This Female Founder Shares the Secret to How to Make Your Business Last
Brit + Co's Brit Morin says that while a boss that instills fear may get short term results, it is not a solid foundation for a successful company.
Editor’s Note: Entrepreneur’s “20 Questions” series features both established and up-and-coming entrepreneurs and asks them a number of questions about what makes them tick, their everyday success strategies and advice for aspiring founders.
Brit Morin is on a mission to empower women and give them the tools and inspiration to build their own creative ventures.
After working at Google and Apple, Morin launched her media company Brit + Co, in 2011. As founder and CEO, Morin oversees a community of over 125 million users and over 100 employees at the company’s offices in New York City and San Francisco.
The site produces more than 100 pieces of content each day about topics like beauty, jobs and careers, DIY, parenting and style. While this seems like a lot to juggle, this isn’t the only thing she is doing. In 2015, Morin wrote Homemakers: A Domestic Handbook for the Digital Generation. Last year, Brit + Co came out with a line of disposable tableware for Target, and this spring it partnered again with the retailer to launch a brand new line of activity kits.
Morin, who was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list and awarded Glamour's Female Entrepreneur Innovator, is also a partner at early stage investment fund Slow Ventures.
We caught up with Morin to ask her 20 questions about what makes her tick.
1. How do you start your day?
First, by hitting the snooze alarm. Sometimes twice. I know I should drop that habit, but those extra nine minutes are so heavenly. Then it’s a quick scan of the news to make sure I’m up to speed. I check all of my newsletters, social platforms, Slack channels and of course, do a scan through email. After that, it’s baby time! I have two boys ages two and under, so spending time with them in the mornings is a top priority.
2. How do you end your day?
I’m a total content junkie, so I DVR all of the major morning, daytime and late night shows. Yes, that means I may sometimes watch the TODAY Show at 11pm at night. I’m a huge nerd, I know. Being in the media business, it’s important to stay both informed and inspired by everything going on in the industry.
3. What’s a book that changed your mind and why?
Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In really did convince me of just how badly we need women to advocate for themselves in the workplace, and how drastic the lack of female executives is in today’s world. Reading that book added even more fuel to my fire to help the next generation of women excel in their careers.
4. What’s a book you always recommend and why?
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. The first line in the book inspires me everyday and reads: “It’s not about you.” So true.
5. What’s a strategy to keep focused?
Don’t lose sight of your mission. When I first started Brit + Co, I would get very caught up in the ups and downs of every day. Especially with a business that I’ve put my name on, it’s easy to take criticism personally or to feel responsible when anything goes badly. But I’ve learned to stay focused on our mission of igniting creativity in women, and empowering them to use it to shape their lives. That keeps me both focused and motivated.
6. When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve always been very entrepreneurial. As a kid, I wanted to be an inventor. I was always writing down inventions, tinkering with whatever I could find at the house and thinking about problem solving. I was also the Girl Scout Cookie Seller of the Year when I was 9, and later went on to be class president in school. I have pretty much been destined to run a company like Brit + Co from the start.
7. What did you learn from the worst boss you ever had?
Leading with fear may drive short-term performance but causes long-term failure. Always try to lead with motivation and positivity to get the best out of people.
8. Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?
I’m not most influenced by any one person, but rather by all the leaders I’ve ever met. I’ve been fortunate to get to know hundreds of executives at Fortune 500 companies; and have also been fortunate to know hundreds of entrepreneurs. Each of them have unique leadership qualities that I admire, and I hope I take a piece from all of them into my own leadership style.
9. What’s a trip that changed you?
After I left a four-year stint at Google, I backpacked with a group of girlfriends through South America. We pitched tents, climbed glaciers and captained sailboats. Not only did being among nature for weeks on end give me the perfect blank canvas to think about what I wanted to work on next (which became Brit + Co), but I also had the time of my life “surviving” in a foreign place with other strong-minded women.
10. What inspires you?
Lately, I’m really inspired by all the women who have come together in the midst of the current political climate. As a media company, Brit + Co respects and includes all people and political perspectives, but we have taken a hard stance in defense of women’s rights. From the thousands who participated in the Women’s March, to each girl who works up the courage to lean-in and close the wage gap, the power and grace I’ve seen is inspiring.
11. What was your first business idea and what did you do with it?
I had a CD burner before a lot of my friends, so I volunteered to burn them a custom mix of songs for $10 a CD. The money came pouring in like hotcakes.
12. What was an early job that taught you something important or useful?
When I was in high school, I worked at a tennis pro-shop at a country club. For some extra cash, I learned to actually string the tennis rackets myself and was paid per racket, so I mastered the technique in order to maximize my pay. This taught me to that sometimes you have to think outside the box, or job description, and find creative solutions to maximize results.
13. What’s the best advice you ever took?
Make your passion into a career and don’t let anyone bring you down for trying to do something good for the world.
14. What's the worst piece of advice you ever got?
I think you’d be more successful if you just tried to be a celebrity and not a CEO.
15. What’s a productivity tip you swear by?
Learn to sleep on planes. I’m based in San Francisco but travel to New York every few weeks, and red eyes help me make the most of my time.
16. Is there an app or tool you use in a surprising way to get things done or stay on track?
I’ve just started using an app called Brain.fm. The founders have studied the brain for years and figured out that certain sounds trigger different brain impulses -- some of which can aide in focus, sleep, and anxiety. It’s been fascinating to play the music while trying to get work done; it’s like an instant ability to focus in a way I’ve never experienced before.
17. What does work-life balance mean to you?
I think more than work-life balance, it’s about work-life fit. To me, that means figuring out the best way to spend time with my husband and children and also run my business, without feeling like I’m compromising on either. Sometimes that means catching up on podcasts while I run, and sometimes it means leaving the office at 5pm so that I can be there for bath time. The hardest part of this balance -- especially as a working mom of two -- is finding time for friends. That’s something I hope to continue focusing on over the next year.
18. How do you prevent burnout?
Always make time to unplug and take breaks. Really being present when I am with my family and keeping up with hobbies that I’ve always been drawn to help me recharge and be productive at work. There’s a reason that “adult coloring books” have become so popular -- creativity is one of the top stress relievers out there.
19. When you’re faced with a creativity block, what’s your strategy to get innovating?
I’m not the type of person who can just look at a blank sheet of paper or blank Google Doc and come up with an idea. I love to do some inspiration research first. Sometimes that means I go to a place like Pinterest or Brit + Co, sometimes I go outdoors into nature, and sometimes I’ll just go shopping to see if I can spot products that spark an idea. Creative inspiration is all around us, we just have to be looking for it.
20. What are you learning now?
My husband and I have committed to becoming better photographers together. We actually started off the year with a photo excursion to the Joshua Tree desert in southern California, and have also recently been to Iceland for a photo trip among volcanoes and glaciers. It’s such a fun way to learn something new, see the world and reconnect as a couple.
Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com. She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.