448 MINISODE Elisabeth Cardiello: Courage for the Unknown
Women Innovating Networking Growing Scaling – that’s WINGS … I’m Melinda Wittstock, my mission is to help women take flight to soar to the success of our dreams in business and in life– and create and grow businesses in alignment with our passion and purpose.
On this special Mentoring Minisode of Wings of Inspired Business … we talk about bravery and how entrepreneurship calls us to having the courage to step into the unknown. Growth requires us to get out of our comfort zones, and today we talk about why you need to trust people to do the things that you’re potentially not that good at … because as my guest says today … “if you become the bottleneck, you’re done.”
Here with us today to provide her insights and inspiration is …
Elisabeth is the CEO and Founder of a coffee company called Caffè Unimatic, and if you’ve seen the Netflix documentary, “Coffee For All”, you may already know she was primed for business innovation from the tender age of 6, when she got her own business cards thanks to an entrepreneurial father who encouraged her to create her own dreams.
She says she’s “head-over-heels” about the power of coffee as a ritual, the universal potential it has as an agent of change, which is why she got out of her comfort zone again last year to facilitate “Brave Conversations Over Coffee®” within companies and schools to foster innovation, creativity and change. Elisabeth also co-founded Legacy Out Loud, an education company that’s designed a methodology to help young women get an entrepreneurial spirit.
Elisabeth Cardiello will be here with her advice in just a moment on our Mentoring Minisode and first …
And now to the inspiring Elisabeth Cardiello.
Elisabeth is the founder of Caffè Unimatic who had her first business cards at six and first product on shelves at 13. After college, business school and working on Wall Street, she dealt with loss, found herself, found her passion, learned the meaning of post traumatic growth, started a coffee company called Caffè Unimatic, created a line of coffee, gave two TEDx talks, started an education company designed to build confidence in young women and started speaking in the US and abroad. She says her family is still wondering where that shy 9 year old went.
Today she shares some important advice about how to find courage and bravery in the continual change that is entrepreneurship … and why you need a tribe that reminds you who you are both on your best days and on your worst days, a tribe that’s not judging you, a tribe that’s not embracing you because you are something, just a tribe that is embracing you because you are… and you are enough.
Melinda Wittstock: Hey Elisabeth, welcome to Wings.
Elisabeth Cardiello: Thank you so much for having me.
Melinda Wittstock: I’m excited to talk to you. I’m always interested in what is inspiring all our amazing guests on this show. What’s the big inspiration for you right now?
Elisabeth Cardiello: I committed to myself to do something every week that scared me. And it has to do with my business, it has to do with coffee but it’s called Brave Conversations Over Coffee. And this concept of being brave and doing that thing that would be really brave of you to do this week, it’s been inspiring me so much just because it feels like it’s unlocking both myself but also opportunity and people around me. It’s the thing that I believe I’m actually here to give and it felt like I needed to make that commitment to myself first before I could actually really step into it.
So it’s been my driving force.
Melinda Wittstock: I love that. I think it’s so important for entrepreneurs to just get out of our comfort zone. Like not like we’re not enough outside of our comfort zone already, but it just sort of increases your confidence, when you do something new and it’s definitely different out there. I mean, my version of that is I just did stand up comedy for the first time, and that was like terrifying but great. And I feel like I learned so much, it’ll improve my speaking, all that kind of stuff. So that’s awesome. I love that. And I just encourage everybody to try something new that they haven’t done.
I mean, even if you like brush your teeth with like your non-dominant hand or something, something different.
Elisabeth Cardiello: Yeah, that could be one.
Melinda Wittstock: If you have to start small, just do something different every day. That’s awesome. So everybody has challenges in their business and their lives and I like to de-stigmatize that. So what are some of yours?
Elisabeth Cardiello: I mean, I feel like I want you to ask the question again so it can sink in a little bit and I can [inaudible 00:02:13].
Melinda Wittstock: Well, I just think about my own entrepreneurial journey, right? Where there are always ups and downs. There’s always things you can’t control. There’s always something, right? And there’s a different challenge at every phase of your business. And then as women of course, we’re juggling a lot of things. And so what’s kind of something that you’re working on right now that’s a little bit challenging?
Elisabeth Cardiello: I mean, I think for me, because of just my background and sort of what I … I guess you’d say went through to get to the point of having a business, I think it made me very, very happy and proud to be very independent. And I think that’s always a bit of a problem when it comes to entrepreneurship because you really need to trust people to go do the things that you’re potentially not that good at. And you need to collect this tribe around you that will either be doing things on your behalf, doing things to allow you to grow and to scale and to get bigger and do the things that really if you become the bottleneck, you’re done. So it’s, I think a lot of what I’ve been working on right now has been figuring out what members of the tribe I need. And there’s the support piece and there’s … And then there’s the business support piece and then there’s the creative idea piece.
And I think in my childhood, I got really lucky. I had essentially one person and I could go to for a lot of … I could really just trust in the way my dad would answer those questions. And he had been through so much and he had known so much. I think I’m kind of … I think I’ll always be working on finding those puzzle pieces and putting them into place. And I mean, the easy answer, the biggest frustration that I had in building the business was actually getting my packaging design right. I mean, the biggest like tangible, obvious thing because it was something that I saw as an extension of myself and I made my own in the very beginning to see if people liked the coffee that we made and just to see if people cared. And then they did, right?
So then you have to actually make it something that looks nice that wasn’t just like, “I’m going to slap a label on this so the people know which blend it is.” And so, I mean, in terms of a tangible thing, I think that really challenged me because I kept seeing … I kept giving feedback and hiring designers that would begin the process and then I would see it not getting anywhere near the place that I wanted it to be.
And of course, as a relatively good self-aware person, you turn the mirror back on yourself and say, “Well, I’m like the through line here. I’m the thing that is being consistent. All of these different designers are great, but they’re not getting there. But the thing that is consistent is me. So am I having a problem?” I mean, I did finally find a designer. Of course, it ended up being the sister of a friend who was right in front of my eyes the whole time, as one does. But we ended up knocking it out of the park and I’m obsessed with it and I love it. And it’s one of those things that I can’t stress enough, if you’re really proud of the little things, you find yourself reinvigorated every time you look at them.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s beautiful. That’s kind of channeling Steve Jobs a little bit, right? I mean, he was sort of infamous for being really, really tough as a boss, but he’d say things to people like when they were designing like Apple products, “Do you really want to look at that every day?” And the designer will actually know, “Okay, so let’s make it better.”
Elisabeth Cardiello: Yeah, I mean, I have coffee packaging too. Like you’re going to touch this literally every day. And coffee is … I mean to me, coffee is the one thing in your day that is consistent, that you actually do every day. Like we say we workout and meditate and have our green juice and all those things, but reality is, we sometimes miss a day with those, we’re imperfect. But what we actually do everyday is how have our coffee. So it felt really important to be really intentional about it.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s fantastic. But I love that you iterated like with your customers, you were open to feedback in like, what do people actually really want? And pleasing yourself as well as your product so you have to feel happy with it, but involving the customers in the conversation is vital. And it’s amazing how many entrepreneurs make the mistake of not involving their customers early enough in the process. So it’s awesome that you did that.
So what are your top three go-to pieces of advice for women in business, entrepreneurs, wherever they are on the journey, whether they’re just about to take the leap or they’re in it or they’re trying to now get to scale, what would be your three?
Elisabeth Cardiello: So I would say … So in the middle there where I was figuring out packaging design for coffee, I ended up sort of … As a mistake, starting an education company for young women around building confidence in young women. And we started taking young women on the spring break and it started as virtual and then they wanted to be together. And what we focus on in building confidence is try. And building that tribe that reminds you who you are both on your best days and on your worst days, a tribe that’s not judging you, a tribe that’s not embracing you because you are something, just a tribe that is embracing you because you are, full stop.
And a lot of the time, I mean, what we do, we go into colleges now and we actually hold space for that and teach young women how to really, I mean get along with and hold space for and support other women. I mean, the research says that it’s actually not men that are the hardest on women at work, it’s women that are hard on other women. And-
Melinda Wittstock: Man, yeah. Isn’t that true? I mean, this is one of the reasons that I host these retreats, Wings of the Empowered Woman, because we really do need to support each other. When we’re actually lifting as we climb, we are much better off for it. And yet, I find that women sometimes stay trapped in a scarcity mindset. And I’ll define that as just this thinking that there’s not enough to go around. Like if she gets ahead, then that’s going to mean I can’t. And that’s such a relic of the past. The actual reverse is true. The more you help others, the more abundance comes back to you. And this is especially true for women. And so, it’s so, so important to create these communities.
Elisabeth Cardiello: I agree. I mean, I think we compare all too much. I think men do it too. I think we as humans just kind of do it just because we are afraid of rejection. But it feels like what we need to start learning is power over is dying and power with is the new paradigm of leadership, or at least that’s how we describe it.
Melinda Wittstock: I know. It absolutely resonates with me. I think it’s really, really true. And more and more people are waking up to it. And I see the people who are really succeeding the most in business get that. The people who are staying trapped in the old ways go the way of the dinosaur, not a good business plan. So what’s advice number two?
Elisabeth Cardiello: Right. Okay, two. I grew up hearing the phrase, “What the mind can conceive, the mind can achieve.” And that is half because my dad was a mentee of a guy named Norman Vincent Peale. Which is crazy. I mean, a lot of people are like, “Who’s that? I don’t know who that is.” But he quite literally wrote the book on The Power of Positive Thought. And for those of you that haven’t heard of him, but even just that realm of thinking, just stepping into, if I have the thought, if the thought came to me, that means that I am able to make it real. That doesn’t mean that I will be okay with how hard it is to make it real, that’s a decision I get to make. But if a thought came to me, I can do it.
And knowing that I can do it and that there are going to be hurdles and making that decision and stepping into it or not, like you are actually in control of a lot more than you think. You’re not in control of the outcomes, but you’re in control of yourself. And I think operating with that mindset, not that it’s going to be easy, not that you’re going to snap your fingers and it’ll magically come or magically happen. I mean, the quickest overnight success takes 10 years, right? So it’s one of those things that I was just … I was never raised hearing, I never even thought about, because I’m a woman maybe I’ll have it harder. It was just … It never occurred to me because it was never an option. It was never on the table. It was never talked about. It was, if you make this decision that you want to build something, do something, create something, you can, but it’s on you to make the decision and go all in or not, and either is fine, but it’s up to you.
So I would say foster that mindset and having people that remind you of it is definitely my number two.
Melinda Wittstock: I love that. So, so important. And so what is number three?
Elisabeth Cardiello: Number three I think comes a lot from the heartache that I felt because every time I … Especially in years past, every time I didn’t trust my own intuition, I got burned.
Melinda Wittstock: God, me too. That’s a #metoo.
Elisabeth Cardiello: Seriously, I mean, there were so many times when I had this amazing idea, had like a thought that this would work, not that. Had an intuition about something. And most often, in the very … Especially in the very beginning, it was like, well, I’m really young, why would I know this? You have more years, more experience, a fancier title. Like you’re a VC, you’ll know. Honestly, I was right every single time. If it was a … I mean, I’m not saying I’m always right, I am nowhere near always right. But in those very strong gut instincts that I gave up, I was right. And learning to trust your intuition and listen to it and sink into it and go the path that looks like it makes no sense, for me … I mean, I can only speak from my own experience, but that is where everything on the other side of that.
Melinda Wittstock: So, so true. So Elisabeth, how can people find you, work with you, get your amazing coffee?
Elisabeth Cardiello: They can find us at caffeunimatic.com. And that’s Caffè spelled like the Italian word for coffee. So C-A-F-F-E. And then Unimatic is U-N-I-M-A-T-I-C, dot com. That on all the socials as well, caffeunimatic. And we’re actually starting to host Brave Conversations Over Coffee for corporations and colleges and organizations. We did some … We actually did want, I loved, oh my gosh, I loved this one. We did one with a bunch of women actually around the time of the Kavanaugh trial, and we had women on both sides of the spectrum that believed, very strongly believed two different things. And the way that we were able to come together and be brave and actually come together to a shared vision was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever been a part of.
And we did that last national coffee day, which was one of the most amazing things. So you can actually find us on the website or any of the socials to join us for some Brave Conversations Over Coffee as well.
Melinda Wittstock: Fantastic. Thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us.
Elisabeth Cardiello: Thank you for letting me fly.