Table of contents
About the talk
Founder and C.E.O. of goop, Gwyneth Paltrow talked to Andrew Ross Sorkin at the New York Times DealBook Conference on November 6, 2019.
01:23 Being ambitious
04:19 The start
09:16 Celebrity status impact
14:03 Terrible results
19:13 Reading about oneself and reacting
22:20 Outcomes for offenders
Sorkin is an award-winning journalist and author. He is a financial columnist for The New York Times and a co-anchor of "Squawk Box," CNBC's signature morning program. Sorkin is also the editor-at-large of DealBook, a news site he founded in 2001 that is published by The Times. Sorkin is the author of the best selling book, Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System—and Themselves, which chronicled the events of the 2008 financial crisis. The book was adapted as a movie by HBO Films in 2011. Sorkin was a co-producer of the film, which was nominated for 11 Emmy Awards. Sorkin began writing for The New York Times in 1995 under unusual circumstances: he hadn’t yet graduated from high school.View the profile
Gwyneth Paltrow is an Academy Award-winning actress, author of three New York Times bestselling cookbooks, and is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of the lifestyle company goop.com. Through goop, and her own lifestyle choices, Paltrow has pushed many conversations—primarily around health, wellness, and mindfulness—into the mainstream, shining the light on our basic right to have clean and healthy food, properly regulated personal care products, and access to information so we can make our own choices for our families. As the leader of a primarily female start-up, she is also heads-down on creating a culture that both celebrates and empowers women, where the thread line is that we are all multi-faceted, complicated, and busy b*&tches who can care about family and work simultaneously. While the goop team is just a microcosm, it's emblematic of a larger sea change that needs to happen for families in the U.S.View the profile
Gwyneth has created a remarkable business in group and I would argue it is on the mountain on the cusp. It's now broken out at I think one of the great lifestyle brands at this very moment just to give you an idea of what of what group is and all of the pieces that it touches. There's a Content company podcast Magazine TV show coming on Netflix. We're going to sing Reed Hastings in just a minute Live Events are the wellness products, you know, so well skin care products fashion lines you label the fragrance does retail now in La New York London pop-up stores, and
we know it's worth now north of sugar $59. Maybe maybe maybe more you just kick me out of you going to It's not going to help start the conversation around when you started this company and specifically around the kitchen because for many years it seemed to me as you were building the company you hired up to a couple of the CEOs first to do this at least publicly. I wasn't sure if you ever really wanted to the only idea of this being this big and vicious company and I feel like now you have to understand what that is and what that was. Well, I think you know
as growing up as an actor in the nineties an actress. The first time we didn't say actor at the time ambitious was actually very dirty word for a female actress in so I think we were taught to be compliant and pliable and not to be difficult. And I think if you demonstrated great ambition for a big career, it would look down upon and then I did the crazy thing. I was kind of putting that down and deciding to start a business with great trepidation. And so yeah, I I was ambivalent about my own ambition for a long
time and that even if they started to really just create content for the first five years before I even thought about any kind of monetization or anything. I didn't think that I have the authority to create a business or to even think my way around it. So it has definitely been a humbling process to embrace my ambition and to really start to feel that being ambitious is actually a beautiful thing for a woman in the reason I ask is I Lord turn on and said to her that you wanted to start a business when you're 25 years old. Where's
that? It's true. I love the story used to do business. So, where do you think it came from giving that you grew up in a family of people in the Arts in the film Computer World? I always have been very drawn to business. I think it's fascinating and very dramatic and if it's no so I I just always right about it. I always loved it. And yes, you're right. I grew up in a very art forward household, but a lot of City I I was born in Los Angeles and I live there mostly
until I started the 7th grade and then I came here and that's when I went to school with a lot. I went to an all-girls school and I don't know where she is. I love her already and I that's when I started to go to school with the daughters of some very prominent businessman and I started to ask lots of questions. You know, I'm kind of a hippie School in California with lots of all the parent for artist pretty much when you first started as first along the way tell me what that what I wanted understand was that you hedging in the beginning cuz you weren't sure or cuz you still
wanted to be an actress or because what was going on there. Sorry, I just didn't know what the fuck I was doing. And so I thought I just needed to Outsource everything and I thought I needed a grown up and around me to tell me what to do. And and that was a really interesting part of the process, you know to to understand that really nobody knows what the fuck they're doing and and you can learn whatever it is that specific to your business that you need to learn and then the more you and Bonnie that the more successful. I think the
business has the potential to be. But it's a process and I think I'm very comfortable running. Goop. I know the business backwards and forwards and I have a very granular knowledge of the business and very kind of big Daydreams about where the business is going. And I think I'm getting well equipped to run this particular company, but I had a dream because one of the things you've said is that you've compared it was a model of sorts by Disney. So obviously, I'm probably like the point 0 0
0 0 0 1% the size of a company like Disney actors a bit of a Northstar for me because when I look at a company that had first of all They're there their execution on a brand level is always perfect. They know exactly who they're demographic is and they know exactly how to make their demographic feel incredibly happy and what they serve in this very resident for the demographic. But if you look at the business, you know, it's taken content at the nucleus and it has all of these incredible lines of business coming
out of the content. So obviously, I'm much more smaller and different demographic and you know different goals but different question, which is At least up until recently I would argue people thought of goop as your company long term use the goal for it to be think about Gwyneth Paltrow and group at the same time or for them to be very separate and I don't know if that's my dream for the company. I mean ideally it would be its reach in its, you know impact would be far greater than I could possibly be is, you know, Gwyneth
Paltrow. So I think you know as you grow a brand obvious I do I had the platform. I do have the diminishing platform in that sense because I'm not you know out doing films all the time anymore far from when you think about cuz you still here in the politician. and you have been in obviously Marvel movies for quite some time but right how important that is in terms of at least in the immediate term growing the business and how how those things balanced or not when if your me when to leverage yourself for the business and not to in a consumer-facing
way because I really do want some brand to grow your respective of me but at the same time I can be in certain situations really helpful lieberher to launch something or to amplify something and Sittin by the way I think it's okay to take the slower route and let the content speak for itself and grow in that way simultaneously but you know it's it's about sometimes I see stuff out there that's coming from you on Instagram and other places around Nothing to do with you and I'm trying to think are you saying what are you thinking?
Well, I'm only one girl, you know, or maybe I'm not a girl anymore but I think the idea is to really connect with people using a variety of you no touch points and I don't want to be the only one but how much is the platform, you know, there's still a cowboy culture. You are still very much a celebrity you were whether you were followed by cameras. I don't know there was a guy a guy a guy, but I don't want him to follow me, but I've always had a very ambivalent relationship with Celebrity and I
think look you know, it is a way to start a brand right you have a platform. You have a following you can launch something on the back of that a lot of times. I think especially in terms of celebrity journalism, you know, that's been really disintermediated by social media. So I don't know that you one has to rely on that tabloid thing or that, you know as much as in days past. I'm not really sure though. It's still how far do you think you can take this brand? What
do you think it represents? In? The reason I ask is there's there's a a luxury component to it clearly, but there's also an effort to be accessible and I imagine those things Collide often times. I mean, I don't think of us as a luxury site and I think I think we're aspiration. I think we make things of incredibly high quality and we buy mm of incredibly high quality and I think that you know, like if you were to take in aov of a site like a luxury fight like a mediport AR mode or something you would find my
flower and I think that's because we do sell a lot of beauty and wellness products and things that are, you know, have a more accessible price point. However, we do make and buy things with really good ingredients really excellent raw materials, and we make really efficacious thing. So we're never going to be able to compete with a value proposition or drugstore kind of a price by I think it's a good thing for us to Aspire. You know, I do I believe it's a beautiful quality in the human spirit and I'm not talking about a price point. You know, I'm talking about
buying things that work in that make you feel good or that make you feel like, you know, you are part of a certain community. And so I hope that is a continue to grow we continue to democratize Wellness and it's been interesting over every iteration of the business to watch and we started kind of when I turned on e-commerce with a more expensive we just sold apparel and now he knows we were fine the mission and down and really hope to impact people's lives positively young the cpg side, you know, I think we are much more approachable and attainable.
What licensing do you think about wanting to own pieces? What's the push-pull here licensing? I could see people buying group food at the supermarket. I don't know if it's something you do yourself. I don't know if that's my partner with. I think those are all options. I think one of the great things about having started and all these different verticals is that we have the latitude to go into them and create lines of business around them. But at the same time You know, you have to focus on what you're doing. So that's
that's a challenge sometimes in the business. You know, I think that there are things when you will it's it's it's actually an interesting question because you know, we spend a lot of money making content. We don't monetize the content. So, you know, you can look at a vertical and Te'o this doesn't make any money and for this, you know, if you were going to get really specific heat of the people who read this type of content don't it turn into a high
LTD customer. So is it worth continuing to create that kind of content? I really believe it is but it's interesting tension has created all the time within the business around. You know, what do you what is it? Okay to lose money on and what is it? Okay, not to lose money on Wednesday that you do hard things well and easy things not so well, right. What does that mean what I mean? Berkeley, you know, it's very hard to build a brand as any founder can tell you it's hard to get traction with a customer. It's hard to build trust and authority and I think we've done that and we continue to
do that while I think it was difficult to create the contextual Commerce model and we've done it really well. I think we actually do it very very well, but we've done other things just terribly you know, like what? Well, like Technologies been a real issue and then things that for other people are far more intuitive are turn key of been really hard for us Performance Marketing. You know, the other thing I was going to ask you about it because there's a big controversy about some of the products that you sold over. The years
is author whose writing a book about you to do you know him And but very critical of some of the products and there were issues. What's the Westin of that experience today? What you get behind when you don't get behind beginning when we were selling third-party products and you know, we would find some very cool clean female founded Brandon be like all we want to sell this and then we would restate claims that they made on their website that turned out not to have any no faces behind them. So those are mistakes that we made early on that. We don't make
anymore and we have our own science and Regulatory team to bet everything. You know, I think especially around female sexuality is so it seems to be an incendiary topic for certain people which I find really interesting because I just think that it scares people when women have that kind of autonomy over their sexual health and they're integrated. I don't know why I'm actually still it's something that I think about a lot why culturally there's this resistance to it, but it's amazing like we can write a piece about you know, and on any, you know about women's sexual health
and there's always believe that it's important to be Trail Blazers and we're not scared of controversy. We don't want to make mistakes, you know restate claims that you can't free state and stuff like that, which as I said, we don't do anymore, but I think we like pushing boundaries. We like creating conversations and we also like Creating a space where you know, maybe some of these topics are hard for people to talk about in from by us talking about them. We help eliminate shame in that person's life and that's
super important to us a plus. I think some of them are invested in your companies. I was curious what you think and how do you think about that over the next five year plan a 10-year plan to stay at one of them publicly traded company. Do you say I want to sell the somebody else ever? What's the plan here? I just really want to go 1/4 at a time right now. I really I don't like thinking about an eventual exit because I think that it limits the scope of what we're doing and I think it limits the scope of innovation and I mean I am sensitive in terms of valuations. Like I don't want to
overvalue us to the point that we could never be acquired a watch that happen live in building his company, but I don't know I really love what I do and I think we're doing something great and I would like to get it to scale. And so I feel like we have a lot more work to do before I think about that. You and I want to talk with you if we can force the moment about Harvey Weinstein, and the reason is that you were an end 54 Round of Applause for this a
critical source is the New York Times reporters who exposed Harvey and and you played a major role in that you don't have to clap his hands. He told me to I just hope I'm drinking Bill Gates's water. but the reason I wanted to raise this issue of of Harvey Weinstein is that that Wesley Morris times recently and wrote the following your thoughts on this. He said I've spent years wondering whether Paltrow's taste for acting had diminished because of that man
with her having his company seems to not want to mess with with some of her strongest most popular work compelled her to start a company of her own one where the were concerned not acting would be in holding better being ridiculously better. Did you read this? You know, I never read I try never to read anything about myself but so many people forwarded me that lovely amazing. Keep that I did read it. So what did you think of that? He could be first Home Depot, but I think he's done it better than I could say it myself and there's definitely it's something that I've been
processing over the last year so that I I don't even think that I was aware that it possibly could have tarnished the way that I viewed my first career until I got involved with Jody and Megan in the book and honestly have been still in the in the process of trying to metabolize what that was and what it means and I'm not really sure but I think he's right. I have sort of a strange me to question which is I imagine you must have a very complicated view of Harvey Weinstein given that you knew him for a very very long
time. I have not been asked this before, you know, I I don't like to be binary about people or about things. I think we're all equal parts. or varying percentages light and dark and And I think that you know, he was a very very important figure in my life. He was my main boss. He he gave me an incredible opportunity. And yes during that time. We had a very very fraught complicated relationship highs and lows and the the PostScript to that. Chapter of my life is where it gets extremely complicated for me because
information came to light about who he was and how he was behaving that I didn't know during my already very difficult time with him. So I'm not sure. I'm not sure how I feel. It's dumb. I know you know, we I think we for me. Anyway, I like to resist the urge to I don't know me to Binary about anything or anyone and I try to always mine and uncomfortable situation for the life lesson in it because you were a real leader in this there. Were there been so many other men have been exposed During the period wrongdoing and one of the questions, I think clearly
we were victims Above This no need to be acknowledged in the end of the years of a pain that that will continue but happened to these men I wonder know why I genuinely repent but it does seem to me for the more egregious offenders that Really loss of power is what keeps them from further offending. So if they don't have the power then they lose that Dynamic and then games over. Go to Hartsfield-Jackson business. That is an episode by the way of what you're doing on Netflix next right that whole thing about about women a minute.
What are we going to be seeing? This is they don't like me to talk about a lot. I don't know but it's a six-part series that comes out and funny and we're really excited about it. It's some sticks deep dives into group subject that I'm not allowed to say except you knew that one. Final final question to be some kind of back-and-forth. You've been having with Jeff Bezos. I know that he's like one of the few people that you've been trying to reach for a
very very long time and I gather that he's ghosted you and I don't really understand. You win some you lose some you know, I know I did. Well, I had reached out to him. I've I've I've look I've learned so much by being Brazen and reaching out to people and things could I have a conversation with you? Would you Mentor me? So he was one of the people that I reached out to and he never really brought me back. I tried a couple times and then I told the story I think of the Wall Street Journal
and then he emailed me back and he he said when it's it's it's Jeff and the Wall Street Journal tells me that you would like to get in touch with me so that their begun are very brief conversation because after that Yeah, I'm not not so much. The problem was with the Wall Street Journal. Gwyneth Paltrow everybody. Thank you so so much.
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