How the CEOs of Two Multi-Million Dollar Businesses Approach Mindfulness
If you want examples of inspirational, successful founders of multimillion dollar businesses, look no further than Noura Sakkijha and Marie Chevrier. Noura founded Mejuri, a new global competitor in the jewelry space, and Marie founded Sampler, a product sampling platform that works with Fortune 500 companies.
While the two businesses are different in almost every way – ecommerce versus SaaS and physical goods versus technology – the two CEOs both believe in mindful leadership. Their approach starts with transparency and continues through self-care, honesty with your team, and working to empower others to find their joy at work. In this episode of Joyful Sundays, Noura and Marie share how they tackle mindful leadership in their businesses – and how the COVID pandemic fundamentally altered how they see the world.
The power of transparency
Marie’s company Sampler helps people experience new products, but it starts with community members sharing what they like – so Sampler can do the work and send them the right product samples. From there, community members can give feedback which is directed to the brands that Sampler works with. This openness and transparency is also how Marie approaches leadership, something she believes is a necessity in a young and growing startup.
“One value has always been transparency,” said Marie. “I don’t know how to save the good news. And if I’m having a bad day, it’s also very visible… Transparency as a leader is something I’ve tried to look at as a strength.”
Noura takes the same approach as Marie, citing transparency as critical to the company’s resiliency.
Mejuri had raised over $30 million in funding and was on track to blow away sales projections in 2020. Their line of “for myself” diamond jewelry marketed to women was selling well, and it was clear that Noura was hitting an area of need in an industry largely driven by suggesting that men should buy diamonds for women.
Then COVID hit, and it was Noura’s transparency that helped her lead through it. She was having a rough time because the pandemic forced Mejuri to close its new retail locations, a business line that was set to drive huge growth for the company. But relying on her team members and being honest with her board and investors helped her manage expectations and lead the company through the early days of the crisis.
“Even your mentors haven’t faced this before,” said Noura, talking about COVID. “[[I relied]] on the executive team, sharing what we’re going through and being vulnerable. We were all in this together.”
Managing stress at work
Both women, like any entrepreneur and CEO, face stress at work. In response, though, they both continue their mindful leadership approach.
For Marie, it’s about daily rituals.
In the morning, Marie aims to read 10 pages of a business book. She said that business books are incredibly exciting, because you learn a lot of new things and read amazing success stories, but can also be demotivating because you feel bad that you’re not implementing all the new ideas you’re reading about. For her, 10 pages a day is a good balance of excitement in the morning without feeling demotivated.
In the evening, it’s about mediation. She has a simple practice, focusing more on closing out her day than doing anything specific.
“After the to-do list is done, I sit for 30 minutes,” said Marie. “I typically use a recording from Insight Timer.”
For Noura, it’s about family.
She prioritizes spending time with her kids, something she says she’s incredibly protective of. This was something that the COVID pandemic made her double down on, especially when times got tough.
“It’s so easy to be connected to work all the time when you’re working from home,” said Noura. “It takes discipline to set parameters and have space to recharge.”
A purposeful change of pace
The other thing that the COVID pandemic made the two CEOs realize was that their pace of work was unsustainable. Even though they took some time to meditate or to see family, both were taking on too much at work – which ended up disempowering their team, resulting in less getting done.
“Sometimes as leaders, it can be so easy to take it all on,” said Marie. “When you have to come up with a solution and need to consult with other people, you realize you should be sharing the stress or delegating.”
But beyond sharing the work, there’s also power in realizing what work you don’t have to do. This was a big lesson for Noura, who found that turning down some opportunities helped her get farther ahead on the whole.
She said that with COVID, “by default you are trimming the things you focus on. [[It showed]] me how much better we can get as humans and as a business when you focus on the core things.”