Episode 137: Tanya Zuckerbrot, CEO and Founder of F-Factor

Early on in her work with her nutrition patients, Tanya Zuckerbrot, CEO and Founder of F-Factor, discovered an essential truth: traditional diets don’t work because dieters feel deprived and hungry. She knew that the key to weight loss and wellness lay in a program that offered freedom, flexibility, plenty of fuel, room for dining out and having a cocktail, and a smarter, not longer, exercise routine—in other words, a program that was sustainable. And she knew that fiber was the key. This rock star in the world of nutrition went on to create the F-Factor Diet that’s been reshaping bodies and improving health for years.

Hear about her science-based, easy-to-live-with approach and her journey to this amazing, multifaceted business.

Dan Hodgdon
AnnouncerWelcome to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY® hosted by Jodi Katz, Founder and Creative Director of Face Beauty Creative Agency.
Jodi KatzHi, everybody. This is Jodi Katz, your host of WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY® Podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in. This weeks episode features Tanya Zuckerbrot. She's the Founder and CEO of F-Factor, which is all about fiber. Fiber, fiber, fiber. She'll tell you why fiber is fun. If you missed last weeks episode it featured Laura Schubert. She is the CEO and Co-founder of FUR. Happy listening.

Hey everybody, welcome back to the show. I am so excited to be sitting across from Tanya Zuckerbrot. She is the Founder and CEO of F-Factor. Welcome to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY®.
Tanya ZuckerbrotThank you for having me.
Jodi KatzI'm so excited to sit with you. I'm so inspired by you.
Tanya ZuckerbrotOh my gosh, thank you. That's so sweet.
Jodi KatzWe had to push the recording off so I appreciate your flexibility.
Tanya ZuckerbrotOf course.
Jodi KatzWhen I did my intake call with you it was a week before a big event that you were hosting.
Tanya ZuckerbrotWhich one?
Jodi KatzYour F-Factor Conference.
Tanya ZuckerbrotOh, it was before the Summit.
Jodi KatzThe Summit.
Tanya ZuckerbrotOh, so we haven't spoken in a while.
Jodi KatzMm-hmm (affirmative).
Tanya ZuckerbrotYes, and as it turns out your husband works for the company, their name is Aventage, that put on the Summit and they were amazing.
Jodi KatzI want to hear all about that, but I want to start with one of my favorite questions.
Tanya ZuckerbrotSure.
Jodi KatzI love getting into the minutiae. How will you be spending your day today?
Tanya ZuckerbrotToday is Wednesday.
Jodi KatzToday is Tuesday.
Tanya ZuckerbrotWhoa! Okay, so I typically see clients Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays which is why I'm a little confused with the days because I typically hold media such as podcasts for Wednesdays and Fridays. Then I have a birthday luncheon today for a friend. I tend not to have such days filled with media and personal stuff on a Tuesday which is why I have no idea what today was. That's in full transparency what I'm doing.

I'm here with you, which I'm very excited, and then I have a birthday luncheon this afternoon. Then, after that I will be filming. This is more of a Wednesday day for me. Monday, Tuesdays and Thursdays I see clients. Last but not least, I'm hosting my parents for dinner. Got to give it to the rents, right?
Jodi KatzHow long have you been having these scheduled sort of organized approaches to your calendar for the work week?
Tanya ZuckerbrotIt really is a byproduct of my role changing. I started off as a technician, meaning my skill was to help people to lose weight. It's no different than a hair dresser so I was only making money if I was sitting at my desk seeing clients. Therefore, I used to see clients five days a week and that was my job.

Then social media happened but I would start to sort of layer that on top of seeing clients. My work day started way before 9:00 as I was filming my F-Factor approved breakfast and it would end at 10:00 at night after I was done filming my F-Factor approved dinner. My days started to become longer and my role started to enlarge from just being a registered dietician to becoming more of an Instagram blogger.

Then, the roles started really to expand as we launched products two years ago. Next think I knew I hired a Chief Operating Officer, I hired a Director of Marketing, a Director of Communications and once we went into CPG, also known as consumer packaged goods, F-Factor really had two different parts of he company. We had a private practice where we would see clients and treat clients for clinical conditions, for weight management and then we had this other side of the company that was really just about products and therefore we had to work on marketing campaigns and messaging.

In order to be present, I had to define specific days for clients because this way the office would know how to schedule me and my availability but I knew I had to designate time to be with my executive team as well as find time to work with the social media team because I do a lot of IG TVs. Cooking videos and things of that nature. It's pretty highly scheduled in order to get everything in.
Jodi KatzI started my business 13 years ago and I had no schedule. I just thought I'm starting my business to have the most flexibility in my life, right? Not to have a boss looking over me or telling me I should be in my seat. I just kept it super loose and I would say it was like 10 years of chaos because I didn't have a schedule. It might only have been a year ago that I'm like oh, this isn't working. This doesn't feel good. I don't know what days I can make time for the gym, I don't know what days I can make time to be in the city or late in the city.

I did what you did was like schedule, I have my city days and my team knows what my city days are, my family knows what my city days are and I'm able to then schedule the kids doctors appointments on other days or a haircut for myself on the other days and know what day I'm going to the gym. Now, I really have freedom.
Tanya ZuckerbrotYeah, and I think it actually allows you to be a lot more productive. Certainly, when you're juggling family, obligations and work if you know that you can make doctors appointments on Wednesdays because that's the day you don't come to the city all of the sudden you recognize a lot less chaos.

I was actually reading the New York Post this morning. There was an article feature about exercise and how to get started. One of the bits of advice in the article was you need to schedule it the way that you would an appointment that you would never cancel, even if it's 15 minutes. I do believe in schedules. I think for me it's so important. Monday, Tuesday, Thursdays clients. Wednesday, Friday CEO. Then in the afternoons we also now, my role really started to shift where I used to be 100% clients and now it's probably 20% clients and 80% CEO and media.

I'm the Founder, so no one can speak about F-Factor with more authenticity or credibility than me. Not just because I founded it, but because I live it. I think that's why the brand has grown so much over the past few years because of social media. It has allowed me to really talk openly, frequently with our customer base, answer questions and engage with them, educate them and hopefully inspire them to live their best lives.
Jodi KatzRight, well you're not not seeing clients, you're just seeing them in a different way. Or they're seeing you in a different way, right?
Tanya ZuckerbrotWell, I wouldn't consider the people on social media to be my clients. I mean, the clients, it's a very involved relationship. It's clinical in nature, they come in and we do their body composition, it's a lot of life coaching. I would say that I will always see clients because for me that's why I got into the business. I didn't go into the business to do products and I never want to lose sight of the human interest part of my journey as a CEO. I've always been invested in helping people to be their best selves. If I just sit at a desk working on marketing initiatives or products I'm going to lose that.

Something else that has really served me is always keeping my foot in private practice. I was able to get really authentic feedback from my customers because my clients were also users of the product. Having those personal relationships with the clients because they become really intimate, they're able to really speak to me honestly and say I like this or I don't like this. Their feedback really has been essential in helping me to provide the best quality products or communication. I feel fortunate that they're almost like my own focus group.
Jodi KatzRight, it's incredible. I want to talk about F, what F stands for. You told me it's one, Family, Free time and Fiber. Fiber was last on the list.
Tanya ZuckerbrotOkay, we'll leave it last because it's like fiber, wow. It's like when people think of prunes or Metamucil. Luckily, though, I feel like fiber has gotten a little bit of a makeover. I used to joke like fiber needs a publicist, man because it's the coolest thing ever. It has such a dowdy reputation. Fiber has come a long way, though and I think people are really beginning to understand and appreciate that fiber is all natural, has zero calories, zero grams of carbs and has the most amazing abilities to help people to lose weight without hunger, and to improve your health.

Fiber swells in your stomach, you feel full for hours despite the fact that it has no calories. Fiber can absorb fat and calories in other foods and usher them out of the body leading to lower caloric absorption which speeds up weight loss and fiber revs up metabolism. Pause for a minute. You are actually going to ingest something with zero calories, but it can rev up your metabolism? I mean, it almost sounds like an infomercial, it's like too good to be true.

Fiber has what we call a thermogenic affect. Your body tries to digest fiber but it can't, and in the process of trying to break it down you're burning calories. Your body expends calories digesting food. That's what we call a negative net thermic effect. The more fiber you're eating, the faster your metabolism. There are published journal studies that support this but I also have clinical anecdotal evidence in private practice because our clients lose weight every single week and we measure their metabolism every week.

It's part of the clinical private practice, so we know with certainty that as our clients are losing weight they're actually revving their metabolism up. Which is actually the opposite of what happens in the weight loss space. Typically, the leaner you get or the more weight you lose your metabolism starts to slow down. That's why so many people end up plateauing and that's why most people gain the weight back after time because they've damaged their metabolism. On F-Factor, the fiber is revving up your metabolism so you can lose weight effectively the entire time, but more importantly you can keep the weight off without struggle.
Jodi KatzIs it possible that you are the publicist of fiber?
Tanya ZuckerbrotFor sure. Absolutely.
Jodi KatzYou present a very cool case.
Tanya ZuckerbrotI have taken that on. Yeah, and something important for your listeners to know is that I don't own fiber. It's not my intellectual property so when I'm speaking on behalf of them they're not my client in the sense of like it's about I see myself as an educator more than anything. Probably educator/life coach at this point even more than like a dietician. Through education that's where reform happens. I want to empower people with knowledge so they can make educated decisions that honor their intentions to look and feel their best.

The wellness space is so oversaturated with influencers. It's a good thing in a sense of I'm glad so many people are into health. My concern is, many influencers are not accredited, they don't have degrees they're just passionate. It's not to say that some of the information, or all the information that they're giving is accurate, but sometimes some of the information is not really based on Science, it's just based on their own experience. It's not that their experiences are wrong, but when you deal with people's health I'm really hoping that the information is credible and based on published journal studies.

For anyone who knows me, and if you don't know me, Hi. Now you do. I really take my role as a nutritionist in the public space very seriously. I have 20 years of media experience where I was a contributor of FOX News. I would be on the Today Show. I learned early in my career working with producers you have to cite your sources. You can not say anything without being able to substantiate it with published journal studies in the space of wellness. Liability insurance is made just for that reason because people say things and people would do it and then they'd get hurt or it would negatively impact their health.

That's one thing I take so much pride in is I may deliver my messages in layman's terms so it's easy for people to understand, but if any of your listeners or any of my followers were to say, "Tanya, does fiber really rev up metabolism?" I'd be like, "Sure, would you like to see the study?" I'm always happy to support anything I say with literature. I think that's why people really trust me and they see me as an authority in the weight loss space or in the wellness space because like this girl speaks the Science. She supports everything she says with Science.

Of course, I also color it with my own anecdotal evidence because I live this way so I can make it really fun and easy to see. At the end of the day, when you are talking about people's health there's a certain responsibility to make sure that you are delivering information that is Scientifically founded.
Jodi KatzLet's talk about how you went down this path. The question would be why nutrition? How did you end up there?
Tanya ZuckerbrotAccidentally. So much of my career were just happy accidents. I always loved to cook. Growing up I was always cooking. My mother had a ton of cookbooks and I grew up in a family of good cooks. No one was a professional cook, but my mom was a great cook, my grandma was a great cook and I guess there's just something about being in the kitchen with family that just really is sort of nurturing and are, I don't know, some of my best childhood memories. I really loved it.

I guess I was somewhat of a good, natural cook. I went off to college and I gained the Freshman 15, which is not unusual. I came home that Summer and my mom, being my mom, pointed it out to me. She says, "You know, what are you going to do about that?" She says, "I think what you should do is cook healthily this Summer." My mom's Columbian, so we never grew up with the word diet in my house. There was no Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, we just grew up eating home cooked meals and I was an active kid. I was a cheerleader so we just never dieted in the house.

Even my mom's solution to helping me to get back to my natural body weight was to cook healthfully because the way I was eating at school was not that healthy. I did and at the end of the Summer the weight had come off. What I'm about to say next sounds so obvious it's ridiculous, but I had this ah ha moment. Like wow! What you eat impacts your weight. It had just never dawned on me because my weight was never really an issue growing up and we always just ate what was prepared for us.

I started to think about my career. I was like you know what? I have a talent of cooking and I love the idea of wellness, I want to combine them. I wanted to have a healthy gourmet shop. That was going to be my career.

I think that was also a byproduct of my parents being divorced and my mom worked full time. I always was jealous of my girlfriends who would come home from school and their moms would be there. I didn't have that. My mom would get home around 6:00 or 7:00. I really wanted a career where I thought I could sort of leave by 3:00 and then take Johnny to soccer and Jane to ballet. Like I said, this is all in my head. I was creating these scenarios.

I grew up watching a show called The Facts of Life. Mrs. Garrett had this healthy gourmet shop and she still like managed the girls in school so I was like, oh, that's what I want to do. That was my career of choice in my mind as I designed for myself. I'm at University of Michigan. I'm thinking I need continuing education in this because I was an English major undergrad, so I was like I need to support this career path with more knowledge.

There was the Culinary Institute of America, which was a good path, and then NYU had a program called Food and Nutrition Studies. As I'm looking between the two programs I'm thinking well, I'm in Ann Arbor for four years. I sort of want to be back in an urban setting. The Culinary Institute was in Upstate New York and I was like eh, that's sleepy. I'm going to go to NYU. It's in the heart of the city, that will be cool, I'll live downtown.

I do the NYU program and I get there and on the first day I get handed a list of my prerequisites. They were anatomy, physiology, inorganic chem, organic chem and bio chem. I'm literally handing it back to the lady and I'm like no, no, no. I'm here for the courses on apples. I don't know what this list of prereqs is but I'm not premed. I did not research the degree. The Master's in Food and Nutrition Studies was a clinical degree and you're tracking with premed students. All of the prerequisites were the exact same as anyone that was premed. I was so over my skis. I had never taken a Science course in my life. But, I didn't want my parents to know that I didn't do my research and they paid my tuition already, so I'm like I have to sort of finish this. I put my head down and I'm like I'll just get through this. Unbeknownst to me, I actually loved the Science.
Jodi KatzWhen did you tell your parents?
Tanya ZuckerbrotI never told them. They couldn't know that I didn't do my research for a Master's Degree. What kind of moron did they raise? I was like no, they just didn't know. I'm like okay, I'm here I just got to grind this out. But, as I said unbeknownst to me I did well in the Sciences and I thrived and I ended up landing the top residency coming out of New York University. I went to New York University Hospital. My residency there included rotations in Oncology, Renal, Cardiovascular rotations, you're in the ICU. You work as an extension of the medical team. The diet you prescribe basically enhances the medical treatment they're already receiving with the hopes of reversing a clinical condition, managing a clinical condition, minimizing symptoms, getting a patient off of medication.

The fact that now I'm recognized as a weight loss guru, once again, another happy accident. First I thought I was going to be a healthy chef. Next I know I'm this clinical dietician. I leave NYU and I put a shingle out. I went and opened up a clinical private practice. Weight loss was so beneath my skill set, so I thought. I had the ability to reverse clinical conditions through dietary intervention. I'm thinking I don't want to work in the hospital because I love working with people one-on-one and in the hospital, once they get discharged you never see them again and I wanted to build relationships that could be long term. I saw nutrition as a long term solution. It can't be something you do short term.

I was thinking, what patient populations can I impact through dietary intervention in an outpatient setting? I focus on cardiology and endocrinology knowing that nutrition can help to manage diabetes and cardiovascular disease. To make a long story short, I started to prescribe high fiber diets for both these distinct patient populations. Everyone started to get healthy. All these diabetic patients saw better sugar control. I was reversing type 2 diabetes, managing type 1. For cardiovascular disease they were seeing improvements in their lipid profiles, they were getting off of their statin drugs but something occurred that I had not expected.

While all these patients were getting healthier, they were all losing weight. There was a very unexpected, but much welcome by product. Even I was scratching my head saying why is everybody losing weight? Because I had not set out to produce weight loss. When I looked at these two very distinct diets I realized all the fiber I was prescribing for the health benefits was keeping people feeling so full they were naturally eating less throughout the day. They were doing less overeating at meals and weight loss was occurring without the typical feelings of deprivation, denial and hunger associated with low calorie diets.

That really was the birth of F-Factor where these clinical patients were walking billboards for my services. I joked that if I was a chiropractor and I fixed your back and you walk into a party no one is going to be like wow, your back looks amazing.
Jodi KatzRight.
Tanya ZuckerbrotBut, if you've lost 20 pounds in the past few months and you walk into a party someone's going to be like hey, what's going on? You're like, oh, well my cardiologist made me go to this dietician to lower my cholesterol but I'm also down 20 pounds. I'm still dining out, I'm still enjoying cocktails, I'm not working out harder. Well, my phone started to ring with these referrals from their co-workers, friends, colleagues, family members saying hey, my cholesterol is fine or my sugar is fine. Can I get the weight loss part of what he or she did? That was the birth of F-Factor.
Jodi KatzCompliance wasn't hard for these patients?
Tanya ZuckerbrotNo, because F-Factor's premise is so liberating. Fast forward to where F-Factor is today and our messaging is really disruptive and counter intuitive. To lose weight in F-Factor, you get to eat carbs from day one. You get to dine out from day one. You get to enjoy cocktails from day one. We actually teach people how to work out smarter, which means you're probably working out a little bit less, but more effectively. It was the opposite of what you'd think of when your mind thinks about weight loss. It's like I'm going to have to eat less, I'll probably be hungry, I'm going to have to work out really hard, I'm not going to be able to dine out with friends, I definitely have to give up alcohol. It's so punitive and restrictive.

F-Factor is the opposite. It's liberating, it's effective, you don't compromise your lifestyle or your social life in order to lose weight the F-Factor way. The best part is it's sustainable.
Jodi KatzThere's so much information in this space, right? I think about my 12 year old, he's a wrestler and they have weights, right? He wrestles in the 95 weight. I want him and his friends to have a healthy look at food because wrestling, traditionally, people are not healthy about they cut weight and they're really awful to their bodies. As a 12 year old I don't want him growing into that.

We have conversations and I don't know who he hears things from, but his instinct, and we don't talk about this at home, is like I won't be able to eat the hibachi dinner because I need to make weight. I'm like why do you say that? Can't you just stop eating the peanut butter cups and just have a normal dinner? How do this misinformation, how does it seep into even a 12 year olds brain when we eat healthy at home?
Tanya ZuckerbrotIt's social media. I have young children, too and they spend their life on YouTube following bloggers and they're on Instagram. This information is just so prevalent and it's because people care. People want to look and feel their best. We're desperate for solutions and that's why our ears are so open to any bits of advice that we think are going to be effective. I mean, that's just the answer.

As I said, my concern is that a lot of the advice out there is not good advice. That's one of the reasons why I take so much pride in really educating first. I tell every single person who follows me on Instagram be your own healthcare advocate. Even though I'm credentialed, I'm a registered dietician, I have a Master's Degree, even challenge what I'm saying. Dig deeper, speak to your doctors, do not take anything at face value because nutrition is a very young Science, things are constantly changing. Ultimately, as I said, you never know who you're listening to and is the information they're sharing credible?

Ultimately, I believe the information I share is very credible so feel free to listen to me because like I said earlier, I do substantiate everything with Science. That is my passion, as I said, through education comes empowerment. I want to empower each person that I come into contact with to make decisions at every meal, or at every eating opportunity to make decisions that honor their intentions to look and feel their best. I also recognize that you need mindful indulgences and there's no such thing as a bad food. There are foods that put more weight on you than others, but all foods can fit into a well balanced diet.

I think that's another reason why F-Factor has been embraced because with F-Factor's three bite rule it means you can have three bites of anything and it's not going to compromise your success. Or, if you do choose to have a mindful indulgence like you want more than three bites, just isolate it to that one experience. Don't feel guilty about it. Be mindful about it meaning it's a choice and there's no shame in that. Weight management is not a sprint, it's a marathon. You're going to be eating this way the rest of your life. One meal is not going to undermine your success in life. It just comes down to the frequency and quantity of these mindful indulgences.

I think F-Factor's premise is just so liberating because it really encourages food freedom where you're learning how to eat. You become like the pilot. You're in the driver's seat. You know where you're going and you know how to get there because of what you've learned. You're not just flying blindly and I feel like that's why most diets fail people. They don't understand why it's working, they're just eating that way.
Jodi KatzI just went back to my notes to see if F stands for also freedom.
Tanya ZuckerbrotYes, it does. Freedom and free time. I know so many people doing five to six days of cardio and it's not helping anyone to get thin. We have more gyms in this country than any nation in the world, and we remain the fattest nation in the world. That's a big part of our messaging that I want everyone to work out. I do not have an anti exercise platform. I'm all for exercising, but exercise for every reason other than weight loss. Exercise because it releases endorphins, it's nice to sweat.

What I do want your listeners to do, though is to eat the F-Factor way, and we'll talk about why it's effective, and pair it with two to three days of a weight resistant activity. That is essential because the more muscle you have the faster your metabolism. It's also important for bone density, but it's also where you store carbs. Beginning at age 30 women lose half a pound of muscle per year and then lose a pound. Losing muscle mass not only slows down metabolism, but it minimizes your ability to eat carbs without gaining weight. You have storage capacity for carbs, they're just stored as fuel. If you have minimized storage capacity, carbohydrates will be converted into fat and stored as fat. That's why even fat free carbs like quinoa or even watermelon can be converted into fat. If you have storage capacity for it, it's just stored as fuel and that's what we call glucose. You see the education? I see you nodding it's like oh, this is really cool.
Jodi KatzIt makes so much sense.
Tanya ZuckerbrotWhen things make sense, don't you feel empowered now? Then when you understand that fiber negates the amount of carbohydrate that gets stored. Meaning, if you eat a piece of white bread that's 15 grams of carbs and it goes straight into your blood stream and stored as 15 grams of carbs in your tank. If you have whole wheat bread, subtract five grams of fiber from the 15 grams of carbs because fiber is the indigestible part of the carb then that is now 10, right? 15 minus 5. Now only 10 grams of glucose are going to be stored.

The more fiber in a carb, the few net carbs. That's the whole idea about net carbs. Net carbs are what gets converted into glucose and stored. The more fiber in a carbohydrate the less of an impact it has on your glycogen stores which means the more carbs you can eat without being concerned with weight gain. It is the coolest thing ever. It's a little hard to explain in two minutes over a podcast, but all this information is in the book. That is I think why people are so obsessed with F-Factor and that's where the hashtag smart girls eat fiber, smart guys eat fiber. It's not hot girls or hot guys eat fiber, and of course you're going to get hot when you eat this way. The point is, we have a really educated customer base and that's why it becomes so sticky. People say F-Factor is a lifestyle it is not a diet.

Once you understand why F-Factor works, you can't unsee that. Therefore, eating any other way become illogical. It's like if you were told growing up one plus one equals three you just bought into that. Then one day someone shows you that doesn't make sense. One plus one equals two and they actually show it to you by showing you two individual items and bring them together it's like that's two. It's like oh my gosh. I think F-Factor also helps to dispel a lot of myths by using Science to prove those points. I don't have to scream my message and stomp my feet and throw my arms in the air to get heard. I can speak freely, soundly, not softly, but directly because the message is so sound. If I deliver this really sound Scientific message and it resonates with you on a cognitive level that's where the buy in will happen.
Jodi KatzYou are so compelling ...
Tanya ZuckerbrotThank you.
Jodi Katz... and I told you this over the phone when we had our intake call. You did give me permission, because I'm super impressed with you, but you did give me permission to ask about all the failures and mistakes.
Tanya ZuckerbrotOh my gosh, where do we begin?
Jodi KatzWell, we listed hiring mistakes, almost filing for bankruptcy ...
Tanya ZuckerbrotYep.
Jodi Katz... someone stealing from you.
Tanya ZuckerbrotYep.
Jodi KatzOkay, so which one do you want to start with?
Tanya ZuckerbrotOh, they're all so good. You know, and I'm really happy to always share my failures. I was on the phone with a woman yesterday who asked me to join her advisory board. She has a product that she's launching. I said, "You know, I'm really happy to spend time with you offline because I really lacked mentors that were women. Entrepreneurs. Moms. I felt really alone building my business. Because I was sort of alone in a lot of the big decision making I made a lot of mistakes because as a registered dietician I did not have an MBA. I did not have a lot of business experience so I really was learning along the way and making a lot of mistakes and I do believe I could have gone to success sooner."

You mentioned before we hopped in the booth that you've been working with a business coach and the great impact that's had for you. I think I could have benefited from a business coach or a mentor. What I always say to other young women if I can share the mistakes I made so you can avoid them and get to success sooner, that to me is a privilege to be able to pay that forward. On the other hand, if I could share with you some of the good steps I made that helped me to get to success, I'm happy to share those, too. I'm such a girl's girl and I think that women really need to support each other, especially in the business world. It is very unique to be a female business owner. Hopefully, less and less so.

I just always felt like being a mom on the Upper Eastside many of my friends didn't work at all. I'm not saying being a stay at home mom isn't work, it's tremendous work but they weren't going into an office. They were homemakers. Then the other friends I had that were working worked for other companies. Of course, that's true work, as well but when you are a business owner it's a unique responsibility and burden. I think a lot of people think oh, it's so cool. You work for yourself, you make your own hours, you come and go as you please. I'm like, do you understand the stress and anxiety I have every week to make payroll to pay my rent? It's not just your livelihood you're concerned about, it's your companies. You have people that are waiting for a paycheck every week. As an entrepreneur, you often don't take a paycheck unless everyone else is paid.

I always say it takes an iron stomach to be a female entrepreneur. I mean, anyone to be an entrepreneur, but when you're certainly juggling that and a family it was a lot.
Jodi KatzWell, I just want to say number one, I don't actually really believe in failures or mistakes. I think the Universe is giving you an opportunity to learn.
Tanya Zuckerbrot100%, by the way.
Jodi KatzNumber two, I have one business coach and then two other business coaches and 13 years of therapy.
Tanya ZuckerbrotIt all works.
Jodi KatzLots of couches of friends to sit on and talk to. Okay, so how about learning opportunities? We'll reposition failures as learning opportunities.
Tanya ZuckerbrotYeah, and I think that's a really elegant important way to position it because I know from every mistake I'm now smarter. If I actually have learned from them, I hope I have, I won't repeat them. Better to make these mistakes early in your career than later on when you have a bigger brand or more employees.

Learning opportunities. Number one, I was not really great at hiring. Many people know my personal life and I got divorced I guess seven years ago. I was really unhappily married. As a byproduct of that I found myself spending a lot of time in the office, but it felt like a very righteous excuse not to be home. Like honey, are you coming home for dinner? I didn't want to really spend that much time with him. I'm like, "No, I'm working late." It wasn't like I was out with the girls or shopping, it's like I was working.

Because I spent so much time in my office, the people I worked with really were like my family. Therefore, when I would hire people I would think do I want to spend time with them? Not are they qualified. Do I like them? Do I want to go for coffee with them or grab a cocktail with them? If I fell in love with you during the interview I wouldn't necessarily call your references. It was just really silly not smart business decisions when it came to hiring.
Jodi KatzIt sounds like you had this emotional void in this relationship so you might have been just trying to fill that bucket of people you liked being around.
Tanya ZuckerbrotI'm sure. I think it was just an energy I wanted to create in the office. I wanted my office you know, I started small. It was my own company. Every single person to me was a piece of my business family. You know, you have two families. You have your work family and your home family.

I found myself hiring people that weren't necessarily the most qualified and then I had this rational, which is not smart and I'll explain why. What I'm about to say still makes sense, but you're not going to grow as quickly as you could otherwise. I would say skills can be learned, but character can not. Character was everything to me. If you were kind, and you were honest and a good person that to me, I was like I want to work with you. Okay, so you're not that qualified but I'll teach you.

That can work, but when you are paying people on the clock to be learning you are not accelerating your growth. You want to hire people that have skill sets that you don't have. That's what's going to accelerate your growth. If you're teaching them everything you know it's like, it's just more of little you's. You're more just delegating stuff that you don't want to do, but they're not going to do it in a way that's better than what you know. I'll be honest, I know what I know which is fiber and nutrition, wellness. I am not the best at operations. That was really an important lesson for me.

When it comes to hiring, my recommendation would be hire people that have skill sets that you don't. That can bring something to the party. That are going to enhance growth because they have experience in areas that you lack. My COO now, and I always give him the credit of our recent tremendous hockey stick road because he and I are the most opposite people in the world. I am emotional. I am creative and he is operations. He is pragmatic. He's a linear thinker, he looks at the numbers. I'm like yeah, numbers shmumbers. I'm all about the customer experience and do people like it? He's like profit margins. I'm like but do they like it?

I think that really has been important, so that's number one. Hopefully you can find people who have skill sets that are different than yours that you also like and have good character, of course. I was sort of a little bit myopic in that. Number two, I did hire a COO at one point. I don't think his skill sets were as different from mine as I would have hoped, but I also gave him power of attorney.
Jodi KatzCan you define what that means?
Tanya ZuckerbrotHe had he right to sign checks in my absence. That allowed him to embezzle money from me. I know.
Jodi KatzHow long was this going on for?
Tanya ZuckerbrotLike a year, but I was always short for rent and there was very little money in the company and I couldn't understand it because I was not taking a salary. One time the building called me, my landlord, and he says, "I'm going to turn off your phones if you don't pay your rent." I was like two months behind in rent. I'm not a girl who was raised to have debt. I never spent more on a credit card that I could not pay in full. I just don't carry debt. I wasn't raised that way, my parents were not, I mean everyone is different and I'm not saying what's right or wrong. In our family, you only spend what you can afford to spend.

The fact that I was working like a dog making six, I would say high six figures even seven figures at the time and I just never, the money wasn't there. I get this call from the landlord because we were late on the rent and he's like I'm going to turn your phones off. If my phones are off, like I'm in the customer service business. The business is closed. I ran to my father's office who lives in New York City. I was crying hysterically. I was fortunate to have this father that could help me in these times. I was like, "Dad, I need a check, " for whatever the number is. It's not the first time he had to write the check.

He pulls out the checkbook and he says, "This is the last time I'm writing you a check." He looked at me and he's like, "Where is your money going?" He's handing me the check across the desk and he goes, "It's honestly like pouring water into sand." Just like a really incredible metaphor. Think about it you know? You pour water into sand it's like where does the water go? It's just gone. It took a while to figure out that my COO was embezzling from me. What I will tell each and every person who has their own business, you have to sign your own checks. You can have a COO put together all the bills and put them in front of you but put them under your nose. You have to be in control of your money.

I think because I don't care about money, which is also funny because my dad jokes. For someone that likes to spend the way that you do you would think you would care more. I've always been just so focused on the brand and the message and wanting my customers to be successful and happy. I always felt like when you're that passionate the money follows. Which is always the case, but to look at balance sheets I was like I don't want to deal with that and bills. It's like I want to be helping people. But, you need to be in control of that. I would say that was a learning opportunity for me.
Jodi KatzYeah, that one hurts.
Tanya ZuckerbrotThat was a hard one. A very, very hard one.
Jodi KatzWere you able to get the money back?
Tanya ZuckerbrotNo, no. A painful and expensive learning experience.
Jodi KatzThat's not a mistake you'll make again.
Tanya ZuckerbrotNo, and someone said to me like how would you do that? Almost like it was someone else it was like such a ... They weren't being condescending it was someone who really cared about me. It's like Tanya you know, you're a smart girl. I'm like I know.
Jodi KatzIn running a business there's so many things that like I do that. I know nothing about business insurance. Right? Liability insurance, information insurance. These are not things that I have skills in and I need to trust some people. I have to trust, right? Setting up retirement plans, I have to trust the people who know how to do this, right? As much as you can be invested in these decisions there's some things that you actually just need other people to do.
Tanya ZuckerbrotIt's true, but the way the person presented it to me was that it was actually irresponsible to my company, to the people that work for me to be so blind to it and not wanting to deal with it. Almost immature. Like eh, I don't like the numbers. I don't feel like dealing with that. I'm just going to delegate that to someone. Of course, with things such as insurance I'm fortunate that I have people that can look at different insurance plans but they need to present it to me.

As the CEO of your own company, you need to make the big decisions. What I now have is a team and they present to me what they call their recommendations. They will research the top insurance companies and show me all the break downs. This is the cost and then I am the one who makes the final decision. It's evolved, but that was a big eye opener for me. As I said, there have been so many ... I mean, I've been in business for 20 years so I think my learning opportunities exceed the things that I've done correctly. As you said, everything gets you to where you are today. I'm wiser for it and I'm also more appreciative of the success because it did not come easily.
Jodi KatzI wonder if it ever does. I think that was my biggest hangup for so many years. It's like it's so easy for everybody else, right? I don't think it's easy for anybody. I used to have this thing in my head well you know, life is easy for Jane Lauder, right? She's like born into this business. No, she has other baggage, right? From where she came from and her family and other things to prove.

I really have been able to over time release this idea that it's ever easy. It's not. It gets easier, it gets more fun the more you know, but I don't know that it's ever easy.
Tanya ZuckerbrotI think that's right. There's a saying that it's called work and not play for a reason. I mean, work is work. I do think, though, some people do get to success more quickly. Maybe because they are more prepared for business. A lot of entrepreneurs, we're just passionate. You see this a lot. Do you watch Shark Tank?
Jodi KatzWe love Shark Tank. It's a family show.
Tanya ZuckerbrotSo do we, it's a family show. We're obsessed. You can see sometimes that there are some people that when they are challenged they really know their information. They understand exit, they understand margins, I mean they just have a hold of all those important aspects of business. Other people are just really passionate. They don't know really how to connect the dots. They know where they are today, they know where they want to be but it's like I'm at A, I want to get to Z but I'm uncertain about B through Y.

I feel that people who are more successful more quickly understand the B through Ys and they just possibly need more financing or they need greater resources but they sort of understand how to create the path. I think for me I didn't really know how to create the path. I just kept taking one step and taking another step and sometimes I would take 10 steps in one direction and hit a brick wall so I'd have to pivot. Then I'd hit another brick wall so I was constantly banging into walls you know? Every now and then I'd be able to take 50 steps forward. I'm like okay. That was sort of good. I haven't had that kind of progress in a while. I think that, as I said, my learning curve was sort of just like really long and flat for a while.

It wasn't until I got to a certain point of success that I was really able to bring on people that were the right fit for my organization and way smarter than me in certain topics or certain aspects of the business.
Jodi KatzI do look at my peer group and see sure, these people knew how to seek out investment, they had a plan they wanted to exit in five years, they made that happen, whatever. Good for them. I'm happy for them. But what I've learned over time is that I've been able to leverage work as my greatest resource for learning about myself. Thankfully, I have a really peaceful home life. Work is chaotic, right? Navigating this industry is chaotic. I didn't know a lot of stuff, I didn't know anything, really.

I look at every day, I work on myself the most and that comes through work, like the office. But it's my chance to evolve as a human, and that's what I see my businesses as. It's like a conduit to learning about me. That's where I spend the most time is working on me and growing me, understanding my obstacles, my hangups, my fears and trying to find a pathway to the most joyful serene version of myself. That's how I started to look at it and not have to resent that I didn't do x, y or z.
Tanya ZuckerbrotI believe that our own personal journeys are the purpose of our lives. It's about defining what you value. I always say every decision you make is based on the value proposition whether you work hard or not, whether you write thank you notes or not, whether you return emails in 24 hours, whether you eat healthy, whether you exercise, whether you call your mom everything you do, every single day is based on an outcome and do you value it. If you don't value it, you don't do it.

If you don't care about being perceived as having good manners you don't write thank you notes. Or if you don't think there's a value in that you wouldn't do it. If you see a value in that you unfortunately sit down and you have to knock those things out. Same with eating healthily. If you don't care about being healthy then of course you're going to eat burger and fries. That's much tastier than a salad. Who are we kidding? But if you value the way you look and the way you feel you're going to act in a certain way and sometimes those actions come with some compromises. But, if you value the outcome enough, you'll make those sacrifices. There's a difference between sacrifice and suffering. If you're suffering that's when you need to pivot. That's when that's not working for you.

What I will say is for me I am very clear on what my personal and professional goals are in life. My professional goal is to leave the world a better place. It's to touch as many lives as possible with F-Factor to empower people, to educate them so they can look and feel their best without compromising their lifestyle. The weigh loss base has been filled with so many punitive and restrictive solutions that have failed people and people are frustrated and they're overweight, and they're unhealthy and they're confused. I see people doing cleanses or doing extreme dieting methods. I'm like guys, it does not have to be this hard. It really doesn't.

For me, my professional goals are crystal clear. I want to spread the F-Factor word. I want people to use it, benefit from it, I want them to change their lives without compromising their lifestyles. Nothing makes me happier than helping people. That is as clear as day and I feel so grateful. I thank God every day that I found a career path that I'm so passionate about that allows me to touch so many lives and I know this is my professional calling and that's what gets me up every morning to do what I do.

On a personal level, I'm constantly, constantly challenging myself to be a better person. It's in my, it's like that is the most important part of my life is to constantly be growing. I feel like every day is an opportunity to be better today than I was the day before. Some days I'm exceptional. Some days I suck. Some days I'm average, but I know what I'm working towards and I take pride in having high standards and to recognize on days that I'm not meeting those standards it's like okay, there's always tomorrow. Get up, dust yourself off, keep moving towards your plan A. Character and integrity is so important to me to the point sometimes I'm a little bit righteous. I always say it's like my right, it's like not your right but it's my right. Meaning that I live my life a certain way, or I try to, and I do want to be a decent human being.

God plays a really important part in my life. My relationship with God, which was found much later in life. I did not grow up with a strong faith. I grew up with tradition, I'm Jewish so it's like I grew up celebrating the holidays but not really speaking to God. It happened when I was going through my divorce and my business was under water and I was in the darkest times of my life. So dark that I didn't want to live anymore until all I thought about was not living, which is horrifying to me because I have three kids. They are what rooted me here. I could never do that, I could never allow that to be their legacy but that's how dark my life was.

I would cry in the morning, cry in the shower, cry at the office, I was so scared. You know, my marriage was coming undone, as I said business, I had worked for 10 years and despite making seven figures a year there was no money in the bank because people embezzled and I was self funding all my initiatives and nothing was taking off. Everything was just at a loss. In my darkest hour, I turned to God. I found a book, Joel Osteen's book Seven Steps to Your Best Life Now. Even though I'm Jewish and he's Christian, the message about how to get through trials and tribulations and it was God just testing me and testing my faith. Having God in my life, I feel that God watches everything that I do. Everything. Therefore if I'm in a store and I'm looking at a shirt and it falls off the hanger and then I put it on the hanger and it falls off again after the third try like I'm done. Not my problem. They need better hangers. I can't leave it there because like God sees that and God does not bless mediocrity. God wants us to be the best we can be.

That has become F-Factors most famous quote. Don't settle for mediocrity where greatness can exist. What does greatness mean? Well, that's up to you to define. It's not based on my definition because we all have different standards and different values. What I may define as important, like writing thank you notes you may define as not important. It's for each and every one of you, meaning the listeners here today, to define what excellence and integrity means to them. To define what living their best life looks like, sounds like, I would say you're the architect of your life. You can design the home you want to live in.

Think about architects. They have all different kinds of clients. Maybe one client wants a ranch. Maybe one wants a townhouse. Maybe one wants a coconut hut on a desert island you know, a deserted island. Meaning that there's no right or wrong home if that's your values, right? If you're happy with your coconut hut that's awesome. I know people that live in townhouses and they're miserable. It's really based on what's the life you want to lead. As an architect, first thing is to create blueprint. They don't just start building. I always have my clients write down their goals.

Not just a goal like I want to do this, but what does your life look like? Do you want marriage, do you want children, do you want a career, do you want philanthropy, do you want travel, do you want hobbies? Design this life and then once you do, insert yourself in it. What do you look like in that life? What's your character like? What's your health like? What's your physical appearance like? Are you living your best self, right? Picture it, like you have this great career success but you're 200 pounds overweight. Or, you have a great family but perhaps you never did the career that you wanted. I want you to be thoughtful about the life that you want to lead and recognize time is finite. At some point, there's only so many years we get to be here. Be purposeful, and be thoughtful, and take action and design the life you want to lead.

Jodi KatzThank you for that message. That's beautiful. We're going to close with that. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us today, Tanya. It's so incredible to talk with you. I could talk to you all day long. For our listeners I hope you enjoyed this interview. Please subscribe to our series on iTunes and for updates about the show follow us on Instagram @WhereBrainsMeetBeautyPodcast.
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