When I was a child, I thought I might be a firefighter, a ballerina, an Olympic gymnast, or a figure skater, to name just a few of the "realistic" options. I certainly did not anticipate that after twenty-plus years as a marketer of pharmaceutical, consumer health, beauty, and wellness products, I would be in the vagina business, assuming a role, somewhat accidentally, as a Vagipreneur®.
I have always worked on women's businesses, from the tops of their heads to the tips of their toes. When a venture capitalist shared a business plan for a product that was clinically proven to improve arousal, desire, and satisfaction for women of all ages and stages, it was a perfect storm. The product worked, and it had the clinical support to make differentiated claims. Add to that the fact that women didn't really have a language to speak about sexual satisfaction and very few outlets to do so. Most importantly, this product had the opportunity to meet a significant need — namely the 43% of women who at some point in their lives suffer from sexual concerns and difficulties.
While transitioning into entrepreneurship, the most natural part was a focus on solving problems — albeit for one company vs. multiple companies. My team and I had been running our own consulting boutique, servicing large companies for decades, however there were and still are some challenges. The most challenging piece at first was the fundraising, followed soon by the challenges of securing outlets of any and all kinds that would take our tasteful advertising.
As many of us learn to adapt to our new normal way of life, I was inspired to use my platform to help fellow entrepreneurs and business owners pivot their company. A few weeks ago, I launched a zoom series, "Quotes from Quarantine", in which I interview leaders in femtech, sextech, and women's health about how they are managing their personal and professional lives during this crisis. This community is amazing. They are focusing on even closer customer connection, the availability to answer any and all questions, frequent team meetings and interactions, as well as multiple options for self-care. What I have learned during this time is to stay on the balls of my feet! Think of the future, but don't get too far ahead of yourself, as we don't know when we will have more flexibility in how we work and sell. Continue to work on longer-term strategy as well as immediate solutions. Communicate early and often. Don't panic and lean on your "community" — whoever and wherever they are.
What I have learned during this time is to stay on the balls of my feet!
With Quotes from Quarantine, I find that I am using social media to entertain, inform, and be inspired by the people in this space. And there is a bit of cheerleading thrown in — sometimes I am leading the cheer and, often, others are.
My dream guest is always Oprah — not because she is particularly focused on women's health, but just because she is Oprah. One of the first articles I wrote that got some attention is titled, "How To Find Your Leadership Voice Because Oprah's Is Already Taken." I have always been amazed at her ability to balance context and content — being as comfortable talking to celebrities about extravagant birthday parties as she is building a school for girls in South Africa or shining a light on childhood trauma. She has single handedly created and salvaged industries.
One of my favorite pieces of advice that I think anyone can use is to know what your consumers' needs are and focus on what you can do to deliver those in a way that is authentic and consistent with your brand voice and goals. Importantly, focus on what you can do, what you can prepare for, how you can reduce your burn and ultimately be in a position to accelerate when circumstances change! I really do always try to live and behave from a core set of values, which provides a foundation for me to make decisions in good times and bad. Clearly, there are some layups. Have a strong work ethic. Don't lie, cheat, or steal. Focus on solving problems. Think of the broader context in which decisions are made and how they affect others. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Be dependable and honest.
There are several things we can do to stay productive as we all #WFH, and I've tried a number of different strategies, and have received great advice from many people I respect. Here are a few that I find meaningful:
In that regard, the quote I live by stems from the 1975 classic film, Rollerball. The premise of the game is simple and insane: men on roller skates, wearing spiked gloves, race around an inclined track, sometimes towed by other burly men on speeding motorcycles, engaging in a brutal, gladiatorial, deadly version of roller derby. And before every match, the rules of engagement are declared: "No time outs; no substitutions." My dad used that as a mantra to motivate us. Loosely translated? There is no quitting — period. There is no one on the bench to take your place. People are counting on you. Your success and the success of those around you depend on your efforts. You have to be 100% in the game. You have to play hard, you have to play until you can't play anymore, and even more importantly, you have to play fair. This attitude can be applied to all aspects of life.
"No time outs; no substitutions."
It may sound cliché, but learning what makes us happy has tremendous effects on all aspects of our lives. I find laughter and exercise are the best tools for me (not necessarily at the same time). I celebrate the victories and try not to beat myself up when things don't go as planned. I am not always successful, but I never give up.
WRITTEN BYRachel Braun Scherl