Lisa Odenweller of Kroma Wellness On Becoming Free From The Fear Of Failure

An Interview With Savio P. Clemente

Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

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Believe you can. More people will tell you that you can’t than you can, which is why you have to believe so deeply in yourself that nothing is going to stop you. As I was starting Beaming, nearly every person told me not to do it, and no one believed I could do it because I didn’t have any of the credentials. Despite all the naysayers and not having the ‘proper credentials’, I truly believed I could and ended up creating one of the most successful wellness companies during its time.

The Fear of Failure is one of the most common restraints that hold people back from pursuing great ideas. Imagine if we could become totally free from the fear of failure. Imagine what we could then manifest and create. In this interview series, we are talking to leaders who can share stories and insights from their experiences about “Becoming Free From the Fear of Failure.” As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Lisa Odenweller.

Serial entrepreneur and health visionary Lisa Odenweller has worked tirelessly to redefine the wellness industry. Lisa is the Founder and CEO of Kroma Wellness: a functional nutrition & lifestyle wellness company offering a first-of-its-kind 5-Day Whole Body Reset and 19 Daily Essentials that help people look and feel their best while setting up people for long-term success. Their products are as easy as “just add water,” giving you the ultimate convenience of having incredibly delicious and highly-nutritious beverages and meals that require little to no prep. Kroma and Beaming Wellness, Lisa’s earlier venture, are considered two of the most successful and innovative brands over the past decade. As a result, Lisa is not only known for her entrepreneurial prowess, but also for her ability to reframe how society at large thinks about overall well-being and clean eating.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

Over the past 12+ years, I’ve committed my life’s work to helping people feel empowered with their health through a food-as-medicine approach. After going through some of my own health and hormone challenges in my late 30s, in combination with my daughter being on medication for ADHD at the age of 9, I began my journey of healing through food. As I made simple shifts in both my diet and my daughter’s, I immediately looked and felt better, and, within 3 weeks, my daughter was off all medication. I quickly learned how much control we have over our health by just being more mindful of what we eat and drink, and I realized I had to share this information with others. This became the inspiration behind my last wellness company, Beaming, and my latest one Kroma Wellness.

We beta launched Beaming out of my home in September 2011, offering culinary-inspired plant-based cleanse programs with the goal that we could help people look and feel so good, they would want to continue incorporating all of our foods and beverages into their everyday life. Over 1000 people went through the Beaming Cleanse and everyone became obsessed with all the salads, soups, juices, elixirs, and snacks on the program. In December 2012, with money raised from some of our early beta customers, I opened the first Beaming Cafe in Del Mar, California. From the day we opened, we had lines out the door and quickly became one of the fastest-growing wellness concepts in the country. In a small cafe of only 900 sq. ft. we earned nearly $3M in revenues our first year, with people coming from all over the country to see what we had created. Within 2 years we had opened 3 new locations in Los Angeles, as well as our own commercial kitchen. Despite the challenges of building such a fast-growing company as a single mom, I was motivated by the positive impact we were making on so many people and how much they loved the brand. We had a cult-like following, raised another $3M and expanded to 10 locations in 5 years. Unfortunately, I made some naive first-time entrepreneur mistakes, including having the wrong partners and not protecting myself, and ended up leaving the company in 2017. Over the next few years, I took the necessary time to reflect on my learnings from Beaming so I could prepare for what was next. In late July 2021, I launched my next company, Kroma Wellness.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

I had just started raising money for Kroma when the world shut down with Covid-19. After nearly 5 months of trying to raise money and being rejected by at least 40 VCs, I finally received a commitment from one Angel investor who wanted to invest the full $2.5M we were raising at the time. He had professed his passion for what we were building and had even cried to me about how Kroma changed his life. My intuition was telling me all along not to trust him, but because we really needed the money, we continued to engage in negotiations. Upon finalizing the agreement, I emptied my 401K to keep us going while waiting for him to fund — except he never did — and we never heard from him again. I couldn’t believe someone would do such a thing. It was nearly 2 more months before we received our first investment on November 3, 2020, from Dick Costolo, the former CEO of Twitter. Dick’s investment was the beginning of attracting an incredible group of Angel Investors including Bryan Meehan (former CEO of Blue Bottle Coffee), Amy Griffin (g9 Ventures), Candace Nelson (Founder of Sprinkles and Pizzana), Gregg Renfrew (CEO of Beauty Counter), Jessica Seinfeld, Amy Schumer, Gwyneth Paltrow, and many more. I am proud to share that we are 90% funded by women, and the support of our investors has been a key part of our success to date. On the day we launched Kroma, I sent a text to the man who had disappeared with a link to the article in Forbes and “thanked him” for not investing. Had he invested, things would have looked very different, and there is no doubt we would have ended up with a very bad business partner. It was a reminder to me to always listen to my gut and to trust the process. So often we get focused on one outcome even when it may not be the best one for us, instead of focusing on the possibility of something better.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. Tenacity. You can not be a successful entrepreneur and not have an extraordinary amount of tenacity, grit, and determination. In raising money for Kroma during the pandemic, I can not tell you how many people told me no. It takes tremendous tenacity to get up each day and continue sharing your story with enthusiasm despite all the rejection.
  2. Believe you can. More people will tell you that you can’t than you can, which is why you have to believe so deeply in yourself that nothing is going to stop you. As I was starting Beaming, nearly every person told me not to do it, and no one believed I could do it because I didn’t have any of the credentials. Despite all the naysayers and not having the ‘proper credentials’, I truly believed I could and ended up creating one of the most successful wellness companies during its time.
  3. Surround yourself with people smarter or more experienced than you. The first step in being a good entrepreneur is to know what you are good at and what you aren’t. For all the things you aren’t good at, hire someone that can do the job better than you can. I know I am a great brand visionary, product innovator, leader, and brand proliferator, and I am not good at, nor do I enjoy operations. One of the first things I did when starting Kroma was to find a business partner who was highly competent in operations and finance. By having him on the team, I am able to focus on doing what I can do best for the company, while he oversees all the foundational elements necessary to build a viable, sustainable company.

What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?

No one wants to fail, so I think it’s fair to say that we are all, to some extent, afraid of failure. It isn’t so much about being afraid of failure, but more about not letting the fear stop you from actualizing your dreams.

In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the fear of failure can help improve our lives?

There are so many moments in life where things don’t go as planned — whether it’s a business that failed, losing a job, or getting divorced. And there is a 100% chance that you will experience many self-perceived “failures.” What I’ve always believed, however, is that you can not focus on the “what ifs,” and instead must focus on what is and what’s possible. As often said, what you focus on becomes your reality, which is why I have always focused on the goal or dream while being aware of the fear but not letting it control me. I also know that failure is our best teacher so even if you “fail” (aka., things don’t go as planned) there is a gift in that opportunity too.

We would love to hear your story about your experience dealing with failure. Would you be able to share a story about that with us?

Prior to launching Kroma Wellness, I founded another wellness company called Beaming — a collection of healthy grab-and-go superfood cafes in Southern California. It was my first big entrepreneurial endeavor and I poured my heart and soul into building it. I was a single mom with 3 little kids at the time and risked everything to bring the company to life. Beaming was an “overnight success” and we quickly attracted the attention of celebrities and people from all over the country to see what we had created. We were in every magazine and news publication, and people would stop me on the street to tell me how Beaming had changed their lives. We expanded to 3 locations within 2 years, and, in 5 years, we had 10 locations throughout Los Angeles & San Diego. Everything I had dreamed of was happening. Unfortunately I made some mistakes early-on that ultimately cost me the company. At the time I was devastated and hit rock bottom emotionally and financially. I felt like a massive failure and could not find inspiration to create again. I spent the next year doing some deep personal work, reflecting on what happened and learn what I needed to learn so that I never ended up there again. Had I not gone through what I went through, I would not be the leader and entrepreneur I am today. As difficult as it was, losing Beaming was my best teacher and prepared me for what was next, including giving me the clarity and wisdom to start Kroma Wellness.

How did you rebound and recover after that? What did you learn from this whole episode? What advice would you give to others based on that story?

See my answer above —

I truly believe we go through challenging experiences so we can learn, grow, and become the best version of ourselves. This can only happen if you are willing to take the time to reflect and learn and especially, to be accountable. No matter what situation happens, it is necessary to take responsibility in order to grow or you will remain a victim. For example, there is no such thing as someone wronging you. You can only grow and evolve when you realize that you wronged yourself by not standing up for yourself or listening to your intuition or making other choices.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that everyone can take to become free from the fear of failure”?

  1. As the saying goes, “feel the fear and do it anyway.”
  2. Remember that your greatest failure is actually not trying.
  3. Write down the fears you have about failure. So often it isn’t as scary as we think when we write them down.
  4. No matter the outcome, there is a gift in all of it.
  5. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want.

The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.” Based on your experience, have you found this quote to be true? What do you think Aristotle really meant?

It comes down to how you define success. As humans, and especially in western culture, I think we inherently don’t believe anything is enough. Whether it’s that we don’t believe we are enough, or we think we need more money, a faster-growing company, or a bigger home. What may be perceived as success to one person is failure to another. My last brand Beaming was one of the hottest wellness companies in the country — we transformed the lives of thousands of people, and I changed the concept of healthy grab-and-go forever. The outcome wasn’t what I had hoped for — the company doesn’t exist anymore and I didn’t have a big financial exit — but was it a failure? To some, maybe yes. To me, what we did was incredible, and I am extremely proud of what we built. Beaming was my greatest teacher. I am grateful for the opportunity to experience what I did and the humility I gained. Had I not gone through that, I wouldn’t be the leader and entrepreneur I am today. I do truly believe the only real failure is not trying.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Ever since I learned the power we have over our health, I have been committed to helping people take responsibility for their health and well-being. We take advantage of how much power we have over our health and are too quick to take a pill vs. get to the root cause. Unfortunately, traditional Western Medicine is not trained in nutrition, and our medical system is heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical industry. While there is a place for medicine, we are way too dependent on it, and most ailments can be cured through food. What most people don’t know is that we can actually control at least 70% of our health (many functional doctors would argue upwards of 80%) by just being more mindful of what we eat, drink and think. If you suffer from headaches, for example, a food allergy is often the cause, which could be as simple as removing gluten, corn and / or dairy. In the case of my daughter, she was prescribed ADHD medication by every doctor, and yet we were able to help her brain function better and get her off medication by removing inflammatory triggers like gluten, sugar, dairy, and processed foods. We have to be advocates of our own health and understand the power of our food and lifestyle choices before becoming dependent on a pill.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-)

Ryan Reynolds or Jimmy Fallon because it would be the most fun, entertaining lunch ever. :)

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can follow me on Instagram @kromawellness and @lisaodenweller and on our website at KromaWellness.com.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.

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Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor