Arieann DeFazio: The Unchaperoned Child at a Birthday Party
Despite a difficult childhood, Arieann started her adult life motivated and driven to be successful. Multiple degrees. On the leadership team of multiple companies. From the outside, she appears insanely successful.
Her real story is one of contradictions, challenges, and struggles. Today she is focused on integrating the adult and the child, as she runs another company and works to help other entrepreneurs achieve their dreams.
Share This Inspirational Interview!
Support The Priority Paradigm
Help us continue to share the stories of amazing people! Please share this interview on social media and consider becoming a patron on Patreon.
Shea Oliver: Hi I’m Shea Oliver. Welcome to the Priority Paradigm. I’m sharing stories of amazing people who have made radical changes in their life for something more important. Today I am joined by Arieann DeFazio. And Arieann has a very cool story to tell us so without further ado… Arieann, tell us your story.
Arieann DeFazio: Well, look, that’s kind of a broad topic so I’m going to narrow this down a little bit here and just kind of give you guys the real quick snapshot of who you guys might be dealing with here or listening to for however long this takes. So kind of the way I describe myself and by the way this is also on my first tender profile so it’s a good one where I am like an unchaperoned child at a birthday party and I am just running around eating icing, throwing balls in the ball pit and just fucking shit up and that’s kind of just who I am as a person and on a daily basis.
Arieann DeFazio: But I also have, if you were to look at my resume you would not think that. I have a PhD in biochemistry, I’ve run 3 companies now, I’ve been on the leadership team of something like 8 start ups at this point, I was a nationally ranked athlete in college, I do speaking now, I do keynotes, taught, but at the same I time, I also completely smoked myself out of my apartment because I was too lazy to push the certain amount of time on the microwave and burnt the shit out of this bagel to the point where it melted into the plastic and created toxic smoke and I couldn’t breathe and I basically poisoned myself.
Arieann DeFazio: So, kind of what I try to get across to people and this is something that I am personally still working on, and I call Integrating the Adult and the Child, because I think it's very important to keep the child and that’s something we lose as adults but at the same time, its really difficult to integrate them both and a lot of people have a hard time understanding how those two people can like coexist, how like this complete quote-unquote shit-show of a person who cant even cook a bagel and can run a company are the same person, and I’m here as living proof that that’s in fact the case. Like, you could be those people. So, yea that kind of my quick intro there.
Shea Oliver: Well tell us a little bit more about how you ended up in college doing what you’re doing, and then going down the path you’re on.
Arieann DeFazio: Well, I’m going to start a little bit earlier than college and this isn’t something I share with a lot of people, but I’ve gone to therapy, so I can share more now, but hey, its works. I was the critic for a long time. I did not start... like I was not born to this life... like if you were looking at my life as a child, you would go this person’s going to be a stripper… like statistically that is where I should have ended up at. I’ve been shot, like I was a kid running from the cops, but I was also a band geek. You know, I’ve been weird my whole life but… yea. I actually grew up in the system. I was in foster care for about four years. There as a teenager. So, I went through all that, really didn’t have a good home life situation, in case that wasn’t an indication before that so it was like shit show on top of shit show on top of shit show for like 20 years of my life straight and you know I was like having to pay rent and feed myself at 13 and like, at the time, I look back at it and just think of a younger version of me but I look at 13-year olds now and it clicks just how insane that actually was.
Arieann DeFazio: So now, it’s kind of a double edge sword, right… a lot of good things came out of that like I can literally survive anything. In fact, my joke is that I’m notably difficult to kill, people tried. So, I have this whole resilience thing, but at the same time, I did put up a lot of like, emotional walls that I found out especially in my later teens, and that’s taken me kind of a long time to come to terms with. So that’s how that started. But like I said, at the same time I was running from the cops, I was also going to band practice… so I’ve been this dichotomous person my whole life. So, I went through all that and I knew I was going to college, right, because that had been beaten into my head, like any kid who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, that was beaten into your head and I’m sure it still is.
Arieann DeFazio: So, I was going to college, and I wanted to be a scientist at 5… I was like, I’m a scientist… that’s who I am and that’s what I’m going to go do. So, of course I was laughed at because everybody’s like, “what do you want to do with your life” and I’m like, I’m gonna own a pharmaceutical company, which by the way, I’m still gonna do at some point and they were just like, that’s ridiculous. You aren’t going to be able to do that, that’s for rich people. Anyways, so I went to college to get my degree and I think I got my undergraduate in molecular cell science something-or-another. I honestly don’t even know, because it wasn’t important. But at the same time, I was doing that, I started working at my first company, so I started working my first company starting when I was 19.
Shea Oliver: Wow
Arieann DeFazio: Again, because I needed money. This wasn’t like a strategic, thought out thing It wasn’t like an adult sitting me down like hey, this would be good for your life. I was like, I need to eat, and it was the job available at the time, so ended up running the whole office. I ended up becoming more like a CEO character and then I was just one payroll.
Arieann DeFazio: Again, I am just 19 running this company’s payroll, health benefits, their office… it was not a good idea. The CEO, I don’t know what the fuck he was thinking because like, you should not get that responsibility at 19. So, anyway, I helped found my first company when I was 21… was kind of a splinter group that went off of the other company. It was a game development company and we actually had one of the first apps on the iPhone. That’s one of my claims to fame. I didn’t code it. I can’t code worth a shit but I’m a solid copy-paster just putting that out, so for those of you thinking you can’t start a tech company without a tech background, that’s bullshit. And so, did that, and was still going to college, graduated with my undergrad and at that point, I left the company because I had it so engrained in my head, and I think once you get to a point where you’re trying to get across to you audiences, like we have these very set, regimented things that we were supposed to do. Like nerds, like me, are supposed to M.D.’s or Ph.D.’s, like that’s what you’re supposed to do, so I’ve been told my whole like that’s what you’re supposed to do. So, I went and did it.
Arieann DeFazio: I actually quit a company that was making money… by the way, it still exists and is making money, so this is how strong this was. I quit my frickin’ job. The business that I started. To go get a doctorate in like, clinical and translational science and biochemistry. Which, but the way, not a very lucrative thing so I did that for like, 6 years, so I was working in labs, but I didn’t get my doctorate. I’m a high level drop out… I came to my senses. So, anyway, I was doing that and kind of had this like, I don’t want to say serendipitous, because that seems like it was positive… and I’ll say a negative thing, happen to someone else for this, but basically, the person I was getting my Doctorate underneath, got into an accident. A car hit her while she was on her bike and she got brain damage. Temporary, thank God, but like she got hit really hard and she lost her ability to associate words with certain objects so she would point at it and say it, but she would be like, pointing at a phone and say comb or something like that.
Arieann DeFazio: So, for any of you who know anything about Ph.D.’s, you have like a medical board and they freak out, and they are like you got to pick someone else to be your mentor. This woman’s never going to come out of this. By the way it took 3 whole days for them to make this decision. So, anyway I had to go start looking for a new mentor and it was kind of like playing musical chairs one everybody had already sat down, and at the time I was really bummed but what it really did was highlight to me was just how screwed up the industry really is where someone with talent cannot even get a foothold because people are like, yeah, we just don’t have the grant money. Like, we can’t hire you. So, it kind of just highlighted to me, like, the career limitations that were gonna be in that field.
Arieann DeFazio: So once that happened, I came out to Colorado for a visit, and I was just, I don’t know. I was just like, fuck it. I’m moving out here. I had no plan, nothing… like, I just put all my shit in my little 2-door car that I could fit, and I quit my doctorate, and in two weeks I did all that and like I said, it wasn’t planned. It ended up being the best decision of my life, but I made it pretty much all the wrong way. Like, I didn’t have this thought out, like at all. And, I will say that is probably something that has helped me all throughout my life is that I am very in tuned to what people will call gut feelings, intuition, the Universe, the source, your subconscious mind, whatever the fuck you want to call it. Like, that thing is real. It doesn’t make any sense, whatever you want to call it, it comes up with the answers and it hands them to you. It doesn’t hand you a white paper about how it got to the answer. It's just like, you need to move to Colorado and like “why?” and it’s like, “you gotta.” So, I’m pretty in tune with those things. And even when I think back to when I was young I was doing that. I didn’t know that’s what I was doing. I thought I was just being impulsive… but maybe I am. Maybe I’m just covering up my impulsiveness with some high level, grand plan here. So, I moved to Colorado and I didn’t know what to do with my life. There were pretty dark times. I just quit my doctorate and you gotta imagine the amount of work and the amount of sacrifice that went into that. I paid my way through college. It was just like, I’m in debt now and what the fuck did you just do?
Arieann DeFazio: So, I spent time looking for jobs. And, I know this sounds dumb but I kind of forgot that I could run a company, so I thought I should get a job in science, so I start looking for a job in science, but it’s the same problem as before, its super hard to do. So, a few months go by, and no one else will hire me either because like, once you have doctorate on your frickin’ resume the coffee shop does not want to hire you because they know you’re going to leave. So, I was having a hard time and anyway and I finally did the most “Arieann” thing I could think of and I walked into someone’s office and was like, you know, this is what I do. There wasn’t a job opening. There wasn’t anything. This was just, this was a lab that in the field that I had worked in. Walked into the dude’s office, told them what I did, and he looked at me kind of half baffled and was like, ok go talk to the rest of the lab and see if you like them and them come back and we will talk, and I was like “okay.” So, I go around and talk to everybody at the lab and come back and was like, “yea, their dope, lets go.” And he said ok, well if you can work for free for two weeks then we can talk about it. I had no better options at the time, so I was like, screw it. I mean, I was in “the springs” at the time and I was in Boulder so for those of you who aren’t from Colorado, that is like a 2-hour drive, one way… when your unemployed. So, I was doing that for a few weeks to get this job and then I got it. It was like $9 an hour. By the way, that’s how much they pay fucking scientists. And that’s what I did. I did that for a while and because of the $9 an hour thing and in Boulder, those two things do not mix… Boulder, it's not the Valley but it's pretty damn close, so in order to make ends meet I started picking up these side jobs, part time jobs, side jobs... and I was doing all kinds of crazy shit… like one was doing these crazy chalk drawing on the sidewalk in the school for advertisements at 6:00AM. Which, by the way, I am not a morning person and doing all this stuff. And one day, I’m on Craigslist and this thing pops up and it's like “Needed: R&D Scientist for a Startup part-time, and I was like fuck yea and so I go and interview, I get the job, and this is like within weeks of being at the company… I know this sounds dumb… but within weeks of being at the company I remembered that I was good at running companies and I was like, “Wait, I remember this now.” This is like a natural thing for me.
Arieann DeFazio: So, yea, I worked for that company and I was still full time at the University for a while and then I came up with the idea for Kitables, and I came up with the idea of Kitables on my birthday weekend in 2014, while I was just on a drive. I got back down after that weekend and I told a bunch of people and I kick start it a few months later and I was just chugging since then with that but in the meantime, we didn’t have money because we hadn’t raised a round yet and there was no way to pay me and I, by the way, I was still working part time at the new job, I was running this company Kitables and I was still full time at the University so one.. so working 3 jobs... just keeping everyone on track here and because Kitables wasn’t making enough money and my two jobs combined still weren’t paying enough money and I was like, I need to consolidate here. I need to get out of the lab because I know this isn’t my path anymore. I found this job to be an Executive Director of a co-working space. Now, I am nowhere near qualified to do this job. It’s a non-profit which I knew nothing about, right. But me being me, and I think this is why, like, a lot of men get ahead in life because we women will talk ourselves out of shit like this but for whatever reason, I don’t have that, and I’m just like, of course that job is perfect for me… it’s not, but whatever. So, I go in and apply for it the guy is like… I wrote him this novel about how the job is so awesome or whatever, so the guy calls me back and is like, we are super stoked that you are super stoked, but we actually posted that like 6 months ago and were actually not looking for this person right now, and I’m like, ahh, fuck me. But he says come in, we should have coffee, it sounds like you’re doing some cool shit anyone, works for fun, so I go in and we have coffee you know, like for this organization called Spark, it was a nonprofit place, kind of to help, yea, so we were just talking and was like, hey, I just really want to help out… I didn’t have time to help out… keeping track, I had 3 fucking jobs at this point, one of which was supposed to be full time and I did it anyway. So, I sat in on their meetings every Wednesday or whatever for like six months and then one day he just goes, hey I gotta go, do you want the job.
Arianne DeFazio: At this point we had already been through an accelerator, like we were in the process of raising money. But like, I didn’t know. It was looking good, but I didn’t know. So, I’ve got like a 50/50 shot here and I was like, sure why not. And that’s how I ended up running 2 companies for 2 years. So Spark worked out and Kitables worked out. So now I had 2 companies that I was responsible for, and I had 20…. God, how old was I at that time… yea, I was 27 at that time. And I was just… I look back now and I had no business doing that but, you know, I got through it- ish. I’m gonna be honest, that may have been a mistake. I don’t know that running 2 companies at the same time is a good idea, especially when they’re revenue generating companies; and one of them was brick-and-mortar and they were 2 separate spaces, but I did learn a literal ton and I am very thankful for that.
Arianne DeFazio: So, did that for about 2 years and then I finally kind of went to board and was like, yea, I can’t do this. I gained 30, like I was just a freakin’ wreck! So, they were like, Ok. I mean it was like, its not like they had a choice, I was quitting, like I’m leaving.
Arianne DeFazio: So, I started focusing on Kitables the whole time and that’s what I’ve been doing the whole time for the last year to two years here, so yea. So Kitables has been around for 4 years now and still going. And, I just came out with my new idea that I started working on and now we are in 60+ countries and were licensing out our Build n' Brews, which is basically a paint and wine night, but with drones and beer… so were starting to license that out and you know, it could all be over in two months but it could also not, so. That’s start up life right there for you in a nutshell. So, I’m just chugging along here. I got to add international speaker to my resume recently because I got invited to go to Australia by the Queenland’s Government to talk about booshio thing and like start up environments because that what Spark did, we were like cultivating a co-working space, and entrepreneurial development center. We made, actually, an entire private school that was state certified, so we did that in like 2 years, which is kind of crazy, so it's been quite the freakin’ wild ride, I will tell ya, so yea!
Shea Oliver: No doubt! So do you ever take vacations?
Arianne DeFazio: No, I don’t know what those are. I don’t think I’ve ever taken one. I know, I know, I know. Everyone’s like, its not healthy. I get it but if you weren’t paying attention: I’ve been broke for most of my life so vacations… like, I do take the weekends off. I am pretty good about that. Like, I will take 4-day weekends, but have I ever been taken like 2 weeks and gone and sat on a beach? No, I have never done that. If I take a 4-day weekend, it's because we’re all like, let's all go run 200 miles in the mountains, you know.
Shea Oliver: Right
Arianne DeFazio: I’m not saying that’s a good thing. I’m just saying that something that I’m still working on
Shea Oliver: Sure. Hey, did you hit the pause button on your video?
Arianne DeFazio: No, I did not.
Shea Oliver: Ok, we’re frozen
Arianne DeFazio: Uh-oh, well I can still hear ya, so…
Shea Oliver: Well, I do this on YouTube too, so at some point it should catch back up
Arianne DeFazio: Oh, my internet just dropped out, so I wonder what the hell is going on there? Wow, that’s weird, alright, well at least we have audio.
Shea Oliver: We do, we do at least have the audio. So, let me ask you… you kind of, you say you are impulsive in other things but you’re really in touch with intuition, it’s the Universe, its whatever that is: how do you get in touch with that? Is it something that is so natural to you that you don’t know the difference or is there something that you do to stay connected to whatever that is?
Arianne DeFazio: Well, I think mine, it was naturally strengthened, like I think everybody has it, I just think I got a little extra dose of it because it was survival mechanism. Like, my brain had to know the numbers constantly to know if I needed to haul ass out of the situation. So, I think that’s actually where that comes from. That’s why I was saying, like, I truly do have this feeling like sometimes the darkest parts actually have the best parts in them, and I think that’s one of them. Like, while that reason that got honed in on, the effect of it later on has been great. You can think of your subconscious mind, or whatever you want to call it as the world's most sophisticated machine... learning machine. Like, it is… that’s what it is. Its running data in the background 24 freakin’ 7 and you don’t even notice it. Like I said though, the unfortunate part is that it never hands you... it doesn’t show its work, right? Like, it just… I thin this is why it feels like cheating, right? Like, if you are a teacher and this kid just kept handing in all of his math homework with just the answers not showing his work you would be like, what the hell, you’re cheating, but like that’s just how it works. You don’t get to know how it works, you just get the answer and the difficult part of it, really, is just like listening to it. I’m not perfect at it. I ignore it all the time, but you know, sometimes and I know everybody’s had this, right, where you are just like walking and this freakin’ thing just pops in your head that you haven’t thought about or, it just makes no sense. It's totally out of context.
Arianne DeFazio: To me, that’s like your brain going, “Yo dude, there’s something around this.” And again, you don’t get to know what. You don’t get to know why. You just get to know there’s something around it and more often than not, for me, its people that I should be getting in touch with. Or people that I should be around, and that seems to be like people would talk about their superpower, that’s kind of part of mine is that I always do find myself where I need to be when I need to be there. So, I think that’s part of it. And again, I think that’s just my rambling about this… I’m not exactly what you would call a spiritual person, but I do believe in the power of your own brain and I think its super powerful if you listen to it and can hone it in.
Shea Oliver: So, how much of this listening to it is kind of rational conscious mind and how much of it is more emotional?
Arianne DeFazio: So, I think that the issue people, what is the sticking point is with a lot of what I would consider analytical people with this whole idea of listening to the gut only thing is because our society has kind of trained people to believe that gut feeling is automatically bullshit because it's more an emotive feeling than a logical one. Like I said, you’re not going to get, like, a white paper on this feeling you’re just gonna get a feeling. And again, there are also bad feelings, there not saying that’s always right. I think this is like when people say the Angel and the Devil on your shoulder, like, it's not always right. Like if it’s sitting there at 2:00AM and it's like “Take the next shot!” don’t listen to it. Or, do. Just realize the consequences. You know, it’s like, its different. It’s just like any thought, or any piece of advice that anybody would have for you, you know?
Shea Oliver: Sure
Arianne DeFazio: But it’s coming from yourself. If that makes any sense. Anyway, I really do think there is something... something to be said about the power of that running every data point that you’ve ever gotten inputting into the background and kind of just figuring out ways those things go together and then telling your conscious brain, you dude, you gotta text this guy, and like why? And you’re like, you just gotta.
Shea Oliver: So, tell me a little bit about the experience when you were a student, you were getting your PhD. You’re obviously more in tune to the more emotional emotive or whatever this subconscious kind of life is. What was it like being around people who are wholly bought in to the analytical world?
Arianne DeFazio: Well, I am that person. And that’s why what I am… through and through… like I am an analytical person, like I absolutely am. And, that’s what took me so long to really just come to terms with that feeling because I denied it for a while, like I said. Like, I would do and not realize I was doing it. Like, it took me many, many years to become aware of like, where those were coming from. I just didn’t have any inhibition, so I just did whatever popped into my little head.
Arianne DeFazio: Now, I’ve gotten older and I have inhibitions, like I’ve started to look at that a little bit more critically, but again, I feel like those two things can exist. You can... because that is a logical thing… this is an analytical process, right? You just gotta understand that is your brain. It is doing the work. You’re just not aware of it. You know, like what’s your brain doing when you’re sleeping guys? Its doing stuff. Any sleep test will tell you that. It’s doing a lot. Its like defragging. It’s doing a lot and I truly believe it's like running problems in the background. Like how many times have you heard people say, “Oh, I just stopped thinking about it and the answer came to me and I figured it out” or like, I took a nap… and we hear this over and over and over again and I think that’s just what’s going on. You just need to all it to do the work. It's going to do the work and its not, to me it's not a God, its not the source, its not the universe, it’s your freakin’ brain. And to me, that’s a very integral, analytical way of looking at what other people refer to as “gut feelings.”
Shea Oliver: That’s very interesting. So, when you were at the point of ending your doctorate work, and deciding to move to Colorado, how did that process play out inside of you. Was it just at one moment you were a PhD student, and the next moment I’m travelling to Colorado?
Arianne DeFazio: Yea, I mean, again, this was before I really had an inhibition. I got like… “I’m going to Colorado” like, I didn’t think about it. I can’t describe how much I didn’t think about it. All I knew was that I didn’t like Florida and I wasn’t where I needed to be. I didn’t know where I needed to be but I knew this wasn’t it. And that’s about as much thought as what went into that. I would like to say... and I think that that’s part of this kind of message is like… and again, I struggle with this as I am a very whole person I want to know “how.” I want to know exactly what the steps on how we’re going to get the fucking goal. How are we gonna do this, right?
Arianne DeFazio: Sometimes you just flat out don’t know. And all you gotta do is just be like, “its gonna get there.” You know, like when I got to… when I made that move, I got to like 25 or 26, got to that power role, I wasn’t like, “oh, you know, I want to own a company one day.” Like, I wasn't consciously saying this to myself. That’s what ended up happening and I would say that’s for the better. You could argue that ended up poorly, too, and it did for a while, it absolutely did, but I dug myself out of it, and that’s one of the other gifts I was given in my childhood is that I know that I can pretty much dig myself out of any hole. So, I can do things like that, like I’m gonna move myself across the country, so fuck it, I’ll figure it out. I think that’s something I have to remind myself a lot to stay positive, you know, dude, how many times have you not figured it out... pretty much zero, so were good. So, like I said, I’m saying all this with confidence, but this is a daily struggle for me to stay positive and to not go down the deep hole of despair, especially when you’re an entrepreneur and your like, everything sucked! It's super easy, so this the ultra-positive area I’m talking right now.
Shea Oliver: So, what would NOT super positive Arieann say right now?
Arianne DeFazio: The shit is hard. Like, I think that people look at, and people kind of skirt over the fact about how hard things like entrepreneurship really are, and it's not because of workload or the never-ending tasks of lists of stuff to do or whatever else. It's really like this freakin’ emotional journey that you have to go on as a person, as a leader. Especially young people because we’re always pushing, like, 21-year olds to found companies. Newsflash: 21-year olds are in no way emotionally ready to do this! They might be intellectually ready, but they are not emotionally ready. Like, how are you going to lead a team when you don’t even know yourself yet.
Arianne DeFazio: So, that’s kind of the journey you have to go on. One of my theories, you usually have to go to the real dark places to get the good out or to be the best version of yourself and that’s extremely painful and you’re and you’re going through all that while you have like, two months of rent left and your payroll to pay and like, your employees being a dick, and you feel weird in your own office, and like you don’t know what to do, but these people are waiting for you to say what to do and you’re just like, grabbing at straws the whole time. And at the same time, society is showing you like images of like if you’re not working 100 hours a week, you ain’t shit and like its just over-fucking-whelming sometimes. You just like, really get beat down. Like, I have actually cried... like I don’t cry in public and there is probably only 10 times on record that I have cried in public and one of them was when I realized that I couldn’t pull Spark up. Like, I wasn’t the first to do it, but we are having this meeting and I like, cried, in the middle of the meeting. Yea, its hard. It really is. It's going to be very, very hard. It is. It’s like, I almost equate being an entrepreneur to being a competitive athlete or an ultra-athlete or like an Olympic athlete… like you are trying to be the best at your craft. And that requires a shit-ton of sacrifice. You have to like, get up to practice at 6:00am every day, you’ve got to eat… they go through so much to get there and a lot of people don’t see that. Again, in our pop culture, it’s like people in “Lambo’s” and just being like, yea, I do this so easy and it's like, it probably is now, but it wasn’t always that way and everybody gotta, you know everybody’s gotta put in the work. Sometimes it’s really hard, ok.
Shea Oliver: No doubt. It really is. So, as you’ve gone down this journey your on, this long winding journey, have you had any heroes that you look up to that have inspired you?
Arianne DeFazio: So honestly, no. I know that sounds super weird and slightly narcissistic, but I’ve never really been that person. I’ve never really had heroes, I’ve never had anyone like, wow, I wish I was that person. And again, I think that is because learned to grow up without any real guidance, so it all comes from me internally, and while that might have been a double-edged sword, I think that was a good thing because all I really need is me. If you put me on an island with just me, I’m like, I can figure this out. But, at the same time, I feel like I’m missing out on a part of something that could be easier for me in integrating what other successful people have done and kind of modeling stuff after them. So, yea, the answer to that is oddly, no. And, I still don’t.
Shea Oliver: Interesting… well, if it’s served you so far… So, thinking about now that you’re a little bit older and you’ve had what a lot of people would call crazy success, what do you want to change about yourself? Or is there anything you want to change about yourself?
Arianne DeFazio: Oh yea, tons. Like, the kind of survival mechanisms I built up over the early 20-something years of my life… while they served me for that time… have been hindering me as far as my professional progress. So, in order to become the best me that I can and create the best companies and the best products, I really needed to go over some of my quote-unquote bullshit. Kind of like the hero thing, like that’s part of it. Like, I need to realize that like, other people like happiness, success, things like that are not zero-sum games. I do not need to be competitive but do not need to constantly be putting myself down, you know. I have a paradigm that says everything always has to be hard and that’s always repeating in my head and that always affects my company, that affects my employees, that affects everything. I’m not married. I don’t have a co-founder. There’s probably a freakin’ reason for that. Its me. So, yea, the things that I need to work on are very personal in a way that I just need to honestly, just chill the hell out and to be more positive both to other people and to myself so that I can create more abundance for the team and the company and myself. So, that’s what I want to change and what I am kind of currently working on.
Arianne DeFazio: As much as it pains me to say this, because again, I am talking very froo-froo this whole chat because I am in the middle of one of these life transformation times, but like I can’t tell you how much I roll my eyes when people are like, oh my God, the crystals ground me. I live in Boulder, and I hate kale, yoga’s weird, I do not get reiki which is basically the opposite of Heather which is great because we are best friends, so yea, I just don’t buy into any of that shit but I started a daily, what I call, gratitude practice and its just basically me sitting down and rewarding and I’m like, “yo, I’m thankful for all these things that will happen in the future.” It just makes me happier, and a happier Arieann is a positive Arieann, and a positive person is going to be more positive and work better and that’s what I need to do.
Arianne DeFazio: So, I see it… I’m trying to integrate these things or routines to try to get me to be… its practice for my game, if you will. It’s taken me a while to get to that point in my life where I’m like, “hey, maybe.” Again, I’m still that person who will party till 3:00 AM so integrating those two people is currently my challenge. Integrating the kid double-fisting knives while running around the ball pit because everybody loves, like I’m entertaining as shit… especially after a couple of drinks, but trying to keep that part of me, because I think that’s a very useful part that I think is important, but at the same time, to integrate this new side where its like, hey we get up in the morning. We have a routine. We eat food because that’s important, and just get more grounded and show up better for my company.
Shea Oliver: Very cool. So, you’re kind of in the middle of this transition of trying to, whatever you want to call it, maybe its self-improvement… would you go back and tell that young PhD student to do something differently or would you just let her go down the path?
Arianne DeFazio: I mean, so here’s the thing about me: I’m stubborn as all get-out… and people will say that, “Don’t you wish you had started this earlier?” and I’m like, “I totally do but here’s the thing... I wouldn’t have done it.” Even if I had come back and I was like, yo dude, you should do this. Your life will be a lot better. I would be like, “fuck that.” Like, I wasn’t ready to hear it, right? So, when you are ready, you’re ready. There is like this joke I use in Sex in The City that I used for relationships and its like, you basically can’t get in the taxi unless the lights on. So, until that light’s on, it’s not gonna work. And, that’s like a relationship. You’re not going to be ready for a relationship until you just are. And I wasn’t ready to make this transition into the next version or leveling up, if you will, I wasn’t ready, and I wouldn’t have listened even if someone had told me that.
Shea Oliver: So, what if you were given an opportunity to tell somebody who is at a point of wanting to make a change in their own life. What’s the one thing that you would tell them?
Arianne DeFazio: Hmmm, I think I would just say, “Do it.” If you listen to my story or if you listen to any of what you would call a “successful person's” story, you will notice one key thing about their story and that is, whenever there is a door that is available, they go through it. You’ll see this time and time again, like they don’t say no to opportunities. They don’t talk themselves out of it. They don’t go, “oh well but.” Screw that. Just do it. When has just doing it ever gone wrong really. That’s what I would say, like if you’re thinking, “oh I want to move” then just do it. And, you know, you will come up with a million reasons why you shouldn’t like I can't move the kids or blah, blah, blah or something, something, something… but those are always going to be there. Unless there is a severely legitimate reason then I think you just need to do what you think you need to do, even if that doesn’t make sense at the time.
Shea Oliver: Very good, cool. So, I’ve got a… as I listen to you talk about everything you’re talking about, do you have a definition of success?
Arianne DeFazio: No, I don’t. And I don’t think I ever will. I think that’s just kind of the nature of my being is that, you know, like even if I woke up tomorrow and sold a company for $10 million, I would probably wake up the next day and be like, I need 20. Like, it’s never gonna stop. Whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, I’ve yet to determine. So, for me, I don’t think it's ever going to stop because I think that’s really the beauty of life to get to experience those things, and novelty, and trying to strive for the next thing. So, I don’t think there is ever going to be a point where I’m like, okay, we’re good. We did it. I could probably have a Nobel Prize in something and have like 3 doctorates and have like 18 companies and be like, I feel like we should add professional windsurfer, you know.
Shea Oliver: Sure, sure. So, as you just listed off all kinds of, a huge variety of things, but what to you is the most important thing to you in life?
Arianne DeFazio: So, to me its experiences, and particularly I seem to like novel ones and just getting to experience everything. And, more importantly, I think for me it's experiencing it with others. So, like, kind of my dark joke is... have you ever read Into the Wild or watched the movie?
Shea Oliver: Yes
Arianne DeFazio: So, at the end… so basically for those who haven’t read it, I’m trying not to give away the story, but basically the dude ends up dying and the last thing he writes in his journal is that happiness…. Or something like… that experiences are only meaningful when shared. And I was like, I know this is super dark, but this is just being like... the idiot had to die for that and that’s just freakin’ obvious to me which feels like, duh! But yea, I truly feel that. Like, I will not say not to an experience even if it's like, super dumb to me. Like, my friend, Heather, who I have mentioned several times in this, she’s like, “hey man do you want to go do this detox foot bath and hang out in salt caves for an hour?” and it's like this totally fru-fru whatever, but I’m just like, sure, like I will just say yes to anything, like, “you want to run a triathlon?” Yea, sure. Do you want to go do like whatever, like name it. There are very few things were I’m like, “hard pass.” So, being open to experiences and getting to experience as much as humanly possible before I get off the planet.
Shea Oliver: very, very cool. So, if people wanted to know a little bit more about you or get in touch with you, what are the best methods to do that?
Arianne DeFazio: Email me, because I’m a millennial and if you call me I’ll be confused.
Shea Oliver: Awesome!
Arianne DeFazio: We don’t pick up phones! That’s pretty funny. An older friend today was like, oh I’ll photocopy it for you and I was like, you just take a picture of it. She’s like, oh right.
Shea Oliver: I could photocopy and fax it to you if you like!
Arianne DeFazio: I was just like, text it.
Shea Oliver: Cool. Well, I really appreciate you spending some time with me today, Arieann. I always end with one last question and that question is what question should I have asked you?
Arianne DeFazio: Oh, hard one…. God damn… oh you know what would be a good one for my story, kind of to balance it out, like how many spontaneous decisions have ended poorly for you?
Shea Oliver: Okay, answer the question.
Arianne DeFazio: Yeah, I have had, and these are mostly physical injuries, but I’ve had the most bones broken in my body. I have done a lot of dumb stuff, but like everyone does, right? Thankfully nothing has been like, super permanent, except like my tailbone. I broke my tailbone and I didn’t go to the doctor because I’m a stubborn asshole, and now, like that whole area is screwed up and like I couldn’t run for two years. So, there is like definitely consequences to not thinking all the way through things sometimes but in my experience, they tend to be short lived. Or, you’re just like, okay… like last year, I was like I’m gonna race downhill mountain bikes. Did I train for that? Fuck no. I did it. I hurt myself. Its was like I got into a car accident… I broke my bike. I made it through, but I haven’t been able to mountain bike since and mountain biking is one of my favorite things in the world. So, you can mess yourself up. Now, if I made the spontaneous decision to downhill mountain bike and then followed it up with a routine training, that would have been a different story, which is why I’m working on the routine follow up part, right now. So, I think that’s an important part of the story of late. When I say you need to go do what you feel you need to go do, but you don’t understand why yet, there’s a middle part there which like, prepare for that. Now that you’ve made that decision, get your brain involved… what is it, like: Follow your heart, but take your brain with you. Do that. I was not taking my brain with me when I was younger… and it hurt a lot.
Shea Oliver: How cool. Well thanks for spending some time with me today. This has been really enjoyable, and I wish you luck with your current company, your next company… and what’s your pharmaceutical company gonna make?
Arianne DeFazio: I don’t know yet. Some doctorate that’s actually finished theirs is probably gonna tell me in a few years.
Shea Oliver: Very cool. Well, best of luck in all the businesses and thank you again for spending time with us today!
Arianne DeFazio: Yes, thank you so much!