Podcasts

Miki Agrawal: How to Build Authentic, Purpose-Driven Brands

Miki Agrawal is an innovative entrepreneur, continually pushing the boundaries of traditional business models. As a founder, Agrawal has carved a unique path, bringing authenticity and revolutionary ideas to address unspoken societal needs. Her ventures span from revolutionizing menstrual products to transforming bathroom hygiene, each marked by a strong commitment to sustainability and positive change.

In this episode of the Culture Leaders Podcast, Miki Agrawal shares her insights into disrupting traditional markets and the importance of staying true to one’s vision and values. She delves into the significance of addressing real-world problems with inventive solutions, and the impact of building brands that resonate with contemporary societal needs.

Join us as Miki Agrawal walks us through her entrepreneurial adventures, discussing the challenges and triumphs of building boundary-pushing businesses. She reflects on the importance of authenticity in entrepreneurship and the role of creative thinking in driving sustainable, positive change in the business landscape.

Notable quotes

“My purpose is probably to be a champion of curiosity.” – Miki Agrawal

“Everything in the world is made up. So why can’t we invent new possibilities that feel really, really good to all of us?” – Miki Agrawal

“You have to be real clear about where the organization is going.” – Miki Agrawal

“I think the most beauty that people want from you is your authenticity.” – Miki Agrawal

“The vision of my brands is actually not just a business strategy, but deeply embedded into our core mission.” – Miki Agrawal

“I believe in questioning the status quo and finding better solutions to everyday needs.” – Miki Agrawal

“It’s not just about being disruptive; it’s about creating a meaningful impact.” – Miki Agrawal

Useful links

Reach Miki at:

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/mikiagrawal/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/twinmiki/

Website – https://hellotushy.com/

Books:

https://www.amazon.com/Disrupt-Her-Manifesto-Modern-Miki-Agrawal/dp/1401955568/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1545171233&sr=8-1&keywords=disrupther

https://www.amazon.com/Do-Cool-Sh-Business-Happily/dp/0062261533/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378771953&sr=8-1&keywords=do+cool+shit

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Transcript

Miki Agrawal: Super.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Okay, are we ready? Okay. Mickey, I am just starstruck and so excited to have you on the show today. And I can’t wait to hear your answer to our first question, which we ask everyone, which is what is your why?

Miki Agrawal: Yeah, let’s go.

Miki Agrawal: Ooh, I would just say it’s just constantly in the creative process and I just love the process of creating. Anything.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Oh, that’s brilliant. You know, I saw an Instagram the other day about some monk or, I don’t know, guru talking about, someone asked me what my why is. Who said I had a why? Why do I need a why? If I need a why, then I need something that I’m always trying to accomplish. Why don’t I just enjoy the process? It feels like that’s your answer, that you’re just in the flow.

Miki Agrawal: Just in the creative flow and creative process, I think that’s the most important thing.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, I think that maybe makes you very unique in the world of entrepreneurship anyway, and why so many people look up to you. So I have a thousand questions. I wanna start by going back. I feel like…

People’s superpower often comes from experiences that they had earlier in their life that maybe weren’t necessarily the greatest experiences. And I’ve heard you talk a little bit about yours. Can you share what got that fire in your belly or where you come from?

Miki Agrawal: I mean, I’m half Japanese, half Indian, from India, my dad’s from India, and I grew up in French Canada, in Montreal, as you’re French as well, which I love. And I think I just grew up where we got to debate a lot around the table, like around the dinner table. We just got to like look at different things from different perspectives all the time and just constantly debate about like, well, you’re looking at it from this perspective, but what about that perspective? What about this perspective? And I think it was always welcome to have a healthy debate.

And so I think I just never accepted the status quo of anything and just always questioned it. It’s like, why is it done this way? Is there a better way? Like, is that the only way? Cause it can’t be the only way. There’s gotta be another way. Cause there’s many ways to do all kinds of things. Cause everything in the world is made up. And so money is made up. Time is made up. I mean, everything is made up. So why can’t we invent new possibilities that feel really, really good to all of us? It’s even better and better.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, one of the things I’ve heard you talk about that I’ve been pondering a lot is the idea of if I’m trying to sell something to people in the language that they want, or I’m trying to figure out what people wanna hear so that I can get more viewers or get more clients, then you’re on the wrong track. You start by looking inward, right? And what it is that you wanna solution to or what you wanna say. Can you talk about that? Because I think people struggle with that in the world of business.

Miki Agrawal: Right.

Miki Agrawal: Yeah, I mean, I think oftentimes, like, people want to start something on a whim. It’s like, I want to start another t-shirt company because I really like cat memes. And so I’m going to just do a cat meme t-shirt company. And you’re like, well, you know, are you going to be passionate about that for a long time? So in my first book, Do Cool As Shit, I actually lay out like the three simple questions to ask yourself before starting any business. And I think that also helps weed out a lot of kind of the stuff that you think you might want to do, but it doesn’t make any sense actually.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I’m going to go to bed.

Miki Agrawal: So the first question is what sucks in my world? So there has to be a pain point that starts with me. So for me, having stomach aches was my very first pain point, which led me to start my first gluten-free farm-to-table pizza concept, which is still running to this day 18 years later in New York City. Having period accidents every month on my period, I’m actually wearing my things right now because I’ve had period accidents every single month and it was just so messy and very heavy bleeder. And it was just one of those things where I’m like, ah, like always had to interrupt my day until I…

invented a new possibility, which is a pair of underwear that just backs you up. And then, you know, having cons, I had a thyroid issue for a couple of years, which led me to poop a lot, which led me to like having a very chapped butt from wiping and wiping and wiping with toilet paper, which then led me to jumping the bath shower to wash myself, which then led me to getting a bidet for my ex-husband, you know, and then the bidet changed my life. And I, you know, wanted to bring the best in class affordable version of that to the American people. So what sucks in my world,

It starts with my problem. And then the second question is, does it suck for a lot of people? Well, one in five Americans eat gluten-free. One in five Americans are lactose intolerant. There’s so many people with GI issues today. Every single woman can raise their hand and say, I have had period accidents in my life and I would want some kind of a backup to protect me. Like, you know, when I’m on my period, that’d be amazing. Do not have to just make a mess. You know, every human who has any type of chronic UTIs, hemorrhoids, fissures, itching, who’s been pregnant.

who before sex, after sex, want to feel sexy, clean, use a bidet, wash yourself, get a precise shower for your butt. It’s a problem that everybody has if you’re actually using just dry toilet paper, which is disgusting. So does it suck for me? What sucks in my world? Does it suck for a lot of people? And the third question is, can I be passionate about this issue, cause or community for a really long time? And I think that’s where people get a lot stuck in. It’s like, can I be passionate about…

women’s issues, yes. Can I be passionate about food? Yes. Can I be passionate about saving millions of trees and upleveling our health and hygiene and life? Yes. As long as I need to, yes. And so they say it takes 10 years to be an overnight success. It’s like, oh, as an example, how long do you think it took La Croix, the drink, La Croix, the drink, to become a thing? People are like, oh my God, I popped up out of nowhere. Guess how old La Croix is, La Croix? Guess.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmph.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: How old? 20 years. I’m guessing because you just told me it was 10 years to make an overnight success. So I’m now assuming it’s been around a while. Oh really, 35?

Miki Agrawal: It’s like 35 years old. Yeah, and only popped up out of nowhere like five years ago, you know, when you saw them at Whole Foods everywhere. So it just takes, I mean…

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Right. And now everyone is talking, everyone knows what LaCroix is. It feels like that with my career, I’ve been keynoting for 10 years and I think like even just now, people are maybe starting to hear about me, you know? And that took 10 years of no one knowing who I was to actually happen. So you’ve mastered all these movements.

Miki Agrawal: Yes. And so.

Miki Agrawal: Yeah.

Miki Agrawal: Yeah, exactly.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: You have a lot going on in your, I mean, you’re an author, you’re a keynote, or you have all these businesses. What is the thing that has brought you the most joy or that you’ve been the most passionate about in your varied career?

Miki Agrawal: I would just say like solving problems and like, you know, it’s like my whole thing is like upleveling people and the planet. You know, can I can have all of these things that have been put, you know, that I’ve, you know, invented with my amazing teams like supported people on planet? Yes, yes, yes. Across the board. Yes. And so I think it’s always fun. It’s like every month I use my period products. I use things. Every single day I use Tushy.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Miki Agrawal: When I’m at a restaurant, when I want to just go and indulge on a piece of pizza, I go at my restaurant because it’s gluten-free, farm-to-table, local, and I can eat it without stomach aches. So it’s solving my own problems. And when I see people enjoying it too, like, oh, this is the first gluten-free pizza I’ve had in my whole life. I opened it 18 years ago. There was no gluten-free pizza place around. And so people were like, I haven’t eaten pizza in like 20 years. And it just feels so good to like…

Ugh, like, you know, all these women, like a burning man come up to me and pull their pants down, be like, I’m wearing my thanks, you know, and everyone, it’s like, I’ve received so many messages being like, whenever I take a shit, I think about you. And I’m like, thank you. You know, so it’s, it’s just totally gratifying when you have millions of people using your products and they’re like truly feeling up leveled, you know.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I’m sorry.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, so I mean, before I had ever heard of you, I knew about Tushy. I have a Tushy, I’ve had a Tushy for years. I got a second Tushy when I moved and my landlord broke my first Tushy when he was trying to uninstall it. So here’s what struck me about that product and that is the brand authenticity that came through in every piece of.

Miki Agrawal: Thank you.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: You know, the instruction manual and the website and the order email, like everything that came through, I thought, man, this brand has such a clear and authentic voice. Does that voice reflect your voice? Is that your voice or was that something that was collectively created by all of the executives and employees and marketing people that were on that team together?

Miki Agrawal: I mean, I think it always starts at the top with permission, right? And it’s like a permission slip to be fully yourself. I mean, we naturally attract people who want to say poop, who want to be authentic, who are funny because we’re in the business of poop, you know? Even at things like we wanted to make people bring in people who are funny, who didn’t take themselves so seriously, who are artful, but still, you know, just like, just like you’re texting your best friend, like you’re just relaxed in yourself. And I think.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Miki Agrawal: Being authentic attracts authentic people. And so as a result, the work that’s being put out is authentic. It’s not like, I wonder what people want me to say and how they want me to say it, and I’m gonna say it that way. Versus like, what do we authentically wanna share? Like what is bubbling up inside that like, oh, I have an idea. Like, my team like constantly is like, I have an idea for this like cool idea, like this cool campaign, like what do you think? And it’s like, yes, like go do it. And so it’s this.

This permission slip. And I think the one thing that I get often from my Toshi team is like, I just feel the permission to be myself. And that just feels like so good. And I think because of that, great authentic ideas come through for everyone on the team. So it’s always collaborative, it’s always collective, but I think like the world of authenticity has to come from the permission, from like the leadership, right?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So can I ask you for some personal advice, not to like take this off topic, but hopefully it’s interesting. So I got a Ted talk. I’m very excited about it. I’m gonna be recording in a few weeks and I haven’t, I’ve written the thing. I know exactly what I’m gonna talk about. It’s a thing I’m super passionate about, which is how to get people to give a shit. And so the big question, and I just had a whole conversation with all the people on my team yesterday is, can we call it that? I mean, you have a book, do cool shit, right? I mean, that’s.

Miki Agrawal: Yeah. And that’s it.

Miki Agrawal: Yes.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: You chose to curse, that’s authentically your brand. My Ted Talk though, what? Why do you make that face?

Miki Agrawal: How to get people to give a shit, there’s no, the word shit is no, it’s not a curse word anymore. Like give a shit is such a like, how to get people to give a shit is a great TED Talk title. I would, I think it’s a great.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: But there are people on my team who think it’s vulgar and are offended by the sentiment, right? And they said, if you’re gonna turn someone off, then you don’t wanna do that. You wanna be inclusive in your messaging, which I… Yeah, go ahead.

Miki Agrawal: But you can’t be everything to everyone. And I think that’s the thing. If you’re trying to be everything to everyone, you’re gonna be nothing to anyone. And so it’s really, really important to be authentically you. If it feels you to say that, then say it. If you’re just trying to listen to like, I remember when I went through some crazy shit in my life and I listened to like some super sorority girl, like what are the crisis PR people? Like, don’t say the thing that you, you’re like, fuck, I should have been like,

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm.

Miki Agrawal: You know what, I’m going to be me. Thank you for your advice. I appreciate your cautionary, whatever, but like, no, thank you. Like, I think the most, the most beauty that people want from you is your authenticity. Who are you? What do you have to say? How do you say it? That’s why people like you is because you’re authentic. And as minute you start listening to like, too much tapering and thing, obviously like it’s important to take advice and like take feedback and like may the best idea win. Like that’s for sure.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Miki Agrawal: But when it comes to stuff like how to get people to give a shit, like that’s, that’s not, if that’s what you really want to talk about, then like, I think that’s awesome. I think it’s awesome. Like I would click on that versus like how to get someone to like make you care about something, you know, like.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Care, right, exactly. That’s the alternative is how to get people to care. I mean, I don’t even wanna click that, you know, even if the message is exactly the same. So here’s, now I wanna know, how do you get people to give a shit? Because you get people to give a shit about a lot of different things. It feels like a superpower that you have. What’s the secret to these movements that you create?

Miki Agrawal: Yeah.

Miki Agrawal: I’ve actually really thought about that for a long time. It’s like, how do you change culture? You talk about culture leaders, like how to change culture. How do you get people to go, who’ve been doing a behavior for generations to shift their behavior based on a product that you’re introducing to the market? That’s hard as shit to get someone to change a behavior. How do you do that? And so I kind of whittled it down to a thesis, which is a three-pronged thesis.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm

Miki Agrawal: Prong number one, and they all sounds, it all kind of sounds like obvious, but it’s actually not. Because again, like authenticity is at the root of all of it. But the first one is simply a best in class product. We talk about, you know, you being like a great speaker, right? Your product of what you offer is really great, right? As you say, right? For me, my products are best in class products. I know that I can stand behind that. Our bidet is the best bidet in the market, the bidet attachment world. We have listened to our customers for over eight years, as far as like,

the things that they feel like need and all the overarching challenges we’ve addressed and it’s the best bidet in the world and it also looks dope. So best in class product number one, our ThinkSundware feels like a beautiful pair of underwear, it doesn’t feel gross. My pizza is the tastiest pizza like in the realm of alternative pizza. It is the best. It rivals and competes with the best tasting regular pizza on the market. So best in class product number one, super important to change culture. But then the other two are the most like are…

equally if not more important, equally important. The second prong is considered artful design across every touch point of what you’re offering, every touch point of your brand. So how you design the words, how you design the art. For me, that specifically it’s the artfulness of it, but it’s coupled with the third prong, which I’ll get to in a second, but it’s really, really the, how artful can you be in everything that you put out? Because if you’re just,

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Miki Agrawal: Again, another cookie cutter thing that looks like an ad or just looks like a website versus like, wow, like they made art. And when you make art, it makes someone lean in further. It makes you wanna like step closer. You’re like, wow, oh my God, they’re talking about poop, but I already leaned in because it’s so beautiful. Oh my God, they’re talking about periods, but like, wow, that grapefruit looked so pretty with that background. Like, wow, like it just makes you open up your heart a little bit more when you’re.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm.

Miki Agrawal: Introducing something new in an artful way. And that’s also best in class. The third prong is again, as important as being artful and as having a best in class product, which is accessible, relatable language across every touch point of your brand, which means like whenever people are being too heady, too technical, too clinical, too medical, too care, instead of give a shit, don’t say period Mickey, no one’s going to care about that. Say time of the month. Our product brand name is a woman. Like our, our tagline is.

For women with periods. Our tagline for Tushy is for people who poop. We have people that don’t say poop, don’t say periods. But guess what? That is what’s changed culture and has actually made people feel like I can say period. I don’t have to feel ashamed. I can talk about poop and it’s fucking cool because everybody poops, like no big deal. And so the way we think about writing and copy is not like how heady and technical and how can I say it in the way people want and everyone accepts it.

But like, what do I text my best friend? How do I text my best friend? And how do you text your best friend? You text your best friend like quirky, funny, self-deprecating, talking shit, like just being silly and dumb. Like you’re just you, you’re authentically you. You’re not trying to be someone else that you’re not. That’s why they love you. That’s why you’re friends with them. That’s why they’re friends with you. And so our copy is written like we’re texting our best friend with an artful, beautiful aesthetic and with the best in class product. Those three together.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm.

Miki Agrawal: Change culture. And I’ve seen that time and time again with my pizza, with my gluten-free farm table pizza restaurant. You think all the New York City pizza people will ever want to eat alternative pizza when they’re like Joe’s Pizza Fanatics. They come to us, they’re like, wow, the shit tastes amazing. And wow, walking into a restaurant feels so good and your design is so beautiful. And the way you talk to me feels like you’re talking to me. Like it doesn’t feel like some alternative thing. You know? It stinks and tushy. It’s like, oh my God, you said it’s funny. It’s self-deafening. It’s authentic.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Right.

Miki Agrawal: But if you go to our website, hellotouchy.com, it’s beautiful, it’s artful. If you look at the way we present our bidet device, it feels like a cultural lifestyle product. It’s not like some weird toilet device, right? Things is beautiful. So, right? So like all of those combined changes culture.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: What’s interesting is you’re doing something subversive at the same time. It’s not just about the success of the business. You’re also changing the social norms of the business world, which has predominantly been one way. And then here you come disrupting it wildly, not just in form, but in content and the how you go about doing that. And it makes some people uncomfortable, which I love. It’s like, yeah, get uncomfortable. The new boss is in town.

Miki Agrawal: So say give a shit.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, okay. You just made me so excited. It’s, you know, it’s interesting though. I mean, do you, the resistors, the people who say that this is not an appropriate way to speak in this setting, how do you, do you come up against that? Or do they not talk to you directly? And how do you deal with it when they do?

Miki Agrawal: I mean, we have investors all the time who called our, investors of Tushy who are like, you’re so crass. Like that’s why you’re not like, you know, breaking through the middle America people yet. We’re like, this is how it goes. You get like the outliers first, you get the cool kids first, then it brings, that’s just, that’s how it goes. So it’s like, be patient. Culture shifting does take time. Sometimes, you know, it happens like this and that’s like winning the lottery, right? And then there’s sometimes like, Thinks and Tushy both pretty like.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Right.

Miki Agrawal: Pretty like no names now, didn’t happen that slowly. You know, there are seven, eight year old companies now, 10, you know, nine, 10, like, you know, things started in 2014, so she started in, you know, 2017, in 2015, but like really 2017. So like relatively still young, but there’s still people who know the brands, right? And to hit ubiquity, we’re talking middle America, like grandma from middle town, like that’s gonna take time.

I mean, LaCroix, again, is a great product, took 35 years. I’m not saying it’s gonna take 35 years today, but you have to take a stand for something. Otherwise, it’s gonna take 100 years. You look at Dollar Shave Club versus Gillette. Guess how long it took Gillette to like, to, guess how long it took Dollar Shave Club to do what Gillette did in 100 years. That took Gillette 100 years to do.

Guess how long it took from a customer acquisition perspective. It took them three, three. So like it also can happen quickly, but they had an incredible campaign, Dollar Shave. It was very compelling. The way he talked about Shave was so fun. The founder story was so great. Like that Dollar Shave Club video, that opening video was amazing, right? Like, so sometimes it can happen quickly, sometimes it can happen slow. Like it depends on what the product is.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: 10 years? Mm.

Miki Agrawal: But you have to take a stand. Like he just like was funny and silly and dumb. And like, you know, like that’s what it takes sometimes is to just be yourself. Like that’s what it takes. Ultimately it comes back down.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, I think it’s a relief. It’s a relief for a lot of people because there’s so much canned content out there and there’s something that you can smell. You can just smell authenticity and you don’t necessarily know what it is about it, but you can just tell you’re drawn to it. It’s compelling, right?

Miki Agrawal: Because people talk about authenticity in a fake way, like be authentic, but then you’re like, I’m gonna be authentic and wonder what they’re gonna say so I can say it in an authentic way, but exactly what they want me to say in an authentic way. And like, that’s so contrived, right? Versus like being just true. Like what’s true for you? What’s true for me? Like what do I so deep inside of myself wanna say? Let me say that in a way that’s like thoughtful, I don’t have to be rude about it.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Miki Agrawal: And sometimes you have to say period and that’s not rude. It’s just the word is considered taboo in society that was created a hundred years ago by like the patriarchy. Like, do we really care? Right? Like, no, right? So, so you have to, you have to pick your battles but you have to also just ultimately truth is what sets us all free. It’s just true.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah. Well, we have so many people that called in and want to ask you a question because they’re just huge fans of yours. So let’s get to it. Let’s go to our first caller and see what they have for you, Mickey. I can’t wait to hear.

Miki Agrawal: Oh, that’s so great. What a thoughtful human. I love the 747 that experience at Burning Man. I was always like, this is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. It was insane. It was such a such a it’s getting so bright and sunny right here. Go right here. OK, well, to answer that, I would just say, honestly, like everyone needs a cheerleader in their life.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Miki Agrawal: I think everyone has like a best friend or a sibling or someone in their life that’s like, Oh my God, I have this idea. What do you think? Like, what are you, you know, and you’re just like talking mile a minute with each other and that’s my twin sister. That’s Rada. And so like the two of us, we’re so lucky to have each other to bounce ideas off of. And we’re always like, Oh my God, early morning dance party. She started the daybreaker, which is an early morning dance movement before work starts. And it’s like been all over the world and it’s 10 years old now. And it’s just.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Miki Agrawal: Truly bringing joy to the masses. And when she first started, like I’m the number one ticket purchaser of Daybreaker. I’ve purchased the most number of tickets to Daybreaker. And I was the first sponsor to Daybreaker, like my company, Tushy, like was the first sponsor during COVID. Like there was just like so much love towards one another. And she was the first cheerleader for Tushy and like things obviously co-founded. Like we just cheerleaded each other so much in our businesses where it just felt like we’ve…

We’ve got this, we’ve got a fan. We have at least a fan for what we’re doing and that fanned our flame. And I think it’s so important to have someone in our life that we can just like ideate with and fan our flames with. And I’m so lucky that I have like a group of friends who we just constantly ideating fan each other’s flames, you know, go on walks. We call it fam jams where one of us comes and presents their idea and then we fam jam on it.

And it’s just the most fun to support our friends and each other. And when someone makes sells their company or raises capital or something great happens, we’re like this pumping as if it’s our own. Like it’s that level of like celebration and support. When I went through my crazy shit in my company previously, I had 20 friends come over like with a boom box with flowers group hugging me, you know, right before like crazy legal things I had to go through, which was so painful and hard for me.

While I was pregnant, it was such a crazy time. I had friends bring crystals to my house and I brought those crystals with me to the legal thing and put crystals all around me. Like it was like that level of like support. And I think anyone can do anything when they have a support system and cheerleaders, but that takes, like when someone asks me, what’s your number one, what’s your number one piece of advice in entrepreneurship? I would say build your community, build your friend group.

Show up for your friends. Oftentimes when we’re starting companies, we’re like, sorry, I’m too busy. Gotta go to this thing. I’m working till midnight. Can’t come, sorry, sorry. And eventually you stop getting phone calls from friends. Like I’ve met my sister and I because we’re together and we’ve never done that. We’ve always thrown the parties. We’ve always been organizing and we always show up for our friends. Even when it’s late night, like our friend’s birthday was at 11 o’clock at night. I’m a kid and I’m like, I’m gonna show up. We like went, even if it was for like 30 minutes or like 45 minutes, we showed up for them. And he was so touched like.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Miki Agrawal: That level of showing up for each other is like, what’s gonna get us through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. So I think that long-winded answer to his question is that, is like community, is friends, is like the energy that like, the fans of being each other’s fans, like truly fans are flames.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So I didn’t know that was your sister. I’m a huge fan of Daybreaker. I mean, I absolutely, what you guys have in common and I’m just figuring this out right now is you solve the problem that like women like me have that no one else is solving. When I got sober, I was like, I miss dancing. How come there’s no sober dance parties? And I found one and it was Daybreaker. And I just think that’s so awesome. So you guys are the best. I’m such a fan of you guys. That is so cool. Yeah.

Miki Agrawal: Yeah, she’s my identity queen sister. I’m seeing her tomorrow. We’re going to spend two weeks together in the Amazon rainforest. We’re going to be doing a pilgrimage to the Amazon rainforest, and we’re going to just be with the Oshawa tribe. We’ve in the middle of the Amazon jungle. They’ve never seen the modern world, and it’s just going to be this like incredible convening with nature and these nature people, these forest people. It’s going to be so cool.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: How old is your child? You have one?

Miki Agrawal: I have, well, I have, well, so technically, because we’re identical twins, I have two. I have her kid who’s Soleil, who’s technically my kid, and I have my kid, Hero, who’s six, and her daughter is four and a half. So we have, together we have two kids. We always say that.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hahaha

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah. Oh, that’s so great. I have a six year old too. So are you bringing the children to the Amazon? Yeah.

Miki Agrawal: You do? This is the only trip, like we took them this year to Japan, to Egypt, to Tanzania, to like, we took them all over Mexico, like all over the world this year, but like, this is the one, like, I’m sitting ayahuasca for the first time in six years, like with the Oshawa tribe, and like, it’s for grownups only this time. And so yeah, we’re going, my sister and I are gonna go, and with-

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Miki Agrawal: This incredible woman named Lynn Twist who started the Pachamama Alliance. And she’s 80 years old and she’s leading this pilgrimage into the Amazon. It’s gonna be incredible.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: That is so cool. I totally want to hear how that goes. I’m fascinated with ayahuasca. This thing is, I mean, I’ve gone to these silent retreats when I was going through my midlife crisis or whatever, right before I got sober. And all these people were saying, ayahuasca will change your life. You’ve got to do it. I haven’t done it, but I’ve always been so intrigued by what the forest has to say to me. Ha ha ha.

Miki Agrawal: Do you have a son or a daughter?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I have a daughter, Eleanor. Yeah, she’s a cute little one. Okay, so let’s go to the next caller. We’ve got many people who have questions.

Miki Agrawal: Amazing!

Miki Agrawal: Beautiful. I think just super direct. It’s like, is your crotch in pain? Do you have to use a shit ton of lube to like slather on there? Or can you use a loose knee? Like it’s actually like pretty simple and straightforward. I think that’s a great value proposition. Like, I biked for a decade, over a decade in New York every day for hours and hours. And I rode like a cruiser, so not like a, you know, a road bike, but I know the road bike game and how like…

chapped your crotch gets. So I think, yeah, I think just being very clear and just being like, do you not like, you know, for all the cycling world, like they know this, they have to put that loop stuff down there and how gross it is, how annoying it is, and how just like, yeah, just messy versus this. Like, I think it’s direct. Just being, again, authentic, direct, like not saying time of the month, but saying period. Not saying like going to the bathroom, but saying poop. Like, it’s like…

Don’t want to be chapped down there, use the VC. Like pretty straightforward. I think that’s, you know, I think people want direct, authentic, just truth today.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, it’s interesting because some, I was just talking about this with another person I did an interview with about authenticity at work and in the HR world, right? In the culture management world, there’s a lot of talk about bring your whole self to work, be fully authentic, show up as yourself. But a lot of people don’t feel like they have the psychological safety in a workplace environment to bring their whole self to work because it’s not the way that the higher ups would like you to show up, right? Have you seen that in?

Your own experience and managing teams and people feeling like, well, what if, what if the person that you hire is kind of uptight and really uncomfortable saying poop and does not like that kind of language, but then they feel pressure to do the opposite, you know? I mean, what’s your experience with that?

Miki Agrawal: I think just the like attract the like, you know, it’s like, attract people who want to say poop. Like we’re not going to, we’re definitely not going to hire like a sorority girl who’s like, doesn’t want to say poop or is too like, you know, that’s uncouth, like that’s not gonna, I mean, I love sorority girls too, don’t get me wrong, but like, do you know what I mean? Like that type of like stereotypical one that’s just like, you know, and I, I just like, we attract people who just.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm.

Miki Agrawal: Love to talk about this stuff. I mean, my CEO even, like Jason, like he was like, oh my god, I’ve been talking about like writing jingles about poop. I’ve been like, you know, he’s a daughter too. And like we talk about poop all the time when you have a kid. Like there’s just like, it’s just in the zeitgeist of his whole life. And so I think it just attracts, again, like if you’re an authentic person, you can just tell if they’re going to be authentically talking about it, or if they’re going to be like, haha, like uncomfortable about it. So like…you’re just gonna know. Just like you said, you know when someone’s authentic and you know when they’re not. And so the same way, always do the final culture test with every new hire to be like, are they really one of us? Can they really, and if not, no worries. It’s just not a culture fit, that’s okay. Cultural leadership is also accepting that someone’s either culture fit or not and that’s okay.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah. What is your favorite thing to talk about? I mean, you give so many different keynotes. People ask you about entrepreneurship and marketing and authenticity and women’s empowerment and blah blah. I mean, look, what’s your favorite thing?

Miki Agrawal: Um, I think like what lights you up, like, you know, just, just follow the thing, like what is it lights you up? And I think like following a lit path. I talk about that in my book, disrupt her. It’s like, what is it that will get you to follow a lit path? And that lit path doesn’t have to be one that’s like linear. You know, it’s like, people are like, Oh, you’re an investment banker. Then you played soccer and then you went to start a restaurant. Then you’re working periods and now you’re doing a poop and then you’re going to the mushroom. Like.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Miki Agrawal: How are you, like where is he written books in between? You’re DJ. You know, like who, like what? Why? You know? And it’s like, because it lights me up. And like, I’m following the path that lights me up. And actually, like what Steve Jobs said, like you can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards. And it’s like, it’s like, oh yeah. Like all of these experiences have led me to where I am today. So none of them were like, that was like, I don’t know how I feel. Like it’s just like, that actually contributed

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm.

Miki Agrawal: To all the knowledge that I’ve gained today. In fact, like having this diverse knowledge is actually valuable in entrepreneurship or in setting your own path or doing whatever, because anything actually, because you’re getting textured experiences, you’re getting lots of different modalities. And I, you know, like, I find it really sad oftentimes when I’m like, you know, talking to a couple of my doctor friends who are like, oh, like going to the hospital is really sad. I just want to like start a business. I’m like, well, go do that. Like, well, like just went through like 10 years of medical school.

Doctor, my family, everyone. It’s like they feel trapped or even in relationships, like when people feel trapped in relationships, they’re like, it’s good. It’s like, it’s a, you know, like we’re getting, like it’s a good relationship. We have a good relationship. I was in a really amazing relationship for 11 years. In the last two, it was like, okay. And so in my, and we had a beautiful kid together and that was part of our Darmic path together. Andrew, we’re going to his house right after this. We’re going to celebrate Christmas together with our kid.

I call him all the time, we hang out all the time, but we no longer are together. We’re just best friends. And that’s okay. And people are like, oh, like, is it considered a failure that you’re no longer in relationship with the person that you’ve married and had a kid with? No, it’s just transition. It’s moved on and it’s morphed. And am I fully lit up? Were either of us fully lit up at the end? No. So like, we’re now way more lit up and now we can come back together and be like, fuck yeah, we did this.

Like it was hard for the separation moment, but now we’re like, look at us now. Like it’s amazing. And so like, there’s so many like ingrained indoctrinated belief systems. Like that’s why I wrote my book, Disrupt Her. It’s like the idea to disrupt all of the notions around money, around career, around relationships, around friendships, around the patriarchy, around feminism, all these like ingrained things that keep us like gripping tight. It’s like, how do you open your palm and like love with an open palm and…soften into yourself and what’s true. And it’s like, hey man, like this relationship, like, God, we got married from 250 people and fuck, like, you know, like I could just, I guess I laid in the bed, I’m just made. And it’s like, no, man, like life comes and goes like a fart in the wind. Like it comes and goes, like, may we all be so deeply lit up and may we be free from any feeling of anyone controlling us or what society says or what we should do. Like, fuck it, like live free.

Miki Agrawal: Open your palm. Like that, if that’s one thing I can teach, that’s what I would teach.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: That’s your legacy.

Miki Agrawal: Yeah. And it’s just what… Anyways, I can talk all day about that in relationship, in business, and how that reflects back in our lives. You know? Like, you know, yeah.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

So what do you say to the young people? I mean, I mentor a lot of 21, 22 year olds and I can talk about following your passion and being of service. And a lot of the time, I have no idea what I wanna do. Nothing lights me up. I don’t know what I want. How do you give the directionless direction?

Miki Agrawal: Yeah, I mean, it’s trial and error. It’s like you’ve, that’s why it’s feeling into what sucks in my world first. And it’s like, you know, like for my sister, it was like, God, I hate going to clubs. We’d go to clubs in two months, it was like dancing back to back, so no guy would like grope us or whatever, like drunk people would like, you know? So it was sort of like.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, right.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I’m going to go ahead and close the video.

Miki Agrawal: This feeling of like, I want to go stand sober where everyone can feel free and I can be in my deep feminine and just not have to be like here for the male gaze. Like it’s constantly just like, or I want to fall in love, but it’s going to be in a clean state. It’s not like, you know? And so it’s like, yeah, that feels like that makes sense. And I want to go do that. Oh my God, there’s nowhere to dance. Like I’m going to go start that. And so it’s sort of, it often starts with pain points in your life where you’re like, gosh, I just wish that this thing existed.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Miki Agrawal: And you’re like, oh, wow, it doesn’t? That’s an opportunity. Do you have that problem too? Do you want something? Oh, and you’re like, oh, wow. There’s this opportunity here. So oftentimes there’s pain points. And also it’s like you show up at an event and you get inspired by someone or something and you’re like, wow, I’m gonna follow that breadcrumb. That’s cool too. And so it’s like, it doesn’t always have to be a thing where you’re like, I’m starting a thing. It’s like, oh, wow.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Miki Agrawal: I’m inspired by a thing, I’m gonna go. Like I’m going to Lynn twist a thing, a pilgrimage to the Oshawa tribe in the Amazon rainforest. It’s not my thing, but like I’m following this breadcrumb. Wow, like the Amazon’s calling me. Like, what is it gonna teach me? Like, I’m gonna follow this incredible woman who’s like, has this knowledge. Like, wow, like it doesn’t have to always be a thing that you start. Like that’s okay too.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Miki Agrawal: It’s just like, it’s all about like, in my book Disruptor, I talk about like the scout. You know, the scout is someone who goes into a forest to go find the path, the other side of the forest before like the tribe goes, before the rest of the people have to cross the forest. And so oftentimes the scout, the scout goes on their own and the scout goes and they run into like a fallen tree or they run into a bear chasing them or they run into a ravine or they run into all kinds of shit.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Miki Agrawal: Does that scout be like, I failed, this sucks, I’m a loser. Or the scout just goes back and goes a different path and goes back and tries something else until they get through and they’re like, ah. I’ve hit salvation like the sun. And it’s sort of like, it’s a constant game of like, life’s an experiment, relationships are an experiment. People are, where we live is an experiment. So many people like, I just made my whole house, I just redesign my whole beautiful home. Like I just like, I love my home. Like I love it. And I’m selling it now. Like I’m done. Like I’m ready. Just finished it. Like it’s time. Like, you know, and so it’s sort of like, it’s like we get so comfortable and, you know, like we just get so like stagnant, complacent. Like we don’t get like, it’s about the vitality in our veins, the aliveness, the lit upness. And like sometimes you’re like, oh, this is comfortable. This relationship is comfortable.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hahaha!

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I’m sorry.

Miki Agrawal: It’s like a seven out of, it’s good. Like this, I like my house. It’s good. It’s calm. It’s like an old sock. I feel good in it. And some people that’s great. And that’s great. But I like, I just think that there’s, you know, it’s always fun to be like, what’s on the other, like what else is out there? Like maybe like what else? Like what else? And like, that’s okay if like, if this path didn’t work and you’re like, let me find something. Like, oh wow, that just.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm

Miki Agrawal: I had no idea that going this path could unlock this feeling inside of me, but I was so scared to go this path, I didn’t even know it was there. Like that’s gonna be the saddest moment on a deathbed where you’re like, I didn’t even know it was there for me to take. Like for me, having left a beautiful marriage, like I’m entering into one that’s so cosmic and it’s so different. Like that was so beautiful and amazing and this is so different, but it’s a different level of like connection of like.

Of like cosmic, it feels cellular and cosmic. It’s a different type of love. That’s just like, I didn’t know was possible, right? And so like, you can’t explore those things unless until you’re able to let something else go. So I don’t know. It’s, it’s an, it’s an, life’s an experiment. I think it’s important to see. Maybe that’s also a thesis. Like life’s an experiment, treat it as such. And like, you’ll see like, wow, like so much.

So much new like explosions and magic when you’re like this potion, this potion, like created this explosion. Like that’s so cool.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm, that’s maybe the next book life is an experiment or some much better title than that Okay, let’s go to the next caller

Miki Agrawal: Okay. Well done.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hi George, what’s your question?

Miki Agrawal: Yeah, that’s a great question. I always believe in earned media in the beginning, like not actually spending any money in marketing. Like I never had the money to spend either for any of my companies. So it had to be doing weird shit, doing crazy things. Like for Tushy, like the first thing we did was we made like these crappy DIY anal beads and sent them to All Press. And like, you know, they wrote some scathing things about us initially, but then we had like year of the asshole event where I had it at my house.

Where we basically had a nude person and someone was painting a nude butt and we had butt massagers and we had butt workout areas and we had chocolate cookies that looked like poop and the New York Times came, New York Magazine came, the Time Magazine came, bustle, I mean, every major magazine came to my year of the asshole event at my house. For my restaurant, I had no money, I had no-

You know, I literally rode my bicycle with, I made these little boxes. I spent 25 cents on these boxes. I bought like 50 of them from like the whatever store, like the packing store, these little boxes. And I, I basically, my friend whose dad’s a doctor gave me 50 IV bags to put in like these boxes. And my name of my restaurant was originally Slice. My first book, Duco Shit, talks all about it. And the tagline is the perfect food.

Because pizza, when actually done correctly, has all the food groups in it. And actually it’s considered a brain food, a thalamus food, and you crave it because it actually has all the food groups in it, which is why pizza is so good for you if done right. But we said the perfect food will be arriving shortly. So basically, so our name of our restaurant was Slice, and the tagline was the perfect food. And we made these little stickers and put them on these IV bags. The stickers were cost like 10 cents, whatever. We put them on these IV bags and wrote on the IV bags,

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm.

Miki Agrawal: Um, like a little note. And so basically what it said was you opened the box and there’s a little card that said the perfect food will be arriving shortly until then don’t eat anything. And then underneath that was an IV bag with a sticker on it. And on the sticker, it said, should the lack of sustenance prove to be debilitating, please insert tube into thing. And it was the same.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Ha ha!

Miki Agrawal: Random thing that was just, and then underneath that was like a little card welcoming them to like our grand opening to my little dinky restaurant on the upper east side of New York City, where I was not a chef. I have nobody, no experience, nothing. New York Times came, Florence Fabricant of the New York Times, Flo Fab, like the illustrious, everyone wants, like every Michelin star chef wants Flo Fab to come. She came to my restaurant and covered it in a centerfold. I was 26 years old. I had no idea, like it was no business writing, coming, my little dinky restaurant. It was like…

So incredible. So like, and I rode my bicycle and I was able to calculate, I could put like eight boxes and I made a route of where all the press was. So I wrote, like I drew like a road route. I’m like, okay, I can get to the New York Times and Time Out and Taylor candy, all this, and like this one route, I can carry these eight boxes. I’ll do eight boxes today on my bicycle. Tomorrow, I’m gonna do these other eight boxes with on my bicycle with this route, did these press places and by myself, rode my bicycle with my boxes, delivered these IV bags to like all the press and like figured out that like,

The mail room basically gets like, you can deliver any mail to the mail room and it gets to the person. That’s how PR people do it. We thought we had to get to the desk. We actually could just bring it to the mail room and they’ll just deliver it. So then I just learned that you can just deliver any package to any press in New York City, any writer, even if they’re hard to get to, through the mail room. And so I just did that and then that’s how we got, that’s how we started. So you don’t need money.

You don’t need connections. You actually just need like a good, funny, weird idea. Don’t do a press release. Make a box that’s got weird shit in it and then go deliver them to the mail rooms of the different press houses because they all have mail rooms. So that’s what I learned. And you can do it for cheap and for nothing. Yeah. And same thing with things and with Tushy. All of them we’ve done the craziest types of dumb shit like that work.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Well, I have learned so much in this conversation and I’m actually really excited for this last question. It is always my favorite question, which is in all the interviews that you’ve done with the press, with podcasts, on shows, et cetera, what is one question that you don’t get asked that you wish you were asked more often?

Miki Agrawal: Around like anything.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Anything.

Miki Agrawal: Us.

Miki Agrawal: Maybe like, when is it that I’m like my softest? Like when is it that I’m like my most like, like soft and slow and my feminine? Like not like, you know, like hard charging. Like that I’m, you know, like the most calm, you know? I think that’s like a nice question to answer that I don’t, I’ve never been asked that, I don’t think. And I think there’s a side of me that

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Miki Agrawal: Everybody knows, which is like the on the horror sword in hand side. Yeah, but there’s like the other half of me, which is like the soft, slow, like loving, present, like feminine, mommy, but like, you know, also like, just like goddess energy vibes, like, you know, like that. And I think, um,

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: The badass, yeah.

Miki Agrawal: That’s not a question that’s ever asked of me. It’s like, when are you like, when are you like just like splayed out, you know? And I think that’s important. Like I don’t have a, I don’t own a single handbag, but I get like five hours of bodywork done every week, you know, for my system to like really, really rest and be still and be like, it’s like it’s forced meditation for five hours every week and like.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Miki Agrawal: I get to really soften and slow down. And when I’m in partnership and relationship, it’s like where I’m deeply soft, you know? And I think you need that balance because I think if you’re just like all charged all the time, it’s just not gonna work. You’re just gonna burn out and you’re just not. So I think that’s a really important piece. It’s not necessarily work-life balance because that’s like, meh, it’s more like…

the soft, like where’s the gentle, like the sweet, like where’s that, how do you balance, how do you, like yeah, like, yeah, do you know?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: And yet still, yeah, I think it goes back to where we started around authenticity, that the hard charging badass leader woman is just as authentic as the soft part of you. And the two don’t have to be conflicting with each other. It’s all real. Yeah.

Miki Agrawal: or separate. Yeah. And there’s really like the next phase for me of leadership and the next phase for me of like my next company, which you know I’m working on, is going to be like, what does soft power look like? Like what is like being powerful, but being a feminine powerful force feel like? And I think like that’s my next sort of like.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm.

Miki Agrawal: sort of North Star, like how can I lead, but still like get everything done, still reach for the big goals and big dreams, but do it like really from the feminine lens. And actually like I have a hunch that it’s gonna be even more successful and even better than the other ways. Although that other stuff was important, like you can’t become a queen without being a soldier. You know what I mean? Like,

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Miki Agrawal: And I think like I’ve been a soldier for so long. And I think like, as I’m entering into like this phase of like what is really like, and again, like these terms like clean energy and goddess, like that stuff is like, can feel like contrived, but if truly authentically stated, like there is that lens of like, how do you lead from that deep feminine space where you’re still like firm and strong. I look at my, actually my son’s grandmother, Andrew’s mom.

And she has this like really, really powerful, feminine, soft leadership that like she can hold the room, but be gentle, but be super powerful. And it’s like, it’s, it’s incredible to watch and the way even my son responds to her. He’s like, may I like when he’s with her, he’s like, you know, like very, like just well behaved and like just he follows and she just like, she’s like.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: He follows. Yeah.

Miki Agrawal: She just talks like this and he just really is in line. But she’s like, now what did I say? And she’s like, wait your turn. And he’s not like, but mama, with me, he’s like, but mama, but mama, with her, he just, he literally waits his turn. But she says it with soft power. And I’m just watching this and I’m like, wow, like that. That’s the next phase of leadership for me. And that’s what I’m like.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Right.

Yeah.

Miki Agrawal: I’m watching and learning.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Oh, well, I’m going to watch and learn from you then. I cannot wait to hear more about that. Thank you so much for joining us today. It was such a pleasure. If people want to hear more about you, where can they go?

Miki Agrawal: I mean, I’m mostly like on Insta and LinkedIn is like, I do a lot of businessy stuff on like posts on LinkedIn, but then my most authentic stuff is on Instagram. So just at Mickey Avril Instagram and definitely check out Tushy at Hello Tushy. Don’t go to tushy.com. It’s a very graphic anal porn site. Go to Hello Tushy. Go to HelloTushy.com. And then if you wanna…

Yeah, like check out my books, disrupt her, do cool shit. And then all of my projects are on my website, just mckiagraud.com. So there’s a lot of stuff, but you can maybe put them down. But it’s all there. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Thank you so much, Mickey.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Right.

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