Gwyneth Paltrow participated in Fast Company’s Meeting of the Most Creative Minds event last week, and The Hollywood Reporter was there to cover it. The actual headline is “At Work with Gwyneth Paltrow: 6 Lessons in Business and Why She Gave Up Acting for Goop.” Let’s start there: are we still going to claim that Gwyneth “gave up” acting for Goop? I’m not so sure. I think Gwyneth started Goop, primarily, because she was bored and stuck at home with her kids while Chris Martin toured and did Coldplay stuff. Why was she bored? Because people weren’t offering her the kinds of roles she wanted. Now, I do think that Gwyneth has turned down projects, so in that sense, she did “give up acting.” But if she was getting good scripts consistently, of course she would still be working in Hollywood. As for her “lessons”… my God, she’s annoying. That was my takeaway from this.
1) As a CEO or a leader, your highest role is to create and model a culture that helps your team perform
Paltrow does that by listening, noting that she has an all-hands meeting for all 80 of her employees every Tuesday morning. “We encourage good communication, or ‘speaking straight,’ as we like to call it,” she says. “When someone comes into my office and says they are going to speak straight, it’s my cue to bring my best self forward.”
2) Weigh speed of growth with creating real value
Goop has earned trust “because we started out creating content without an eye to profitability,” Paltrow says. “I’m a student, a traveler and mother, [what was on the site] were my questions, and it took a long time before we monetized that.”
3) If you want to f–k with me, bring your a-game
“I’m interested in criticism based on fact, not on projections,” says Paltrow, in other words, “If you want to f–k with me, bring your a-game.” (She’s so enamored of the phrase, a friend had it put on matchbooks and cocktail napkins for her as a gift.)
4) It’s okay if your vision narrows
“We’re always playing with the idea of wellness, and what choice makes you feel good,” Paltrow says, noting that the site has zeroed in on the clean beauty category, and recently launched vitamins. “If it’s on Goop, it’s nontoxic. So we may not write about that thing or take that advertiser, but it makes people feel good.” The site also has its own private label clothing, which she says has high-quality, Made-In-Italy integrity, but without the retail markups.
5) Never compromise your values
“I think about what has gone wrong at other companies a lot,” says Paltrow. “On the media side of Goop, we like to know what people are freaking out about, and if we hear that people are putting bees in their vagina, we’ll write about it,” she says, noting that “she made that up and not to try it at home…On the product side, we are more judicious…If we are selling it, it’s because we love it, if we’ve made it, it’s the best.” In terms of maintaining integrity, “if you opened Goop and saw a fast food ad, it would diminish our trust,” she says.
6) Learn what you can and can’t do
“As much as I thought ‘I can do everything, I can run my company and then go to Louisiana and do a movie,’ I can’t, especially with having kids there’s just no way,” Paltrow says. “I’ve been doing little things here and there because…I do think that does help our brand and how we’re trying to grow. But I also don’t want it to. I want Goop to not rely on me so much, so we’re thinking about when we scale do we need to leverage me for this product line or do we not. If we have a paid asset without me that outperforms one with my face, I do jumping jacks. I grew up in an acting family…but right now, I just like this better.”
“I’m interested in criticism based on fact, not on projections.” Says the woman who publishes diet advice from ghost-whisperers. Oh, sorry, was that a projection???? Seriously, this is a woman who goes on eight-day “goat-milk-only” cleanses because she feels tired (imagine how the poor goat feels). She “invents” new things like walking around barefoot. She’s currently hawking Goop-branded vitamins because she knows from experience that rich women will literally buy anything. If you convinced Gwyneth that snake oil is a miracle cure for poverty, she would sell Goop-branded snake oil and claim that she invented it. Those are valid criticisms, not projections. DID I BRING MY A-GAME, GWYNNY??
Photos courtesy of WENN.