Women In Wellness: Holly Harding of O’o Hawaii On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support…

Women In Wellness: Holly Harding of O’o Hawaii On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Get out in nature. Exposure your bare skin to the sun. Yep, I said it. Moderate sun exposure can increase your immunity, your mood and it can kill off unnecessary viruses and bacteria that your skin may carry. What is moderate? That varies from person to person. It may be 15 minutes for some or an hour for others.

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Holly Harding.

Holly Harding, INHC, AADP is an integrative wellness professional who helps clients be their healthiest self through whole food based nutrition and mind body alignment. After realizing there was an obvious disconnect between internal nutrition and external skincare, Holly developed O’o Hawaii as a simplified regimen to bridge that internal/external gap, specifically using Hawaii’s nutrient rich, volcanic ash grown antioxidants.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I started off my professional career as a classical musician playing in symphonies, chamber ensembles and all sorts of different venues. I even started my own music entertainment agency where I would book out myself and other groups for gigs all over the country. I simultaneously taught students and held down a full-time corporate marketing job. My early 20s were busy to say the least. After moving to Hawaii for my husband’s saxophone job, we started Bubble Shack Hawaii, a bath and body company with Hawaii grown ingredients. After 10 years of running that business, we sold it and I went back to nutrition school. I then started my health coaching business, The H Lyfe Method and O’o Hawaii. I’ve lived in Hawaii for almost 20 years and am an avid surfer, mountain biker, skateboarder and CrossFitter.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

There have been so many things I could talk about here but the first thing that comes to mind is how everything in life comes full circle. O’o Hawaii is really the culmination of my entire life’s work. For 10 years I owned a bath and body company where I learned about formulation and the ends and outs of business development and operations but dreamed of starting a skincare line. When my passions started moving in the direction of health and wellness, I sold that company and began working in the health coaching field. I’ve also been very involved in animal rescue over the years. Realizing there was a disconnect between internal nutrition and external skincare, I decided to create an integrative line of skincare that features an internal dietary supplement and external skincare products and my entire company acts as a vessel to help animals.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

My very first business, Bubble Shack Hawaii, was a bath and body company. In the beginning I was so worried about having inventory to sell that I overpurchased lots of packaging. Over the course of the first year, we learned many things about our customers, market trends and our products and realized we needed to tweak several things within our packaging, but we had so many bottles and labels!

Lesson Learned: Start more conservatively with purchasing in the first 1–2 years and learn from the market and your customers. You’ll most definitely have to tweak something along the way.

Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

I believe food is life and many people, through no fault of their own, have watched helplessly as their own health has derailed as a result of basic food choices. When a person changes their diet to predominantly whole foods from nature and eats the right food for their body type, their entire life can change. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. As more and more people began to see through corporate food marketing and move towards more whole foods-based diets, the cycle connected to the breakdown of society that starts at the top with big money food manufactures, will start to break down. If you peel back the layers, food can be highly oppressive. Everything from ADD to autoimmune conditions and behavioral issues in children can be traced back to diet. There’s a really great documentary that was just released called “They’re Trying to Kill Us” that I would highly recommend checking out. It’s produced by NBA All-Star Chris Paul and Billie Eilish and really opens your eyes to just how our food system contributes to keeping the oppressed, oppressed.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

For optimum health it’s imperative to regulate your sleep and eating. Eating meals at the same time every day along with going to bed and waking up at the same time puts your body on a clock. Having an internal clock is key for digestion and maintaining a reasonable weight. It also keeps your circadian rhythm in check. Keep your sleeping room, dark and cool is also critical for most people to enter REM sleep. On average 7–8 hours of sleep is the most ideal.

Exercise Daily. I can’t stress this enough. Exercise releases endorphins, strengthens immunity, strengths cardiovascular health and contributes to weight management. Weight training strengthens bones, increases testosterone which provides energy, helps reduce fat and also increases circulation, which can take years off of your appearance. Want to look younger? Lift weights.

Find out what foods are best for your body type. Inflammation is a buzz word these days and avoiding foods that create inflammation in our bodies is key to feeling well and fighting disease.

Get out in nature. Exposure your bare skin to the sun. Yep, I said it. Moderate sun exposure can increase your immunity, your mood and it can kill off unnecessary viruses and bacteria that your skin may carry. What is moderate? That varies from person to person. It may be 15 minutes for some or an hour for others.

Enjoy your work. If you don’t enjoy the work you are doing, which encompasses the majority of your day, you need to find a different way to make a living.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

O’o Hawaii and H Lyfe are my third and fourth businesses that I’ve owned. So, I can tell you I’ve had my share of success and failure.

  1. Start slow and strategic. Don’t try and grow too fast.
  2. Don’t try and be everything to everyone. Find your niche and your people will come.
  3. You usually need more start up funds than you anticipate.
  4. Don’t let perfection get in the way of getting started.
  5. Take strategic risks, be yourself and be bold. Your people will come.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

I’d say it’s a tossup between living predominantly plant based and mental health. I ‘m a big animal advocate and believe in protecting animals on all levels. I’m heavily involved in dog rescue and O’o Hawaii is named after the extinct Hawaiian ʻōʻō bird. We give back a portion of every sale to the Keahou Bird Conservation Center on Hawaii Island that works to protect and preserve the native bird species of Hawaii.

I also believe that a focus on mental health is more important now than ever before. With the many extra stresses people have been under for almost two years now, it’s really taking a toll on so many. Finding ways to separate from or even compartmentalize stresses can be key in being able to push through and even thrive in a challenging environment.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

On IG @oohawaiibeauty and @hlyfemethod

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Women In Wellness: Holly Harding of O’o Hawaii On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Producer Matthew Head: They Told Me It Was Impossible And I Did It Anyway

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Your Network is Your Net Worth: Very cliche… but so true. My network is my net worth. Most of my projects come through word of mouth and from previous projects I’ve worked on. In my eyes, business is personal, people want to do business with people they know and trust.

As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Matthew Head.

Matthew Head is an Emmy, NAACP Image, and Peabody Award-winning and Grammy-nominated music producer and composer. Based in his hometown of Marietta, Georgia, Head’s work includes ABC’s upcoming hip hop drama Queens, OWN’s Greenleaf, the Halle Berry and Lena Waithe-produced Boomerang on BET, P-Valley on Starz, PBS and WETA’s The Black Church: The is Our Story, This is Our Song, Lifetime’s Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia, and after collaborating with Timbaland on Step Up: High Water season 2, is now the sole music producer for season 3 of the hit Starz series. With over 75 credits, Head has the unique ability to move an audience through music; to take a scene and accentuate key moments to increase the intensity of a line, word, glance, or motion.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?

I was born and raised in Marietta, Georgia (suburb of Atlanta). My parents wanted me to be involved with the arts and enrolled me in piano lessons at the age of 5. After 8 years of piano lessons, I started creating my own music. It was a fun hobby that allowed me to be creative. I attended Savannah State University and continued to create music on my own and I began to write/produce for local indie artists. After college, I started writing instrumentals and would put them on a cd to pass out. I didn’t care where the music would land, I just wanted people to hear my work. The instrumentals landed in the hands of a local film company, which led me to score my first film. That opened the doors and windows of opportunities in the film and television world. With my music production background and film composition, it created my own lane and I was hired to produce and compose music for many life changing projects.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, there are a couple of projects that I am working on that I am really excited about. I love working on projects that tell our (African Americans) stories. There are a few documentaries (that I can’t mention yet…) I am composing the music for and they are great. Both documentaries are both based on hidden figures in the African American community. They are very educational and newsworthy and can’t wait until they are officially released.

In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?

Matthew Head Productions is a company that wants to inspire others to understand the difference between their gifts and passions. Your gifts will make room for you. We are all born with gifts/special talents and understanding them and using them will allow you to pursue your passions. My formula: Gifts + Passions = Dream…. Living the dream is the goal.

Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?

Though I never had anyone tell me it will be impossible for me to have a successful career as a film composer…. I’ve had people say that I should move to Los Angeles to have a meaningful career in the entertainment business. I’ve decided to stay in Atlanta, because I wanted to establish roots and bring attention to musicians, composers, and producers outside of “Hollywood.” I didn’t take my talents for granted. I understood that each project was an opportunity to show and prove my talent and worth. I still carry that attitude today.

In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? 🙂

To be honest… I just keep going and let the work speak for itself… LOL.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have a very small support system that has pushed me and supported me throughout the years. My wife has been the head of my support system since we’ve been together. She sparks my creative spirit, and I am grateful for her. Being a wife/partner to a musician in the entertainment industry is challenging and stressful, but she handles everything with class and respect. She’s held down me and our household as I pursue my career. We have a true partnership.

It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?

To be honest, ignoring the naysayers is natural to me. I am a very positive and optimistic person, so I never hear the drama from others. I stay focused on the end goal and continue to work hard in my field. Both my parents pushed me to always trust my instincts and trust my talents. That keeps me going…

Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)

Five strategies that worked for me….

  1. Trust Your Gut: We are all born with intuition and knowing what’s right and wrong and/or what is for us. Understanding that our gut is our spirit guiding us. When it comes to the naysayers, listen to your gut and let your inner spirit guide you in the direction.
  2. Stay In Your Lane: I am a huge believer in staying in your lane and not getting in the way… which can lead to you getting in the way of your own success. Throughout my career, I’ve received more opportunities by understanding and knowing my role on a particular project. Staying in my lane gains the trust of many.
  3. Integrity: Your integrity is your reputation… Your reputation in your resume. Showing good integrity allowed me to be in rooms that I never thought I would be in. My goal is to gain the trust with everyone I do business with and having good and honest intentions helps me reach that goal.
  4. Your Network is Your Net Worth: Very cliche… but so true. My network is my net worth. Most of my projects come through word of mouth and from previous projects I’ve worked on. In my eyes, business is personal, people want to do business with people they know and trust.
  5. Your Gifts vs. Your Passion = Your Dreams: At a young age, I understood that we are born with special talents (gifts). Those gifts/talents are given to us to give away and bless others. The doors will open for you and your gift will make room for you. Combining your gifts/talents with your passions (something you love) will allow you to live your dreams. That is the goal… Live your dreams and you’ll never “work” again.

What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?

MH: I have several quotes, but one that stands out to me is, “You do good, you get good.” I am a huge believer in karma and what you put out, you’ll get back to you. Staying optimistic and thinking positive thoughts keeps the stress and worry clear.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

MH: I am a former school teacher and I am very passionate about a quality education for our students. Our education system is struggling, especially within the African American community. Starting a mentor program and guidance for the youth is definitely needed. Our future as a nation depends on it.

Can our readers follow you on social media?

MH: Yes, please follow me on all socials @mattheadmusic

Thank you for these great stories. We wish you only continued success!


Producer Matthew Head: They Told Me It Was Impossible And I Did It Anyway was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Founders: Becca Schepps of Mortal Kombucha On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed…

Female Founders: Becca Schepps of Mortal Kombucha On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Sometimes say no — Taking time for yourself isn’t slacking. Sometimes you have to say no, push off an event, postpone a meeting so you can take care of yourself. There was a summer where I, without exaggeration, worked 7 days a week, sometimes physical labor with the brewing and production process, for 3 months. I was absolutely broken at the end. I wish I pulled back a bit. Having the space to recharge gives you new perspectives and could have opened different doors. Rather I was like a juggernaut barreling through walls.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Becca Schepps.

After growing up swimming, jumping out of half built houses onto dirt piles, ducking from soccer balls and playing backyard spud, Becca Schepps graduated to becoming a Cat 1/2 crit racer and co-owner of the team LA Sweat, a women’s cycling team equally dedicated to femininity and badassery. So, when she was diagnosed as a Type 1 Diabetic she was a bit shocked, and started searching for a re-hydrating solution after races that wouldn’t wobble her insulin levels. Cut to finding kombucha, falling in love with it, and creating her own badass booch empire: Mortal Kombucha.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

My background is as a Creative Director/Copywriter in advertising. I honestly love working in advertising. I love the creativity and possibility of creating something from nothing and bringing it to life. I think it’s always how my mind worked. As a kid I was always the one who wanted to transform everything I did into an experience, even studying for spelling tests. I would film myself studying and pretend it was a gameshow. I like to think I would have been youtube famous if I was born now, or I would have been a disaster.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

It’s pretty mundane, but I now can operate heavy machinery. I now am the proud owner of a forklift operator license and OSHA certified. But this doesn’t mean that I didn’t somehow damage a $10,000 door with the forklift. Oof.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The forklift accidents can be used as a metaphor. I became very skilled at driving the forklift. And always, just when I was zipping around moving pallets of bottles, ingredients and vessels and I hit max confidence, something disastrous would happen, like when I broke that door. Basically the takeaway is you’re never too experienced to take a moment, become aware of your surroundings and slow down before you take action.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Oh man, so many people helped so many different aspects of my business. There were people who gave me a shot and became our first stores. There were people who opened up their commercial spaces so we had somewhere to make our product. There are the countless founders, CEOs and the likes that listened to me explain my problems and help think up solutions. That all said — we could have never started if we didn’t have a store — so for that I have to give big thanks to Biju Thomas. He had these amazing restaurants called Biju’s Little Curry Shop. I knew Biju through cycling and he became one of our first vendors. I remember going in to present him my kombucha and I believe we still had handwritten labels, no UPC or a full ingredient list on the packaging. He took it in and helped me get my ducks in a row. He introduced me to the person who landed us in Wholefoods, and found us more stores, and even helped find investors as we got bigger. He is 100% a major mentor and someone I look up to.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

I think women communicate differently than men and the boardroom is currently full of men. As a result there’s often a mismatch of communication styles. This mismatch also leads to differently valuing how someone leads and commands an organization.

There’s also this realization that I had the other day. I was asked by someone what I do. I told them I had a beverage company and they followed up by asking me what my husband did. When it happened I thought the follow up was weird. As I thought about it a bit more I realized they were asking me that because the way I answered they assumed it was a cute hobby and I was supported by my husband, which is not the case. A similar thing happened when I was looking for commercial real estate when we were looking to build out a production facility. Even though I am the earner of my household from this business and past businesses, this landlord asked what my husband did and followed it with questions where it was obvious he was seeing if my husband was supporting my cute hobby. I don’t know how to combat this assumption.

I don’t know if it’s a female thing, or how I present myself. It’s very frustrating and I believe it closes some doors on opportunities. However I don’t know if I would want to be involved with people that hold this stereotype about a woman in business. On the flip side there are males involved with Mortal that I feel the utmost respect from, and I’m glad to be involved with these people.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

I think we need to stop engaging with people who uphold these values.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

We think differently. We solve problems differently. We find problems to solve that a man might not ever think of. I think a good example of this is what’s being done out of MIT Hackathon where they’re committed to not making breast pumps suck.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

You can’t have it all. I was very nervous because I knew we were going into raising a round of investment, when I was pregnant. I worried from stories I heard that people wouldn’t take me seriously, that people wouldn’t think I would be as committed post childbirth. I would like to say — I think it was an asset. It helped us find people that shared our company values, that honored women and put family first. No one questioned my commitment to my company or thought I would be distracted. And honestly, anyone that thinks bearing a child is a distraction wouldn’t be the right fit for a partner for us.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

Having a relentless curiosity is crucial for being a founder. You have to learn so many aspects of a business. Like if your background is in engineering, as a founder, the next thing you know you’re going to be a semi-expert in supply chain management, revenue flow, and branding. You also need to be someone that brings solutions, not problems to the table. You have to see setbacks as opportunities. You also have to have a short memory for the things that suck and really be able to celebrate the wins.

No job is “regular” — but yes, I believe some people are better primed to support and uplift a company than build it from the ground. I think if you’re someone who can be an evangelist to the company you work for, and truly believe in it’s mission full throttle without the need to reinvent it, you’ll make a great employee.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Always say yes — One of our brand values is “figure out a way to yes” — it opens up opportunities and forces creative problem solving. Nothing is impossible, it just hasn’t been solved yet.
  2. Sometimes say no — Taking time for yourself isn’t slacking. Sometimes you have to say no, push off an event, postpone a meeting so you can take care of yourself. There was a summer where I, without exaggeration, worked 7 days a week, sometimes physical labor with the brewing and production process, for 3 months. I was absolutely broken at the end. I wish I pulled back a bit. Having the space to recharge gives you new perspectives and could have opened different doors. Rather I was like a juggernaut barreling through walls.
  3. “Going all in” means something different for everyone. — In the beginning a founder who I admired asked me if I was “all in.” He asked if I was still taking freelance projects or was my focus purely on Mortal. I told him I was all in, and I was still taking projects. He told me that wasn’t all in. I strongly disagree. For me having no financial worries alleviated me from the stress of mortgages and real life hard costs. It allowed me to take care of my family so I could take risks with my business. I think going ‘all in’ is a mindset, and it’s not always 100% physical.
  4. Keep in touch — you never know who can help you solve your next problem, or the problem you don’t even know you’re going to have yet. So much of success is built on a delicate balance of hustle, execution and good old fashion luck. A breakthrough moment could happen because someone was standing in the right place, talking about the right thing at the right time.
  5. There’s always a pony — This is a metaphor from my parents. Basically, there will be setbacks. There will be failures. You will step in horse crap. And when you do, don’t look at the horsecrap. Don’t feel bad for yourself. Don’t even wipe it off. Realize stepping in crap means there is a pony nearby. And ponies are awesome. Find the pony. Hop on. Gallop towards greener pastures. And continue the wild ride of entrepreneurship.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

That’s hard to say. I own a beverage company. Our product brings joy to people. And I hope how we started from nothing and have become something has inspired people to take their own leaps and follow their own dreams. I don’t know if that’s truly making the world a better place, but I would like to think, happier people make a better world.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Serena Williams and Alex Ohanian. I know the question is for one, but I couldn’t write one without the other. I love these two. I love what they do and stand for individually and together. I love how they don’t just preach, but take action on their values. I love what Alex Ohanian is doing in the VC world. My husband was a professional athlete and his work with depression is very moving and person to me. And with Serena, oh I’m such a fan. I actually have a giant photo of Serena Williams focusing on a tennis ball in my office hanging on the wall right behind my computer. My husband gave it to me for an anniversary gift. *blushing*

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Either of the women listed above, for all of those reasons.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Female Founders: Becca Schepps of Mortal Kombucha On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Women In Wellness: Stephanie Harris-Uyidi of The Posh Pescatarian On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That…

Women In Wellness: Stephanie Harris-Uyidi of The Posh Pescatarian On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Eat well! Food is fuel and I believe that the better we eat the better we feel. Enjoying seafood at least twice a week, plus a diet of whole grains, fruits and vegetables is part of this equation.

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephanie Harris-Uyidi.

Stephanie Harris-Uyidi, AKA: The Posh Pescatarian, is the producer and charismatic host of the popular travel-adventure-cooking TV series, The Posh Pescatarian: Appetite for Adventure! The show airs in more than 15 countries, and season two is on the way!

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

After discovering that the pescatarian diet made me feel the best, I have successfully lived the pescatarian lifestyle for over 20 years. I am a sustainable seafood enthusiast with a passion for spreading the word about the benefits of eating a plant-based diet supplemented with fish and seafood. My unique style of cooking demonstrates how easy it can be to make simple, yet adventurous seafood dishes: from Spicy Yucatan Fruit Salad to Caribbean Salt Cod Fritters to Ethiopian Berbere.

I only eat seafood 3–4 days per week and not at every meal. I focus on international recipes and also worked with a nutritionist at the beginning of the process, to safely transition. First, I experienced low energy and was not feeling like myself. I then worked with my nutritionist, removing several foods from my diet and later slowly reintroduced them back into my life. After some time, we realized that the pescatarian diet made me feel best and I have followed the lifestyle since then! I then decided to create a lifestyle guide for people looking to transition into a healthy, active, meat-free way of living, called The Posh Pescatarian.

I am also the producer and charismatic host of the popular travel-cooking-adventure series Appetite for Adventure! The show airs in over 15 countries, including the U.S. Additionally, I am the author of The Posh Pescatarian: A Collection of my Favorite Sustainable Seafood Recipes with my second cookbook scheduled to be released next year.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

This is an interesting question because even with all of my experience working in the entertainment industry, my education and industry contacts, producing and delivering 24 episodes of my show “Appetite for Adventure!” on my own gave me heart burn! Especially when the show took off internationally and I had to meet dozens of different global production specs. This was a costly and time-consuming lesson. What I learned is seeking counsel from experts upfront, can save a lot of time and money.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One of the biggest mistakes that I made early on was trying to do everything on my own. At one point I was simultaneously working a day-job, developing a website, writing a cookbook and producing and hosting a TV series. I was burning the candle at both ends and it took a toll on my overall wellbeing and mental health, ultimately resulting in burnout and boredom. Once I recognized what was happening, I checked in with my doctor and she gave me “permission” to be still for a while and to take time to play — sewing, Pilates, yoga, roller skating, etc. I learned that taking a step back to evaluate my life was just want I needed to rekindle my fire. I also hired help and gave myself a little grace with deadlines.

Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

I’ve been a pescatarian for more than 20 years now. Once I learned that I could be responsible for eating the last abalone, red snapper or shark on the planet, my focus turned to promoting sustainable seafood.

If the topic is new to you, sustainable seafood is caught or cultivated in a way that takes the health of our oceans and long-term viability of the species into consideration and has minimal environmental and social impact. I have partnered with brands like Baja Shellfish Farm, Wild Planet Foods, Pescavore and others to educate and create approachable and sustainable seafood recipes.

The work that I do is helping to preserve the health of our oceans and is having an impact on the sustainably of species and communities around the globe. For example, National Geographic recently reported that several tuna species are no longer critically endangered.

(Source: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/good-news-for-tuna-populations-in-latest-iucn-update).

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

  1. Eat well! Food is fuel and I believe that the better we eat the better we feel. Enjoying seafood at least twice a week, plus a diet of whole grains, fruits and vegetables is part of this equation.
  2. Move your body everyday– I’ve been an athlete of some sort since childhood thanks to parents. Starting with ballet, tap and jazz lessons from the age of 6 and progressing to tennis, Pilates, weightlifting and boxing through the years. Exercise releases feel good endorphins and promotes good mood, a healthy heart, flexibility and muscle tone.
  3. Ask for help — Admitting that I couldn’t do everything on my own was difficult. Once I made peace with it, I hired the right help and my world opened up.
  4. Spend time in nature — Imbibe beauty as nutrition! An apple a day keeps the doctor away and being in the presence of something beautiful daily can be therapeutic. Get your toes in the sand, fingers in the garden or just take a walk in the most natural environment possible. Some studies show that being in nature can enhance healing. (Source: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/nature-that-nurtures/(
  5. Set and maintain boundaries — A key to securing my wellbeing is setting boundaries and expectations with family, friends and colleagues. For me, this translates into going off the grid several times a month, taking vacation and saying “no” to invitations that don’t fit my schedule.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I have started a micro-movement within my family that promotes making sustainably sourced home cooked meals. There are so many benefits to this way of living including being more mindful of what we’re putting in our bodies, it can bring family and friends together, we use healthier ingredients and there is less temptation to consume higher calorie foods, to name a few. I know it sounds simple but the act of putting a homecooked meal on the table and sharing it with family and friends can be life changing.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. Remember to be nice to yourself along the way. Amplify the positive self-talk and press mute on the internal “mean girl” chatter.
  2. Hire good help! I learned that I could not do it alone. Assemble a good team and delegate.
  3. Love what you do. Understand that you will live with a project for a long time, make sure you love it and have the fortitude to stick it out.
  4. Trust your instincts and intuition. If it feels right, it probably is. If you get the creeps, run!
  5. Practice gratitude and thanks daily. Giving thanks and gratitude when journaling or during meditation sessions can make all the difference on your life’s perspective.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Mental health and environmental changes are both important topics for me. I am deeply involved in both movements.

Mental health issues related to daily stress to severe depression and beyond can wreak havoc on families and careers. I often see it appear on social media with rants and fits of rage. I work within my community to help reduce the stigma of mental health issues and encourage people to seek help.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Readers can find me online at:

Website: https://poshpescatarian.com

Instagram: @theposhpescatarian

Facebook: @poshpescatarian

YouTube: The Posh Pescatarian

Thank you for these fantastic insights!


Women In Wellness: Stephanie Harris-Uyidi of The Posh Pescatarian On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Founders: Amy Nesheim Of Artful Contracts On The Five Things You Need to Thrive and Succeed…

Female Founders: Amy Nesheim Of Artful Contracts On The Five Things You Need to Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

It’s going to take longer than you think (and that’s okay). Part of the special sauce of being a founder is an innate sense of believing in the vision you’re bringing to life. That optimism and the pervasive stories of overnight success make it easy to be unrealistic when it comes to timelines and goals for your business. If it’s taking longer than you thought to get started, don’t give up.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Nesheim.

Amy Nesheim is a corporate lawyer turned online entrepreneur and founder of Artful Contracts. She started Artful Contracts because she believes that all business owners, no matter the size of the business or how successful, should have access to high-quality legal resources without going into debt over massive legal fees. She’s on a mission to make the legal aspects of online business accessible to everyone, so entrepreneurs can grow their businesses faster and with more confidence.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I became a lawyer because I wanted to help people. At the end of college, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do yet, but I knew I wanted to be in a position to change things for the better. I thought getting a law degree would give me the leverage to do that. But after law school, I ended up in a small local law firm working with real estate developers and other local small businesses.

I quickly realized that the traditional legal model worked well for established business owners, but so many more businesses were falling through the cracks. Most of the businesses I helped with contracts had been using something they had put together themselves for years because it was too expensive to come in during their startup phase.

Right now, the law is not designed to be accessible. Our legal system is slow to evolve, slow to change, and that means lawyers are out of touch with modern business owners. The only way to access legal knowledge is to walk into a fancy, intimidating lobby, make a sit-down, in-person appointment with a grey-haired man who won’t take your plans seriously, and drain your wallet trying to explain your online business to someone who refuses to use email.

Many people, especially women, would rather avoid that whole process entirely, which leaves them open to huge legal risks. In my entire time at that law firm, I only worked with one female business owner. Every other client was male, white, and over 50.

The traditional legal model didn’t allow me to help people in the way I had always wanted, so I decided to meet online business owners where they’re at by lowering the barrier to entry. This includes providing legal education in their environment, making it easy to actually figure out what they need, and making it inexpensive to protect their businesses so they can get started with confidence.

If my business helps one person who never would have been able to afford $300+ per hour legal fees or never wanted to step foot into that fancy lobby, I’ve done my job. And if I can begin to change the way the legal industry functions entirely, even better.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

In the comments section of one of my advertisements on social media, a man accused me of using my looks to sell legal products. The photo accompanying the ad was a headshot of me smiling, wearing a crew-neck top — no skin showing, nothing risqué about it. This of course sparked a fierce debate in the comments with many women coming to my defense and calling this man a pig. I decided that internet trolls are just a sign that I’ve actually made it.

This experience highlighted for me the types of struggles that women still face as business owners that men just don’t have to deal with. As a young lawyer, I had to be hyper-aware of the clothes I wore to the office so that my male clients would take me seriously, and they still made remarks about my age and qualifications because I didn’t look like a “lawyer” to them. The same is true when a female founder applies for a business loan or VC funding. And as much as we try, this perception issue isn’t going to be solved by wearing dark colors or fancy suits.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I make mistakes all the time. As a business owner, many of those mistakes are very visible — broken links, wrong dates/times for events, uploading the wrong version of a video, etc. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that while some people will always tear you down for it, for the most part, people are kind and forgiving. They understand that founders are people too and mistakes happen. Every time I make a mistake, I receive a polite message pointing it out, saying “I’d like to know if it was me” or “Was this intentional?” Mistakes are a part of life, and the bigger goals you set, the bigger mistakes you’ll make. But there will always be kind people to support you and forgive you for it.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am so grateful to my parents. I quit my job and started this business with no backup plan. I could tell they didn’t understand what I was doing at all at first, but they always supported me. They couldn’t see my vision, but they trusted that I had one and had the ability to bring it to life. Feeling that support and faith gave me extra drive on the hard days. Now, my mom is my bookkeeper! Having someone who I trust to help bear the cognitive load of balancing the financial aspects of business has been such a weight off my shoulders.

Intentionally building community and asking for help from people with similar aspirations has also been vital to my success. I am part of a small group of female business owners in the online education space — we meet virtually every week to talk through issues we’re having in business, new projects and goals, and simply support each other in the highs and lows of building a business. Being part of a community of strong women who understand the challenges of being a female founder has been invaluable to me.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

‘Entrepreneur’ isn’t one of the career paths that is presented to us as children in school. So much of education still centers around skills necessary to be a good employee, and that emphasis does not encourage entrepreneurship. For women, this effect is compounded because there are so few female founders for girls to look up to. It also comes down to belief in ourselves — in the same way that women don’t ask for raises, they don’t ask for funding. And that funding is in turn harder to get because investors don’t see many female entrepreneurs and end up undervaluing women-led businesses.

I think it’s also impossible to talk about the challenges or roadblocks female founders face without addressing the imbalance in home responsibilities that still exists. Being a founder requires dedication and sacrifice that many women aren’t in a position to make. Until we can create true balance in the expectations and burdens placed upon men and women at home, there will always be fewer female founders.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

As women, we need to be cognizant of how traditional notions seep into our perceptions of what a founder should be. I got the same comments about my age and my looks from older female lawyers that I did from male clients. We need to be conscious of the way we talk about other women and use our words to empower each other. That includes the way we talk about our female neighbor’s “little side hustle” as opposed to our male cousin’s “new business venture.” Words and perceptions matter.

As consumers, we can support women-owned businesses and businesses that strive to remove the traditional barriers for women to advance.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder, but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

More women should become founders because it gives us the power to lift other people up. It may seem small, but the impact a founder can have on their own team is priceless to each of those individuals.

For my own company, I want to create a culture that always respects my team as human beings and the lives that we live outside the company. As a founder, I get to help my team live their lives in a way that is meaningful to them. That includes 6-hour workdays so they can be with their kids after school, lots of vacation and holiday time, and discouraging work outside the workday.

If there are more of us who value our team members as whole people instead of just for the work they can do in the office, we may be able to create a cultural shift that will alleviate some of the imbalance in higher positions that stem from women needing to care for the demands of home life.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

I think the myth that holds people back the most from becoming a founder is the idea that they don’t know enough, either about business or their own area of expertise. No founder knows everything when they’re getting started. A business degree doesn’t guarantee success. Neither does a high level of expertise in your field. The best way to learn is through experience, and the only way to get experience being a founder is to do it.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

I honestly don’t think everyone is cut out to be a founder, and that’s okay. Every founder needs a great team supporting and implementing their vision. A team is at its best when each team member is playing to their strengths. For a founder, those strengths are resilience, risk tolerance, and vision.

Founders are resilient. They see failure as a learning opportunity and a chance to try something new. The fact is, most businesses fail. A founder is someone who looks at that fact and finds it freeing rather than demoralizing because they know they have a few chances to get it right. If the first business plan doesn’t work out, that’s okay because most don’t, and they’ll just try again having learned a few things along the way.

Founders also need a very high tolerance for risk. Again, there’s no guarantee that any business plan will work out. Some people need the security of a steady paycheck or want to check out at the end of the workday. Founders prefer that instability, which they often see as a possibility, to the constraints of a “regular job”.

I also think the most successful founders have vision. They have a purpose and a passion that drives them to create their business. While that could be some bigger mission for changing the world, it could also be a vision for how they live their own life.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. It’s going to take longer than you think (and that’s okay). Part of the special sauce of being a founder is an innate sense of believing in the vision you’re bringing to life. That optimism and the pervasive stories of overnight success make it easy to be unrealistic when it comes to timelines and goals for your business. If it’s taking longer than you thought to get started, don’t give up.
  2. There’s no such thing as failure, only learning opportunities. Successful founders look at what other people would consider failures as opportunities to find another path or improve upon what went wrong. Success comes from analyzing, finding the problem, and addressing it. Not from giving up and pivoting after every perceived failure. Even if the entire business model crashes and burns, you’ve still learned a lot from all the work you put in.
  3. You don’t have to do it alone. The saying “it’s lonely at the top” is never more true than with founders. The founder carries the vision, builds the culture, implements new ideas, develops products…all of it. Especially in this age of “solopreneurs,” it’s so easy to think you have to do everything yourself. It’s ingrained in us from a young age that only the product of our personal effort counts toward our success. But successful founders know this is a trap — they rely on people who have strengths they lack to round out their company and take their vision to even greater heights. Dan Sullivan’s book Who Not How explains this perfectly and really helped me shed the notion that I had to do it all myself.
  4. But at the same time, no one else is going to do it for you. The biggest learning curve stepping into the founder role is that suddenly, no one else is telling you what to do. There is no right way to start a company. And suddenly, there is no boss dictating priorities. I had to learn to be disciplined in only working on the things that would truly move the needle for my business and ignore the things that were more fun or interesting, or just related to vanity metrics rather than true growth.
  5. You can only grow what you can measure. I’m not the first person to say this and I won’t be the last. Business is a numbers game and knowing your numbers is the only way to make sure they’re growing on a consistent basis. This applies to action items as well as financial figures, and each member of the team should know the numbers they’re striving for on a daily or weekly basis.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I founded my company with the mission of making the legal aspects of starting a business more accessible to everyone, so any success I have furthers that mission. I think creating more equitable access to legal knowledge is an integral part of empowering more women and other people who are not well-served by the traditional legal model to start their own businesses.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

In keeping with my mission, I would love to see a shift in the legal system to make it more accessible to everyone. Access to justice is a huge issue that has a reaching impact across all areas of society. In the business world, increasing access to legal resources would help more people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to start successful, sustainable businesses. In other areas, decreasing the burden of legal access would help people reach more equitable resolutions to tenant disputes, family matters, disability access, and other issues that disproportionately impact low-income populations.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I would love to meet Megan Hyatt Miller. She’s a successful CEO of a company that grew from one person and she still prioritizes her family and creates intentional margin in her life. She exemplifies the balance that I strive for in her personal life and in the company culture that she helped create.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this


Female Founders: Amy Nesheim Of Artful Contracts On The Five Things You Need to Thrive and Succeed… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Founders: Fran Berrick On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

A vision you can share with others — You must have a goal and be able to communicate it to others in aid of support and business growth. Developing my business in the UK or Spearmint now would not have been possible without the support of the teams I work/worked with or clients who retained me. You need to communicate well to develop momentum.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Fran Berrick, Founder and Career Coach of Spearmint Coaching.

Fran Berrick is a career catalyst who helps professionals launch their careers, seasoned executives pivot and transition into new roles and senior leaders develop the skills they need to go further. Her mission is a simple one: helping successful people achieve and sustain positive professional change and growth. An accomplished business leader and entrepreneur, Fran has worked with — and advised — notable global brands, organizations, and their leaders across all executive levels and she understands the constant challenge of improving performance and meeting goals.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I think what fueled my drive and ambition is fairly typical: my parents, who were amazing people went from relative comfort to having the lights turned out when I was in my early teens. The trauma of this experience forced me to understand the importance of self-reliance and the value of money: what it is like to have, and not to have- at a very young age. I watched my mother return to work– a complete professional/life transition in her 40’s (and after she would return to college to earn a degree in her 50’s!) and following 7 years of bitter legal battles my father relaunch his career, successfully and give 110% to overcoming the seemingly insurmountable legal bills and other setbacks he experienced. There was no one as “glass half full” as my dad! When others would have simply closed shop, he carried on with no loss of self-respect or optimism. As an adolescent, it was painful to watch but it was formative in my belief that humans have the capacity to grow, overcome and learn from their struggles and set and achieve new goals. My Dad was my first and best coach. His unshakeable belief in my abilities, consistent encouragement and ability to ask questions that led me to discover the best way forward shaped who I am today.

Until I was 21 my passion was performing, not academics. I was accepted into of the most prestigious theatre/acting conservatory programs at a top university on audition alone. To be frank, I wasn’t prepared for the rigor or the competitive nature of the program and really crashed and burned while there. It was a humbling experience to accept that as much as my identity was as a performer (no one disputed my talent) the lifestyle didn’t align with values at that time. I transferred to Emerson college as a Communications major and had great success in sales, one of my side hustles for 3 years during college. After graduation, I decided to go into advertising sales. I tried the agency side in planning but the $12,000 they offered post grad just wasn’t going to cut it. One solid contact my parents had was a senior media director who at first said I would need to work AT LEAST two years in planning/buying before I was ready to make the transition. This was one of the first memories I have of someone, a man I trusted, saying “hang on”, “hold up”, “not so fast”, and me deciding I know what it takes and have what I need to try. Fearless! I convinced him to introduce me to a headhunter-who was super connected and he soft-peddled me to Larry Burstein then Publisher of NYMagazine. Fast forward 7 years later and I was the youngest ever (at the time), Advertising Director of Vanity Fair. This was when Tina Brown and Graydon Carter were Editor in Chief and every move we made was under immense scrutiny. That high profile experience was SOME learning curve, not without its personal hits and misses. I moved permanently to the UK to be with my British husband in 1993 and had a successful career in corporate media, founding my own company GoMedia Sales. In 2008, the market and media world were in upheaval as it largely moved to digital. This coincided with the personal decision to, after 15 years in London relocate our family to the US. I dabbled for a nano second in Real Estate, looked at other sales opportunities, but ended up right back in ad sales working for a one of my favorite mentors. For many reasons, it was clear after 25 years in sales, it was time to find my 2.0. Using the process, I use now with those looking to pivot I decided to formalize my experience as a coach. People have sought me out for wise counsel, direction, to help them fix their professional challenges all my life. I decided on an academic grounding at NYU and have been working as a coach ever since. In 2018 I founded Spearmint Coaching.

Two quotes I love regarding resiliency and perceived failure are from Winston Churchill:

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It’s the courage to continue that counts.”

“Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm”

No Founder I know has not experienced some form of failure in their lives. Your responsibility is to learn what you can from it; accept your contribution, forgive others for theirs and move on.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

How Spearmint came to be is super interesting. I never thought my business would be propelled by a surge of work with young professionals. I planned, prepped and marketed myself to serve senior leaders and CEOs, because in my previous roles, I understood their challenges and immensely admired the work of coaches like Marshall Goldsmith. But when I hung my shingle, my immediate network of friends, friends of friends and family asked if I could offer their college senior some career guidance, or their 23–24-year-old re-launch or transition successfully. I wandered in the halls of corporate HR for about 18 months, until realized this is where my focus should be. Working with young people is tremendously gratifying and that’s been the biggest surprise. I love it. If I had been mentally rigid and not read the tea leaves, I would have missed out on this.

My mentor at NYU once said to me, “you don’t find your coaching practice, it finds you.” And that is what happened.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I finished my Executive Coaching studies at NYU, (all full of knowledge and vigor!) the first people I reached out to were those who knew me as a sales leader and entrepreneur. I had a reputation in ad sales as a result oriented, somewhat intense, fixer and producer, yet I assumed that people would be able to see me in my new role as a career coach. A woman I had a good working relationship with said to me, “I just can’t see you in this.” The company she was working at used coaches all the time, but she couldn’t envision me as one. I thought I could just sell my way into my coaching practice like I did in ad sales. The lesson was that changing people’s perspective takes time, you need to be strategic and play the long game. It doesn’t happen overnite but it if you are committed it will happen. Ironically after founding Spearmint, I was retained by a leading digital media company for various leadership coaching engagements. They saw me as someone who (correctly!) got what they did and had the chops to help their team. My corporate work in outplacement is a direct result of patient commitment to long term goals.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There have been so many people and I am so grateful for that! You are always going to have different mentors at different stages of your career. But, if I had to be grateful to those specifically, it would be my sisters. They have been my wisest advisors and safe harbor, always. Every founder needs some unconditional support. And my kids, as they launch their own careers have taught me so much- the best reverse mentors for tech issues! The turning point in my career was at 29 when Ron Galotti promoted me to Ad Director at Vanity Fair. As I was young and relatively less experienced than others in the same role, he experienced A LOT of pushback internally with the team (at the time it was around a 70 million dollar business) This opportunity made a lot of my future success possible. It was trial by fire and an MBA all in one. He simply said “ok Orner-y (Orner is my maiden name), don’t screw this up.” Lots of hands off support and learning!

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

The stat I see most often on the VC side is only two or three out of every hundred pitches received at venture capital firms are from women. Do I think anything conscious is going on? I would assume some bias but IF you believe what you read VCs are LOOKING for woman owned and operated to support. But I think the future for female entrepreneurs is going to brighten considerably. I saw a post recently citing what has changed the venture capital industry more than any other factor is Amazon.com’s role. AWS has helped lower the cost of starting a company by 90%.

On AWS and with open source you can achieve amazing results for $500,000. If someone is a developer, they can launch a company for $50,000.

I believe these price points are pushing entrepreneurs to start at a much younger age. You see that everywhere! Think about it — if you only need to risk $250,000 as an investor (or $50,000 across 5 people) to get an entrepreneur started then why wouldn’t you back younger teams [in addition to more experienced ones.]

So why does this relate to empowering woman to start companies?

If women can get funded to run startups at 22–25 years old, they can gain real traction as entrepreneurs before having to navigate the tricky years of balancing family demands with running a company. If your first chance at being a startup founder coincides with your first child, it’s difficult for either gender. But the reality is it is still even more challenging for woman. Woman will benefit from a longer runway.

Peter Thiel started the “20 Under 20″ program to encourage young, talented people to give entrepreneurship a shot. Perhaps somebody will champion a similar initiative to get more young women funded straight out of college to start to reverse the trend and help lead our next generation. Maybe I should do that! I wish I started on my own venture, younger.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

That’s a big question! As a coach and business founder, I’m always asking people why they feel they can’t do things, what are their limitations? Are the self-limiting beliefs, if so let’s address them. If they are gravity issues, (immoveable and fixed for them personally) I work with clients to come up with solutions around them and find the resources they need to move forward. Why wait for someone else to empower you to do anything? I would still be waiting for the Spearmint business plan to have miraculously appeared! When I pose the simple question “why not?” most clients have more irrational reasons than logical ones. People get stuck in the muck of obstacles. My coaching is all about goals, strategies, and solutions. The hardest thing about achieving a goal is setting one (clients are so sick of hearing me saying this, so I apologise). There is nothing as formidable as a thoroughly researched goal, and a plan to achieve it. Yes, we must encourage companies to offer support and programs, leadership training, and other resources to bring more woman up the ranks. But some of the most powerful and impressive young woman I have met have benefitted most from enlightened parents who encouraged and empowered them. I grew up in house full of woman and parents who did just that.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

Because they can chart their own course. In a larger scope, they can have the flexibility they want. There is a greater risk (your name is on the door so to speak) but if you can hack it a greater reward. If you have a passion, why give it to someone else?

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

I am not sure what all the myths are out there, but I like to point out to others who may think from the outside that it looks like someone was an overnite sensation- well, they weren’t. Most success stories I hear from founders, entrepreneurs are filled with years of hard work, driven by an obsessive determination to bring their vision to life. And most efforts aren’t single handled –they had a great team, and perhaps some luck that they created for themselves.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

I don’t think everyone should be a founder. You must have enough drive, passion for your mission, vision, entrepreneurial spirit, relationship skills, and be willing to accept responsibility for the end result. I think successful founders accept large amounts of risk and have true confidence in their convictions. Not everyone finds this road appealing– it takes a whole team, in all positions to play a game of baseball; you just have to know where you like to stand on the field.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

I am not sure these are limited only to woman — but here they are:

  1. A vision you can share with others — You must have a goal and be able to communicate it to others in aid of support and business growth. Developing my business in the UK or Spearmint now would not have been possible without the support of the teams I work/worked with or clients who retained me. You need to communicate well to develop momentum
  2. Create a “Board of Directors” — you can’t be a founder without mentors, advisors and peers. Find the right people to help you and absolutely seek help when you need it. Be vulnerable with someone, perhaps a coach ☺! Everyone needs a safe sounding board to grow personally and professionally
  3. Share and listen! Most of the best decisions I’ve made, I shared my thoughts and concerns and listened to other perspectives. In sales you quickly understand the immense value of listening and it’s this key skill that makes a great coach. Find quality people to advise you and listen to what they have to say.
  4. Integrity — if something goes wrong under your command, don’t be afraid to own it. Integrity goes a long way. Create something you know works. Don’t let it out in the world until you are confident that what you are selling works. I would not — and I was asked- work with paying clients until I was done with my NYU certificate.
  5. Dress the part- I have maintained that all my best wins and successes have been when I dressed the part. Everyone has their ‘power outfit’ so choose yours, whatever it is that inspires confidence in yourself will inspire others to have confidence in you. Sorry, may be superficial but I have countless points of proof! Another simple but important truth: make sure to do what you can to take care of yourself as well- you can’t launch a rocket without fuel.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

In the first part of my career, I created a vibrant community for people to work, a way to support themselves and their families and opportunity to grow. What I do now as a coach helps people directly. They can become who they want to be and succeed in their professional lives.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Two things: a movement to help people be heard and treated fairly, to help people learn to listen. One of my favorite books is “Just Listen” by Dr Mark Goulston which outlines the importance of this skill and tools to improve it. I share it with many clients. People want to be acknowledged and heard! Second, Temet Nosce is Latin for “Know Thyself”. The key to finding a purpose and fulfillment in life begins with knowing and understanding yourself. An essential part is understanding what drives and motivates you as well as recognizing the limits of your own wisdom and understanding — a movement where we focus on learning and respect the knowledge of others could be a very good thing.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

First Barbara Corcoran. My daughter and I are obsessed with Shark Tank. I was well aware of her business success before I really admire the public persona she has created there. Fearless, smart and empathetic. We need more woman founders like her.

Malcom Gladwell- he is a brilliant writer, thinker and I greatly admire his work. I have read and listened to everything (Revisionist History is a must). I am always searching for new perspectives on culture, business and people and he always has fresh ideas.

Thank you for these fantastic insights!


Female Founders: Fran Berrick On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Founders: Linda Hansen of Fund Duel On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed As A…

Female Founders: Linda Hansen of Fund Duel On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed As A Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

I wish someone would have told me how thrilling and amazing this journey would be and I only wish I would have started sooner in my life. We are making such a difference in the lives of others that is breathtaking. We are raising awareness and funds to assist burn victims, the deaf community, those that are battered and homeless, the hungry, environmental issues, and those with diseases. Every campaign we do is shared all over the world and garner hundreds of new donors. It is breathtaking how fast we have expanded into other countries and our global campaigns next year will have such a far-reaching impact that it is beyond magnificent.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Linda Hansen PhD, CEO and Cofounder at Fund Duel Inc.

Fund Duel is an interactive, engaging participatory fundraising website. We have the best programmers in the business. We cherish the ability to make people smile while money is raised for good causes.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this career path?

Thank you for this opportunity to introduce one of the few female-founded Mother/Daughter technology companies. My daughter, Jasmine Toomalatai, and me are passionate about helping our fellow humankind and improving the world in impactful ways. There has been an unusual ten-year lapse in innovation in the crowd funding space, and we saw a spectacular opportunity to create a game-changing platform that would have a massive impact for good on a global scale. We were right! Our platform is transforming the giving space in dramatic ways.

The reason for Fund Duel’s success is that it is based on my PhD research on the neurochemical and psychological motivation system of humans. Fund Duel incorporates engaging, fun team-based competition, challenges, humor and other powerful positive emotions, prizes, social media sharing, creativity, and empathetic altruism. Each of these engaging elements create rewarding rushes of positive neurochemicals such as endorphins and oxytocin.

The magic of Fund Duel is the expansive audience that engages in each campaign because of its capabilities to instantly share on social media challenge videos and photos. One of the first conversations that my daughter and I had about creating our platform was the question, “How can we change the way we use social media and reward users to post a selfie with the purpose of thinking of the plight of others in an altruistic manner versus the current mode of posting in a narcissistic manner?” This led us to the idea of gamifying fundraising and rewarding users that join a challenge to raise funds and awareness of a good cause with their own photo or video. It has been a thrill to see it come to fruition.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

We cannot believe the doors that have opened for us in this endeavor to bless this world with a proven fun way to raise money. I love our partnership with USA Sumo. We did this fun infomercial with two very popular sumo wrestlers from this organization and grew to love 600-pound Yama who looks ferocious in the ring but has a gentle heart and was so fond of the puppy we brought onto the set. Byamba was our second star wrestler, and he was a hoot to work with and did not even mind to get into a pink tutu and twirl around as a demonstration of a fun Fund Duel challenge. The reason we turned to sumo wrestlers was that it is surprising and funny to see two over-sized competitors croqueting blankets for a cause and being tenderhearted. As you recall, humor is a stress reliever and neurochemically rewarding. Here is a link to that commercial:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KN9jOgAl0Q&t=2s

The other positive outcome of this relationship with USA Sumo was raising money at the

2019 tournament in the Pyramid Stadium in Long Beach, California. We raised money for scholarships for at-risk youth with the power of 5,000 fans who joined either the West Stands or East Stands teams. The Fund Duel leaderboard was projected onto the jumbotron so fans could see which team was ahead at that moment. If the East stands were ahead, they were rewarded with t-shirts and cute rubber sumo dolls tossed into the crowd on the side of the arena that had raised more money. It was amazing how the crowd went berserk over sumo dolls. The grand prize was a bronze statue of a Sumo wrestler created by academy award winning Tom Woodruff. This event was a mind-blowing revelation that Fund Duel could be a magnificent way to add social impact to any major event and create engaging fun at the same time.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One of the hardest jobs for a start-up technology company is raising money especially if it is female founded. I went to a women’s business organization in Silicon Valley that offers the opportunity for women founders to present their company to female investors. There were only two legitimate female investors present, and they admitted that they are risk averse and do not invest in start-up companies. I do not know if there is humor in this, but it was obviously a mistake on my part to believe that the cost of this event and the travel expense was worth it. There are so many people that try to take advantage of eager founders. As a result of this experience, I determined at this point to develop our product, make it successful, and self-fund as much as possible

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Extraordinary doors have opened in this enterprise. We have to thank many champions and advocates that have come into the Fund Duel Family. As a result of one of our advisors, Saul Tarazona’s introductions, we met the former producer of American Idol, Ron Deshay. He immediately fell in love with our engaging platform and recognized it as a streamlined way for celebrities and corporate partners to join their team through our photo/video challenges. Additionally, we are now in discussions with a top producer to bring a global concert to honor the legacy of a major iconic figure. More news on that will be coming soon!! I must thank our Brazilian partner Getro Silva for engaging many soccer leagues, celebrities, hospitals, government officials in upcoming Fund Duels to raise money for charities in that great country and our New Zealand partner Adam Greenwell for his initiating Fund Duel’s to assist charities there. We have a team in Canada, led by Emmett Dunlop Junior which have opened many doors for us. The list goes on and on………..

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

I have been stunned at the lack of support for female founded companies even by organizations led by women that supposedly help female founders but are only designed to take their money and offer no real substantive solutions. The VC community is incestuous and revolves around a male dominated network that completely favors male founders. I was told at a SOCAP conference designed for social impact investors to network with startups in the philanthropy space, by a male investor that I needed to know “when to stop.” He told me this after I shared with him about our democratization and gamification of fundraising concept. I will revisit that conference someday as one of the most successful startup companies that went global in just two years and raised over a million dollars for non-profits just after launching during the year the year of Covid 2020.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

We have to actually see the problem and offer real solutions and not prey upon female founders because they may seem vulnerable and desperate to get their product to market.

I believe that organizations like Girl Power Talk in India and other organizations that help with early stages in education to empower girls to think of careers in science and technology is a good step. Education is a start. It will take some mountain moving before the status quo is changed for equitable treatment and parity for female founders.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder, but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

My daughter and I have brought such a simple yet brilliant solution to the crowd-funding space. We are both passionate about making a huge difference in our world. Women have a unique and powerful role to bring to the business world. I believe that women bring to their fields a spirit of collaboration and egalitarianism. My own approach to leadership is based on these principles. Women can bring so many important solutions to world problems with empathy and compassion that are innate in their constitution.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

I am not a typical entrepreneur, nor is my daughter. I am first and foremost an anthropologist and a scholar. The greatest myth I see is that founders must be successful businesspeople with a record of founding and exiting companies — the “serial entrepreneur.” Any person who is passionate about a subject or has an idea on how to solve a major problem should pursue it with gusto and never stop pursuing or dreaming.

Another myth is that you must be wealthy to be a founder. All you need is to be creative and believe in yourself and surround yourself with supporters and experts who can guide you. It is true that having wealth opens the path to founding many companies and is a great advantage but that is not all that is needed to be a successful founder.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

Any person who has found a unique solution that is disruptive and is able to capture a portion of the marketplace, is in a perfect position to find a company. We are in that position and our success has been remarkable. There are some incredibly crowded fields especially in online consulting and coaching. Too many people have jumped into this space to become founders of their own online coaching business and cannot find enough customers because they do not offer anything that is compelling and are competing with too many other online coaches.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. I wish someone would have told me how thrilling and amazing this journey would be and I only wish I would have started sooner in my life. We are making such a difference in the lives of others that is breathtaking. We are raising awareness and funds to assist burn victims, the deaf community, those that are battered and homeless, the hungry, environmental issues, and those with diseases. Every campaign we do is shared all over the world and garner hundreds of new donors. It is breathtaking how fast we have expanded into other countries and our global campaigns next year will have such a far-reaching impact that it is beyond magnificent.
  2. I wish someone would have told me that the Covid pandemic would shut down the economies of so many nations and that non-profit organizations would be hardest hit. It is so utterly tragic that charities that have existed for decades have closed their doors. We became the perfect solution for so many organizations and kept them afloat. If only we had a way to get the word out to more charities and grassroots organizations such as churches, sports teams, and schools we would have been able to help them as well.
  3. I wish I would have known how to select consultants that helped our company grow. We spent so much money on consultants that had great resumes but added little or no value to our company. I learned that the best advocates for our business offered advice for free or some of our coordinators who created campaigns that demonstrated the power of our platform in ways we could not have imagined.
  4. I wish I would not have wasted my time pitching to investors at conferences designed to take the money of founders but offered no real opportunity to meet real investors. I will never forget sitting in the back of a room where two investors beside me were laughing to themselves and in hushed tones made fun of the founders that were pitching their companies in the front of the room. These men had no interest whatsoever in truly investing in any concept. It was quite disgusting. I wish I would have known how many companies and organizations prey upon eager founders and require fees and payments without tendering any results for the founders.
  5. I wish I had known that there is such a hunger to do good and change the world for good. The media and political environment is so caustic and filled with animosity and words of despair, yet there are so many people who have come forward and are willing to jump on the Fund Duel train because they see that we are making positive waves across the world. It is actually mind-boggling the talent that has come our way to assist us because our mission is to bless this world with goodness. We have attracted support from all sectors of society and all sides of the political spectrum. It just does not matter. We all want solutions to major problems. For this I am grateful

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

Every campaign we do gladdens the heart and raises the prospects of those that are hurting in some way. It is beyond gratifying. We have only just begun. We are the virtual hub where celebrities, social influencers, companies, media outlets, and all their employees and followers — the masses — can join together in unity in fun photo and video challenges and team-based competitions to raise money and awareness for important causes.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

We have the potential to transform the corporate philanthropy space in staggering ways. We have worked with real estate offices that competed against each other for a cause. Just imagine the potential of major corporations such as McDonalds or Walmart to have each store compete to raise money for a cause and have customers join a fun challenge that brings them into the store. The ROI for the company is stunning and the photos and videos shared on social media platforms gives free advertising while raising money for causes they already support.

We have already proven that Fund Duel can be a great addition to a sporting event. I envisage Fund Duel being a powerful tool to raise money and awareness for good causes at major global concerts, sports competitions, golf tournaments, film festivals, corporate conferences, etc.…

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I would love to meet Tony Robbins. He has such an amazing record of transforming lives, and he is so charitable. We would be great partners in raising money at his conferences. I also want to meet Duane Johnson, the “Rock.” My daughter Jasmine married a Samoan, and I know that Duane does so much charitable work for the island of Samoa. I would love to link up and use Fund Duel as a platform to raise more money and awareness for those lovely islands. My list is quite long of the many iconic women and men I want to meet. It is happening because of moving forward with a good heart and good intent.

If you have a great idea of a cause or project you want to raise money for please feel free to contact us at www.fundduel.com/start or my own personal email linda@fundduel.com

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Thank you for this wonderful interview and your interest in the groundbreaking work we are doing at Fund Duel.


Female Founders: Linda Hansen of Fund Duel On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed As A… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Disruptors: Amani Wells-Onyioha of Sole Strategies On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up…

Female Disruptors: Amani Wells-Onyioha of Sole Strategies On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

“If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life” : This advice was given to me by my mom, and it really rings true for me here at Sole. The work we do isn’t easy, but I do believe it’s my calling and there is nothing else I would rather be doing.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amani Wells-Onyioha.

Amani found her passion for politics during her time in undergrad. Since then, she’s been working tirelessly to get progressives elected throughout the country and implement true change in America. Now, working behind the scenes as Sole Strategies’ operations director, Amani helps keeps the team afloat, ensuring campaigns and the company run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I became politically activated after the Travon Martin case. I could not believe that when video evidence was present, George Zimmerman was still able to get away with murder. It was at that point that I realized just how deeply the issues in our system ran. I realized that it would take real systematic and institutional change in order for things like this to be prevented from happening again. After several years working in the political space and assisting in different democratic campaigns, I came to Sole Strategies with a goal to make the biggest impact I can.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

What makes me and Sole Strategies “disruptive,” or what separates us from other people in the political and campaigning industry, is the fact that we are NOT consultants. Many people who work with politicians charge a fee to simply give advice. What makes us different and what has helped us to disrupt this industry is that we do the hands-on work. Our team of operatives physically do what consultants “advise”. That’s what’s made us more valuable in this industry. We’re not just talk. We’re experts doing the work with our clients every step of their race.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I think my funniest mistake comes from just being a newbie at this. I remember when we first started tracking our employees’ hours. We would just have them submit them to us in any way they chose. That led to one former employee submitting his hours on a crinkled up old piece of notebook paper that he took a photo of. Needless to say, I instituted a more formal time tracking system moving forward.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

One of my mentors was my professor in grad school. Her name is Dr. Everbach and she is an amazing, badass woman who was so smart, and wise and didn’t take any shit. As a woman in education (she taught Race, Gender, and Media, for which I was a TA) who was passionate about the issues in America, she never held back and was fearlessly dedicated to her work. She was committed to progress and educating our students on the complexities of these issues. She inspired me a lot along the way. Love her.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Being disruptive just for the sake of it isn’t what’s important. But sometimes getting things done means being disruptive. I think as women in business, we start out trying to tote a line. Not being too disagreeable, being trusting, believing in everyone we encounter, and trying to keep the peace. But sometimes doing good business, doing what’s best for the company and for your mission, isn’t going to be what makes everyone happy — especially when your goal for yourself and your company disrupts the status quo of the industry. But this is positive because you’re adding something new to the landscape and setting a new precedent. This type of disruption doesn’t have to be on a grand scale. For us, being disruptive sometimes means refusing to work with people who don’t respect our staff, or turning down firm contracts with people who don’t align with our mission. As long as our motives are in the best interests of our company, our people and our work, it’s all positive in the end because each decision we make, large or small, makes an impact.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

  1. “If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life” : This advice was given to me by my mom, and it really rings true for me here at Sole. The work we do isn’t easy, but I do believe it’s my calling and there is nothing else I would rather be doing.
  2. “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Starting a business is scary and taking on big name clients can be intimidating. But these are never reasons to give up. We use this fear to fuel us, because we know that going for it and trying will leave us in a better position than not trying at all. We have been so lucky to see that the risks we’ve taken have paid off in major ways. Being paralyzed by fear will get you nowhere, but taking risks can get you everything you’ve ever wanted.
  3. “Always be a sponge” : I learn new lessons in this business every day. It’s important to be open to new ways of thinking and to learn from what didn’t work before so that I can do better next time. There’s never only one way to do what I do. It takes collaboration, listening to my team, and being open to really succeed.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

We’re in the middle of a rebranding at the moment, which is really exciting! Our business has grown so much, and it’s time for our brand to grow with it. So be on the lookout for that!

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

I think it boils down to lack of respect. Misogyny is alive and well. One thing we deal with is men trying to manipulate or handle us in ways that I know for a fact they wouldn’t try with other men. I’ve been called a “little girl” just to give an example of some of the ways I’ve been spoken to. I feel like women in leadership are tried more, and we have to show a certain level of strength before we are respected. It isn’t fair, but what we do is so important to us. It’s definitely worth it.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

There’s a book called The 4 Agreements which is pretty much a set of standards, or guide, on how to live your life. It’s written by Don Miguel Ruiz and he coined it as “a practical guide to personal freedom.” The agreements are: be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best. It’s a quick read, but the lessons are valuable and they help you get out of your head and live life in a less anxious way.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Such a hard question! There are a few issues that really get me wound up and I’d like to fix immediately, but one that I think could have a ripple effect is implementing more socialist policies into American society. So many of the struggles Americans face could be easily rectified with the wave of a wand if we could get our politicians on board. Free healthcare is also one of the number one items on my list.. It makes no sense to me the amount of people in this country that die from things that could have been treated if only they could afford preventative care. This change alone could save millions of lives and make people feel like illness won’t break the bank or end their life.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

The most cliche quote, but the one that has helped me get to where I am today is “just believe in yourself.” Each day we’re faced with something challenging, but just having faith in who I am, my capabilities, and not letting self — doubt creep in shows I’m able to stay vigilant, and do my job the best I can each day.

How can our readers follow you online?

Follow us @SoleStrategies on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Thank you so much for having me!


Female Disruptors: Amani Wells-Onyioha of Sole Strategies On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Inspirational Women in STEM and Tech: Chazona Baum of MAXX Potential On The 5 Leadership Lessons…

Inspirational Women in STEM and Tech: Chazona Baum of MAXX Potential On The 5 Leadership Lessons She Learned From Her Experience

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm. This is probably one of the easiest traps to fall into as a leader because you want to do whatever you can to ensure your team’s success. But just as airlines advise parents to put on oxygen masks before helping their children with theirs, you can’t bring the energy your team needs if you’ve drained yours.

As a part of my series about “Lessons From Inspirational Women in STEM and Tech”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chazona Baum.

Chazona is a Principal Technologist in Norfolk, VA, where she grows teams of technologists and prepares them for fulfilling careers in IT. She has worked on engagements ranging from onshoring work from India that built transparency and capabilities at home to helping enterprises present themselves to their customers in a new light. Before changing careers through MAXX Potential’s transformational Apprenticeship program, she spent a decade serving customers across the hospitality and insurance industries. She enjoys sewing, writing, and spending time with her young children.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Likewise, thank you!

I started like many in my generation, building Geocities pages and MySpace profiles, but at the time, many of us didn’t take our tech seriously as a career. So instead, I got a series of “real jobs,” mainly in customer service and support types of roles.

It can be frustrating in those roles because you are often the depository for people’s complaints and problems with a product or service, but you rarely have any real agency to correct them. In each company I worked for, I started to look at how I could get involved in the technical or product side of the business. That kind of transition wasn’t feasible because either their technical roles were handled onsite in some other region, or they required a four-year degree I didn’t have in addition to the proven skills. At one point, I was raising an infant, working full time, and considering enrolling back in school full time, but I knew if I did this, my work or my parenting would suffer.

So, I took opportunities to at least build up technical skills, figuring that someone had to give me a chance if I got good enough. I stayed up late when my children went to bed and logged into freeCodeCamp to brush up on web development. I had competing priorities for my time, so I focused on practical projects that would help myself and my family, like creating a website for people to RSVP to my sister’s baby shower or a web application to share kids’ photos by invitation-only.

I was perhaps optimistic about the industry’s willingness to take a chance on a plucky upstart. After a hundred applications and about a dozen interviews with no success, I considered going back to service work just to put food on the table. Ultimately securing an apprenticeship at MAXX Potential provided the opportunity and mentorship needed for me to change the course of my life.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

Norfolk is a city that routinely battles tidal flooding, and we established our local office inside of one of its’ flood zones. Most of the time, this only had a minor impact — as long as you tracked the tides, you would know when it would be good to get lunch or travel the streets.

Once, a nor’easter came through, and flooding was much worse than usual. We had a line of cars and trucks stalling right outside our office because their drivers had misread the water level. I will never forget the humanity shown by our team as several of our technologists rushed out to help push the vehicles and their owners to safety.

In that same nor’easter, a young woman steadfastly motored along on a Lime scooter as if it were any other day. Her resolve to power through knee-high waters became an example of grit we still talk about today.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Many of us have seen the stories about the engineer who dropped a database or broke DNS. It wasn’t funny at the time, but my most memorable mistake when first starting was inadvertently taking down a server.

I had made some decisions when building a piece of software that assumed additional changes would happen sooner than they did, which led to a runaway train situation with memory consumption. As someone who had mainly worked with high-level programming languages, how I worked with system memory wasn’t something I considered strongly at the time.

I learned many lessons from that incident, from engineering lessons around database configuration and system monitoring to more human ones like running a postmortem and not counting your chickens before they hatch. As you can imagine, it was a mistake I made precisely once.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I think the nature of our model makes our company stand out. There are many firms out there trying to solve the problem of the tech talent gap, but all are approaching it differently.

Schools and bootcamps can be beneficial, but because their students are their customers, they risk overpromising how practical their education is when they are too eager to give students what they want.

Staffing firms can fill gaps, but there can be dangers when treating humans too much like commodities to be traded and bought.

Apprenticeships strike a good balance, with businesses extracting value from the work and the aspiring technologists being the workers who produce it. We stand out from other apprenticeship programs as most that I’ve seen require a contract with a payback clause or extensive flexibility to relocate; at MAXX Potential, we demand neither.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Because we help businesses get their work done better, it’s hard to find an example of a project that doesn’t help people.

I am excited to have the opportunity to help a well-known healthcare group better inform and serve its community, a financial services firm providing the chance to regain access to credit, and a digital firm giving small businesses the ability to reach their customers. As a company, some of the most exciting new projects we see involve an area of tech most aspiring technologists have never heard of: Robotic Process Automation. By automating routine processes that are necessary but typically not engaging, we’re able to clear employees’ plates for more meaningful work while reducing errors.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?

I think few would be truly satisfied with where things currently are for women in STEM. While lack of a pipeline of qualified candidates can be an issue, as someone who struggled to grasp that first rung on the IT ladder myself, I don’t think we can assume it all boils down to lack of interest.

In many ways, necessary changes likely differ between recruitment of women in STEM and retention of those same women. And both efforts depend on each other.

On the recruitment side, reluctance to take risks on entry-level talent hurts women and underrepresented people especially hard. This risk gap is a large part of why I am such a proponent of apprenticeship-based programs like MAXX Potential where, regardless of your background, if you have the grit and aptitude for the work, you will have an opportunity to prove yourself. Additionally, I think how we talk about IT and math concepts can make a huge difference. I’ve heard so many women describe themselves as unfit for these roles because they equated IT with math, and math with abstract concepts to memorize. While some areas like data science are more math-heavy, strength in this field depends on more human skills like communication and resourcefulness. Likewise, while it feels like quoting a Disney movie to say that math is involved in every “rock and tree and creature,” it truly is how we make sense of the hidden rules of the world and life around us — we just don’t typically present it that way.

On the retention side, we need to look at factors like advancement and balance once women are here, which may sometimes seem at odds with one another. If women aren’t rising to roles that give them a tangible impact on the values and direction of their organizations, we’re likely to continue to see the same gaps. Businesses operating from 1950s mindsets of working long hours while someone else manages home and family harm everyone, including fathers who want to be more active in their children’s lives.

I think the pandemic has made it even starker for everyone that if we can’t make modern employment work for working parents, we will lose their talent and perspectives when they drop out of the workforce. When women underearn men, is it any wonder that they are usually the ones to sacrifice their career for their family if someone needs to stay home?

For more on the balance side and new perspectives for leaders, I recommend reading Indra Nooyi’s new book, My Life in Full, as she has created a masterful accounting of her life and career, including the tradeoffs that have come with it.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in STEM or Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?

Honestly, most of the significant challenges I see women facing today are also experienced by men, like the parenthood penalty. The most urgent challenge I’ve seen only women face in this field is a lack of opportunity for the critical feedback they need to grow. The risk when attempting to recruit women into this industry is that we make getting to that first rung on the ladder so celebratory that it’s like you’ve won just by showing up. If we are so afraid of turning women off that we fail to give them the same feedback we’d give men, how can those same women build the competencies they need to rise to the C-suite if they so choose? As leaders, we need to consider whether we perpetuate the “delicate, virtuous maidens” myth.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a woman in STEM or Tech. Can you explain what you mean?

I haven’t experienced many “myths” of being a woman in Tech. Contrary to my experience in hospitality, those I’ve met have always presumed competence and reliability. I recognize that every woman’s lived experience varies, and this certainly doesn’t reflect every industry. As I understand it, there are also considerable differences between experiences in Tech on the East Coast as opposed to the West.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Woman in STEM or Tech” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Try to learn early on which balls you’re juggling are glass and which ones are rubber. More likely than not, something is going to drop at some point, and you want to ensure that it’s something safe to bounce when that happens.
  2. Don’t default to the rescue service for your team. As a leader, you probably don’t want your team to fail. The challenge if you rush in too soon to solve problems and save your team members is that you can stifle their initiative and creativity. Pretty soon, they stop trying to solve problems because they know you’ll handle it.
  3. Good leadership depends on understanding what’s important to each member of your team. Keep in mind that they are the hero of their own stories! If you get too busy to connect with your team, that should be a warning sign that you need to change something about what you’re doing.
  4. Don’t stop seeking mentorship and coaching once you get into leadership. It’s hard to see your blind spots, and as a leader, your strengths and weaknesses can have a multiplying or diminishing effect on your team. Liz Wiseman’s Multipliers can help with recognizing these effects.
  5. Don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm. This is probably one of the easiest traps to fall into as a leader because you want to do whatever you can to ensure your team’s success. But just as airlines advise parents to put on oxygen masks before helping their children with theirs, you can’t bring the energy your team needs if you’ve drained yours.

What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?

I find the more you achieve, the more intimidating you can come across and the harder it may be for reports to feel confident in reaching out. I follow Colin Powell’s maxim that “the day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them.” To that end, it is more crucial than ever to find opportunities to connect with your reports and to share little moments of vulnerability that humanize you. While you want to maintain healthy boundaries in your relationship, they still need to recognize that you’re not fundamentally different from them so they can aspire to keep growing themselves.

What advice would you give to other women leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

The larger your team gets, the more crucial it is that you are not their only resource. Every member of your team should understand that they have a network of potential resources that may include yourself, their coworkers, others on different teams or in other areas of leadership, or even people outside your company. You cannot be everything for everyone, and attempting to do so will only harm yourself and your team.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I can’t stress this point enough: we all had help getting where we are.

The two people who have had the most substantial impact on my career have done so differently.

Early on, when I was trying to find my way in tech and see if this could even be viable for me, Jesse Tolj, Senior Software Engineer at COLAB, provided instrumental mentorship and stressed that, like him, I had the aptitude for tech work. He was the one who reached out to let me know that MAXX Potential, the apprenticeship company I would get my start at, was broadening to my area. He encouraged me to pursue it and was confident that it would be a fit.

At MAXX Potential, founder Kim Mahan has had a decisive influence on my career, primarily through sponsorship for opportunities I may not have considered myself ready for and by challenging my assumptions. I likely would not have leaped into technical management if not for her ability to see that potential.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I’m a big proponent of holding the door open for others as I know what a transformational opportunity it was for someone to take that chance on me. Just under thirty people with careers in Tech have one of my projects at MAXX Potential as a catalyst in their origin stories, and hearing about their continued success, promotions, and new opportunities is always a highlight for me.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Personally, it’s saddening to see how little we trust each other as people or sometimes even see the humanity in others. As a society, we benefit most when we have an optimistic outlook on the nature of humans. If I was to try to start a movement, I think it might be as simple as taking a moment to apply Hanlon’s razor to situations that upset us. If this situation could be adequately explained by ignorance or negligence, we probably shouldn’t presume malice in that person.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“In life, there are no essentially major or minor characters. To that extent, all fiction and biography, and most historiography, is a lie. Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story.

This paradigm shift has been the most beneficial for me as it made a night-and-day difference in my communication style and strategies. We all benefit most when we work within diverse groups, which means that, at least in theory, we’re not going to agree with everyone all the time. No one benefits from echo chambers or lack of accountability.

But often, when someone disagrees with us on critical things we value, it tends to impact our perspective on the entire person. We see this all the time in the public sphere. And when you think someone’s the villain in your story, you’re unlikely to have a productive conversation with them or to have a chance at changing their mind. I’ve found that approaching situations from the viewpoint that people are doing what they genuinely believe is best with their circumstances leads to better outcomes more often than not.

It’s also a game-changer for things like public speaking that can be terrifying for people. Have I gotten on stage somewhere and said something the wrong way, like a verbal typo? Probably. But I’ve also found that with most people more concerned about their problems, these minor mistakes rarely get in the way of the larger message. Most people don’t analyze my words and actions to the same degree that I do and recognizing that can be liberating.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would personally love to have a meal with Chetna Gala Sinha, a woman I feel is truly inspirational and has already paved roads for others where there were none by establishing the first bank in India for rural women. Her work has directly impacted the lives of roughly half a million women, many of them mothers like herself.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Inspirational Women in STEM and Tech: Chazona Baum of MAXX Potential On The 5 Leadership Lessons… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Women In Wellness: Celestia Howe of Cofo Provisions On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help…

Women In Wellness: Celestia Howe of Cofo Provisions On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Worry less. Someone once told me that worrying is like a rocking chair. It will give you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere. There’s so much to worry about these days, I think about all that I do have control over and you’ll have better luck with lifestyle tweak #4.

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Celestia Howe of Cofo Provisions.

Celestia Howe is the Founder and Chief Community Officer of Cofo Provisions in Colorado.As an avid athlete and mom, Celestia created Cofo Provisions Marine Collagen to keep her feeling strong and energized. Celestia is committed to clean, environmentally-conscious collagen that helps others stay active and feel good inside.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your backstory with us?

I was working long hours at a tech company, competing in mountain bike races, taking care of my young daughter and I was physically exhausted all the time. I couldn’t have the usual bars and gels since I had been diagnosed with Celiac disease. That’s when I discovered that collagen could be a gut-friendly alternative to provide me with more energy and protein while also helping repair and renew my muscles and joints.

Collagen seemed like a perfectly nutrient-dense alternative. Only I had no idea where the collagen was coming from. I started to do some research and found that most of the collagen was from the hides of cows and pigs. Suddenly the easy to digest alternative made my stomach turn. I also found that most collagen was not sustainably sourced, which I knew was important to me and others. I decided that I was going to start a company that took into consideration where the collagen was coming from. I chose to work with Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) approved fisheries and use only organic, environmentally friendly ingredients.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

I had a life-changing moment during 2020 that further cemented my dedication to clean, real food. During the COVID lockdowns, I wasn’t sure if Cofo Provisions could make it as a company. I had a wonderful partner, Dan, who encouraged me to keep going. He believed in Cofo and my mission. However, in the summer of 2020, he developed a rare neurological condition caused by toxicity in bovine meat. He fought as hard as he could but unfortunately passed away later that fall. As devastated as I was, I knew now that I needed to find the highest quality collagen without toxins if I were to continue forward. No one should worry about ingesting toxins in their food.

After Dan died, I created D’s Trees and Greens which gives a percentage of Cofo sales to local nonprofits committed to helping provide low-income families with affordable organic foods. The big lesson I learned that year was that life is fragile and I no longer treated Cofo Provisions as just a company but as a community.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Cofo Provisions officially started as a marine collagen, MCT protein mix. MCT was hot and we were chasing that trend. We created single-serve packaging in what we thought were easy to sell boxes. Only no one knew what to do with them. Was it a supplement? Was it food? How do I use it? Our messaging was to jump on the MCT keto trend and hope everyone would know what to do. Kind of like Moira from Schitt’s Creek telling David to just fold the cheese in. We weren’t 100% behind our product, and it showed.

Consumers will stick with a trend, but they won’t stick with your product necessarily. I needed to get back to the root of why I started Cofo in the first place. I decided that I wasn’t going to go for what’s hot, but for what I believed in and that was becoming a sustainably sourced, wild USA marine collagen company providing the highest quality marine collagen on the market. The community and consumers will stick by your product when they know that your values align. Authenticity was key. We had to get back to what we believed in.

Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

I want to increase physical and emotional well-being through clean, sustainably-sourced collagen. When we are outside doing the things we love, surrounded by our friends and nature, we feel abundant. I want Cofo collagen to help our joints, bones and gut stay healthy so people can enjoy the outside, connect with their communities and live vibrant lives no matter their age.

I also want to build awareness toward how our food choices impact Earths’ natural resources. Nourishing your body clean food that has a low environmental footprint and is sustainably-sourced not only helps you feel better, it helps create a healthier Earth for us to live in. This intrinsic connection between Earth and our food defines our values and our commitment to clean, sustainable and bioethical collagen.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

1. Start the morning with a daily intention that answers the question, What is right for me — right now? Sometimes the answer is a focus on self-care, an introspective hike in the woods, taking time to just sit in quiet or focusing on fun. This simple practice helps me live the day aligned in higher energy and balance.

2. Get outside and move around. I know it’s not easy for everyone, but you can get outside and walk around even in a big city. It not only clears my mind, but it makes me grateful to be in the world.

3. Drink a green juice mid-morning or early afternoon. In the morning I make a green juice to take to work. Instead of going out for lunch or eating a carb-heavy bar, this is my go-to habit. I blend oat keifer, spinach, parsley, celery, ginger, turmeric, 2 tbsp of Cofo collagen and water and put it in a Glass Jar. There is no formal ‘recipe’ I just add and blend! Since there is collagen protein, it keeps me going until I get back home.

4. Sleep. As we get older, sleep doesn’t always come easy. I like to set a bedtime for myself, just like I did with my daughter. This way, I have a goal to get into bed at a certain time without any electronics nearby and start to wind down.

5. Worry less. Someone once told me that worrying is like a rocking chair. It will give you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere. There’s so much to worry about these days, I think about all that I do have control over and you’ll have better luck with lifestyle tweak #4.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Our tagline is “Be Outside Feel Good Inside”. What that means to me is by putting good clean food into your body, you start to feel good inside. Being outside only elevates that feeling. I would love more than anything to create a community based around the outdoors and access to clean, real food. My mental health is directly impacted by what I eat. When I eat poorly, I feel low. Our focus should be back to the basics; enjoying the world outside while ensuring that our food is from the cleanest sources possible.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

1. Success doesn’t happen overnight. I know this seems obvious, it’s exciting to start something you’re passionate about, but it’s also essential to have patience, grit and an intense belief in your purpose.

2. Just because you think your product is amazing doesn’t mean everyone will automatically agree. Collagen is something people love or have no idea what you’re talking about. Educating our community about the benefits of marine collagen became a top priority for us.

3. People kind of suck. The truth is when you’re just starting out people will try to take advantage of you because they know you need them to grow your business. You’re the little fry. Do your research on any company you choose to work with and that means learning and observing how they treat their customers and if they actually deliver. If you can account for this, you’ll be more innovative, leaner and save money in the long run. The happiest day of Cofo was when I fired our bully commercial kitchen and moved to a bigger FDA-certified manufacturing outfit.

4. Being the little fish in a big pond means making sacrifices and having the resilience to be okay with mistakes. Don’t let the mistake linger, fix it, learn from it, move on.

5. Hire people based on their work ethic, not their resume. When you’re in startup mode, it’s all hands-on deck, so you may have a worker that is less qualified on paper, but willing to learn and jump in wherever they are needed.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

I would have to say it’s a mashup between sustainability and environmental changes, which ultimately affects mental health. Cofo is dedicated to working with vendors who are sustainably sourced and bioethical. We partner with Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) approved fisheries working to make our ocean healthier for future generations. This isn’t always easy, but if we didn’t hold to our values, we would be giving up what makes Cofo authentic.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Find us on Instagram @cofoprovisions and our website Cofoprovisions.com. I would encourage your readers to go to our website and sign up for our monthly newsletter that provides recipes and articles about how marine collagen can help your overall health and wellness.

Thank you for these fantastic insights!


Women In Wellness: Celestia Howe of Cofo Provisions On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.