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Goop creator Gwyneth Paltrow cares about her employees.
The Academy Award-winning actress gives employees of her wellness and lifestyle company three weeks off each year and thinks other U.S. companies should do the same.
"I lived in London as an expat for a long time, and I think one of the things that I really came to admire about the Europeans is that they really value a quality of life and time with the people they love and eating and they're not on their, as it were, blackberries at the time, like all the time, like Americans were iPhones," Paltrow, 49, said during a discussion at Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses Summit on July 19.
"And I would kind of notice a difference between being in New York and being back in London. And when I started the company and I started hiring people, I always just shut off the company for two weeks in August," she added.
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Paltrow said that when she repatriated Goop in America, she wanted to follow the same model of giving everyone two weeks off in the summer at the same time.
"At the beginning, you know, once I raised VC money, they were like, 'You're going to do what?' I fought for it and I said, 'First of all, let's be honest, in August, everybody is on vacation or people are slowing down. People aren't really fully going full steam ahead anyway. And to give everybody two weeks of vacation, that's happening in concert at the same time," she said.
"You know how it is. You take a few days off and you're worried and you're checking your phone and you're checking Slack and your email. And this way everybody has two weeks. We do it at Christmas too so it's really three weeks where everybody is off at the same time," she also said.
Paltrow said her vacation policy "affords people the luxury of time with their families and not being concerned that they're missing something." She said that to her, it's "really important," adding, "I really wish more American companies would close and let everybody rest."
As for Paltrow's thoughts on how struggling small businesses can better compete with a big businesses, she had a couple jokingly harsh words. "Those f------," she said to laugher and applause from the audience.
The Goop creator elaborated on how she was able to start off smaller and scale the business to compete with larger brands, saying that it all comes down to creating a product you believe in. "There has to be that level of commitment and authenticity to it," she said. "And then I really do believe that that product will find its market and then hopefully people will tell their friends and then you can start to take market share away from some of those bigger incumbents."
The Shakespeare in Love actress also weighed in on the wellness industry, especially what may come in the next several years. She shared that she thinks it will become "more and more personalized."
"I think you're starting to see a lot of startups testing, you know, microbiome in a personal way, food allergies," she said. "There's all kinds of gadgets to take your data. I'm wearing one right now. We're getting very smart as a species and we understand that there are certain things that we have to do in order to have longevity, and a lot of us have that as a KPI. And and so I think you're going to see, as opposed to blanket ideas or fads, you're going to see much more customized modalities," she added.
It's easy to wonder how Paltrow balances everything in her busy life. The mom-of-two seems to be constantly on the go, which can be hard if you want to maintain a healthy work-life balance. She tries to just do what she can, in terms of keeping everything in check.
"I find that I'm not balanced but I try to do one thing at a time," she said. "And if I'm over indexing in one thing, then I try to pull myself back and distribute time more evenly."
It's all part of continuing to grow her business and recognizing that taking advice from others and sharing it with aspiring business owners is all a part of the process that helps everyone succeed.
"I actively seek out getting advice and I still do to this day," she told the audience. "And I think, like, I'm a lifelong learner. What's really important for me always going forward is that I am humble. I know what I don't know and I'm not embarrassed to ask the questions that I don't know."
Part of that is reflecting how far she's come in the business world since she stepped into it in 2008.
"I came from the entertainment world and I'm starting an e-commerce company and I had no idea what people were talking about. And I would be in meetings and I had my phone under the table and I was Googling," Paltrow said. "Then finally I was like, 'This is crazy. Like, I'm just going to ask. If I don't know something I'm going to ask.' And I made the promise to myself that you can never look dumb by asking a question."