DispatchMom: Danielle Shoots, Founder and CEO, The Daily Boss Up. VP and Chief Financial Officer, The Colorado Trust
Where did you begin your career?
I actually began my finance career while still in college. For my work study hours as a part of my scholarship, I worked at a local non-profit organization that supported at-risk youth. I volunteered as an after school mentor and also managed the organization’s budget including a large federal grant.
How did you grow into your current position?
The road has been anything but straight. After college, I became a financial analyst for public dollars such as Federal and State grants. Within a couple of years, I was promoted to Chief Fiscal Officer for a division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. I was 26 years old. I had a natural inclination for financial strategy and building process and I raised my hand to be a part of everything. Every project, every committee. I was really wanting to learn as much as I could and the side effect was I built a large network, learned quickly how to connect dots across projects and processes. As a result, I was tapped to take the Chief Fiscal Officer role when it became vacant. I left public finance and joined Corporate America. I went from being a CFO in the government to a manager of financial planning and analysis at Comcast. People thought I was crazy for taking that title cut but I knew that I had a whole lot of career left. I had always wanted to do forecasting and strategic financial analysis. The way to get that experience was in Corporate. I was able to quickly grow my career at Comcast being promoted to Director and then Vice President within two and half years. I managed a one-billion dollar capital budget, had a team of sixty people that were located in 7 states. At times, I was traveling about 70% of my time. This became really tough on the family and on me. I wasn’t able to be home with my children as much as I wanted to be and I wasn’t in the community serving others the way I wanted to be. I Had also launched my own business that like many women came from my passion for leadership development in young professionals and entrepreneurs. The Daily Boss Up took off on me and I left Comcast to build that business in early 2019. After hiring a couple of employees, I decided that I wasn’t done being a CFO at the young age of 33. The opportunity to join The Colorado Trust presented itself. It was perfect. It allows me to combine my love for finance with my passion for equity, including and community into one job. I feel more balanced right now than I ever have in my career even though I am running a business with a team and working for a charitable foundation with half a billion dollars in assets. I am doing what I love, walking in my purpose and have really developed tools for managing my days in ways that put the quality of my time with family as a non negotiable.
When is it most difficult to balance “being a mom” as well as your career?
The external pressure on women to do it all is so hard to shake. We have a natural tendency I believe to do for others so we don’t like to say no, we want to show up for all of our kids’ events and we don’t want to be judged.
What do you do to manage your time?
I live and die by my calendar. I am also unapologetic about getting help. I ask for help on the things that I am not great at or that I don’t enjoy doing. There are still pieces of my day that I have complete tasks, I don’t like but I have narrowed them down. I also plan time for email review, working on projects, time with the kids etc. I am not naturally structured so I have created systems to keep me so. I am also very attuned with my own energy. I know what times of day I will feel drained and plan accordingly with my calendar.
What challenges have you faced in regard to gender imbalances in society, workforce, etc?
I think the societal narratives for women in work are counter productive to our success in so many ways. We are told to leave our personal lives at the door, be the opposite of empathetic and nurturing. The skills we need and use to be our best selves as parents, are often discouraged in our careers. This is exhausting and one of the most challenging dynamics of the systems we are building careers in. When you can’t bring your authentic self to your career, you won’t be your best. When you spend your day being inauthentic, it’s hard to show up with energy for your family.
How have you dealt with these challenges?
I believe it takes a deep understanding of yourself to manage the challenges women face. Everyone believes they get to give us feedback no matter how successful we become. You have to know yourself so you can filter the feedback that is meant to help you grow from the feedback that will have you spinning trying to fix characteristics that were never broken in the first place. I have also learned to be as whole as I can in all my spaces. Wherever we go, we take ourselves along for the ride. I don’t try to be different at work than I am home. I work really hard to stay authentic which means I celebrate my empathy, my vulnerability and I am transparent as a leader about the struggles I face in life. I leverage what makes me great at raising whole human beings at home in my career and it has helped me stay focused and aware of my worthiness even when others try to take that from me.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Boundaries are the greatest gift you can give yourself. You don’t owe everyone everything that you have to give. You must save your energy for yourself so you can have longevity in chasing your dreams. People that don’t accept or respect your boundaries are meant for you. When you have boundaries and understand how to be selfish sometimes, you will experience a sustained motivation in a whole new way.
Lastly, if you were given 10 extra hours a week to spend however you wish, what would you do?
I would sleep an extra hour every night and I would finish my book a lot faster.