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Leading Ladies - Danielle Smith

DanielleSmith

When I lived in Illinois and first got started on Twitter, Danielle Smith was one of my first people I followed and since then, we have had so much fun together. We originally met at Social Fresh in St. Louis, but after I moved to Austin, it was fun to see Danielle when she was in town for SXSW. Through the years, Danielle has continue to be an inspiration to me. Not only as a wife, mother, but also in her business decisions. She shares her experiences unlike anyone, which truly makes her extraordinary! Meet the founder of Extraordinary Mommy!

HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START?

My traditional background is in television. When I left the world of anchoring and reporting, I knew I was being called to do something 'different', but I was unsure how to find my path. What lead me to my current state is, in fact, a two part answer - my initial motivation, as I believe is common for many people, was rejection. I had an idea for a book. In short, I was told that my idea was merely 'a magazine article'....that it had no mass appeal. So, I initially thought, "I'll show you....there IS an audience for what I have to say.'" But I stalled, afraid of taking that step. What pushed me over the threshold was a car accident when my son, Cooper was less than a year old and my daughter, Delaney was not quite two. Another driver ran a red-light, flipping my car and sending me down an embankment. I walked away and decided I would never again have a job that didn't make me a better citizen of the world and one that would allow me to follow the dreams that I have AND be present for my children. The next day, I started my current business.

WHAT RISKS DID YOU TAKE?

I'm lucky. I haven't had to take out bank loans or second mortgages to start up, but I have had to financially invest in myself and this business of mine. That always feels like a risk. Add that to the hours and hours I've taken away from my family, my children - I've fully recognized that every 'no' I hear on the work side feels like a failure both professionally and personally as I know that I could have instead been dedicating that time solely to my small people. 

WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT SCARES YOU?

A few years ago I was asked during an interview what I want my kids to say about me 'at the end of the day' (yes, THAT end of the day). I said I want them to say 'she did both...she was a present mother...she was there for 95% of our baseball, softball, basketball and soccer games....she was there for dinners, choir concerts and prayer time AND she showed us what it meant to never stop being who you want to be when you grow up." This is especially important for my daughter as I want her to know she doesn't have to give up her 'grown up dreams' when she has a family.  What am I MOST scared of? Failing at doing BOTH of these.

LOOKING BACK ON YOUR CAREER, WHAT WAS A MAJOR TURNING POINT FOR YOU?

Once again, I have two. I walked away from television because I realized I didn't have the heart to be the reporter that knocked on doors asking a family to talk about the death of their small child. However, I LOVED live video...I LOVED covering happy stories, interviewing people, talking about what inspired, what was happening now. At the time that I left the industry, I never thought I would have the chance to do it again....and yet, I started ExtraordinaryMommy.com to remind moms they were doing something extraordinary every single day, (even on the days that felt challenging, under appreciated and hard), began to do video and soon found myself connected to brands who found my video and interviewing valuable. My second major turning point was being hired by P&G to cover their Thank You Mom  campaign at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. This was not only a dream opportunity (The Olympic Games!) but also a chance to showcase the video correspondent work I loved and was capable of doing. I will always be grateful to Stephanie Smirnov, DeVries PR and P&G for having faith in me and hiring me to do something no one was doing at the time.

WHAT ARE THREE PIECES OF ADVICE YOU'VE RECEIVED THAT YOU'VE CARRIED WITH YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?

By far my favorite came during my book tour for Mom, Incorporated. Laura Fitton was speaking with my co-author, Aliza Sherman and I (We had featured her in our book) and she shared what had been a 'light-bulb' moment for her - and then became a light bulb moment for me. She had read a blog post by Derek Sivers...in it, he said, 'If it isn't a Hell Yeah, it's a No!'...that has become my mantra - and a talking point for me when I speak. It is a phrase I use to guide me for important decision both personally and professionally....if I SHOULD do something, it will feel like a 'Hell Yeah'...if I'm wishy-washy, hesitant, or waffling? Those are ultimately those are the 'yeses' I will regret, so they should be no's.  Next, 'Comparison is the thief of joy'. This is actually a Teddy Roosevelt quote, but years ago, a friend reminded me that the only person I should be comparing myself to is ME. How did I do yesterday and how can I be better today? And finally, I live by my mother's teaching of gratitude and kindness. They aren't official business advice, but they older I get, the more I find I'm blurring the lines between my personal and professional lives because it is important to me to ENJOY what I do for work....and that means making kindness and gratitude a priority.

BIGGEST MISTAKE?

Letting fear get in my way. I've been doing it lately. I might even be doing it right now. I have ideas. I have things I love to do, I feel called to do...and yet I am sometimes scared...too immobilized to move forward. Fortunately, I'm surrounded by good people who work hard to push me out of this 'fraidy-cat place. I hope. :)