…My organization and I are trying to create a world full of fulfilled and happy people! A world full of goal getters, and achievers! I don’t want to see people unhappy, unfilled, unconnected with what they truly want, and full of regret down the road. I believe people need guidance, people need structure to plan for these goals, they need someone to believe in them, especially when they don’t believe in themselves, and they need someone to push them to be better. The motivational goal planners I’ve created not only help people become more productive and organized, it helps them self-reflect, reframe their mindset to think positively throughout the many self-reflection questions in the planner, gives pep talks and hypes people up to believe in themselves, is written like a friend talking to them, gives them structure to plan for their goals, and gives them accountability to follow through with their goals! Just imagine how the world would become a better place if people actually did what they love, and sought fulfillment from their lives! If they took responsibility for the outcome of their lives! Not only would they impact themselves, they’d inspire their family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and perhaps even do something to change the world!
As part of our series about young people who are making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Athena Oanessian.
Athena is a young entrepreneur that seeks to change the world. She discovered her purpose after graduating from university last year, searching deep for answers within herself, reading and reflecting. She started a motivational goal planner company and seeks to inspire 1 million people to reach their greatest potential! You can visit her website to purchase her planners and get her guide on “Your Roadmap to Meaningful Goals”.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us about how you grew up?
Sure! I was born in sunny Los Angeles, CA, and have lived here all my life. I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by my grandparents. As we all know, grandparents are awesome! They had a lot of patience with me and my thousands of questions about the world! Every time I would ask questions and they would answer, I’d follow up with the question, “why?”. I probably asked “why” way too many times! They never got angry or irritated at all my questions and follow up questions and always taught me what I wanted to know! I’m so glad that they didn’t squash my creativity and curiosity of the world! To this day, I still question everything around me and constantly ask, “why?”!
Is there a particular book or organization that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Simon Sinek’s book, “Start With Why” has made a significant impact on me! It was one of the books I read after I graduated to figure out what my WHY, what my purpose in life is. I think too many of us go through life without doing what makes us feel alive. We spend our days stuck in a dead end job, looking forward to going home, watching TV, then doing the same thing over and over again. I think that’s why people look forward to the weekend so much and they dread Mondays. I never wanted to be that kind of person. Anywhere I worked, anything I did, I wanted to truly enjoy it. By my actions, I made sure of it! I read Simon’s book at a perfect time: right after graduating and trying to find my footing. My industry (hospitality management) was wiped out due to the pandemic, and I was considering law school anyway. After reading Simon’s book, and really searching inside myself, I knew the lawyer path just wasn’t meant for me. I wanted freedom to choose what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it, and be my own boss. I’ve also outworked everyone I knew so I didn’t want to keep being underpaid and undervalued. That’s when I decided to start my own business, and knowing my WHY, I knew I wanted to impact people’s lives so that they’d be fulfilled, they’d reflect on what mattered to them, they’d connect with themselves, they’d set big goals, and they’d live their live in a way where they’d be happy! Spreading happiness, uplifting others, and motivating them on a grand scale is my WHY!
You are currently leading an organization that is helping to make a positive social impact. Can you tell us a little about what you and your organization are trying to create in our world today?
Yes! My organization and I are trying to create a world full of fulfilled and happy people! A world full of goal getters, and achievers! I don’t want to see people unhappy, unfilled, unconnected with what they truly want, and full of regret down the road. I believe people need guidance, people need structure to plan for these goals, they need someone to believe in them, especially when they don’t believe in themselves, and they need someone to push them to be better. The motivational goal planners I’ve created not only help people become more productive and organized, it helps them self-reflect, reframe their mindset to think positively throughout the many self-reflection questions in the planner, gives pep talks and hypes people up to believe in themselves, is written like a friend talking to them, gives them structure to plan for their goals, and gives them accountability to follow through with their goals! Just imagine how the world would become a better place if people actually did what they love, and sought fulfillment from their lives! If they took responsibility for the outcome of their lives! Not only would they impact themselves, they’d inspire their family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and perhaps even do something to change the world!
Can you tell us the backstory about what originally inspired you to feel passionate about this cause and to do something about it?
My struggle with depression when I was young, how I overcame it, and the several traumas I endured afterwards have helped me become UNBREAKABLE. I realized the importance of taking control of our situations. We can’t change what happened to us, but we can choose what we’re going to do about it. Are we going to pity ourselves or make others pity us, or are we going to choose to have power over the situation, to learn, to grow immensely, and to become tougher mentally and emotionally? I learned that we choose to be happy. That immense realization has helped me get through the difficult traumas that would otherwise cause myself and others to go through years of therapy or worse. Our mindset impacts our attitude and actions. I want to inspire people with my story, so they know I’m just like them, but that immense growth, resilience and positivity helps you come out as a strong person who can change the world!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
Yes! My most interesting story is my biggest mistake. When I started my company in 4 short months, I knew how incredible the products I created are, from the hardcover wrapped in eco-friendly fabric, hand-sown binding for ultimate durability, local manufacturing with premium materials right here in the U.S.A, and most importantly, to the content inside my planners. I really believed that it would positively impact people’s lives! I decided to borrow some money and spend thousands of dollars on marketing so I could get the word out quickly. I called multiple marketing agencies and eventually chose 1 that I thought would do a great job. Their agency fees alone were over 5,000 dollars a month alone, and I was locked in a 6 month contract. After 3 months, and spending over 17,000 dollars in agency fees and about 1,500 dollars in ad spend, I only got 1 SALE. The return I got from spending that 17,000 dollars was a measly 67 dollars!! You got that right! After cutting the contract, it was already the end of January and it became a lot harder for these dated planners to sell.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
Yes! There have been so many incredible customers who reach out with amazing feedback saying that our motivational goal planner is mind-blowing and life-changing!
One of the last customers I spoke with said that this planner is the best planner she’s ever had (and she’s had plenty)! She said that it’s helped her stick to her goals and that she’s in a much better place now because of it!
Though she uses this planner to track work assignments, and other tasks, she mainly uses it to keep on top of her fitness goals so she could lose the pounds she gained while studying for the Law School Admissions Test.
She loves how goal oriented this planner is and how the structure (macro and micro goals with due dates) pushes her to achieve her goals and keep her accountable. She also uses the weekly habit trackers to track her daily workouts and stretches. She used to skip stretching all the time, but now she uses the habit tracker to track it. Since she started using this planner at the beginning of the year, she hasn’t missed a single day! She says that checking off the boxes and seeing how she completed her goals is mentally and visually satisfying and it motivated her to stay on top of her goals. She loves how interactive the planner is and how it fuels her to set and achieve her biggest goals!
How do you define “Making A Difference”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Making a difference to me means impacting a person’s life in one way or another! Making a difference doesn’t have to be huge. It can and should also be done on a small scale! For example, acts of kindness! Acts of kindness could be big and small, but the smaller they are, the easier and more often one can do them! Some small acts of kindness could be smiling at someone when you make eye contact, giving someone a genuine compliment, holding the door open for someone, letting a person who is in a big rush cut in front of you in line at the grocery store, writing a small note telling someone what they mean to you (without being bound to any occasion, just on a random day!) and so forth! You can’t imagine how impactful these small acts of kindness can be! They can totally change someone’s day! People want to be acknowledged and feel human. Acts of kindness also have a ripple effect! The more kindness you give to others, the more kindness they give to others and so forth! It also makes people feel happy, touched, and wholesome when they see humanity still exists!
Many young people would not know what steps to take to start to create the change they want to see. But you did. What are some of the steps you took to get your project started? Can you share the top 5 things you need to know to become a changemaker? Please tell us a story or example for each.
- Get to know yourself. What do you really want? What do you absolutely not want? What fills your cup? What drains it? What makes you feel alive.
- Find your WHY. Integrated to the above, find out, what’s your purpose? What were you meant to do in this world?
- Believe in yourself. When you dream and think big, there will always be people that doubt you. Shut out those naysayers and always believe in yourself.
- Never stop learning. Learning is important for immense growth personally and professionally. Read at least 10 books a year, invest in courses and anything that helps with your growth and development. The best money you could spend is on improving yourself!
- Plan and take action! You need to have a system that you can use to plan for these goals, big and small, and a tool to keep you accountable. You also need to do the hardest part: take action! Success in any aspect of your life won’t happen if you stay stagnant. DO the work, be prepared to work incredibly hard, be prepared to sacrifice, and be prepared to WIN!
What are the values that drive your work?
I’m so glad you ask this question because I feel it’s often overlooked! The values that drive my work are purpose, impact, greatness, excellence, integrity, quality, and care for excellent customer service and supporting local businesses.
Many people struggle to find what their purpose is and how to stay true to what they believe in. What are some tools or daily practices that have helped you to stay grounded and centred in who you are, your purpose, and focused on achieving your vision?
Always self-reflect and grow. Self-reflection and growth should NEVER stop. It’s an ongoing process. That’s why I’ve integrated self reflection questions not only in the beginning the planner but at the end of every month as a self reflection and accountability section. Sometimes goals change as you evolve. Never stop learning. LOVE learning. I consider myself a learning machine and that has contributed immensely to my success. I’ve spent well over 8,000 dollars just on books, courses, and coaches, and that has sped up my success. I’ve learned from the mistakes of other successful people (mistakes that have been costly in terms of money and time), and it’s prevented me from making those same mistakes.
I’m obsessed with my personal development, which in return transcends into my professional development. Become obsessed with improving yourself, your knowledge, your skills, and don’t stop.
Always stay true to your vision. Never forget why you started. Always go back to your why. See challenges as huge opportunities. Figure out how you’re going to overcome them.
Seek guidance. Mentorship comes in many different forms. You can also pay for these services via coaches. These have also helped my business a lot.
Set goals using the S.M.A.R.T. method and give yourself deadlines. Always be organized so you could check back on your progress and assess if you’re hitting your goals on time.
Create a roadmap of your life. Think of your life as a business and run it profitably in all areas.
Take breaks when necessary. Decompress. Plan. Journal. Watch some funny videos on YouTube, call a friend, get a message, or go for a hike. Do something that gives you energy.
Carve out time for silence every day. Think of your own needs. You can only give to others, so much as you can unto yourself.
Define what success means to you. I wrote a blog about this diving deep into more detail.
Keep a positive mindset.
In my work, I aim to challenge us all right now to take back our human story and co-create a vision for a world that works for all. I believe youth should have agency over their own future. Can you please share your vision for a world you want to see? I’d love to have you describe what it looks like and feels like. As you know, the more we can imagine it, the better we can manifest it!
The world I like to see is full of people who have taken responsibility for their own happiness! It’s full of people to love life, who give back to others, and who inspire others to be their best! The world would be at least 20% happier! Happiness breeds happiness just as success breeds success! It would be full of happy people when you walk down the street, kinder people who you find in stores (as team members and shoppers), more people who smile, laugh, learn, and forgive. It’ll be full of fulfillment, joy, and success!
I immensely agree, the more we can imagine it, the better we can manifest it! And if we can manifest it over and over again, coupled with our persistence and efforts, it will come to pass!
We are powerful co-creators and our minds and intentions create our reality. If you had limitless resources at your disposal, what specific steps would take to bring your vision to fruition?
Absolutely! If I had limitless resources, I’d have a library full of books that I’d read, then distribute to friends, family and organizations. I’d continue filling up my library with books! I have envisioned and I’m manifesting a library in my dream home, wall to wall filled with books and a comfy chair for me to sit in, with a table on the side to put my coffee! A quiet sanctuary!
I’d also be able to reach out to some of the most influential inventors and entrepreneurs in the world! Visionaries. I’d get 1 on 1 coaching directly through them!
All in all, I’d continually doing what I’m doing, just on a much grander scale!
Nothing replaces learning, growth and hard work!
I see a world driven by the power of love, not fear. Where human beings treat each other with humanity. Where compassion, kindness and generosity of spirit are characteristics we teach in schools and strive to embody in all we do. What changes would you like to see in the educational system? Can you explain or give an example?
I would love to see more important courses taught in school. We’re rarely taught about personal finance, money habits, or investing. We’re not taught about credit. We’re not taught about self growth. The problem is that so many people don’t learn this from their families. They make so many bad decisions solely because of their ignorance. They also may or may never learn from their mistakes.
If we teach these important courses early on, and continue to teach these courses throughout multiple educational levels, people would make far better financial, and self development choices that could impact their future in a far better way. They would be better positioned to set themselves up for success.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
Do what you love and spread kindness! Be powerful in your impact and message. Connect with others because at the end of the day we’re all human and we’re trying to do the best to provide for ourselves and our families. Be a little kinder and forgiving. And to truly make a positive impact, be humble, remember your beginnings, and do something that will HELP others in one way or another! Never lose sight of your WHY and your big picture!
Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
There are so many amazing individuals I’d love to meet, but if I had to pick 1, it would be Sara Blakely! Her story on how she started Spanx is remarkable, touching and inspiring! Her greatest mission in life is much like my own!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
To further follow my work online, you could visit my website, https://yousquared.co (not .com) and check out my motivational goal planners, blogs, and guide on Your Roadmap to Meaningful Goals!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!