And So Shawn’s Story Goes…
I grew up on an apple orchard in Hermitage Pennsylvania, a parcel of land that was purchased in the early 1900s by my great grandparents.
3rd generation entrepreneur
Everyone in my family has, at one time or another, been an entrepreneur. My grandparents managed the apple orchard; my dad, uncle, and mom have all dipped their toes in the entrepreneurial waters. At the age of 10, I got my first real taste of entrepreneurship when I set up a table in the front yard and sold apples to passersby.
I used the proceeds from that venture to buy a brown leather bomber jacket—at the time, a jacket I thought was the very definition of the term “badass.” Definitely a must have for any 10-year-old in 1983.
Business chops forged in big box retail management
My first job out of college was a management training program for a big box home improvement center. The variety was great (I got to drive a fork lift), working all of those late nights and weekends wasn’t. It was there I learned a ton about running a business, providing high-level customer service, and the critical importance of having a strategic vision (or lack thereof). With Home Depot and Lowe’s breathing heavily down their necks, one day the family-owned business decided to sell. But they didn’t include our store in the deal. I was only one of the 97 employees who were abruptly laid off. Our old building eventually went on to become a Tractor Supply. I was probably right around 23 at the time.
Background in higher education
Burned by my experience in retail, I realized I had to make a shift. So after a few weeks of deep thought, a few curse words, and a whole lot of soul searching, I decided to leverage what I learned looking for jobs as an undergraduate and try my hand at career coaching. With limited (no) related experience, I ended up calling three local colleges and offering to work for free. Two of them told me no (talk about a swift kick square in the teeth). One said yes. Over the next two years, I bootstrapped my way up the proverbial ladder while also taking advantage of their tuition remission program to obtain a graduate degree.
Right around that time, a position opened up at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill-and that’s where I would spend the next 9 years of my life. I worked with thousands of undergraduate and graduate students, taught a course for masters and PhD candidates, bought my first house, and wrote a book—Courting Your Career.
My ties to Western Pennsylvania and to the University of Pittsburgh (my undergraduate alma mater) brought me back home to the area in 2008 where I served as Assistant Dean and Director of MBA Career Services.
Small business marketing consultant
My passion for helping badass small businesses was permanently etched into my soul after having spent the better part of my childhood watching my family chase their hopes and dreams with every fiber of their existence. And I call upon that same passion each and every time I work with clients to help them tell their story and grow their business.