To Have Success, The Choice Needs to Be Yours with Hilary Coles, Co-founder of hims and hers

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When we’re growing up, we’re always told that we can be what we want, we can do what we love, and we can have anything as long as we work for it. The harsh reality, though, is that for many people, the options are limited. When it comes to things like jobs, homes, or other huge aspects of life, there’s no Cheesecake Factory menu of choices for most people to select from. This is especially true in healthcare, where major industries, governments, and regulators have made it nearly impossible to choose the healthcare you want — or to choose anything at all. 

I had a boss who was doing a really important speech, and I knew that he was typically a little bit nervous about speaking in public and he had Propranololl, which is a beta beta blocker and took it and crushed the speech and it was no big deal,” Hilary Coles says. “And it made me think about how many people would never say yes. So few people are given the opportunity to speak, right. And then how many people wouldn’t even be able to say yes to that? I think a light bulb really went off then, it was a very impressionable moment for me to think through how you design your life and what capacity, or, or limits you set for yourself based on what you think is possible. What do you choose for yourself when you think that you’re not gonna be a good lover in a relationship because you’re not in control of your sexual function, what kind of an employee are you gonna be when you have untreated depression and no one to talk to you about and don’t feel comfortable sharing that. Like, what are the limits that you set for yourself?”

Coles is the co-founder & SVP Brand & Innovation at hims & hers, a company that is bringing the power of choice back into the world of healthcare. But it’s not just in business that options matter. Throughout Coles’s life, she has found that having options, being given opportunities, and opening up doors is necessary to find success. And when those options aren’t there for you, maybe you just have to create them yourself. This is The Journey.

Main Takeaways:

  • The Same, But Different: Every person is unique, but their basic needs are all the same. Businesses are similar. Each company has differentiating factors, but at the end of the day, the goal is to meet the needs of and solve problems for customers. When you recognize what those needs are, you will be able to serve them better.
  • Freedom To Choose: Too often, businesses or entire industries put a cap on consumers by limiting the options available to them. Instead, when you open the door to consumers and provide them choices, they feel more empowered and have a better experience, thus making them more loyal.
  • Keep Knocking: Your ideas might be bold, and they might push boundaries, and when they do, you’ll likely get shut down again and again. It’s important to have conviction and keep pressing forward, even if it means creating a path for yourself.

Key Quotes:

“Why is everything in our life that we have choices, it’s transparent. We know how much it’s gonna cost, we’re in control of it. But when it came to healthcare, it was like this weird piece that we all kind of ignored because it was so gnarly to interact with. And I remember getting a UTI and having to cancel my whole day. And you’re just like, this is insane. I can order 16 different things for lunch. I could get to the doctor in 18 different ways today, but I still have to go and cancel my whole day. And by the way, I’m in pain, I don’t feel good.. And so that just wasn’t the world that we wanted to live in.”

“We knew nobody. And in many cases, I’d meet with these manufacturers all over the country and they would say, ‘I don’t wanna take your money. I feel bad. This is not gonna be a success. This market hasn’t moved in 20 years, you’re gonna fail. Like, good luck. I’ll take your money if you really want. But I don’t think so.’ And I would have to literally find and beg people to get put on the line because they were like, this is not a good idea. In terms of getting PR agencies to to talk to you, we were definitely not the prettiest girl at the dance…. and so that part was hard because people were embarrassed by association… And so I think it was hard. I think we had to knock three times to get the door open once in almost every context.”

“One of our strengths to this day is that we’ve kept a really, really efficient roadmap, which is why we’re at the point now where we have hundreds of products for dozens of conditions. The breadth of what we offer for the size that we are is insane. Where it took Teledoc 13 years to get to their first million visits, we were there in our first two years.”

“We’re so tight to our customer, we listen so much to our customer and are focused on our customer because people we find today, our consumers want choice. They want personalized care. And for them, part of that is choice. Understanding that what’s good for this Hilary is different from what’s good from you, Hilary. And having multiple products is key for that.”


Hilary Coles is the co-founder & SVP Brand & Innovation at hims & hers, men’s and women’s wellness brands that provide access to medical-grade products and preventative solutions via telemedicine. She earned her MBA from Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management.

This season of the Journey is produced by Mission.org and brought to you by UPS. To learn how UPS can help your small business, go to UPS.com/pivot.


Episode 108