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Christopher Gavigan shares insights for brand building, team management and living a life that is less toxic.

Christopher Gavigan, co-founder of The Honest Co and CBD brand, Prima joins Jonathan in this episode of Conquer The Noise to talk brand building, team management and how to win hearts and minds. They start off talking about how being busy is a choice because it’s all about prioritizing what you want to start with – family, brands, life. If you don’t have the emotional self awareness and structured hygiene around your day to get it done it can create unbalanced life states.  

Christopher talks about how he found that things worked out best for him if he got out of his head, and went with his heart and intuition. It rolled organically for him whenever he felt the choice that was best came from his body and heart. 

Being Proactive, Precautionary and Choiceful With Products We Choose Is Important Because Of the Toxic Chemicals They Contain.

As a young adult Christopher always gravitated toward the natural side of his habits in sport and diet. He turned to a plant based diet when he was 20 and was studying in Santa Barbara in environmental sciences. This area of study looks at the influence on the positive/negative health outcomes in relation to environmental factors. It was from here, parlaying work to families, that Christopher had his lightbulb moment. He was working with a family who had a child with learning delays and disorders. Christopher started by cleaning up his world by looking at what food was in the refrigerator, what clean cleaning products were in the house and what products were going on his skin. They did a nontoxic reimagining of his life and within 6 weeks, they got a call from the teacher and doctor, both asking what new meds he was on, despite no medications. Christopher sees the modern world as being mostly synthetic and petroleum based with 287 chemicals coursing through our veins at time of birth.

He says we have to be proactive, precautionary and choiceful with products we choose because we are incredibly sensitive. After working in a nonprofit with medical professionals, he realized it’s the the collision and connection of all of these different toxins that creates a challenging situation for the human body, not one specific thing. How do we make the science of medicine practical and accessible for families everywhere? Christophers answer was to write a book and become an education vehicle because he felt a responsibility when he is aware that “xyz” childhood ailments are caused by a toxic environment. Water, sunlight exposure, quality/depth of sleep, how are you feeding yourself, that type of very basic stuff interplays and constructs the human health foundation, especially as kids.

One of the big toxic factors in our homes, because it transcends classes or product categories is fragrance. It’s one of those airborne pollutants found in cleaning products and personal care products. The trade term “fragrance” is a trojan horse of hundreds of chemicals – synthetic, endocrine constructing and harmful to the respiratory system. Fragrance in things like plugins, scented candles, potpourri, shampoo are all harmful. Natural fragrances aren’t that much better. When asked about aromatherapy, which are typically essential oils using terpenes, they can be therapeutically beneficial but if they bring a high mixture it overloads the body’s mechanisms with which to purify/manage. Christopher also sees endocrine disruptors as a global health threat. Things that impact the endocrine system are hacking our hormones, impacting the regulation, fertility, growth and development of brain, organs and tissues. Even the lowest doses make a lot of challenges for the body. For context, think about drops per billion which is one dropper in an olympic sized swimming pool; one pancake in a stack miles high. An endocrinologist will say there’s no safe concentration. So when Christopher was creating multimedia messaging and broadscale awareness campaigns, he thought it was equal parts exciting and paralysis. He kept hearing a common question and plea – just tell me what to buy? Make it easy, simple, so that’s how he approached The Honest Co. 

Working With Co-Founders Requires Self Awareness and Strong Communication Skills.

Christopher has come to know what he’s good at and what he’s not, which has helped define the roles of his other co-founders and himself.  Each person brings assets, strengths, fire power that the other’s don’t have. He has found that conflicts happen when you have founders overstepping their lane. The lanes should be complimentary in beautiful places, hopefully where beautiful friction happens. The best thing you can do in a professional career is learning how to manage a good relationship. It takes humility, great communication, expertise and that takes a willingness to marinate in the uncomfortable and have the difficult conversations. He says that if executive leadership isn’t in sync, the entire organization will be siloing and land grabbing – doing the dysfunctional shit you don’t want in your organization

Christopher really gets into the cosmoceuticals, the clinical validation side of science. It’s a proven bedrock and what he calls his native tongue, drawn to the mysteries and magic in it. Cannabinoid science is about 25 years old and cannabinoid compounds are in our body and that newly discovered body system is very interesting to him. It’s an internal stress management system that helps take the body out of fight or flight. Our modern lives cause our body to go into these states so we’re constantly under a state of stress. How do we balance our own bodies in a way that’s more grounded? One cannabinoid  gets you high in cannabis (THC) whereas hemp is a sober botanical cousin and there are 120 of these wellness compounds. They’re aligners. How do we capture those as a hero ingredient and leverage other therapeutic botanicals; skin care, body care, supplements – taking the body out of stress. Humans are healing machines and we’re trying to drive a level of standard, care and excellence so he created Prima, a new CBD brand. 

Trust Is About Winning Hearts and Minds Consistently Over Time Through Consistency, Clarity, and Commitment.

Trust Is About Winning Hearts and Minds Consistently Over Time Through Consistency, Clarity, and Commitment.

Christopher and Jonathan talk about what it takes to win over customers. Christopher said that trust is about winning hearts and minds consistently over time through consistency, clarity, and commitment. This takes a lot of emotional intimacy and you have to call it out where you’re winning or losing. The emotions are the connective tissue – it’s the art, not the science, the things consumers can’t put their finger on but feels really good. It’s constantly an evolution, a challenge. Oftentimes brands have a veneer of strength. He loves to build brands that are feminine. Prima is the feminine version of the best, primo. He believes feminine energy is what we need to accept now more than ever – softening. To stay productive, he has daily morning rituals that are less about winning the morning and more about self reflecting and being intentional about the day you want to have. If he misses it he finds that his day starts with a limp. He believes you can hack your hormones and chemicals in the body to release specific ones that come from positive self talk. 

Brand Building Suffers When Brands Start To Silo and Leadership’s Passion Isn’t Felt.

If your team is not aligned and feeling the passion of the leadership team, the brand building will suffer. Christopher says he has to accept that he can control acceptance but not everything. His native condition is to control and contain – life, temperament, experience – that was a survival mechanism for him, but now he feels more willing to let some of that control go. He’s learned to manage that in a more productive fashion through accepting the things he can’t control. 

De-siloing is one of the great challenges as a company grows. In a larger team like The Honest Co. with close to 400 employees at one time; it was a force that was hard to wrangle. Siloing teams start at the top, middle management, and it’s something that if you don’t stay on top of it will happen. A lot of times people physically resign to certain parts of the office and stay there. He always felt like getting up and moving throughout the office because the small moments of conversation, the human element of the business, allows them to do more being and less doing. Your physical presence sets a tone – are you smiling or heads down? Body language is 85% of all communication. It’s not the words you sometimes say, t’s the essence, vibe and body. 

When people enter the company, it’s a session to really engrain people in the standard of excellence around values, principles, commitments and being there for not only yourself but others. That is something that takes a lot of emotional effort. There was one point in the course of his career where he was losing a bit of his heart in the work he was doing. He had to remind myself of his “why”.

In closing, Christopher shares some of his advice to his younger self saying that he should have taken more economics and finance classes. He doesn’t have an MBA so he could have skills with fiduciary needs and being a custodian of money, especially when raising it. You can learn more about The Honest Co. here as well as Prima, here. 

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