Stephen Yaseen

In The Present Tense: Stephen Yaseen of Good Weird

"We as humans are not perfect, and therefore our business will not be either - nothing is going to go perfectly. So it’s really about being able to be proactive, and react and adapt to change. And being very comfortable with being uncomfortable."

1: What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage it?

My biggest fear is mediocrity and not living up to my own definitions of success. I’m someone who wants to constantly be enacting change and striving for excellence. I’m a lover of change and I think that’s where that fear stems from, it’s a fear of not accomplishing things that are important to me. What’s really helped me manage this fear is a focus on tackling the important things that are in front of me at the moment. Knocking down the smaller, incremental goals and steps, rather than only focusing on the larger, opaque goal. It’s really these smaller steps and goals that allow you to attain your larger goal anyways, so focusing on achieving the smaller goals really feels like a more manageable format.

2: How do you define success?

I define success as creating change and influence, and feeling fulfilled. And the ability to amplify my message and to voice my perspective to others is honestly what makes me feel fulfilled. This also goes back to what I said previously about focusing on the little things - achieving the little goals. Sure, I wouldn’t mind building a billion dollar beauty brand, but where the real fulfillment, the real success comes from, is seeing how I’m impacting my customer’s lives in a meaningful way. For example, we received this card from one of our customers recently who said they wore our bronze moisturizer to their graduation and it made them feel so confident and empowered. Moments like that are what success means to me.

3: Who are your real-life heroes?

My parents are definitely my real life heroes, they sacrificed a lot to provide my brother and I with a stable upbringing. And it was that stable upbringing that I believe gave me the ability, level-headedness, and strength to start my own business. Then there’s my friends and close network who support me and push me to create balance in my life.

"Being a founder, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of what’s important in life and to forget about the importance of work-life balance, so the people in my life who will literally be like, “did you eat today?” are my heroes."

Being a founder, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of what’s important in life and to forget about the importance of work-life balance, so the people in my life who will literally be like, “did you eat today?” are my heroes. It’s these small, supportive acts that make my life easier and that help me create the balance that allows me to succeed.

4: What is the best gift you've given yourself?

The best gift has been allowing myself to feel comfortable with failure. I believe that starting a company is an expression of yourself. We as humans are not perfect, and therefore our business will not be either - nothing is going to go perfectly. So it’s really about being able to be proactive, and react and adapt to change. And being very comfortable with being uncomfortable.

"We as humans are not perfect, and therefore our business will not be either - nothing is going to go perfectly. So it’s really about being able to be proactive, and react and adapt to change. And being very comfortable with being uncomfortable."

But I didn’t always think this way. I used to work in the tech industry, in growth and sales roles, which had very clear targets and definitions for what success and hitting your goals looks like. Since becoming an entrepreneur the journey is definitely more opaque. Sure, there are wins like getting something to market, or reaching certain milestones, but when you build your own business you’re in control of your own destiny in a way. It was then that I realized there were wins like learning and fulfillment, and even just the act of creating something, and this helped me see failure in a different light. Every failure is also a win in some way.

5: What was the last win you celebrated?

I’ve been a fan of skincare and beauty since before I got into the industry professionally, and have always regarded beauty awards as a massive stamp of approval. This year we won one of these awards when our product was named in the “best of” beauty awards, which in my mind is like the pinnacle of or the Oscars of the beauty world. It’s a very cool moment when you receive recognition for all of the work you’ve put into creating something - just someone saying, “yes, this is good”. As for celebrating this win, it was more of an internal celebration. I gave myself some time to breathe and reflect, and reaffirmed with myself that I’m on the right path - my semblance of and definition of success were aligned. Taking these moments to feel into the wins are what give me the energy and confidence to continue to tackle the next goal.