Lynn Power spent much of her 30-year career running and transforming agency brands. Lynn has expertise in transforming organizations from top to bottom – including capabilities, organizational structure, talent and culture. She recently left the big agency world to launch two brands: MASAMI, a premium clean haircare brand that launched in February 2020 and Isle de Nature, bee-powered home fragrance which launched in September 2020.
Prior to her entrepreneurial move, Lynn was CEO of J. Walter Thompson NY, responsible for the flagship office of WPP’s $1.5B iconic agency (the oldest advertising agency in the world). Throughout her career, Lynn has had the great fortune of working on some of the world’s most well-known brands including: LISTERINE, American Express, Clinique, Hershey’s, Pizza Hut and Wild Turkey.
Lynn believes that business success relies on building a team that respects and nurtures ideas as well as the people who create them. She believes in moving at the speed of culture, eliminating barriers and helping women find their voices.
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Table of Contents
Welcome to your ValiantCEO exclusive interview! Let’s start with a little introduction. Tell us about yourself.
Lynn Power: I’m a long time advertising executive who left a successful career in 2018 to launch my own brands. I launched two brands in 2020: MASAMI, clean premium haircare and Isle de Nature, luxury bee-powered home fragrance. Both are all about making products that are good for you and good for the environment.
NO child ever says I want to be a CEO when I grow up. What did you want to be and how did you get to where you are today? Give us some lessons you learned along the way.
Lynn Power: I wanted to go into the FBI! But when I graduated college, there was a hiring freeze and I ended up getting a job as a receptionist at an ad agency which kicked off my love for advertising and marketing. I realize now that a lot of the skills are not that different — problem solving being at the core of what I love. I like to use creativity as a business tool for growth. I’ve learned over my 30 year career that other people won’t always look out for you — you need to be the champion of your career. Make it clear what your goals and desires are and don’t expect people to read your mind. Also take steps to build your network, so important as you grow and need different perspectives you can trust.
Tell us about your business, what does the company do? What is unique about the company?
Lynn Power: MASAMI is clean premium haircare with a Japanese ocean botanical called Mekabu that’s all about weightless hydration. MASAMI is vegan, cruelty free and gender neutral.
Isle de Nature is luxury bee-powered home fragrance. Our signature product is a cleaner burning beeswax blend candle that’s handmade. Both businesses give back to replenish what we take from the earth. MASAMI supports ocean education and research in northeastern Japan, where we get our hero ingredient. And every purchase of Isle de Nature helps build more hives in Dominica, the island that inspired our scent.
How to become a CEO? Some will focus on qualities, others on degrees, how would you answer that question?
Lynn Power: Stay curious and master your business. These days, we need to have an “always on” mentality as the world is moving so fast around us. So a CEO needs to be able to be a good dot connector — spotting trends and influences in the business and market. Having confidence in your decisions is important, especially to build trust in your company culture. But knowing when to pivot is also critical. Ultimately, leading with empathy is the key.
What are the secrets to becoming a successful CEO? Who inspires you, who are your role models and why? Illustrate your choices.
Lynn Power: Be an open and vulnerable leader — that inspires trust which has eroded in our corporates. Own up to any mistakes and make efforts to rectify them quickly. As for inspiration, I love meeting other female founders, especially who have pivoted later in life. There are some women doing amazing things in clean beauty, like Lauren Rome of Romer Skincare, Laurie O’Hara from Olita suncare and Elaine Morrison from Elaine Wellness.
Many CEOs fall into the trap of being all over the place. What are the top activities a CEO should focus on to be the best leader the company needs? Explain.
Lynn Power: It’s so true that there are so many priorities that can keep you in the weeds. From my perspective, you need to be both short term focused and long term focused (not always easy to juggle). 75% of my activities are short term — growth, acquisition, press, partnerships, retailers. And 25% are longer term like awareness, international growth, innovation. Ultimately, CEO’s need to be focused on the health of the business — repeat sales, customer feedback, growth.
The Covid-19 Pandemic put the leadership skills of many to the test, what were some of the most difficult challenges that you faced as a CEO/Leader in the past year? Please list and explain in detail.
Lynn Power: We had to shift from a salon focus (as most were closed and dealing with staffing issues, new protocols and more) to focus on our online business. Emotionally, we were not as connected as a team and that has been tough. We’ve gone out of our way to catch up when we can (safely) and find opportunities to bond. We have also had a ton of supply chain issues (like many other CPG brands) and are still waiting on an order from April!
What are some of the greatest mistakes you’ve noticed some business leaders made during these unprecedented times? What are the takeaways you gleaned from those mistakes?
Lynn Power: One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen is not being clued into sentiment — whether that’s employees, customers or overall consumer spending. There is so much unpredictability in the world that you can’t be tone deaf to how people are feeling, even if you don’t really want to hear it. This has led us to be extra sensitive about our “empathy muscle” — to ensure we are listening and responding to what people need.
In your opinion, what changes played the most critical role in enabling your business to survive/remain profitable, or maybe even thrive? What lessons did all this teach you?
Lynn Power: We took our business into our own hands — creating content, finding scrappy ways to market (like podcasts and partnerships) and DIY PR. There is a lot you can do without spending a ton of money, it just takes a little perseverance and work. Sharing and helping other founders has also brought good karma back around as we are all in this together!
What is the #1 most pressing challenge you’re trying to solve in your business right now?
Lynn Power: Finding ways to attract new customers with a positive ROI. A lot of the “usual suspects” (Facebook, Instagram etc) have become difficult to monetize.
You already shared a lot of insights with our readers and we thank you for your generosity. Normally, leaders are asked about their most useful qualities but let’s change things up a bit. What is the most useless skill you have learned, at school or during your career?
Lynn Power: I learned how to take dictation in high school and don’t think I’ve ever had to use it. I can actually type just as fast as most people speak anyhow (which BTW — I still advocate for my kids to learn how to type, it’s quite valuable).
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, we do have one more question. We will select these answers for our ValiantCEO Award 2021 edition. The best answers will be selected to challenge the award.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make, this past year 2021, for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Lynn Power: Despite the unstable and unpredictable financial environment we found ourselves in (having just launched in February 2020 right before Covid), we decided to go ahead and launch our large size refillable bottles. They were a large expense so it would have been easy to put it off — but this innovation was really important to our brand values. Sometimes, you just have to do the right things even if it’s hard to ensure you are delivering on what you are promising.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Lynn Power for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Lynn Power or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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