…Add a short meditation into your daily routine. I have worked with so many brilliant experts in this field and there is proof that it positively affects your overall health, your mind and mood, your daily performance and so much more. I used to think meditation was such a woo-woo practice until I was shown the proof! There are new technology aids like the Muse that have helped a novice mediator like me gain confidence in the daily practice.
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 Jill Gilbert of Wicked Awesome You and Beauty Tech Expert.
Jill Gilbert is a catalyzer of people, events, and ideas. Her experience ranges from speaker, publisher, and Silicon Valley entrepreneur to Hollywood producer to breakthrough industry conference curator. Over the last decade Jill has produced the wildly successful and touted Digital Health Summit at CES, as well as the booming Sleep Tech, Baby Tech and Beauty Tech Summits. Jill’s newest personal venture, Wicked Awesome You harnesses the power of information, technology and community to create breakthroughs in the personal health and wellness of women over 40. When she’s not mixing people and ideas, Jill enjoys a divine glass of wine, a loud USC Trojans football game and snuggles from her adorable son, Brody.
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?
Thank you for inviting me to participate. My career path has been quite the eclectic one, to say the least. And I can safely say I had no foresight to aspire to do what I do now…somehow the path kept changing and I jumped on board for the ride.
I began an internship during my senior year of college at Walt Disney/Touchstone Pictures and then immediately after graduation I got my first ‘paying’ job in their Feature Film department working entry-level for an amazing producer, Mario Iscovich, who really set the foundation for my work ethic and for how I work with others―still to this day. Working for a film’s producer puts you right at the center of everything and also allows you to follow the making of a film from greenlight to being released in theaters. He said that our office always needed to be the “nerve center” and we had to be the ones that anyone involved with the film (cast, studio, director, crew, etc.) could turn to.
I learned such an important practice from him that I use almost daily. “You don’t have to know how to do everything; You just need to know how to ask the right questions.” That is the best advice I’ve ever received―because there is no way I’d ever be able to do everyone’s job, but it was critical we understand the parameters, needs, etc. This applied to every single job I had from there on out.
I worked with Mario for 7 years on such films as The Rocketeer, Sister Act, Mulholland Falls, and What’s Love Got to Do With It? And during that time, I had the good fortune to meet a very smart young actress while producing Sister Ave 2. Years later, I was asked to run her production company at Sony Pictures where we developed a number of projects and produced a beautiful little film in London.
The burnout set-in right after that and I realized I didn’t want to live in Los Angeles anymore. I was so consumed with my work that I didn’t really have a life of my own and that situation wasn’t going to change anytime soon. I ended up moving to San Francisco and founded a company called Gilbert Guide. You see, my father was an oncologist and he said so many of his patients couldn’t find resources on where they can turn for help in the home, in an assisted living facility, respite care. They were lost. And while senior care wasn’t my ‘thing,’ I scoured far and wide where they could turn to find what they needed. This soon turned into a family business―the first national online senior care directory with robust content that helped define how families get answers to the maze that is caregiving. My brother had joined the company and we were acquired six years later. The transition to the new company didn’t go as I had hoped, and I left feeling pretty defeated. But when one door closes, another opens. The day after I left, I received an invitation to help build and produce the Digital Health Summit at CES, and later to also produce Beauty Tech Summit. Little did I know, this was the job I had been preparing for all those years.
I loved this work. My role had a strong sales element which was quite new to me, but my favorite part was building new relationships and telling the stories that could hugely impact the healthcare industry. Ironically, no one in healthcare or health tech wanted to come to CES that first year so I had a major uphill battle. I used every skill I had ever learned to shape a great show, convene brilliant minds and pivotal companies, all while remaining a strong advocate for the stories we were telling. After finding my groove in building the first year’s Summit, we grew tremendously over the next decade while always striving to up our game.
During the past two years of producing the Summit, I let my own health needs fall by the wayside. I had a son, who is now 5, and I threw 100% of my energies into caring for him and my job. Then, to add fuel to the fire, all those unfortunate things that happen to us as we get older started to rear their ugly heads! You know, when our metabolism abandons ship and we are too “busy” to exert ourselves anymore. I became complacent and was no longer taking proper care of myself. It was just easier not to do the work and things fell into a death spiral. I knew I wasn’t alone.
So many companies, products and services target a younger demographic and I was tired of being lumped in and spoken to like I was still in my 20s and 30s. What was happening with my body during this stage of my life wasn’t happening to theirs. That led me on the long journey to building what today is Wicked Awesome You. WAY helps women over 40 who’ve done big things in their lives and given so much to so many, discover how to take back some of that healthy goodness for themselves and embark on these next amazing years with the strength, solutions, and kick-ass community they not only want but deserve.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Well, I have a ton of them―some hilarious stories, setbacks as well as big wins so it’s hard to pick. I’ll go with one that definitely taught me a big lesson. For most of my working life, I have supported others to shine in the spotlight. During my earlier working years I used to stay late — sometimes into the middle of the night to get all things done that were expected of me. I wanted them to be able to rely on me for anything and everything. While we were in pre-production for Sister Act, I asked my boss if I could attend meetings with him. There was this one meeting that was happening on the weekend with all the key players in the movie: Director, Music Supervisor, Other Producers, Director of Photography, you get the picture. We were working on the Disney lot and had reserved a meeting room in the old Animation building (where Michael Eisener’s office was and the rest of the C-suites). It was a Saturday so the lot was quiet. Now to set this story up, everyone in this meeting was male, including the young assistant to the director. Someone yelled out that we needed coffee. Well, within seconds the entire room turned to me. Even the assistant to the director. No one even said a word…they just looked and inferred what my marching orders were. Needless to say, no one was in the building and there wasn’t Postmates in 1991. I scoured the building (practically breaking into office kitchens to find coffee). I was sweating and stressing big time, while quietly cursing that I was missing this meeting. And by the time I found somewhere to make it and returned with the goods, the meeting was almost over. I went home so bummed out. Not because they naturally turned to me because I was female, but because I hadn’t prepared for this. I learned my lesson… there was never another meeting I was in charge of that didn’t have the necessary refreshments, office supplies, etc. I also quickly learned and adopted that no matter what job you have or what level you are at, you have to be willing to get your hands dirty. No excuses.
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?
Every job had tipping points and moved me up (not necessarily vertically in job title, but in building my capacity for greater things. I think as I grew older, I grew stronger and more confidant. I remember someone said to me when I was working in the film industry that ‘I could one day be a good producer if I grew thicker skin.’ They were right. And at that time I wasn’t as strong. I was learning and had insecurities that held me back. And yet I often postured that I knew it all. It just doesn’t work. It’s the process of going through different careers and working with a lot of different personalities that strengthen your core.
So I attribute so much of how strong I feel today to my age. I needed to be a sponge when I was younger. I constantly put myself in direct proximity to learn from the best and wasn’t only trying to work my way up the ladder. Now I have the confidence built from real experience. I learned that being a know-it-all and self-serving gets us nowhere. It’s serving others that make us shine every time.
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?
The film producer I worked with for 7 years after college was pivotal in modeling something so critical for success. I bet he doesn’t know this, but in an industry of insanely strong personalities (from big-name actors and producers to the incredible demands from the studios), he taught me the importance of being kind. Not a push-over, but kind. You see, we interacted with so many people that weren’t always the nicest (or easiest) to work with. I’m convinced that someone told them that they needed to act that way to get what they wanted. Thankfully I learned otherwise early-on, and while I’m definitely not always perfect and have my moments, I always hold that true to my core which has enabled me to build great relationships with the people I work with and come in contact with. I believe this virtue has enabled me more success than I ever could’ve imagined.
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?
There are multiple categories of beauty innovation currently flourishing right now.
The first category I call Smart DIY Beauty. These are the tools and treatments you used to only receive from a professional like a dermatologist, plastic surgeon or trained esthetician. We’re seeing loads of new devices being released like laser hair removal, sonic micro planing, LED teeth whitening tools, smart toothbrushes, and skin lasers for wrinkles, texture, and discoloration. The door has been opened for women to create big changes from the comforts of their own home.
This category also includes innovative products like La Roche-Posay’s new wearable UV sensors that measure and track your personal UV exposure as well as new smart sunscreens in development which turn colors to let you know it’s no longer protecting you.
The second category is what I call Personalized Beauty: Diagnostics, Tracking, and Recommendation. These are the products and tools that utilize some combination of augmented reality, artificial intelligence and sophisticated sensors to diagnose skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation, dark circles, moisture levels, pore size, and wrinkles. Then many will recommend appropriate products to treat whatever was “diagnosed.” And to complete the circle, some will actually track the progress to see how well the products are working. It’s definitely the era of smart beauty.
The progress side of this category are the tools that are allowing us to track how products are working. If a smart mirror is taking images of your skin, and continues to do so as you implement a new treatment routine, over time, you can see the progress, or lack of progress, the treatment has on achieving the results you want.
Also part of this category are sophisticated AR- and AI-enabled app companies working directly with many of the biggest beauty brands to enable you to “try before you buy.” So picture a phone “selfie” app that uses facial mapping which allows you to try on multiple lipstick colors and makeup shades or give yourself a total makeover. Then when you find the one you want, you can purchase the products directly from the app. Not only is this convenient, it allows the brands to create better relationships with their customers.
And lastly is just an Emerging Beauty Tech Catch-All category which includes things like a DIY home soap making machine, websites that are using AI to assess beauty products to inform consumers of a product’s clean beauty score, new skin scanning camouflage devices and 3d printing at-home makeup machines.
Well if we draw the parallel with what’s happening within the digital health industry, the privacy of our data is an issue of paramount proportions. The consumer needs to be able to trust their data is not only secure but being used ethically. Now our “beauty data” might not feel as sensitive to consumers but we are moving into an age where so much of beauty tech is falling under the umbrella of self-care or personal care.
Some of the real powers of collecting all this data across a vast array of people is that it will help us see important trends as well as make the diagnostics and recommendations much more accurate and efficacious.
I personally don’t immediately see the downside of physically using these technologies (sans improper use), but I think just like in health, consumers need to be made aware of how their data is being used.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the “beauty-tech” industry?
Oh my! Where do I begin? Everything excites me. As I enter my self-declared personal age of transformation, beauty tech will be right by my side. I work a lot and don’t always take the time to get facials and other “self-improvement” treatments. Now I don’t have to! I can perform diagnostics and treat from my own bathroom! Hell, I could do it from my bed if I wanted to 😉 I have no doubt these tech tools will just continue to improve year after year.
One “not quite ready for primetime” concept that gets me the most excited is the connected bathroom which I’ve had the opportunity to see demos of. I love the idea of a fully integrated build-in smart mirror that speaks to my personal care devices and tracks my routine as well as reminds me when I missed keeping up with necessary treatments. No doubt we are this close to seeing this come to fruition.
Something I haven’t mentioned much is the oral care industry that grew tremendously this past January at CES 2020. Connected toothbrushes were everywhere and loads of new smart ones! How often do we rush through our brushing routines not knowing if we covered all the basis? What we are seeing now are game-changers for a rushed brusher like me (and my son!). There are sensors built-in that communicate directly with an app to show you in realtime where you brushed and where you missed! No more guessing. This is brilliant for the little ones since their interface lives in a fun game. I’ve been using Philips DiamondClean for the past two years and am itching for one of these new smart ones.
In addition, Philips launched an app for teledentistry which connects you directly to a
Licensed dentist to assess your oral care needs remotely.
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?
There aren’t many things I’m concerned about except for misinformation provided to the consumer or product claims that don’t fulfill. I’m still not convinced about how skincare recommendations can be derived from a DNA test. I do have more to learn on this, so I don’t want to speak out of turn. And the FDA has yet to weigh in.
However, over the past decade, more and more specialized DNA testing products have hit the market. Things like buying a customized knitted scarf to match your DNA traits or tests to let you know how your skin will age based on your DNA.
I am a big fan of diagnostic tests, but these feel like they don’t have a valuable purpose. We have so much power to affect our bodies, skin and overall health with diet, fitness, lifestyle and the use of quality products that relying on what our DNA says around our beauty routines seems unnecessary.
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.) feel in control…control to say no, structure
- Build a morning and evening routine. Consistency is the key to see improvement and building these routines will not only help you accomplish this but will help you gain the freedom of struggling to figure. I wrote an entire eBook about just this thing that just got released and is available free to download. Wicked Wellness: Your Blueprint for Building Rituals & Routines That Lead to Big Breakthroughs
- Add a short meditation into your daily routine. I have worked with so many brilliant experts in this field and there is proof that it positively affects your overall health, your mind and mood, your daily performance and so much more. I used to think meditation was such a woo-woo practice until I was shown the proof! There are new technology aids like the Muse that have helped a novice mediator like me gain confidence in the daily practice.
- Find skincare products that work for your skin and use them consistently. I lived with skin that was dry on top and oily underneath for years. When my skin broke out, I used harsh products to dry it out. Let’s just say, my skin kinda sucked. Ironically, for the past two years, I was invited to produce a beauty tech panel at Cosmoprof Bologna, one of the biggest beauty shows in the world. While I was there I visited the Korea pavilion where so much beauty innovation is happening and took home a kit of products that kicked off my interest in improving my skin. When I returned home, I was introduced to a night oil by Sunday Reilly. I couldn’t’ believe that sleeping with oil on my face wouldn’t cause breakouts but it didn’t. In fact, it did quite the opposite. I woke up and my skin was plump and beautiful. I then purchased a few more of their “cult favorites” and my skin has transformed. Every morning I touch it and love how healthy it feels.
- Integrate fitness into your daily routine. Even if only for 20 minutes. Last year, as I struggled to develop a healthier self, I decided to bring my Peloton out from retirement and committed to getting on the bike for just 5 minutes a day. Yep, only 5 minutes to start. I built that up to 20–30 minutes and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. What I quickly learned was that even when I had a rough day or felt like I didn’t accomplish enough, I DID THAT! I treated my heart, body, and mind to something so special and important. This is immensely fulfilling and you can safely go to bed high-fiving yourself for what you achieved. And there is nothing more beautiful and empowering than taking pride in ourselves.
- Revive your makeup routine! There are so many amazing products on the market and I recently did an overhaul of most of my products. I cleaned up my makeup space and organized it in a way that I could see everything clearly. Makeup had become such a chore and I lost the play and the joy of putting it on. And while this revival is still new for me, I’m finding that some of the newer product brands go on so much better. And after taking such great care of my skin, the makeup goes on and really do 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. 🙂
I founded Wicked Awesome You to build a movement of incredible women in their 40’s and 50s+ on a forever quest to grow, learn, transform and live vibrantly despite the fact that our bodies are working against us. It’s in our nature to keep striving for more, and just because we have hit a certain age does not mean we have lost our craving to be beautiful, to feel sexy, to be strong and in control. Life happens to everyone, but WAY and its community of impassioned women will be here to help lift each other up every step of the way.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I got reacquainted with this quote and it hit home for so many reasons. “You had the power all along my dear.” Glenda the Good Witch from Wizard of Oz.
I think this is so powerful and resonates so much with me. I wish I knew that all my insecurities and growing pains were just part of the process. Sometimes we think we’re the only ones struggling, but alas it’s just a rite of passage.
How can our readers follow you online?
Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/WickedAwesomeYou
Private Facebook Circle+ Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/2107236349402724/
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.
The Future Of Beauty, With Beauty Tech Expert Jill Gilbert was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.