EPISODE 118

For Amy Shecter, CEO of Glamsquad, the handshake is full of meaning. She has observed throughout her career—working with major brands such as Lady Foot Locker, Diesel, Donna Karan, Cole Haan and Tory Burch—how much is revealed in the way someone shakes hands…and how it’s something that boys are raised to know about but girls are not. She observes, “How you shake a hand indicates how you feel about yourself and how you feel about the job.” She believes that when someone has a firm handshake, stands tall and looks you in the eye, they project confidence. As she grows Glamsquad, the on-demand hair, make-up and nail beauty service and product line, she’s always mentoring, teaching and helping her team to develop the skills and experience they need to move into leadership positions. While she loves her current role, she always has her eye on the bigger picture of helping people—including herself—to thrive professionally while being fulfilled personal, embracing the lessons of a handshake all along the way. Join us for Amy’s full story.

 

AnnouncerWelcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty™, hosted by Jodi Katz, founder and creative director of Base Beauty Creative Agency.
Jodi KatzHey everyone. It's Jodi Katz, your host of Where Brains Meet Beauty™ Podcast. This week's episode features Amy Shecter. She is the CEO of Glamsquad. She's also a handshake expert, so we talk about some of the lamest handshakes we've ever received. It's a really interesting conversation. And if you missed last week's episode, it featured Erika Shumate. She is the founder of Pinrose Perfume.

Hey, it's Jodi again. Before we launch into this week's episode, I want to tell you about an organization called Helpsy. I first came across Helpsy thanks to our Base Beauty team member Julie Chen's Instagram and she was with her friend walking into Bloomingdale's to see Helpsy containers, and I didn't know what that was and I did a little research. I really believe in their mission. So we wanted to partner with them for the month of July.

It's hard to believe, but over 85% of clothes wind up in the trash. Helpsy makes reusing and recycling your clothes and shoes more convenient and easier than ever with over 1,800 collection containers and growing. You can find your closest collection container and learn more, at helpsy.co. I hope you check it out. Thanks so much. Enjoy the show.

I am so excited to be sitting here with Amy Shecter. She is the CEO of Glamsquad. Welcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty™.
Amy ShecterThank you so much for having me today.
Jodi KatzI'm so excited about you. And I was thinking this morning, I was getting ready and getting dressed. I wonder how often the CEO of Glamsquad takes advantage of having a glam squad. So tell me how often that happens.
Amy ShecterWell, this morning as I was sitting in my office with hair, makeup and nails around me, getting ready for my day, I would say that that experience happens on average two to three days a week. That can be weekends as well. But I think it's super important for me to show up being glammed and to show women what it looks and feels like. So I eagerly participate, and I love it. I love it because first of all, I love looking good because then it helps me feel good. But I also love engaging with our beauty pros. Every single time I have my hair, makeup and nails done, I get to meet new people on the team and connect with them and share a message or a journey with them so that they go out into the world and meet women and have the right attitude for our brand.
Jodi KatzI was thinking about what kind of a nerve-wracking experience it might be for one of your squad to actually realize that they're working on the CEO. Have you encountered a little bit of nervous energy?
Amy ShecterI have. There's a note on my account that says who I am. And if I get a brand new beauty pro, I'm always conscious of the fact that they're new on the platform and in our network and certainly the first time that they're doing me. And I know they get a little bit nervous, but I ease their nerves very quickly into it because I believe they're the heroes, and I am very honored and humbled to be a part of what they do. I think they're amazing.
Jodi KatzFor your look, are you like you want the same look all the time? Do you mix it up? Do you surprise yourself?
Amy ShecterI never do the same look, or rarely, I shouldn't say never, but I rarely do the same look. What I find is you reach a point with Glamsquad where you know the quality and the consistency is there that I can say to the beauty pros, "You be you and give me what you think I should have." It's very funny because I never know where my part of my hair is going to be. Sometimes it's on the right, sometimes it's on the left, sometimes it's in the middle.
I never ever really know what my eyes are going to look like. Sometimes I can have pink eyes or brown eyes or blue eyes, and it's always, the reveal for me is always a big surprise, but I'm always happy. I really like the way different people see me and it allows me to experiment with me, which is really fun. It's so temporary. You can always change your part. You can always change your eyeshadow. I think it's really fun and not a lot of women do it, but I think it's super easy to change your look just by changing your hair part.
Jodi KatzWell it was giving me little giggles this morning thinking about as I was putting on my own foundation. You're likely not doing your own, which is pretty awesome. I want to start with my favorite question, which is how will you spend the day today?
Amy ShecterToday is a busy day. We are fundraising and also working on branding programs because we just recently launched hair and makeup products. So it's a busy day of finance and bringing people into our bridge round and ensuring that we are taking action against our product image, sales and next steps. I will go from meeting to meeting to meeting and be wearing very different hats. Sometimes it will be looking at product, looking at models, prepping for a photo shoot that we're doing in a couple of weeks. Then the other side of it will be working with investors, the financial plan, and talking to people about coming into our bridge round.
Jodi KatzAre you a very involved CEO, you have your hands dirty and everything, or you sort of watch from afar?
Amy ShecterSo we are a smaller company. And my experience is that when it's a smaller company, CEOs tend to be a little bit more hands on. Having said that, I also think it's really important for the team to feel empowered. So I would say I do some helicopter and swooping. So high up in the sky for strategy, vision and communication, working with investors and brands at a high level. And then when I'm needed, go into look at photos if necessary or help make decisions around a creative vision. But a lot of the work gets done without me, which is a good thing. I have an amazing team of executives and incredible senior leadership team, and they are certainly well equipped to make the day in and day out decisions for the business.
Jodi KatzI think as I've evolved in my Base Beauty Business, I'm a helicopter and swoop. It wasn't always that way. I was sort of like, I was too involved and I had to learn how to get uninvolved, but I really enjoy being super strategic and then letting the team do what they do and then when there's a challenge, knowing when it's time for me to go in. It's like a thrill for me to realize, "Oh yeah, this was good."
Amy ShecterYeah. I think that's the sign of growth as an executive. I think it's super important for you to have that conversation with yourself that is about providing leadership and guidance, but not doing and taking a step back, because it's so important for the leader of the business to be able to course the vision and what's next. If you're doing what is, then you're not really thinking about what's next and what's next is so important because the team needs the tracks to be laid down in order to move forward at a fast rate. So super important to get to that point in your career.
Jodi KatzI love listening to you talk. I am so excited for our conversation. Okay. Let's look at the path of your career. Tell me if I have the list right. Bloomingdale's Lady, Foot Locker, Diesel, Donna Karan, Cole Haan, Tory Burch, C Wonder, CorePower Yoga and now Glamsqaud. Is that right?
Amy ShecterI sound 80, don't I? I must be 80. I'm not.
Jodi KatzWhen I first spoke with you on the phone and you're telling me about all these different opportunities that sort of evolve for you, it felt so intentional. And you mentioned the word intent to me this morning. Were these intentional moves?
Amy ShecterThey definitely were. I think of myself and I have always thought of myself as a brand. And when you think about yourself as a brand, being relevant and of the moment is critical. And so there were certain points in my career where I felt like I was getting a little bit stale as a brand and not learning enough or being challenged enough. And I had hard conversations with myself to say, "Yes, I could stay here" or I could think about what's next. It's the train tracks again, you know, laying the tracks down for the future.

I always knew that I wanted more. I wasn't sure what more was, but I wanted to be a part of something that I was passionate about, that I was committed to, and that I could make a contribution into. So there were different points along the way where I felt as though it was the right time for me to look for something new.

For example, I was at Foot Locker almost seven years, and there was an article that was written about me in Women's Wear Daily. It was the female footwear dog. I thought, "Oh goodness, I do not want to be known as the female footwear dog." And so-
Jodi KatzIs that D-O-G?
Amy ShecterYes. Like you know that I was one of the few women at the time in the footwear industry. I knew that it was time to do something different and proceeded to look at innovative brands. I would say one thing that is consistent about the choices that I've made is they have always been challenges or tremendous opportunities. Going to Diesel, for example, it was a brand that had little recognition in the United States back then. As a matter of fact, when I told people I was going to work for Diesel, one of my friends said to me, "Why are you going to work for a gas brand when you're a fashion person?" That's how long ago it was.

Obviously very different in the US today, but each one of my decisions was about ensuring that I had a well rounded background, that I was getting exposure to a global business enterprise, which was really important to me. With Diesel, I got to work with 20 different countries at one time or another, and the same thing was true with Cole Haan. I got to work with a lot of different countries, which was amazing. So getting that kind of experience and always growing my own personal resume. You know, if I didn't have any experience in operations, I would look for a job where I could get experience in operations. It really has served me well because I have experience in all different areas of business because of my background, which is not that typical.
Jodi KatzSo these are all image-driven companies, right? I was actually thinking about this on the train. When I was looking at this list again, there's no brand I never heard of, right? And in my career when I set out whenever eons ago, I too looked for image-driven companies. I don't really know why other than it felt like exciting and cool to be a part of something that like everyone knew the name of. Was there a motivation for you in terms of these types of picks?
Amy ShecterYeah. I mean some of the brands didn't have the kind of global recognition that they do now. C Wonder was incubated from a piece of paper. It was nothing before we made it something. And even Diesel back then, it was huge in Europe and I knew about it in Europe, but it didn't have much penetration in the US. And Cole Haan was known as a sleepy men's wear brand. We introduced women's product into the brand.

So each one of the brands that I worked with was a choice because of the journey that it had to take to get more recognition. Even when I first got to Glamsquad, a lot of people didn't know about it three years ago. And one of the areas of strength that I bring to the table is the ability to effectively market a brand and position it for growth.

I very often am called upon for smaller brands looking for explosive growth because I'm a holistic thinker, I have a background in each one of the functional areas and when there's a need to be scrappy, I can be scrappy, but also really know how to effectively grow brands.
Jodi KatzHow is it that you can be at Foot Locker before Lady Foot Locker launches and at Diesel before it launches in the US, right? Like how do you keep finding this? Are you taught putting out to the universe? Like what is that process? Because when you're looking for a job, you don't get to choose what job exists, right?
Amy ShecterYeah.
Jodi KatzYou don't get to invent the job necessarily.
Amy ShecterI think intention for me is very important. We've spoken about it a couple of times. I really set intention for what I'm looking for. I am a very spiritual person. I believe in the ability to make things happen. So putting things out there for me is, whether it's truth or fiction, it works for me. I believe in it. It's nonfiction for me.

I start with what I'm looking for. Interestingly enough, when I was looking to make a change from CorePower Yoga, I met with a friend of mine who's also very spiritual and she said, "You know, you have to put your five companies that you want to work for on a piece of paper, think about it, fold it up and put it in safekeeping but near you. So in your hand bag or in your pocket every day." And Glamsquad was at the top of my list. And within two weeks, I got a phone call from a recruiter that was interviewing for the CEO role. I will tell you, I had no prior knowledge of this recruiter. So it wasn't someone that I had a rapport with or relationship with, and I really didn't know any of the board members for from Glamsquad.

So is that intention and making it happen or is there like a higher being that I tapped into? I don't know. You could call it coincidence. By the way, I was called by my second brand as well and interviewed for the second role as well, which was very interesting. A little spooky. But all I can say is there's a lot of power that we have that we can tap into.
Jodi KatzIt's really meaningful for me to hear this because most of my career, I didn't know that you can make things happen. I didn't know that I was a person who was able to make things happen. I thought everyone in the universe, they just knew somebody who knew somebody or they were family friends with somebody and that things just happened and it was easy for them. And I've learned recently in the past few years that I can make my dreams happen. Like literally dreams come true every day for me.

I love this story. I mean this is incredible. I'm a believer, like totally. I put things in the universe and then I put my bricks down or my railroad down, right, and then I get there.
Amy ShecterYeah. I mean, I totally believe in that. I think that you can call it good luck or just using all of your resources, because when you write something down and say, "I want this to happen," you put more energy and focus into making it happen. So you meet someone and they say, "Oh, you know, I know somebody who's looking for someone like that, or..." It changes how you approach it. So it could just be that making it intentional helps you execute it more effectively. But whatever the case, I know it works. So I call upon it.

I think you have to be a little bit of a believer as well. I agree with you. I think every single day, I make dreams a reality. So I'm 100% with you.
Jodi KatzLet's talk about this goal. You didn't know what the big thing was in the end, right, you told me, but there must've been something your gut [inaudible] saying, "One day, 10 years from now, 15 years from now, this is what I want." Was it a type of job? Was it a type of lifestyle? Like what was it that you were looking for?
Amy ShecterI did say years ago that I wanted to be able to run a business and influence culture, vision and effectiveness, results. I think that I was pretty driven to make that happen. I've had to make sacrifices for sure. As a female climbing the corporate ladder was not always easy. It's not as obvious back then as it is today, thank goodness, and still need for improvement, opportunity for improvement, but I do think that I wanted to run a business. I always felt like I wanted to create a culture where people could thrive and have job satisfaction and know that they were cared for and that it was a community of people that worked collaboratively together.
Jodi KatzWhat can you do at Glamsquad to make other women have the path that works for them?
Amy ShecterI think one thing that I'm committed to is ensuring that our employees have education and exposure. So we have a coach that comes in once a month, and is available for anybody in the company. It's not based on tenure, it's based on desire. And we have very, very junior level people meeting with a coach for an hour, which is something that is not typical for an executive to have executive coaching and training. I think that that's something that is very valuable to our community.

Excuse me. We also have team meetings. Because we are Glamsquad, we call them Squad Summits. We bring together guest speakers. We teach them something in every single session. We have a list this year. We took a survey of what people wanted to learn in 2019 and we have a series of training programs that will happen in our Squad Summit so that people get a little bit of knowledge, and sometimes it's just exposure, and sometimes it's just fun. We do something called Puppies and Pizza where we rent puppies that are up for adoption, and we order in pizza, and the puppies run around the office for two hours and everybody gets to sit on the floor and play with the puppies and eat pizza, and it creates a lot of goodwill and harmony. And we hope that some of the puppies get adopted as well.
Jodi KatzThat is so awesome. For your squad, are they able to make their own schedule?
Amy ShecterOf course, yeah. I mean, within reason. We do ask that people arrive by 9:30 in the morning and if anyone has childcare issues or wants to work from home on that particular day and there are no meetings that they have to be present for, it's absolutely something that is a part of our culture.
Jodi KatzFor the people in the field, is there a set schedule for them?
Amy ShecterNo. One of the reasons why our beauty pros love Glamsquad so much is because of the flexibility with the schedule. So there's a proprietary app that we've created for our clients, and a proprietary app that we've created for our beauty pros. Our beauty pros can turn the app on and off depending upon when they want to work. So if they want to drop their child off at school in the morning and then start to take appointments, they can do it. If they want to have lunch with their friends, they turn the app off. And if they want to work in the evening, because that works best for their schedule because they're a night person, they turn the app on starting at 3:00 in the afternoon, and they can work until 11 at night.
Jodi KatzAs I grew my company, I'm really focused on keeping something that was so important to me 12 years ago, which is, I call it lifework balance, not work-life balance, right? Like what works for me. And it's harder when you grow, right? It's easier when there's three of us. Now, there's many more. It's about like finding a way to work with the talented people around us in a way that works for them. So I have team members who are part-time. Like they want to be there for pickup and dropoff and we make that work, and that's the agreement, right? And there's other people who want to work full time, and they want that regimen, that type of salary, and that works for them. I'm very proud of it on the small scale. I hope that you're very proud of it on a much larger scale.
Amy ShecterYeah, I mean I think that that approach is a modern day approach to business. I think more and more people are going to be working remotely. Certainly more people are working in organizations that are rented spaces. There's a lot of different brands out there that offer those kinds of rent a space. I truly believe that as time progresses, we're going to see more people working from different kinds of remote locations. As a technology company, we have to be able to support that. We have employees from different parts of the country working remotely, and we have to make it work. I think it is a very modern approach to how businesses should consider operating in the future.
Jodi KatzI think it's incredibly healthy for the person who is committed to her craft but doesn't want the lifestyle, let's say like a commercial makeup artist who has to be on set at 5 AM and doesn't leave set until maybe 9 PM, and might not even know where she's working tomorrow until she gets booked, right? That's very stressful way to live. It's not for everybody.
Amy ShecterIt is. I think having to sell in a department store from 10 to 6 or 10 to 8 every day standing behind a counter is it's not a modern day approach to being a makeup artist. So we love those kinds of women that maybe they do work behind a makeup counter for four or five or six hours a day, but then they can turn the app on and work for us whenever they want to.

I do consider us a modern day beauty brand. I think we are going to absolutely disrupt. We're little, but we're mighty. We just launched product and our customers can buy product in the home, which is it's an old approach, but we've approached it in a new way. They can buy it online through beauty pros and through glamsquad.com and we personalize the purchase process specifically for each individual client. So you have the service, and then your individual product needs are put into an email and then that gets pushed out to you, and you get to pick very quickly what you'd like. You press go. And because we have all of your saved information, the product gets delivered to you in 48 hours with exactly how to use it for you. So you got to experience it, you got to try it, and the recommendations are absolutely a hundred percent for you. So we think it's new, it's a new channel of commerce, but we think a disruptive channel of commerce.
Jodi KatzI love it. Last thing I want to talk about is handshakes.
Amy ShecterOh boy.
Jodi KatzSo you have a 16 year old daughter, right?
Amy ShecterYes.
Jodi KatzYou want her to thrive in the world.
Amy ShecterWe do.
Jodi KatzHow do you teach her how to shake hands?
Amy ShecterSomething, you know I'm passionate about this. I think most women are not taught how to shake a hand properly. Most boys are taught how to shake a hand very young. "Hey there, Chip. Go in and shake Mr. Smith's hand." Girls are not taught that. It's a "Give Mr. Smith a hug," right? That's how girls are taught. I am absolutely obsessed, one handshake at a time, to teach women how to properly shake a hand. Because for me, how you shake a hand indicates how you feel about yourself and how you feel about the job.

So one of the most important aspects of a handshake is eye contact. People don't know that. They consider the actual shake of the hand, and then they look at the hand or they look down. The-
Jodi KatzI'm going to shake your hand right now. Thank you. Okay.
Amy ShecterThen you know how you wrap your hands is also really important.
Jodi KatzTake my hands.
Amy ShecterYou can feel my fingers on the other side if it's a wrap.
Jodi KatzCan you feel mine?
Amy ShecterI can. You got to go in for the wrap because that's confidence.
Jodi KatzWhat's a non-wrap?
Amy ShecterI mean, there are women that do this.
Jodi KatzYeah. I mean I get people like this, men and women who do this, and it drives me nuts.
Amy ShecterYeah, we call that the dead fish.
Jodi KatzYeah, I just said dead fish…
Amy ShecterDead fish. Yeah. I mean, then there's the princess where people, they actually do this.
Jodi KatzWhat am I expected to do, to take your fingertips and kiss your ring?
Amy ShecterSo as I put my hand out like a princess, you are expected to kiss the ring. I don't know. But I actually have people that shake my hand that way. Then my daughter and I call it the ‘how you doing’, where someone goes in and they go like this and then they never let go of your hand. They just shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake. And that's like "How you doing there?" Or it's like the bulldozer, they just come in and they go for the kill.
Jodi KatzLet me see. What's the kill be like? Okay.
Amy ShecterThe kill, where they just don't stop and you're like, "Okay, what am I in for here?" So proper handshake is you go for the webbing, you ensure that you go right in for it, right? And your thumb plays an important role in it. Yeah, go for it with your thumb. Give that pressure.
Jodi KatzI can give you the secret handshake.
Amy ShecterWhich is that?
Jodi KatzNo I'm not going to tell you. It's a secret.
Amy ShecterSo very important part of an interviewing process of networking is eye contact. Introduce yourself. "Hi, I'm Amy. Nice to meet you," and give that a firm handshake. Please spread the word.
Jodi KatzI've had two really weird handshake experiences that were non-handshakes. Within one week, I was at a client, very big, strategic brand, one of the biggest in the world, and the boss's boss came into the room, who I'd never met and the team says, "Oh, Sally, this is Jodi who's been working on" blah, blah blah. I go to shake her hand and she's like, "Oh no, I have pen all over me." She wouldn't shake my hand. And I'm like, okay, that's a little weird because, okay, we probably all have pen on our hands all the time.

Then later that week, I'm at a friend's office, one of the biggest beauty retailers, her boss comes in. Once again, "Oh, this is Jodi," blah, blah blah. And I go to shake her hand. She's like, "Oh no, I have pen all over me." This is like the most bizarre thing.
Amy ShecterOkay. That's a little weird.
Jodi KatzAs if there's this like club of people who I think might be germophobes.
Amy ShecterYes.
Jodi KatzRight? And that's their way to handle it.
Amy ShecterYes.
Jodi KatzI know that people are germaphobes, but can I just wash my hands and sanitize my hands every once in a while? Isn't the handshake more important?
Amy ShecterYeah, I mean I think that's real. I acknowledge that. And I have had people actually say to me, "Oh, I have a really bad cold," and they have no cold at all, "And so I don't want to shake your hand." I've had people tell me that they have like a skin rash, and so they don't want to shake my hand. I think people who suffer from this, or just live this way really do not want to shake your hand. I'm cool with that. I'm super easy. Like I acknowledge that those experiences can be real for people, or are real for people, and more power to you. If you don't want to shake my hand, I'm cool with that.
Jodi KatzRight. I guess on the receiving end of it, it's really jarring. I guess if you're somebody who is feeling that way about it, it's a pretty extreme feeling for you.
Amy ShecterYeah. I mean, now that you've had the experience, you go into it and you know you're not always going to get a handshake back and say, "Cool, I respect that. No problem." Because I think the last thing that anyone would want to do is call attention to the fact that they don't want to shake your hand. So the cooler you are, the better the experience for the other person.
Jodi KatzSo the hardest part I think is the eye contact.
Amy ShecterYes.
Jodi KatzI take sometimes Muay Thai classes and it's a type of boxing and they say like when you're like hitting, punching, you're supposed to keep eye contact the whole time. And it's so bizarre, right? It feels really unusual to hold eye contact for like minutes at a time. We're asking people on a handshake just to do it for like four seconds, right?
Amy ShecterYes.
Jodi KatzBut why do you think that eye contact is the hardest part and also the most important part?
Amy ShecterIt's the most important part because you're acknowledging the other person and you're connecting. I think again, it's your intention to set a connection. I think creating a connection with a person creates a better meeting and a better outcome. So you want that immediate connection. I think it's hard because I think a lot of people don't feel confident about walking into the room, shoulders back, hand out, eyes front and center to do it. I think it takes practice. It's not something that most people practice, they just don't do it. So I would say to everybody out there, go into your next meeting with a firm handshake and a great eye contact and do it over and over again. You can even do it with friends. Like, "Let me see what your handshake looks like."

I sometimes go around speaking to younger kids or in companies. I've done this where you actually take the person sitting next to you and you try to professionalize your handshake, including the eye contact, and so many women or girls are doing it for the first time.
Jodi KatzWow. Well, this is amazing. I hope everybody has this little handshake role playing with their friends.
Amy ShecterI hope so.
Jodi KatzAnd the eye contact too.
Amy ShecterYes.
Jodi KatzThank you so much for sharing your wisdom...
Amy ShecterMy pleasure.
Jodi Katz... with us today.
Amy ShecterMy pleasure. Thank you for having me. This is great. Congratulations on your success.
Jodi KatzThank you. You too. I'm super grateful to get to know you.
Amy ShecterYeah. Thank you.
Jodi KatzFor our listeners, if you enjoyed this episode with Amy, please tune in to future episodes and follow us on Instagram at Where Brains Meet Beauty Podcast™.

 

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