Jessica Alba might be a boss (of a company valued at over $1billion) but she doesn’t dress like your average businessman or woman. When she took the stage Saturday at Create & Cultivate she told the audience the story of her first business conference.
“I feel like everyone here will appreciate this. I showed up to my first business conference with my business partner and it was 98% men. I was wearing a Dolce & Gabbana leather mini-skirt– I had tights on– and my partner told me, ‘This is really inappropriate.’ But I said, ‘This is my business casual.'”
Jessica being Jessica is a move that paid off. Yet another example of power of authenticity, something that’s a through-line of every conference we host.
Interviewed by former Create & Cultivate keynotes Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr the women openly chatted about preconceived notions and how people not taking you seriously fans your flame.
Here are our four favorite takeaways plus one piece of crucial advice every single woman should hear.
NO, THAT’S NOT THE PASSION.
“My journey into entrepreneurship is very similar to a lot of people. I found a need and an opportunity in the marketplace. I wasn’t the only one who wanted a healthy, cleaner, high performance product that was beautifully designed, delivered to your door, and was transparent. And had a social mission. I was dreaming up a company I thought should exist and would touch home with a modern person. I went through three years of rejection and running into brick wall after brick wall and everyone in Hollywood looking at me sideways. They all asked me if I could do a perfume, and I said,’No, that’s not the passion.'”
MAYBE YOU’RE ON TO SOMETHING
“I went down many different roads. I honed in on the idea. I took a 50-page deck and turned it into 20 pages and asked myself ‘What are the essentials you need delivered every month?’ The day-to-day stuff.”
BUSINESS PARTNERSHIPS ARE LIKE AN ARRANGED MARRIAGE
“I liken getting into business with someone as getting married right away, without ever dating. It’s kind of like an arranged marriage, but you’re into it. And you have to have respect with whomever you’re in business with. You have to communicate. You have to be in it to win it. It’s a real partnership.”
THEY CAN’T TEACH YOU THAT IN BUSINESS SCHOOL
“There were people who didn’t take me seriously– pretty much everybody. One investor really didn’t value me, the way I deserved to me valued. I could have gone with him and given up a huge chunk of the company. But because I really felt like I deserved more than that– and I don’t even know what it was or why I was so stubborn and resistant to that money, access, and distribution, it just didn’t sit right. When I started a company I undervalued how important it is to trust your gut. They can’t teach you that in business school. You have intuition and you have to listen to it.”
SUPPORT YOUR WEAKNESSES WITH OTHERS’ STRENGTHS
“I was super insecure about not having a college degree or a conventional education. And I really thought I wasn’t smart or didn’t deserve to have a seat at the table. I felt like a fraud in business settings. It took me getting over that for the company to get on its feet. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a degree or expertise. Surround yourself with people who have done it before and support your weaknesses with their strengths.”
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