We are so excited to spotlight one of our OW (Organized Women) members, Shannon O'Brien, who this year launched her business, Whole U., which takes a uniquely personal and holistic approach to helping individuals reach their potential.
Name: Shannon Leigh O’Brien
Q: How did you come to start Whole U.?
For years I had been helping connect my friends to people, resources, jobs, and service projects. When friends started referring me to others on a frequent basis, I realized there was a real need and 'market' for the type of guidance I offer, so I decided to formalize the process.
Q: What does Whole U. offer clients?
Whole U. offers advising sessions on living holistic, purposeful lives. I consult on image, career, networking, cultural, and life strategies to help connect people to meaningful jobs and service projects. Clients have various needs… from fine-tuning a cover letter and resume, and helping connect to a particular company; to advising on how to effectively present one’s self. I customize sessions to meet each individual’s professional and personal goals.
Q: How did you develop your process?
I’m an avid student of life, and have attended countless retreats, workshops, and coaching sessions. Yet, I never found anyone who provided the guidance I needed, i.e. comprehensive advice on being a successful modern citizen. Now I try to fill that need for others, drawing upon my: hundreds of contacts; Master’s degrees in Education and Peace Studies; and international life experiences in 35 countries.
Q: Who would most benefit from what you do through Whole U.?
Clients are people who strive to discover their best, and create positive changes for themselves, their community, and the world.
Q: What sorts of tools or routines do you use to help maintain a balanced life for yourself?
For me, a balanced life means striving to be my best in all areas, while simultaneously staying centered. I’ve been practicing yoga and meditation since 1997, and believe that mindfulness is the most important goal. It’s also critical to take inventory of how to spend my time more wisely. To that end, I have not owned a TV since 2007.
Q: What are your goals for growing your organization and furthering the Whole U. mission in the next five years?
With the technology overload of our modern age, I most enjoymeeting with clients face-to-face. But I can also meet with clients via phone, Skype, or through group workshops. My eventual goal is to create a Whole U. Wellness Center in Boston – which would have similar principles as Donna Karan’s “Urban Zen” in New York City.
Q: What has been the most exciting part of launching a new business?
Formalizing Whole U. has been very exciting because I believe I’m very good at what I do… it’s my life’s work; and drives me to “practice what I preach.”
Q: What is the biggest challenge of being a small business owner?
Like any business, the biggest challenges come in the logistics of scheduling, finances, etc. But I’ve enjoyed every step of the process.
Q: How has GLOW helped you personally?
I first learned about GLOW through one of the organizers – Emily Copeman. I was so impressed with her professional poise, and passionate commitment to helping women to be their best.
I feel that same energy is palpable at GLOW’s events. I attended a panel this fall entitled “How to Burn Bright without Burning Out” – which featured awesome speakers, and was held in a great venue I had never been to. I also attended their annual fundraiser – where I met many like-minded people, committed to helping others GLOW (and GROW)!
Q: How have women inspired your personal journey?
In 1997, I attended an entrepreneurship class taught by Jennifer Kushell. Jen became my first mentor. While only 23 at the time, Jen had such maturity and contagious enthusiasm. She helped me believe in myself, and my potential. I strive to be that kind of mentor to my clients.
Q: What role will women play in the success of your business?
Working with female clients is special, because I know the unique struggles women face, and the rewards we seek.
Where can readers learn more about you and about “Whole U.”?
- For more information about my background and Whole U. services, visit www.wholeu.info
- To set up a complimentary 30-minute assessment call, e-mail: Shannon.Obrien@post.harvard.edu
Shannon has also generously agreed to donate a "Balanced Life" themed basket to the IGNITE the NITE 2013 Silent Auction. The package includes a "Whole U." session(s) - which provides individual consulting on image, career, networking, and life strategies to help connect to a meaningful job and/ or service project. We are so excited to have this as part of our Auction offerings and to watch Whole U. continue to grow and succeed. Rock on lady!