Pret-a-Reporter

At Work With Gwyneth Paltrow: 6 Lessons In Business and Why She Gave Up Acting For Goop

Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Fast Company
Gwyneth Paltrow at Fast Company event

"I grew up in an acting family … right now, I just like this better," says the Goop founder at the latest Fast Company magazine Meeting of the Most Creative Minds event.

Fast Company magazine's third annual FC/LA: A Meeting of the Most Creative Minds event touched down in the industrial-chic Santa Monica headquarters of Goop on Tuesday afternoon, where writer Nicole LaPorte chatted with Gwyneth Paltrow about her ever-growing lifestyle empire.

The event is one of several that the magazine is hosting in L.A. this week, giving guests a behind-the-scenes look into some of the city's most creative companies. The stop at Goop follows several recent announcements from the brand Paltrow founded as a newsletter nine years ago, including news that it will be partnering with Conde Nast on a quarterly glossy magazine, has opened pop-ups in nine Nordstrom stores nationwide and will open its own first brick-and-mortar store, Goop Lab, in Brentwood later this year.

Paltrow, dressed in a white suit coming soon from Goop’s private label, held forth on how she defines her business ("contextual commerce"), who she admires in the fashion space in terms of scale (Tory Burch) and her mentors (CAA President Richard Lovett, among others).

Here are six takeaways from Paltrow for budding entrepreneurs and business people of all types:

1)   As a CEO or a leader, your highest role is to create and model a culture that helps your team perform.

Paltrow does that by listening, noting that she has an all-hands meeting for all 80 of her employees every Tuesday morning. "We encourage good communication, or 'speaking straight,' as we like to call it," she says. "When someone comes into my office and says they are going to speak straight, it's my cue to bring my best self forward."

2) Weigh speed of growth with creating real value.

Goop has earned trust "because we started out creating content without an eye to profitability," says Paltrow. "I'm a student, a traveler and mother, [what was on the site] were my questions, and it took a long time before we monetized that."

3)  If you want to fuck with me, bring your A game.

"I'm interested in criticism based on fact, not on projections," says Paltrow, in other words, “If you want to fuck with me, bring your A game.” (She's so enamored of the phrase, a friend had it put on matchbooks and cocktail napkins for her as a gift.)

4) It's OK if your vision narrows.

"We're always playing with the idea of wellness, and what choice makes you feel good," says Paltrow, noting that the site has zeroed in on the clean beauty category and recently launched vitamins. "If it's on Goop, it's nontoxic. So we may not write about that thing or take that advertiser, but it makes people feel good." The site also has its own private label clothing, which she says has high-quality, made-in-Italy integrity, but without the retail markups.

5) Never compromise your values.

"I think about what has gone wrong at other companies a lot," says Paltrow. "On the media side of Goop, we like to know what people are freaking out about, and if we hear that people are putting bees in their vagina, we'll write about it," she says, noting that "she made that up and not to try it at home."

"On the product side, we are more judicious … If we are selling it, it's because we love it; if we've made it, it's the best." In terms of maintaining integrity, "if you opened Goop and saw a fast food ad, it would diminish our trust," she says.

6) Learn what you can and can't do.

"As much as I thought 'I can do everything, I can run my company and then go to Louisiana and do a movie,' I can't, especially with having kids there's just no way," says Paltrow. "I've been doing little things here and there because … I do think that does help our brand and how we're trying to grow. But I also don't want it to. I want Goop to not rely on me so much, so we're thinking about when we scale, do we need to leverage me for this product line or do we not. If we have a paid asset without me that outperforms one with my face, I do jumping jacks. I grew up in an acting family … but right now, I just like this better." 

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