Episode 198: Melissa Sperau, President of US Shiseido Americas Corporation

There’s a method to the madness! Melissa Sperau’s rebellious attitude and need to be independent may have been a pain to some, but it allowed her to work her way up her own ladder by doing what made her happy, on her own terms. Learn how her drive and self-reliance propelled her into her role as the President of US Shiseido Americas Corporation.

Dan Hodgdon
AnnouncerWelcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty®, hosted by Jodi Katz, Founder and Creative Director of Base Beauty Creative Agency.
Jodi KatzHey, everybody. It's Jodi Katz, your host of Where Brains Meet Beauty Podcast®. This week's episode features Melissa Sperau, she's the US president Shiseido. And if you missed last week's episode, it featured Asutra owner and CEO Stephanie Morimoto. Hope you enjoy the shows.
Carey ChanningGood afternoon, Jodi. How's it going?
Jodi KatzHi, Carey, nice to see you.
Carey ChanningLikewise. So, I have a question for you.
Jodi KatzOoh, I can't wait to hear it.
Carey ChanningDid you ever happen to have a job as a teenager working at the mall?
Jodi KatzYes. How did you know?
Carey ChanningI just had a sneaky suspicion.
Jodi KatzWell, I think if you're my age, I'm in my 40s, you probably had a job at the mall. I think that's just the way it was.
Carey ChanningIt was a rite of passage in a way.
Jodi KatzWell, yeah, I worked at Express, which I actually wore a lot of Express clothes back then and I folded sweaters.
Carey ChanningDid you take full advantage of the employee discount?
Jodi KatzThat's a great question. I don't actually remember anything but this device for folding sweaters, which is like a cardboard divider that you fold sweaters around. That's all I remember doing.
Carey ChanningI want one of those for my home. They look so fun. Like the fold, fold, flap. It's like a machine.
Jodi KatzLike what is the equivalent for today of the mall job? Since malls are not as popular, not as many stores. I wonder what young people are doing for that side hustle.
Carey ChanningThat is a great question. If any of our listeners know, please, comment, because we're actually genuinely curious. So, something that Melissa talks about is how she went to get a job at the mall and she really wanted to be a MAC girl, and then she got type-casted as a Chanel girl. So, the antics of that are pretty funny. I won't spoil it, because we need our listeners to tune in.
Jodi KatzWell, Melissa is also incredibly funny and witty and I imagine that if you work with her, you're laughing all day long.
Carey ChanningWell, I'm excited for our listeners to hear her story and get her personality through this interview. So, should we just roll the tape, if you will?
Jodi KatzLet's do it.
Carey ChanningAll right. Episode 198 with Melissa Sperau. Enjoy.
Jodi KatzHey, everybody. I'm excited to be here with Melissa Sperau. She's the President Shiseido US. Welcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty.
Melissa SperauHi, I'm really thrilled to be here too. Thanks for having me, Jodi.
Jodi KatzSo, Melissa, I've never met you in person, in real life, but I did have a really great chat with you a few months ago and you made me laugh the whole entire conversation. So, I can just imagine where we're heading today. And I wonder if other people would think like the president of the US for a corporation would be as funny to talk to and fun to talk to as you are. I'm wondering if people get surprised by it.
Melissa SperauWell, probably not everyone thinks I'm funny, but I do think having a sense of humor when you're in retail, and certainly when you're an executive, is really important, because everything can get incredibly serious too fast and it can be stressful, certainly with the times we've gone through. So, I think that having a sense of humor where appropriate and probably where not appropriate, for me, is kind of a way of enjoying every day.
Jodi KatzIt really helps me when people are not robotic, because it reminds me that we're all human, right?
Melissa SperauYes.
Jodi KatzI do feel like there's a lot of people in our business who are really robotic and that catches me off guard. Because I'm like, we're in a business where we're touching people's faces, it should be a really human business, but sometimes it's really not.
Melissa SperauIt's true. I think this industry, and probably why it's been so resilient through so many things, is because the nature of what we do is possibility of self. Whether it's skincare like, I'm going to change something that's wrong with my skin. There's a lot of correcting for improving, and makeup, I've always thought is really a psychologically impactful thing, that's powerful.

I mean, people can be having the worst life and even call it a bad day and they go somewhere and try on a new lipstick, or somebody teaches them how to do their eyeliner. And they say, "Wow, you have pretty eyes." And I've heard people and read customer service letters, where they say, "No one's complimented me on myself in a year." And you don't realize, to your point, how personal this all really is and to touch someone's face and be that close, it's intimate. So, it's a big privilege we have in the industry in how we interact with people.
Jodi KatzI love that you're talking about the experience of interacting with brands at retail, because there's so much focus now on a digital customer and we can't touch her face digitally. And we can't compliment her, because we can't like actually see her digitally. So, I think, we're going to see maybe some innovation here. Because we're still going to want to be digital first, because we know it works. But we'll have to innovate that person-to-person experience.
Melissa SperauFor sure. I mean, digital obviously is going to continue to be at the forefront. Look, do I think that the online business and social selling has a future? Of course, but the level of penetration it's at now, I don't think will sustain. Again, I do think that there's something very experiential about beauty, whether it's fragrance, or skincare, or makeup. And it's something that's also social from going with your friends. Do you know what I mean? To go do that together and ask each other's opinion.

So, I think, they say brick and mortar is coming back, and I'm watching that in the numbers. So, I think it'll find a new balance. I don't think it'll go back to where it was and I don't think it's going to stay where it is now. But how we touch people sitting at home on their computer or on their phone, I do think motivates their behavior when they do choose to go in a store or not, or go to a counter, or go hit an Ulta or a Sephora, or something like that.
Melissa Sperau
Jodi KatzYes. I say to clients and friends that the customer's already made her decision before she walks in the door. But that experience when she does walk in the door can upsell, can introduce her to new categories. There's still a possibility to inspire her when she's there, but she already knows what brand of hair dryer she wants to buy when she gets there. There's more potential for what kind of a customer and a loyal customer she can become after that.
Melissa SperauCompletely agree. It's just about having a relationship at all touch points, that's ideal. And I think that's what every brand is shooting for.
Jodi KatzWell, Melissa, let's go back in time to, let's say, the 11-year-old Melissa. And if someone asked you, what do you want to be when you grow up? What would you have said?
Melissa SperauOh gosh, there were so many things I wanted to do. And I would definitely tell you, my parents naysayed so many. I for sure wanted to be a German auto mechanic, and I had an orthopedic surgeon father and a mom who was a nurse and a psychologist. So, they were all very medical, super educated family. I have a twin brother as well, who was also super smart and very academic. And I was the person, back at that age, that would raise my hand in class and say, "How will this affect my income?" And I would get like thrown out and sent to the office, because, again, how is algebra going to change my life?

So, I think I always wanted to do something that was really tactile. And I learned at an early age, I liked fixing things and doing things. I love old cars, and I've always loved cars, weirdly. That's probably where the German auto mechanic came from. I wanted to be a photographer, and I went to college for that, and studied that and fancied this whole life, this imagined life, you know what I mean, of being a fashion photographer.

And here I was in Baltimore only to realize like, "Really, Melissa, how are you going to support yourself doing that?" I knew I'd end up doing weddings and bar mitzvahs. So, I quickly changed courses on that. But I had a lot of ideas of what I wanted to be. And I do think I fell into this industry by learning how to do makeup, because I was a photographer, a more amateur one, but getting gigs and stuff. And I really wanted to get into the few people that had really good work.

So, I had to how to do makeup to go in as a makeup artist to watch them shoot. So, that's how makeup started in my life. Then, a friend from there told me, "Oh my gosh, Nordstrom's opening in Baltimore. Melissa, you should come there." And I'm like, "Oh my gosh, I don't want to work at the mall." I'm like, "That feels like a loser thing to do." I'm in my early 20s at this point, and he's like, "No, there's this company called MAC and you'll love them. And they wear all black, like you do." Like as if your wardrobe should dictate your career.

And it was like a journey, I mean, I could go on, there's a story from there. And I was really enthralled with MAC and I also really fell in love with Nordstrom right away, meeting the people and how entrepreneurial it even was back then. So, it ended up being kind of cool. But there's something weird in high school, you go to the mall after school or on the weekend with your friends. So, that's not kind of where you think you're going to end up later in life. But again, of course it was a great stepping stone to my career.
Jodi KatzLet's go back in time. Because on our first conversation you told me that you were just convinced, you knew that you were going to be a famous photographer.
Melissa SperauYes, I was kind of sure of it.
Jodi KatzSo, that's like a very Lady Gaga mindset, right? Lady Gaga knew she was, when she was teen, she knew that she was going to be famous. Where did that inner confidence come from?
Melissa SperauI don't know. I've always had a very rebellious attitude, definitely a nightmare person to probably raise. And I remember my mom always trying to give me good guidance and she was very supportive. But she was also very critical too in a expectation kind way. So, for everything she wanted me to do, I didn't want to do it, because she wanted me to. Like those personalities. So, I didn't want to follow the traditional path. And I remember thinking, at a young age, and this sounds so superficial, but I remember thinking money's freedom and I need to go make money. So I can move out of my house, have my own place and go make the life I want to make happen, out from under my parents. You know what I mean? I don't want to go get a master's degree or PhD or something, that did not work for me.

So, I was always, I had two and three jobs sometimes in the summers, because, again, I just wanted to stockpile, and I wanted to go create whatever life and whatever possibility. And I wasn't actually sure, as I got older, what that was going to be, but I just trusted my gut that I would figure it out. And I knew I would land on my feet somehow. And if something doesn't work, because I did think, you know like younger people sometimes are scared to change their life? Like I'll talk to somebody at work, many roles I've had, and they're 25 years old and they're like, "Oh, I don't know, Melissa. I don't know if I want to do marketing and I'm scared to change." I'm like, "You've done marketing for four years." Do you know what I mean? Like, "You could do anything you want."

And actually it's been really interesting and exciting to see, I've worked with people at other companies and brands who left and went to law school and they had a job in the field, in beauty, and they loved it, but they knew they didn't want to do that. And I was highly encouraging like, "Listen, these experiences will help you, do you know what I mean, in anything else you do." So, I do think people should never feel stuck and who knows? I always think maybe I'll have another gig in me of what I'm going to do with my life. Right?
Jodi KatzThat's right. There's always chances to learn and more opportunity. So, I want to go back in time to this, when you were going to be moving out of the house, become a famous photographer. Did you go to college?
Melissa SperauI did. I went to a local college in Maryland for two semesters and I literally hated it. Again, I did not sit there and feel like, you have to take your basic 100 courses. And again, I'm like, "How is this helping me?" So, I kept working. I ended up getting a really great job, I talked my way into getting this great bartending job downtown. And technically, I shouldn't have been behind the bar, because I was too young. And it was kind of in the more exciting part of town, where every colorful person in Baltimore lived and it was open late. And I met so many famous people working there. And I learned a lot about life behind that bar more than I learned at college.
Melissa Sperau:So I stopped there and I had moved downtown and gotten an apartment. And a friend of mine said to me, because I was doing photography, "You should go to the Maryland Institute College of Art." And I thought, "Oh gosh, I'll never get in there. It's terribly expensive." But I took some courses at night, I did love it. And I then applied to go to the main full-time school and they actually gave me a scholarship to go.

So, I went there for about three years. And this again will be heartbreaking to many people, probably 18 credit short of graduating, I dropped out, because, again, I had all these career opportunities and more chances to grow working, which, again, somehow resonated with me. And I don't know that back then, I wouldn't give that advice to someone today, because it's different, the world is definitely different today. But I was like, "That's okay, I'll work my way up, whatever I'm going to do, I'll work my way up."

So, that's pretty much what my academic. And again, it's still probably a little bit shameful to my family, even though they're very proud of me, but I did not follow the straight and narrow at all.
Jodi KatzSo, let's go back to this time when your friend recommended that you go get a job at the mall, because you wore all black. Do you remember your interview?
Melissa SperauYes, I definitely do. This was hilarious. So, I had to interview with Nordstrom first and I did, and they felt that I would be a very, very good Chanel counter manager. That's how I profile, which was really odd. And I actually think it was this necklace I had on that day, that kind of leaned at that direct, you know? But I told them I wanted to work for MAC, which was this semi-unknown brand. I had driven down to Montgomery Mall Nordstrom, which was open at the time, because I read about MAC, and heard about MAC, and I loved their philosophy, which was all races, all ages, all sexes.

And I'm like, "Oh, those are my people. Those are my people." I love the whole MAC AIDS Fund, everything about it. My best friend had passed away of AIDS. And I don't know, you just feel a connection. So, I interviewed with MAC and I had a whole portfolio by the way of work, because remember I was a photographer and a makeup artist. So, they saw me completely opposite. I was creative, et cetera. And back then, people didn't know what MAC was.

People would walk up to the counter and say, "What's MAX?" So, I ended up taking a job as the counter manager at MAC in this little Nordstrom in Maryland, and boom, within a year, there were opportunities like Nordstrom said, "We'd like you to go be the department manager at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, Maryland." And then from there, "Hey, we want you to go open our new Annapolis store. Oh, go to King of Prussia. That's a new store." And then I eventually got a job in the buying office in Tysons Corner, Virginia, which I did for a few years.

But I loved it, but I did miss MAC. There was something again about that as plain Jane really, I'm probably the most vanilla-looking MAC person you'd ever seen. But who we are to me is on the inside, the way you think and feel and how you look at life. Because I didn't have, at the time, such wild makeup or tattoos or some of the other things people associate with MAC people. But again, I just like the diversity. I love the diversity, not only of the people, but even the customers. So I ended up finding my way back to MAC when a job posted and I interviewed for that and I was shocked I got the job.
Jodi KatzLet's talk about the mall, because you can hear my New Jersey when I say the mall.
Melissa SperauThe mall.
Jodi KatzLet's talk about the mall. I live near the Short Hills Mall.
Melissa SperauOkay.
Jodi KatzBut I grew up going to the Livingston Mall.
Melissa SperauYes.
Jodi KatzOr the Willowbrook Mall, anyway. I'm 45, so when I was in my 20s, late teens and 20s, people got jobs at the mall, it was like a summer job. I worked at Express over holiday break, folding sweaters, there was opportunity existed at the mall. So, malls are different now, they're not the hub of activity. They're not the place that people go to meet or to spend time or shop. So, what is that new opportunity for young people? Because so many people in our industry start at the mall, they start at the counter. And then they, like you, are able to navigate around the industry in different roles. What are we replacing that opportunity with?
Melissa SperauWell, look, I still think there's some opportunity. I think there'll always be a need for, at least fundamentally, what I would call, field leadership, regional jobs in brands. Because as long as there's brick and mortar stores, you need people out there managing, hiring and motivating, and I like to say kind of casting these stores, because they are your brand, first and foremost.

So, I do think that, but I do think, again, as business continues to be digital, that footprint shrinks. So you have less stores, less opportunities, et cetera, that way. I think, again, call it this generation, I mean, there's a couple of them at this point, you could say, that really grew up with a digital mindset. So, I actually find a lot of people going into social media positions, studying that and trying to enter into companies that way.

I also think really interestingly that with more possibilities of remote working, I think there's more chances for people to get jobs versus just being based in New York or based in LA. So, I'm optimistic, because I think when you have either more of a hybrid, or more people working remotely, it really broadens the opportunity today for talent to come from anywhere in the country. I'm eager about that attitude of not... Because think about how many people, even probably you know, that had opportunities in their life, but they had to live in New York to do it, or they had to move to New York, and they're like, "Oh, but I have a life here." And you know what I mean? And they didn't want to make that change, because it's a thing to live in New York.
Jodi KatzYeah. I'm wondering if, because I agree with you that there'll be some opportunities still at retail, it just won't be that... There won't be this need for hundreds of bodies seasonally, the way that there used to be. But I wonder if we're going to be looking to affiliates of like, right, maybe there's like amazing affiliate partners that are selling a lot on behalf of my brand. And I'll start to notice that and say, "Hey, you might actually be great to work here."
Melissa SperauWell, social selling, your point, there's live streaming, there's live chat. I think there's more of that obviously happening now, all of us are doing that kind of thing. The question is, how much does that really stick? How much revenue will that ultimately? And let's be honest, how many people are still sitting at home, do you know what I mean, and making TikToks and doing all of these things and kind of becoming their own celebrity and influencer?

Now, again, do I think that's everyone's ticket in to start a career in retail? No, I don't think that that's going to be the only way in. But I think it's going to be a little bit more fragmented, kind of what we're talking about. There's going to be different ways to do it. But I do think if somebody said to me today, "Hey, Melissa, I want a career in beauty."

I would absolutely say working on the front line, like boots on the ground in stores is a really great experience, because knowing how to treat a customer and to show somebody, do you know what I mean, what they want and what they didn't even know they wanted, which is why they've come for your expertise, is such an invaluable experience. And dealing with all the personalities that you do, I also think really helps to build up a constitution of even, as you get older, working in a work environment where, again, you can have a lot of smart people in a room, but the ones I find that can navigate different personalities tend to thrive better, because they know how to have those human skills and those people skills that I really think take people places.
Jodi KatzI loved my training when I worked at L'Occitane en Provence, we had over a hundred stores in the US. So there's always a store to go into to help support or... During the holidays we were there, almost every day, the staff in the headquarters. And I loved the training on how to interact with customers, how to make them feel welcome, but don't be on top of them, how to help them navigate, because most people come into stores like that and they don't know what they're there for. They're there for a gift, and they just need some guidance and help.

I literally shop that way now. I'm like a secret shopper. I'm always looking. I'm always engaging with staff in the stores, with this training in my mind, how are they going to react to this question? How are they going to handle it? How are they greeting me? How are they giving warm welcomes? And I mean, I guess I probably do it in a reflex way, just in my normal day to day, even when I'm not secret shopping, it's such a great foundation.
Jodi Katz
Melissa SperauIt is. And let's be honest, I mean, I don't know, I should ask you, if you were to FaceTime with a friend versus seeing them in person, don't you get a different feeling out of that? So, I think it's the same for the consumer. Yes, you can have a live chat, you can shop online. There's a lot of things that watch a stream, interact with it. But when you go in and meet somebody who you like, do you know how you meet somebody when you're at retail and they're funny and you're commenting on like, "Oh my God, I love what you're wearing." They're just engaging and want to help you figure out and, again, show you possibilities. That to me is retail. That's the finest moment at retail and you leave excited about something you didn't even know that you were going to get. And you met somebody really cool.
Jodi KatzAnd it's an instant gratification. I remember being a teenager. And as a teenager at the Short Hills Mall, you go to J.Crew, and if they didn't have exactly the size or the color you wanted, there was this phone, this phone you could pick up. So, there was a special phone, for anybody younger than me, there was a special phone in the corner of the store with a catalog right in front of it. And you could pick up the phone and it would automatically take you to customer service. And from that phone, you could say, "I want these jeans in this color, in this size," and they'd mail them to your house.

And that was amazing service, but it meant you didn't leave with the jeans. It was kind of like, "Okay, well, I'll get the jeans, but I don't have them now." So, there is this instant gratification that's really wildly exciting when you're shopping in real life.
Melissa SperauIt's true.
Jodi KatzEven though Amazon brings us things very quickly, it's not instantaneously.
Melissa SperauAnd it's not unexpected either. Remember, it's the surprise. It's the, again, meeting someone that showed you something, I'm sure you have this experience when you shop beauty too, and you would never thought you would've bought that product, like it wouldn't look good on you. Do you know what I mean? Or you just didn't see it and then you try it and you're like, "Oh my gosh, I never would've known this. I never would've looked at this until this person told me."
Jodi KatzSo, Melissa, I want to shift gears, because I want our listeners to know how someone becomes the president of the US of this big global company, who started as a photographer, learning makeup and who didn't finish college. How do you get there?
Melissa SperauOh, wow. And I guess, first of all, everyone's journey's different. And I think, I don't know, I mean, be scrappy. I would tell people all day long to do what you're doing well, do you know what I mean, and make sure you're taking people on your journey. I think anyone that is successful as a leader, it's been on the back of and with others, that made them look good. So it's not about yourself at all. And the more you climb, let's say, in responsibility, the more you realize, do you know what I mean, and you're grateful for having people around you that have strengths you do not. And I learn more from the people that "work for me" than anything, constantly. And while I certainly have an opinion and I'm confident in all of that, there's no doubt, I never want to stop learning. And I also never want to stop helping other people get where they want to go.

And so, I think when you're of some kind of a mindset like that, and again, have a scrappy nature of, "I don't know how to do this." I mean, I've taken jobs life or been promoted and literally said, "I don't actually know how to do part of this job." Like I'd say that in the interview. And they're like, "Oh, you'll learn. Oh, you'll figure it out." And I remember thinking, "okay, are they completely desperate? Do they possibly have no other candidates, because who says that?" But you do, you figure it out.

And I always say to people, "Don't be afraid." Do you know what I mean? "Don't be scared. Because the unknown is scarier than, as you know, than when you get there to something." And you're like, "oh my gosh, I have this." And it takes time.

Then, as you build more of those experience, your confidence will come with it. And again, you build a network of people that'll help you, et cetera. I mean, I've called friends that were outside of the industry in jobs I've had in the past. And I'm like, "I'm being asked to do this and I'm lost. And I don't even internally know what to do. I know your company, which isn't even in our industry, does this, how do you guys solve these problems?" And just start asking questions and be vulnerable, do you know what I mean, to not act like you know everything, because there's nothing, I think... That's such a turnoff.
Jodi KatzIt's so interesting the way that you speak about this and this vulnerability, because I wonder, as part of the world's perfectionist tendencies, that people feel like they have to come with all the answers. And it's so refreshing to hear that it's okay to say, "I don't know how to do it, but I'm going to kill it. I'm going to figure it out and be awesome at it."
Melissa SperauYeah. One thing I love asking people, I mean, I interviewed somebody today for a role and I said, "If you were in the job tomorrow, what would you need to be successful?" And it's funny, people pause on that, because they know, do you know what I mean, they're going to say something that would look negative. And I always, literally, push them up against the wall on it. I'm like, "I need to know something." I said, "You haven't done this job. So, what would make you scared in your stomach?" And the woman had an answer and I said, "See, and that's good to know. Because you don't know everything. Like when you take a new role, some of it you know, and the rest you are going to learn and figure out." And it's nice if it's an open kind of partnership, if that makes sense, because people want to see other people be successful fundamentally.
Jodi KatzYeah. Melissa, not everybody's like you though, I'm sure we have listeners whose bosses, or their bosses' boss, are completely the opposite of this, and expect this, everyone to know everything at all the moments and not to have to learn. And those are really difficult environments to thrive in. I certainly have been there, where you feel lost at sea and there's no support. So yeah.
Melissa SperauIt's scary, by the way, I don't mean to be utopian and I agree, but look, I think, in the end, companies are companies and brands are brands, but it's all about people. So, what it feels like every day is who you're doing it with, period. And I have seen and experienced enough in my life, watching people care and work harder than any money you could give them, because they love what they do so much, and they feel so fulfilled, and feel like who they are in their work environment is meaningful and making a difference.

And as contrived or whatever as that could sound, it's true. I always say, I would stand outside in 110 degrees and shovel shit with certain people, because it's them, do you know what I mean? And I would do it every day and we would be laughing and having a good time and doing a great job. I want to win and I want to be successful, trust me. But everyone's coming with, you know what I mean, until of course it doesn't work out, and occasionally it doesn't. But again, I don't know. I just think that the culture of a company or a brand is everything to its success.
Jodi KatzSo, our last question, and it's a very big shift in gears. You told me that your LinkedIn account had gotten hacked.
Melissa SperauOh gosh, this is hilarious.
Jodi KatzI mean, knock on wood. This doesn't happen to me. I guess I never really thought anyone would spend the time hacking a LinkedIn account. Can you tell me what went down?
Melissa SperauOh my gosh. And Jodi, I'm that person, you know who you watch those commercials on TV, like this farmer and they're like, "Hey, if you take this medication, you're going to grow a horn on your head." And things like that. I'm that person it's like that 1%. So that's also probably why I have a sense of humor, because I'm like, "Oh my God, am I getting pumped, all these things that have happened in my life?" But I'm also like fight club, like dust off, do you know what I mean? Get back up, keep getting back up. But yeah. So, I forgot what you asked me. How about that?
Jodi KatzLinkedIn, your LinkedIn got hacked.
Melissa SperauOh, the hack for that, that was hilarious. So, I literally logged in, this was years ago, LinkedIn was a bit newer and I logged in and it was really odd and I'm, respectably, technology savvy. I'm not like a genius or something, but I'm not like a complete loser either. So, I'm literally in, and I see all these sent invitations and I see the people accepting and I'm like, "What is going on?" And you could actually, it was really odd, you could actually see the account in activity, almost like it was a TV show versus me touching the screen.

So, of course, I shut it down. I reopened, I logged out. I did all of those things and I went back in and it was literally me linking in with people that I have fired and linked in with Sally, an executive, in the last company I was at, who was dead. And I was like, "Oh my gosh, there are no words." And it was so embarrassing, because some of the people that were creepy that I did not want to associate with, you know what I mean? Again, this all didn't end well, were writing me, "Oh my gosh, I never thought I'd hear from you again."

And I'm like, "You're not hearing from me, you're hearing from this platform." So, it was horrifying. Luckily my assistant at the time, random, her sister worked at LinkedIn actually in Ireland and she had to call her and she was in a corporate position and they had to go in and fix it, and they said it has happened. But again, it was like one in 800 million people this happens to. And by the way, I stayed off LinkedIn for a long time, which obviously is not some strong career move or anything, but I was just like, "I'm sorry." So yeah, I stayed out of it for a while.
Jodi KatzOh my God. It's terrifying and kind of an awesome story at the same time, just because I understand people wanting to hack celebrity accounts, because it's like a badge of honor for a hacker, but for someone to bother with LinkedIn, it's like, what are they doing with their time?
Melissa SperauI know, I almost wondered if it... Obviously if it was some kind of a software glitch versus it... But they said it was like a hack, and they go in and get people's info and then try to connect and get other people's information, et cetera. So, I guess that was wow. Who wants to get into the CIA of the beauty industry of people? But, oh, well.
Jodi KatzWell, thank you for sharing that LinkedIn horror story. I think it's important that everyone is aware that this can happen. Check out your LinkedIns, and we met over LinkedIn, you and I. So, I'm glad that you got back into the game.
Melissa SperauAbsolutely. It was great connecting with you. We probably would never have crossed paths otherwise. Right?
Jodi KatzRight. Well, certainly not virtually.
Melissa SperauAbsolutely.
Jodi KatzBut I'm excited to get back to New York. I was actually thinking maybe this summer I'll send an email to my database and say, "Hi, I'm going to come to my New York... Go to my office in New York and hang out. Does anybody want to meet me?"
Melissa SperauYes. I think that would be great.
Jodi KatzBecause I don't even know like, do people want to have coffee? Do they not want to have coffee? I think I'll just have an open house and make little appointments.
Melissa SperauOh, it's all coming back. I think people do want to see each other. It's really, our company recently did a volunteer thing with my peers, my boss did it, and we all went in to New York. There were a few people that couldn't come or couldn't make it. And literally we were laying eyes on each other after over a year and it was super familiar right away, but also weird, do you know what I mean, in that first few moments of like, "Oh my gosh, it's you." Which I know sounds so crazy to say it that way. And it was a really great day, because we were doing stuff outside, volunteer stuff. So, again, outside and all of that, but, again, sometimes you don't know what you're missing until you have it in front of you again. Right?
Jodi KatzWell, Melissa, it's been amazing to get to know you and thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and your stories with our fans.
Melissa SperauOh, well, thanks. I don't know if I'd call it wisdom or just a lot of miles on my back. But thank you for having me and I really appreciate it and all the best to you.
Jodi KatzAnd for our listeners, I hope you enjoyed this interview with Melissa. Please, subscribe to our series in 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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