While Pia Beck is the CEO of Curate Well Co., she would like her clients to think of her as their Chief Strategy Officer. She’s the one who’s “willing to get in the weeds” to help you and your business optimize its gifts, so that you can show up to work as the bonafide leader. As a leader, it’s your task to set your industry ablaze, and set new standards that your competitors will have no choice but follow. All these will help you care about the people you are serving.
Before Curate Well Co., Pia Beck had enjoyed a successful career working in the tech and startup landscape. She had ascended to the post of department leader, where she ran a team, and together they created “first-time initiatives and process” that was pushing the company forward nationwide.
However, Pia Beck still felt miserable despite her success. She felt her job was draining her of the essential qualities that made her who she was. Then she started feeling that she had more stuff to offer. People needed her expertise, and she could help them while being “paid generously in the process.”
So, one day, Pia Beck woke up and quit her job. She had no idea what she was going to do, but she was able to get back on track by organizing and grounding her grand vision in the small details. She was able to create “intuitive systems” that companies could replicate, which would “remove friction in [your] business” and help you change people’s lives “efficiently and effectively.”
That’s how Pia Beck started Curate Well Co., which has shown that you don’t need to change yourself to be a successful entrepreneur.
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Pia Beck: One thing I hear often from our clients is that it’s overwhelmingly obvious to them that we really care. And I think it’s true — I’ve always been someone who took things seriously. Our clients recognize our attention to detail is not something they get anywhere else. And our company name, Curate, was born out of the idea of intentionality.
Because we hold ourselves to a standard of excellence, we make it possible for others to step into their excellence too.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Pia Beck: Work-life integration. I don’t think balance is attainable — strive to feel whole about your life at large.
Know what works for you. If you’re a morning person, work in the morning! If you know you struggle to focus on Friday afternoon, schedule your networking meetings then. You get to set your calendar, so leverage that to work for you instead of against you.
Define what success means to you. Know what you’re working towards, remember your why, and set your own criteria for satisfaction.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Pia Beck: There are so many people who shaped my journey. I’ve had many mentors and clients who’ve taught me things I didn’t know before, and who have given me insight and feedback that formed the direction of the company. If you’re reading this and can remember an engagement we had — know that you’re included in this sentiment.
I want to acknowledge my team. Starting your own business is easy compared to enrolling others in your vision. The shift from solo-preneur to CEO is a dramatic one — and especially in 2020, I’ve challenged my team significantly. I know that what we’re up to is so much bigger than me. They’ve taught me so much about who I am as a person, as a leader, as a business-owner. They show up willingly and with an open mind every day. They lean into the continuous opportunities for innovation that I throw at them, they work incredibly hard, and they do an exceptional job of living into our value of excellence.
Jerome Knyszewski: What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Pia Beck: Market research — if you’ve stalled, it’s likely because, to some degree, you’re out of touch with what your community, audience, and client base is thinking, feeling, struggling with, needing, or working toward. Start by completing an ICA profile (see above) with the information you DO have. Then, review your direct messages, emails, and meeting notes for common questions, anecdotes, and themes. From there, poll your community on social media with targeted questions, send a market research form to your email list or conduct focus groups or interviews with your customers to mine data.
Jerome Knyszewski: Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Pia Beck: Having a loyal customer base is everything. This can look like people who give you return business, but it can also look like past clients who had such an incredible experience that they continuously refer people to you. Focus on delivering value, a killer experience, and building meaningful relationships, and you’ll be able to survive — and even thrive — in tough economic times.
The second thing I’d say, is to be diligent about data-collection before you need it. In tough times, we’re often called to pivot. If you’re going to pivot, you’ll need context in order to make strategic decisions, and being able to call on data you already have helps tremendously.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Pia Beck: In my experience, the part of running a company that’s most often underestimated is the adjustment that comes with accepting there will always be something to do. I get asked often by newer entrepreneurs what I do to combat overwhelm and how I get over it. The truth is, the overwhelm is ALWAYS there. The curse of having a big vision is that you continue to have ideas you want to execute on. I think that running a company requires that you get okay with how much there is to do, embrace the overwhelm and find a way to work with the demands of your business, versus against them.
Jerome Knyszewski: Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
Pia Beck: My favorite way to create a “wow” customer experience is to weave our values into our systems and processes — this not only delivers on fine details, but also makes our experience unique from all those around us.
For example, one of our values is community, so in our client onboarding process, we ask our clients to name three people we can introduce them to. When we host events (in person or online), we make sure that every single person there feels seen — either by greeting them personally on their way in our out, asking them to share or ask questions, or chatting with them for a while if we notice they’re separate from the group.
As another example, we have a core value of generosity. We send our clients gifts and handwritten notes in the mail. We give them opportunities to use our platforms to share their voice. We pledge donations for certain sales we run, so our community can be generous with us. We’re always thinking of ways we can give to our community.
Finally, we value excellence. So, we ask all of our clients in their offboarding what they would change and what didn’t work for them. I’m always paying attention to what’s not working, and asking myself and our community how we can top the last experience we created.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
Pia Beck: I think it’s less about the platform being good/bad and more about how you use it. I see social media as a business tool — same as your company’s project management platform, your email, or your spreadsheets. When you can approach social media strategically as a business owner, I think it’s really powerful.
There are some uses of social media I believe are really powerful for small business owners and entrepreneurs. For example, it’s an opportunity to show the personality of you and your business, appeal to your ideal customer’s “soft” identity (outside their goals and challenges) and create brand-affinity and -authority.
Another example is that it allows us, if we use it correctly, to make meaningful connections with more people we otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to connect with. I approach social media interactions the same way I would approach attending a networking event, or meeting someone for coffee — how can I facilitate a real conversation, be a resource, and start a relationship with those who choose to consume our content?
I’d say a potential downside of social media, depending on how you use it, is that having a strong presence increases your exposure considerably — which is why it’s important to do the work in your business from the inside out, so that if you do choose to show up online, you’re doing it from a place of integrity with what your company stands for and is creating.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Pia Beck: Not having a long-term vision. I see a lot of entrepreneurs throw spaghetti at the wall to find out what sticks. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing — trial and error, a willingness to make mistakes, and taking action are necessary skills of business owners. But the mistake I see a lot of founders make is that they start throwing spaghetti before they identify the wall they’re throwing it at. They get caught up in the throwing versus the target. That’s what your vision is — the wall you’re throwing spaghetti at.
Being afraid to invest. I talk to a lot of business owners, especially female business owners, who aren’t willing to invest — whether it be time, money, energy, attention, courage — before they have proof it’s going to work. A mentor recently prompted me with the idea of “donating forward.” So, I’d encourage business owners to think about the investments they make into their business as a donation into their future — what you put in now will come back to you in some form. Plus, if you’re not willing to invest in yourself, how can you expect others to invest in you or what you’re creating?
Thinking it’s going to be fast AND easy — I saw something once that said, the secret is there is no secret. And I think there’s a lot of messaging that makes business owners feel like they need to grow to X point within Y amount of time, and that it’ll be easy because someone else has done it. The reality is that, while your business may grow quickly and there are many things you can do to remove friction — you’ll work harder than you ever have, you’ll learn how to solve a new problem every day, and you’re going to be challenged to get creative.
Forgetting about the humans — On the other side of every “like”, dollar, click, or support ticket is a whole person. You wouldn’t have a business without your customers and community. Treat them accordingly.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Pia Beck: Wow — that’s a powerful question. My movement is community. Every single opportunity I’ve had has come from being connected to other people. I think in a world that’s more divisive than ever and more distanced than ever, what we need is community. We need to feel like we can relate to others and that we are seen, heard and known by others. Every single person deserves to feel like they have a whole community of people standing behind them, having their back. In my experience, when we feel like we belong to a collective, when we have people we can turn to for inspiration, support, and resources, when we can stand for shared values together and use them to inform our actions — we’re unstoppable. Curate Well Co. is nothing if not a community for people to do what they’re meant to do.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Pia Beck: You can follow us on Instagram at @curatewellco.
And mid-December we’re launching a brand new website at www.curatewell.co.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!