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Business is Personal: The Truth About What it Takes to Be Successful While Staying True to Yourself

Business is Personal: The Truth About What it Takes to Be Successful While Staying True to Yourself PDF

Author: Bethenny Frankel

Publisher: Hachette Go


Publish Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN-10: 0306827034

Pages: 272

File Type: Epub

Language: English

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Book Preface


You’re holding in your hands a business book, but it’s not typical for the genre. It doesn’t look back in reflection after a storied career has ended. I’m at a critical juncture and evolutionary moment in my working life, and I’m not done yet, not by a long shot. I’m an idea hamster, addicted to innovation. It’s in my DNA. It’s not always easy being a person who is constantly thinking, but it’s the way I activate myself.

Business is Personal is about how I got to be where I am right now, which is a good and hard-earned place. However, the journey has not been without challenges. Even today, I continue to look for ways to work smarter, leaner, and more streamlined. I struggle with balance, a word you’ll see a lot in this book. I can find myself in a constant battle with the weeds, and admittedly, I do sweat the small stuff. Many people define themselves by how crowded their calendars are, but that’s not for me. I want to be unshackled so I can use my time wisely to create and give back in ways that are meaningful to me.

I’m the get-it-done, don’t-complain-or-explain type, but I also think about existential questions like what is the meaning of life, and what path should I travel now that my fiftieth birthday is in the rearview mirror?

I’ve come far enough in my professional trajectory—I’ve written and published ten books (all on my smartphone); hit the cover of Forbes in 2011; and developed several successful product lines, cementing my credibility as a bona fide business person—to have valuable insights to offer about how to succeed as an entrepreneur and as an independent person in a crazy, unpredictable world. Many of my businesses were hits, but others weren’t. Early in my career, my healthy baking business, BethennyBakes, had challenges getting off the ground. A company called Princess Pashmina, which sold affordably priced luxury shawls, was successful until it wasn’t. I am also the founder and CEO of Skinnygirl, a global lifestyle empire, featuring products for women that offer practical and stylish solutions to everyday problems. My product portfolio includes several food and drink products including coffee, popcorn, and preserves; apparel; shapewear; supplements; and cookware. I have also created Bethenny, an elevated brand that includes products like sunglasses. My charitable organization, the B Strong Initiative, provides aid in the time of crisis in the United States and across the globe. I have learned many lessons from all of these efforts, and I’ve evolved from young, single, and broke to a mature businesswoman and philanthropist.

I truly believe that success is achievable for anyone who wants to put in old-school effort and hard work. Business is Personal gives you tools that are applicable to so many life situations, and as the title says, business is personal. Work, love, life: it’s all intertwined. By my sharing my mistakes and victories I hope you come away with a renewed feeling of pride for what you’ve done, and for what you can do to take advantage of your assets and talents. I use many examples in this book that come from my life as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and businesswoman.

I don’t want you to feel that because you have not achieved a certain level in your career or size in your business that these examples don’t apply to you, because they do. I began where so many people start: from scratch, with nothing, and building a business brick by brick. I was in my late thirties and still could not afford a taxi in Manhattan. I would bounce checks and see “insufficient funds” notices at the ATM. I’m a late bloomer, so I know for a fact that you can start succeeding anytime. The tools and stories in this book will help you do this.

Business is Personal is also filled with insights from a wide variety of business moguls and game-changers whom I’ve had the privilege to talk to, including Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg; actor Matthew McConaughey; entrepreneur Mark Cuban; former senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton; journalist and novelist Candace Bushnell; tech journalist Kara Swisher; shoe designer Steve Madden; Panera Bread CEO Niren Chaudhary; finance expert and TV host Jim Cramer; actress, author, and entrepreneur Suzanne Somers, and others. Their advice and insights alone are worth the price of admission!

In the stories I share, I reveal what it takes to be successful in business while balancing the rest of your life. Whether it’s spending time with my daughter; scheduling her day and our time together; planning a trip with my fiancé, Paul; or just making room for a personal recharge, balance requires deliberate thought. I’m a perfectionist to a fault, and I like a neat and tidy environment. I accept this aspect of myself and have built a life that supports it. Someone else might be super successful and work extremely hard but they probably have a junk drawer in their kitchen. I don’t have a junk drawer in my kitchen, and I don’t have a junk drawer in my business or life. Admittedly, it’s hard to keep up with me, if I’m being totally transparent. But that’s okay. It works for me. You must find what works for you.

Business is Personal is written in the voice you’ve come to know and trust: transparent, honest, sometimes profane, often funny, and never boring. I’m not modest about my accomplishments; I’m proud of them. When you’re done reading, I want you to understand your own strengths and go out and use them.

A story is not worth telling unless you’re going to lay it all out from top to bottom so people can learn from it. I share how the Skinnygirl sale to Beam happened, including what I considered when we were putting the deal together before I had even made one penny from the brand and didn’t even know I had something to sell. I talk about how my podcast evolved from a small venture into a multi-million-dollar program; why I left The Real Housewives of New York City (and walked away from a lot of money); and how I solved serious product problems before they became major catastrophes.

My decisions and actions are strategic. I’m not saying they’re a win every time. Mistakes get made, especially when you’re just one person who can’t keep her eye on every single ball. Having a great team is important too. However, the products I develop and the deals I make all have a method and plan behind them. It’s frustrating because the press can sometimes present every success as if it happened overnight, like magic, without showing all of the time and energy behind it on my part. It can seem as if these successes happened to me instead of being orchestrated and led by me. The seeds I plant that no one but me sees do grow into trees and eventually into forests—people see a forest without considering that it started out as an empty field of soil. That’s the kind of gardening I explain in this book, so that you understand how the growth happened. It’s always been the result of care and feeding in the form of a series of granular, meticulous, detailed, intentional, and strategic decisions that I make every single day.

Trust me, everything that I’ve done was and is done with intention. As someone who sits in the bull’s-eye of the demographic that I want my brands to reach, I have a personal and practical sense of what women want and need, and I put that knowledge to work every day, even on products that may not hit the shelf for several years. One chess move I make today could come to fruition five years from now, and it will have been worth the wait.

Why did I write Business is Personal now? I want to inspire you the way you’ve inspired me. So many of you have evolved with me over time; you’ve stayed on the ride since the beginning. I am so grateful to all of my fans who have supported me. Every day you make me want to be better than I was the day before. I also believe that it’s a great time to start a business. The playing field has been leveled in so many ways. We have lived through a world-shifting event, a pandemic, during which many of us stayed home and had a chance to reevaluate why we were going into an office every day to collect a paycheck, and whether that was satisfying or not. Technology also makes a lot of things possible for entrepreneurs that didn’t exist even ten years ago, like digital meetings, on-demand manufacturing capabilities, and fingertip access to more people and ideas.

In a world where the snow globe has been shaken, and everything is upside down, you can find tremendous opportunities. Economic uncertainty and financial downturn can be an ideal time to launch a new business, place bold bets, and build enduring brands. Instead of panicking and jumping on the complaining or blaming bandwagon, I collect myself, assess the situation, and decide where I can be effective and productive. You have to think about difficult or unusual times and circumstances in this way—another philosophy you will find in this book.

You have to be honest with yourself. Not everybody is cut out for every kind of business. You can’t exclusively rely on a good idea or a relentless work ethic to launch you out of the entrepreneurial starting gate—you need to learn strategic thinking. But for sure, you need to get on the goddamn road, pick a lane, and keep moving forward, past and around roadblocks, detours, and bad weather. You may get a flat tire or run out of gas, but you have to get back in the car, which will take you to another road. Don’t stay stuck and stunted in some fictitious dead end, one-way street business plan that you may never finish or even start.

Remember, nobody, not even the so-called experts, knows what the hell they’re doing all the time. No one has all the answers, not me, not anyone. That means you need to raise your personal antennae. If something feels wrong, it’s wrong; if something feels right, it’s right. Even if you’re wrong you can fix it, and solving problems becomes part of learning and making better, more informed decisions the next time. I always want to be in solution mode. Of course, you can and should ask other people for their opinions. Most of the time, I am decisive and know what to do and what not to do.

Sometimes, especially if I am venturing into an area that is new to me, I like to crowdsource or ask questions of experts and those with unique experience in certain fields. I take everything into consideration, and then I go with my gut. Experts are often used to doing things in a certain way. Many are geniuses and quite brilliant, but some don’t like to go outside of what works for them. But that may not work for me, and it may not work for you. Listen and learn, but make your own decisions. Build your own success tool kit by cherry-picking from all the good advice you find or receive, including what you find in this book. It’s why I wrote this book, and why I developed my podcast, Just B—to share advice from successful people who represent all walks of life, upbringing, backgrounds, and so on.

The ability to discern between good deals and bad ones, honest people and those who are less than transparent, is based on understanding, seeing the big picture, looking at the details, and asking questions—but a lot of it comes from your gut, from pulling back and thinking. Ask questions, seek answers, reach out, but at the end of the day, figure out what is right for you. Create your own road map.

The same qualities people used in the 1950s to become successful are the same traits you need today: confidence, drive, passion, persistence, and stick-to-itiveness. Despite what it may seem, no one TikTok dances themselves into genuine, sustainable success. You can think that it is working, but it’s fool’s gold. The truth is, you have to be willing to get past the finish line and then go the extra mile, figure out solutions to dilemmas, and solve your own problems from what I call a place of yes. Starting from no is a dead-end proposition.

The Skinnygirl cocktail is celebrated today because it succeeded by creating a new category, and the first for a woman in the industry. Every restaurant or bar you go into has a “skinny” cocktail or some version of it, and that is entirely because of me. Every skinny latte, syrup, and pizza are because of that one idea I had for a low-calorie but delicious margarita. But it almost didn’t succeed. My original partner wouldn’t spend money ahead of the brand. We couldn’t keep up with demand, even though a consumer should be able to buy a thirteen-dollar product easily. We faced everything from a glass shortage to an agave shortage. It was a nightmare. More on that later; my point is you push through it. If you keep hitting a wall, you step back and you just find another way through. Saying yes means continuing to come at problems in different ways, and stop doing what’s not working.

The thirteen chapters in this book are based around what some of my team members call “Bethenny-isms”—the tools I use when it comes to making good choices, building a brand, staying five steps ahead of the game, and maintaining my sanity in a fast-paced and always changing business environment. B SMART boxes in each chapter highlight tips and insights you can apply today, right now, in your own efforts at continual improvement. The case studies I share are from my real-life dealings as I continue to build my brands, services, and products. Some of the stories I tell are yet to have an ending, so stay tuned!

If you make an investment of time and money in this book, I want you to get value from it. That could be a new perspective on your own business, or inspiration to try something new, take a risk, and live to your full potential. I’m not the touchy-feely type, but it would give me a feeling of satisfaction to know that I helped you spread your wings. What matters are your attitude, your passion, your drive, your determination, and your willingness to work hard. These qualities are alive in this book, and they are the message I most want you to come away with. That’s what I want Business is Personal to inspire in you. If you know you’ve got what it takes, don’t spare anything—just go get what’s yours.

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