At work with Gwyneth Paltrow: 6 lessons in business and why she gave up acting for Goop


Fast Company Magazine's 3rd annual FC/LA: A Meeting of the Most Creative Minds event touched down in the industrial-chic Santa Monica headquarters of Goop on Wednesday afternoon, where writer Nicole LaPorte chatted with Gwyneth Paltrow about her ever-growing lifestyle empire.

The event is one of several that the magazine is hosting in L.A. this week, giving guests a behind-the-scenes look into some of the city's most creative companies. The stop at Goop follows several recent announcements from the brand Paltrow founded as a newsletter 5 years ago, including news that it will be partnering with Conde Nast on a quarterly glossy magazine, has opened pop-ups in 9 Nordstrom stores nationwide, and will open its own first brick-and-mortar store, Goop Lab, in Brentwood later this year.

Read more: Goop Is Partnering With Conde Nast on a Print Magazine

Paltrow, dressed in a white suit coming soon from Goop's private label, held forth on how she defines her business ("contextual commerce"), who she admires in the fashion space in terms of scale (Tory Burch), and her mentors (CAA President Richard Lovett, among others).

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Gwyneth Paltrow out and about
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Gwyneth Paltrow out and about
SEATTLE, WA - MAY 19: Gwyneth Paltrow visits goop-In@Nordstrom for Book Signingon May 19, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images for Nordstrom)
CULVER CITY, CA - MAY 06: Gwyneth Paltrow attends the UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital's Kaleidoscope on May 06, 2017 in Culver City, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: Gwyneth Paltrow attends the 'Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between' Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: A$AP Rocky and Gwyneth Paltrow attends the 'Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between' Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 09: Actress Gwyneth Paltrow attends a front row during La Perla Fall/Winter 2017 RTW Show at SIR Stage 37 on February 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for La Perla)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Gwyneth Paltrow, actress & founder of Goop, speaks onstage at the 3rd Annual Airbnb Open Spotlight at the Los Angeles Theatre on November 19, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 02: Actress Gwyneth Paltrow attends the Frederique Constant Horological Smartwatch launch event at Spring Studios on November 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Frederique Constant)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 30: Actress Gwyneth Paltrow attends the 2016 LACMA Art + Film gala at LACMA on October 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 30: Actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Founder of the GOOD+ Foundation and host Jessica Seinfeld attends the First-Ever GOOD+ Foundation Halloween Bash hosted Jessica Seinfeld at Sunset Gower Studios on October 30, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for GOOD+)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 29: (L-R) Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, wearing Gucci, Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele and actress Brie Larson, wearing Gucci attend the 2016 LACMA Art + Film Gala Honoring Robert Irwin and Kathryn Bigelow Presented By Gucci at LACMA on October 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Venturelli/Getty Images for LACMA)
MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: Gwyneth Paltrow attends ELLE Magazine 30th anniversary party at Circulo de Bellas Artes Club on October 26, 2016 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 13: Gwyneth Paltrow attends an Author's Night event on August 13, 2016 in East Hamptons, New York City. (Photo by Robert Kamau/GC Images)
BRIDGEHAMPTON, NY - AUGUST 06: Gwyneth Paltrow attends the 2016 Hamptons Paddle & Party For Pink at Fairview on Mecox Bay on August 6, 2016 in Bridgehampton, New York. (Photo by Steven A Henry/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JULY 14: Gwyneth Paltrow attends the Juice Beauty Exclusive Personal Appearance at Holt Renfrew Flagship Store on July 14, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 22: Gwyneth Paltrow (L) and Solange Knowles attend a private dinner hosted by Michael Kors to celebrate the new Regent Street Flagship store opening at The River Cafe on June 22, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Michael Kors)
CANNES, FRANCE - JUNE 22: Actress Gwyneth Paltrow is interviewed by Stephen Sackur during a special live-recording 'Hard Talk' hosted by BBC World News during The Cannes Lions Festival 2016 on June 22, 2016 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Richard Bord/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - APRIL 19: James Corden and Gwyneth Paltrow prepare to perform Toddlerography on 'The Late Late Show with James Corden,' Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 (12:37-1:37 AM, ET/PT) on The CBS Television Network. (Photo by Darren Michaels/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 21: Gwyneth Paltrow, wearing Bally, attends Bally Dinner, celebrating Beverly Hills flagship store opening in support of Communities in Schools, on April 21, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Bally)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Actress Gwyneth Paltrow signs copies of her book 'It's All Easy' at Williams-Sonoma on April 13, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - APRIL 13: CBS This Morning anchors talk with Gwyneth Paltrow during Wednesday's show, April 13, 2016, in New York. (Photo by John Paul Filo/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 13: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) (L-R) Actress Gwyneth Paltrow poses with actor John Benjamin Hickey during a taping of 'My Favorite Song with John Benjamin Hickey' on Radio Andy at the SiriusXM Studios on April 13, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 12: Actress Gwyneth Paltrow Signs Copies Of Her New Book 'It's All Easy' at Barnes & Noble, 5th Avenue on April 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 12: Gwyneth Paltrow seen at CBS This Morning on April 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by MPI02/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
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Here are 6 takeaways from Paltrow for budding entrepreneurs and business people of all types:

1) As a CEO or a leader, your highest role is to create and model a culture that helps your team perform

Paltrow does that by listening, noting that she has an all-hands meeting for all 80 of her employees every Tuesday morning. "We encourage good communication, or 'speaking straight,' as we like to call it," she says. "When someone comes into my office and says they are going to speak straight, it's my cue to bring my best self forward."

2) Weigh speed of growth with creating real value

Goop has earned trust "because we started out creating content without an eye to profitability," Paltrow says. "I'm a student, a traveler and mother, [what was on the site] were my questions, and it took a long time before we monetized that."

Read more: Gwyneth Paltrow Hosts Goop x Net-a-Porter Brunch in LA

3) If you want to fuck with me, bring your a-game

"I'm interested in criticism based on fact, not on projections," says Paltrow, in other words, "If you want to fuck with me, bring your a-game." (She's so enamored of the phrase, a friend had it put on matchbooks and cocktail napkins for her as a gift.)

4) It's okay if your vision narrows

"We're always playing with the idea of wellness, and what choice makes you feel good," Paltrow says, noting that the site has zeroed in on the clean beauty category, and recently launched vitamins. "If it's on Goop, it's nontoxic. So we may not write about that thing or take that advertiser, but it makes people feel good." The site also has its own private label clothing, which she says has high-quality, Made-In-Italy integrity, but without the retail markups.

5) Never compromise your values

"I think about what has gone wrong at other companies a lot," says Paltrow. "On the media side of Goop, we like to know what people are freaking out about, and if we hear that people are putting bees in their vagina, we'll write about it," she says, noting that "she made that up and not to try it at home."

"On the product side, we are more judicious...;If we are selling it, it's because we love it, if we've made it, it's the best." In terms of maintaining integrity, "if you opened Goop and saw a fast food ad, it would diminish our trust," she says.

6) Learn what you can and can't do

"As much as I thought 'I can do everything, I can run my company and then go to Louisiana and do a movie,' I can't, especially with having kids there's just no way," Paltrow says. "I've been doing little things here and there because...;I do think that does help our brand and how we're trying to grow. But I also don't want it to. I want Goop to not rely on me so much, so we're thinking about when we scale do we need to leverage me for this product line or do we not. If we have a paid asset without me that outperforms one with my face, I do jumping jacks. I grew up in an acting family...;but right now, I just like this better."


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