The Inspirational Woman Project: Sheryl O’Loughlin

The Inspirational Woman Project believes that every woman is inspirational. It’s our mission to tell their stories.

Sheryl O’Loughlin is the CEO of REBBL, a fast-growing super herb beverage company, and the author of Killing It! An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Keeping Your Head Without Losing Your Heart. Before coming to Rebbl, Sheryl was the Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. Prior to that she served as the Co-Founder and CEO of Plum Organics, an organic baby foods company, and the CEO of Clif Bar, where she led the concept development and introduction of Luna Bar. Sheryl earned her MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She lives in Santa Rosa with her husband, Patrick, and her two sons.

What is your gift? How does being a woman help or influence that?

{O'Loughlin} My gift is love. When I was a kid, I was raised by a single mom. She had three of us to raise starting when I was six and my brothers were four and two. I can’t even imagine what she must have gone through just to get by. Since I was the oldest, I was the most capable of being independent. As a way to stand out, I always pushed myself hard to get A+’s and to be the best. I look back now and think I just wanted to feel like I was loved. Not that I wasn’t—my mom loved us very much. But I craved the open, outward, affectionate love. Now, I give it in a big way. In our foursome of a family, we hug, kiss, and say “I love you” constantly. My sixteen-year-old, miraculously, still kisses me good-bye in front of the high school (although he slams his bedroom door in my face and hates me half the time). We just know that, at the end of the day, we need to connect and remind each other how much we love each other. I always tell people I work with how grateful I am for them. I know I’m lucky, because as a woman it’s more accepted to be open with love. But I’m doing my best to raise boys who feel totally generous with giving out love.

Where do you go / what do you do when you’re in need of inspiration?

{O'Loughlin} My two automatic go-to places are:

1. Books. I am an avid reader. It’s through books that I get unstuck. Reading is like having deep and intimate conversations with a diverse group of gurus, heroes, and inspirational people.

2. My husband. Patrick is an optimist. At times it drives me crazy because I want to just scream and say “No! Life can suck sometimes!” But when I really need to go to a place of possibility, there is no one better to get me to think about another way, a better way. And when we went through some of our hardest times as a family, he was my beacon of strength.

What gets you out of bed every morning?

{O'Loughlin} The meaning I find in my work. I work on a super herb, coconut milk elixir called REBBL that is organic, healthy and exquisite-tasting. REBBL has a very focused purpose, to work with our non-profit partner, Not for Sale, whose goal is to eradicate human trafficking. Human trafficking is the fastest-growing illegal industry, impacting 30M people throughout the world, 80% of whom are women and girls. We give 2.5% of the net sales of every bottle of REBBL purchased to Not for Sale to help rehabilitate people who have been trafficked. Also, we support the livelihood of our growers all over the world so they are never vulnerable to trafficking. You bet this is a reason to get out of bed in the morning!

What is your mantra?

{O'Loughlin} Have bold humility. To be bold is to go forth in the world with the strength and power that we have as women, especially when we’re able to access who we really are. Being bold means saying proudly, “I’m here and I matter.” To have humility means to be a student with a desire to always get better. It means to bring compassion and care to how you approach people and situations. It means understanding where you have strength and where you need others to help lift you up. It’s in the tension between these two words that we bring out the strength of our best leadership self.

Talk to me about your girlfriends.

{O'Loughlin} I am lucky to have some very special women in my life. It’s a priority for me to stay in touch with them—from those I grew up with to those I recently connected with. My girlfriends lift me up, remind me who I am when I feel lost, make me laugh, and have been my canaries in the coal mine when something is getting out of whack. My most special relationships are the ones where I feel I can bare my heart and soul and be my most vulnerable. These friends also welcome my care and compassion for them as they bare theirs. These are relationships of trust, support, and love.

What’s one thing you want to tell the women who will read this?

{O'Loughlin} Never, ever let people, your job, or the things that are hard in the world take away your self-worth. You are a beautiful person who adds diversity and uniqueness to the lives of the people around you. You have this one life and you deserve to bring forth just the person you are and learn in ways that are meaningful to you and that help you to be your best self. Your self-worth comes from deep within you—don’t let anyone take that from you.

Learn more about The Inspirational Woman Project on Twitter @BriSeeley and Instagram @BriSeeley.

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