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This time, we’re going to be doing a deep dive with someone who heads up one of America’s fastest growing software as a service or SaaS companies. Laura Casselman is a name you may recognise, as she’s the CEO of JVZoo, a role that she stepped into back in 2016 after two years as their COO, and Laura’s dynamic rise to the top in a predominantly male sector hasn’t gone unnoticed by her peers because at the 2018 world CEO awards, Laura picked up the gold trophy for female CEO of the year. Laura, it’s a real pleasure to meet you.
Laura Casselman Thank you so much for having me. Lovely to meet you, as well.
Editor: Well, I guess we should start by saying congratulations on your trophy.
Laura Casselman Thank you. I had forgotten about that. So much time passes and it does so quickly that you just keeping up with the next thing and you forget what’s happened in the past. So thank you for giving me a moment to remember that.
Editor: It’s no problem. Now, you’ve done so much anyway in a relatively short period of time. I guess I need to ask, have you always been super ambitious?
Laura Casselman I think so. I can recall back to selling Girl Scout cookies when I was a child and wanting to sell the most Girl Scout cookies. When I was three years old, I knew I was going to dance in New York City with the Radio City Rockettes at the music hall. So yes, I’ve always been a goal-setter and a go-getter.
Editor: That’s good to know, because I mentioned JVZoo right at the start, and we will chat more about that in just a moment, but maybe we could just explore more about your own business background, as well, because as you say, you’ve been a dancer, you’ve done many things in your career, but then you’ve really honed your skills now with JVZoo. Can we just explore that a little bit?
Certainly. I knew at a very young age that I loved dancing and that I wanted to go out and make my mark in the dance world. I also understood at the time that the dance world was not forgiving for ageing dancers, so that it was a young person’s career. Now, that’s evolved and changed, but it was too late for me to evolve and change with it.
So I knew that I was going to have an early dance career, which I did. I started professionally dancing in my teens and did so through my twenties, but I also knew that I wasn’t going to be the person to retire from professional dancing to open a dance studio. I think that’s great for other people. It just was not for me.
And so I’ve always wanted to be involved in the business, in the decision-making and know what the ingredients were and what made someone’s business successful. So I was paying attention to those things and I always do a resume. With the Rockettes, you’re super fortunate. You sign a contract that you work the Christmas season, which is equivalent to two and a half months of performances, and while you’re still under contract and you get your benefits the rest of the year, you can go and do other jobs. And so that’s what I did. I build out my corporate resume so that when I retired from dance, I stepped into my first executive role.
Got you. And did you find there was any transferrable skills from your days as a dancer into your business endeavours?
I definitely do. I think that dance and anything in the arts builds tough skin. People like to think that people in the artistic world are more in tuned to their emotions and therefore they’re emotional and they’ll cry and whatnot. I don’t know any dancers like that, and I know quite a bit of them. I think that it develops a tough skin. You learn to not be shut down by the word no, to be persistent, to keep honing your skills, to keep learning, to keep going no matter what, and that transfers over into the business world in a way that you can’t teach, you can’t teach people how to have a thick skin. Tough love doesn’t necessarily do that. People are either born with the ability and have the drive to keep going, keep learning, keep building, no matter how many times they’re knocked down or not, and that makes great salespeople. It’s why I transferred into sales originally when I came into the business world, is that I knew how to take a no and keep going.
Editor: Yeah, sure. And I guess that life probably seems like a million miles away now, doesn’t it? But now that you’ve transferred into, I guess I was going to say more corporate environments, but I guess with JVZoo, it’s a fun business to be in anyway. So there’s a lot of aspects from your days at the Radio City Music Hall that have been brought through into the business that you’re working in now.
Well, it goes both ways. So yes, JVZoo is a fun company. We love to have fun where we can, but also Radio City Music Hall is a very corporate business, and the Rockettes, you’ll never meet any more regiment dancers. Everything is choreographed from the beginning of the show to the end. Even your costume changes is choreographed. You don’t change a shoe first one day and then change your hat first the next day. Everything is the exact same way, every single show, every single day. So there’s a lot that goes both ways, that can fall over into either other career.
Editor: So those disciplines are the ones that you’ve been able to bring across into JVZoo, I guess, since you started there as COO and then progressed up to CEO. Is that right?
Laura Casselman That is correct.
So what led you to JVZoo, Laura?
So I was already working in the corporate world and I was an executive with another company that was a physical therapy national chain when I started conversing with my ex-husband, someone that I’ve always conversed with, by the way, no hard feelings there, and he is one of the original founders of JVZoo. And so he was just letting me know that they were growing so quickly and they were encountering, like many companies do, with growth. They were kind of having some operational roadblocks and they were needing to put processes in place.
And so he just was like, “I would love for you to meet one of my co-founders and the current CEO, if you would take time out to do that.” And so I did. I flew into South Carolina and at the time the CEO was Bryan Zimmerman, and he drove up from Florida to South Carolina and we met, and it was a slow transition into me working at JVZoo. We wanted to make sure that it was the right fit, not just for me, but for them, especially considering that my ex-husband worked here and was one of the owners. So we took our time to make the right decision.
And you’ve obviously been determined to make the company a success. I know that you’ve transformed the company in many ways. For anyone listening or maybe reading this who hasn’t discovered JVZoo, would you be able to just tell us a little bit more about the company, what it does and also how it can help them achieve their goals, as well?
Absolutely. JVZoo is an online marketplace and an affiliate network. So when you have a product to sell or a great idea that you evolved into a product, but you don’t know how to get it out there in front of the masses, you can come and list that product on JVZoo. We give you the tools to sell it. You’d hook in your payment processor. We’ll manage and track a sale, but you can also reach our network of over 900,000 active affiliates who have buyers list, and they will email out their buyers list about your product, if it fits that list and it’s in their niche, and they will let them know about your product, what the benefits of it are and help you sell that product and get it in front of more eyes.
Laura Casselman …
Note from the Editor:
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