Meet Michelle Peluso, CEO of Gilt, who started her first business at fifteen by opening a swimming school in her backyard. Now, with several companies under her belt, Michelle is a staunch advocate of authentic and un-traditional leadership; she refuses to sit inside a formal office—preferring to sit among her employees—and begins every performance review with ways she herself should be improving. Read Michelle’s tricks of the trade.


Photo Credit: The Guardian

Getting the best work out of your employees

The best leaders have real heart. If you help your employees believe they can accomplish great things, give them the room to do that, and give them credit when they succeed, you get the best.  You also have to make room for failure and make sure people are comfortable (and not penalized) when things don’t work – people won’t innovate and be creative without that.

I’ve always obsessed about being an awesome leader of people. You need to obsess about the people on your team, and you need to think you yourself always have more to learn.

Overcoming the biggest disasters

9/11. At the time I was at Site59 and our office was two blocks from Ground Zero. People saw things that day that they never should have had to see. At the same time, revenues literally dropped to zero, and this was while we were in acquisition conversations. How do you restart a company and get back to where you want to be? It was the most trying time of my life, and it makes everything else look easy.

Finding balance in structure

It’s not easy to have balance. Balance is a mythical unicorn. So, I’m religious about how I structure my day. I leave the office at 5PM sharp. Then I work from home from 7:45PM to 11PM. I put a lot of thought into how I use my time. I know I have to be 100% present at work, and then go home and also be 100% present with my family.

Dominating fashion

Growing up, I knew I either wanted to be the first female President of the United States, the first female baseball player, or a flight attendant.

Right now, I want to dominate world fashion. It’s just an awesome time to be in fashion online. Gilt can provide such an innovative and exciting platform for consumers around the world every day. That’s energizing. To IVY members, my message would be: shop! Have fun.

Michelle Peluso is an IVY Thought Leader. To learn more about IVY, visit