When RealSelf started out my office was a spare bedroom, our only employees were my friend Greg (poorly paid) and my wife (unpaid), and the RealSelf Worth It Rating was just a scribbled idea on a pad of paper. Fourteen years later, I feel proud and fulfilled to be celebrating our RealSelf anniversary with the announcement that our COO, James Coyle, has agreed to become the CEO of RealSelf as I transition into the role as the company’s executive chairman.
While this is the first time I’ve publicly shared this news, it’s long been in the works. It’s a natural part of a company’s lifecycle for a founder to transition the company’s leadership to a professional CEO. I am delighted to be able to do that today to someone as well qualified as James.
Many years ago I was aware that to continue to grow and scale we needed to mature operations and bring on leaders with experience at larger, more complex businesses. I also sought a partner who shares my passion for what we do at RealSelf, and what we can still accomplish. I was fortunate to get introduced to James who has extensive digital leadership experience and a customer obsession infused within his operating DNA. After a year getting to know each other over email and calls, he agreed to join our organization as the COO. Soon after joining, it was apparent we made a great hire and I moved nearly all day-to-day operations under his leadership. Our team has subsequently seen a lot of wins: we’ve rapidly accelerated growth in our organic site traffic, boosted contacts to practices with product improvements like virtual consultations, and rapidly pivoted our House of Modern Beauty pop-ups to super engaging Beauty in Focus virtual events.
It is hard to express an individual’s effectiveness, but I’ve described to others that James’ performance comes down to his unique skill at getting a team rowing in the same direction—and quickly at that. This is hard work for an org of any size, but James makes it look easy. One way he accomplishes this is by modeling and reinforcing our seven business operating principles such that they align the team around expected behaviors. He also coaches and expects our people to experiment our way into solutions, which means egos get parked as team members share in learning and discovery. His push to help people reach their full potential comes from a place of care and trust. With James at the helm, I have never been so optimistic about the future for RealSelf.
Going forward, I’ll work closely with James to advise and shape the company strategy as the executive chairman. We are determined to continue to put RealSelf on the map as the authority in aesthetics and the brand consumers trust for making incredibly important self-care decisions. After investing 14 years into the business, I have no interest in stepping away! I will also continue to lead by example and live out our operating principle: stay curious. We can never fully know our customers; our tech-driven world is changing too fast to assume we have something all figured out. This role change allows me to explore my own curiosity by deepening connections and listening more closely to customers. I will share back what I learn, or un-learn. You can expect to find me regularly posting RealSelf trends and insights, and exploring diverse topics on my Hey Seery podcast.
It’s important for me to use this moment to share my gratitude. While my entrepreneurial journey started with an idea, I am fully aware that the idea of RealSelf only came to life because of the deep contributions and support of others. I am thankful to our doctors who’ve posted (and continue to post) millions of answers and photos, making RealSelf the most comprehensive aesthetic resource in the world. In addition, countless people worldwide have come to RealSelf to share their most personal decisions, and I am continuously amazed by their generosity and willingness to make RealSelf an even more helpful community. And it nearly goes without saying that I am profoundly appreciative of the RealSelf team and our 500-strong alumni for believing in my vision and for making RealSelf a big part of their own careers and time spent away from friends and family. To all, thank you, and you should expect a lot more to come from RealSelf.