Origin Bank Women Leaders of Today: Elyse Dickerson CEO and Founder Eosera
Elyse Dickerson is the CEO and founder of a fast growing pharmaceutical company Eosera. She also practices gratitude, leading with grace and paying it forward. Today we are going to learn a bit more about her gratitude practice and how we can implement a few elements in our own lives.
Introduction: 00:02 Welcome to Women Leaders of Today. This series is presented by Origin Bank, highlighting women, changing the world in business and communities. Check us out at www.origin.bank. Bank original.
Sarah Webb: 00:20 Welcome to Plaid Radio. I’m your host, Sarah Webb, and I’m with today’s guest Elyse Dickerson. Elyse is CEO and founder of a fast growing pharmaceutical company, Eosera, she practices gratitude, leading with grace and paying it forward. Today we’re going to learn a little bit more about her gratitude practice and how we can implement a few items into our own lives. Welcome to the show Elyse.
Elyse Dickerson: 00:40 Thank you. Great to be here.
Sarah Webb: 00:41 Well, first, share a little bit about Eosera and some of your leading products. Like how did you get into a pharmaceutical company?
Elyse Dickerson: 00:49 Sure. So I spent the majority of my career about 13 years before founding this company in the healthcare industry with a pharmaceutical company. And then three years ago founded Eosera with my business partner, Joe Griffin. We really set out to just fill unmet medical needs in the market. And so the first one that kept rising to the top was this condition of ear wax impaction, which we had no idea but drives about 18,000,000 people a year to their doctor or to have earwax removed from their ear canal. So, we launched our first product in April of 2017, so not too long ago. And now it’s on nationwide shelves, at CVS stores, sold on Amazon and we’re working with other major retailers to get it into distribution in 2018.
Sarah Webb: 01:43 Awesome. It’s very exciting. I mean, I don’t ever think of earwax and gratitude too much. When you started thinking about creating your own company, you know, you knew that you wanted to do some things differently. I think we always have this list of like, if I’m in charge, I’ll never do this, this, and this. What are some of the things that you wanted to experience differently versus your corporate, traditional background? What did you want to let you make different about your company?
Elyse Dickerson: 02:13 That’s a great question. And I can honestly tell you that Joe and I thought more about the corporate culture or the company culture than we did about the actual product line that we were going to start, when we first founded the company. And so we spent a good probably month just laying out a plan or framework for the type of culture we wanted and that included a culture that centered around people and um, people feeling empowered and valued and inspired to come to work each day. And that really was driven out of the experience that we had both experienced in our past careers. And so many of our friends had experienced that, you know, we just felt like a number or we felt like just a cog in a wheel but not really like that we had value, true value to the company.
Sarah Webb: 03:11 I think that’s a common feeling. I don’t know how big corporations are going to tackle it. I think it kind of starts with small groups of, you know, maybe teams and pockets of organizations being intentional about that. But you start your week, your team shares gratitude. And this kind of. When you told me this, you know, I was like, Ooh, that’s like too touchy feely for me a little bit, but give us the logistics of how this happens and how you’ve seen it change your team.
Elyse Dickerson: 03:35 Yeah. So we started about a year ago as our team grew and we wanted to… in order to create this cultural environment and I do believe all of this starts with leadership, so I think you’re right in these big companies it’s going to be really hard to make a change if the people at the very top of the food chain don’t truly embrace and practice gratitude on a daily basis. So we, I guess about a year ago started our staff meetings with taking just a few minutes to everybody had their own journal or notebook and just spent five minutes writing something that they were grateful for. And it could be something as small as, you know, what happened that morning and what their family or it could be something big that happened in their life. It could be work related, personal related. But what we’ve found is it changes people’s mindset. And so it relieves a little bit of stress because everybody feels stress at work or at home, so it relieves a little of that stress and it reframes the discussion and allows people to feel, even if they don’t share that gratitude, um, it’s inside them and allows them to have a bit more positive energy flow out of them. And so during staff meetings it’s really productive because people are in a can do attitude, right? And they and they want to work together and they realize that they have so many blessings to be grateful for and the small little stresses that come along really can be managed through.
Sarah Webb: 05:08 How do you think it’s impacted the business relationships and your connections to the individual team members on the team?
Elyse Dickerson: 05:15 I think we’re still small, but I do think it has helped. My goal was not to have a hierarchical structure. I think that everybody knows their role, but I want as a leader, I want to have an open door and I want anyone at any level to be able to speak their truth and speak what they believe is best for the business. And I think if they feel heard, everybody benefits and the company certainly benefits. So it really has just created a close knit culture and people, people don’t feel like they’re at work they kind of feel like there was a big extended family.
Sarah Webb: 05:55 Have you gotten any feedback from the team members of how it’s impacted their personal lives?
Elyse Dickerson: 06:00 Several other of our team members, they journal or listen to different gratitude podcasts, that kind of thing on their drive in or devotionals, however you want to call it. So I think we tend to lean towards hiring people that can already sort of understand this practice. And we have that ability because we’re so small. As we get bigger, it’ll be interesting to see how we transform or help transform people’s personal life.
Sarah Webb: 06:34 I did a gratitude practice specifically for 40 days. And at first it was like, I’m thankful for my husband, thankful for my kids, you know, like very like the things you’re supposed to say, which I mean I am thankful for them, but when I dove a little bit deeper instead of just listing things, it was like I’m thankful because my husband made my coffee or I’m thankful that my kids are old enough to put themselves to bed or you know, like it’s very like specific things. I actually felt more positivity towards the people I was writing about, not just like this general, I’m thankful for them, but getting a little bit deeper into why am I thankful for them, why am I grateful for them? And it changed daily, especially when you live with people, but it definitely was… it just kind of set the tone for the day to be like more positive and positive outlook versus kind of like it’s a crappy day. I’m just going to get through it. I felt like it was… It definitely helped my mindset.
Elyse Dickerson: 07:29 Yeah. I think, and there’s been studies done on this that show. I mean it truly, truly changes your mindset and helps you have this can-do attitude. Take on the tough things, essentially reframe the entire situation, right? Like not complaining about all the things that we have to get done, but thinking I got this, I can do this and it can be as simple as five to 10 minutes a day. It doesn’t have to be this long drawn out exercise.
Sarah Webb: 08:00 Oh yeah. Like I didn’t, I mean I spent, it could be three to five minutes. I mean it doesn’t have to be very long practice. I mean it’s just something you know quickly you can do.
Elyse Dickerson: 08:10 Yeah. And I have to tell you, I love every once in a while flipping back through my journal and just seeing like a year ago what was I so thankful for and it just puts a smile on your face. It just. Yeah, it’s cool.
Sarah Webb: 08:23 It is cool. And I’ve actually been journaling since my senior year in high school, so I got a lot of good material to go back to go back and look at what was I thinking. I don’t have a good chuckle, chuckle that plans the plans that I was laying for my future life and yeah.
Elyse Dickerson: 08:40 And did they all happen exactly as you plan them?
Sarah Webb: 08:43 I’m pretty sure if I wrote it down, it happened. Not that way exactly at all. I think big picture, it’s probably there, but like the way, the journey, is very different and I think that’s true for most of us. So this gratitude movement is really, and it’s people centered it’s really of a bigger movement in business, conscious capitalism. Tell us a little bit about what that means for Eosera.
Elyse Dickerson: 09:08 Sure. Yeah. So I became aware and sort of a student of conscious capitalism probably, I don’t know, seven, eight years ago, and it’s a belief that business is a force for good or can be a force for good in the world and it seems really simple, but when you step back and look at how most companies are operating, most companies are focused on short term results for their shareholders and completely profit driven. And that is not sustainable long-term because the pressures they just mount every quarter. And so conscious capitalism looks more at the long-term and it’s all about having some sort of purpose that is higher than profits. And that can be anything. And so, depending on what industry you’re in, it could vary greatly. Ours is centered around people and I think it’s really applicable to healthcare because that’s what we’re, we’re treating people right? We’re trying to improve people’s lives, but it’s not only the patients we’re treating, it’s also our employees. How are they valued and treated every day at work, how our investors treated and respected, and then pretty much every vendor that we work with, how are we lifting them up on a daily basis? And I think when you take it as a whole and you look at studies that have been done, if companies operate this way long-term, the companies perform better and employees are happier, higher satisfaction and long-term profits are better.
Sarah Webb: 10:41 Let me just challenge this a little bit, cause I’m, I’m with you. And then I go back to myself as like a shareholder. So if I was a shareholder, what would you sell to me be? What…? I mean like, I do want the profit. I want the profits AND I want people to be happy. How do you kind of balance that?
Elyse Dickerson: 11:00 So it’s a great question and I think how my sell to our investors and most I would say not most, but a lot of our investors are already operating in this conscious capitalism model, which is why we were drawn to them and they were drawn to us, but my sell to someone who has not heard about it is that by practicing and running a business this way, the long-term value of our company is going to be greater than if I just focus on each quarter results. So that’s the sell. And as an investor you have to buy into that. You have to believe that if employees and everybody in that in that stakeholder model feel valued and feel empowered, they’re going to perform better and if they perform better, the company performs better.
Sarah Webb: 11:51 There are studies proving that, I think this will gain more traction as we have more empirical evidence that that is the case. I mean just like the discussion that we’re having on women, being on more boards equals more on the bottom line. I think for years it was like this is a good thing to do and now we have more evidence to say no, it actually translates into profits. I think it’s definitely interesting. I think, you know, as people become more aware of their investing and there are more choices around conscious capitalism, you know, individual companies that we’ve historically invested in are going to have to start answering to hey, like what are you doing as part of this, you know, take a big conglomerate like AT&T, you know, how are they part of the conscious capitalism movement, how can you, you know, you’ve built up profits and you’ve done all this and I think that’s great, but now how are you joining in this? And I think it’s going to be even more difficult for them because that’s a change in culture versus you know, where you are as building it from the ground up.
Elyse Dickerson: 12:50 I totally agree. Yeah. Well said.
Sarah Webb: 12:53 So you’ve personally, you’ve talked about your transition over the last few years from corporate life to entrepreneurship and leading your own company. You are specifically focused on gratitude. How has this shifted in your own personal life?
Elyse Dickerson: 13:07 So I think it’s really helped me stay balanced and honestly this is something that I started before I left my corporate job and it helped me stay afloat and stay in a positive mindset even when I was encased in an environment that, you know, didn’t practice gratitude or where I didn’t feel necessarily valued as employee. So I think it’s given me better perspective that I can handle all the tough times because I daily acknowledge all the support that I have out there, all the people that are there cheering me on or that are a phone call away to help me figure out a problem. And sometimes we lose sight of that when we’re in a storm especially in a startup. I mean, every day brings some sort of challenge if you only focus on those and not on the positive things. I mean, I think that’s why so many people shut their doors.
Sarah Webb: 14:08 Yeah, absolutely. What about relationships within your own family?
Elyse Dickerson: 14:12 Yeah, I think it’s something that we talked to our kids about all the time and it’s also something that helps, like you were talking about earlier, when you live with people, you know, so your spouse, you don’t get so worked up about the small stuff when you’re practicing gratitude and you, you’re thankful for some of the small stuff. Right? So like you said, just getting me a cup of coffee. Wow, you know, I mean it seems again so simple, but it reframes so you know, so there’s a towel left on the floor. OK, I can handle that this morning. I’m not going to fly off the handle. But again, if you’re focused on the negative and everything that’s going wrong in the household or with your family members, then it’s easy to get very irritated and, and it just creates a spiral effect downward. And especially with kids, you know, they feed on your own energy. So I really, really tried to have a positive mindset at home.
Sarah Webb: 15:12 I need to create some type of positive mantra that I can run through my head when I step on Lego’s. That’s when I’m at my least… um, why do those things hurt so much! I mean they’re just plastic, but I need some type of like affirmation that I can yell when that happens. But yeah, I think, you know, when you’re focused, I mean we take so much for granted and I think that’s where this gratitude comes from, is that we actually take so much for granted. You know, my kids, you know, woke up, had a semi nutritious breakfast. They had clean clothes, you know, I just, I remember being so entitled and I think part of being younger is being entitled, you know, you look back at your parents and you’re like, oh man, they did a lot of stuff and I was a brat sometimes and that’s, you know, my parents love being grandparents and pointing out some of those things. And, and that’s OK, that’s part of it. But to also kind of be like, you know, what can we be feeding and nourishing of our own children so that they are not brats as much as we were. I guess that’s, you know, my parents, when they felt that we were being ungrateful would drive us into a different part of town that maybe didn’t have all the things that we did and was like, you could be living here, you know, and hopefully maybe I don’t have to do that to my own children. It definitely starts with us and like you said, our kids feed off of our energy, like if we’re calm, they’re calm. Our family recently played Monopoly for the first time. So we had to, I feel like Monopoly is the perfect fighting game for all families. And so we kind of had to step back and talk about it being a game and that’s, even like me and my husband, I’m like OK, we don’t have to like steal everything from the kids. Like this is their first time to play Monopoly. So we’ve got to check ourselves sometimes.
Elyse Dickerson: 15:12 We’re big Monopoly fans, too.
Sarah Webb: 17:02 It’s the game. So apparently, you know, and I pulled out the official rules and so we’re trying to play by official rules. So which is, which is different than I guess how we played growing up. What do you think about, we talked about bringing gratitude to existing organizations and how hard that is, but do you think it could start with small teams or on projects? Like how would you say someone listening to this, you know, podcast is in a big corporation but really likes this idea? Like what could they start doing in their own lives?
Elyse Dickerson: 17:31 I absolutely think it can be incorporated and I think if someone is leading a team that’s probably the best place to start incorporating it. Bringing it into daily or weekly staff meetings, sort of starting what we did. People will be skeptical when you start it and then they will give you a funny look, but you know, just say, look, we’re going to start each staff meeting, bring a journal. You’re going to write for five minutes. You can write about anything you want that you’re grateful for and you will be amazed after, you know, the first week or two, the shift in people and their comfort level with it because the end of the day, we’re all human, right? And we all crave positive reinforcement and positive energy. And they may just not realize the value until they’ve actually done the exercise. So I think it does probably start with small teams now if you’re leading a huge organization, you could bring in outside consultants to help implement programs, but it’s going to have to happen sort of in small environments over time. And it really has to be led by example.
Sarah Webb: 18:38 And what do you think about actual writing. I feel like that’s important. Like not typing on your phone.
Elyse Dickerson: 18:38 Yes, I do
Sarah Webb: 18:44 or on your, your computer. I just feel like the handwritten, I don’t know, it’s like it’s imprinting it on my brain just a little bit more.
Elyse Dickerson: 18:53 I absolutely agree. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen any evidence that one is better than the other, but I personally, and pretty much all the classes and groups and coaches that I’ve worked with on this kind of stuff, has always had us write in a physical journal or a piece of paper.
Sarah Webb: 19:10 And I think, you know, it’s just an easy way for people to get started. It’s just, you know, sometimes you’re like, oh, what am I grateful for? Just like right five things. Like even between, like the moment you wake up to where you are, wherever you’re starting in your journal, what are the five things that you’re grateful for. And the first day it maybe a cup of coffee. My car started, you know, I have clothes to wear, like don’t think of it as too small because that really feeds into more things like yes, you may have these material things to start with, but after practicing it, I felt that I got a little bit deeper and less superficial.
Elyse Dickerson: 19:44 Yeah, absolutely. And I think a good question you can ask yourself while you’re doing these exercises. What have I accomplished so far? Right? So as a parent, what do I think I’ve accomplished? In my business, what have I accomplished? And it again, reframes resets your mind. OK, I’ve already done all that. Wow, that’s kind of amazing. Versus I have so much to get done. You know, we, we’re always thinking ahead and we’re thinking about what we haven’t done. And so I think that’s a great question to ask yourself to get started.
Sarah Webb: 20:19 Yeah, actually, “what have I done so far?” And that means also that I’m not done yet, like have this limit of like what I can do. I like that. This has been great. How can our listeners connect with you, cheer along Eosera, go find earwax stuff. What can they do to learn more about you?
New Speaker: 20:40 Absolutely. So we have a Twitter page, Twitter handle, it’s @eoserainc. We have our website is www.earcaremd.com. Then I’m always on Facebook and LinkedIn just under Elyse Stoltz Dickerson. And yeah. Would love to hear from people. Would love to hear your successes with this or maybe they’re not successes with this, but hopefully everybody will give it a try.
Sarah Webb: 21:09 So that’s a wrap for Plaid Radio. Elise, thanks for joining us. I want to remind everyone before we drop off that you need to be saving the date for September 21st and 22nd in Southlake Texas for our second annual NoMeanGirls conference. So if you want to connect with business women, women who are starting their own company’s, women who are in corporations, women who run their household, in a judgment free space where we can support each other, we’d love for you to join us. So, that’s at www.nomeangirls.com. So, go check out Eosera and I will put the links in our show notes and then jump over to www.nomeangirls.com and buy your tickets.