As an aspiring professional in Chicago, being able to find and connect with leaders of industry can prove difficult for those not well plugged in. Enter Life Lessons from The C-Suite, where you gain insight and learn from those that have achieved levels of success one aspires towards even if they can’t be your one-one mentor. Life Lessons from the C-Suite hopes to serve as a mentor bridge, where Chicago or Chicago connected industry leaders offer advice and share some things that’s helped them on the path of success to inspire next generation leaders.
Joy Chen was named Chairman/CEO of H2O+ Beauty company in 2015. Prior to that she was the CEO of Yes To Inc. a beauty brand where she led its turnaround helping the company gain 4x its revenue over 5 years to hit $50million. Her 20 years of experience “as a seasoned operator, focused on building and running businesses” is why she’s an executive we would want to learn from. Ms. Chen holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Harvard University.
SociaLifeChicago: Did you have mentors when you started your career?
Joy Chen: Sometimes when you look back and don’t think you had mentors but I realize I’ve had mentors throughout my life. My childhood mentor was my mother; she has always given me the most encouragement in terms of just doing what I want to do and not worry about can I do it or not. That encouragement has always been a huge foundation for me in my career. I’ve had mentors all throughout my career. Depending on what you need in a mentor, I think its always important to have one. They are great sounding board to have as you grow in your carer.
SLC: Even now as a CEO do you have a mentor?
JY: I do. I also have a network of CEOs from the Bay area and we get together monthly and also on the side; they are a great sounding board for me.
SLC: How do you power through the 2-3pm crash aka the afternoon slump?
JC: I drink green tea in the afternoon. My biggest way of powering through is through the pets in the office. We allow office pets and so everyday we have at least a dog in the office. I play with a dog for a few minutes in the afternoon.
SLC: After business school did you specifically want to work for CPG brands?
JC: I’ve always known that I wanted to run a company and a business someday. With that interest in mind, I went through those CPG companies to get training so it was less about my interest in CPG but more about my interest in running a business that got me in that path. I particularly love to work on challenging business problems with the ability to grow. I had a lot of those assignments when I was at Clorox and of course when I was at Yes To beauty brand and now at H2O+.
SLC: What would you say sets H2O+ apart to the consumer.
JC: The whole vision of H2O+ has been to provide the consumer with tools that will help them define their own beauty. With our restage and relaunch of the brand we wanted to have great simple products that use water based technology and we also want consumers to feel comfortable in their own skin.
SLC:What advice can you give an up-and-coming professional looking for a job while still employed?
JC: I think the first thing is to understand who you are and what makes you happy and motivated and understanding what you are good at. You spend so much time and hours at work, you have to like what you do and feel excited about what you do. Leveraging your skills and building on your strengths is key. Once you know who you are and what you are good at, understand what makes you happy in what you do. Once you understand yourself , that will become the roadmap in terms of determining where you want to go next.
SLC: What is your morning routine?
JC: The morning time is mine. I get up early, around 5:30am but I don’t go to work until about 8-8:30am. I have my coffee and catch up on the world and news. That’s really also my time to think about the business too because I really can’t do it as well when I’m in the office with everyone. I need that quiet time to reflect and get focused on what needs to be done. I work out in the morning as well. I used to workout in the evenings but i had so many times when I decided not to because I was tired , rather go out with friends and in the morning I am setting myself up for the day.
SLC: What is your beauty philosophy?
JC: I believe that anybody’s beauty starts from their inner self. That can be what you eat to how you feel, how self confident you are. I do think that once there is confidence, your beauty projects out and people see it. Beauty products like ours are helpful tools to help that inner beauty shine through.
SLC: 5 books you would recommend for someone aspiring to the C-Suite
JC: One of my favorites is The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter by Michael Watkins. I read that book almost everytime I take a new job, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a new job it could be a new client or project. It focuses feedback on what really matters and how to attack a new position.
2) Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink. This books talks about how people are motivated. It helps me understand how to build the right team based on motivation.
3) Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins is a great book for everyone, I love that book.
4) Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl, in it he talks about his journey. Its all about defining your own purpose in life and how to take a tough situation and make it positive.
5) Sam Walton: Made In America I really enjoyed his autobiography as an entrepreneur and how he started the business, the strategy he had behind that is fascinating. Great book.
SLC: How do you get through challenging situations
JC: The place I always start is seeking to understand the why and making sure you really understand it but not be skewed by your personal feelings towards the situation. The second piece I employ is about the facts. If the fact they are presenting is logical for the situation and doing what’s right for the business and the consumer.
H2O+ is having quite the year, in April they unveiled their brand relaunch which is doing really well with great results. The 25th anniversary of the brand’s best-selling Oasis Hydrating Treatment is being celebrated in September and Allure Magazine bestowed their Milk Body Butter a Best of Beauty Award. Though they closed the Michigan Avenue flagship and moved their headquarters to San Francisco, Ms. Chen visits Chicago often and is very excited about the future.
“H2O+ was founded more than two decades ago as a groundbreaking concept to deliver innovative, modern and effective skin care options in an environment that encouraged women to make their own choices. That courageous spirit and customers-first approach has always been a core tenet of the brand.” -Joy Chen
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photos via: Biz Journals
pronounced: Boh-la-jee, like the Bellagio but w/o the O. SLC Founder and Editor, loves to write about topics at the intersection of career and lifestyle for today's young professional and future leaders.