Featuring Christina Stembel
Founder & CEO at Farmgirl Flowers
In this Gladly podcast episode, hear from Founder & CEO of Farmgirl Flowers, Christina Stembel, on the brands’ success in powering customer acquisition through customer service, on how prioritizing loyalty is the future of commerce, and more.
For Stembel, facing health challenges from a young age began her on a journey towards leading with vulnerability and resilience. Hear her personal story, and the story of Farmgirl Flowers, in this episode.
“We’re a service company. We’re providing a great service to our customers which is why I think we have really devout fans.”
Founder & CEO, Farmgirl Flowers
Joseph: Yes. I am so excited to welcome Christina Stembel to Radically Personal. Welcome, Christina. I can’t wait to talk to you. Christina is the founder and CEO of Farmgirl Flowers. Welcome.
Christina: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me. I ...
Joseph: Yes. I am so excited to welcome Christina Stembel to Radically Personal. Welcome, Christina. I can’t wait to talk to you. Christina is the founder and CEO of Farmgirl Flowers. Welcome.
Christina: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me. I’ve been looking forward to this all week.
Joseph: Me too. Everyone loves the brand. Let’s start with your story. Obviously, my first question is, are you the farm girl? Tell us the story. How did you start it? Let’s hear your story.
Christina: Yes, it’s funny because I think I get called farm girl as much as Christina [laughs] out and about. Out in the wild, people will just say, “Oh, it’s Farmgirl.” Yes, I am a farm girl, but the funny thing is I grew up on a farm, growing corn and soybeans, but I like to say the real true story. My mom is the real farm girl. We occasionally picked up rocks in the fields and stuff, but she had to work hard on the farm, so I can’t take too much credit for that.
I did start Farmgirl. The name was a nickname that a couple of friends called me just because I wasn’t a city girl. I went to New York City when I graduated high school two weeks after that, and a couple of friends just started calling me farm girl. When I was looking for a URL open with anybody who has tried to start a company, you probably relate to this, and it just came to mind after 432 other searches. What about Farmgirl? That’s how it started.
Joseph: Tell me, how did you end up starting this? Why flowers?
Christina: Yes, I imagined that you probably didn’t just want to know about the name. I like to be really intentional with this question because I think as a woman in the creative space, the story that usually gets told is a romanticized version of it like, “You’re so lucky that you’ve been able to turn your hobby into a business.” Especially on the fashion side of things, you want to make it sound like, “Paint this picture of I was frolicking in my grandmother’s garden or something.”
It wasn’t that at all. Just like men, most men who start businesses, I wanted to start a business, and I had no idea what industry. It wasn’t a hobby to do flowers. I thought flowers were a waste of money. I was trying to solve a problem, though, which is how I came about this idea. When I would send my mom flowers in Indiana, I wasn’t happy. I was dissatisfied with what was out there. I would have to use the national companies, and I was always dissatisfied with the price I would pay for the quality of the delivered flowers. I was always embarrassed by what was delivered. It looked like a grocery store bouquet that I spent five to seven X what it would’ve cost in the grocery store.
As a young consumer back then, I was in my early 30s, then, no longer a young consumer, more the middle-aged consumer, there’s room for all of us. I was like, “There’s got to be other people like me.” I started going down the rabbit hole of research. I would do it because I was like that dork with an idea notebook that had 4000 ideas in it. In every industry you could think of. I would spend my weekends researching this industry pretty thoroughly and was really dumbfounded by what I found.
That, yes, young American consumers were not happy with what was out there, but it even stretched further than that. There were hashtags like flower fail, so people were really dissatisfied. I was pretty dismayed to find out that the e-commerce side was declining and no other industry I had researched in 2010 was declining, and the latest innovation was in the ’90s.
Joseph: Meaning flowers online?
Joseph: Oh, interesting.
Christina: Yes, so I was like, this should be growing by leaps and bounds. Even most of my ideas were in fashion or beauty or things like that because that’s where I shop. Yes, and nobody was- everybody was wiser than me to know that perishable product was probably going to be tough.
Joseph: It’s not easy.
Christina: Yes, I didn’t know. I was like, “Sure, I could do this. Bring it on.” The reason I started Farmgirl, though, was because out of all of those 4000 ideas, it was the one that checked all the boxes, and the most important box was that it needed to be able to be bootstrapped because I, unlike most people, don’t have a pedigree. I didn’t go to college. I just went to Bremen High School in Bremen Indiana, population 3600, two-stoplights. I had nothing beyond that. I didn’t work at Facebook, Google, Apple, or any of the big tech companies.
I thought if I marched down to the Central Road right now and said, “Hey, I know you don’t know me. I have no pedigree but invest in me,” but people laugh. I knew I would need to bootstrap it. Most of my ideas needed millions of dollars of investment. This one, I could start this from my dining room table literally, and there’s a flower market down the street, so that’s what I did. I had $49,000 in my bank account, and I started it literally at my dining room table. I turned the dining room into a little flower shop, a kind of flower warehouse, 100 square feet of it. I did that for two years until my landlord, a corporate attorney, found out garage startups aren’t legal.
I got the pink slip on the door and had to move the company or myself out of the apartment. In a rent control city like San Francisco, you do not want to have to move yourself out, so you had two weeks to move the business out, and that’s what we did, and that’s what I did.
Joseph: Oh, yes. That’s amazing. There are so many unique and distinctive things about the brand, like the burlap. For folks who have never purchased from Farmgirl Flowers, one of the distinctive things you do from a brand is they come wrapped in this burlap bag where that comes around the bottom. It’s not just like wrapped in cellophane or whatever.
Joseph: When you got started, there were a lot of really awesome things about your brand and your identity, and one of them is the burlap sack. I don’t know what to call it. I don’t know if that- what you’ve heard.
Christina: You got it right. That’s what it is.
Joseph: Okay, cool, and because for folks who have never purchased flowers from Farmgirl Flowers, you should. First of all, they’re awesome, but one of the great things about them is the packaging. They come wrapped in this burlap, and it just makes it feel very Farmgirl-like, if you will. Now, many people, when they’re thinking about the stuff, they’re very intentional about, like materials, but yours was actually a story of necessity. Like, how did that happen?
Christina: Yes, it was a little bit of both. I knew I didn’t want to use plastic, and everybody was using plastic. The most innovation I could find was craft paper. I’m like, “This is not innovative craft paper,” so I was like, “How can I do something better for the environment than put more plastic into [chuckles] the dumpsters,” and it just takes away from the whole brand experience. If I want to sell a higher quality product to consumers, I need a better way to package it. I’m a woman that loves packaging. [chuckles] I do research. Most women love the packaging. 81% of consumers are women buying for women, which is shocking for most people on the floor–
Joseph: Is that right?
Christina: Yes. Everyone thinks because of Valentine’s day that it’s like that year-round. If you took Valentine’s day out of it, it’d probably be 90%-95%. Women buy flowers for other women because we know how it makes us feel to receive them, and so we want other women that are special to us to feel that same way, that same feeling of being loved, and so that’s why women and flowers. They don’t think that they’re a waste of money. Most men think that flowers are a waste of money because they die, they’re perishable, so you’d rather give something that’s a higher perceived value, and so we lean into our consumer base for that reason, and packaging is very important.
I also really looked at Nike as an example of how I wanted to brand our product. Social media and digital media were on the rise back in 2010. It was just at the beginning of it, but people were sharing pictures of everything on Facebook and Instagram, and I knew if there were going to be pictures out there, how would people know it was us? How could I get our name out there in that way? I was like, “I need a way that everyone’s going to know immediately that’s Farmgirl Flowers,” so I came up with 14 different ideas for packaging. I tried them all, everything from going to Goodwills and getting denim and cutting it up and using that, and then I’m like, “I got to wash a lot of pairs of jeans for this.
If I used chalkboard paper, I think I’d write the message in. I had all these ideas, dish towels because then you could reuse them, and it’s not something more for the landfill, but that was expensive. I came up with the idea for burlap thinking of the burlap sacks in the farm we would use, and I was thinking of potato sacks. I researched in California. I was like, “There are no potato farmers in California,” so I’m going to have to truck them in from Idaho, probably–
Christina: No coffee, there are a lot of coffee roasters in the area, so I reached out to a bunch of them. Ritual Roasters, female-owned in San Francisco, was lovely and got back to us, the only one that got back to us and said, yes, they would. They didn’t even charge me. I offered to pay for them, and they donated them to us, and so every Thursday, I would go pick up their burlap and-
Joseph: Oh, that’s awesome.
Christina: -put at the back of my SUV with 200,000 miles on it [chuckles] and take it to my two-story walk-up on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco, unload it, and then cut it up into pieces. I could get four pieces, four bouquets out of each bag. Quickly outgrew just one roaster and had to add more roasters and bigger roasters, and I’ve had to go through lots of times when they’re like, “Now we have a different procedure, and we’re not allowed to donate them,” then we have to go find another one and things like that. We’ve also tried to change it to something else because I’m tired of burlap. It’s been over ten years now, eleven years.
Joseph: You can’t, can you?
Christina: Yes, I can because people would really like,-
Joseph: Because you’re known for it.
Christina: – “Where’s the burlap?”
Customer services like, “Please, don’t do that to us.”
Christina: You know our own team and Gladly get a lot-
-messages from our wonderful customers saying, “We like this new thing you’re doing, but please bring the burlap back when you’re done.”
Joseph: It’s so interesting. One of the things that I admire about what you’ve done is how intentional you’ve been about, and I’ll use a phrase you just used about the feeling, the brand identity, like the burlap. We were talking earlier about how in the early days, you would have bike people, bike messengers deliver flowers, and it was a visual thing, and it was a way to potential, I’m guessing, also to actually drive awareness and acquisition. How do you think about acquisition today now that you’re ten years in, and how does that connect to customer experience and customer service?
Christina: Yes. Acquisition is probably one of our biggest challenges right now. It’s funny that acquisition was much easier early on than it is now, and getting in front of our customers and customers in general, whether it be new or return customers, is so expensive now, whereas before in the good old days, now I’m old enough, now we’re old enough as a company to say that in the good old days. We had bikers where now we don’t because we aren’t in a saturated area any longer. We don’t have a warehouse in San Francisco that was shut down during COVID, and so we don’t. We can’t do things like that. That will drive awareness relatively cheaply for us. I say that workers’ comp was really expensive for bike riders. That was the biggest expense there, but for eight and a half years, nine years, we had bike riders, like you said, going all around the city with huge, huge baskets of flowers.
Honestly, I didn’t think about it from an acquisition standpoint. When I came up with the idea, it was, how can we do this efficiently in a very saturated city with parking tickets everywhere. I was like, “We’re going to get so many parking tickets, double parking. Then with Uber and Lyft and the ride service companies, it’s almost impossible to hire a driver under like 50 bucks an hour or something. It was actually more cost-effective to use bike riders for a while until workers comp caught up with that as well. Everything has been–
Joseph: I love it, bending the rules along the way. We’re starting the company in your apartment, et cetera, et cetera.
Christina: Totally. [chuckles]
Joseph: Anyway, sorry.
Christina: Everything is scrappy as possible. And that’s the farm upbringing in me. If I can do something for a quarter, why am I going to spend a dollar? That’s how we do it, and burlaps like that cost us 86 cents per burlap, and that’s like the price to rent the trucks to go pick it up now because they’re giant trucks. We have to pick it up and hire the people to cut it and things like that. It’s donated, but it’s actually 86 cents apiece, but it’s still far cheaper than those dish towels I was talking about. Everything’s been from scrappy and other missions as well, like trying to make sure that we are doing our best in every area.
To your point, the intention is definitely a word that is at the forefront of everything that I do is with intention because I want to do what’s right for the planet, what’s right for our team, what’s right for our customers, and everything. I want to send out a product that I would want to receive, and so I have this golden rule in business. I’ve always had it since day one. The only thing that really hasn’t changed at Farmgirl is my mission, my personal mission in starting a company was to create a company that I would want to buy from, and I’d want to sell to, and I’d want to work at. It doesn’t take a fancy education to know when you’re making a decision in business about should you offer full medical or paid vacation or 401(k)s with matching.
I was stunned to find out how many companies don’t have matching 401(k)s, big tech companies too, big ones. I’m like, “Why would you not do that? Why would you have special snack Thursdays or free food for lunch and not have a matching 401(k) for your team?” Everything is, I wouldn’t want to work at a company like that. I don’t do that for my team. I don’t think you need a fancy board or pedigree education to know what the right thing is to do.
Joseph: Do the right thing, and how does that connect to your values around customer experience and customer service? When you think about your philosophy around service, how do you connect all those things?
Christina: Yes. We’ve had lots of people come into Farmgirl, manage our customer service teams, and just advisors that have looked at our numbers. We almost did a couple- we tried to raise capital many, many times and got very close a couple of times, and while those VC and P firms were looking at her books, there was always an area of like, “Well, we could outsource this area and save a lot of money.” The one area of the company that I am dogmatic about is not outsourcing. I shared this with you when we talked earlier about this. My dad worked in customer service. He worked in the parts department customer service for 41 years at a company.
I got to hear from him all the things he liked and didn’t like about it. That’s how I structured our customer experience. We used to share a construction trailer up until COVID, till we shut down our big warehouse in San Francisco. When we got shut down, I should say, we didn’t intentionally shut it down, but we had a 30,000 square foot warehouse in San Francisco and our offices because we’re super fancy or construction trailer, and I shared the office, all of our management team, including myself, shared the office with our customer experience team and so I get to hear all their conversations in this double-wide that we had sitting in the middle of our warehouse. We called it the greenhouse because it was painted green.
Joseph: In this big warehouse, you had like a double-wide. Oh my God, that’s awesome.
Christina: Yes, when people build these fancy offices, I’m like, you can rent a double-wide, pretty cheaply.
Joseph: Farmgirl coming through. [laughs]
Christina: It was way too cheaper than building fancy offices. It was also great because I got to hear and I’d have Denise, who’s been with us. I don’t know, seven or eight years. Who’s amazing. Good job, Denise, if you’re listening to this. She’s phenomenal on our customer experience team that’s talking to people and be like, “Oh, congratulations. That’s a great college. I’m sure you’re so proud of Johnny or whatever.” She’d be like, “Oh, how is your dog? Oh, I’m so sorry you had that surgery.” She knew the people she was talking to and be the first conversation with them.
You can’t have that experience when you’re outsourcing to a company that’s charging you by ticket or by case, as we talked about too, every time they say, “Thank you.” That’s another ticket and stuff like that in case you can have that experience. When you go and look at our reviews, we’re probably in the top three in the whole country, probably of the most reviewed, if not the most, for a long time or the most. I know when I track it reviewed flower companies in the United States, they’re not talking about our flowers. People talk about our flowers when they post pretty pictures on social media when they’re leaving you a review which is really important to any company.
Especially a small business like us, we really rely on word of mouth, and people do not take the time out of their busy schedules to go write glowing reviews about the product, but they do about service. It’s almost 100% service-related. Why would I shoot ourselves in the foot basically by getting rid of the thing that people care about the most, really, and we’ve talked about that a lot internally on our team that yes, we’re a product company 50% of what we do is the product and 50% is service? We’re a service company.
We’re providing a great service to our customers, which is why I think we have really devout fans. Fans, customers that are fans, and fans that aren’t even customers, we’re aspirational in our prices, but people will follow us even though they don’t buy from us very often just because they like us. They buy from us because they like our company, not just because they like our product and that’s because of the service we provide.
Joseph: You said it earlier when you were just talking about why people send flowers. It’s because of how it makes people feel. When we started Gladly, we talked a lot about that Maya Angelou quote about people forgetting what you tell them. They forget what you did for them. They never forget how you make them feel.
Christina: It’s my favorite quote, hands down.
Joseph: Is it really? Oh, it literally was–
Christina: That one and then the man in the arena.
Joseph: Oh, my God, that’s the other one. At our holiday parties at Gladly all the time, I do change it to just not just him. I’d say, “She.” I actually make it–
Christina: I feminized it. We have a woman in the arena poster.
Joseph: That’s so good. That concept of the importance of the connection. I think there’s so much data that says that when you have high retention and people fall in love with a brand, it just makes companies more valuable. I think the people that understand that are the future of commerce, if you will. Just to hear you talk about that, just like it rings true in my heart. It’s music to my ears. I do think that people, for the longest time, I’ve always thought about service as a cost center.
It’s just not. Your team, you don’t have a storefront.
Joseph: They are your storefront. They are your brand ambassadors. That’s why we don’t like to refer to people that use Gladly as agents. We like to call them heroes. I don’t know if you ever have a name for your team.
Christina: I love that. I’m going to have to start that. Our customer experience team has the hardest job in the entire company. People aren’t calling them to just talk about how amazing we are. They’re calling because their flowers were delayed, and they got moldy flowers delivered to them four days late because they were delayed in transit and how bummed they are because it was a sympathy arrangement. They tell us what if somebody’s spouse just died. They tell us the whole story. We literally broke their heart that day, and our customer experience heroes, there you go. They have to solve that.
They have to rectify that, and they have to convince that person. First, apologize and let them know that we feel that too. We feel it. I’ve had to do so many videos just because we literally couldn’t get back to enough people in time because 56% of our orders that day were delayed, and there’s no way to get to 7,000 people and tickets, and so we’ll do videos, and it’s I had to stop crying long enough to do those videos because that you just blew up everyone’s days. They were sending love to someone and for a very important occasion because people don’t just send- they do send them just because, but usually there’s a big occasion that they’re sending it for the 25th anniversary. Death in the family, a bad medical diagnosis that was just received, things like that, and you are ruining their day. They have to fix that, and they’re the only contact that you have with, really essentially, with your consumer. They are me. They’re Christina.
Joseph: They are Farmgirl.
Christina: They’re Farmgirl, and they are so important to the success of your business. To just offhandedly say like, “Oh, we’re going to save a couple–” Even if it’s like, we’re going to save a couple $100,000 a year, is it worth it?
Joseph: It’s very short-term.
Christina: How much are you going to lose for that couple, $100,000? Are you gonna lose 10 million in return customers?
Joseph: Yes. I agree with you. I do think that, as I said, the companies of the future they understand that, and you definitely understand it. Now, when you think about your team, how do you get them to understand those cultural values? When you recruit people when you bring them on board, what’s the process for them to understand what it means to be Farmgirls. I don’t know what you call your team, but how do you onboard them and get them to understand that and represent those cultural values. How do you do that?
Christina: It’s definitely something we’re constantly working on, especially as we’re going more and more remote. We have decided we’re remote forever. We decided early on, and that was so that way we could hire better talent outside of the Bay area. It was very clear early on from our customer hero team.
We were able to appeal to it– The various very, very expensive places to live. That definitely narrowed our pool down a lot. Going further away was really beneficial that way, but also one of the big cons to that is the personal connection as a team. It was really easy when we all came into that same warehouse and that same double-wide to be able to celebrate each other daily and have that connection.
It’s become harder and harder; however, having a stronger team is allowing us to do that really well. Our people and culture team is hands down. I would say I would put money on it that they’re the best out there. For such a lean team, I would put them against any team that’s ten times their size because they’re so phenomenal, and they have elevated our onboarding experience tenfold and just our career development. Not just like bringing you in and then dropping you, but stewarding you through, “These are the professional development opportunities that you have, and here are training that we think will help get you to the next level.”
Our people and culture team it’s led by an amazing woman. I would go work for her in a heartbeat. That’s really helped a lot. I think we worked really hard. On a culture deck, I wanted to have a really strong culture deck just to identify like this is. We call it the essential eight. The farm rural essential eight looked at Netflix a lot. Then found some other ones online that we even liked better in the hospitality field that was just incredible, and then we just made our own. Our leadership team made our own. Things are very different than what you’d find at another company.
Joseph: Like what?
Christina: It’s like gristle is a word that we use a lot. It’s like hustle and grit mixed together, and it’s–
Joseph: Gristle. I didn’t know what that was. I like to hustle and grit. I like that.
Christina: Its quality is queen, and it’s just these great things that really define who we are, and I think the first thing you get, when you come into Farmgirl, is you’re like, “This is who we are, and is this a good fit for you?” I think it really resonates because the type of people that want to come work at Farmgirl is not the people that are looking for top dollar. They’re not coming here for money because we’re never going to be able to compete with the tech giants out there or the– Even our competitors that are Uber funded have a hundred million dollars of funding behind them.
We can’t pay what those companies pay, and I don’t think we get much better people by looking for the right things, the thing from people that [crosstalk] speak to them.
Joseph: They feel connected to what you’re doing.
Christina: Yes. Absolutely.
Joseph: That’s awesome. That’s great.
Christina: Most of our leadership team all had to take big cuts to come work at Farmgirl. I’m not saying that proudly because the first thing I want to do is pay people more. As soon we make more, we pay people more, and we definitely give a lot of raises without ever being asked, and we are a very equitable employer. There’s definitely no gender. There are no issues in gender parity at Farmgirl. In fact, I always say we have less than ten men in the whole company. We probably need to get some more men, so let’s get some more men.
Joseph: I’ll trade you.
Christina: I just say what makes me proud is that people want to have the right people working for us that want more in life than that.
Joseph: I do think that people, there’s this quote from- it’s a rock band called Rush. This guy, Neil Peart, he’s great. He was the drummer, but he wrote the music, and he wrote a spirit with a vision is a dream on a mission. I’ve always remembered that quote, and I do think that people feel very connected. When they feel very connected to the vision and the mission, it becomes again related to what you deliver as a service. The job of Farmgirl Flowers is just how you make people feel. I do think that the connection with making companies is just as important.
What I heard from you, actually, I think is just great, which is you write it down, you make sure that people understand this is the culture of the company. You’re buying into it. You’re joining, and this is what the expectation is.
Christina: Like Brene Brown says, “Clear is kind.” We’re very clear with expectations and who we are as a company.
Joseph: There’s this book that I talked a bunch about, called the Southwest Way. It’s this book about the culture of Southwest Airlines, they have a unique culture at Southwest, and they talk about recruiting for culture. They said, “Look, when you recruit, there are really two things you have to do. Does someone have the functional competency?” Do they know how to fly a plane? Do they have cultural competency as well? They call it relational competency. These are the ways that we work together as a team, and you have to be connected to that.
To your point, clear is kind. You have to explain that there are expectations because every company is different. That’s really important how specific and focused you are on that. I think that makes a huge difference. The name of the podcast is Radically Personal. I ask everybody if there’s something radically personal about you that people don’t know that you can share. Actually like, for example, Adam from Ulta Beauty shared that he just got his college degree. He’s a dad with teenage boys. I was like, “Whoa.” He was just like, “Yes, I’ve just wanted to do it. [unintelligible 00:32:38] years”
I was like, “Wow.” Is there something you wouldn’t mind sharing?
Christina: I don’t have a college degree, so I should probably get on that plan.
Joseph: I heard that. That’s why I was like–
Christina: Good job, Adam.
Joseph: We can make that one. You spilled the beans on that earlier, though. We got two from you today.
Christina: Yes. I used to feel really insecure about it, and I don’t anymore. I think the more we talk and normalize other paths for people, the better too. I’ll share something with you. I’ve never shared this ever, ever. I get asked a lot where my empathy comes from. I think people around me know me to be a very empathetic leader. I try really hard. It also just comes naturally to me. Sometimes to my chagrin, a little bit. Sometimes I think that like that quote, I don’t know if it really was Eleanor Roosevelt, but she gets attributed a lot to a quote that says, “Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness.”
I think because I am such an empathetic leader, sometimes people think that’s weak, and I’m not. I’m definitely not. I’m someone who likes to lead with vulnerability. I’ve learned a lot from Brene Brown mentioning her again. I get that from growing up, I was born with an abnormality that I only have one kidney, and it didn’t work well. I had lots of pain growing up and also just embarrassment because that led to me not having any bladder control for the first 12 years of my life, which is really embarrassing as a 12-year-old. You can imagine and lead up to it.
I tend to be someone because of that, because I was that kid that everybody made fun of, because when you go to the same school from 1st grade through 12th grade, literally the same school with the same-
Joseph: With the same people.
Christina: -yes, I think it was maybe 80 People in our graduating class. There’s not a lot of room for difference, being different. I was that kid that I really made fun of, and I could not wait to leave. I just couldn’t wait to leave that little two-stoplight town. Now I have a lot of gratitude for how I was raised. I also have gratitude, which I never really thought I’d have because it was the thing that I hated the most about myself, and the thing that caused me the most stress and anxiety growing up was just being that kid that they made fun of because you peed your pants every day, but I have a lot of gratitude for that too because I think it made me way stronger. It made me such a strong person.
My head of people and culture that I mentioned earlier today, during her one-on-one today, gave me a great compliment. She’s just like, “You’re the most resilient person I know. You just have so much resilience.” When she comes and says, “We have another lawsuit.” Or “We have another issue.” Or whatever. I’m like, “Okay, let’s do this.” [crosstalk] Thank you for handling it. [crosstalk]
Joseph: It is amazing how hardship really just builds character, and going through challenges in life that you get through, it just really makes you appreciate things. I’ve actually done this stuff three times, but the first time I broke my back in a cycling accident. I was in the hospital for a couple of days, and it was really bad. That taught me about slowing down, actually. Not physically on the bike because I still don’t get back on the bike, and I’ve since broken my back two more times.
Not as badly as the first couple of times, but I was in the ICU for a couple of days, and we were literally about to start a company. Still, it just taught me about resilience and also just about the importance of enjoying the moment because it can go away. I just think stories like that about personal challenges, they make us who we are, and that’s an incredible story and [crosstalk]
Christina: I just read an article about it, actually. Where they, I think it’s in Forbes this weekend. It was talking about 75% of the highest achievers. These are like the Oprahs. I’m not putting myself in this category, but the highest achievers have come from very hard backgrounds, and that can play out in many different ways. I had a lot of benefits to how I grew up with a loving family. My two parents always had a roof over my head and food. I also had this medical issue that caused me to have to really develop thick skin and resilience and things that benefit me daily in running a business and empathy, which helped me in leading a team.
Joseph: I think that comes through with the story, just you starting in your apartment, on the dining table to build what you’ve built so far, and I know you’re only just getting started. I just can’t thank you enough for being such a great partner. We’re so proud to partner with you, and just like the success of the business, congrats on that, and from everyone at Gladly, thanks for the partnership, and thanks for taking the time to share your story today.
Christina: Of course, thank you. I just want to take a second too, and thank you for all you do. Our team loves what you do, and thank you for allowing us to be a better company. No, really, just thank you and your entire team. The entire Gladly team for providing a product that allows us to do what we do better. We really appreciate it.
Joseph: You’re very kind. I think the thing that’s awesome is when we meet people who believe what we believe. That’s when the magic happens. When you believe that your job is about creating a connection with your customers, like, “Oh my gosh,” we love that, and you and the whole team, obviously, that’s so foundational. We can feel it, and good luck with the continued journey. Thanks again for taking the time today, Christina.
Christina: Awesome. Thank you, Thanks for having me.
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ABOUT THE HOST
With a proven track record of building companies that don’t settle for the status quo, Gladly CEO and co-founder Joseph Ansanelli is reinventing customer service to put people back at the heart of it. Joseph is also a Partner at Greylock, focused on investing in enterprise applications.
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