Linnea Larsdotter: Producer/Partner, Changing Film Productions, Founder, Nordic International Film Festival & Award-winning Actor

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My Native Admission Statement: I’ve come to realize that I’m an ‘in-person-person’. As and actor, my looks often deceived me, as I was called in for all ingenue or ‘dumb blonde’ roles, which didn’t go very well with my sharp edges and deep, deep caring for people. This also translate into life, one of my favorite things is to open doors for others, and connect them with anyone who can propel them to the next level.

If I decide to do something, I will care deeply about both the project, the people working on it, and the quality of the work I do. The family I come from is a beautiful blend of artists and entrepreneurs, making my skills as a producer inevitably more fine-tuned than most - as I am engaged in both the business side of it as well as the art.

How did you get into the industry?

I started my producing career by expanding my acting career. My partner and I were frustrating with the content that was being produced, and the roles we were offered. This sparked the idea of producing our own content, and after the success of our first feature, work simply started to find us instead of us chasing it.

Any emerging industry trends?

I’m loving the social responsibility the independent film industry is taking, with diversity and equality in focus both in front of and behind the camera. The industry at large still needs a lot of adjustments - but I’m happy to be part of the change.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

As a female film producer, obstacles have been many. But by continuing to fight for a more equal industry, I also have the opportunity to open doors for other females and other minorities in a way that I am very proud of.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

Too often, budget have been an indicator of quality in the film industry, and whilst you do need to spend some money to make a good film, so many great stories gets stuck because no one dares to make a chance on a ‘no name, low budget’ film.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

Changing Film Productions keeps growing as the word spread about how we work, and it makes me immensely proud. As we have set a high standard for our quality, we are now expanding the work we do to include even more of our own projects - in addition to the projects of others that we chose to work on - and we will hopefully start filming our next own project next year!

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

I’ve always been straight shooter, and I think that is much appreciated in the film industry. I have a creative and strategic mind, and the mix of the two has been helpful in elevating the projects that I take on. Simply traveling to international film festivals and letting people get a face to the name has opened a tremendous amount of doors, and I think my straight forward approach to producing is attractive in the international film industry.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

I think my clients appreciate my engagement and enthusiasm in their product or project. I want every single thing I chose to work on to be the absolutely best it can be, and if I chose to take on a project, I know it will carry my name, and I will want to be proud of the product that I put out. Passion and (as close to) perfection is something I cherish.

How do you motivate others?

I motivate by doing. I have a great network of other artists here in NY, and I started what we call the accountability club, where we constantly push and help each other to be able to take that next leap for their)/our career. I think it’s important to keep in mind that one doesn’t have to be ready or without fear to get to the next level. If we constantly wait until we’re ‘ready’ we will never dare to take the jump, and if we’re waiting for the fear to go away, we are waiting in vain. To truly be brave - have fear and do it anyway.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Stand by your brand, your style, your quality. There are plenty of people having a career in the same field as you - but if you stay true to exactly who you are, the work that you actually want to do will find you.

What do I do best?

Always delivering the highest quality possible under the circumstances I am given.

What makes me the best version of myself?

I am trying to work towards a naturally anxious mind, by learning to meditate. When I set aside some time for myself, in any way the day allows, that’s when I can be the best version of myself to then give to others.

What are my aspirations?

As a creative person in a ruthless business, I hope that I inspire the people I work with to always work with heart, both when it comes to the work they chose to put into the world, but also in how they hold themselves on set and in pre and post production. Be kind and work hard, and always know that it costs nothing to be nice. It can cost you your sanity from time to time, but it is still worth it in the long run.

My Biggest Success?

This will be a rather broad statement, but to be able to work and sustain my living by doing what I love. To know that I was brave enough to try - and have others say ‘yes’ to what I present, that is my greatest success.

My Most Challenging Moment?

I lost my mother when I was quite young, and through the pain that brought me, it also brought me a good life lesson. My mom used to say ‘In my next life, I want to be a dancer’, and I realized that I better go after the things I want in life, as life may end fast and without warning. So, in all the darkness that the loss of a loved one brings, there is something, something good that can came out of it. Mine was stop playing around and go for what you want. Your story is important and no one else can tell it.

My Motto?

Do no harm - take no shit.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

Anyone that I know, or know of, that takes charge of their own life and careers have my immense respect. Stop waiting for someone to give you permission to create, you hold that decision yourself. Follow your gut. If you’re waiting until you’re ‘ready’, you will never take the leap.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

I lived and worked as a performer in the south of Thailand, and the little village we lived in completely stole my heart. That, as well as the little village I grew up in, are the two places where my heart can truly rest.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

I actually work really hard to have every single thing I own being something I have chosen with intention and love - this is something that is a lifelong process, I feel, but I enjoy it tremendously. And what really stands out is that the price of an item is completely irrelevant, I can enjoy the flea market find as much as the designer product.

My Current Passions?

Yes! I have fallen into the clearing of clutter pitfall. Now, as I think my own home is completely de-cluttered, I have continued to help my friends de-clutter and organize their homes as well.

My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day: Get through the to-do list! From the tiniest task to the really daunting ones.

Thought of the Day: Everyone is dealing with their own stuff, and they are acting based on their best judgement.

Action of the Day: Don’t forget yourself. Find your moment, be it a long shower, a nap, a nice lunch. Give your soul some love.

Deed of the Day: I am ambitious in the zero-waste movement, so I do my daily deed through meticulous recycling.

Tip of the Day: Do a list of everything you need done. Even if it’s just ‘take a shower’. It’s deeply motivating to check things off - it’s your mini victory!

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

The sense of community I have found here. I have my chosen family that I can lean on when I need support, or when I want to celebrate a success of mine, or one of a friend. And - the food!

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

As a Scandinavian, I enjoy the classical Swedish breakfast: open faced sandwiches with more or less elaborate toppings. My partner and I also love baking, so it’s not uncommon to get served home baked goods when stopping by for breakfast.

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Sleeping, or being on set.

10:00 AM - Digging through emails, if I’m not on set or at the gym. To be honest, the gym doesn't happen half as often as it should.

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal?

I’m completely plant-based, and a real food lover so I’ll eat - and enjoy anything!

7:00 PM - If I’m on set, I’m still 100% in the zone, whatever my focus need to be for that moment. I it’s a day off, you might find me cooking or doing some crafty things around the house.

11:00 PM - Last touches of work for the day, checking and answering the last emails for the night. Hopefully relaxing with some great TV show, or a good film.

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

I am a huge gin snob, and as I don’t drink very much or often, a good gin and tonic is a perfect treat. In the colder months, treat yourself to a lovely lumumba - hot chocolate (plant based) with some dark rum.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

I visited the Faroe Islands last year and fell completely in love with it. Any pictures that captures that landscape and beauty will get my attention.

What should everyone try at least once?

Backpacking. Immerse yourself in a new country and culture tro truly learn more about humanity. Travel by land and by same means of transportation that the locals do, eat the same food - you will experience your life on

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

Any countryside in any country. I almost do it on purpose sometime, to make sure that I’m not missing a gem at the end of that road I never took.

My Pic of the Day:

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Kylie Chenn: CEO, Acanela Expeditions

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Bio: Kylie Chenn has spent numerous years living abroad leading tours across the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa. She studied Business Strategy and International Development at the Marriott School of Management. Further, she attended the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge to study Social Innovation and Business Strategy and has lived in Portugal, India, and Malawi. Her international experience and love for authentic travel led her to found Acanela Expeditions, allowing individuals the opportunity to immerse themselves in hands-on cultural experiences around the world. Acanela is a boutique travel outfit with a social impact, leading experiential & educational expeditions around the Globe. Our trips include Study Abroad Programs, Incentive Trips, Corporate Retreats, and Boutique Group Travel. Each Acanela Expedition is inspired by an artist in a developing nation. Our artists include women with families who are battling against poverty, men who have lost their jobs due to disaster or disease, or individuals who have never had the opportunity to receive a formal education. These artists have incredible talents and abilities, but often lack the resources to share them with the world.

How did you get into the industry?

When I was in University I had the opportunity to study at Oxford, and while being based in England I had the chance to travel all across Europe and experience so many different countries, languages, and cultures and I absolutely fell in love with the experiences I was having! The following summers while I was still a student I spent time living in Portugal, backpacking India and Southeast Asia, Living in Malawi, and Traveling from Cairo to Cape Town.

Any emerging industry trends?

The Travel Industry is always changing and is a very fast growing industry, as places around the world become more accessible. We are seeing more people exploring than ever before (younger and older).

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

Similar to above, the travel industry is changing and growing and tech is becoming even more important in the industry, from apps that making booking travel more accessible…  

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

I was inspired to start my business after having so many incredible experiences around the world, and naturally a lot of people started asking me about what it was like (and they wanted to travel with me).  My first 3 trips that I put together were summer backpacking trips with whomever from my University I could recruit to join me (I wasn’t making money on any of these trips, in fact I was losing money, but I absolutely loved what I was doing!

What's next for the Business in the near future?

We are getting ready to launch a new line of Local Trips and a Travel Subscription that will be one of the first in the travel agency, it’s going to be incredible!

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

We got into a lot of great spots in the market early on – such as giveaways early and that helped us grow our email list, then we started doing Free Friend Fridays, Corporate and University Trips, and Influencer Trips that have allowed us to grow and try new things…

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

Growing a team has always been the most difficult thing for me, as it is a new challenge for me as of this past year.  Before I was in more of a founders’ role, focused on building out the concept and not necessarily scaling it. Now that we are in a position to scale it, my role has changed which is a huge opportunity but also a challenge at the same time. 

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

Going on a trip and having an authentic, immersive experience – and coming back and SHARING their experience with everyone.  That is the experience I want our customers to have.

How do you motivate others?

I am learning this everyday.

Career advice to those in your industry?

The best advice I can give to entrepreneurs is to Fail Hard and Fail Fast, and let your customers tell you when your idea is successful (if it’s a good idea then people will buy it)…  

What do I do best?

I am a visionary, I like to create things from nothing and see them come into fruition. In order to be successful you have to have both the vision and the ability to execute.

What makes me the best version of myself?

My most important quality that I have is Grit, if you’ve read Angela Duckworth’s book GRIT she explains that Grit is where Passion and Persevere meet, and both are equally important.

What are my aspirations?

My Personal Goal is to write my own Album and my Business goal is to grow my company to take hundreds of thousands of travelers around the world.

My Biggest Success?

My Biggest Success has been watching a dream turn into something that is actually real, it just goes to show that you can do absolutely anything you set your mind too.

My Motto?

My personal Motto is If It Is To Be It Is Up To Me, this is something that my father would tell me almost every day growing up. 

My Favorite People/Role Models?

One of my mentors/people I really look up to is Sarah Blakey.  She is the first self-made billionaire and balances things so well, with 4 children and a lot of other hobbies  

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

This is a hard question, as I work in travel and there are so many places that I love to visit.  Since I’ve traveled to over 110 countries, my favorite places that I’ve been are places where I have spent significant time and lived for a while (I’ve lived in Portugal, India, and Malawi). 

My Favorite Products/Objects?

I’ve never been someone who last a list of favorite things (as I have spent my entire career in the experience / travel industry). I can’t live without my Brics Milano Suitcase, Dry Shampoo (it’s so convenient), and

My Current Passions?

Besides my Career and Traveling, I am married and love exploring the outdoors with my Husband.  I enjoy trail running, rock climbing with Andrew. I also have my own video channel, so I really enjoy both Photography and Videography, as well as play my Guitar and Singing.  I also played basketball in University and spent my entire life in Athletics. So to sum it up Athletics, Music, being outdoors, and creative projects (like my video series) are some of my favorite things to do!

I am from a “Town” of 3,600 people in Northern Idaho, my husband Andrew is from Metropolitan City of Hong Kong, we met at BYU where we both studied Business Strategy and I played on the Women’s Basketball Team. I love to Trail Run, Sing & Play the Acoustic Guitar, and take photos / make videos (I have my own web series)– and of course I love to Travel A LOT!  I’ve visited 110 countries, and plan to visit all 196 before I am 30 years old. I’ve summited Kilimanjaro twice, and am climbing it again this upcoming year. 

My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day: Learn one new thing everyday

Thought of the Day: Remember to Celebrate the Milestones

Action of the Day: Teach one new thing to someone

Deed of the Day: Make someone laugh and change their day for the better

Tip of the Day: You are only as smart as the people you surround yourself with

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

I love living in Utah because the Mountains are absolutely beautiful, and there are so many wonderful things to do outside.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

I survive off of smoothies, salads, and curries… and my favorite restaurants is anything Indian or Thai (If I’m going out I want to make sure I eat something really delicious, exotic, and flavourful).

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Sleeping (or I’m up early with Jetlag)

10:00 AM – At Work, Normally kicking off the day with Team Meetings

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal?

I eat Curries, all day every day.  If there isn’t time for a salad I normally choose a Salad, Smoothie or Omelet – something healthy but simple.

7:00 PM -  Running (Running and Yoga are my two stress relievers); some evenings I will also go rock climbing with Andrew

11:00 PM – Probably Working Again :) 

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

I am a water girl, but If it’s love any kind of sparkling water…

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

Instagram, Facebook, & Youtube

What should everyone try at least once?

Traveling Solo to a place that has always been on their bucketlist

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

Anywhere with lots of good photo opportunities

My Pic of the Day:

On an island in the sun. 🏝 Mallorca is just off the coast of Spain. Surrounded by the beautiful blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, it is one of the most stunning places to relax

On an island in the sun. 🏝 Mallorca is just off the coast of Spain. Surrounded by the beautiful blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, it is one of the most stunning places to relax

What Else to Know? (Bio, Events, Shared recent articles, talks, questions you devise etc)

I was on Utah’s 40 under under 40 list, and Utah Valley’s 40 under 40 list, as well as a finalist on Utah’s Sego Awards Fastest Growing company in Under 5 Years. 

Utah Fastest Growing Company in Under 5 years, Youngest member of the Utah Business 40 under 40 and Utah Valley’s 40 under 40, Utah Student Entrepreneur of the Year, Recipient of the Women in Business Scholarship.

Chris Shea: AUTHOR, SPEAKER, LIFE COACH, & EDUCATOR

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Bio: Chris Shea has spent over 20 years in the addiction counseling field as a clinician and administrator, responsible for the implementation of treatment program models while integrating evidence-based treatments to promote lifelong recovery. His counseling experience is preceded by an almost decade-long pastoral ministry as a hospital chaplain in DC and a retreat leader in the New England region. Chris divides his time between Lifesjourney and as an adjunct professor in the Family Studies and Community Development department of the school of Liberal Arts at Towson University as well as McDaniel College's Graduate School of Counseling.

How did you get into the industry?

Ever since I was a child I wanted to help people but didn’t know exactly how to do so. I thought of being a teacher and of entering ministry as ways to help others. I fell into addictions counseling in the early 1990’s in Baltimore and loved it! So I stayed with the field for over 20 years. What my clients taught me was how to live in the moment and to believe that you can always start your day over by changing your attitude. Those truths led me to the practice of mindfulness and my desire to share those concepts with others. Eventually I turned to life coaching as a means of spreading my message of inner peace and decreased anxiety. As a result of many twists and turns in my life, Lifesjourney Life Coaching, LLC was born as a blog in the summer of 2012 and as a physical agency in the Fall of 2015.

Any emerging industry trends?

The life coaching industry has boomed with mindfulness becoming mainstream. Probably even just a decade ago had I mentioned mindfulness in a conference talk I would’ve been labeled as new age or a spiritualist. Now, if I don't mention mindfulness people wonder why I’m not with the times! My worry, though, is that currently there are no local or federal regulations on life coaching which allows for anyone to say they are a life coach whether they know what they are doing or not. I have degrees and 20 years of counseling experience to back up my life coaching, but not many coaches can say that. Also, I see many coaches getting into the field for their own fame and financial gain, doing a disjustice to the people who follow them. I recently wrote an article about this trend, comparing many life coaches to feeding into the prevailing selfishness in our culture.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

Opportunities for growth in someone’s life coaching business exists with more people interested in jumping on the wagon. Technology is helping tremendously—not just in spreading awareness through social media, but in the ability to reach millions with your message, and the ability to work with people through video chat. The challenges are what I mentioned above. 

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

The business, as it is right now, was not what I envisioned back in 2012. That summer was a turning point for me as I was forced to slow myself down and to be comfortable with that. Prior to that summer, I was a type A corporate person working long hours, involved in everything and always looking to climb higher. I began what I called Lifesjourney as merely a blog for me to share my feelings. I didn’t even care if others read it—I just wanted an outlet for sharing. As time passed and I learned the concepts of mindfulness in my life, my desire to share with others grew. I had an opportunity to coach a few people, and then I decided to open my own office. From there I updated my website and concept to what you see today. The future of the business looks bright as I plan on expanding to offering holistic care services in one location as well as getting out on the speaking circuit more to spread my message. 

What's next for the Business in the near future?

I have another book coming out soon and I’ve already began the expansion by bringing on an intern and what I’ll call a pre-intern. Persistence, patience and a belief in your mission is what brings success. 

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Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

For me, the key initiative was to get out of the way and allow those with experience to guide me. I know how to run an agency, but things such as web design, social media, SEO, etc. were all new to me. In the past, I had staff to do all of that—now, as a sole proprietor, I’m ultimately responsible for everything. One of the better decisions I made was to employ a team who put together a set of videos for me for all occasions. That greatly increased my exposure. 

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

At the beginning of opening the physical office I didn’t have the amount of clients I thought I would and so wasn’t as financially prepared as I needed to be. The first few months were tight financially until the client load reached, and then exceeded, my financial projections. I learned that even though not waiting too long to start a project is good, be sure that at least the financials are in place so your project can survive. 

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

It’s my goal that my clients and customers (those who purchase my products) leave with the realistic hope that they can reduce their anxiety and remain living in inner peace. 

How do you motivate others?

The most important lesson I’ve learned over the years as an executive is to respect and empower those with whom you work. The workplace is not necessarily where you will make friends, but mutual respect is necessary for the success of the business. Recognize that the business only succeeds because of the staff—they need to be empowered to share opinions and new ideas that are seriously considered. They need to feel that they are a part of the business, not just an employee. 

Career advice to those in your industry?

Constantly learn. Don’t think that you know it all—rather, read everything you can on the latest trends and on the pioneers of the field. Also, look for trends that will play out in the next three years or so. Don’t just react to the present—set the business, or yourself, up for what’s coming. This will set you apart from the rest.



Kate Gorman: Founder, CEO, & President, Fort Mason Games

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My Native Admission Statement: My name is Kate Gorman, and I am the founder and CEO of Fort Mason Games. I strive to create mobile games that make women feel represented in the industry, while eliminating gender gaps and setting a precedent to push mobile gaming into a new era of inclusion.

How did you get into the industry?

I have always loved playing video games, coding, and working with computers. This led me to UC Berkeley, where I was the first undergrad product manager intern at Zynga. I ended up accepting a full-time position at Zynga in lieu of my final year at Berkeley. After some time and great success there, I returned to Berkley to finish out my degree and then headed back to Zynga. At 25, I became the youngest Director of Product at Zynga and the highest-ranking woman in the division. This all led me to Fort Mason Games and my passion for creating inclusive, interactive and fun products.

Any emerging industry trends?

The rise of people using their mobile phones to consume “bite-sized” entertainment throughout the day has really sparked my interest lately. Everywhere you go, you can find someone playing games on their phones. Waiting in line for coffee, sitting on the bus or even waiting to pick up kids from school are just a few examples of those little micro-moments of downtime that people want to have entertainment during. Those moments are what we live for at FMG!

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

There is a huge gap that needs to be filled in the gaming industry. I noticed that most mobile games are not designed for women. I wanted to be able to fill this huge void in the market and provide fun mobile games that meet the needs of female players. I wanted to create a space that does just that... supplying inclusivity and tailoring the industry to fit the interests of the underrepresented 49% gamers.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

Providing a product that is engaging, inclusive, socially-focused, and fun. Since day one, Fort Mason Games has strived to create mobile games for women, by women that push gaming into a new era of inclusion; and I believe that our customers see just that when playing our games.

Career advice to those in your industry?

  1. Don’t forget the ladies! Women are a huge market segment in the gaming industry. Making sure you are meeting everyone’s interest and needs is crucial to the success of your product and company.

  2. Hire intentionally and with the success of the company in mind. Keep your team extra strong and only hire the best. Doing this will help define the boundaries for success.

  3. Test your ideas with key decision makers before jumping into finalizing them. Pre-sell them. The process for making these kinds of business decisions, regardless of how awesome the idea is, takes quite some time when a lot of stakeholders are involved. Make sure it is going to work before diving into deep waters head first!

  4. Take advantage of Facebook ads to help get new customers and help scale your business.

  5. Lastly, practice selfcare. For me, getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercising are my personal keys to success every day. Build healthy habits and find what grounds and soothes you, it makes a world of difference!

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My Biggest Success?

The launch of our first game, Confetti Casino, is what I am most proud of. The game took on a social networking angle, which had never been done in mobile gaming before. Our release of Confetti Casino helped us dip into the $70M billion industry, and we continue to impact it every day. In addition, being recognized as a 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree in Gaming was a huge achievement that I’m proud of.

My Most Challenging Moment?

Figuring out the ins and outs of a startup business and startup management can be tough, especially when developing and coding your own products too. In the early days of Fort Mason Games, I had a coding mishap that resulted in undesirable statistics that left me wondering what had happened. We now use a code review system to monitor and confirm coding changes before launching the work.

My Motto?

Do what you love and know that you are never too old or too young to do anything. Chase your dreams, work hard and strive to make a difference.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

Disneyland! It is a truly fascinating place, not only from a consumer's perspective but from a business perspective as well. I really appreciate the intense attention to detail that goes into every single experience there. As soon as you step foot into the park, you feel its magic and undeniable charm. It’s where everyone’s inner child can come out and just have fun!

My Favorite Products/Objects?

Two of my favorite books are:

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay discusses how to utilize your years right out of college to set the tone for the rest of your professional career. It’s a must-read for any recent college graduate.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink. Daniel Pink does a fantastic job of breaking down motivation and guides readers into how to create environments to motivate yourself and others around you – through 3 principles: Mastery, Autonomy, and Purpose. This paradigm resonates deeply with me on how I am motivated, and has guided my management style and company culture creation at Fort Mason Games.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

Avocado toast with Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel Seasoning-- heavenly!

What are you doing at 6:00 AM

I get up at 6:00am, eat breakfast, and do cardio exercise so I know that I can get my exercise in regardless of the day has in store for me. Then, I go to the office, and I spend some quiet time thinking about goals and what needs to get done today and make a plan. I’ve found that when I take care of myself and schedule in exercise I get more done, and I’m less stressed.

What Else to Know?

Kate’s Bio:

Kate Gorman, who led a team of 75 employees as the youngest director of product for American social game developer Zynga at only 25 years old, is now the founder, CEO and founder of San Francisco-based Fort Mason Games, a social mobile gaming company. She is a Forbes 30 Under 30 honored and also holds a Bachelor of Arts in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Emilie Aries: Speaker, Podcast Host, Author & Founder & CEO, Bossed Up

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My Native Admission Statement: After bouncing back from my own bout of burnout early on in my career, I’ve committed to helping other women avoid the same fate. I launched my training organization, Bossed Up, back in 2013 with the mission of helping women craft happy, healthy, and sustainable careers. We take a results-oriented, research-driven approach to helping women advocate for what they want out of work and life. 

How did you get into the industry?

I burnt out before the age of 25, working in what was arguably my dream job. I was the youngest State Director in the nation serving on behalf of newly-elected President Barack Obama and helping everyday citizens grow their power through community organizing, make their voices heard in Washington, and advocate on behalf of the people and policies they believed in. During that same time, however, I lost touch with my own sense of power and agency. I was working all the time, often the only time I spent on “fun” was at networking happy hours and political fundraisers. I felt stuck in a toxic relationship and had completely lost any semblance of a health and wellness regimen in my life post college. 

Three years in, the work that once got me fired up and ready to go, left me daydreaming about escapist fantasies. I knew then that the way I was working wasn’t going to work for the long-term and that began my exploration into finding a way to pursue a high-ambition career without martyring myself along the way. 

Two rocky years later, I’d applied all the research I uncovered in the world of cognitive science, behavioral psychology, and feminist political theory and  found myself with a completely new outlook on work and life. I felt a deep need to share what I’d learned about pursuing the path towards sustainable success with everyone and anyone who’d listen. Now I work each and every day to arm individuals with the advocacy skills to get what we want out of work and support workplaces in retaining and developing women.

Any emerging industry trends?

Nowadays I’m noticing more and more workplaces struggling to retain top talent when it comes to first-time millennial managers in particular. A decade after the Great Recession, my generation has yet to financially recover. We’re worse-off than any other living generation, and in such a high-employment climate, more of us are demanding to be paid competitively or leaving to pursue offers elsewhere. We’ve got more student debt to pay off than many prior generations can even fathom, which has delayed more traditional markers of adulthood like starting families or purchasing a home. Through supporting organizations with diversity and inclusion efforts when it comes to women in majority-male industries (primarily tech, finance, and the law), I’ve seen that competitive pay is top of mind for millennials in particular - not because of gender or race, but because of the financial game of catch-up the generation as a whole is playing. 

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

We’ve known for a while that gender inclusion is a competitive advantage  and can be a boost to the bottom line. But in today’s especially tight talent marketplace, gender inclusion at the top is key to attracting talent. I love working with women’s initiatives and gender inclusion initiatives within organizations - from the Fortune 500 level to small nonprofits - who are interested in implementing the everyday practices that ensure everyone feels included in how decisions are being made. Those are the kinds of workplaces where women want to be - and given that women make up the majority of college-educated workers in the workforce, that’s a talent pool all savvy businesses want to attract. 

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

As a lifelong fan of hip hop, I started Bossed Up inspired by the African American art form that inspires listeners to be the author of our own come-up story. The concept of getting bossed up isn’t about ignoring or denying the systemic injustices we’re up again - as women, people of color, or people sidelined and excluded for all kinds of historical injustices. It’s about looking that unfairness straight in the eye and saying, “You don’t define me. I won’t stop pursuing my dreams because I’m not getting the same head-start as others.” In everything we do at Bossed Up, I’m always striving to acknowledge that we have to play the cards we’ve been dealt while we change the game. I believe that when women advocate for ourselves, we’re really showing the world that it’s okay for women to advocate for themselves. Being unapologetic with our ambition can, in itself, change the cultural context that surrounds us.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

With my newly-released book, Bossed Up: A Grown Woman’s Guide to Getting Your Sh*t Together, out in the world, I’m excited to be teaming up with companies who want to support the women on their teams by organizing book clubs and corresponding trainings to help provide substantive leadership development support. It’s an exciting next step in how we’re partnering with organizations who believe in arming women with the tools and tactics we need to succeed over the long-term. 

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

The women who come through my doors at Bossed Up - whether at our signature weekend-long program, Bossed Up Bootcamp, or when I speak at companies and conferences - leave with new tools and tactics to immediately advocate for the careers and lives they want. I’m always striving to transform the latest research findings into instantly-applicable strategies for women who want to work smarter, not harder. I love hearing from past program participants who successfully advocate for raises, promotions, career pivots, and who leverage their renewed sense of power and agency into crafting the careers and lives they truly want.

How do you motivate others?

Beyond sharing the data and strategies to arm women with the tools we need to strive for sustainable success, a big part of my job is sharing stories from everyday women who’ve done just that. In every chapter of my new book, I profile multiple women in the Bossed Up community who show what it looks like to live true to the concepts I’m sharing - whether it’s about combating the martyr mindset or communicating more assertively. Hearing how one of our members, Emma, pivoted from a nonprofit job where she quickly hit an earnings cap that made paying down her student debt impossible to supporting nonprofits through technology consulting where she could both do good and do well shows others what’s possible. When I share how a self-proclaimed introvert, Jessica, strategically leveraged her community through having regular 1-on-1 meetings to land her dream job offer, other women know it’s possible for them, too. In a culture that’s too quick to celebrate the overnight success story, I love telling the real stories of triumph: the muddling through the middle parts of career transition that rarely get a spotlight but are so important to share as a way of inspiring others to keep striving for their own form of sustainable success.

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What do I do best?

I’m proud to say I can command almost any room. 

What makes me the best version of myself?

Regular exercise and outdoor adventure. It’s my favorite form of stress relief and self-care. Without it, I just don’t feel like myself. 

What are my aspirations?

I aspire to live an adventurous life. I aspire to continually surprise myself. I aspire to love hard and laugh often. When it comes to business, I aspire to have a real and profound impact on the lives of those I serve. 

My Biggest Success?

My biggest success was being willing to blow up my life as I knew it, walk away from what wasn’t working for me, and dare to ask the courageous questions about what could be better. Having the courage to venture into that unknown pursuit on my own behalf - instead of living to please, perfect, and perform for others - is what makes me proudest. 

My Most Challenging Moment?  

There have been many challenging moments, but one that comes to mind is when I parted ways with my co-founder just 3 months after starting Bossed Up. I had to buy her out and found myself with little to no financial cushion, requiring me to go back to work full-time and pursue Bossed Up on the side for the next two years before quitting my job again. My entrepreneurial venture has been full of fits and starts, but it feels good knowing that I’ve grown a company I can be proud of and stand by.

My Motto?

You don’t get where you’re going any faster by going it alone. 

What Else to Know?

Emilie Aries is a speaker, podcast host, author, and the Founder & CEO of Bossed Up, an award-winning personal and professional development community where she helps women craft happy, healthy, and sustainable career paths.

Her brand-new book, Bossed Up: A Grown Woman's Guide To Getting Your Sh*t Together, serves as a practical roadmap for women who want to set themselves up for sustainable, long-term career success and step up as the boss of their lives. 

Emilie Aries is a speaker, podcast host, author, and the Founder & CEO of Bossed Up, an award-winning personal and professional development community where she helps women craft happy, healthy, and sustainable career paths. 

Learn more in Emilie’s TED talk, The Power of No, where she shares how to set healthy boundaries and invest in your sustainable success. You can also boss up your earbuds with the twice-a-week Bossed Up Podcast, where Emilie and her expert guests break down listener career conundrums and offer up boss tips to help you beat burnout and craft a sustainable career path. 

Shawn Wells: Registered Dietitian Certified/Sport Nutritionist & CEO, Zone Halo Research

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Bio: Shawn Wells, MPH, LDN, RD, CISSN, FISSN is an expert in the fields of performance nutrition, longevity, fitness and supplementation. He earned his master’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill, where he studied nutritional biochemistry with a minor in exercise science. Shawn is a Registered Dietitian with a decade of experience as a Chief Clinical Dietitian in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. He is also a Certified Sports Nutritionist and has worked with celebrity clients and professional athletes.

On the road to being dubbed “The World’s Greatest Formulator”, Biohacktivitst, and Keto Authority, Shawn faced and overcame significant obstacles with his own health—weight issues, depression, autoimmune conditions (Epstein-Barr, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), two cervical discs replacements, and a pituitary adenoma, which is a type of brain tumor. They say everything happens for a reason, and in Shawn’s case, his health problems led him down a winding path that required him to find science-based solutions, and they sparked his personal passion for biohacking

How did you get into the industry?

I’ve always been interested in the health and wellness space since I can remember. I earned my Master’s Degree from UNC-Chapel Hill, where I studied nutritional biochemistry with a minor in exercise science.

I was always passionate about health, nutrition, supplements, and exercise. I’ve had a lot of great career opportunities, but currently, I am the CEO of Zone Halo Research, a consulting group for supplement formulations, sourcing, manufacturing, marketing, and regulatory/compliance work.

Any emerging industry trends?

The industry is always changing and trying to adapt to new trends. I’ve seen a major shift recently in the area of nutrition. I follow the "keto" (ketogenic) diet, as do a growing number of people. There’s been an abundance of trends that revolve around the ketogenic lifestyle because of the incredible results and mounting research.

I’ve also seen a lot of emphases put on intermittent fasting lately as well as whole food right now, there’s an increasing number of food companies and restaurants trying to comply with these diets. I can definitely see that there’s much more to come from those trends.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

There’s always opportunity in the health and wellness industry, you just have to look for it. For me and my company, the biggest opportunity has been with formulating new supplements. Having high-quality control and transparency are essential in this area, and this is definitely an opportunity for us to have more open communication with consumers. People are getting much savvier and want to know about the ingredients and research.

The challenge is other companies making claims for supplements that are just inappropriate. You sometimes find that they market a single study or even a single data point of a single study that showed great results. Cherry picking data and not looking at the totality of the research is irresponsible, but you still see many companies do this. I’ve even seen supplements boast unreal disease claims. It, unfortunately, gives the industry I love a bad rap.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

As someone who has suffered from various chronic illnesses, I love the idea of trying to fix my broken self. I wanted to essentially just be healthier overall and have more energy. It wasn’t long before I realized that many others felt the same way too. Which gave me my "why".

What's next for the Business in the near future?

At the moment I’m very focused on patenting new and novel ingredients. I’m also focusing more on speaking engagements. I’ve found that I’m very happy when I’m speaking and connecting about biohacking, supplements, keto, and nutrition. I currently speak all over the world, do podcasts, radio shows, TV and documentaries. I plan to expand my platform on starting a podcast in the near future as well.

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Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

I know my purpose, and why I am doing the things that I am doing for my business. When you have drive and purpose, you can accomplish anything. You have to want to do it. If you love what you do is no longer work or a "grind".

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

My most difficult moment has been the various theft of intellectual property. I’ve had this happen to me many times, unfortunately. In the end, it’s cost me millions of dollars. However, I’ve learned to protect myself and my intellectual properties legally. It’s taught me to have everything in writing from the beginning.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

The ideal experience for our customers is for them to experience the groundbreaking formulations and ingredients that are experiential and efficacious. As a CEO and speaker, I also hope to provide people with new insight and make it easier for them to connect the dots.

How do you motivate others?

I think the fact that I pursue my purpose with reckless abandon tends to motivate others. I always want people to join in and be a part of things going on, both inside the company and outside of it. When you show your passion, others can see it and it ignites something in them. You should always lift people up and encourage them. They will see your integrity and authenticity.

Career advice to those in your industry?

The best advice I can give anyone is that you have to realize that your ‘broken’ is your beautiful. You need to embrace what makes you different, especially if you feel it’s a flaw. Everyone is full of flaws, and you’re not alone. You think you are. I promise you're not. Think of your heroes it people you deeply respect. They shared their broken. They overcame great odds. We all have adversity. Share it. Free yourself.

If you learn to share things that you probably want to suppress, I think you’ll easily find that it’s your superpower and a great way to connect with others. Realizing this will give you more passion and purpose.

You can find Shawn Wells, MPH, RD, LDN, CISSN, FISSN at shawnwells.com and @zonehalo on Instagram and Twitter

Nico Russell: Executive Chef, Oxalis

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My Native Admission Statement: Nico Russell is an extremely strong willed and passionate individual, that decided after years of classical training and high end experience to branch off and create a space with his business partners that is driven by creativity and accessibility. He is extremely ambitious in his pursuit to deliver an experience that is both highly curated but extremely fun as well.

How did you get into the industry?

I was always interested in food at a young age and my mother was a caterer so I was fortunate enough to get a taste at a young age of the food world. When I was 17 I decided to take the full leap and head to culinary school and follow my passion.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

I think with the way marketing is at the moment regarding platforms such as social media, it can be both a positive and negative but very opportunistic. Also, I think a challenge could be the public’s slight obsession with what I call “sensationalist eating” or “food porn,” things that look overindulgent but do not quite carry as much of an idea or ethos regarding cooking responsibly.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

Our restaurant is modeled a bit after what has been happening in Paris with the “neo-bistro” movement. Those restaurants have really been an inspiration for us in creating something that is both neighborhood dining but also mixed with a bit of a special occasion space. We really felt that they did an incredible job in capturing a bit of both angles.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

I think we are very excited to grow in our space and just keep earning trust with our neighborhood and guests, but we are also looking forward to the future and opening a few different spaces that define us in new ways and add to our brand.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

I think we did a very good job building our brand organically through 2 and a half years as a pop up. That really earned us a ton of trust with diners in New York and Brooklyn specifically. Also, the use of social media as much as I am torn to admit it, our instagram and email list have helped us develop strong relationships with our guests and has since day 1.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

I think for us one of the toughest moments was when we found out that we were not going to open with a liquor license on our opening night of service and it eventually took about 3 months for us to receive it. We spent so long with our projections and numbers in the pre opening process and obviously alcohol and wine sales played a huge role in that, so for us not to have one when we opened that was a bit of a challenge. Ultimately our beverage director did a great job pivoting out of it, but it was tough.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

Come in 20 min before your reservation and enjoy a cocktail in our back bar room. Then sit down for our carte blanche menu in the dining room with a guest and enjoy our wine pairing with dinner. Then enjoying an amaro in our garden after dinner. For me that is the best way to enjoy our space and I would personally call that a perfect night.

How do you motivate others?

I believe there are many different ways, but for me I always try to put myself in their place and think of how I used to be motivated. Also, everyone is different and require other techniques to be motivated, so it is very important that you understand your staff fully before attempting to motivate them.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Don’t change what you do just because one person does not understand it. Be confident and just keep your personal goal in the front of your mind always. There are definitely moments that make it tough and ultimately those are the moments that can help push you, but you need to keep your goal always in mind and trust yourself that is extremely important.

What makes me the best version of myself?

My son.
What are my aspirations?

We ultimately would like a few different locations all of varying types of dining and be able to feed guests throughout the day and offer different experiences, but all highly curated.

My Biggest Success?

Opening Oxalis was such a culmination of hard work and dedication, and also only the beginning.

My Most Challenging Moment?

Not sure if it is challenging or not but, deciding to leave France and branch out on my own and do a pop-up with a good friend with no real idea of what is going to happen. 

My Favorite People/Role Models?

-Jean Francois-Bruel

-Joel Guillon

Two chefs that I worked for that were huge for my personal development as both a cook and as a man.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

-Santa Barbara, CA - One place that I believe to be absolutely beautiful and tranquil.

-New Orleans, LA - My brother lives there and I just think that the culture is incredible paired with amazing food.

-Ghent, BE - I spent some time in Belgium cooking a few years back and fell in love with this city which I believe to be super underrated .

A Day in My Life:

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Sleeping

10:00 AM - Have been at the restaurant for about an hour, going through deliveries and menu planning.

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal?

Normally wait for staff meal which is around 4 pm, and we all eat together.

7:00 PM - Normally plating and expediting the middle of service at this point.

11:00 PM - Finishing up our orders and closing up the restaurant.

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Steven Weiner: President, Menlo College

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My Native Admission Statement: As president of a small college, I take enormous pride in my role as a leader of an institution that is educating an incredibly diverse group of young people, and providing them with the skills necessary to make a positive impact on the world when they leave our campus. I bring to my role extensive experience in higher education, coupled with ten years of leadership roles in an established for-profit industry, as well as experience building a new company from idea to success. I didn’t follow a typical path, but the path I took allowed me to assemble a unique combination of skills and knowledge that I enjoy deploying in my current role as president. A college experience changes lives, and at Menlo College we do just that.

How did you get into the industry?

My career represents a bookending of sorts, as I moved directly from student to employee at the University of Chicago, and worked there for 16 years before I left higher education. When I sold the company that I co-founded 18 years later, I reflected on a career that spanned several different industries before I decided that the most rewarding experience had been my first: in higher ed. That realization drove me to return to the field, and almost seven years later, it’s a decision I still celebrate.

Any emerging industry trends?

First and foremost? Students who come straight out of the K-12 system in our country are, generally speaking, less prepared for higher education with each succeeding year. And on the other end of a college education, our graduates need to be more and more capable every year if they’re going to be successful in the fast-paced innovation economy of the 21st century. Thus colleges and universities across this country are having to do more each year in order to position students for success after graduation.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

Our primary opportunity is to help young people understand the world in which we exist, and to develop in them the insight and confidence to imagine the world of the future. If we stay focused on the mandate to have our students be plugged-in to the global economy and to understand the skills needed in that market, we’ll instill an entrepreneurial mindset -- an ability to approach problem-solving with an embrace of the possible. If we tackle our challenge effectively, our graduates will not only meet the challenges of the 21st century workplace, they’ll solve them. That’s a fun business in which to have a leadership role.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the business?

A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

What's next for the business in the near future?

Institutions of higher education of all sizes are facing many threats, and small colleges are particularly vulnerable. The ones that thrive in the coming years are going to embrace new mandates, provide energetic, creative and compassionate leadership, and develop novel teaching methodologies that respond to the ever-changing readiness of incoming students, as well as the ever-changing requirements to be successful in our fast-changing world.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

Partnering with a venture capital group to launch an undergraduate program that is designed to position people for a career in the VC world. Given our highly diverse student population, such a program at our school also offers an opportunity to address the diversity challenge that is endemic to the VC industry.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

Just as so many colleges and universities are vulnerable, many of our individual students are also very vulnerable. Many are one incident away from being forced to leave school, whether that incident is the death of a family member who had been supporting their cost of attendance, or the loss of a job by a parent, or deportation of a wage-earning member of the family. I deal with much bigger problems in any given week, but none as heartbreaking as a student who has to unexpectedly set aside their dream of an education.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

When our students leave Menlo, they should walk out with the experience and confidence that they have received a top-notch education that has prepared them to contribute to and/or lead any organization around the world that is looking for the best of the best.

How do you motivate others?

Lead by example: I put as much of myself into the job as I hope others will do into theirs. I give people room to grow, and reason to think they’ll be recognized for their successes – and room to learn from their mistakes.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Don’t assume it’s an easy path. Higher education administration is a challenging environment. Trustees, faculty, staff, alumni, neighbors, town officials, parents, and most importantly, students all represent vital constituencies whose interests may not align. If, though, you care deeply about higher education and are ready to have students in the spotlight more than yourself, there may be no more rewarding opportunity than to play a role in the transformational change that happens over a four-year college career. The significance of handing diplomas to graduating students is a memory that will live with me forever.

What do I do best?

Living my values.

What makes me the best version of myself?

Passion for what I do, an unwavering commitment to the success of myself and those around me, caring for and sensitivity to the differences among us, and a readiness to put in the necessary effort. 

What are my aspirations?

Leveraging the best version of myself into contributing to others realizing the best version of their selves.

My Biggest Success?

I’ve touched lives in meaningful ways.

My Most Challenging Moment?

After 16 years with my first employer, taking the leap to a new industry, in a new role, and in a new city (and state). Taking the suspense out of the story: it proved to the right decision at the right time.

My Motto?

Don’t be the same, be better.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

The title of a poem I once read is “To be Flawed is to be Human.” Recognizing that fact, I do not identify any single person as my role model. Instead, my role model is an amalgamation of the very best of so many people, all of whom share common characteristics of a curious intelligent mind, compassion, empathy, and both personal and self-less ambition.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

I learn so much wherever I travel.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

A great book.

My Current Passions?

It’s a long list. There’s not much that’s worth doing if you’re not passionate about it.

My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day: Carpe diem!

Thought of the Day: Carpe diem!

Action of the Day: Carpe diem!

Deed of the Day: Carpe diem!

Tip of the Day: Carpe diem!

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about your city?

I count two cities as my home: Atherton, CA, where Menlo College is located; and Sonoma, CA, where I can be found most weekends. They are a study of contrasts (urban vs. rural, fast-paced vs. laid-back, work-centric vs. leisure-centric), which allows me to enjoy the best of two great worlds.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

Oatmeal at home.

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Exercising

10:00 AM – Interacting with people

12:00 PM – Favorite lunch spot/meal? – Too many to name

7:00 PM - Starting to wrap up at the office

11:00 PM – Asleep (if I’m lucky)

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

Water, and lots of it. That also forces me to get up from my desk at regular intervals.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

I’m a luddite.

What should everyone try at least once?

Failing. It’s humbling, and a great learning experience.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

In my mind.

My Pic of the Day: A Menlo College student whose passion for the school prompted him to incorporate our logo in his haircut!

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What Else to Know? (Bio, events, shared recent articles, talks, questions you devise etc.)

I recently gave a talk to high school seniors about the myths and realities of life’s passions – the things we tell people to “find” as if it’s the equivalent of putting your hands on your lost keys (they’re there, you just need to locate them, and you’re good to go). As I argued to the students, most of us don’t necessarily develop our passions flawlessly. Pursuing a passion means investing the time and effort, and encountering difficulties, challenges, and yes, even failures. The difficulties and struggles are necessary and healthy parts of any process for growth and success; we should redefine failure as the catalyst to change and improve. Recognize --and celebrate-- small milestones along the way. Pursuing a passion should be exciting, exhausting, sometimes overwhelming, and often very gratifying. It’s an opportunity to learn – about yourself, about others, as well as about the world in which we live. Constant learning is one of life’s gifts.

Charlotte Berdensey: Beverage Manager, Momofuku Ssäm Bar

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My Native Admission Statement: I work for Momofuku where the sky is the limit. Momofuku supports learning through experimentation and trying new things and that’s a big contributor to the success. Here at Momofuku Ssäm Bar, we have a fun and eclectic beverage program which I am responsible for developing and growing. I work with a small team to operate an energy filled restaurant where the goal is for the guests to leave at the end saying, “wow, that’s the most fun I’ve had dining out in a long time.”

How do you motivate others?

Connecting with someone on a personal level and learning their strengths and weaknesses. Understanding an individual helps me balance encouragement as well as criticism, and how I am going to be able to push them past their limits.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Maintain the good relationships that you have developed through your career. Networking is a big aspect to our industry but keeping in touch and staying connected to the people that you are close to are so important. Once you find yourselves in different places in your career, you never know how you can help someone or how someone can help you out.

What makes me the best version of myself?

A clean space and organization, oh and at least 3 meals a day 😊

What do you love most about NYC?

The diversity of each neighborhood. I love being able to wake up and go somewhere with a different atmosphere and everything is generally within a 30minute train ride. It’s easy to get different scenery day to day.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

When I make breakfast, I like yogurt bowls that I make with Greek yogurt, pomegranate seeds, cocoa nibs, a variety of seeds and drizzle of raw, local honey. If I’m out, my favorite restaurant is Buvette and if I’m eating breakfast there, it’s the Chevre- steamed eggs, goat cheese, tomato confit & pesto.

Micki Krimmel: Serial Entrepreneur, Feminist, Athlete & Founder, Superfit Hero

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My Native AdMission Statement: Micki Krimmel is a serial entrepreneur, athlete, and loud-mouthed feminist. Micki was inspired by her experience as a competitive roller derby player to create Superfit Hero, a body positive, size inclusive fitness brand with a mission to make fitness more empowering. Since launching three years ago, Superfit Hero has been featured in Forbes Magazine, Buzzfeed, Refinery29, SHAPE, and many other publications. Micki’s goal is to establish Superfit Hero as the go-to brand for the body positive fitness movement. In her spare time, Micki enjoys lifting weights, riding dirt bikes, and reading sci fi as well as actual science books. 

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business? 

Like most people, I've had a rocky relationship with my body and with fitness over the years. As a young adult, I tried every diet, every fitness program, and I never felt like I was good enough. When I began playing competitive roller derby ten years ago, my mindset completely shifted.  As an athlete, fitness became about performance instead of appearance. This was a transformative experience for me. My confidence soared along with my respect for my body and what it could do. I felt like I could do anything. 

Having gone through this radical transformation, I got really pissed off. I was furious about all the time I had wasted judging myself. I was so angry that I had just accepted this as normal. 

Women are constantly reminded everywhere we look that we’re supposed to look a certain way, act a certain way, and fitness is sold to us a tool we use to conform to those ideals and as punishment for not doing so. 

Fitness is not an exclusive club for people with one body type. You don’t have to look a certain way to participate in fitness and enjoy the benefits.

I created Superfit Hero to make fitness more inclusive and to support athletes of all sizes. In fact, we are the most size inclusive premium active brand on the planet.

How did you get into the industry? 

Superfit Hero is my third startup. In 2015, was finishing up a gig with another company and trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. I knew what story I wanted to tell so I took stock of my skills, connections, and resources, and designed a business that would best enable me to do that. Branding, online marketing, and customer service are 100% in my wheelhouse. I landed on fashion because with this product, I saw the opportunity to create something that makes my customer feel confident. Even now, most major fitness brands only cater to women up to size 12 even though the average American woman wears size 16. This gap in the market presented a great business opportunity but also a great platform for my message. 

I have zero fashion background but with the typical blind optimism of every founder, I assumed it couldn’t be that hard. In Los Angeles, there are thousands of local resources for design and manufacturing. Of course, finding a reliable manufacturing partner turned out to be the biggest challenge, one that took me three years to solve. We were constantly running out of inventory and at points, I was willing to sell my soul to get more. We’re big enough now that our orders are interesting to factories and we have built a (tiny) bit of leverage but any sane person would have given up a long time ago.

Any emerging industry trends? 

The body positivity movement is a social movement that advocates the acceptance of all bodies no matter their form, size, or appearance. Body positivity has roots in the fat acceptance movement and the activists often work at the intersections of racial, LGBTQ+ and disability justice. It’s taken decades for this movement to break into the mainstream and we are finally starting to see professionals in the fitness industry adopt a HAES (Health at Every Size) approach in their practice. Instead of focusing on the elusive (and largely impossible) goal of weight loss, these trainers help their clients build healthy relationships with their bodies through movement. 

In order to support this emerging market of fitness professionals, we recently create the Body Positive Fitness Finder, an online directory of body positive fitness and movement activities. We currently feature over 200 trainers and teachers offering everything from yoga, to CrossFit to hiking. 

We support these trainers with sponsorship which includes huge discounts, promotional support, and a listing on the finder so they can connect with our customers directly. 

What's next for the Business in the near future? 

We’re growing really fast so our primary challenges right now are around logistics. We’re in the process of outsourcing our fulfillment to a warehouse for the first time rather than doing it in-house. We’re working really hard to put processes in place that allow us to retain our special customer relationships while scaling. 

Ideal experience for a customer/client? 

To answer this question, I’m going to share an email we recently received from a customer. 

“I want y'all to know that finding Superfit Hero has literally changed my life. Through the Facebook group, I've learned about HAES, been inspired by other members to do things I didn't think I was capable of, and to learn to love myself as I am and not how I think others think I should be. All because I clicked on an Instagram post about workout gear with pockets for EVERY body. Keep up the great work!” - A customer for life, Melanie

We have this email printed and posted on the wall of our office to remind us why we’re doing this every day. 

What are my aspirations? 

I’ve learned that the only thing that really matters is time. I define success by being able to spend my time on things I value with people I admire. 

My Motto? 

I have a tattoo on my left wrist that says “Rule no. 1” which was inspired by my friend Daniel. Daniel’s Rule number one is “Don’t do shit you don’t want to do.” At first glance, this motto sounds simple and maybe even a little childish. But if you think about it, it’s all about valuing your limited time in this life and being thoughtful about how you spend it. 

My Current Passions? 

Lately, my favorite activity is riding my dirt bike. It gets me away from screens and outside, gets me moving my body, and has given me a whole new skill set for me to keep improving on. 

My Pic of the Day: 

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Melissa Henley: Director of Customer Experience, Laserfiche

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My Native Admission Statement: My title is “Director of Customer Experience,” but I’m a thought leader, speaker, writer and brand ambassador who’s driven by my passion for helping customers change the world with technology. I’m an energetic, upbeat communications leader with diverse experience in private, public and higher education sectors. I rely on 20 years of experience in branding, communications and customer experience to build and lead high-performing teams – and drive strong relationships across marketing, sales and technical teams.

How did you get into the industry?

I have always been interested in technology. My family’s first computer was a Commodore 64, and when I left for college, my dad and I built an Intel 386 computer together in the garage! When I think about it, it blows my mind that my iPhone has more computing power than that computer did.

I moved to technology from the finance industry, where I worked in marketing compliance. Over 12 years later, I continue to be inspired by the Laserfiche mission to help the world work smarter. Our work changes the lives of people all around the world. From helping to feed the hungry to keeping communities safe, Laserfiche technology gets rid of administrative work so people can focus on what maters – driving change. How can you not be excited by that?

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

A sustained focus on customer experience (CX) is an opportunity to transform everything about how we work – business systems, customer relationships, technology and more – but it’s also a challenge for leaders looking to transform their organizations at the same time. Realigning your company around customer experience can be a challenge, especially if everything seems to be going just fine. Yet without transforming your organization’s people, processes and technology, any CX initiative is unlikely to make a lasting impact.

It’s easy to think about investing in new software to improve your customers’ interactions with your company, but the number one challenge you have to overcome to improve (or build) a CX program is your culture. The way your employees interact with your customers is one of the most crucial drivers of your customer experience. When customers need assistance, do employees go the extra mile? Do customers feel like their concerns are heard, and that they’re an important part of driving your organization or product into the future? Or do they feel like their only value to your organization is to the bottom line?

When it comes to transforming the customer experience, vision and inspiration only go so far. For a successful initiative, leaders must embody and forward the key values of a digital culture – customer-centricity, a collaborative mindset, and a tolerance for risk. But don’t forget that a crucial part of CX transformation is looking at your customer-facing processes and asking not just “why are we doing things this way?” but “should we be doing things this way?”

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the business?

Laserfiche founder Nien-Ling Wacker once told me that when she had the original idea for our company – to create software people love to use – everyone she pitched the idea to said it was stupid. They told her that she would never realize her vision because people didn’t love technology and that they used it because they had to. She told me that their reaction made her more determined to see her vision through.

What I learned from Nien-Ling is that if you focus on doing what’s best for customers, success will follow. Over thirty years later, we hold true to that vision of creating software people love to use, focusing on inspiring and enabling our customers to reimagine how technology can make a difference for their companies and communities.

Your key initiatives for the success of the business?

While Laserfiche has always had an obsessive focus on delighting customers, the customer experience team is newly formed. It’s been an exciting challenge to essentially run a start-up within an established organization and build new processes and procedures, as well as bring in new technology, to further improve our customer journey and drive customer happiness. My team is currently working on rolling out a net promoter scoring (NPS) program; building a formal customer onboarding program; and standardizing our customer education across in-person and online platforms, to name just a few of our major initiatives.

Your most difficult moment at the business?

Several years ago, our vice president of marketing suddenly passed away. Telling my team members was one of the most professionally difficult moments of my career, but I remain proud of the way our marketing leadership banded together to support our team members and drive the vision for the marketing organization forward. I learned that while you can’t predict or prepare for the unexpected, you are in control of how you react, and that there is room for emotions in the workplace. Many of us tend to shy away from uncomfortable emotions, particularly grief. As leaders, we should be empathetic toward colleagues and team members who are going through significant life changes. Don’t be afraid of addressing emotions and talking about feelings. It will build stronger team relationships overall.

Career advice to those in your industry?

If you’re interested in technology, don’t let lack of experience hold you back! Great software comes from diversity in perspectives because users have diverse perspectives. The reality is that when we lack voices from diverse backgrounds, we risk missing solutions or entire markets. A diverse team ensures a different way of thinking about problems, which can lead to completely new solutions.

I have no formal education in technology. In fact, I majored in political science and women’s studies. Instead of being a liability, I found that my liberal arts background helps me with the critical thinking required to answer the big questions we deal with on a daily basis. I would encourage anyone - especially women – interested in a career in technology not overlook the stills that a liberal arts education gives you. Besides developing critical thinking skills, training in the liberal arts helps you develop communication skills that will serve you well throughout your career.

What makes me the best version of myself?

Sleep! There seems to be pride in “life-hacking” yourself to sleep the least and do the most. I find I’m most productive when I am getting enough rest and I have time for regular physical activity, so I encourage my team members to strive for balance in their work and personal lives. We are not at our best when we’re exhausted. As leaders, we should model good behavior for team members by leaving on time, attending family and personal events, and not answering or sending email on weekends or late at night. Culture starts with you!

My Biggest Success?

Every time I receive an email from a customer excited about a workflow or form they’ve built that has changed their organization, sharing an idea, showing me pictures of their kids in Laserfiche gear, or even just sharing personal news about promotions or personal accomplishments, it makes me proud of the customer community we’ve built and nurtured. Our customers are proud of how they use Laserfiche to make life better for their customers, citizens and coworkers. I am honored that they are excited to share that with me. Oftentimes we don’t feel celebrated for the work we do. The fact that I get to shine a light on the work our customers do to feed the hungry, make sure seniors have power during the winter, help deliver better services to autistic children, connect foster children with foster parents and so much more – I can’t think of a bigger success than that.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

My role model is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I wrote my thesis on her majority opinion in the U.S. v. Virginia case because I was so inspired by how she broke ground for women in the legal field – as a law student, as a professor, as a lawyer for the ACLU and, of course, as a Supreme Court justice.

As I’ve progressed in my career, I continue to be inspired by how she built a partnership with her late husband Marty, balanced work and family, and relied on her inner strength to beat cancer twice. One of my favorite pieces of management advice actually comes from Ruth Bader Ginsburg – or to be more accurate, her mother-in-law:

“In every good marriage,” she counseled, “it helps sometimes to be a little deaf.” I have followed that advice assiduously, and not only at home through 56 years of a marital partnership nonpareil. I have employed it as well in every workplace, including the Supreme Court. When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out. Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

I’m completely obsessed with automating my house with Alexa. It has changed my life – and not just because I can lay in bed and turn off the lights in the living room. It’s just one more example of how automation is becoming highly consumerized. (And, as a marketer, I would love to have just a tenth of the data that Amazon surely has on me.)

My Current Passions?

I love to read and try to finish at least one new book a month. I mostly read nonfiction and biographies. Right now, I’m reading “Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything About the World,” by Tim Marshall. I also just finished “Leadership: In Turbulent Times” by Doris Kearns Goodwin and highly recommend it – I learned quite a bit about some of my favorite presidents (LBJ, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR and Abraham Lincoln).

My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day: Try to be a little more productive than yesterday.

Thought of the Day: It’s a Maya Angelou quote that is particularly relevant to both management and customer experience: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Tip of the Day: Always wear sunscreen. And drink plenty of water.

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

I’ve lived in Long Beach for almost nine years now, and  what I love most by far is the diversity. There’s so much to do, so many great restaurants and so many interesting experiences – the city has come a long way. I really appreciate the leadership of our mayor in making Long Beach an attractive environment for tech and other new businesses, and for revitalizing downtown. As a longtime resident, I’m excited to see the strides the city is making, without sacrificing what makes us “us.”

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Working out. I go to Orangetheory 5-6 times a week, then run 4-8 miles depending on the day, the weather and my mood. Since I don’t drink caffeine, it’s a great way to boost my energy for the day!

10:00 AM – Probably in a meeting!

12:00 PM - I usually try to walk 2-3 miles during lunch, to enjoy the fresh air and reset for the afternoon. It’s also a great way to think through issues I’m trying to solve. That means I’m eating lunch at my desk (usually a turkey sandwich and a salad) while catching up on what’s new on Twitter.

7:00 PM – Finishing dinner, checking emails and getting ready for bed. I get up at 3:30 to get my workout in before my day starts (no excuses that early), so I try to get to sleep by 9:30 at the latest.

11:00 PM – Asleep!

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

I don’t drink, so it’s probably a cup of herbal tea – my favorite way to start the morning. At the end of the day, I’m usually drinking sparkling water with lime.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

My favorite Instagram account is definitely Comments by Celebs. It never fails to entertain me. On a more serious note, my most used app is either my calendar or the United app.

My Pic of the Day:

About Melissa Henley:

Melissa Henley is Director of Customer Experience at Laserfiche, an enterprise software company that has served the public and private sectors for over 30 years.

As a marketer, customers are at the heart of all Melissa does, and her passion is around connecting people to content that can have a genuine positive impact on their lives. From helping feed the hungry to keeping communities safe, Laserfiche helps people focus on the work that matters so they can drive the change they want to see in the world. This mission to help the world work smarter fuels her passion, even after 12 years at Laserfiche.

Melissa brings over 20 years of marketing experience across multiple industries, including government, finance and higher education. She is a graduate of Mills College, where she studied political science and women’s studies.

Outside of the office, Melissa enjoys distance running, Orangetheory and knitting. She regularly tries to enjoy yoga and fails miserably. Melissa lives in Long Beach, CA, where she enjoys running the Long Beach Half Marathon every October.

About Laserfiche:

Laserfiche is a leading global provider of enterprise content management software empowering organizations to take control of information and business processes.With intuitive on-premises and cloud solutions for document management and process automation, Laserfiche improves productivity, efficiency and strategic decision-making for organizations looking to transform into a digital workplace.

For more than three decades, Laserfiche has fostered an active user community that shares ideas and inspires solutions. To learn more, visit laserfiche.com/about-laserfiche.

Dr. Michael Greger: Founder, NutritionFacts.org

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Bio:

A founding member and Fellow of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, MD FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. He has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, testified before Congress, and was invited as an expert witness in the defense of Oprah Winfrey in the infamous “meat defamation” trial. In 2017, Dr. Greger was honored with the ACLM Lifestyle Medicine Trailblazer Award. He is a graduate of Cornell University School of Agriculture and Tufts University School of Medicine. His latest book How Not to Die became an instant New York Times Best Seller. He has videos on more than 2,000 health topics freely available at NutritionFacts.org, with new videos and articles uploaded every day. All proceeds he receives from his books, DVDs, and speaking engagements are all donated to charity.

How did you get into the field? 

The inspiration for my work all started with my grandma. I was just a kid when my grandmother was diagnosed with end-stage heart disease, and sent home to die. She already had so many bypass surgeries; was so scarred up inside; there was nothing more the surgeons could do. Confined in a wheelchair; crushing chest pain...her life was over at age 65.

Then, she heard about this guy, Nathan Pritikin, one of our early lifestyle medicine pioneers, and what happened next is chronicled in Pritikin’s biography. My grandma was one of the “death’s door people.” They wheeled her in and she walked out. She was given her medical death sentence at age 65, but thanks to a healthy diet was able to enjoy another 31 years on this Earth to enjoy her six grandkids including me.

As I grew older, I began to understand the significance of her near-miraculous recovery. As soon as we stop eating the artery-clogging foods that contribute to heart disease, our bodies can start to heal themselves. I made it my life’s mission to educate millions about evidence-based eating. I hope that I can do for everyone’s family what Pritikin did for my family.

Any emerging industry trends?

Information about the myriad of benefits of a whole food plant-based diet are spreading more and more as time goes on. The evidence is there, and the number of plant-based physicians who practice lifestyle medicine is growing.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

The opportunities for guiding people to understand evidence-based nutrition and preventive medicine are much needed and virtually endless. 

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business? 

I saw a clear need for a reliable, non-commercial resource for evidence-based nutrition information.  

On my non-profit website NutritionFacts.org, I read through every issue of every English-language nutrition journal in the world—so busy folks like you don’t have to. There are videos on more than 2,000 health and nutrition topics—all free, no ads, no products to sell—with new videos and articles uploaded nearly every day on the latest in evidence-based nutrition. It’s the tool I wish I had in medical training.

For those of us who grew up eating SAD (the Standard American Diet), starting to eat healthfully can be a big shift. I know it was for me. Thankfully I was able to escape SAD’s clutches before any overt health problem arose—29 years ago. Looking back, I view that as one of the best decisions of my life. Eating healthier is easier than you think, it’s inexpensive, and it just might save your life. 

What's next for you in the near future? 

My next book How Not to Diet will be coming out in December 2019, which is when my next book tour will begin (https://drgreger.org/pages/speaking-dates).

How Not to Diet goes beyond food to identify twenty-one weight-loss accelerators available to our bodies, incorporating the latest discoveries in cutting-edge areas like chronobiology to reveal the factors that maximize our natural fat-burning capabilities. It includes the ultimate weight loss guide from the ground up, taking a timeless, proactive approach that can stand up to any new trend. Chock full of actionable advice and groundbreaking dietary research, the book will put an end to dieting—and replace those constant weight-loss struggles with a simple, healthy, sustainable lifestyle.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business? 

Everything on NutritionFacts.org is free and easily accessible to the public. There is no members-only area where additional life-saving information is available—for a price. There are no advertisements of any kind allowed. We don’t accept corporate sponsorships. NutritionFacts.org is strictly non-commercial. There’s no line of Dr. Greger’s Brand Snakeoilwondersupplements. We are not selling anything. We simply produce these videos as a public service for those hungry for evidence-based nutrition. NutritionFacts.org has a dedicated team of staff and volunteers who have helped grow the organization to reach people across the globe. 

How do you motivate others?

I enjoy meeting people along my book tours and participating in live Q&A sessions on Facebook and YouTube. I also share a free monthly newsletter: https://nutritionfacts.org/subscribe/

Linda Rheinstein: Co-Founder, Space Games Federation

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Bio: Visionary Linda Rheinstein is the co-founder of Space Games Federation, the first governing and sanctioning body for competitive sports played in zero or microgravity. A 2017 Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame inductee, Linda is an award-winning sports producer, entertainment, special effects and technology entrepreneur, emerging tech integrator, and holder of multiple trademarks and patents. Alongside her news producer father, Linda grew up playing, living and working inside the JPL labs and NASA space programs, leaving her with a powerful passion for all things space and education. She also founded the iDogiebag Foundation, spearheading the movement to bring FDA regulation to the pet food industry, resulting in pet foods being added to the Food Borne Illness Act of 2013. A cancer survivor, Linda is also “mom” to trained medical alert animal #spacecatnicky, and is presently focusing her advocacy activity on adding cats to the ADA’s list of approved service animals.

Space Games Federation is available online at SpaceGamesFederation.com, to bring you up-to-date on Sports In Space™.

Twitter/Instagram @SpaceGamesFederation

How and why did you start Space Game Federation?

“Uncle” Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, was my co-founder and inspiration for bringing sports to space, that is, Equal Space™, where the absence of gravity truly levels the playing field. Now, for the first time, gender, age, and perceived-disability are no longer obstacles to play, and we can ensure there is complete pay and gender parity. Gene Cernan said, “The more dreamers we have, the more doers we’ll have.”. I want to create the playing fields of tomorrow—today.

Were there any impediments to getting started and if so, how did you address them?

As the 5th woman out of over 100+ men to be inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall Of Fame (link to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJ8ras7EYqU), I understand how to break through and make an impact in a challenging landscape. And because of that, I also know how important it is to make sure as we go forward into this wild, new frontier of outer space, that we’re removing obstacles and impediments for all who want to engage. That’s the beauty of Equal Space™: We’re showing the world that there are no limits to be placed on dreams when everyone gets a chance to play.

Any emerging industry trends?

Space is going from the exclusive province of government to the entire spectrum of the commercial sector, opening the door for a multitude of industries to get into the game. And while research and exploration will be ongoing, now there will be room for the human factor, including Sports In Space™ and a host of other existing businesses and entrepreneurial ventures. It’s not about a financial buy-in alone, it’s about equal opportunity in Equal Space™. We’re on a rocket, and I think that the world’s leading dreamers and doers are ready to hop onboard.

What is your long-term vision for Space Games Federation?

We see Sports In Space™ as a model for gender and ability equality, and global cooperation in Equal Space™. How we get there is through a set of converging tracks that feed into and amplify one another, and that first step is in educating the next generation through STEAM+. We’re aiming to engage, entertain, educate and inspire by adding space, sports, athletics and the arts to the STEM movement, because these are the future Astroletes® (a combination of “astronaut” and “athlete”) that will play these sports, and their classmates will be the ones to imagine, innovate and engineer the infrastructure, and of course, become the fans. And Space Games Federation will be driving policy for this new frontier, because every foundation needs policy to be set—and ensuring Equal Space™ for it all to happen.

My tip of the day:

Learn something new everyday, then try something different in one part of your life. And just watch what happens.

What drink do you need to get through the day:

Coffee. And lots of it.

Favorite app:

Life.

What everyone should try at least once:

A ride on the Parabolic Arc Plane (aka “The Vomit Comet”), our first Space Games Federation playing field.

Where do you enjoy getting lost:

In the ever-expanding galaxy of what’s possible. How’s that?

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Brittany Driscoll: Co-Founder & CEO, Squeeze

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Bio: Brittany is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Squeeze, a revolutionary new massage concept from the founders of Drybar. Through their industry-leading technology platform, the first of its kind in the retail service space, Squeeze bridges the seamlessness of an on-demand mobile experience with a beautiful, sophisticated retail destination. Prior to launching Squeeze, Brittany spent four years running marketing for Drybar where she helped take the company from $30M to more than $100M. She was part of the team who opened 60+ new shops and launched the Drybar product line in Sephora, Ulta, Bloomingdales, and Nordstrom as well as in France, Canada, Mexico, and Australia.

Before Drybar, Brittany spent nearly a decade in marketing and advertising at Mistress (Mattel, The Coca-Cola Company, Hilton Worldwide), RAPP (Skype, Toyota) and experiential agency USMP (Home Depot). Brittanybelieves wholeheartedly in the power of a great experience and is excited to build a feel-good revolution at Squeeze. An avid health & wellness devotee, she resides in Sherman Oaks, California with her husband Jack.

How did you get into the industry?

I started my career in marketing & advertising working with Fortune 500 brands like Barbie, Hot Wheels, Disney, Coca-Cola and Hilton. I fell in love with Drybar as a client first and then had the incredible opportunity to run marketing for 4 years which led to my partnering with Alli Webb & Michael Landau (Drybar Founders) to create Squeeze.

Any emerging industry trends?

What we've done with Squeeze is merge the seamlessness of the on-demand experience with a beautiful, relaxing brick and mortar destination. I think we'll start to see more experiences driven by technology, especially in retail.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Be consistent with your daily habits. It's the small decisions on a daily basis that make up your life. Choose wisely and be intentional!

Goal of the Day?

Chase discomfort. I try to push myself forward even on the days when I'm tired or defeated. Progress and forward momentum are critical to success. You have to be willing to be uncomfortable to achieve big dreams.

Thought of the Day?

Start each day with a grateful heart. Gratitude is life-changing!

Tip of the Day?

People matter most. Remember to be kind, extend grace and treat people in a way that leaves them feeling better for interacting with you.

What do you love most about your city?

I love getting outside. On the weekdays, I ride my bike to PlateFit to workout. On the weekends, you can usually find me in Malibu breathing in the ocean air and taking in the vastness of the Pacific. There's something very freeing about wide open space.

My Pic of The Day:

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What are your aspirations?

I want to create a meaningful experience and a culture that changes people's lives for the better. It's what we're all about at Squeeze. I would say I have the same desire personally - to connect with friends and family a meaningful way and spend my time doing things that matter most.

Your Biggest Success?

I taught a 5-year old to swim after a near-death drowning incident. I was a swimmer growing up and a life-guard during college. I think about that kid all the time. It's a silly thing to tout as my biggest success, I suppose, but his first day all we did was splash our feet in the water at the shallow end of the kid's pool and on his last day he jumped off the diving board in the big pool. I loved that moment. It will stay with me forever.

Your favorite people/role models?

My dad taught me how to live with grace and love others by example. He's my favorite role model. I also love following Sara Blakely, she's so aspirational and real at the same time.

Debi Lane: Founder & CEO, LunchboxWax

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Bio: Debi Lane is the founder and CEO of LunchboxWax, a wax-only salon concept disrupting the 46 billion-dollar US beauty industry, and recently named as one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 50 Fastest Growing Franchises. A serial entrepreneur who has built businesses in the travel, recruiting, and salon industries, Lane founded LunchboxWax in 2010, opening the first salon in early 2011. The company became a franchisor in 2013 and today has 43 salons across 12 states. She splits her time between LunchboxWax’s two headquarters in Boise, Idaho and Scottsdale, Arizona. Debi was recently named as a 2019 Women of the Year honoree from the Idaho Business Review.

How did you get into the industry?

I owned a successful day spa in Sun Valley, Idaho, and gained a large and loyal following for my waxing. I loved waxing from the first rip! Over the years, I developed a technique to get my guests in and out quickly while still making them feel pampered. In 2009, I began conceptualizing a business model around a wax- only salon and worked on a business plan – including the LunchboxWax brand name and logo. I showed my plan to a number of people, and in 2010, a small investor helped me open my first salon. In 2011, I opened the first LunchboxWax salon in Downtown Boise, followed by another in a nearby community. I knew I was onto something special as the word of mouth spread very quickly. In 2012, I realized that I wanted to really grow the concept, but didn’t have the capital, so I decided to franchise. I worked on the franchise system for about a year and a half, and in 2013, we sold our first franchise. We have continued to add franchisees each year, and as of July 2019, have awarded franchisee rights to 99 salons across the country.

Any emerging industry trends?

I love seeing emergent culture-based and purpose-driven business models establishing/founding a new evolved/enlightened norm– which is at the core of LunchboxWax. To us, this means that we have built a franchise model that not only concentrates on the business side of a franchisee’s investment, but also in how we show up for employees and in our communities – we truly believe that we have built an organization where social responsibility and bottom-line driven business models coexist. We are very proud of this, and are now mentoring other franchise companies on how they can incorporate culture into the multiple layers of franchising.

Career advice to those in your industry?

I am in the franchise industry. It is a very old business model built on offering a more secure investment for entrepreneurs to be a part of a proven and developed concept. A lot of the practices of primarily bottom-line focused thought processes that worked years ago, don’t necessarily work in our business world today. We must put our workforce first, and build our business out from there. It is crucial for this generation of workers to feel like they have something besides monetary payment -- they need something to believe in. We must empower and offer them a path to evolve personally and professionally – even if that means they move on from us. For us, we see giving them ongoing education and personal skills as a gift that they will take and use for the rest of their lives. In turn, they give us their authentic loyalty, and this shows up in the inspiring ways they treat our guests and the respect they give to the franchise owners.

My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day:

Start the day with some form of meditation or contemplation. This helps me to connect to myself and ground in the present moment. Information and inspiration to take to my company to the next level often comes through during this time.

Thought of the Day:

Listen with intention. I don’t think we have enough time to really relax into listening when we are in a conversation. Part of strong leadership is having quick response time. The downside of that is that most of us are constructing our responses as we are “listening,” which takes away from the person speaking. If we take the time to really listen and think of this acute attention as a gift, we would all learn so much more. I am teaching myself this by allowing for a pause before I respond. Not only have I learned more by this practice, I really feel like the person in front of me has felt heard. Who wouldn’t want that gift?

Tip of the Day:

End the day with gratitude. I take a moment each night to write in my gratitude journal. Even if it was a tough day, taking the time to reflect on the good in the day helps me to remember what is truly important and keeps everything into perspective.

A Day in My Life:

4:30am: Meditation

5am: Stretching and Yoga/Cardio

6am: Organize my day, push out projects to my team and return emails. I spend the first few hours a day either in my home office or in a hotel room quietly working. This is my power-working time and when I am most creative, so I like to spend it alone.

10am: Start my day. If I am in Boise, I spend the day with my team. If traveling, I am seeing franchisees in existing locations or with new franchisees looking for new locations. I am also doing a lot of public speaking and interviews while on the road. I love spreading the LunchboxWax story!

4pm: End my work day.

6pm: Cooking! Cooking is how I relax at the end of the day and is another form of meditation for me.

8pm: Start winding down my day. I am up very early, so I am usually in bed at 8:30 reading or catching a series on Netflix.

9pm: Lights out!

What do you love most about Your City?

Besides being one of the most picturesque cities in the country with its mountains and rivers, the community is the reason I call Boise home. The people are incredible!

My Pic of the Day: Sunrise meditation on my deck overlooking the Boise Foothills.

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What are my aspirations?

My aspiration is to continue to evolve and expand our LunchboxWax community. We choose our Franchise Partners very carefully, and to become a franchisee of LunchboxWax, one must fully buy-in to our culture and purpose of empowering our workforce and giving back to our communities. This is not for everyone, for sure. It is a lot of work. I could not be more proud of our current Franchise Partners. I have been told by experts in the industry that we have one of the strongest groups they have ever seen assembled under one brand. I believe this is because we are a community of badass leaders linked together for a common cause. We are looking to grow to 220 franchise locations awarded by the end of 2020, and also finalizing our business plans to expand into Canada and London.

My Biggest Success?

The programs that we are building for our waxologist at LunchboxWax. This is unique to us, and something I am so proud of. This is where it gets into my own personal story: I left home right around 15 years old. I also quit school around this time, and although I got my GED eventually, didn’t have any formal education after this time. I had a very challenging childhood and that continued through young-adulthood. In my mid-forties (I am now 55), I decided to make some very big changes in my life. I got sober and started my healing journey. This is exactly the same time I started to build LunchboxWax. I know this was put in front of me not only as a pathway for my own personal healing, but as a way to give back. Building a learning-based business which allows our waxologists a path to become financially independent, but also teach them how to be successful in business and empowered and proud, regardless of where they came or challenges they may have had to overcome – this is my greatest success.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

Oprah. Brené Brown. My daughter, Lily.

My motto:

Let the truth of who you are be the foundation for your work. Take the time to find the path meant for you, then go after with everything you’ve got!

Esther Stanhope "The Impact Guru": International Confidence Speaker

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Tell us about your business (what product or service you provide and who your target audience is)

I am an international confidence speaker known as The Impact Guru! As a former live BBC producer, I use my 28 years of experience in broadcasting and business to help leaders from global organisations and FTSE 100 firms (Deloitte, Barclays, JPMorgan and The British Government) speak with more confidence and impact (when they secretly hate public speaking!).

Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?

Being a business owner means – FREEDOM, having a voice, courage and confidence. The one thing that I underestimated though, was how brave you have to be to run a business.

I became an entrepreneur in the first place (8 years ago) because at the BBC I could see I was in danger of getting stuck on a career path without room for my wings to spread. I loved it, but I needed change. I had an itch to scratch.

After having 2 children I wanted something fresh and I got a new lust for life and a taste for business! I’ve always been a good sales person and I realised I wasn’t always maximising my talents at the BBC.

I also realised that people in business really needed my skills – the ability to communicate with confidence and charisma!

What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?

I’ve always admired British entrepreneur and Virgin founder Richard Branson – because he’s a bit leftfield and tries new things all the time. I met him once when I was a reporter in the late 90s and he was one of the most generous ‘celebs’ to interview. He totally understands his audience and I also know he’s a nervous public speaker (I used to be a terrible public speaker before I made it my job).

He’s the perfect example of how to fail, pick up the pieces and move on, I love that.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

Touring the USA from NY to Maine and speaking at the most fantastic events for Women leaders and Young African Leaders was the most rewarding and inspiring thing I have ever done professionally. The feedback was off the scale – I loved it, they loved it, and it didn’t actually feel like work at all.

Some of the young Africans were politicians and doctors working on projects for their governments to provide water and medical facilities for their country. They called me ‘Madame Esther’ we still follow each other on social media.

I helped them speak with more confidence and they really appreciated all my tips!

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

“Put your big girls knickers on and grow your business to the next level” (That’s from the wonderful Claire Mitchell – Founder of The Girls Mean Business). What she means is this….

“go on…step outside your comfort zone, take a deep breath and do it!

What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?

Speaking! Without a doubt, when you are physically visible on a stage, you can make a game changing impact on your business and your career.

Just like my clients have discovered, it’s like meeting 100s of people intimately rather than one at a time. If you are the one at the podium at the conference, people look up to you and see you as the expert in your field. It gives you the edge over your competitors and what my clients have discovered, it attracts people to you.

It’s a way of kissing 1000s of frogs at the same time rather than one at a time.

What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?

(Sticking with the animal theme)

“Be the turtoise not the hare” do one thing a day to move your business forward. That’s what my business coach, Kim told me when we first met in 2013. Whether it’s a new client email, a newsletter, a blog or a post on linkedin, one thing is better than nothing.

You are playing a long game, you don’t need to rush and try to climb a mountain every day. Everything in small chunks. That has kept me going. I’ve spread the ‘one thing a day’ word and I still have clients and fellow business owners come up to me and say – “yes Esther, I’m still doing my one thing” .

Now I have a book (publishing date 24th Sept 2019) “Goodbye Glossophobia – banish your fear of public speaking”

Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business? If yes, please describe (and include links if available).

Oh my goodness, yes lots of handy tools I use for business. Here are my personal TOP 5….

My online programme “How to Get Your Dream Promotion” amazing – you can use my 50 % discount code dreampromo50

My Business Coach, Kim Duke, Founder of SalesDivas.com has been the best investment I have EVER made.

My Virtual EA, Claire is BRILLIANT. She does my diary and sorts out my social media posts and newsletter. She runs Miss Virtual EA.

My branding agency gave me a massive brand boost. Patrick at LMPP Studio is funny, talented and totally gets you when you want to spruce things up with fantastic illustrations and ideas.

And if course Xero, for automated accounting – OMG – totally brilliant.

Do you have any new projects coming up (or have you just completed a big project ~ reached a milestone, etc.)? If so, please tell us about it.

My book is out in September 2019 “Goodbye Glossophobia – banish your fear of public speaking”. Please email me if you’d like a sneak preview or the details of how to get the special edition.

esther@estherstanhope.com

The Barclays Women in Leadership Conference in London in October is going to be massive!

And I’m running my “Speak Like a Leader” masterclass at Harvard in September too. WOW like Legally Blonde, only brunette!

What do you do for fun/relaxation?

After a minor health scare, I’ve taken up weight training at the Gym & Yoga!

I used to smirk at people who were into breathing, meditation and mindfulness, but I’ve come to realise it’s REALLY important to take time to relax and think. (I would never ever have said that even 3 years ago!)

Cooking chocolate pear pudding & watching movies with the kids, 13 and 9, and my other half, Adam, is also a family tradition.

What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?

The book launch and tour!

I am passionate about helping professionals, particularly women grow in confidence and get into the spotlight.

When I work with clients, particularly women in the city & entrepreneurs – no matter what the sector – most business women tell me they absolutely hold themselves back because they hate….

Public speaking or being in the spotlight

That feeling that all the eyes are on them

The fear of going red or breaking out in a rash (one client wears a scarf permanently)

“That moment” when you introduce yourself around the boardroom table – some call it “creeping death”

Worrying they’ll screw it up (One senior surgeon got her doctor to prescribe Diazepam)

 I have hundreds of stories of women who avoid speaking to more than 8 people at a time!  

And the funny thing….that used to be me!

As recently as 6 years ago, I too avoided the spotlight or ‘speaking’ to large audiences and now it’s my job and I love it.

I am over the moon to be sharing all my speaking tips, tricks (some from Barack Obama) and hacks in my book.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Yes as Susan Jeffers’ book says ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. If you’d like a taster of my confidence tips and tricks on how to nail your next speech, presentation, meeting or job interview….please do contact me impact@estherstanhope.com and we’ll send you our free video tips every Friday! You’ll love them.

Flora Tsapovsky: Style, Food, Travel & Culture Writer

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My Native Admission Statement: I’m a writer. I cover three of my biggest passions: culture, style and food. Working has always felt like a seamless part of everyday life to me because I take deep interest in these topics as in, and would have been paying attention to them if it was simply for fun. I freelance for publications like the San Francisco Chronicle, Bon Appetit, Tablet and others, always trying to put my finger on the meaningful trends that shape our society and identify the revolutionaries who truly stand out.

How did you get into the industry?

I started writing for the Tel Aviv university newspaper at the age of 20, while studying there. I wrote for free, slowly building out my own style, research tools and critical thinking techniques. Then, all it takes is one well-recognized publication to give you a chance to publish things with your own byline - mine was a lifestyle website. I contributed to it for two years, while still in college, then took my bylines and experience and pitched an idea to a print magazine. The key is publishing great material you’re proud of, and always pushing yourself, one step at a time, towards more reputable, lucrative and intelligent publications.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

When I moved to the U.S from Israel in 2012, I had to restart my career in a foreign language. Again, I started from the bottom, writing for a very small website and honing my writing skills in a language I knew very well, but had never written in before. Then, I made an effort to place myself at setting where I could meet fellow writers and editors, and make connections.

What do I do best?

I know how to recognize a good story and turn it into a compelling read. I’m also pretty good at getting a feel for an emerging trend in its very inception.

What are my aspirations?

My professional aspiration is to write for today’s most cutting-edge publications: New York Magazine, Bon Appetit in print, Business of Fashion. On a personal level, I always aspire to lead a life that’s interesting, exciting, and rich. I know it sounds like everyone’s dream. I’m not special in that.

My Biggest Success?

Being able to start over in a new place; make connections, get to know the industry, build up my portfolio. All of that, at the age of 30, at which of my American colleagues have already spent about a decade in the profession.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

I’m a city person, and would always choose an urban setting for inspiration. I’m drawn to places that are a little bit unpretty, unmanicured, with a very vibrant lifestyle and typically a warmer climate. My favorite places to visit are Mexico City, my hometown of Tel Aviv, and Lisbon, which I’d visited once and can’t stop thinking about. I’m also gradually falling in love with L.A, it’s little neighborhoods and laid-back, city-meets-beach vibe.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

I’ve been journaling since I was 14, and don’t have a Google Calendar, only a paper day planner. For these very important purposes, I always use a black Pilot V5 pen. I can’t live without it. I also love cheap and durable sandals from Target, Moroccanoil and jumpsuits. All the jumpsuits.

My Current Passions?

I joined the library in 2018, and it’s been a gift that keeps on giving. I’m currently reading an essay collection by Meaghan Daum and it recently made my cry - a book! I’m very passionate about teaching a Social Media Strategies class at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University - I love how knowledgeable and curious the students are, and we have great debates and discussions on anything from Kylie Jenner to KPIs. Also, Lizzo and Bomba Estereo and raising an incredibly funny 2-years old daughter.

A Day in My Life:

Every day is different: sometimes I stay home to work, sometimes I run around between work events and errands. I typically wake up around 7:30, spend some time with my husband and daughter and slurp coffee. After I drop her off at daycare, I often head to The Wing, my coworking space, and devour their delicious overnight oats before starting on those damn emails. I plan pitches, write out existing assignments, interview folks and DM furiously until lunch. If I don’t eat at The Wing, I might meet a friend for lunch nearby -I like Souvla or something else casual.

After lunch, I dedicate some time to the online course I teach, try to read up on news in my industry and stare at favorite Instagram accounts.

Around 3 I head home, and try to rest for a little bit before picking my daughter up (why freelance if you can’t take a bath at 4 pm?!). In the evening, we either hang out at home reading books, or I head out again, to a restaurant opening, a launch or a media dinner. At 10 pm my brain shuts down and I watch stuff like GLOW and Unreal to relax.

What Else to Know?

You can find my work here: I recently wrote about our obsession with sitting in a circle and a shocking encounter with my childhood food. You can also find my attempts to be a micro-influencer here and listen to me talk about my big move here.

Shelly Slater: Founder, Shelly Slater Strategies

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My Native Admission Statement: As a journalist, I have twenty years of experience getting to the point and engaging an audience. My career in the news took me everywhere, from live breaking news to interviews, with everyone from President George W. Bush to Jimmy Kimmel and Amal Clooney.

Today, I run my own company, Shelly Slater Strategies, to help corporations win business & trust by delivering a message that sticks. From lawyers, to CEOs, and real estate groups, I craft stories that break through in a distracted world. I have extensive experience in public speaking and presentation trainings to help both individuals and teams deliver a message that sticks. With my sister Jodie, I also co-founded The Slate, a new coworking space and production studio in the Dallas Design District.

How did you get into the industry?

After anchoring the news in Dallas for 10 years, I decided to step back to be around for my 3 young boys more. I was always on air at the very time they were free to play. I loved my work life, but I struggled to have a balance. After leaving, people started asking me for advice or help. I quickly realized that the newsroom trained me in a unique way. Every day, you get ratings to see what people do and don’t like about the product the night before. It’s like getting a daily report card. Over the years, you learn what truly engages people and what turns them off. I now use that skill and the ability to think on my feet fast, just like in breaking news, to help clients build stories into their businesses. Facts are great and they are persuasive, but a story will make someone act. People look at you funny when you say, no… tell me a story. But once they do it, they see it wins business and trust.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

After 20 years in news, I learned to work against a deadline. The hustle was the greatest training of my life. Daily, I faced the question: How can I start a story at 10am and be sitting on the set with a can of hairspray perfectly in my hair, ready to banter by 4pm? It’s called the “one stop shop.” I always pushed people to come together in one place to shoot each story. It gave me more time to write, and then rewrite. And frankly, it’s fascinating to watch people from different walks of life connect.

With Shelly Slater Strategies, I realized I needed my own workspace, but I needed more than just an office. I needed a place where I could host offsite brainstorming sessions with clients, shoot the video content they need, and pick up the teacher appreciation gift before picking up my boys. My sister is a lawyer, and we have completely different skillsets, which, as it turns out, are perfect for starting a coworking space! Together, we decided to create our own space – The Slate.

For me, The Slate is about that one stop shop. Bringing the best together to get it done – but better. When you can walk across the room to ask a quick question to a lawyer, a graphic designer, or even the CEO of a non-profit, you save time. You gain energy. You feel supported. You can get coworking anywhere. That’s not what The Slate is about. The Slate is about creating a community. A curated one.

My Motto?

I always say you have to know your point in six words. My point is, “Your mom’s the audience – now talk!” That means don’t try to over-complicate and add jargon to make yourself sound smarter. Say it like you’re telling it to your mom at your kitchen table with a cup of coffee.

Lori Longthorne: IGNITE Advisory Board of Director & Alaska Airlines Strategic Communications Manager

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My Native Admission Statement: I am a strong advocate for creating opportunities for young women interested in pursuing careers in math and science (STEM focused fields). I learned at an early age that opportunities to compete and win are wide open to everyone (at the age of 9 years old I raced motorcycles and was ranked 5th in the state of Washington). Throughout my career I have leveraged my strengths as an expert communicator and IT thought leader in roles as: Director, Chief of Staff, Senior Manager (Program/Product/Customer Service), and driven social change at several fortune 500 companies (The Boeing Company, Microsoft, and Alaska Air Group) while partnering with like-minded colleagues at IGNITE Worldwide (Inspiring girls now it technology evolution – a 501C non-profit organization) to ensure opportunities exist for young women in Technology and the airline industry. In my role at Alaska Airlines, I support the Executive communications and events for the CIO of Alaska Airlines, Charu Jain and the ITS Organization - where our CIO, and employees are all extremely passionate about making a positive difference in the careers of our youth throughout our community.

How did you get into the industry?

In early 2000, I began to realize I was the only female working on key deliveries in strategic IT deployments – I remembered looking around the room at a meeting, being the lone female and thought… Where are the female colleagues, is this an IT industry wide issue or bigger?  I assumed that young women preparing to enter the workforce had not heard about the amazing opportunities awaiting them in STEM focused fields, so I joined forces with Cathi Rodgveller, founder of the IGNITE Worldwide, while she was also a career counselor in Seattle Public School District to help lead the change in the world. I helped create events for young women to travel to Corporations and hear first- hand from Technology leaders about all the great opportunities awaiting them as they began to make career choices by attending job shadows, and speaker panels.

Any emerging industry trends?

IGNITE sparks the excitement for young women and non-binary students to discover and appreciate the possibilities that exist for them to pursue careers in computer science and engineering (STEM). To date 37,000 girls have participated in the program since its inception in 2000. IGNITE partners with educators, companies, cities, and volunteers to offer programming via field trips, Panel presentations, workshops, and more. Sponsors of IGNITE Worldwide embrace the importance of building diverse teams, as they understand diversity drives innovative ideas and solutions. (NCWIT 2016 Women in Leadership report shares gender diverse teams are more likely to be innovative and share knowledge).

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

The earlier that young women can participate in IGNITE activities, the earlier they begin to pursue careers in math and science, that without the IGNITE program, they would not have thought of pursuing. I encourage every student to make contact with the volunteers they meet through IGNITE and go for in person Job shadows. The more you know in advance, the better decisions you can make on where you want to work – find a role that sets your soul on fire!

What's next for the Business in the near future?

The model for the IGNITE is one of continuing to give back. After being an active supporter of the program for the past 20 years, every year we experience the excitement of girls coming through the program, and begin to provide mentor and job shadow opportunities back to the communities (carrying the good work forward).

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

IGNITE Worldwide is unique as it works with teachers, counselors and administrators to identify students who are traditionally underrepresented and spark their interest in STEM fields. They are invited to attend panel presentations during the school day to hear from professional women in STEM fields about the opportunities and successes that are possible for them to attain. Students also have the opportunity to go on field trips to companies and universities near them so that they can envision a future pursuing a career in a STEM field. IGNITE also hosts workshops for students to expand their knowledge of computer science and engineering. IGNITE Worldwide links traditionally underrepresented students with opportunities that allow them to continue to develop their interest in STEM subjects and fields.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

After every event, we send a survey immediately to the students -90% of them report after attending the STEM event they now consider choosing a career in IT – and that prior to the event they had not initially considered IT as an option. The success rate is seeing young women achieve roles, and down the road share their success that would not have been possible without IGNITE sparking their passion for a career in technology moving forward.

How do you motivate others?

There is nothing better than sharing your story, and seeing the look in a young students eye, when they connect with your message. We all have a unique story that makes us who we are. I was lucky growing up with a family that encouraged me. We laughed and joked, and created our own take our daughter to work day years before it became a formal event.  My father taught me to be brave and independent! IGNITE gives me the opportunity to fuel that in others! Let them know, if I can do this – they can too!

Career advice to those in your industry?

Every social setting you are in is an opportunity to make a physical connection. In this digital world we need to never forget that human connections is what life is all about. Stick your hand out, grab their hand and say hi ! Ask who they are and what they do, and share the same about yourself.

IGNITE field trip with Decatur High School students at Alaska Airlines. (IGNITE)

IGNITE field trip with Decatur High School students at Alaska Airlines. (IGNITE)

What do I do best?

I love people, and love to connect people who share similar passions and missions in life.

What are my aspirations?

I would love to continue working in the airline industry until I retire. My only regret is that I did not come to Alaska Airlines years ago. It is such an amazing company, built on the goal of creating an airline people love. The feeling you have everyday flying with our remarkable flight attendants and pilots is the same feeling I experience every day with our team in IT where we build innovative technology solutions that fuel our remarkable airline. Alaska Airlines employees exemplify the “Alaska spirit”, Kind-hearted and remarkable.

My Biggest Success?

IGNITE Worldwide received a joint Congressional award in July, 2007 on the house floor of Congress in Washington DC for “Programs and Practices that work: Preparing Students for Nontraditional Careers”. The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc), the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE), and the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) created the award to recognize local and/or state educational agencies, programs, and/or schools that have improved students’ access to and completion of career and technical education programs that are nontraditional for their gender.

In May of 2019 I was awarded a shero award by the IGNITE board of directors and members for driving impact with IGNITE for the past 20 years.

My Motto?

Be Grateful. Always tell people how much you appreciate them, via kind words, or small gestures.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

I have been so fortunate to work at three Fortune 500 companies throughout my professional career that allowed me the opportunity to travel the world. Working for an airline company, travel is one of our many perks – I spend a lot of time in warm locations, mostly the Hawaiian Islands for the sunshine.

My Current Passions?

Theatre & music. I recently saw the Broadway play Wicked and wondered why I had waited so long to see it. Such a lovely play about friendship, love, and having each other’s back in this world.

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

Seattle has distinct seasons – and wonderful food and culture. We also are a city obsessed with football, both college and NFL – Huskies, Cougars, and Seattle Seahawks.

I am obsessed with:

I cannot live without drinking 10 large glasses of water a day, and working out. Working out gives me time to think and be creative about projects in development.

What Else to Know?

Follow me on Linkedin for more on what we are doing with IGNITE Worldwide and Alaska Airlines in the ITS Organization as we continue to build technology solutions our front line and guests love while continually giving back to our community.

My Pic of the Day:

Receiving IGNITE Shero award at Spring gala 2019. (PRESENTED BY IGNITE WORLDWIDE CEO & FOUNDER CATHI RODGVELLER.)

Receiving IGNITE Shero award at Spring gala 2019. (PRESENTED BY IGNITE WORLDWIDE CEO & FOUNDER CATHI RODGVELLER.)

Michael Yorke: CEO & Director, CROP Infrastructure Corp

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My Native Admission Statement: I began my journey in the financial sector as a teller at Royal bank. Commerce and trade strongly influenced me and I began day and paper trading in the capital markets shortly after. Becoming successful on paper, I moved on to the real thing. I decided to be more involved in the hands-on part of business and began investor relations and business development in the mining industry. I worked on several companies, helping them build their audience as well as tell their story. I then moved onto a media company, helping build conferences for a focus on the graphite industry. As the commodities markets started to lose their luster, I decided to re-educate myself in global business and get my diploma in Internal trade and business through BCIT as well as my master’s degree in Global Business in Coventry England.

Parallel to this I also am a focused martial artist and have travelled around the world learning and teaching martial arts. I have lived in both Europe and South America and taught myself Portuguese and Spanish. I also have a genetic disease called psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis that has left me crippled for over 2 years of my life. I have seen firsthand the effects of opioids and cannabinoids in the treatment of pain. I am someone that is constantly learning and never giving up.

How did you get into the industry?

In the last year of finishing my degree, I spoke with colleagues and associates that I had met through the capital markets and we saw the rise of the Cannabis industry in Canada and the beginning of real sentimental change in societal norms and sentiment towards cannabis and believed it would be a strong vehicle moving forward. Seeing as Canada had great momentum, we decided that the US would offer more opportunity and that several states were already showing strong signs of acceptance and therefore we created Crop as a means to participate in the growth of this new sector.

I have done martial arts for close to 20 years; However, in my twenties I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that attacked my joints. As a result, I was prescribed opioids for the pain and various other drugs to deal with the harmful side effects of the opioids such as nausea, difficulty sleeping, etc. Eventually, I hit a breaking point where I wanted to look into alternative medicine. I had heard that people were replacing opioids with cannabis, so I decided to try that out. Once I swapped out my opioids for cannabis I was able to work out more and get back into martial arts, which is one of my life passions. By teaching martial arts I was also able to put myself through graduate school, which helped me further my career and led me to becoming involved in the cannabis investment community.

Any emerging industry trends?

A huge emerging trend in the cannabis industry is agriculture technology. Specifically, artificial intelligence and robotic technology that can be used on cannabis farms. There are many different ways that artificial intelligence and robotic technology can be applied to cannabis farming. For example, the use of AI in sensors and high-definition cameras can be used to keep track of and adjust multiple inputs in the growing environment such as water level, PH level, temperature, humidity, nutrient feed, light spectrum and CO2 levels. Tracking and adjusting these inputs can make a major difference in the quantity and quality of cannabis that growers are able to produce. It can also help farmers know exactly how much resources they need to use for their grow operation, avoiding waste and making the process more environmentally-friendly.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

Large-scale grow operations come with their own unique benefits and challenges. The great thing about them is that they allow growers to keep prices low for consumers, while improving production efficiency through technology such as automation. It also allows for a wider variety of cannabis plants to be grown, and if planted indoors, can be grown almost anywhere. On the flip side, an issue that the cannabis farming community is currently trying to tackle is water usage. Large-scale grows can require large amounts of water and energy, but technological advancement will be able to help growers have more environmentally-friendly operations. Additionally, with large cannabis farms, it can be difficult to stay consistent in quality, since there are so many plants to keep track of. The use of drones to keep track of plant health can address this problem, while saving on the hours on manpower it would take to manually check on them.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

The genesis of this concept began as means to overcome barrier to entries for both foreign businesses as well as State legal growers to the expanding nascent Cannabis sector developing in the U.S.

CROP Corp provides financing for land expansion, turnkey state-of-the-art greenhouse facilities, brand positioning opportunities, specialized equipment, and access to approved nutrients for select licensed cannabis producers in legal growing regions. As an investment vehicle, modern greenhouse canopies offer the highest quality production environment at the lowest potential cost to growers. By providing modern canopies and related infrastructure, CROP aids cannabis producers to maintain a competitive edge in one of the most extraordinary opportunities of our generation.

The goal of Crop is to have investments into multiple levels of the Cannabis sector in order to facilitate vertical integration and capture value as well as margin through the value change and allow it’s tenants to compete at a global scale.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

Currently it’s planting season and we are planting 1,350 acres of high CBD hemp in Nevada, another 40 Acres of THC outdoor specifically for concentrates, California we have just finished planting 20,000 acres outdoor as well as 10,000 acres of indoor. Oklahoma, we have just cleared 20 acres and planted 1 acre to enter the medical market. Washington has achieved the milestone of self-sustaining and we are looking forward to its continuing success. There was a delay in packaging for our California tenants, however that has been resolved and we are moving forward steadfast. Currently filling over 1,000 cartridges of vape cartridges

As this is a brand-new business in a brand new sector, obstacles continually appear, however the team is nimble and swift and the continued footprint expansion has been a success in 2019.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

Constant market monitoring. Development of new markets, new products, new legislations. Having access to the right minds that are in the right places and have networks with the right people. This is an ever changing and evolving sector, being able to see what is happening now and adjust to what will happen is invaluable.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

The most difficult moment in this business so far was failing to get a retail application through on our first attempts in California. We do not feel that this was necessarily our fault as the licenses that were given out are now the subject of controversy. However, this would have greatly helped the tenant partners that we have in the California area. Through this experience we better learned the procedures for retail applications and have since been successful in receiving a provisional license in another area of California.  

How do you motivate others?

A happy, healthy, pleasant environment with transparency is what our corporate culture stands on. Making sure to not micromanage and give autonomy to task. One specific way I aim to motivate and inspire others is by telling them how something they have done has impressed me and that after that moment, how I have gained insight on something new and ask they keep up the good work.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Be constantly learning, and establish methods in which you are able to stay in touch with the market and market conditions. Try to offer something new, focus on innovation and creativity. They are harder to “learn” but offer much more opportunity.

What do I do best?

Move forward and motivate myself.

What makes me the best version of myself?

Consistency in whatever I am doing

What are my aspirations?

To be a good father, leader, teacher, businessman. To make Crop Infrastructure and all endeavors I am involved in a success.

My Biggest Success?

Completing my MBA

My Most Challenging Moment?

Being crippled and bedridden for months at a time.

My Motto?

“se vacila, o bicho pega” a Portuguese phrase meaning. If you hesitate, the beast gets you. The significance is: Life doesn’t wait, if you don’t do it, someone else will, do it now, do it first.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

Personal: Grand Masters Martial Artists, Business: Warren Buffet, Stephen Covey, Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, James Allen, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

Brazil, Portugal, Spain, Mexico

My Favorite Products/Objects?

Drums & Instruments

My Current Passions?

Music, both creating and listening