JR Simich is a serial optimist and natural-born entrepreneur. As one of the co-founders and VP of sales at Vive Organic, he spends his days closing accounts and educating people about the powerful, cold-pressed wellness shots.
SO, HOW'D YOU GET STARTED?
I’ve always been an entrepreneur. My first job was when I gathered avocados from all my neighbors and would sell them at the top of our driveway. Eventually, I moved from the top of the driveway to the top of the street and got my cousin involved. We would come home with $60 and it seemed like so much money. I would split it with all my brothers and we’d go to the candy store and buy whatever we wanted. That freedom of being an entrepreneur was addicting. I knew I always wanted that. Then after college, I started my first business and it ended up failing. After that, I got a job doing sales in Santa Barbara and grew the business from zero to 1.2 million. That was fun, but someone else owned it and I wanted a piece of the pie. That’s when my friend from college, Wyatt, approached me with the idea of Vive. Then, we got our other friend, Kyle, on board and product was on the shelf for the first time in April 2016. We were working on it since December 2015, so it took about 4 months to get it from concept to shelf. It all happened pretty quick.
LESSONS LEARNED ALONG THE WAY?
Grit and determination are the only things that will get you through. No days are easy. There are some days that are better than others, but every day you’re fighting this battle to start this company and there are landmines blowing up everywhere. People always say, “You guys are killing it” and it trips me out because internally it feels like we’re barely making it through the course. I think being humble and getting up every day and working really hard is the biggest lesson I’ve learned.
"Grit and determination are the only things that will get you through. No days are easy."
ACCOMPLISHMENT YOU'RE MOST PROUD OF?
It’s no secret that we’re a VC-backed startup now. I think as you make that transition from homegrown, family and friends-backed to VC-backed, it’s important to stay true to your values and your core. I’m really proud that I’ve been able to do that. I think it’s difficult for a lot of entrepreneurs because you have to make a lot of different people happy. I’m pretty proud of being able to stick to those values that I learned way back when I was selling avocados.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
To me, success is the amount of people that you can positively inspire. If you were to say my name in front of a group of people, I’d hope they’d be like, “he helped me along the way,” or “he’s a good guy.” I use Vive as a vehicle to get in front of people. I fly to new cities and train people on Vive and how to sell it. I get to positively inspire not only our internal team, but people buying and selling the product. So if I can keep doing that at the end of this journey, I’ll call it successful.
ROLE MODELS OR MENTORS?
My dad. He has that grit, that old school entrepreneurial grit. He’s a contractor and he started his own company and he gives it 120% every day. In terms of mentorship, I learned a lot from my lifeguard sergeants back in college. They’re totally selfless. They live their entire life for others and go about it in such a positive way. I’ll never forget that experience. Today, I have a lot of mentors on my team at Vive. We have an amazing senior VP of sales who I look up to. I’ve been learning from her every day.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Helping people and changing people’s lives for the better. Outside of work, I’m very inspired by the ocean and my family.
ULTIMATE LIFE HACK?
Vive Organic Ginger Turmeric Shot. [Laughs] But really, a professor once told me a quote that goes something like this, “Just show up and the simple act of being there will not only change your life, but it will change the lives of future generations.” So I think my life hack is just showing up and being positive and spreading that “Aloha” is what they call it in Hawaii. It can change the future, it can change your destiny, it can change everything.
GO-TO PRODUCTIVITY HACK?
My productivity hack is writing down the most important things I need to get done every day. We have project management software, and Google Sheets, and a bunch of company-wide to-do lists, but for me, it’s about writing stuff down and crossing it off. There’s something about crossing it off that’s great.
"... as you make that transition from homegrown, family and friends-backed to VC-backed, it’s important to stay true to your values and your core."
HOW DO YOU ACHIEVE WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
I think it’s really about having that cutoff time. Turning it off and knowing that you can get to it tomorrow. It’s hard, but important.
MOST UNUSUAL ITEM IN YOUR HOUSE?
Probably my fiance’s air plants. Her dad has an air plant nursery, so we have all these crazy plants in our house. Some of them are definitely unusual. For sure.
FAVORITE SELF-CARE PRACTICE?
Surfing. I think it’s so therapeutic. The salt water washes away all the stress. The vitamin D you get from the sun makes me feel good. It’s physical exercise. It’s also a bit social. You see friends in the water and have little conversations with people. It’s all in one.
PIECE OF ADVICE?
Don’t be afraid to fail. Don't be afraid to get out there and do something that maybe doesn't feel right. Fortune favors the bold. Be bold. Don’t just be another brick in the wall. Go out there and do something different. Do something out of the box and learn from it and you're going to be much more valuable in a future interview or future job opportunity with those kinds of experiences. There are so many options. Just get out there, show up, and good things will happen.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR YOU?
I’m just going to keep my head down and work really hard with Vive. I want to learn as much as I can over the next couple years. Then, whatever is next for me will definitely be in the realm of helping. We’ll see.