It took me a year and a half to publicly admit what I was doing in my business on my personal Instagram account. Even in conversation, I would downplay what I was creating. I remember being at a baby shower, and someone asked me what I was up to. I responded with "oh, just doing some social media consulting and finishing school"...I wonder if it was because I didn't feel I was ready to share or that I didn't have a mission statement at the time, but I tended to leave what really made my heartbeat out of the conversation.
I always highlighted my Ph.D. because it was tangible to others…but my big dreams…well, those were secret or were only shared to those in my community who I felt could understand. I was worried people would judge me, that they would think I've jumped around too much in my career, or they'd think I was stupid. A dog’s instagram? Really?
I finally ripped off the bandaid mid-April 2019 and got an incredible response. Facebook messages, DM's, comments, and texts came in. Other women reached out and shared they wanted to learn how I got started, and if I could help them become an entrepreneur too. I received recognition from those who I was once intimidated by. I received support from friends and family, which was has been so needed while growing a brand. And I even gained more founders to interview!
Amazing things happen when you stop caring what others think.
Shauna Parisi also endorses the phrase above as she mentions it in her FFS feature. Shauna shares that while growing not only one but TWO businesses how this mindset of not caring what others think has been instrumental in her growth. Shauna also shares that taking the leap of faith and trusting that she would land on her feet allowed her to explore further, dream bigger, and live a life by design. When you start doing YOU and listening to YOUR needs and wants your confidence will rise. You’ll get out of your head and into your heart.
Shauna is the founder of A Million Thanks and is now a running her own health and wellness business in affiliation with Arbonne International. Although part of her job is selling products that she loves, it is only a small portion of what she does. Her day is spent serving others helping them reach their highest potential. This is the work she loves and was born to do.
If you’d like to learn more on how you can get involved with A Million Thanks check out their website here. If you’re interested in joining Shauna’s team or for mentorship and connection the best way to reach out is through instagram or email: ShaunaParisi@gmail.com.
This week you'll notice a few new questions added to the FFS series! You'll find new answers on specific tools these entrepreneurs use, insight on how they schedule their day, advice on avoiding burn out, and even their favorite inspirational quote to add to your motivational bank.
Without further ado…Shauna Parisi everyone!
What is your story! Tell us a bit about your background both personally and professionally.
I grew up in Orange County, California, and I always think it's funny to tell people that all of my schools - from preschool through college - were within a five-mile radius of the house I grew up in. But don't worry, I've gotten out quite a bit!
I have always had a passion for serving and helping others, and I strongly believe each of us were created for a purpose. When I was in high school in 2004, I started a military benefit non-profit organization called A Million Thanks, with the goal of collecting and distributing one million letters of appreciation to our service members around the world. I had no idea that a small idea would turn into something so huge and something that still exists today, 15 years later.
I continued building A Million Thanks throughout high school, gaining so much priceless life experience along the way. Before my 16th birthday, I stood with President Bush in the Oval Office. Before my 17th birthday, I co-created a military support network with the Pentagon and Department of Defense, and before my 18th birthday, I stood in the board room of General Motors and gave a presentation to its executives on the power of corporate social responsibility.
I went to Chapman University and studied public relations and advertising with a film minor, with the goal of getting into entertainment marketing. I knew A Million Thanks would always be part of my life in some way or another, but I had my eyes on a different career. However, after a couple internships, agency work, a lot of commuting to LA, and realizing in the entertainment industry, there's always someone willing to do your job for less pay, I decided to change directions.
I decided to still pursue marketing but in the restaurant industry. I started out working for my family's restaurant group in the corporate office and eventually transitioned out on my own, working for various corporate and franchise restaurant groups. Because the industry is so small, I was able to work my way up very quickly, becoming a Director of Marketing by the time I was 25.
At the end of 2018, my husband and I were offered roles to travel around the world for four months on a short-term contract with Semester at Sea, the study abroad program we met on as undergrads. We couldn't turn it down. So I took a giant leap of faith and resigned from my corporate marketing job and we traveled the world together for four months. And when we returned home in January of this year, I knew it was time to get back on the grind. However, I just didn't feel like going back to what I was doing before. I wanted more options, more time freedom, the ability to travel and have a flexible schedule, and the opportunity to make a difference in others' lives.
So I took another leap of faith and the night before I turned 30, I quit corporate.
I decided to start my own health and wellness business in partnership with an amazing company that's been around for 39 years. Plus, now I get to devote time every week to A Million Thanks!
What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?
Oh my gosh, there's too many things to even count! I guess probably first and foremost is getting to use my gifts to serve others. I think a lot of times when we are tied to a company, we tend to be so concerned about our own performance that we forget our purpose. Being an entrepreneur, I get to focus my day-to-day on what I can do to help others. Aside from that, I love the flexibility, getting to take days off in the middle of the week, and being part of a business that is all about not trading time for money. Did I mention flexibility?
Share your favorite moment or moments while growing your business.
I think for me, it's anytime I'm able to see the impact my business organization has made on others. A lot of times, you don't get to see the fruits of your labor, but I feel very blessed that between A Million Thanks and my Arbonne business, I get to see my team's impact daily. From granting the wish of a new fishing kayak to an injured veteran to watching one of my team members finally get to quit their second job because their Arbonne business is allowing them more financial options - these are the moments I live for!
What are some of the challenges of being an entrepreneur?
For me, it's procrastination. I've always worked well under pressure, but it's never comfortable. I've really had to learn how to leverage my time, prioritize, and not leave things until the last minute.
What about some of the challenges you face as a female entrepreneur?
I feel very blessed that I actually haven't come across any major challenges as female entrepreneur. I work with mostly women in my Arbonne business, and every single one has empowered and inspired me in some way and on a daily basis. I always say this business is for ourselves but not by ourselves. We get to do life together, not just business, and that has been a huge change from an often stressful and oppressive corporate culture.
How did you get your idea or concept for your business?
During high school, we were all required to do community service and were provided with a variety of options that we could participate in. Nothing really jumped out at me or tugged my heart strings, so I considered creating my own option. It was just a couple years after 9/11, so our military was still very heavily in the news. I remember asking my dad one night if there was something I could do for our military to let them know all of us at home were thinking about them. He jokingly said, "Sure, why don't you collect a million thank you letters to send to them!" And I just went with it. I had no idea what I was doing, how I was going to get the letters (let alone get them overseas), or where to even start. I had no connection to the military at all, but I was confident this is what God wanted me to do, so he would provide a way to do it.
Tell us more about your business and what you do!
A Million Thanks was founded to be a place of appreciation for our military, where people all across the country could send in their letters and we would get them into the hands of our service members overseas. But as with any business, and non-profits alike, you are required to pivot with the market. So now, in addition to sending thank you letters overseas, we also grant wishes to injured veterans, and we fund higher education scholarships to children of fallen military. We are essentially a one-stop-shop for military support.
Because A Million Thanks has a full-time Executive Director aka my husband, I'm able to devote time to growing my own business. Now on a daily basis, I get to help people get healthier, choose products that are better for them, and mentor and lead teams to do the same and make an income from anywhere in the world. I love it because not only do I get to watch people's lives change drastically from the inside out, but I get to introduce people to a business opportunity that's all about residual income, time leveraging, and creating options for building a life by design.
Looking back would you do anything different?
I don't think I would do anything differently, because I know everything that happened along the way happened for a reason. I think if anything, I would have wanted to be more mindful. Anytime you start a business, it's such a whirlwind and time goes by so fast. I know there were a lot of times I missed what was going on around me, because I was so deep in the weeds.
Advice for other other female entrepreneurs or those looking to get started?
What if you stopped thinking "What if this doesn't work?" and started asking yourself "What if this DOES work?" Are you happy with where are you now? How about in one year from now? Five years? What if you could be part of something that not only changed others' lives but changed your own? Stop being afraid of what others might think, because their opinions are none of your business and they won't pay your bills either. There is so much potential for you, so just jump in!
What is your favorite quote?
“Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.” - Bob Burg the Go Giver
How do you avoid burnout?
Personal growth and development! Your business only grows as much as you do. You have to constantly be learning, be growing, and ask for mentors to pour into you. And then turn around and do the same for others.
We know all entrepreneurs work differently. How do you schedule your day?
Most days start out at the gym, but I don't get up early for that. I used to get up at 4:30 to hit the gym before working a 10 hours a day. I was so glad to kiss those days goodbye! I get home, make breakfast, get ready, do a devotion, and get to work. I like to take a lot of breaks, which is easy since I work from home. It keeps me on track to take breaks!
What are your MUST have tools?! (things like organization, calendars, social media, payment platforms, business development sources...etc.)
I use a lot of social media for both of my businesses, so I'm pretty active on that. I also use Voxer for all my communication, which I love. I'm pretty basic when it comes to organization and calendars, I mostly just use my phone with a LOT of reminders haha. I'm a visual person so I love using Zoom for video conferences so I can see who I'm talking to. And all the books - sometimes audio and sometimes paperback!
How do you advertise your brand?
Word of mouth! I've never paid for any advertising for any of my businesses. For A Million Thanks, I used a lot of PR strategies and relied on participants and supporters to spread the word. For Arbonne, it's all social media and word of mouth and my team who does the same!
Thank you Shauna for your contribution to the Female Founder Series! I know that your story will impact so many people. I can relate to procrastination being a challenge for me as well. You mention coming back to your why and asking yourself what is stopping you from reaching your goals - I think this is a great way to re-align and get things accomplished. For example, there are a lot of things we don’t want to do or we don’t have immense passion for but we gotta do them. One way to combat this is to get to the root cause of why we don’t want to do it. Once we know we can start to move forward.
I think because we live in a world that is covered in instant gratification it can be challenging to work on something that feels more tedious or that there isn’t a reward right when you finish. Setting up small wins with projects or mini goals to hit can help move you along!
Additionally, people procrastinate because they are afraid to fail or don’t know where to start. In entrepreneurship, sometimes you just have to start and take a leap of faith. Shauna speaks to this in her feature as well. And truthfully, you might fail a few times but it’s the only way to learn and evolve in your business. xo
Looking to get involved in the female founder series? Leave us a message below and someone will contact you shortly!