Naomi Hirabayashi is the co-founder of Shine, personalized motivational texts to help anyone slay the day. Prior to that, Naomi was CMO of DoSomething.org, a non-profit empowering youth to take action around social change, and helped the organization scale growth.
Hi Naomi! So excited to have you here. Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up and how did that shape you as a person?
I grew up in Fairfax City, about 20 miles outside of DC. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents growing up, and they absolutely shaped me to be who I am today -- they lived their life with the utmost compassion, providing their home for people in need, or employing people who were struggling to get a job due to mental health issues.
From a very early age, they showed me what pure kindness really is, and it’s evident in action. My grandma would drill into my head “Pretty is as pretty does” - you’re only as beautiful as your actions. Valuing compassion and tolerance (which is something I’m always working on & trying to be better at) was very much shaped by the time I spent with them.
The second would be the value of education. For eight years, my mom drove us over 2 hours every single day, before her 12 hour shifts as a nurse, so we could stay with my grandparents and get access to better public education in their district. It’s often those sacrifices you can’t really understand the depths of until you become an adult.
You first worked in advertising, then became CMO at DoSomething.org and you've currently co-founded an amazing company called Shine. That's quite a journey, what led you through that path to where you are today?
Starting out in advertising, I built an understanding of the value of an impression, how much people will pay for exposure. From there, I shifted to new media, working at a start up where I was on the ground floor doing community management for major companies, which led me to DoSomething.org, the most formative step in my career, before Shine, where I spent my time scaling DoSomething.org membership, and finding new ways to reach more young people around social action.
It’s mostly about curiosity: what are you interested in, what do you want to learn, and if you’re privileged enough, can your professional career be connected to that? The thread throughout my career has been a fascination with communication technology and how we can leverage that to unite people, to motivate them, and to connect with them.
What was the motivation to start Shine?
To help people live their best lives. We’re all balancing so much and we’re all incredibly hard on ourselves. Marah and I wanted to create a product that scaled the support we provided each other, reiterated the permission to be human, and delivered a daily dose of motivation, to people all over the world.
You've taken a number of risks in your career and created something completely new. Whenever I'm diving into something new, fears naturally come up. My biggest hurdle being the wanting to wait until perfect to start. Were there any fears creating then moving to Shine full time? How have you learned to manage them?
I love that you address fears openly and honestly! That’s more rare than it should be. There were absolutely fears when moving to Shine full time, as there should be with any big change, risk or leap you take. That said, the fear of never taking the risk, never seeing what Shine could become if we truly went for it, was so much greater than the fear of going for it.
What is your definition of authentic success?
Through hard work, integrity, and your specific capabilities or passion for an issue, you’ve created something you’re proud of that’s making a positive and purposeful impact in people’s day to day.
What advice would you give your younger self?
All of the tough stuff along the way, that made me feel “different” or “off”, helped provide the tenacity and fight that makes me work extra hard today to create a life I’m proud of. It was hard to know at the time how those struggles would later become some of the best resources.
What legacy would you like to leave behind?
Practice human compassion. Give people the benefit of the doubt. We’re all doing the best we can. And enjoy this run as much as possible. We have one chance to get the most out of this precious, crazy, and amazing life. Try not to miss it.
Finally, what is your favorite travel destination and what would be your first meal there?
Venice! And Pasta! Always pasta :)
For more on Shine visit: http://www.shinetext.com/