“Bring Your Humanity To Work” 5 Leadership Lessons With Tiffany Stevens CEO Of The Jewelers Vigilance Committee
“Whatever you do, as the saying goes “we are all just here to walk each other home”. Don’t let the frenetic pace or priorities override the fact we are just humans with big feelings trying our best.”
I had the pleasure to interview Tiffany Stevens CEO Of The Jewelers Vigilance Committee
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I’ve taken an interesting path to get to where I am today in my career. I have always taken an interest in the arts including ballet, photography, painting, and metal and jewelry design. However, my first office job was an internship in the Clinton White House working in the East Wing followed by a fellowship at the National Wildlife Federation. After law school, I worked at a law firm but was diagnosed with stage 2b cancer in my early thirties — which changed my whole trajectory and perspective and led me to my career in nonprofits and mission based organizations.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
The purchase of jewelry, especially diamonds, is such an emotional experience because it is something that so precious, that comes at an emotional high point in people’s lives and can also be passed down for generations and valued. Because of this, you see a real passion in this industry I’ve never seen anywhere else. In my first few weeks on the job, I got to watch a skilled worker shape and polish a diamond. What a high stakes and detailed craft! It takes a long time to learn how to do it artfully and with precision. Afterwards, I had the opportunity to handle a lot of his ‘stock’ diamonds in all different shapes, sizes and colors — there is a real profundity about them coming from the earth and being so beautiful and alive with light. Not a bad Tuesday at work!
So how exactly does your company help people?
The Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) is a 101-year-old nonprofit organization committed to education and guidance around legal compliance across the jewelry industry. Our mission is to protect consumer confidence around fine jewelry by ensuring all the players in the industry follow the rules. We work with everyone from the federal government to local law enforcement, designers, big brands, dealers, manufactures, auction houses, retailers, and independent designers. We help interpret the dense regulations around the jewelry industry for everyone and translate the rules into a practical understanding. We also help mediate hundreds of disputes a year and keep watch on regulations and intellectual property claims.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
JVC stands out because of the sheer breadth of what we do — we work on everything from Intellectual Property issues to international anti-money laundering protections and a lot in between. Our organization has built a lot of trust in the industry over the years and we protect and honor that very fiercely. In one case, JVC used private investigators to buy hundreds of pieces of 10k gold jewelry at more than 100 stores and found that most were under-karated. Following JVC warnings, 80% of those not in compliance now comply with the law, creating a fairer market for the trade and the consumer.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
I’m really grateful for the opportunity I had to participate in Project Koru, an outdoor adventure camp for young adult cancer survivors founded by Tonia Farman. You spend a week with other survivors in the water surfing, talking and getting back into your body. That chance to connect with nature and myself after such a difficult experience helped me have the time and space to define what I wanted next in life.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My current role is extremely fulfilling because we’re at the intersection of art, business and science in the jewelry world. There is a lot of thoughtfulness in the industry around sustainable sourcing as well as supporting communities in countries where the industry mines.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO and why.
Trust yourself and define success for yourself daily. Meditate every day then listen to what your gut tells you during meditation. I also set up three things every morning that if I achieve that day I will consider it successful — this helps keep me focused.
Things will work out in very different ways than you think. I’ve gotten my biggest opportunities in the most seemingly random ways — through a friend of a friend or through a hobby I thought had nothing to do with work. Things take time and usually right when you’re ready to give up, you break through.
Bring your humanity to work. Whatever you do, as the saying goes “we are all just here to walk each other home”. Don’t let the frenetic pace or priorities override the fact we are just humans with big feelings trying our best.
Have fun with it and celebrate your success. You have to infuse your days with love, joy, beauty and play, and that includes work. Treat yourself to a beautiful piece of jewelry to celebrate your success and that you will cherish for a lifetime. For my one-year anniversary in this role, I am treating myself to diamond hoops — something I know I will cherish for a long time!
Learn to set boundaries. This one has been big since stepping into the CEO role. You absolutely have to take care of yourself so you can best serve your staff, your organization, and your constituents. Sleep, hydration, nutrition, exercise, you’re only as good as your body — this I learned in a big way from my cancer experience. It’s strange but it’s as if the energy of the whole organization kind of feeds of whomever is ‘in charge’ so you owe it to everyone to broadcast a clear, positive and focused signal.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)
RuPaul! RuPaul is everything.