Who: Hilary Billings, chairman and chief marketing officer, RedEnvelope Gifts Online
Sign of the Times: "My team and I have had to deal with building our business in the midst of scrutiny from the press."
When you're working in the dotcom economy, your successes — and your failures — are chronicled for all the world to see. And when the press is bad, your employees feel bad too. Just ask Hilary Billings, chairman and chief marketing officer of RedEnvelope Gifts Online, an upscale Internet retailer. A marketing veteran who helped create the Pottery Barn and W Hotels brands, Billings, 37, knows that keeping her company on track requires keeping her colleagues on an even keel.
"When you're building a new business — without any rules to follow — there are going to be hiccups. But figuring out how you want to run your business when you're under intense scrutiny from the press is unique to anything I've seen in my lifetime."
"Ever since the company started, we've all gathered for Friday beer bashes. Nothing new there. But these gatherings aren't just a great way to help us gel as a team. They provide a forum in which we can discuss what the press is saying about us. RedEnvelope has already ridden very high waves and very low waves. The trick is addressing those shifts so that every employee can understand them."
A version of this article appeared in the January 2001 issue of Fast Company magazine.