Please say hello to a young woman that has found success through her bright spirit, ambitious drive, and strength of heart.
Dannie works with entrepreneurs to brainstorm, strategize, and implement marketing plans and processes to better their business. Her work also includes creating strategies for hiring and managing a team as a creative entrepreneur. In addition to her marketing work, she’s the author of a series of successful e-courses and a forthcoming book, titled “The Side Hustle Gal”.
She is doing great things and has overcome challenges that remind us all that with the right attitude, we can all achieve greatness. As she wisely tells us, being a girl boss is all about your mentality.
Beyond Bossy: Where are you from?
Dannie Lynn Fountain: I live in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois at the moment but I’m actually a Michigan native – grew up along Lake Huron.
What pushed you into the marketing field?
I made the decision to go into marketing during my freshman year of undergrad, when I realized my childhood dream of becoming a Corporate Lawyer didn’t really suit me anymore.
Brands and companies also need to deliver on brand promise, gut feel, and various levels of responsibility.
Do you enjoy it?
I absolutely love marketing! I’m a firm believer that everyone (even marketers) are consumers and we all have a lot to offer to brands. I’m a product of the iPhone generation but I still much prefer paper planners to iCal and it’s that varied perspective that fuels my passion for marketing and branding (good or bad). I recognize that price is no longer the primary motivator in purchase decisions today – brands and companies also need to deliver on brand promise, gut feel, and various levels of responsibility.
What would you say is the secret with marketing success?
We as consumers put our dollars where our heart is when a brand captivates us so completely that our technology-age attention span spends more than the customary six seconds experiencing a story. That passion comes to life in the brands that do it “right”. “Right” is the secret sauce of marketing – no set recipe, no ingredients list that can be passed from company to company, CMO to CMO. Instead, “right” garners a gut feeling so strong that people can’t help but notice.
Tell us about your organization, LE Consulting.
I founded LE Consulting in 2012 as a nonprofit venture, creating resumes and cover letters for low income individuals. We really enjoyed helping them and we decided to expand and start growing our business to support those efforts. Now, we still help low income individuals in that capacity, but we’ve expanded our offerings along the way.
What is the most recent endeavour you have taken on?
In 2016, we’re working on a new project called The Side Hustle Gal – a support system and guide for “part-time entrepreneurs” (I use quotes because part time entrepreneurship is somewhat of a misnomer).
The Side Hustle Gal is an incredible resource, being a side hustle gal myself. What is your top piece of advice for those juggling full-time work with their side hustle?
My #1 tip is to get help! Hire an assistant or someone who can manage business needs during the workday. It’s a lifesaver!
What is the most difficult aspect of running your own business?
Keeping my services streamlined and/or niche. There’s such a strong desire to help everyone do everything, but that’s not realistic.
I’m 22 years old and I can look back at that situation just five years ago and know that the right decisions were made to enable me to be in the place I am today.
Do you think you have followed society’s typical expectations and path to adulthood?
Definitely not. I was removed from my childhood home at 16 due to a myriad of circumstances and another woman (the woman I call my mother) was granted permanent guardianship of me. I think many people expected me to follow the “sixteen and pregnant” path, but I managed to graduate high school (just three months after changing homes!), pay my way through undergrad (and graduate with honors), get a “proper full-time job,” and then pay my way through grad school too (also graduating with honors). I’m 22 years old and I can look back at that situation just five years ago and know that the right decisions were made to enable me to be in the place I am today. Did I follow the “good grades, good job” path? Yes. Do I believe I followed the traditional path to adulthood? Definitely not. I truly believe my biggest accomplishment is that I kept my head on straight (thanks to the emotional support of many phenomenal people around me) and managed to achieve the things I planned on achieving as a child. I grew up in the “trophy for finishing” generation, so I have the typical collection of far too many trophies and trivial accomplishments, but I know that nothing can ever take away my college degrees and the feeling of accomplishment those provide.
Currently, what is your biggest dream?
I’d say I’m living my biggest dream. Ever since I was young, I’ve been a restless wanderer. If I’m not looking forward to a trip or experiencing the high of just returning home, there’s a feeling of disorientation about me. I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to travel as much as I do and I plan to continue making travel a priority in my life.
To not find grace means to not find peace.
How has your mother shaped your life?
At first glance, this question feels hard, distant, emotional even. But as I’ve grown older and gained some distance from my teenage years, I’ve also found clarity. Was my birth mother the best woman she could be? No. Are there still lessons that I’ve learned from her? Yes. The greatest lesson she’s taught me is that of grace. Finding the grace to forgive her and let go of the past, even in the face of our inability to reconcile, has been one of the most trying and hard-earned lessons of my life, but it’s a lesson that simply cannot be ignored. To not find grace means to not find peace.
What woman has inspired you and created a significant difference in your life?
My “adoptive mother” has taught me incredible resolve and true determination. When I moved in with her, she was a single mother of six (I became the seventh) children. She was divorced and doing the very best she could to make sure we were all clothed, we were doing the things we needed to do to be successful, and that we were still able to enjoy childhood as it should be. Today, she’s remarried, but she remains one of the strongest and most fiercely loyal women I know.
What has been your greatest moment of strength?
I think my greatest moment of strength was becoming my own person. The day that I finally moved past the crushing weight of societal demands for who I should be, what I should think, and what I should believe. Becoming my own person granted me clarity on life, on what I want to be and achieve, and on what is important to me.
How about your biggest weakness?
Weaknesses are a funny thing. You conquer one and immediately another rises up to take its place. Right now, my weakness is indulgence in pride. It’s okay to take pride in the things you’ve accomplished, but at some point, that pride starts to overcome your abilities to accomplish great things in the first place. I’ve been wrestling with pride and letting go a lot lately and it comes down to a willingness to “relinquish the beast”. I’ll get there.
I finally moved past the crushing weight of societal demands for who I should be, what I should think, and what I should believe.
Do you think women could have and do it all?
I think there’s a difference between “having it all” and “having it all at once”. Society seems to have confused the two, championing the women that seem to be in the latter camp. Truthfully, the latter camp is nearly impossible to maintain. Something will slip, break, and fall. The former is more in line with reality and doesn’t actually sacrifice that much. Can you have a wildly successful career? Certainly. Can you have a loving family? Absolutely. Sometimes it’s hard to have both at the same time and that’s okay.
What, to you, does it mean to be a ‘girl boss’?
The phrase ‘girl boss’ to me is more of a mentality than a type of person to aspire to be. ‘Girl boss’ is this place where I feel confident in my abilities as a woman, as a leader, as a business owner, as a friend. ‘Girl boss’ means that I take the time to show compassion and grace, even as I achieve the next item on my goals list.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to any girl going forward in life?
It’s funny to be asked to give a girl advice for going forward when many would consider me a girl too. The best possible advice I could give is to never forget who you are. You’ll be happiest and most successful when you’re being true to yourself and your passions.
Dannie, thank you for being so strong, passionate, kind, and an all around beautiful young woman. You are an inspiration to girls everywhere. We love all that you do and all that you are!