Founder & CEO of HFACTOR
Leading the team and success of HFACTOR is innovator, founder and CEO Gail Levy. Describing herself as a “serial entrepreneur,” Gail was the force behind several successful internet fashion and home market start-ups and is a recognized expert and speaker on the art of business leadership and growth. Gail reports the conceptualization, development and now manufacture of hydrogen-infused water is her most research driven, ambitious and aspirational business venture to date. “The more I researched and learned about molecular hydrogen and how it can contribute to physical performance, wellness and health, I was really inspired to bring HFACTOR to as many people as I can.”
Tell us what your greatest personal challenge is, and how you’ve achieved success in spite of it.
One word that we hear from the time we are born is the word “no,” whether it is through parents, colleagues, or friends. It is imperative to take no out of your vocabulary and to not listen to those inner voices of negativity. You can’t let other negative influences derail you. We all make mistakes, the lesson here is to learn from it, and not repeat it. Be resilient and creative as there is always a solution. Look at the Founder of FedEx; he received a poor grade on his term paper that outlined the need of a reliable overnight air courier service. He followed his passion and determination to found the world’s first overnight shipping company. If you have an idea, first do your research, investigate the feasibility and set up a game plan. Always remember to be strong, resilient, passionate and confident!
Name something that guides both your personal and professional development and helps you to regain focus during challenging times.
My two main things that help me are a combination of a great support team and meditation. It is crucial to have a team who has confidence, is always there for you and looks for your best interest. Meditation allows me to relax, clarify my thoughts, avoid knee-jerk reactions, focus and prioritize effectively. Before I started meditating, I noticed that I was much more reactive and now since I have started, I have become much more proactive in both work and social situations. It is so important to take the time to think through the issues and not let emotions rule your business sense.
What do you believe is at the core of why women hesitate to “lean in” and pursue leadership roles where they are?
I believe that a lack of confidence is the core to why women hesitate to take that next step. I know we’re talking about “leaning in” but we shouldn’t have to lean in, we should “stand tall.” Executive boards are extremely skewed to men, so it takes time for change. We need to be strong and to not be fearful to act on what we want; we need to be confident. We need to build sisterhood and support other women.
Tell us one of your greatest professional accomplishments, and why it meant so much to you?
I am recognized as a successful startup serial entrepreneur. I’ve had two startups and now working on my third. I am most proud of being the Founder & CEO of HFACTOR, since it is a product that truly helps people and improves lives. Being able to positively change the quality of one’s life is the greatest accomplishment of all. This positive change fuels me and makes me push through any business challenges no matter what odds are thrown my way.
How do you manage fear in both your work and personal life?
I try to remain focused on the positives because there is no reason to waste time dwelling on fears. Of course, you have to acknowledge the fears, but I immediately start looking at how to take a fear or a negative situation and turn it into something good.
What do you believe will be the greatest global benefit to having more women in leadership roles?
I believe women bring three main forces to the workplace: passion, determination and tenacity. It is really important to appreciate the people that you work with and the people you do business with. Women are compassionate, which is a great natural skill to have when leading a team, being a leader or managing a business.
What have you found to be the most effective way to motivate and energize your team?
Praise and more praise– and saying thank you! Everyone loves to get compliments and feel appreciated. People are so quick to yell or chastise them in some way. Everyone is guided by their emotions and people want to feel good. How great is it when you greet someone with a positive attitude, smile, and say their name? It makes them feel good.
I also can’t stress enough how important it is to effectively communicate. When something is important, nothing compares to face-to-face communication. When I need to inspire people—or move them to action—the best way to do it is to be direct and look people in the eye and tell them exactly what they need to know. With all the social media platforms, text messages and emails today, many have lost strong communication skills. Nothing replaces picking up the phone or seeing someone face-to-face. Communication is a wonderful art, and we can’t lose the skill and power of face-to-face interaction.
What is at the “core” of your drive and motivation to succeed?
When I hear people describe me, the two things that always come up are passion and tenacity. If you are not passionate about what you are building, then all the other things can’t come. Passion is something intangible that helps drive you through the ups and downs, and ultimately determines the success of any startup. Motivation comes through love and passion and the desire to do something followed by the drive to see a project through despite any curve ball thrown your way.