Make Things That Matter
Make Things That Matter
#1 May Lindstrom: The power of having a North Star

#1 May Lindstrom: The power of having a North Star

Starting from humble beginnings as a misfit in the Midwest, May Lindstrom has overcome incredible personal challenges and has gone on to not only change the skincare industry, but create a company adored by its customers for bringing love, connection, and restorative ritual into their lives.

What started for May as a deeply personal struggle with sensitive skin transformed into a passion for plant medicine, and ultimately, the 2012 launch of May Lindstrom Skin. Built around the core idea of delivering love and an intention to restore people's connection to their skin through the power of touch, May's formulas combine a total commitment to efficacy with a promise of unparalleled pleasure.

I've had the pleasure of visiting May Lindstrom Skin HQ and I can say, you can actually feel that there is something special about the place, and in this conversation May helped me understand where that came from.

Listen now on Apple, Spotify, Google, Overcast, or Youtube.

Links & resources mentioned

  • Why does May's company have all new employees read "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"? [0:03:29]

  • What does May's company really do? [0:05:27]

  • May's rural upbringing and why she left home [0:07:17]

  • "The goal was to go until I hit the ocean or ran out of money" [0:09:24]

  • "I come from a small town, but I'm not a small woman" [0:10:01]

  • How did an artist end up as a formulator? [0:12:48]

  • What is the job of the artist? [0:14:16]

  • Being an idea manager [0:15:32]

  • The tension between dreams and what can be made real [0:17:21]

  • The responsibliity of a leader to keep dreaming [0:20:27]

  • Success, self-sabotage... now what? [0:20:53]

  • Exploring shame, success, scarcity, and abundance [0:22:54]

  • Instagram perception vs reality [0:28:23]

  • Dealing with imposter syndrome [0:29:40]

  • The Infinite Game [0:34:26]

  • Intentionally craeting a company culture and environment [0:36:07]

  • The beauty of having your customers as your investors [0:37:47]

  • What May Lindstrom skin REALLY does [0:38:23]

  • The job of the Care Bear — and how to idenify one [0:40:30]

  • The hardness of "soft" skills [0:43:26]

  • What's expensive? Dropping your values [0:45:17]

  • The beauty of bootstrapping [0:47:51]

  • Challenges with retail alignment [0:48:24]

  • May's north star: delivering love [0:49:57]

  • Making tough revenue decisions [0:51:21]

  • Retail inventory management issues [0:52:54]

  • Walking away from 25% of her business [0:57:59]

  • Canaries in the retail coal mine [0:58:23]

  • How do you turn values into behavior in your org? [1:01:53]

  • "Tells" that indicate a bad patrner fit [1:08:29]

  • May's BIG product recall [1:10:55]

  • The challenge of natural products [1:13:14]

  • "I knew when I sent that email, there was a chance it could take us under... and it was the right thing to do" [1:19:43]

  • What enables May to make hard calls that others wouldn't? [1:27:12]

  • The cost of knowing what other people are doing [1:28:41]

  • Fear of boredom - what keeps it interesting? [1:30:31]

  • Choosing your "top of the mountain" [1:39:24]

  • Who inspired/inspires May? [1:42:30]

  • "The music is in the space between the notes" [1:46:08]

  • What is the change May seeks to make in the world? [1:48:53]

People, books, etc mentioned


"The goal was to go until I hit the ocean or ran out of money" [0:09:24]

"I can have a can of cold potatoes for dinner if I can finish it with a butterfinger."

"What I am is an idea manager, and so it is my job to see, to hold the vision and build the space in which we can make that vision into a reality. And that is actually my job."

"I come from a small town, but I'm not a small woman."

"This is the first time where the reality far exceeds what I thought I was is when I get to dream again."

"It's my responsibility to keep dreaming otherwise we stay here. And here is great, but there is just so much more potential."

"At the end of the day, we're a love company"

"What's expensive is dropping your values"

"What I'm asking of our retailers is that they treat us like milk."

"Anyone who's too sure that they've got it...they don't."

"I knew when I sent that email that there was a chance it could take us under...but I knew there was absolutely no other right call to make."

"The music in the whitespace... it's in the space between the notes"

"I can't have my North Star be love if I'm operating from fear! You can't do love from fear."

Click here to directly email Andrew your questions, comments, and feedback! He reads everything that is sent in:

Make Things That Matter
Make Things That Matter
What if our products and companies gave more life to everything they touched? Making this a reality is our quest, through impactful product leadership, strategy, decision making, and culture.