Episode 105: Nancy McKay, CEO of Barefoot Scientist

Nancy McKay spent the bulk of her career faithful to one company, but the experiences that made her successful didn’t all come directly on the job. During her 28 years as an Estée Lauder executive, she used lessons gleaned from her life outside of beauty: Her college debate team, an earlier aspiration towards politics, and a chance encounter with tennis great Andre Agassi.

As the current CEO of Barefoot Scientist, Nancy tells us how a life filled with varied experiences can serve your well where you’d least expect it.

Dan Hodgdon
AnnouncerWelcome to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY® hosted by Jodi Katz, Founder and Creative Director of Base Beauty Creative Agency.
Jodi KatzHey there. It's Jodi Katz, the host of WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY® Podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in. I am so grateful for your support of our show. This week's episode features Nancy McKay. We recorded this episode a few months after Nancy left her role as CEO of Nest Fragrances, so we talk a lot about transition during this episode.

Now she's the CEO of Barefoot Scientist, and she's also one of our podcast super fans, so I'm excited to have you listen to her story. If you missed last week's episode, it featured Rachel Roff. She's the owner and founder of Urban Skin Solutions. I hope you enjoy the shows.
Jodi KatzWe are here with Nancy McKay. This is such an exciting conversation. You are a super fan of our podcast, and I am so grateful for all your support.
Nancy McKayIt's great to be here. I'm very excited to talk to you.
Jodi KatzWe're going to chat about you and your career, but let's start with what you want me to say is your title now.
Nancy McKayMy title now is, interesting person looking for a great role.
Jodi KatzI love it. It's like dating.
Nancy McKayIt is kind of like dating. It is. I am empathetic to people who are dating because you have to keep telling the same story repeatedly, but it's fun, and it helps you to clarify what's important to you and your history and what's important to you about your future, so I'm really enjoying the process.
Jodi KatzThat's so cool. So your previous role before interesting person ... You were the CEO of Nest up until just a few months ago.
Nancy McKayYes. I left Nest in the beginning of October, and I was there for three and a half years.
Jodi KatzAnd why did you leave?
Nancy McKayI left because I felt like it was a good moment in time. We had sold the company, and I felt like I needed a little bit of a break. I also felt like with the new owners, who I adored, I felt it was appropriate for them to have somebody who really wanted to be there for the full term of their private equity stint, and that was going to be probably another four or five years. And I felt like I wanted to do something different and not repeat, because I'd spent so much time at Estée Lauder, and I liked the coming in for the assignment of building Nest and getting it ready to be sold and actually selling it.
Jodi KatzWe have so much to talk about, the comparisons between working at a giant strategic versus an entrepreneurial company in hyper-growth mode, but let's just back up and talk about when you realized it was time to leave. What did that feel like to you?
Nancy McKayI don't know at the time. I had a friend that mentioned to me that Nest was looking for a CEO, and I'd always really liked the brand. I had been at Estée Lauder, and I'd been at Estée Lauder brand for 10 years. And I wasn't really looking at all. I felt like I was going to have my whole career at the Estée Lauder companies, but ... This was a very close friend, and I went and met with these really smart, great guys at Tengram.

And we had a good conversation, and it just kind of evolved into a, "Wow. It seems like the right time to make this change." And it worked out really well. I'm really happy to have looked back and made a switch and tested what all the PhD I got at the Estée Lauder companies, and be able to execute it in a small, entrepreneurial company, working with a founder, building a team.

I didn't have any supply chain experience or really, I didn't have to deal with banks and banking and that part of the financial, "Do we pay the vendors or do we pay the employees?" kinds of decisions, and they took a risk by hiring me, and I learned so much. It was really interesting.
Jodi KatzLet's go to the very beginning. How long were you at Lauder, in total?
Nancy McKayI was there for 28 years.
Jodi KatzOh my goodness.
Nancy McKayYeah. I had a brief stint where I left, about eight months, back in the early '90s, but I was there for a long time and had amazing experiences.
Jodi KatzSo how did you get your first job?
Nancy McKayWell, I'll go way back for just a minute.
Jodi KatzYeah, please.
Nancy McKayI grew up in the Washington, DC area, and I always thought that I wanted to be a senator from the time I can remember, like when I was six or seven. And I grew up loving the capital, and I felt like that was my career path, and so I wound up in Florida in high school and so I went to school in Tallahassee at Florida state, because it was the state capital.

And so I got internships there and had a great time and really loved it, and I worked as an intern in Washington before it had kind of a bad name, and I loved everything about government. I debated in both high school and college, and then right before I graduated, I realized two things.

One was that I didn't love the way that if you had an idea, how that idea got watered down by the time a piece of legislation was actually enacted. That was disappointing to me, and I felt like I hadn't really accomplished what I was set out to do.

And the second thing was, I didn't want to run for office every two years. And I knew I'd have to be a congressman before I could be a senator ... I mean, I was pretty pragmatic about my plan. And I was like, "Yeah, I don't want to run for office. That's not what I want to do."

And so, I pivoted big time, right before I was graduating and said, "You know, I think I want to go into business." So I moved to Atlanta. I had a few connections from my Tallahassee life, and I worked for the telephone company back in the day, and I was in their management training program. I was there for six years. I had 18 bosses in six years.
Jodi KatzOh my goodness.
Nancy McKayAnd that was great, because it taught me that there were so many ways to get to the endgame, and everybody had a different style and different ideas of what success was. It was great. And I did well, and this was in Atlanta, and they said to me, "You're doing really well, and we'd like you to move to New York."
Jodi KatzWow.
Nancy McKayAnd I said, "Oh, no. I'm going to live my whole life in Atlanta." And they said, "Well, the job is in New York." And I was like, "Yeah. I'm going to not go." And so I got my two weeks' severance check, and ...
Jodi KatzOh, you just said no.
Nancy McKayI just said no. My whole division was moving. And I got a little strength out of... I think my boss also said the same thing. He wasn't going to move either, but he had a big old resume and I was like, a little accounting executive, so I don't know what I was thinking. But I said, "Well, you know, I've always really been interested in the beauty business and I love, as a customer ..."

I was a Prescriptives customer in the day, when it first started. And I thought it was an amazing brand. I just loved the whole marketing matched what happened at the point of sale, and I just thought it was really interesting. And I had one friend who knew someone who was the Giorgio rep. That was when Giorgio Beauty wore the white and gold jackets.
Jodi KatzGiorgio Beverly Hills?
Nancy McKayExactly. And so, my first introduced me to this woman, and her name was Judie Low, and she said to my friend Charlie, "You can tell her there's no way she's going to get a job. People die in their jobs as account executives in Atlanta."

And I was like, "Well, just anybody. Can you introduce me to anybody?" And so she wound up introducing me to someone who worked at Aramis, and they had just brought in a new regional marketing director.

And that regional marketing director was looking for someone who was going to stay, and I had worked at the telephone company for six years, and so she was like, "Okay, I'll talk to her." Anyway, so this woman, Chris Howard, was my first boss at Estée Lauder and so I started as an account executive in the Aramis division.

And that was back in the day when the big wars were between Aramis and Polo Green, and Obsession came in and kinda changed the rules for how fragrance was sold and department stores. And so, anyway, I was there in the early days. So that's where I started is in Atlanta, as an account executive.
Jodi KatzCool. So I wanted to tell you that I also was in the debate team in high school.
Nancy McKayOh, you were?
Jodi KatzYeah, I was really into that. And I was a government law major in college.
Nancy McKayOh, wow.
Jodi KatzBecause I too thought I would go into government in some way. I didn't think that I'd run for office, but I thought I would be an important person moving the wheel behind the scenes, and got disenchanted by the fact that the desire to do good is often challenged by the realities. You know, it's very similar to what you just said. So I didn't go as far as to actually pursue it in internships, but I have a degree in government law.
Nancy McKayThat's so funny. Me too.
Jodi KatzIt doesn't really matter.
Nancy McKayThat's funny.
Jodi KatzIt's just kind of interesting. Maybe that's why we connect so well.
Nancy McKayThat's right. That could be.
Jodi KatzBut I can't even imagine actually, now that I think about it ... I was on stage in high school, debating things I didn't even know anything about, that I had very little preparation to study.
Nancy McKayMy husband thinks it's very funny that you had to debate both sides.
Jodi KatzYes.
Nancy McKayAnd I think that was the best thing, because I go into things thinking about, "What's the other side going to say?" And how, if I were in their shoes, how I would argue it, and so debate has been, to me, one of the single biggest influences. I still keep in touch with my debate coach from college.
Jodi KatzOh, that's cool.
Nancy McKayYeah. She was amazing and I think of all the time she gave up and traveling on the weekends, and it was a lot.
Jodi KatzYeah. I remember driving with a ... Maybe I did this in college too, driving with a friend to conferences or competitions, and having very little preparation to be able to stand there and be so convicted about ...
Nancy McKayI remember lots of preparation, like we had to carry those ... We had file cabinets, and we used to have three-by-five or four-by-six index cards and we'd Xerox copies of articles, and cut out the articles and file them. It was also very helpful as an organizational tool.
Jodi KatzRight.
Nancy McKayBut oh, I remember having to prepare.
Jodi KatzWere you in student government?
Nancy McKayYes, a little bit at the end, in fact. Because I debated ... I was gone quite a bit, but my last year I got involved in student government. And actually, I was on the cabinet of one of the past governors of Florida, which made me feel really old. Interesting to see that student government was a pathway for him to go into politics.
Jodi KatzMy passion in college was student government.
Nancy McKayYeah?
Jodi KatzI was president of the student government.
Nancy McKayWow.
Jodi KatzI marketed myself, right? Because I needed to be elected. I made colorful fliers and big posters and all the stuff I do as a career, I did then.
Nancy McKaySo that was great background, and politics is marketing, and politics did Big Data before consumers did it. You know how you target certain neighborhoods and zip codes and streets? So there's a lot of things to learn and share between the two disciplines.
Jodi KatzAwareness-building, I mean this is the name of the game, right? Make people know you exist.
Nancy McKayRight.
Jodi KatzThis is what we do every day, right?
Nancy McKayYeah.
Jodi KatzOkay, so that's super cool. Okay, so you're in Atlanta. You have your job working locally with Aramis. How did that pivot into a longer career in beauty?
Nancy McKaySo, I actually loved my job in Atlanta. I was a really good account executive, and I used to tell my account executives that too, as I progressed in my career. It was such a fun job, because you went from store to store and you'd develop relationships with the store managers, and you walked into a department store. And I loved going into a department store early in the morning, before it was open and seeing the product and everybody changing the displays. I loved product.

And I still do. That's still, going into 59th Street before the store opens for a rally or something, I still get an adrenaline rush from the whole industry. But anyway, so I did well in the time I was there, so I was offered the opportunity to move to Chicago and be a regional.

So three years after saying I would live my whole life in Atlanta, I moved to Chicago, and I actually physically moved on ... I'll never forget this. May the 5th, and I had a nice condo in Atlanta, and we moved into this little small apartment downtown in Chicago, and the mover ... It was snowing on May the 5th, and the mover looked at me and said, "Why did you do this?"

And I'm not a crier. I remember just bursting into tears thinking, "I don't know anyone here. What am I thinking?" But it was a great move, and I loved Chicago, and I loved living in the city, and that's where I met my husband. And so I stayed with Aramis for five years as the regional.
Jodi KatzSo Midwest was your region?
Nancy McKayYes, and so I had St. Louis and Minneapolis, and that was back in the days of Dayton Hudson's, Marshall Fields, and Carson Perry Scott, and Famous Bar. So I traveled quite a lot, and I was really interested in learning more about the cosmetic side, the skincare and makeup side.

And those were in the days where you really didn't move between divisions of the Estée Lauder companies, and so I had an opportunity where someone was encouraging me to leave, and I fell in love with this woman, Charlene Holt, who is the head of sales at La Prairie now.

And she encouraged me to go to Lancaster, and they were in this huge growth mode, and as soon as I got there, they had all these management changes, and I got the job because I had this great relationship with the people at Dayton Hudson's, and they wanted to open the Lancaster brand. And so, everybody was excited and we did it. And I was there for eight months and I opened and closed the brand in the eight months I was there.
Jodi KatzOh my goodness.
Nancy McKayBut I learned so much, and so any time you face a difficult situation, in the thick of it, it's hard to see. But the things that you take away from it are things that really stick with you, and are very valuable to you in your resume of things that you've experienced.
Jodi KatzSo were you laid off? What was the situation?
Nancy McKayThey were very nice because I had been there a short time, and they had really encouraged me to go. So they gave me a job like special events or something, and the handwriting was on the wall that I needed to find another job and I was really lucky, because Clinique had an opening and I knew the person who was the vice president for Clinique for that area, and so I was able to move back to the Estée Lauder companies as the regional marketing director for Clinique.

And it wasn't a very good move, but I learned a lot, and I don't know that I ever would have been prepared for understanding a P&L of the beauty business had I not left, and just walking into Clinique. I remember this like it was yesterday, walking out and looking at my first month financial goal at Clinique was bigger than my entire year at the Aramis division.
Jodi KatzOh my goodness.
Nancy McKayAnd just thinking, "Oh my god. This is a lot." But I was there for three years, and I fell in love with Clinique, which was a brand I didn't really know very well. And then I moved to New York after 10 years in Chicago as the vice president for Clinique, and I did that for five years, and got to know the northeast and all the specialty retailers which I had had relationships because Chicago had a lot of national accounts, but I hadn't really developed the deep relationships of understanding the Saks and Bloomingdales.

So that was really fun, and then the opportunity came up to move to the Aramis division, and it was funny because they had just signed Andre Agassi to be the spokesperson for ... They were creating a fragrance that he was going to be the spokesperson for. I'm a huge tennis fan and I love Andre Agassi, and so I called the woman who was running the Aramis division at the time, who I had met ... We had worked together at Lancaster.

And I said, "Carol, what do I have to do in order to meet Andre Agassi?" And she said, "Well, funny that you call me because I need a national sales manager." I said, "No, no, no. I just want to meet Andre Agassi and I have a job." And she's like, "No, I've already secured permission to be able to talk to you about this role."

So I did that. I did that for almost about three years, little less than three years, and then the opportunity came up to be the head of sales at the Estée Lauder brand.
Jodi KatzBut wait, did you mean Andre Agassi?
Nancy McKayWell, I did meet Andre Agassi. I have a really good Andre Agassi story.
Jodi KatzOkay.
Nancy McKaySo I started, and no one in the entire division knew anything about tennis. So I was really the only person who understood even how to score a tennis game. And so, I started in May and Roland-Garros was soon after that, and so you can put a little small screen on your computer that updates you on the matches that are happening in real time.

And he was doing very well, and so every time he won a set, I would send an email out to the whole company. This was highly endorsed and encouraged. Like, "We'd like to know what's going on." So I would do that, and so then he did really well, and then Wimbledon happened. He did really well. He didn't win either of those tournaments but he got, I think, to the semi-finals or something like that.
Jodi KatzWas this before he was a super big deal, or during his-
Nancy McKayOh no, he was a big deal at this point.
Jodi KatzOh, okay.
Nancy McKayAnd he was married to Steffi and they actually ... Steffi was pregnant with Jaden during this time. Don't ask me why I remember that. But so, they're having a press event in New York in August, and so anyway, I do the same thing with the computer and telling everybody for both Roland-Garros and Wimbledon, and then he comes to New York when he's here for the open, and they do a press event.

And the president comes to me, and he has this big African accent, and he's like, "Nancy, this is for the press. This is not for salespeople. You have to understand. Maybe we'll get you to meet him sometime, but not now." So I said, "I get it. I get it. Okay."

So as the event got closer, they suggested that maybe I bring a couple retailers and that I could attend, but make sure that I didn't get too close to Andre. And so the event happens that night, and it's going well, and everyone's having a great time.

And I'm in the back. I'm staying away, and I'm in the back of the room and I hear people saying, "Nancy, Nancy." And I look up, and everybody's waving from the stage for me to come up, and they were taking a group picture. And so, I was in the back and as I'm walking on the stage, John Carp who was the president says, "You can't take the picture until Nancy gets here, because she's the one that keeps us up to date on you."

So I get there and we take the picture. So I'm walking off stage, because I don't want to get in trouble for trying to talk to Andre. So as we're walking up the stage, he says, "Hey, hey. Are you Nancy?" And I'm like, "Yes?" And he said, "What did John mean when he said you keep us up-to-date on me?"

And I said, "Oh. Well, I am the one who understand tennis in this place." I probably said it more respectfully than that, but anyway, "and I keep the IBM tracker on my computer, and I tell everybody every time you win a set or if something happens."

And so he said, "Oh. That's interesting." And I looked around, no one was there. I said, "Can I ask you a question?" And he said, "Sure." And I said, "You know, I play tennis and I wonder, how do you keep from getting so frustrated when you miss an easy shot?"

And he looked at me and he was like my height, these great brown eyes. He looks right at me and he says, "It doesn't serve my objective." And I said, "Wow. That is a really focused answer."

And he said, "Well, if you watch my performance on that IBM screen, you can tell whether I'm focused and whether I'm not, because I have the ability to beat anyone on a court. It's a matter of, am I focused as I need to be? And if it doesn't serve my objective to get frustrated when I miss an easy shot, then I shouldn't waste my energy on that." And it's such a good life lesson, right?
Jodi KatzYes, totally.
Nancy McKayAnd so, I did get to meet him and I got to have that conversation with him, which is a lesson I tell to lots of people.
Jodi KatzYeah. I mean, that's incredible coaching, not just sport coaching, just life coaching.
Nancy McKayRight. Yeah, exactly. If it's not essential, then don't let it get in your way. That's my Andre Agassi story.
Jodi KatzRight. Right, take your energy, put it somewhere better. That's an awesome story. Thank you for sharing that.
Nancy McKayThanks. In a million years, I didn't think that story was going to come up, but yeah. I did get to meet him.
Jodi KatzLet's talk about being a regional manager and having these types of job in beauty, because I have friends who have these jobs, and have had them for many years, and every day you're like, living and breathing by your numbers every month and it's a high-stress job.
Nancy McKayIt is.
Jodi KatzEspecially when at the end of the day, you can't have control over everybody everywhere, right? And you don't have control over the weather. Right? You don't have control over other circumstances in the world that impact the way people shop.

So, did that wear on you? And what were your techniques? What were your Andre Agassi techniques of getting through that type of ... because that's kind of like a gut stress, right? Like, "We're so close to our numbers. Did we get our numbers? Did we hit our goal?"
Nancy McKayI think first of all, that's what fuels me. It's exciting to either grow a business that's growing, or to turn a business around that's not growing and watch the numbers, and if it's not growing, what can you do differently? I get a lot of energy from figuring out how to impact.

So stores aren't down. What are we going to do online? Or this Herald Square, this big building isn't working. What can we do to change the dynamic? Or if it is something that's out of your control, massive construction, then what is your alternative to try to make up that volume?

And that, to me, is the puzzle of business, and so I think that I developed resilience from having great mentors that said, "You have to be able to let it go at some point. You have to manage it because you're not going to make your day every day, or every year."

Hopefully you do most years, but it does require resilience, and the ability to always see what can be, and what's next. So, you don't make it today, okay. How can you make it tomorrow? And if you're too far in the hole, what are you going to do to mitigate the money you've already spent? So, it's a puzzle, and that's what gets me excited. So I look at it as energy, not as stress.
Jodi KatzRight, and those jobs really move people around quite a bit, right? As you advance, you go from a small area to a bigger region. Did you ever find that ... I mean, you said no to moving from Atlanta, right? Did you find either with yourself or with your peers, that that got in the way of growth? Like, not wanting to move, just wanting to keep your roots where they are?
Nancy McKayYou know, running a sales organization, there are some people who are young and hungry and happy to move. There are many, most people that my account executive and the regional for Clinique in Pittsburgh, I think she, for Clinique has been there, I don't know, 30 years. And she's terrific. She could have gone to New York, but she chose to raise her family in Pittsburgh.

And so, people make life choices, and today I find that people are less willing to move, and more anxious to find the right balance in their life, and I think that's a healthy change. But it is hard on companies to find the right ... I mean, the demand for talent in both small and large companies is the biggest challenge people have.
Jodi KatzRight, right. Okay, so let's shift gears a little bit. You told us about that moment where you leave the Lauder companies to take on an entrepreneurial endeavor. So, I've never worked at Nest. I don't know what it was like, but you might left a place where there was, let's say, a fully-stocked supply cabinet, to a place where like, "Oh, we have to order paperclips, and you have to ask somebody to order the paperclips?" Was it super gritty, as an entrepreneurial company, or was it very polished when you walked into Nest?
Nancy McKayWell, "gritty" is probably not the right word. Laura Slatkin, who was the founder, had been running the company and she's a very capable businesswoman. So the paperclips thing wasn't the thing, but as the company was growing and the strategy was shifting ... because when I joined, the company still did a very large business and private label.
Jodi KatzOh.
Nancy McKayAnd so, our strategy was to reduce the amount of private label, and to invest all of our energies and resources into the Nest brand, and setting up the disciplines and the budgets and the processes to ensure we have the right levels of inventory and those kinds of things.

Those were, I guess, gritty, to use your word. But those were needed, and the company really hadn't invested in marketing, because the Nest brand was still pretty small and had great PR. There was somebody who ... Tim Ross was the PR person, and he has great relationships with the press, and between Laura and Tim, that's really what generated the brand awareness.

And so, when I joined, we added a marketing person, and there had been sales people but the head of sales had left, so I was able to bring in a head of sales. And so, it wasn't gritty but it was, I'd say, hand-to-mouth, and not a structure that was scalable.

And that was what I was able to bring from a best practice from ... and when I was at Lauder, I had big brands and small brands, and so I did have an understanding of what the trajectory was.
Jodi KatzRight.
Nancy McKaySo that's helpful.
Jodi KatzBut here you had to build the infrastructure.
Nancy McKayYes, yeah.
Jodi KatzSo first day on that job, are you scared? Because going from so much infrastructure all those years to like, "I'm going to be the one who conceives of it and hope that the team can support it," it's a big deal.
Nancy McKayIt was a really big deal. I was so excited about the opportunity that I ... I mean, I knew there was potential for me not to be successful, but I did feel like ... Laura was there every day, a wealth of knowledge and very supportive. And we struggled at first to figure out how our relationship was going to work, but we were both highly committed to communicating about it, and so she would get mad at me and I'd get mad at her, but we'd go in and fight it out, and then once we understood why the other had acted in a particular way, it was really helpful.

And they were a small group of people, but everyone was really committed to making it happen, and so I really, again, very lucky because I went to a brand that had a strong founder, that had a strong foundation, that had scalable potential, and continues to have opportunity.

And I was able to recruit good people pretty quickly and get a team going that the others could see, "Oh, this is really exciting. This place is happening." And we were able to roll out Nordstrom's pretty quickly when I started, and Sephora clicked in pretty quickly. And so there was a lot of momentum.

And so, I mean, I can fill a podcast of, "Oh, I would have done this differently or that differently," but the big things that moved the needle worked well, and so I didn't really have time to be scared from the minute I started. Like, from day one, minute one, it was just crazy.
Jodi KatzThat's awesome. I suffer from self-doubt, as I've mentioned before, so my immediate first thought on everything new is I get tingles in my arms, like nervous tingles. And even if I am super excited, there's always this haunting sort of cloud behind me. It's getting smaller and smaller as I work through it, but I would love to live my life being the person who's just excited, ready to go, not worried about risk, blah blah blah. But it's just not the way I'm programmed, so I'm always so curious about how other people think.
Nancy McKayYeah. I mean, I guess I figure that to me, the only problems that are big problems are ones that can't be solved by money. So your health is number one, and then your marriage and your relationships. Anything beyond that has a solution.

And I also, like I have enough confidence to say, "I'm not the right person to solve this problem." I ask for help all the time, and so I operate from a theory of, take the high road and get all the help you can, and I operate that way about my personal life and my professional life, and it has worked thus far.
Jodi KatzThat's awesome.
Nancy McKayI mean, I'm scared to death. Am I going to find another job? That's scary to me. Am I going to find something that is as exciting and as opportunistic as Nest was? Because I didn't ever have a thought, I knew that brand had potential, and I believed the conversations that I had with both Laura and the private equity company. And I felt like, "This is a great fit." Now my doubt is, "That was lucky. How am I going to find another one of those opportunities?" And both skincare and makeup have changed so much in the last couple years.

When I was at Lauder, I had no idea of all this private equity and all these entrepreneurial companies, and I don't think I even had time to listen to podcasts. I love podcasts. They are my favorite thing. I love your podcast. I didn't know about that world when I was at Lauder, because my head was to the ground and I was running three brands and one was super growth, Tom Ford, Aaron was nurturing and building success stories, and Lauder was a huge brand with many facets in all three categories and how do you make it all hum at the same time? And lots of people and lots of change within the corporation, so I wasn't able to step back and take a look.

And then, I went right to Nest. I took two weeks off between Christmas and New Year's, then started at Nest which is why I felt like I needed 90 days of ... I wanted to reflect on, "What would I have done different at Nest? What would I have done different at Estée Lauder?" I even thought back to Clinique, like, "What did I learn there?" I've taken a lot of time to think about my career and what's been important and it's been really great.
Jodi KatzSo as you reflect ... and I applaud you, actually, for taking time, because I think that that's ...
Nancy McKayAll we have is today. It was really hard to quit without another job.
Jodi KatzBecause this is 20-something years of always having a job?
Nancy McKayOh, like since I was 14, yeah. Yeah.
Jodi KatzSo, do you think that the next step for you is at an entrepreneurial company, or do you think it's back at a strategic?
Nancy McKayI think it's probably entrepreneurial. I don't know. I'm looking for something that's really interesting, and I'm looking for something with really smart people that also kind. Those are important. Those are the important things to me at this point.
Jodi KatzThose are my values, too. Kindness, smart, and we can figure it all out together and have fun. So I want to thank you for being such an incredible super fan of our podcast. I want everyone to know how lovely you've been to me.

Every month I send an email update to people on my database around what's going on in the podcast, and you are so gracious with your feedback, and I want you to know that it's incredibly meaningful, because I do come from that place of self-doubt, because I never thought that people would find the stories interesting.

There's always a little like, cloud behind me, and the fact that you have these interesting pieces of feedback about the shows and are so willing to connect. It's incredibly meaningful for me, because it proves me to that it works, like the work that I'm doing works.
Nancy McKayIt does, and I love ... There's two things. One is, I think you're a really good interviewer, and it's borne out over time, because you're interviewing CEOs. You're interviewing founders. You're interviewing more junior people, and it doesn't matter who you're interviewing, you bring out really great stories in people that I think is really inspiration to a big industry of people that are super connected and like to know the backstories, but don't always have the time.

And the other thing is, I do love that you have this wide range and I recommend it to students at FSU, that they need to listen because when you interview a marketing manager and they hear ... I mean, they're not going to be a CEO tomorrow. They want to understand what a marketing manager does, and so I feel like you're in a spot that's so interesting and so helpful, and you do such a great job.
Jodi KatzThank you. Well, it's so important to me to humanize your business, because I was feeling after all these years of being in it, so disconnected from the human aspects. I felt like we were marketing robots, sales, revenue, robots, right.
Nancy McKayNew launch, new launch, new launch.
Jodi KatzRight, and it's like I get actually vomitous thinking about the pace of the business. Everyone is launching, launching, launching, just to get news. What are you launching? How meaningful can it be, and is this really what the customer wants? Piles of garbage in their bathrooms? It starts to not resonate with my values. So as a way to manage that and learn and deal with my own issues, humanizing this, hearing these stories is so valuable to me.

We are all human beings. We all have to feed the cat or we all have to brush our teeth, or go to the food store. Whether you sold your business for $200 million or you're 22 years old and looking for your path, we're all the same and we all have interesting stories. And as you mentioned, I don't get to hear these stories. I have some clients that I've been on many shoots with for many hours over years, where there's just no opportunity to ask those questions, right?
Nancy McKayHave real conversations, right.
Jodi KatzAnd certainly their teams don't have the opportunity to do that, if they're in a really structured hierarchal company and they don't have close relationships, they're never going to get to know what motivates people. It's just work, work, work. So, thank you for the feedback. What you're saying is exactly my goal with the show.
Nancy McKayThat's good.
Jodi KatzAnd you are also so gracious, you hooked us up to Laura to be our guest at our next podcast presence at Saks in February.
Nancy McKayI'm very excited about that, yeah.
Jodi KatzSo I'm so grateful for that. We're super excited. It's going to be really fun.
Nancy McKayAnd she's got some great stories, too.
Jodi KatzYeah, I bet. I can't wait to talk with her.
Nancy McKaySadly, I'm in Tallahassee that night, so I can't go.
Jodi KatzWell, we moved it actually, because it was the CEO demo night. We didn't realize that, so we moved it to the 26th. I don't know if you're in town.
Nancy McKayOh, maybe I am.
Jodi KatzIt's Tuesday now. Yeah.
Nancy McKayOh, I am here. Okay.
Jodi KatzWe just decided. So everyone's hearing it first, but you're hearing it first.
Nancy McKayExcellent.
Jodi KatzSo, thank you so much for being a guest on our show and sharing your wisdom with us today.
Nancy McKayThank you very much for having me.
Jodi KatzAnd for our listeners, I hope you enjoyed this interview with Nancy. Please subscribe to our series on iTunes, and for updates about the show, follow us on Instagram @wherebrainsmeetbeautypodcast.
AnnouncerThanks for listening to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY® with Jodi Katz. Tune in again for more authentic conversations with beauty leaders.

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