The CEOs of Birchbox and Bevel explain why it feels so lonely at the top

Fast Company Innovation Festival
Katia Beauchamp and Tristan Walker talk loneliness at the top during Fast Company’s Innovation Festival. Melissa Golden for Fast Company

When you’ve got the top job, things can get a little lonely.

In fact, 63% of CEOs polled by Harris Interactive Service Bureau in 2012 said they experienced feelings of loneliness in their role.

But this loneliness is often an executives’ making, Birchbox CEO Katia Beauchamp
tells the audience earlier this week at Fast Company’s Innovation Festival.

When an audience member asked a panel of CEOs including Bevel’s Tristan Walker and Beauchamp if loneliness is part of life as a CEO, Beauchamp responded, “It’s lonely, but you also have to understand that that’s a little bit in your head.”

Beauchamp, who heads a beauty product sample subscription service, explains that because CEOs have an “insane capacity” to run their businesses by pulling all-nighters and doing whatever it takes — something the average employee might not understand — they can feel separate from everyone else.

But she says there are always people that want to help and allow them to unload some of their burden.

“If you feel alone, it’s self-inflicted, because there is a right way to involve the people who love you, who love the vision, and who love the customer,” Beauchamp says. “They can handle it, and your sense that they can’t is in your head.”

Walker, who founded a shaving brand that designs razors to reduce and prevent bumps, says there’s one caveat: Some people won’t always tell the people at the top the truth, which can be hurtful to a CEO. His solution is to write and share what’s going on in his company and to cherish the feedback that he gets in response to his posts.

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