It goes without saying that we are our own worst critics. But if we are the ones invalidating ourselves, undermining our ideas, or not speaking up, how can we ever expect people to do the same around us? Melody Wilding says you have to trust yourself and value yourself first, especially if you are a sensitive person, and put that out into the world. On today’s show, she joins Dr. Diane Hamilton in a discussion about how we should accept ourselves and recognize how these qualities of sensitivity and ambition can be tremendous strengths and channel our energy in that direction. Melody is a human behavior expert and the author of the book, Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work,
Beauty products these days can be so expensive, and with the pandemic, these products are starting to get limited. Now, imagine if there was an app for DIY beauty products. What if you discovered that this kind of app exists? It’s called Herb and Hedgerow, and the Founder, Lorraine Dallmeier is here to talk about how to run an online cosmetic formulation and business school. Lorraine was voted The Most Influential Person in Natural Beauty for 2020 and awarded The Digital Achiever of the Year award for the cosmetic industry by Google. Join Dr. Diane Hamilton and her lovely guest as they talk all about beauty and skincare and making it available online.
I’m glad you joined us because we have Melody Wilding and Lorraine Dallmeier. Melody is the author of Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work. Lorraine is the CEO of Formula Botanica. We’re going to learn a lot about trust and what it took to build an award-winning company like Formula Botanica.
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Trusting Yourself: Breaking The Cycle Of Overthinking And Emotional Reactivity With Melody Wilding
I’m here with Melody Wilding, who has coached hundreds of private clients from CEOs and Fortune 500 executives to leaders from the US Department of Education, the Federal Reserve and the United Nations. You’ve probably seen her featured on New York Times, the Cut Oprah magazine, NBC News, US News & World Report and many more places. It’s nice to have you here, Melody.
Thank you so much for having me.
I was looking forward to this. You’re in New York. That sounds exciting. If we have sirens, not to worry.
It’s the sounds of a city.
I gave a little bit of background on you because I’d like to hear it from the guests. I’d love to get a backstory at the beginning. How did you get to this level? You’re an author. You’ve done so many things. What led to that?
At this point in my career, who I am and what I do has become very synchronous. It certainly wasn’t the case. It didn’t feel like that getting here. The book came out of a combination of my personal experiences and professional experiences. In terms of background, why I’m so drawn to your background, we have a lot of similarities. My background is in Psychology Neuroscience. I have my Master’s from Columbia University in Social Work. I was a therapist and that was what I always dreamed of becoming. I teach human behavior and bring that lens into everything I do and certainly the book. All of those professional interests came out of my interests. As a child, I was always someone who was very sensitive, affected by the world around me and curious about other people, how they tick, observant and perceptive of what was going on around me.
I certainly didn’t have that language growing up. I thought that something was wrong with me because I was so impacted by everything that went around me. I took things personally, I felt things and thought things at such a deeper level. Flash forward, I was extremely high achieving in my career, mostly because I put a lot of pressure on myself. I’m sure a lot of readers can relate to feeling like you are your own worst critic and that is certainly me. I was someone who was your A-plus gold star, good girl, follow all of the ticking the boxes, get good grades in school, go to a good college, get a good job and that should equal success. When I graduated with my Master’s I took a job in healthcare and technology because the economy at that point wasn’t doing great.
I followed the urging of people around me who said, “Why don’t you do something that’s more stable?” It hit this crisis moment in my career where I hit a very severe burnout to the point where I was held up in bed, could not get out of bed because I was so tired and depleted. My hair was falling out and I was having heart palpitations. I came to realize that it was a result of my ambition and my sensitivity, not being given the tools to recognize and manage them. At the same time, fortunately on the side, I was beginning to coach and work with people to pay off my student loans. Through my work as a coach, flash forward ten years, the same patterns that I saw in myself of perfectionism, people-pleasing, over functioning and emotional reactivity stress. Combination of the sensitivity piece and the ambition piece have seen that in my clients and so here we are now.You are your own worst critic. Click To Tweet
This was fascinating and I know I did mention the name of your book and you’ve referred to your book and it’s Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work. I was interested in that when I saw this, it also the fact that you had a nice quote from Susan Cain, the author of Quiet, which comes up in just about every conversation, seems like her book. She had wonderful things to say about your work. Your backstories did sound a lot like my childhood, how I was very sensitive, curious and observant, the words you were using. I was with you until I got to the good girl thing, I didn’t do it. In college, I didn’t want to go to class so much. I couldn’t sit still. I got bored. Were you bored a lot as a kid? Because I was bored a lot.
I wasn’t bored as much as I was very good at keeping myself entertained but I would say the reason why and I think I see this in your career as well. My boredom comes out in I always have to be doing a lot of different things. I love being busy. I love having my hands in a bunch of different fields and tasks. I wouldn’t say bored but I have to have that to feel fulfilled.
It was the thing that I would do. It sounded so much what I grew up like and it’s interesting how we have these, your own worst critic. Even as a professor, you get reviewed and you’ll get 99 out of 100, will say we were the best thing that’s ever been. You get one who said it could have been a little better and that’s all you focus on.
100%. I am right there with you.
We all do it because you want to be perfect, you want to be the nice one, you want everybody to like you and a lot of people are like that. When I meet people, I have a good friend. She doesn’t care at all. They could say the worst thing and she’s like, “That’s their problem.” I wish I had a little more of that but we have to trust ourselves and it shows others that we do when we do and that ties into my emotional intelligence, training, everything. I wrote my dissertation on emotional intelligence. If you expect others to trust you, you have to trust yourself. How do you do that? What kind of self-work is that?
You teach people how to treat you and if you are the one invalidating yourself, undermining your ideas, not speaking up. How can you ever expect people to do the same around you if you do not value yourself first and put that out there into the world? Trusting yourself fundamentally comes down to accepting who you are, specifically for sensitive people. We spend so much of our lives berating ourselves like, “Why am I like this way? Why is this? Why do I have to deal with this curse and this weakness?” We spend so much time preoccupied by that inner war rather than recognizing how these qualities of sensitivity and ambition can be tremendous strengths and channeling our energy in that direction.
The book takes people through a framework for identifying your key qualities of what I call being a sensitive striver, that combination and helps you measure where you are most in balance versus out of balance are. Since beginning down that road of trusting yourself first, involves understanding who you are and how you tick as a sensitive striver. Understanding that this is a very real biological trait, it is not some flaw in you. You just have not been given the tools to manage it correctly. Secondly, starting to fight back some of the self-sabotage and unhelpful patterns that are standing in your way. Things like overthinking, emotional reactivity, all of those behaviors that are sucking up your mental and emotional energy and only creating this cycle where you feel worse about yourself. You react to a situation emotionally, let’s say and then it confirms the cycle of, “See? I can’t handle pressure.” It only serves to confirm those negative thoughts. The book that helps people really get out of that vicious cycle into more of a virtuous one.
I find age has a lot of help because when I was young, I would take terrible abuse from people and now I’m old, you don’t care as much. It’s something very hard to tell somebody who hasn’t experienced it and it eats at you sometimes. I was looking at some of the things you write about, talk about and you were combining things. I was thinking of all the guests on my show because you combine cognitive behavior. I had Albert Bandura on you to combine mindfulness methods. I had Daniel Goleman on you could talk about communication leadership and career development skills. I’ve had people like Doug Conant or John Carter.
You name them and they’ve been talking about all these things. I go out of my way to interview these people because those are the things when I write about curiosity. I talk about it as the spark to all the things that people are trying to improve and they’re trying to get to this great end state and they’re mixing together ingredients. Some of that is some of this stuff. These are the ingredients. I see curiosity is the spark to being able to develop all those ingredients to build your end result in the end. Where do you see curiosity falling into that mix?
I love that, particularly as someone who identifies as being more sensitive. That capacity for synthesis is one of our superpowers. That we not only take in more information about what’s going on around us but we process that information more deeply. That’s where curiosity comes in, evolutionarily speaking this trait of high sensitivity evolved because it was advantageous to have someone in the group in prehistoric times who was curious about the surroundings. Who was thoughtful about their actions? Who was perceptive and paying attention to other people’s emotions? Are they dangerous? Are they safe?
Being curious around the surroundings for example, “What’s going on over there in the bushes?” Curiosity is so fundamental to sensitivity and being a sensitive striver. Even for my clients, their curiosity comes out and they’re the ones that ask really intriguing difficult questions about a project at work for example. They’re the ones who are curious about new directions because as more sensitive people, we are anticipating eventualities, we’re projecting into the future and we’re able to spot gaps that others may miss. I think curiosity is fundamental to all of that.
When you use the word sensitive, it brings to mind Susan Cain’s book Quiet. Certain terms come across as maybe soft, not so tough but yet emotional intelligence in the day when I started to write about it, I hadn’t even heard of it but way back then. The soft skills, that certain things they have these connotations that make it seem like we’re talking female or we’re talking you know what I mean. I think Susan did an amazing job of showing the value of being an introvert. I see what you’re doing is similar in respects that you’re showing the value in being sensitive and some of these terms, how do we get people? When I wrote about curiosity and perception and some of the things I write about emotional intelligence, those are the kinds of things. The people who need that aren’t the people who will pick up the book that tells them they need to fix it.
One of the reasons I intentionally termed the people that I work with sensitive strivers is because I think sensitivity needs a rebrand. We need to reclaim it from something that is considered to be a negative to something that is neutral or the strength that it is. Because fundamentally when I say sensitive, I’m talking about having a more finely attuned central nervous system. It is a trait difference that a certain amount of people has. About 1 in 5 people. Part of this comes down to sensitive strivers owning it themselves and feeling proud about it. Whenever I have clients who work together, they become more confident and secure in being this personality type. What is really transformational is when they start to share it with the people around them. When they start to be able to talk to their bosses or their colleagues, part of the value of what I bring to the table is that I have this creativity, this originality and perceptiveness, whatever you want to call it.
Some of them do say and they will bring my articles or my book and say, “I am the sensitive striver personality type. There are a lot of traits and aspects of this I want to bring to our team.” It becomes such a transformative conversation with them. Every time people do this, they’re afraid to have that conversation but then the positive reception they get, particularly from managers who say, “Thank you, this is insightful for helping me understand you, manage you and leverage you more effectively.” It takes a shift in ourselves to present and show up with more competence around being sensitive people in the first place to have, as we were talking about before to have other people respect it.Teach people how to treat you. Click To Tweet
It’s an interesting thing because this is a tough time of developing certain skills. Everybody’s working more virtually. I’m sure people ask you a lot about how’s this different in COVID-19 times if you’re doing all this. Is it harder to develop these skills virtually?
I think virtual presents certain advantages and hindrances. The virtual environment for many of my clients has been a blessing in that, they have more control over their environment. They can choose how much they want to interact with people versus being in an open office where they’re constantly interrupted or absorbing everything that’s going on around them. From a stimulation standpoint, there’s a lot more control over your time and what you take in. Where I have seen a bigger challenge is that the loss of interaction has led to a lot of ambiguity. A lot of my clients tend to be naturally deep thinkers, in the absence of informal nods of approval, kind of getting that heads up from your boss that you’re doing well or casual interaction with a colleague that lets you know that you’re in good standing. We don’t have that as much. I’ve seen a heightening of almost a paranoia because there’s so much more ambiguity in our interactions, that can lead to overthinking and that can lead us to projecting negative meanings on why did my coworker use a period and an exclamation point in an email, for example. We become almost hyper vigilant, we’re on the lookout for that disapproval, that rejection, that there’s no concrete proof for. That’s been one of the biggest challenges to work from home that I’ve seen.
It all ties into the research that we did for our book Perception, it’s fascinating and I found in some of the research that there was a process of our perception process. We evaluate, we predict, we interpret and then we correlate to come up with these decisions. A lot of what we’re interpreting, we’re doing virtually, which is a whole new level. It reminded me of when I had Tripp Crosby on the show when he did his conference call in real life video a long time ago, showing what a conference call would look like if everybody was actually in the room. I loved that video and we’re getting real life things like that. We set a time where we have never experienced.
Having that ability to be perceptive and see things from other people’s advantage points because we’re so into our mind, “This is how I think about it, I feel so bad and this bothered me.” We were talking about do they put a period? Did they put an exclamation point? What do you think that meant? People have me look at their things and they’ll say, “Do you think that was rude?” I don’t read it then they read it back to me with a real snarky tone. I tend to read that because I don’t have that backstory. A lot of it is the experiences we’ve had with people. As we’re talking about this, I’m wondering if you had some examples you wanted to share of sensitive leaders who you think of who’s embraced this.
I have a few clients in particular that I think of when you say that. What my clients are always shocked by is how the things they don’t consider special about themselves is exactly what other people appreciate in them. Particularly in this environment where over the years, we’ve had a lot of people in organizations, a lot of reorgs, layoffs for example and just turmoil and fear inside teams, people are worried about their job security. Having someone who is a sensitive strive for, I have one client in particular whose company not only went through a reorg but then they went through a merger and an acquisition at the same time. The team was so nervous. They were scared about this acquisition, who was going to stay, who was going to going to go. Her being a sensitive striver, being so emotionally in tune and in touch, she was there to be supportive of the team.
She was excellent about transparency and feedback. In a very appropriate way, she was able to anticipate conflicts that might come up during this merger and this acquisition because she had that level of foresight. She ended up leaving the company for a different opportunity but on her last day, the team threw a surprise party for her. They did a PowerPoint slide and shared their favorite things about working with her. They all had to do with this high level of empathy, emotional intelligence, how much she cared and how great she was at coaching them. What an excellent problem solver that she was and all of those are direct aspects of her having these traits of sensitivity and ambition and being a sensitive striver.
That’s a great story and empathy comes up in every conversation I have with people because it’s such a huge part of emotional intelligence. Especially with curiosity, you need that sense of curiosity, ask questions of other people to find out, to put yourself in their shoes, to get their perspective, to see things, it comes into perception. As we’re talking about emotional intelligence, I know in the book you talk about identifying your core values. I think that’s a big part, self-awareness, self-understanding all of that is a big part of emotional intelligence. What core values do you have them identify?
The reason why I made that an entire chapter in the book is because sensitive strivers, when their qualities are unbalanced and we haven’t been given the tools to channel this correctly, our vigilance, our attention to the environment and other people can lead us to seek validation and define success on somebody else’s terms. We try to live up to the expectation that everybody else has of us rather than thinking about how do we define success for ourselves. To me, a big part of defining success for yourself is identifying your values, the principles by which that are most true to who you are and can act as a filter for all of your actions because values without action behind them are useless.
For many of my clients, honesty is an important value and that comes in terms of being able to be ethical in your actions. In our coaching work together, it often comes up to help them figure out how they need to move forward on difficult situations. If honesty is a high value of yours, you can use that as a filter, let’s say you have a conflict with a colleague or I have one client who is a co-founder of a company and having some difficulty with some of the other founders. Using values as a guide, what action gets you closer to honesty? It may be having a straight conversation with those people to share some of your feedback and your concerns. That’s what moves you closer to honesty.
I think having that sense of recognizing these things, respect is huge of what I have to have in my workplace. Because age comes into it when I was young, I think I’d put up with anything. When you’re older, you kind of, “All those years, those guys walked on me. I don’t think I want that anymore.” You find yourself through different experiences along the way and I’m sure your book’s going to help a lot of people. When I interviewed Ken Fisher, the billionaire behind Fisher Investments, he said Susan Cain’s book changed his life because he saw himself as an introvert and recognizing why I feel this way. I could see other people saying the same thing about what you write because I think you see yourself, the sensitivity, “Why was I like this? Why did I get my feelings hurt so much?” All these things are so critical for our success. I hope that everybody takes time to check out your book and learn more from you. A lot of people want to know how they can follow you, how they can find you. Is there some kind of a link or something you’d like to share?
That’s easy. I’m curious, did you think about ever calling it sensitive striver or sensitive? One word. When I create my book titles, I always go, should I have just one word? You don’t have a lot of sometimes say with the publishers and all that but was that ever a thought?
It was a thought and I will tell you that you were mentioning books that changed your life and put everything in perspective. For me, Susan Cain’s book, which is why I was so honored to have her blurb on the cover. Also, Dr. Elaine Aron, her book The Highly Sensitive Person, is the seminal book about high sensitivity and that was a life-changer for me. It was important to me to add to Dr. Aron’s work. Trust yourself, came more from we wanted readers to understand what am I going to get out of this book. We wanted to come out there with a bold statement about trust yourself. That is a bold statement rather than to just say, sensitive striver, which people immediately identify with but more of the outcome and the result is what draws people in.
It’s a great choice and a lot of people can use this. This was so much fun. Thank you, Melody. It’s great having you on the show.
Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure.
Running An Online Beauty Business With Lorraine Dallmeier
I am here with Lorraine Dallmeier, who is an award-winning CEO of Formula Botanica, which is an online organic cosmetic formulation and business school where they’ve trained more than 12,000 organic cosmetic formulators and indie beauty entrepreneurs in more than 175 countries. It’s so nice to have you here, Lorraine.
It’s so nice to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me to your show.
I was looking forward to this. I am always interested in makeup and business in the same conversation is a good thing because those are two things that I’m fascinated by. I was wondering when they were going to start 3D printing makeup. I’m fascinated by the area of where cosmetics are going and what people are doing in that realm, in that business space. I know that’s your background and I want to get a little background on you of how you got into this? You’ve done very well. You’re voted the most influential person in natural beauty for 2020 and awarded the Digital Achiever of the Year Award for Cosmetic Industry by Google. Those are huge things. Can you give us a little backstory?
I got started for this when I was on maternity leave with my eldest son. I’ve been doing this for a little while now and I decided that I didn’t want to work for other people anymore. I have really good jobs. I’d work around the world. I’m in the UK but I’ve worked and lived in the US and Australia. I was in the Russian Far East working for the world’s largest oil and gas facility for three years. It was pretty incredible but I got to the stage that I didn’t want to work for other people anymore. I kept getting told, “You’re too young, too inexperienced. You’re too scary. You’re too intimidating for women here in the workplace.”
It was when I went on maternity leave and we get a full year in the UK that I thought to myself. I have the headspace for the first time to think about what I might be able to do that isn’t a 9:00 to 5:00 job. I thought this is my opportunity to start my own business. Even though I was sleep-deprived, out of my mind having a young baby, it was a roller coaster as it always is when you have children, I decided to go with it. One day I was watching the BBC’s Apprentice and they were making an iPhone app. I thought if these guys can do it so can I. With my four-month-old baby in tow, I went and designed a DIY beauty app on how to make your own very simple, basic skincare and hair care products, I did really well. It was downloaded all over the world. I got featured in various glossy magazines and newspapers. I got some pretty big PR attention from it and I thought, “What’s next?”
I thought, “I want to start my own skincare brand. I want to make natural botanical skincare.” I’m a biologist by training and I worked as an environmental scientist for over a decade. I thought this fits nicely with my background. I thought, “What’s next? How do I learn how to formulate?” I took a small online course and really enjoyed it. I got a lot out of it and then I had another baby and I was like, “I have my toddler. I have my baby. How am I going to launch a skincare brand in my tiny kitchen?” I had the opportunity to take over the school that I trained with even though it was teeny tiny, it was sold to me as a one-woman side hustle and I went back to my day job. At that point, they ghosted me. I had nothing to do in the workplace. I got stuck in the attic and I thought I’ve got to make this side hustle work. I threw myself into it and I can tell you, it’s no longer a side hustle. I have 40 staff and we sold $5 million worth of courses. This is a major international undertaking now and we built an education empire out of it basically. I suppose that’s the start of my journey.
That’s a lot, just having worked for so many different universities, teaching online courses and running departments, I know what goes into creating some of this stuff. To you probably, you were ahead of the curve with the COVID-19 situation because you’re online with this. Everybody’s looking to do different things. I know I have some courses I teach, I’ve created some MOOCs and different things throughout that are global. I noticed a lot of people are in this, a lot more than in the past. You probably didn’t get hit as hard as a lot of other companies at this time. Are you finding a lot of people are looking for their next transition for what they want to do? Because they worked at home and they’re like, “I want to do this at home.”
When COVID-19 hits here in the UK, I had no idea what to expect. Most businesses, I just expected a bit of a downturn. The first thing I did was, I looked at the company reserves and I thought we’re in good financial health. We’re okay. I said to my staff, “No one needs to worry. No one’s going to get laid off. No one’s going to get furloughed. No one has to take a pay cut. We’ll be fine.” I started talking to my contractors and I said, “How are you doing?” They basically went, “We were in a pretty bad situation because we lost all of our clients overnight.” I increased spend with our contractors and said, “All those projects we’ve had on the shelf for years let’s work on them.” I started to invest and I started hiring because I was like, “These people are getting laid off. Maybe now I can finally find my superstars that I needed to run that sort of thing.” I went into it, expecting a downturn and thinking I would invest for the future. What happened was we saw 85% growth and the growth was so phenomenal that I ended up hiring 25 new staff members.
That’s quite a growth. What’s interesting is you’re not just dealing with skincare, you’re dealing with cosmetics. You have both.Trusting yourself fundamentally comes down to accepting who you are. Click To Tweet
We teach skincare and haircare formulation and we’re currently an R&D for makeup.
My husband’s a plastic surgeon, so I’m always fascinated by some of the products that are available and things. What are the hot products that are more organic? What is the main thing that you’re teaching? When you’re training these formulators, are you training them on how to create them? Are you training them on how to sell them? I’m not sure I understand.
All of it, we teach people how to become a formulator. First of all, we teach them how to make their lotions, serums, cleansers, toners, shampoos and conditioners using natural and naturally derived ingredients. We teach them how to turn those formulations into a business. We teach them how to start their indie beauty brand. At the start, we’ve had almost 13,000 people go through our courses and some of them don’t want to start a brand. They just want to formulate for themselves but the vast majority do.
Some of them stay really small and they sell to their friends, family, at local markets or in local retailers and some of them aim for global domination. Our most successful graduates have now raised over $8.5 million in investment funding. They are in the UK but they’re being rolled out in 1,800 targets in the US at the moment. They’re in Sephora worldwide. There’s a huge range as you can tell. Some of them stay small and formulate for themselves. Others want to conquer the world with their beauty brands. To answer your first question, it really varies. The majority of people are still into skincare and they want to focus on the serums, the cleansers, the lotions, the toners, that sort of thing. Cleansers and serums, it definitely helps them.
It’s really interesting. I’m teaching a course. I teach a lot of courses continually through different universities. One of them is an entrepreneurship course and they have to come up with their product, how they’re going to sell it and come up with their business plan and that kind of thing. This is a technology school. They’re picking more techie stuff and you have a techie part of your business because you’re teaching online business. I’m curious about regulations of things you had to deal with because we were talking about getting your trademarks and all the different things that they have to do. In the United States, we have FDA and different things that you have to meet requirements. What requirements do you have to meet in the cosmetic field?
We do teach cosmetics regulations as part of what we teach because it’s such an important component. We teach because our students are global. Forty percent of our student cohort is in the US that is the biggest market for us, that we’re based here in the UK because we are global. We teach everyone to try and comply with the EU cosmetics regulations because they are the highest standard in the world. We basically say to people, “You might be in the US, Canada or in Australia, wherever it is you are but your regulations aren’t quite as stringent as those that we have over here.”
One day you may want to sell your products over here in which case, you would have to comply with the regulations here. As long as you jump through certain hoops, for instance, if your product contains water, it should go to a lab to be tested to make sure that the preservation system is strong enough. If every single product should be stability tested, we teach all of those steps. We expect people to go through them to document things properly regardless of what the regulations in their country say. They can eventually prepare to sell globally if that’s what they wish.
That’s insurance required for those types of things too.
There are a lot of small craft insurers who want to ensure lots of formulators happily. Indie formulation is such a big thing, there are tens of thousands of small beauty brands like this around the world and it’s all doable. It just takes a little bit of prep work as with everything, a bit of organization and then you’re there.
I’m curious what LMS you use, a Learning Management System, what kind of software to train people online? Do you have one that you created on your own? Is it a plugin? Is it something like canvas, I’m just curious?
We use Moodle.
Moodle is still around and it’s still doing a lot of different things, that’s great.
Most of the people who do this online use a third-party plugin but I wanted us to own the system that we teach on that we can customize it. Even at the moment, we’re going through a massive upgrade and we’re rolling out a completely new platform for our students in June. I can do that because we own the system. That’s the beauty of open-source software.
I use a plugin on my WordPress site that I own but it doesn’t have the functionality of something like, it’s interesting though. I think Moodle has grown quite a bit since I first started using it. It’s something that I have a lot of people who are thinking of creating either courses or a company where they’re training like this. As I’m thinking about this, I had someone on my show recently who’s creating courses on Oculus, which is this platform that runs on these virtual reality glasses. I’m going to be curious to see how many schools and things that are teaching virtually. We’ll start having Oculus type apps that you can be in the classroom and see how to formulate. Have you looked into any virtual reality training?
We haven’t yet. We have talked about some of the cool things that you can start to do with, we use a software type called H5P as well, that we integrate with Moodle, there were so many different opportunities. We plan to go into the studio next year and re-film all of our formulation videos and then make them interactive so that it stops halfway through. What do we add next in order to stabilize this formulation? There are so many opportunities, it’s exciting. I have a big education team that works in the school and they run the courses and the platform. It’s always changing but that gives us a lot of opportunities to improve the way that we teach for our students.Curiosity is so fundamental to sensitivity and being a sensitive striver. Click To Tweet
As you were saying, how you started this, it brought to mind the movie Micki & Maude, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that but she’s bedridden because she’s pregnant and to keep herself busy, she creates this clothing that just takes off. Some of these things take off and you don’t expect it. How has it changed? Are you able to work at home still? Is your company all based out of your house? Did you have to create more of a physical location?
No, we’re all remote. It hasn’t been a huge amount of change for me with the pandemic, apart from the fact that my children have been at home and not at school for some of it. My team works around the world. They’re in about twelve different countries. I have 40 staff. We all work from home and it’s been good because it means that every single thing we do is online. The team is online. The way we operate is online, the school is online and the students are online, it become a way of life. I find it interesting watching all these businesses crumble as they had to shift to a more homeworking online model when the pandemic hit. For us, it’s been great because we could keep going as normal, apart from the fact that most of us had our kids at home. That was the biggest change, I guess.
That’s the hard part, people underestimate how hard that part is but there’s a lot running to any kind of a business school. From not only developing curriculum but making sure it’s up-to-date, you can make it interactive, you can do all these different things. What was the hardest part for you?
The hardest part of getting to where I am probably has been finding the right team. I think most business owners would probably appreciate that statement. I’ve certainly had many people nodding along every time I’ve said it. It’s been really hard finding people who have the right mindset to work from home, who have the right mindset to work in a fast-paced growth environment as well. I’ve had people say to me over the years, the company I joined is not the company it is now because things have changed so much. I’m like, “Isn’t that awesome?” “No, it changed so much. It’s so much bigger.” I’m like, “That’s what I want.” That’s been the biggest challenge.
I think for me, what’s hard, I offer courses in different things on my site and having to rely on tech people and not being able to do it all myself was the hardest part to let go of. If somebody runs into any technology glitches or they can’t access or something, how much is that a problem for you?
Not too much. I am quite a techie and geeky, so I designed my first ever website in 1995 and I’ve been blogging since 2001. I’ve been on the internet for a long time. For me, that wasn’t the hardest part. I have a manager who worked with me and he runs the sort of backend of the site and the hosting and things like that. I did bring on board a marketing tech team and I finally started to let go of some of the things. I can’t be the CEO and the person fixing all the bugs are in the backend. It hasn’t been too bad for me.
The problem with any online course, if you’re offering it globally. People are taking it in the middle of the night for you somewhere. When they run into a glitch, I assume these are asynchronous so that means they could take it whenever they want. If they run into any issues, how are you handling tech support for this?
We have a team, a help desk team and they are fabulous and they deal with. We get over a thousand emails, calls, chats and DMs every single week. I have to say there isn’t much tech support required. We have an orientation course. We have a big help desk help center where you can go and search for things. We offer support when the team is online. We can’t offer support 24/7 because I would need an enormous team to do that. Anyone expects that either but generally, it’s quite manageable. My help team are rock stars.
How long are these courses? Are you certified at the end? How does that work?
First of all, they vary. Typically, we give people about two years to complete a diploma. However, you could complete it in a month. If you worked on it full-time you could complete it in six months. If you work on it one day a week. We’ve given people very comfortable deadlines. We don’t give lifetime access. I don’t believe in lifetime access much like you don’t get lifetime access if you go to university. There is that expectation out there at the moment but I think people need to think about why they have that expectation and consider what they’re trying to get at the course that they take. At the moment, it takes up a bit up to about two years max to complete a course.
It was a certification. You’re getting a diploma you’re saying.
These diplomas wouldn’t be recognized by the industry. What I want to do is teach people how to formulate and then how to start a business. We do provide certificates and badges at the end of the course, we are accredited by the UK Open & Distance Learning Quality Council who is affiliated with the European Association for Distance Learning. With the US Distance Learning Accreditation System as well. Generally, it is about the skills, the practical skills that you get from it and that’s what I want to get across to people as well. Anyone can formulate. You don’t have to be a chemist to make these products. That’s very much our message as well, everyone should do this because it’s fun, it’s empowering. It’s more sustainable than going out and buying dozens and dozens of products each year when you can just make them yourself.
You’re teaching them the formulation part but are you also teaching them how to run their business. How much is formulating and how much is business training with? Is it half and half? Is it more formulating, less business? I’m curious.
We are predominantly a formulation school. We have nine different courses and a membership site at the moment. Eight of those courses and the membership sites are based on formulation and then we have one big business diploma, which I like to call our Indie Beauty MBA because it takes you through all the steps you need in order to start your business basically.
You have them write a business plan basically for how they’re going to do all the aspects, the legal and all that.Doing everything online has become a way of life. Click To Tweet
It’s set up along the lines of a business plan. Every single module will complete a new chapter of your business plan.
That’s how I teach those courses and those are great courses for people because they should be able to walk out with a plan that somebody else could read and follow it, knowing exactly how to do this business. I find that a lot of people struggle, they like certain aspects of it, they’re real creative and they like the idea. They then don’t want to figure out the marketing or they love the marketing and they don’t want to figure out the finance. What do you find people struggle with the most?
The people who want to learn how to formulate want to stand in the backroom and they want to be making products and stuff that typical crafting mindset, which I completely understand. In order to be successful in business, you have to also put yourself out there and I think that’s the biggest thing that people struggle with. They also know how easy it is to formulate and then people go, “How on earth could I charge this for my products when I know what’s gone into it?” People have to get over that money mindset issue as well. Those are probably the two biggest things, visibility and money mindset.
It’s hard for people to figure out how to sell and do that aspect of it. They love making and then they go, “I could sell this thing,” and that’s the hardest part. My background was all sales and I know when I’m teaching, especially my technology students, they just want to code and create their SaaS or whatever it is they’re developing. They’re like, I don’t want to sell it. Sometimes you have to understand the basics of sales even if you’re not the actual salesperson. I could see this as super important for them. Where do you see the future of this company going? Are you looking to be bought out? Are you a serial entrepreneur who’s going to have a hundred different companies someday? I’m curious. What’s the future for you, Lorraine?
I do not aspire to have 100 companies.
Good to know.
I’ve been doing this for years and I’m not finished yet. I have a lot of things to do yet before I consider an exit. At the moment, we are pushing heavily for growth. I was joined by our chief growth officer, he’s also my business partner and we have big plans because at the moment, we’ve achieved this growth through many organic marketing. I haven’t put much into paid marketing, affiliate marketing and anything like that. That’s the next big step because I know that we are scratching the surface and we could take this even bigger, much bigger than it is. That’s where we’re heading for the next years. We’re going to push the systems that we’re building in 2021. Watch this space. I would like us to become a household name but were not halfway there yet.
Did you bootstrap this? Are you looking for seed funding? Are you going to go round A or B and all that?
There’s no need for bootstrapping, the company has done so well. I’ve just been able to reinvest from what we’ve earned. I have reinvested a lot and it’s done extremely well from it. We don’t need financing, I’m often approached by investors and they’re like, “Tell me more about your company.” I tell them about the revenues and the profits and they sit there and say, “When can I invest?” I’m like, “I’m sorry, we’re not interested.”
We don’t want you.
“We don’t need your money, thank you. It’s very kind of you to offer but you’re not going to come in.”
Will you never go IPO then?
I don’t think we’re at that stage yet. We tend to grow considerably in to get to that stage but who knows, you never know where the future might take you.
If L’Oréal or somebody came to you and offered you the big package, would you sell it?
I don’t know, I’d have to consider it because I know that our students would struggle with that quite considerably. I think it would tarnish the brand and I know that you’ve got a lot of these small indie brands that have been bought out by the big players. I know people have often looked at that and thought, “I don’t want to buy from them anymore.” I think that there is a big element of mistrust from following the big beauty industry players because they think that they’re the ones who’ve been pushing out a lot of products that they don’t like and ingredients that they mistrust. I don’t know if L’Oréal came knocking, we’d have to have a chat.
What if the 3D thing that I mentioned at the beginning takes off or people can print, would you go into that at all?Finding the right team is the hardest part of any business. Click To Tweet
I think that would be an interesting one to teach but I don’t know if our students quite up for that. A lot of the people who study with us want to go back to those grassroots elements of just connecting with their ingredients, connecting with the plants. If you’re 3D printing your cosmetics, then that’s a whole different world. I don’t know how compatible that would be with the sort of natural community.
Are you looking at any of the CBDs and all that kind of stuff?
Yeah, we have a big membership site. The courses of the foundation, you can take those courses. You can take them in ten years, they will still teach you how to formulate but there are so many new ingredients coming onto the market all the time, new trends and new formulation techniques. We started a membership site that every single month we put out a mini-course, it’s called The Lab at Formula Botanica. Each mini-course is called a mini-lab and then in that you get taught about a particular trend or ingredient that’s hot. In February, we had our CBD and hemp month, for instance then we did a month on Pinterest because that’s really blown up for natural beauty. That means those mini-courses don’t have to stand the test of time because they’re showing you what’s hot and then we move onto the next one basically.
What’s the next hot thing?
We’re getting ready to gear up for Microbiome month. For our next mini lab, we’re looking at various different ingredients that are hot in the industry as well. Each time we bring in guest lecturers, we don’t just rely on our education team. We go out and find people who are experts in those particular trends and get them to come and teach our students, which is awesome.
That is awesome, this is a fascinating area that you found and I could see that this kind of a thing, a business school teaching the topic is going to be something we see more of. I talked a lot about that in different schools where I’ve taught, of where the future of education is and how it’s ripe for reinvention. This is just one of the ways, it’s being reinvented. I think we’re seeing more certificate programs and seeing ala carte training. What’s interesting is some of them are starting to think of tracking things through blockchain. There’s so much that could happen in the whole education realm. I’d love talking to people who have reinvented it to some extent in different directions. This was interesting and I think a lot of people want to know more if they might want to be cosmetic formulators and go to take the business training. How would they find you?
We’re over at FormulaBotanica.com or you can follow us on pretty much every social media platform, including Clubhouse but we’ve just started up. People can also follow me online. I talk more about the business aspect and the sustainability aspect, given my environmental background. I am @LorraineDallmeier on Instagram and that’s where I probably hang out at the most. We teach a free online organic cosmetic formulation course that anyone can sign up for and come and check us out.
They can get a taste of what to expect from that, I imagine.Formulating your own cosmetics is fun, empowering, and more sustainable than going out and buying dozens of products each year. Click To Tweet
Absolutely. You get to watch us experiment with different ingredients and show you how to make a body bath and how to set your lab up safely. It’s a fun little course.
That sounds great. This is so much fun, Lorraine. Thank you so much for being my guest.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s been lovely talking to you.
I’d like to thank Melody and Lorraine for being my guest. We get so many great guests on this show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, please go to DrDianeHamilton.com. You can find out all the airways in which our show airs and also you can read the show on our blog because it’s transcribed, which is nice. I hope you enjoyed the episode and I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
- Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work
- Formula Botanica
- Melody Wilding
- Albert Bandura – Previous episode
- Daniel Goleman – Previous episode
- Doug Conant – Previous episode
- Tripp Crosby – Previous episode
- Ken Fisher – Previous episode
- The Highly Sensitive Person
- Open & Distance Learning Quality Council
- European Association for Distance Learning
- Distance Learning Accreditation System
- @LorraineDallmeier – Instagram
About Melody Wilding
Melody Wilding, LMSW has coached hundreds of private clients, from CEOs and Fortune 500 executives to leaders from the US Department of Education, the Federal Reserve, and the United Nations. She teaches graduate-level human behavior and psychology at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College in New York. Her writing is regularly featured on Medium and in Forbes, Business Insider, and Quartz. Her advice has been featured in the New York Times, The Cut, Oprah Magazine, NBC News, US News and World Report, and more
About Lorraine Dallmeier
Lorraine Dallmeier is the award-winning CEO of Formula Botanica, the online organic cosmetic formulation and business school, which has trained over 12,000 organic cosmetic formulators and indie beauty entrepreneurs in 175+ countries. Voted the most influential person in natural beauty for 2020 and awarded the Digital Achiever of the Year award for the cosmetics industry by Google, Lorraine is on a mission to teach the world to formulate.
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