Jim Lafferty is not just the CEO of Fine Hygienic Holding (FHH), a wellness company that makes personal care and hygienic products. He is also an athlete, Olympic coach, philanthropist, speaker, and corporate trainer — all on top of being a devoted family man to his wife and five children.
He began his career as a fitness trainer for Procter & Gamble employees in 1983 before moving up the ranks and becoming the company’s CEO, eventually going on to hold top positions at other Fortune 500 companies. Throughout his journey, health and wellness has been his priority, not just for himself but also for his team. “The starting point of being successful is your health; if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything,” he points out.
Apart from exercising regularly and watching his diet, here are Jim’s strategies for living a life full of energy and positivity:
“We take on many roles in life — for instance, I am not only a businessman, a coach, and an athlete, I am also a father, a husband, a brother, a nephew, so on and so forth. I believe that at maximum, we can only do five roles well.”Jim Lafferty, CEO of Fine Hygienic Holding (FHH)
- Acknowledge that you can’t do everything. “We take on many roles in life — for instance, I am not only a businessman, a coach, and an athlete, I am also a father, a husband, a brother, a nephew, so on and so forth,” Jim enumerates. “But I believe that at maximum, we can only do five roles well. And my five roles are to be the best husband, father, philanthropist-coach, athlete, and CEO out there. Everything else — such as being a brother and a nephew — is not a priority for me, and my family understands that.”
This is why Jim is very clear about what he says “no” and “yes” to. “I get offers to sit on other boards all the time, but I turn them down because they will take up too much time from what I really want to do,” he explains. “At the end of the day, I am clear on what legacy I want to leave behind, and that is to be a good father and contribute to society in the best way possible.”
- Cope with setbacks by employing perspective. When asked to name the biggest challenge he has ever encountered and what he did to cope, Jim says: “I don’t stress out over setbacks very easily because I always try to keep things in perspective.”
As an example, he relates the story of a female employee who was five months pregnant with twins when she caught a severe case of COVID-19 and had to be hospitalized. To protect both the mother and babies’ health, doctors did an emergency c-section and delivered the babies prematurely. Unfortunately, all three passed away not long after. “What can I possibly be going through now that’s even close to what the husband and father are going through?” he points out. “I get upset, yes, but are those bad news really that earth-shattering? If you widen your perspective and learn what other people in the world are going through, you realize that more often than not, you have nothing to complain about.”
- Prioritize employee well-being. When Jim came on board as CEO of FHH, one of the first things he did was to align the company’s values with his own. “We are a wellness company and wellness starts at home; and home for us is our employees,” he shares. To start with, he spearheaded the construction of a world class, state-of-the-art fitness center at the company’s headquarters in Dubai, and initiated company-wide fitness challenges like push-up competitions to encourage employees to take care of their physical health.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the company partnered with MindNation to launch an Employee Assistance Program that includes 24/7 teletherapy support from qualified psychologists and WellBeing Coaches to all Fine employees and their immediate family members so that they can cope with the mental health challenges brought about by social isolation and other worries. “We try to protect our employees as much as we can, physically and mentally, because you cannot have good health without either one,” Jim explains.
Finally, Jim has taken it upon himself to make the company more diverse and inclusive. “When I arrived at the company, the management team was 100 percent comprised of men, and they only came from two countries,” he relates. “I met each and every one of them, and those who were not performing well were let go in the most graceful and dignified way possible.” To fill up the five vacancies that resulted from this reorganization, Jim talked to headhunters and imposed one rule — that only female applicants be considered. “Everyone was surprised, but I told them there are talented women all over the city, don’t tell me we can’t find any,” he points out.
All five roles did get filled up by women, and today FHH boasts of women comprising 38% of leadership roles in the company — unprecedented in the Arab world. “I’ve seen a lot of progress on acceptance of women as leaders but it’s an uphill battle and it’s going to take time,” Jim admits. “But if we want to be responsible members of society, we have to participate in the changes that society has to go through.”
- Celebrate the journey, not the destination. When it comes to long-term goals, Jim is not a believer of deadlines and timelines. For Jim, it’s about seeing his children progressing happily in their lives and the organization growing and becoming better. “But I don’t tell myself ‘Oh, I have to do this or see these results by the end of the year,’” he shares. “Instead, I ask myself, ‘Am I closer to the goal today than I was yesterday?’ And if the answer is ‘yes,’ then I already feel accomplished. You can’t measure life by a stopwatch.”
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