Jeremy Shepherd is the CEO of Pearl Paradise. Jeremy is a thought leader, influencer, visionary, and successful entrepreneur. Jeremy provides the leadership and energy that has inspired the creation of Pearl Paradise. Jeremy Shepherd joins other leading CEOs and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team has recently awarded Pearl Paradise with our Impact Company of 2019 award. We are delighted to have Jeremy join us for our Leader Roundtable Interview, and our popular “speed round” as well.
Jeremy, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day for this interview about your company, leadership, and entrepreneurship.
1. What is the “elevator pitch” for Pearl Paradise?
For more than 20 years, we’ve traveled the world sourcing rare and classic pearls, offering them direct-to-consumer online. This enables us to offer truly affordable, true luxury.
2. What is the key to your company’s success?
We are always ready to pivot and to innovate. In the digital eCommerce world, this ability determines who survives differentiates those who thrive.
A key factor to our success has been giving back to the industry and the pearl community.
In 2004, I launched Pearl-Guide.com. It’s a news and community forum that is the most highly-trafficked pearl-related site in the world with more than 10,000 members. I personally moderate discussions on the site every day. This engagement accounts for nearly 1/3 of our sales.
In 2017, I created a pearl specialist training course, www.pearlsasone.org. It’s since been translated into nine other languages, is sponsored by more than 10 industry organizations and has approximately 60,000 enrolled students around the world. I am not only the author, but also the instructor and I interact with students once every two weeks.
These are only two of our initiatives, but are two of the largest and are responsible for our reputation and a large part of our success.
3. Many of our readers are just starting to build a company. What advice can you give entrepreneurs just starting out with a new venture?
These are the two biggest lessons I’ve learned:
- Join a CEO or entrepreneur group like the Entrepreneur Organization and/or Vistage. There is nothing in school that will truly prepare you for entrepreneurship and kinship with those who are also doing is invaluable.
- Treat hiring seriously. Some business owners spend more time with their employees than our spouses. Engaged, qualified and well-selected employees mean the difference between a miserable, resentful office environment and one that hums and performs.
4. For other entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as yours, what advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?
Building a successful business is a challenge and a constantly changing business and political environment (think tariffs) is constantly challenging.
Get past your fear when facing challenges. You’ll find most challenges are manageable and fearing them leads subtle actions such as procrastination, which only causes you to experience the stress of potential failure before even engaging.
5. How important is the commitment to client satisfaction at Pearl Paradise, and how do you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
This is the foundation of every successful luxury brand. Our average price point is more than $500, so our pearls are serious purchases. Our pearls have one purpose: to make someone happy.
There are only two experiences our clients can have – a happy experience or an unhappy experience. Anything short of a happy experience when purchasing luxury products is an unhappy experience.
We make sure our clients are happy by responding to every email, chat and need. We ship immediately and give clients three full months to experience our pearls before committing to them. This gives them ample time to visit shops and jewelers in their area to see and appreciate the value pearls from our company represent and to be sure they are truly loved.
We ship for free and if a client chooses to return a product or needs to exchange something, we cover the shipping and insurance back.
6. In today’s fast changing business environment, how do you stay abreast of things?
I listen to Podcasts and read. I listen to about 1.5 hours or Podcasts per day – an hour at the gym and about a half hour in the car. I read two business books per month and am involved in two CEO mastermind groups.
In addition to staying abreast on digital, I keep up with the pearl industry by serving on the board of the Cultured Pearl Association of America, running the industry new and community forum, Pearl-Guide.com, and running an online pearl specialist training course called PearlsAsOne.org.
7. What is your “Why”? Why do you get up in the morning, and how do you keep yourself at peak performance to lead Pearl Paradise?
I make the beauty of fine pearls available and affordable for everyone.
Every morning I am in the gym by 5:45 am and back home by 7. I drink 65 ounces of water (my first half for the day) before leaving for the office at 8 am.
I don’t drink and I don’t watch TV.
I spend my off time with my wife and dog and recharge by traveling – I am typing this from an airplane in route to South America for two weeks. We are exploring Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu and sailing a catamaran for a week in the Galapagos.
8. Can you recommend a book that has had an influence in your career? How did it influence you?
How did it influence me?
I finally learned why and then how. If you’ve read the book, you’ll understand. If you don’t understand the why and how, you’re missing a big piece of the success puzzle.
Over the past year, I’ve probably given away a dozen copies of this book.
9. When communicating with your staff, can you tell us the most important thing you do so that they are able to carry out the objectives that you set forth at Pearl Paradise?
Ownership. In every position at my company, the person responsible owns their position, KPIs and goals. Extreme ownership leads to extraordinary results, which is why treating hiring as seriously as marriage is one of the most important things an entrepreneur can focus on.
10. Can you explain what leadership means to you?
In my world, leadership is motivating and inspiring a group of people to achieve their potential and own their successes and failures.
We would like to have some fun and do a “speed round” with you! We will ask you ten more questions that we want you to answer in just one to three words only.
Here you go!
1. In three words or less, what makes a successful CEO?
Determination and belief
2. Describe your business in one word?
3. Describe your customers in one word?
4. What one attribute do you look for when hiring an employee?
A sense of ownership
5. What is the one word you want your customers to say about your company?
6. In three words or less, describe your passion?
Crushing perceived limitations
7. In three words or less, describe what it takes to be successful?
Belief in self
8. In three words or less, describe your first year in business at Pearl Paradise?
I did it
9. In three words or less, describe how running a successful company has changed you?
Belief in myself
10. What is the one word that you believe has the most power in the English language?
Jeremy Shepherd, thank you so much for sitting down with us for our DotCom Magazine Leader Roundtable Interview Series. We very much appreciate the time you spent helping our readers learn more about what it takes to be a leader. We wish you, your family, and of course Pearl Paradise, nothing but the best.