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Fear is a familiar and powerful co-founder in startups.  We do our best to quiet it, shut it down, deny it, but perhaps our biggest struggle is simply acknowledging it.

What happens when you let go of your own hope to control things, and go back to building and leading from a place of love?

Jules Pierri, Co-Founder and CEO of the product launch platform, The Grommet, has done just that. In episode 18 of the Reboot podcast, Jules and Jerry Colonna discuss what it was like to face head on the fears of being a non-prototypical entrepreneur and build a new kind of company in one of the scariest economic times in recent memory. Through it all, Jules has been able to move forward with courage to build an organization where her 55 employees can feel loved and do great work in the process.

“What kind of company do you want to work for? What kind of company would you like your child to come to work for?” – Jerry Colonna

We all want our work to be a commercial success. However, there is far more that we can expect from business. As Jules shares with Jerry, she believes that business is the most powerful entity on earth. In every business there is the potential for an impact greater than the bottom line. Business can be a force for good. We can expect more from business.

Stonyfield Farms and Etsy are two successful businesses who have exemplify this mindset. In his book, “Stirring it Up”, Stonyfield Farms founder Gary Hirshberg discusses the idea of an additive rather than subtractive business. He believes that businesses can embrace their power to make a difference in the marketplace by doing business in ways that consider more than the finance bottom line. Etsy is guided by the principles found in the book, A More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible. Etsy conducts business imagining that a better world is possible.

At The Grommet they spend their time together building a “good” company regardless if it is the one that wins because they already did win by living their lives together in a way that is healthy. Jules shares, “We can expect more from business by supporting the companies that represent what we want the world to be.”

“We should have the idea of not imaging work as a dreadful obligation, but work as a means to creating something more in ourselves.” – Jerry Colonna

Our work is where we form some of our most meaningful relationships, sense of self, capabilities, possibilities, and learning. Work does not have to be a dreadful obligation. It can be a means to creating something more in ourselves.  It is possible for everyone to reach their full actualization at work.

When founding The Grommet, Jules couldn’t afford to pay the team what they deserve, nor give them visible promotions or opportunities. What she could do was small behaviors like getting flowers for team members birthdays and snacks for people or hosting guest speakers for the group. These behaviors express to employees, “you matter.”

Today each employee at the Grommet owns a piece of the behaviors they agree matters. Every employee is a VP of something that is part of their shared values. Jules is the VP of the Garden.

“Claim the wholeness of who you are and step into that as a leader.” – Jerry  Colonna

Jules initially felt uneasy about not being the typical pattern recognized founder. It took time and work for Jules to acknowledge the inner strength and grit she had demonstrated in her entire life.

The things that we are so scared of will not knock us down forever. If we respond to them with grace, openness, heart and remembering core purpose, we can grow. Successful leaders possess the ability to claim the totality of who they are regardless of age, gender, race, or sexual orientation.

You can listen to this full episode of the Reboot podcast here.


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sarahjanecoffey