The best part of blogging and entering the entrepreneurial world 6+ years ago is the people who I have met. So why not take some time to highlight the REAL people who motivate and inspire me every day, right?
For the very first M.Y. Network interview, I’d like to introduce you to Danielle Fontus – who I affectionately call Dani or my friend with the best energy ever. Dani and I met about 2 years ago at a Goddess on the Go event and we quickly realized that we lived about 5 blocks apart from each other. In Manhattan, that’s basically next door – so we immediately became fast friends. It all started with a Scandal watch night in my studio apartment and it was complete magic after that.
My fondest memory of Dani is the night that we went to our favorite tea place in Harlem to set intentions for the New Moon. We had the option to go to Brooklyn to participate in a larger New Moon circle, but we didn’t feel like making the trek on the train. As we shared our intentions and talked about the visions we had for our lives, the energy shifted. I remember us looking at each other and saying that we felt like we’d been drinking since we were giddy – school girl – happy. That night was extra special – but in all honesty, that’s the energy that Dani brings to the table each and every day.
Let’s get into it.
NAME + WHAT DO YOU DO?
My name is Danielle Fontus, known to most as Dani. I am the Master Connector and Adventure Planner of She Dares, where I curate memorable pop-up experiences that encourage women to not only engage in activities that push them outside of their comfort zones but to also connect with others deeply and genuinely to form long lasting relationships. I also get to share some of those same skills in the hospitality industry as my “day job.”
5 YEARS AGO, WHERE DID YOU YOU IMAGINE THAT YOU WOULD BE TODAY?
I honestly don’t really remember the exact vision I had 5 years ago, but I know that certain pieces of the vision have always remained the same. I remember wanting to live in the city; I wanted to make women happier – through writing at the time; and I wanted to travel; all of which I get to do now in some capacity, but I honestly would not have imagined my life looking like this even 2 years ago.
5 years ago I was very good at “winging it.” I did what felt right in the moment and had fun doing it. Now I have learned to get clearer on a vision and a plan. What I love about creating my vision is that I am accomplishing pieces of it all the time and each time I revisit it, I get a little more specific with a new piece. It’s a fun balance of getting really clear on some of the pieces I want and then surrendering to magic of serendipity playing out even better than I imagined.
Right now, thinking about the next 5 years – though I’m not completely strict about it, I do have some visions and guidelines. Those same pieces are still there but in a bigger way – planning bigger experiences for more women, traveling to do the work I love and creating the home of my dreams in Harlem.
I also hold my #squadgoals very near and dear to my heart. When I dream, pieces of it are for me and my crew – the people I love – when I win, we win together. It’s community winning. [editors note: yet another reason why I love this chic – it’s not just about her, she wants us all to do well.]
WHAT IS YOUR SECRET TO KEEPING IT ALL TOGETHER?
I truly believe that my optimism is a huge part [of it]. Yes, life comes with challenges, and I would be doing a disservice to you and myself if I said I was 100% optimistic all of the time, but I generally maintain a positive perspective and outlook on things, mainly because it just feels better than being upset or anxious or stressed.
My commitment to finding the fun and seeing the adventure in everything definitely helps. From finding comedy in eccentric commuters on the subway to looking at driving in NYC like a video game, it certainly keeps life interesting.
I also think it helps to remain connected and dedicated to what I feel is my bigger purpose and vision. I believe that I think the way I do for a reason and I believe that it is a gift to be shared that can be very helpful to a lot of people.
WHAT’S YOUR MOST VALUABLE TOOL THAT YOU USE DAILY?
Information [and] education – I am constantly reading, researching and learning. I’ve grown to realize and appreciate how much further I can go and much more powerful I feel when equipped with knowledge.
Because I remain a student of life, I am constantly learning from experiences as well. From the collection of those experiences comes wisdom. I’m also learning to better trust my intuition. It continues to be the best director for my decisions.
Writing is another major lifeline of mine. It is my way to sort out my feelings, share my thoughts, create my vision, record my goals, hold myself accountable or remind me of my plans and promises to myself.
WHO’S YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCE?
I pull inspiration from a huge wealth of sources. My mom has naturally been a huge influence in my life, and as I get older I start to see how things she insisted on and instilled in me are of tremendous value to me now. My late grandfather is also a huge influence on how I think about my future.
The coaches and mentors I’ve worked with, other women I simply look up to and friends within my own circle – I am constantly inspired by the amazing details of people’s lives.
IF SOMEONE WANTED TO DO EXACTLY WHAT YOU DO, WHAT WOULD YOUR BIGGEST PIECE OF ADVICE BE?
I would definitely strongly encourage you to be open to support. Understanding the value of a team, the connections and network you create in your life is something I’ve grown to appreciate. I am still learning and practicing how to maximize and really implement that on a regular basis.
DO YOU STILL GET SCARED SOMETIMES WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT THE VISION YOU HAVE FOR YOUR LIFE?
Absolutely. With every accomplishment, there’s always a bigger vision in mind. I believe that the reality can be even bigger than I can now imagine and that is overwhelming. It is an unknown, new territory, and it could be a challenge, but I hold on to the saying “become comfortable with being uncomfortable” because that is when constant growth happens.
FUN FACT ABOUT YOURSELF?
I’m pretty silly and quirky. I sometimes think of myself as a cartoon character. I’m a lefty and can write with both hands and write backwards. I’m an only child and used to wish I had a twin. I love chocolate chip cookies. I love driving and have really special NYC parking karma. And I believe I am a superhero in my head.
photo cred: Be Nice Productions