Alexandra Wilkis Wilson on the Art of Recovering From a Wrong Note

from NYTs

This interview with Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, chief executive of Glamsquad, an app-based beauty provider, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant.

More here.


9 Responses to Alexandra Wilkis Wilson on the Art of Recovering From a Wrong Note

  1. Allison Yashay October 15, 2015 at 8:51 pm #

    I was very inspired after reading Alexandra Wilkis Wilson’s interview. Learning how the piano and language had such an impact on her life was fascinating. I loved the fact that she created her own major at Harvard. She stated that she “learned a lot of lessons about handling mistakes. People make mistakes every day in life.” I couldn’t agree more with her statement. Life is about learning from our mistakes so that we don’t repeat them down the road. Taking from that Wilson stated that if you make a mistake, “you have to be able to think quickly and rebound from them and recalibrate very quickly.” While I didn’t learn to correct my mistakes playing the piano, I did learn to recover from my mistakes quickly. I learned to not let them effect my performance, and learn how to not make the same mistake twice. Another point that Wilson made that I completely agree with is when she said that she doesn’t like procrastinating. She likes “people to be organized and punctual, and hates it when people haven’t done analysis before they show up to a meeting.” I’m the type of person that constantly has to be prepared, and gets an assignment done in a prompt amount of time. It’s important to me that I have this type of work caliber. Her criteria for hiring was also interesting. The things she looks for in a person are very important to the workforce. Wilson likes people who can “adapt to changing environments and who aren’t going to be so concerned about what the job description says.” She is also looking for people “who are willing to put in the hours, who can work well with others and have this can-do attitude.” An important point that Wilson makes is that she wants to “feel and applicant’s passion in an interview.” She wants to know “why do they think her company has the potential to be a $1 billion company?” Having something to prove is very important in an interview. I have learned talking to recent graduates, as well as professors and professionals that showing passion in an interview shows the interviewer that you really want the job.
    Wilson gives two keep tips for success, finding your passion and networking. I already found my passion, it is now up to me to go out and network with people within my interest, and land my dream career. Wilson states that networking is “important, as well as building relationships, keeping in touch with people, to do kind acts for other people without expecting something in return, because there are going to be moments in your career or your personal life where you might need to ask for help and favors.” I found her last statement very inspiring. She says that the most important advice she could give is to “just be a nice person.” Wilson’s interview was definitely inspiring, and I definitely want to take her words of advice into consideration as I enter the work world.

  2. Isabel Goodman October 16, 2015 at 11:07 am #

    In this article, Adam Bryant interviews Alexandra Wilkis Wilson about her startup experience, advice on how to succeed, and also how she changed the workplace environment. Alexandra tells Adam about mistakes when she answers the very first question. She says they are bound to happen, but the important thing is to keep your composure. As Professor Shannon says in class, “Don’t let them see you sweat.” She says that it is also important to think quickly and recalibrate quickly. There is a lot of competition out there and you can’t be left behind. Those who are left behind fail. It is hard enough to be a startup, learning everything you can to be successful gives you more of an advantage. Confidence is key when it comes to that. Alexandra warns not to let your head start playing games with you because that will only lead to self-doubt. Self-doubt is the enemy of success, it tears at your self-esteem and nothing can succeed if the one person trying to make it happen does not have full confidence that it will work, because if they don’t, then who will? I find Alexandra Wilson’s advice very helpful because mistakes are going to happen regardless of who you are and how much experience you have. So gaining insight as to how to perform when this occurs will be beneficial.
    Adam Bryant also asks her leadership style. Before, she mentioned how she worked in an environment where scare tactics were implemented in order to have people perform and she did not like that. She said when she became the boss she would do things differently, and do things differently she did. When she responds to the question posed by Adam Bryant about her leadership style she says she says she likes to have people say their pet peeves. I think this is interesting because most people will look at what a person likes to figure out who they are, but she looks at what they do not like in order to come to a fair conclusion as to who they truly are. I think this is telling because she looks outside of the box and realizes what it takes to have people perform. In the video she says that she motivates her staff by seeing what makes them tick and also what they are passionate about. These two things truly encompass who a person is and motivate them to do better. I believe this style of motivation will work a lot better than the scare tactics because people will actually want to do well and will deliver results when they are not afraid and on guard at all times. I know certainly from my experience at many jobs, the ones I performed best in were the ones where I felt my supervisor wanted me to do well and knew me and my abilities. While I still delivered results in the other work environment, the scare tactic only works so long before you recognize that there is a better way and as an employee you can find a workplace experience that better suits you, Alexandra Wilkis Wilson really has it figured out in regards to recovering from a wrong note and motivating others in the workplace. I have looked at her advice and will implement them into my life now and also when I enter into the professional world.

  3. Tamila Garayo October 16, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

    In the following interview Adam Bryant discusses with Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Co-Founder and Strategic Advisor of Gilt, the future landscape of luxury e-commerce, on her startup experience and strategic business development. Before anything, I think this video shares a powerful message to all young women out there. As a society we should know all about the positive impact that women have in the corporate world. It used to be that the business landscape was primarily a man’s world. Today, women are wielding power in the market industry. There should be no leadership differences by gender, the modern day women has worked extremely hard to gain respect and appreciation to make it up the political and corporate ladder. Take a look at Alexandra, she has well over succeeded in her career. She graduated from Harvard Business School, speaks five languages and worked internationally in places like Latin America, Europe and Japan. She serves in several non-profit organizations including Dress for Success Worldwide, and the National Retail Federation Foundation. Mentors in her home town of New York City, and now has a global enterprise. This video speak to me on a very personal level, she is the prime example of what I wish to be, not only as a women but a future leader. I’m sure she endured multiple obstacles to get where she is today, not only due to gender but competition is only increasing.
    Sometimes when we’re in school we forget that we’re not the only ones applying for the big firm, or future CEO position. There are thousands out there, even outside the United States who have the same exact potential as us, sometimes even higher. Therefore, we must be on our toes always, being average will not get you anywhere, you must always be one step ahead. Like Professor Shannon always said, “Don’t let them see you sweat.”
    As you further in your career, I believe it’s important to take a valuable lesson from every internship, and job. It probably will not be your definite occupation for the rest of your life, but you can use them as a foundation for when you do reach that successful moment in your life. Alexandra states, “How I approach the rule is thinking through my whole career, whether it’s leadership I observed from an actual CEO, or someone who managed a whole team. I keep note from things I wanted to emulate… What is going to motivate people, let me get to know them.” I think her approach is powerful, the more you know about your team members and those on board, the more successful your enterprise will be.
    She mentions that starting something new is risky, but you should still work quickly. Entrepreneurs are all about loving risks, as you are getting ramped up for success that are certain things that people need to focus on, one in particular is having a winning attitude. You can tell from the video how passionate Alexandra is, and how proud she is get to be the CEO of her company. From her bio alone you can tell that she is a driven person, with all her outstanding accomplishments I am sure she is an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.
    In the following video, 25 Common Characteristics of a Successful Entrepreneur viewers learn all about the very musts of being a business owner. Regardless of its focal point, everyone’s business goal is ultimately the same. Success. Therefore, certain things must first be implemented and managed before it grows to something profitable and rock solid.
    In her interview with Adam Bryant, we unfortunately did not learn about her full definition of success came to be. Nonetheless, I am sure that she and her partner Alexis had every characteristic that was mentioned in the video. From the interview, I can infer that her style of motivation is what delivered her and her business such great results. Always put your confidence at the forefront, you never know how far it will get you.
    I personally learned a great deal from watching this interview, as well as the YouTube video. It is no secret that I am deathly afraid to see what is to come for me and my business development as I further in my education, and work experience. However, that fear is what might cost me my dream internship and even job. I must accept the fact that things are only going to get harder, and competition is only going to increase. Instead, I should use this as a driving force to keep pushing myself and hopefully get to Alexandra’s place. I still have much to go, but videos like this show me that your development of career path is an exciting time, just keep your composure, and allow your leadership style to shine through. The professional world is only a few years away, gaining insight like this only makes me more ecstatic.

  4. Isabella Lopreiato November 8, 2015 at 7:36 pm #

    The article was exceptional and I think that Alexandra Wilson offers extremely sound advice. Obviously she has much credibility given the fact she co-founded GILT, and that assisted her in becoming the CEO of Glam Squad now. Naturally, it is a complex transition that requires much skill and the ability to efficiently oversee in managing all employees. Wilson possess the attributes of a great CEO, primarily because she cares. Wilson, actually takes the time to get to know her employees by finding out their strengths and how that may be used to help the company succeed. In fact, INC released an article about traits employees believe a CEO must have to be likable. Wilson retains all seven, but just because a CEO does, may not necessarily ensure the company will have tremendous success, as there are other factors to consider.

    The interviewer, Adam, points out that Wilson likes risk, she responds that starting a company something is definitely risky. Of course, people are willing to take such a risk because with high risk equals high return, it just has to be a well calculated risk. In Wilson’s case she had experience in sales and fashion, so she helped established GILT with that knowledge. For any entrepreneur I believe that it is imperative to gain experience in that pertaining field, prior to starting up a company. The reason for that is not only does let one see how to operate their business, but also to see if they enjoy that line of work. After all, Wilson emphasizes the importance of finding out “what you’re good at?” and “What are you passionate about?” If those two questions are incorporated in the business the person is trying to start then it will create a drive to succeed even more. The article discusses networking, I strongly agree that networking is essential. Perhaps that is the key to finding a job, constantly improving on making those connections also building up an individual’s social skills.

  5. Kevin Schoenholz November 9, 2015 at 4:20 pm #

    I genuinely enjoyed reading this article and learning the perspective of Alexandra Wilkis Wilson on being an entrepreneur. The article starts with Alexandra explaining her early life and how she spoke and studied multiple languages from a young age. She created her own major at Harvard called Romance studies which involved 3 or more languages. After college Alexandra got a job in investment banking for three years because she saw other people become successful in their career this way. She didn’t like seeing the politics and fear mongering involved in the culture of finance and said she would not create a company culture like that. She then went on to business school and worked at Louis Vuitton. After that she co founded Glit before becoming the C.E.O of Glamsquad.

    What I liked most and genuinely enjoyed about this article was the list of her pet peeves and what she looks for when hiring at an executive level. Her pet peeves were basically when someone doesn’t work to the standard they were expected to made her angry. Her pet peeves reflected who she was as a person which is someone that is organized, punctual, and intelligent. I connected with how she mentioned that when someone performs one of her pet peeves it triggered an emotional response of frustration. This shows me that she has emotional passion for meeting expectations. The emotional response of frustration shows she cares deeply about meeting performance standards and living up to expectations is not something she takes lightly.

    What she considers when hiring at the executive level is someone who is passionate, adaptable, and not concerned about the description of their job title. Some people that are looking to get hired only want a job because they need money to support themselves on a basic level. I don’t think Alexandra is looking for that type of person. She wants someone who cares about the work they are doing and want to make something of themselves and their company. Not everyone is interested in pursuing something greater than themselves, and I don’t think Alexandra is looking to hire them.

    I respect Alexandra because of her integrity, passion, and dedication. She seems like someone who wants to make the most out of their life and push themselves to succeed. I hope one day to be as successful as she is currently because she has made it a long way in her industry by making smart choices and maintaining a passionate and driven work ethic.

  6. Vivian Vliet November 15, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

    Entrepreneurship is important to the growing and changing world of business. I really internalized Wilson’s advice for new college grads. First, “figure out what you’re good at.” So many people look for jobs based on income, but forget to factor in whether or not they are good at the job. For new grads, the first jobs are the experimental jobs. They get to figure out what they are good at. I think many people are afraid of change and they lie to themselves thinking that if they stick with a job long enough, they will eventually get it. They do not admit when they should just try a different path. Wilson mentions second, “what are you passionate about?” Again, some people look for jobs based on desired income. If an employee hates his/her job, it will not be worth the money. Third, Wilson stressed networking. Many of my professors have also given me this advice. I think that it is so important to entrepreneurship as well because as Wilson states, “In a start-up, there are so many things happening.” There may be times that an entrepreneur will rely on connections to help make things run more smoothly.

    I think that Isabella Lopreiato makes a good point that, “it is imperative to gain experience in that pertaining field, prior to starting up a company.” Without proper knowledge and experience, the business is much riskier. The entrepreneur can only learn so much from research. Of course, research is still very important.

  7. Daniel Folta February 9, 2016 at 9:15 pm #

    Alexis Wilkis Wilson is a woman of balance. In this article, Adam Bryant poses an interesting question to Glamsquad CEO, commenting, “You said you’re a planner, you said you don’t like winging it, but you also seem incredibly comfortable with risk.” She never outright answers this question. Instead the brunt of her response is a story of her and her friend about how they function when writing school papers. It was not until after I read the interview below the video that I felt like I had gotten a better sense of how she maintained that balance. She’s comfortable with risk because she knows that some of her employees function better under risky situations, and others (like herself) function better when they can plan ahead. What sets Ms. Wilson apart from other leaders is that she puts a lot of faith in her employees to do things in methods that she herself does not prefer. Later on in the article she puts a lot of emphasis on letting her senior leaders know what impressed each person and what made each person tick. That way there could be a kind of understanding and support in that group, while allowing for each one of them to be their best selves. It creates a good combination of flexibility and resilience; flexibility because she makes way for a diversity of passions to flourish, and resilience because everyone functions best within their own passions, which leads to unity and strength within the company.

    She also puts on herself a neat combination of optimism and pressure. When college students go through a lot of academic stress, the pressure easily weighs them down and really dampens their spirits. On the other hand, other people fight to put the pressure off themselves so that they can stay happy and positive – but it often leads to little or stagnant growth. In her piano story, Wilson learned at a young age to keep the beat in the midst of mistakes, as she says, “You really can’t lose momentum, and you can’t let your head start playing with you.” She does not disclose exactly how she attained this balance between optimism and pressure, but I would imagine it would take a good deal of discipline. Remembering in the video that she functioned best when she wrote her papers in advance, Wilson implies that she, unlike her co-leader friend of Gilt, does not like action under a lot of pressure. So then, she had to be disciplined and intentional about learning how to deal with pressure even when she did not like it. This same kind of optimistic pressure comes back later in the article when she encourages college students to “figure out what you’re good at.” A lot of people today who are struggling with what they want to pursue are told that “it is okay,” and that they will figure it out eventually. But one must ask at what point does the pressure need to be applied and that answer need to be found, or at least narrowed down a little? Wilson has no problem putting on the pressure here while following up with encouraging words about how we should do things that we are passionate about. Make makes all of this a nice balance for me is that I feel like I either receive or give myself too much negative-focused pressure or too much whimsicality without direction.

    The fruits of this balance produce confidence, perseverance, and the ability to bounce back from shut doors. It is funny how one can read an article and think, “Yeah yeah yeah, I’ve heard this before,” but then one little sentence pops out and changes everything: for me it was her saying, “If someone says maybe, that’s a maybe, and if someone says no to me, that’s also a maybe.” It strikes me because I do not see that same attitude in myself, and yet it is an attitude that is contagious. It is encouraging too, and puts the pressure on me to set a new standard and reach for it. It is easy for me to think that, once someone says no, I need to respect them and let them be. But in the greater scheme of things, I may be walking away from opportunities that could change my whole career. Thinking of all the benefits of knocking on closed doors keeps me optimistic. To apply this to a specific situation in my own life, just today I recalled that I had not received a response in an email exchange between myself and an important man. Just this morning I thought, “Oh well, he’s not interested,” even though I have considered the possibility that he did not receive or simply forgot to read my email. Then I read this article. I just looked on Google for some common follow up emails pertaining to issues related to mine, and now I am going to send another email. What is there to lose? He has not even said no yet.

  8. John Ferry February 10, 2016 at 10:37 am #

    Alexandra Wilkis Wilson has to be one of the most interesting people I have read about. I feel like I can really relate to her and her philosophy on risk taking and planning. Personally, much like Alexandra, I am more of a planner. If I’m assigned a five-page paper that is due the following week, I will start working on it today. I do this for many reasons – partly because I don’t like to procrastinate, but also because it’ll take me one week to write an essay that would take a four-year-old two hours. When it comes to completing my work, I have to plan ahead. However, I respect her ability to balance preparation with risk. This is a balance that I have been able to achieve yet. I usually do not like to take risks when it comes to my work because I believe that the only way to be successful at something is to plan and practice for it. This being said, I have recently accepted and come to peace with the fact that I do not know specifically what I want to do with my life in the future, and for now, that’s okay. I don’t need to have a step by step plan. As of now I’m going to try everything, always do my best, and see where it takes me. This is my first big risk.
    I also perked up a bit when I read that Alexandra played piano as a child. As a guitar player, I know what it feels like to publicly hit the wrong note, or to sing the wrong lyric. Alexandra said that her experiences as a competitive piano player taught her to handle these wrong notes, and how these lessons translate into everyday life. I can’t say for sure what her philosophy is, but what I’ve learned from playing wrong notes is that often times it’s not as big of a deal as you think. I have seen players play one or two wrong notes, and then all of a sudden they break down on stage and stop playing. I have also seen players play wrong notes, but instead of breaking down, they smiled, made a little jokey face, and finished the song. To me, this proves that in life, whenever you play a ‘wrong note’, being overly hard on yourself accomplishes nothing, and often times ignites regression. However, if you face those wrong notes with grit and a bit of a sense of humor, you can still manage to finish your song successfully.
    I was also amazed that Alexandra even created her own major! I have never heard of anyone doing this before. I always thought that one had to choose from the list of options, and if you didn’t conform to any of them, tough luck. This account of her life has taught me that people truly are in control of their own lives, and are able to create their own paths. This gives me a lot of hope for my future; it eases my fear of not knowing what I want to do to because it makes me realize that if I can’t find a path that fits me, I can always make my own.
    Alexandra obviously has a pattern of coming up with good ideas, and this talent translated into her leadership style. I was amazed at how simple yet effective her style was. She understood that being a good leader meant understanding people and that everyone was different. Since everyone was different, she knew that each person had to be approached a certain way. So now comes the problem –“How do I know how to act around each person?” To find this answer, instead of what could’ve been years of trial and error, she asked! So simple – ask and you shall receive. She simply asked her employers what they liked and disliked. I feel like people, including myself, are always so afraid to ask for things. I’m sure the ego has something to do with it, but this has taught me that if you don’t know something, ask.
    Another idea that Alexandra opened my eyes to was the idea of hiring people who are truly flexible, and okay with change. As a future career seeker, I always thought that I had to pick one thing and just look for that. I never thought that an employer would look for someone who is not only willing to be adaptable but one who thrives in that kind of environment. This has ingrained in my head that change is an inevitable part of life, and it can make life very scary. I need to have enough preparation to handle this abyss, yet enough courage to take the first step into it. Balance is key!

  9. Cailee Valente February 11, 2016 at 1:21 am #

    The first phrase that stood out to me in this video was the ideas of being comfortable with risk but possessing the need to plan. This relates to me and sums me up very well because I am someone who loves to be spontaneous and take risks, but only when the time is right. This sounds contradictory because there is never really supposed to be a “right time” or a planned time to take a risk or be spontaneous. However, I know that certain tasks I want to accomplish take proper planning and other situations succeed better from risk taking. There is almost an art to being spontaneous because if you are smart about it, amazing things can result from it. You need to know when and how to act and this is all up to the individual to decide. Some situations in life cannot be planned out and others must be planned out in order to work. Before coming to college I would have considered myself to be a fully spontaneous individual. After experiencing a 6 week rigorous summer program I became the type of person who planned, organized and scheduled. I realized how much more efficiently I perform in my professional and academic lives when I plan and organize. I later learned the valuable life lesson of knowing when to plan and when to be spontaneous. Alexandra Wilkis Wilson planned her business GlamSquad and then chose to take the risk of opening her business before it was actually ready to run. However, it worked out. If she had taken risks with more aspects of her business, the outcome most likely would not have been so desirable.
    Sources of motivation are different for each person and in order for a business to run effectively, the CEO must familiarize themselves with each person’s unique motivation source. This can be done by building personal relationships with coworkers and viewing them as more than just nameless entities. Many times, people try to generalize a group of people and while doing so, fail to realize that each person cannot be generalized. Each person is a unique individual that will respond to stimuli differently and a CEO must understand this.
    At this point in time, I have goals for the future. However, I did not draw out a descriptive plan for the future and I never will. Regardless, creating my own company is an action that I strive for and will use my entrepreneurial skills to obtain. In order to build a successful company I will need to choose what type of boss I want to be. Listening to Wilson speak about her experiences is inspiring me to explore more about this topic. I have been in positions whether they are Seton Hall executive board positions or clubs or part-time jobs where actions do not run smoothly and I do not want to run into this risk when I am a CEO. In order to make a company, club or business run efficiently it is vital to be a good boss.
    One aspect that I enjoyed was when Wilson reflected on her past experiences and how she is now a CEO and chooses to act in a way other than what she has observed in the past. Forbes wrote an article which was featured in their leadership section online entitled “5 Skills Every New CEO Needs” ( which correlates with Wilson since she was a new CEO for Glamsquad. The first skill mentioned is “be the change” which in essence means that a CEO leads the crowd and must change in order to be efficient and then everyone else will follow. It is clear that Wilson wants her business to flourish and she shows how her positive leadership that she executes in her position benefit her business. I want to touch back on the idea of getting to personally know and understand each employee. To me, this idea is common sense, but not everyone would agree. In this situation, Wilson understood how she needed to act in order to get the results that she wanted and she executed it accurately. From my experiences, there have been times when people have noticed our team or organization not running smoothly, yet not taking any initiative to change it. There is a difference between observing the wrongdoings and letting them happen and actually observing the wrongdoings and doing something about it. I will most definitely take this idea of being the change and implement it into my personal and professional life situations.

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