This First-Time Entrepreneur That Built a Website With More Than 5 Million Monthly Visitors Sets Aside Time to Work Out With Her Team…prime point

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This First-Time Entrepreneur That Built a Website With More Than 5 Million Monthly Visitors Sets Aside Time to Work Out With Her Team…prime point

This First-Time Entrepreneur That Built a Website

Alexia Brue, the co-founder and CEO of the online news site Well + Good, shares her tips on creating a culture, holding meetings and giving employees perks, happy reading.

In this series, Leader Board, we speak with CEOs, managers, founders and others who lead organizations to learn what makes them tick, what they look for in new hires and even where they eat lunch.

 

From weekly yoga classes to pre-meeting guided meditation, in everything they do — and beyond — the staff of Well + Good stays committed to its core mission: wellness. Launched in 2010 by former journalists Alexia Brue and Melisse Gelula, Well + Good is an online news publication that focuses on wellness, covering topics such as exercise, beauty, travel and more.

 

Today, the website garners a monthly readership of more than 5 million, has more than a million social followers and is on the path to doubling its users and annual revenue, which is already eight figures, by next year, according to the company. While it’s safe to say Well + Good is doing well, that didn’t happen quickly — it involved sleepless nights, quick decision-making and a whole lot of stress.

This First-Time Entrepreneur That Built a Website With More Than 5 Million Monthly Visitors Sets Aside Time to Work Out With Her Team…prime point

 

With no experience starting her own business, Brue, who is also CEO, spent most of her early career writing about the health and beauty space for publications such as Vogue and The New York Times. However, after meeting Gelula, and right before the rise of the trendy health scene when companies such as SoulCycle and BluePrintCleanse didn’t even exist, the two saw an opportunity. And while the initial focus of Well + Good was only on New York City, the co-founders knew they needed to expand their reach and launched nationally in 2014.

 

While it’s still growing, today Brue leads a team of more than 40 employees, all with a passion for health and wellness, along with a wide network of contributing writers and editors. However, coming from a journalist’s perspective was helpful, as Brue had to learn to bridge her creative side with business, leading the team’s strategic direction, revenue and business development functions. And from the experience, she’s learned “It all comes down to communication and clarity,” she shared with Entrepreneur. “Setting the vision and the tone for everything is the most important.”

And she’s done a pretty good job at that — creating a team that even works out and meditates together. From hiring to leadership habits to company culture, we caught up with Brue to learn how she leads a growing company.

On the most important leadership traits:

“It all comes down to communication and clarity. Setting the vision and the tone for everything is the most important thing. It’s really important that the whole organization is really clear on what Well + Good good stands for. We’re all about high quality journalism and a pioneering point of view on wellness that we don’t think readers can get anywhere else. It’s also really important to lead by example. So if we value responsiveness across the team, [I] display that myself.”

On leadership style:

“Melisse and I founded Well + Good in 2010 — the first years were really challenging because we were bootstrapped and didn’t have [the] resources to invest in the team. Now that we’ve been around for over seven years, we are able to invest more and be more supportive, and help different people reach their fullest potential.

“I have a lot more time now to listen really actively. My role is to make my team’s ideas be the best that they can be. It’s not about me imposing my thoughts in a brainstorm, [it’s about] empowering and helping [employees] refine their ideas.”

On habits that help her lead:

“Getting a good amount of sleep is critical to judgment and productivity. I also prioritize daily workouts, which are really great stress reliefs for me and also a time [to] think through things. I don’t always start my workouts with a clear mind but I always end with one. I also have a gratitude app on my phone that I use every day. It helps me feel more optimistic and grounded.”

On challenges:

“It’s always really challenging to prioritize one’s time and to stay focused on the big picture. My co-founder, our COO [and] I use SMART goals, which we revise every quarter. The S is specific, the M is measurable, the A is agreed upon, the R is realistic and the T is time-based. So every quarter we each lay out what we want to accomplish. I visit my SMART goals fairly often to make sure I’m prioritizing [the] things I want to get done and staying focused on what’s going to drive the business forward.”

On the toughest business decision:

“The toughest decision was not to raise money early on. On one hand, we would have had the ability to fund our projects and not worry about daily liquidity, but on the other hand, we would have been giving up control and we wouldn’t have been able to build the company we wanted to. Spending a lot of time answering to investors instead of building our business in a way that felt true to us didn’t feel right. [But] it meant there were a lot of years [of] giving up sleep — we were doing the work of three people each.”

On the most important traits in a new hire:

“One of the questions I always ask when I’m interviewing people is about the type of work environment that they thrive in. Some people really thrive in fast moving, nimble startup environments, and other people prefer the structure and predictability of a corporate job. We try to find people who are going to be energized and invigorated by the type of environment we have.

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