to business literature, was read immediately.

Even though there were very few chances to get something better than I had, I took each of them. I had good grades and was proactive in participating in competitions. Due to this, I made my way to the top-notch high school in Ukraine and later I won a grant to get an education in the best Ukrainian business school — Kyiv School of Economics.

Upon graduation, I was hired by a large FMCG company and worked in the logistics department. Things were going well until I decided that optimizing the processes of moving boxes isn’t the limit of my dreams. I decided to switch to the tech industry since it was a more exciting and promising industry to work in. It gave me a feeling of being a part of something bigger and create products that impact people’s lives. After a year in marketing, my co-founder Vitaliy Laptenok and I founded BetterMe. A year later our app hits the TOP of the US AppStore and still keeps the highest positions there.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

In October 2018 I participated at Apple Entrepreneur Camp for women in the app business. The lessons learned there greatly affected BetterMe’s plans and inspired me to implement a bunch of changes and innovations.

We are currently working on implementing AI in our weight loss app. It will help to make our fitness and meal plans much more personalized. This way our users will get an individual suitable weight loss program that will be as good as a personal trainer but also will not cost a fortune. Many of our users turn to fitness apps exactly because they can’t afford a gym membership and a personal trainer. BetterMe’s goal is to make fitness as accessible and as effective as possible.

We are also working on gamification of the app to make an exhausting process of weight loss more entertaining. It will help people with their weight loss journey by making it less tiresome and will motivate them to achieve their goals. By using gamification technique we plan to develop new healthy habits among users smoothly and effectively, and change their overall lifestyle instead of just shake off a couple of pounds.

In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?

The problem of the fitness app industry is that many apps are created for the sake of features, not functions. Developers are concerned with launching the fastest, the coolest the most advanced product, forgetting about the user persona they are serving to. Their user has a painful problem that affects her or his everyday life, is lost in the ocean of different apps, looking for guidance and clear instructions and tired of constant limitations and restrictions.

Many people give up weight loss because most fitness apps don’t meet the requirements of average, not advanced, users. Those products are either too complicated, or not explanatory enough, or provide no tips on nutrition, or require a gym membership and special equipment.

We proudly create apps for fitness newbies, not geeks.

While other weight loss programs are designed for highly motivated people who know what they are doing, we create products to help people who need it the most. 56% of our users are fitness newbies and we are happy to introduce them to healthy nutrition and daily activities and make it more affordable than hiring a couch.

We believe that massive problems, like obesity, require mass-market solutions, and BetterMe is that kind of product. Unlike other fitness apps, we stay away from complicated, tricky diets and exhausting exercises. Instead, we care about being effective and understandable.

Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?

If I got a dollar for every time someone told me “It’s impossible” I would not seek any investments. When I was thinking about switching from FMCG company to tech, people were saying I was ruining my career. I had no tech background or digital marketing experience but I dared to leave a stable job and dive into something new and unknown.

The thing is that the tech industry is pretty flexible and it’s possible to enter it anytime if you are ready to learn and expand your borders. I was ready, and I succeeded. Moreover, my example inspired some of my colleagues to do the same and take a risk of a change. I believe that if you are eager to work hard and learn new things you can succeed in any industry.

Also, before launching BetterMe’s first weight loss app my co-founder and I were told hundreds of times that it was a bad idea. In 2016 there were 71,895 Health&Fitness apps in the iTunes AppStore only. The market was super competitive and kept growing.

Everybody was sure that we would disappear in the pile of those apps and won’t be able to stand out. But before launching the app I conducted thorough research that showed that there was a demand for Health&Fitness content, weight loss solutions and accurate guidance for people who were new to fitness. I still insisted on launching our product and within a year we reached the top of the most popular weight loss apps in the US AppStore. The naysayers are still confused about how we did that and I leave this puzzle for them to solve.

BetterMe took on the market of the US, South America, and Eastern European countries. When I was planning to expand to Asia — China, Japan, South Korea — I was told again that it was too risky since the market is different and we have no experience there. It’s true that the market is different there but leading a business is the same anywhere: you research the market, you run tests, you develop a tailored strategy and you go for it.

I decided to expand our business since it would be a shame to lose such a scaling opportunity. In 2018, the APAC region generated $50.7 billion in app revenues, over half (58.2%) of the global total. China alone generates the most revenue in the fitness app industry. Over 104 million Chinese mobile users have at least one fitness app on their phones. The other large app markets are South Korea and Japan. Our app reached the top of the most popular Health&Fitness apps in those regions and keeps growing.

I hope there will be a day when people will realize that there is nothing impossible for me and will stop telling me not to do something — I am a “to do”, not “to doubt” kind of person. But being a woman makes it harder since a lot of men in business believe they are smarter and have a right to tell me what to do.

In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? 🙂

Success tends to prove the naysayers wrong. That’s why it’s so hard to take a hit when things don’t go as planned — people tend to point out that “they told you”. But I want to assure dreamers out there: failure is a part of any success story. The important part of proving the naysayers wrong is to try, no matter what. Because by saying “it’s impossible” people usually mean “you can’t do it”. By doing something you’ll prove negative people that you aren’t afraid to do anything and you are eager for actions, leaving the words to them.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I don’t have one or two people to be grateful for my achievements, I have a team of 80 hard-working employees who made it all possible. I appreciate everyone in my team and every day I realize that due to these people I’m moving the company where it belongs — to the top.

There are two men, though, whom I can point out. CEO of Genesis Vladimir Mnogoletnyi, due to whom I switched to tech, got my first job at Genesis and an opportunity to start my own company. He believed in my managing and entrepreneurial skills. Also, my co-founder Vitaliy Laptenok who dived into this adventure with me and who believed that I could be a real leader and CEO of our rocket ship called BetterMe.

It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?

My background definitely contributed to my resiliency. Growing up I understood pretty soon that nothing in this life is given to you, you have to fight for every opportunity and your place under the sun. In the tiny village where I am from there were zero opportunities and my starting positions were pretty low. But I knew that if I want a change, I have to make it happen. Every subsequent little achievement in my life — getting into a great high school, winning a grant to study at a business school, winning a corporate award at my first job, starting my own company — gave me a feeling that nothing was impossible. That’s why I’m so skeptical when people try to prove me wrong.

Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)

Meditation. To stay confident while being surrounded by a bunch of naysayers, one has to have steady mental health. Meditation helped me to stay calm no matter what, look at things from different angles and not spend my energy on proving anything to anyone but myself. Meditation is a well-known wellness tool for many entrepreneurs: Jack Dorsey, Marc Benioff, Jeff Weiner are just a few entrepreneurs who are publicly known as dedicated meditators. I bet it helps them not only to manage everyday stress but also to build resistance to the negative unproductive comments.

Physical activity. Sports is all about persistence, discipline, self-improvement. It teaches you that nothing comes easy and that persistent efforts always pay off. I tried a bunch of different sports from triathlon to gymnastics. Triathlon taught me to never give up and always strive for more. It’s important to keep yourself motivated when everyone around you tried to discourage you. Flying yoga taught me to stay calm and turn off the rest of the world on demand. This skill helped me to build a personal shield that protects me from naysayers.

Role models. Nothing inspires you more than reading other people’s success stories. For me, it was obvious that anything is possible after I read the stories of Jack Ma, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and other successful people who are an inspiration for many generations of entrepreneurs. So many people proved to the world that dreams come true and that there are no limits to people’s talent that it’s worth to read their stories to remind yourself about it.

Journaling. Your personal journal is an Excel spreadsheet of your thoughts and feelings — the most valuable data imagined. By writing down your opinions and observations throughout the year you, first of all, structure the information in your head and can use it in the future. Second of all, you can come back to a previous self and reflect on how you’ve changed. Usually, it helps you to realize how much you’ve grown. Seeing progress in your own personality is a big boost of confidence that no one can compete with. Every day I write down three things I did great and three things I could be better at, I also make a list of things I appreciate and am grateful for. All this helps me to It helps me to analyze where are my weak spots and whether there is a pattern in my behavior. From there, I manage my actions and decisions more efficiently. Also, this helps me to truly analyze my capabilities and know what I can and can’t do better than anyone else could tell me.

Visualization. Visualizing your final goal sets a desirable outcome for your subconsciousness. It helps you to generate new ideas and accumulate emotional and mental resources to achieve the goal. It’s recommended by all the business gurus and coaches from Tony Robbins who insists on using incantations to J V Crum III who recommends visualizing both short and long term goals.

There are many techniques: vision boards, affirmations, listings. I use them all in different formats. For example, in our office, there are pictures of the AppStore most popular apps on the walls and BetterMe is portrayed in the first place. Being #1 app is a clear, measurable goal for the team and we put all our efforts to achieve it.

What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?

I admire the story of Jack Ma and share a lot of his views. Some of the favorite quotes are:

If you don’t give up, you still have a chance.

If you don’t do it, nothing is possible.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

If I could, I would head the movement of happy people.

Happy people make other people happy. They don’t lead wars, don’t hate others, don’t follow self-destructing instincts. I hope with my work I inspire other people to pursue happiness.

The principle of the movement would be: “Pursue happiness — spread happiness”. If you care only about your own happiness, it’s easy to become selfish. Helping other people to achieve their goals, follow their dreams and become happy is crucial.

The thing is that there is no one recipe to become happy, it’s very individual. So I decided to start with the most universal method: physical and mental health. I think that a right to be healthy is the most basic right of every person that one should grant to oneself.

I try to make small steps by making sure my team feels happy. This is the group of people I can directly influence and take care of. BetterMe even has a special person in charge of that — a happiness manager. This person keeps track of all our employees, makes sure they are satisfied with their working conditions and get proper care from a company.

Can our readers follow you on social media?

Sure! I’m everywhere: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn.

Thank you for these great stories. We wish you only continued success!


Dreamers: “They told me It was impossible and I did it anyway” With Victoria Repa of BetterMe was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Future Of Beauty: “Personalized skincare routines” With Dr. Shasa Hu

It is extremely important for young consumers to not get “over-influenced” by trends and fads posted by influencers and celebrities. It is actually dangerous to replicate some “DIY” tips on injecting “fillers” to lips or other cosmetic procedures at home. I am also wary about the trend of morphing beauty standards into a single mold. Not everyone should look like the Kardashians. And all skin colors, eye shapes, lips should be celebrated and embraced.

As a part of our series about how technology will be changing the beauty industry over the next five years, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shasa Hu, MD, FAAD.

Shasa is a board-certified dermatologist, full-time Associate Professor of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Dr. Hu has a very active clinical practice of general and cosmetic dermatology, where she treats patients with a variety of skin colors and skin/ beauty concerns. Dr. Hu strongly believes that true transformation is achievable for everyone when the knowledge of what’s scientific and authentic in skin health is taught and incorporated into daily living. She also infuses her passion for teaching into her research on early detection of skin cancer and melanoma prevention.

Dr. Hu earned her undergraduate degree at Stanford University and her medical degree with Alpha Omega Alpha award from Washington University School of Medicine. She completed her dermatology residency at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital. She has received awards and grants from the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery and the Dermatology Foundation. She has lectured both nationally and internationally on skin cancer and aesthetic advances. When off duty, she loves traveling with her two boys and staying active and mindful of yoga and meditation.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have always been a very visual and tactile person, even since I was a little kid. While in medical school, I loved my rotations in Ob/Gyn, Surgery, Medicine, but it is really my experience in Dermatology that gave me that “aaahaaa” moment, where I just instantly connected with the ability of how dermatologists can diagnosis, treat, and monitor a person’s skin concerns/ diseases with just visual examination. I also love the fact that we can improve and change a person’s outlook on life and emotional wellbeing by improving their skin because the skin is such an emotional aspect of our physical body. Really my path to choose dermatology was “love at first sight”, and it was not just one case or one patient that led me on this path, it was every aspect of dermatology — that we get to see the skin, feel the skin, diagnose conditions, remove skin cancers, heal wounds, clear acne, improve skin quality. Everything about dermatology is fascinating. And dermatology is among the fastest growing fields with new research and discoveries constantly updating our knowledge base and helping us to be better physicians.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I wouldn’t call this story “most interesting” but it is one of the most memorable stories in my career as a cosmetic dermatologist. One of my patients who had undergone breast cancer treatment was seeing me for just routine skin cancer screenings. After a few years of focusing on skin cancer and skin health, she approached me about getting something to feel “fresher”. After a thorough discussion of options, risks, and expectations, we did a conservative dermal filler treatment to soften her smile lines, rejuvenate her lips and relax her forehead lines. She cried with a happy tear after seeing her transformation. Her words etched in my mind to this day. She said, “I was just focusing on surviving, now I can feel good living again” when she felt so much more confident with her fresher look. That was a very powerful moment for me as I realized how transforming other’s physical appearance can have such a positive impact on their emotional well-being.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

I would say sharing my “before and after” photos of cosmetic procedures and sharing tips on skincare through my professional account was really the catalyst for me to get to where I am today. I definitely noticed a significant increase in my cosmetic practice with patients requesting to see me because they had seen my posts or their friends have shared with them my posts. And that was 4 years ago. I do think it is becoming harder to engage an audience on social media because the platform is now inundated with fake accounts and accounts with false or misleading information. Still though, as a board-certified dermatologist, we do have a social responsibility to speak up and educate the public on the right way to take care of our skin, the safety aspects of various cosmetic procedures and the myths/ false information out there. Collectively as a group we need to continue to engage our patients, the pubic and our professional colleagues to elevate the field and improve outcome.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have many mentors/ colleagues who have supported and mentored me one way or another. Some have given me guidance on a specific issue or during a specific time frame, others have mentored me formally as a career or life mentor. I would say Dr. Robert Kirsner, the chairman of our Department of Dermatology, has been one of the most instrumental mentors in my life so far. He has always encouraged me to think outside of the box, and not get discouraged by roadblocks or closed doors. When I first met him, I was a fourth-year medical student trying to match in dermatology residency after not getting in the first time. We were walking down the hallway of the VA Medical Center, and he said to me “persistence pays off, if you don’t match into dermatology the first time, then try again, and keep trying.” He then shared the story of how he didn’t match the first round. Listening to this successful, widely respected dermatology professor talking about his own failure and giving me encouragement really inspired me to keep going. To this day, I still remember that hallway conversation.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The beauty industry today has access to technology that was inconceivable only a short time ago. Can you tell us about the “cutting edge” (pardon the pun) technologies that you are working with or introducing? How do you think that will help people?

With my co-founder, Dr. Janelle Vega, we created an online platform www.bialife.com, where anyone, from anywhere, can reach us to get personalized skincare routine curated with medical-grade skincare products. BIALife was inspired by our years of experience as dermatologists and beauty consumers ourselves. After years of working in dermatology and participating in the social media space, we saw a lot of confusion from patients and followers when it came to skincare — they had anxiety from seeing a flood of product offerings and didn’t know how to properly use a given product or even whether they could trust that product. And oftentimes, in-office dermatology visits focus more on medical aspects of dermatology, and the time constraints of office visits make it difficult to carry out a thorough skincare assessment.

We wanted to help people sort through the noise, avoid the hassle of making office visits and make proper skincare approachable and meaningful. But there was no online platform available to us to take a person’s budget, age, location, specific issues (pregnancy, for example) into consideration, or to evaluate their bare skin…so we created one!

In a broader sense, we wanted to make a positive impact on our clients and the skincare community by fundamentally shifting the focus from trying to make clients’ skin look “perfect” to help them create healthy skin. We know that biologically healthier skin is more functional and will, therefore, look better!

In addition, we wanted to help people create a mindful space around their skincare and make it a ritual to reconnect with themselves and with their skin. We believe that this mind-body-skin connection is vital in creating healthier skin and a healthier, happier person who is fostering self-love through this act of self-care.

A lot of feedback that we have gotten from our current members really validated our purpose of using online technology to transform and improve skincare. Our members love how with just a few clicks, they answer questions, submit selfies, and are able to communicate with us virtually on what the best products fit their skin needs. We also monitor their progress through the portal. A lot of feedback that we have received are how BIAlife has simplified their life, improved their skin with lower cost, and helped them feel better about their skin.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

As with any beauty technology, there may be an inherent concern of focusing on the superficiality of skin/ beauty. However we are biased about BIA Life in that we actually think through our philosophy of embracing “Beauty in All”, by educating consumers that pores are normal, blemishes are not diseases and that our skin naturally fluctuates with our environment and lifestyle, we hope to promote realistic beauty and self-acceptance in our members. Our goal is to change the “selfie” culture and refocus on how good we feel in our own skin.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the “beauty-tech” industry?

The beauty space is constantly shifting reflecting changes in consumer demographics, preferences, technology and innovation. I would say that I’m most excited about the improved accessibility of skincare with the latest innovations. Better products with effective ingredients are being put on the market. Ultimately beauty/ skincare should be affordable, targeted and tailored to one person’s budget, lifestyle and skin type. “Designer” peptide and growth factors are also gaining traction as more data are supporting the safety and effectiveness of these ingredients in topical skin care products. Lastly I am also very excited about the integrated dermatology / skin and beauty aspects of the “beauty-tech” industry — more and more research findings are supporting the link between gut health and skin health, and how our skin can be “thermometer” for internal health. It would be a reality soon where consumers can use digital monitors to get their skin scanned and a fully personalized nutrition/ beauty guide will be made based on scanning results.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

It is extremely important for young consumers to not get “over-influenced” by trends and fads posted by influencers and celebrities. It is actually dangerous to replicate some “DIY” tips on injecting “fillers” to lips or other cosmetic procedures at home. I am also wary about the trend of morphing beauty standards into a single mold. Not everyone should look like the Kardashians. And all skin colors, eye shapes, lips should be celebrated and embraced. Lastly the hyper-focus on instant gratification is also dangerous and unrealistic. Our skin naturally takes at least 4–6 weeks to change one cycle, and it takes even longer for our skin to equilibrate with our inner health/ hormonal/ nutritional status, therefore, patience and realistic expectations are very important.

I think ideally there should be stricter quality control shared on mass media platforms, however that is very difficult to implement, and it may even negatively impact the fluidity and the accessibility of beauty-tech through social media. There are also very few regulatory bodies to validate and call out false labeling/ advertising. Many adverse reactions or wasted money are results of misleading labeling or using products with bad or adulterated ingredients. Lastly the beauty industry has a responsibility to maintain the environment and protect the future of the earth. I would love to see more sustainability and responsible production/packaging/recycling of beauty products.

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share 5 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Throw away the magnifying mirror. We all have pores, facial hair, and spots on our faces. No one has flawless, glass-like skin in real life. Do not let how your pores look under a magnifying lens affect how you feel in your skin.
  2. Take a few minutes to appreciate yourself. For example, say an affirmation mantra daily for a couple minutes a day, especially when you’re on the go, will help you to recenter your perceptive. I like to say “I am grateful for my skin, my health, and my ability to heal.”
  3. When you’re in a rut, turn off all electronics or put on “Do Not Disturb” mode, take a bath, put on a face mask, and light a candle. Taking a few minutes for yourself can help you to lower your cortisol level, and that is really good for your skin!
  4. Do something nice or kind for other people. A lot of times, our self-worth/ how we feel about ourselves reflect the way we impact others. This is why we feel good and “beautiful” when we act kindly to others.
  5. Lastly, eat something healthy. I am sure a lot of us can relate — when we eat a healthy meal, we feel good afterwards, and when we binge on chips or ice cream we are often left with guilt and that gross feeling, this is why eating a healthy meal and treating our body with respect can help us to “feel beautiful”.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Thank you! Honestly, I really hope our message of “Beauty In All” can become a movement — find beauty in all, embrace our own beauty, and accept unique beauty.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Be thankful for closed doors” — a lot of times we get frustrated by not getting what we wanted or expected, and usually those are times when our lives take a turn, and our paths change direction, for the better!!! Closed doors just mean that the universe has other plans for you, and guess what maybe you avoided disasters or other heartbreaks by getting rejected or turned away. Instead of always having expectations of how things should be, embrace the dynamic nature of life. As long as we stay true to our dreams and passion and be kind, we will be fine.

How can our readers follow you online?

Please follow @drshasahu and @mybialife

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


The Future Of Beauty: “Personalized skincare routines” With Dr. Shasa Hu was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.