Angela Jia Kim, founder of Om Aroma & Co., Savor Spa and Savor the Success, spoke about “The Secret to Building Your Million Dollar Rolodex” after the two panels at Rock the World 2015. In reality, it was a great lesson on building business relationships.
Angela shared how she beat herself up after missing one note at a recital. When her colleagues later congratulated her on the performance, she realized that they didn’t even notice that she had missed a note. She is good at not letting people see her sweat, but shared a story that showed her sweating. The last Rock the World event was two years ago. There were amazing sponsors, speakers and energy at the event but she felt disconnected. Five days after the conference, she felt nervous and lost her breath while on the subway. She realized that she was in a bad place and that something was wrong. She had gotten far away from her “Why”, had become more concerned with quantity over quality and had forgotten why she had started Savor the Success in the first place.
Angela had gone from being a classical pianist to a business woman/accidental entrepreneur. She started her lotion business because she had gotten hives in front of hundreds of people at a concert. After noticing that the natural lotions that she was using had a lot of chemicals in them, she started experimenting with lotions and potions in her kitchen. After about “a thousand tries”, she started giving the products to her friends as gifts and they started to want to buy them for their friends. With no business training or connections, little money and a feeling of loneliness, Angela decided to gather a group of women entrepreneurs to support one another with a “give, give, get” mentality. They helped each other find solutions to their business problems. That was the roots of Savor the Success.
As Angela’s businesses grew, she started to lose those deep relationships and her connections were at the surface level. (She thinks that she had that panic attack in the subway that day because she had become disconnected from her source.) The purpose of this speech was to share how Angela healed herself and came to this point two years later. Now, she has three amazing business partners and 30 team members – a combination of employees and contractors. There was no Rock the World event last year and there almost wasn’t one again this year until Angela read this quote:
If you quit now, it’s just going to get easier to keep quitting and then you’ll quit again…. (Unknown)
The quote inspired Angela to take risks and live her dream. She looked at her relationships with her business partners to see why they were so great and what she was doing differently this time around. Specifically, there were three qualities that have come into massive play in her life right now and that have helped her to get to the place that she is now. (She brought her business partners up to demonstrate each concept and to see how those qualities were played out practically.) They are the following:
We hear with our ears, but we listen with our eyes and mind and heart and skin and guts as well. -Alfred Benjamin
Listen HARD. Listen for the deeper meaning and scratch beyond the surface stuff that does not matter.
Beth Larsen opened the first franchise location for Savor Spa + Boutique in Woodstock, NY. Initially, lawyers (on both sides) said to run away. Angela and Beth were going to call it quits but spent time listening to each other. Since they had a shared vision, they moved ahead. Listening comes into play in every aspect of business though…not just partnerships. That is why it’s important to resist responding from your initial reaction to an issue
Beth added that it is important to listen to understand instead of trying to be understood first. Try to figure out what is the underlying communication that is trying to come out? When you’re emotional, “stuck” and not on the same page, sometimes you just need to take a break from each other for a little bit and then come back to the issue when the emotion isn’t there anymore.
2. Be vulnerable.
You have to be real, raw and own your part (where you went wrong). There is no ego in vulnerability.
Sara Blette and Angela had a problem with their daily action planner selling out so quickly. A misunderstanding led to a mistake that cost them thousands of dollars. They had a hard, emotional conversation about the loss. They both shared that they were scared to have that conversation because they didn’t want to lose their great friendship. They had the conversation anyway. They took out the emotion, stated the problem, owned their parts in it and committed to fixing their parts. Afterwards, they decided to let the misunderstanding go and move forward.
Sara noted that it’s important to own 100% of your 50% (your part in the situation). No one is perfect – especially when you are working with partners and collaborators – and that is okay. It does no one good to blame the other person if you actually want to grow together. You have to be open and honest. Do what is right from the heart/true to you and don’t worry about the other person’s response/whether or not they will reciprocate. You will know that it is right because doing the right thing feels good.
Play with those with shared affinity (experiences, passion, common goals and ethos, similar philosophies and values, who “fit your soul”). Don’t play with jerks. (Angela used the a-hole term.) She shared how swimwear designer Malia Mills was about to close a deal with an investor. While Malia was out to dinner with the investor to discuss some details, she was appalled at the way he treated the waiter so the deal was off by the end of the meal. She understood that the investor had the potential to treat her in that same manner in the future if times grew tough.
Rachel Hofstetter, a former Oprah Magazine editor, and Angela Jia Kim met at a cafe. They connected on multiple levels and now run Savor PR School together. Play is a big part of their relationship. Angela loves that Rachel asked her, “What does success look like to you?” That question draws out what is important to the other person. Relationships are important because people don’t show up for people whom they don’t like. However, real friends help each other out and have each other’s backs no matter what.
Rachel noted the importance of working hard with a playful spirit and having a lot of fun. She added that once you like someone and become friends, it’s easier to bring them into your whole world and to promote each other organically.
Angela Jia Kim ended the session by asking the audience “What is stopping you from reaching out for new relationships and connections?” (She actually talked a few audience members through asking for what they needed and connecting them with those in the room who could help them.)
It all starts with showing up, forming relationships and putting yourself out there.
I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do. – Georgia O’Keeffe