Believe in Yourself: Less than two months after we opened our store, fertility treatments nationwide were canceled due to COVID-19. Sales virtually stopped. We had no idea when treatments would resume and had to decide if we should pack up or keep moving forward. We continued to press forward, building the knowledge of our brand and engagement with our target audience. Six long weeks later, treatment resumed and we had a single day of sales that netted more than our entire first month of operation.
In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of resilience among successful business leaders. Resilience is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Danielle Hall, the Co-Founder of MyVitro, a fertility treatment organizer and accessories company. She started the company with her husband Patrick after not being able to find anything in the market to help them organize their IVF supplies. She strives to remove the stigma around infertility and provide support to people going through treatments.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
My story starts just like so many others. I had a career I enjoyed, I had just gotten married and was starting to try for a baby with my husband. Then, I had my first miscarriage. Throughout that fateful year I had two more miscarriages, and more heartache than I knew what to do with. We were given an infertility diagnosis and told IVF was the best path to having children. The first round of IVF failed, and in the middle of my second round, I got mad that I had spent thousands of dollars on expensive fertility medications yet I couldn’t buy a single product dedicated to help me organize them. A lot of people keep their fertility treatment secret due to the shame and stigma tied to infertility. Subsequently, this created a huge gap in the tools and support needed for those going through IVF. I knew I needed to do something about it so I left my software career in Silicon Valley and took the leap to start my own company, MyVitro, helping others take control of their fertility injections and medications — something I wish I had access to during the IVF process.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
The inspiration for my business came from a desperate moment during a stressful time. I sketched the vision for our first IVF Organizer on a piece of scrap paper after I had finished injecting myself with 1,000 dollars worth of medications. I was mad, fearful and frustrated, all words typically used to indicate a negative mental space, certainly not one you might associate with positive outcomes like inspiration, vision, or hope. That’s when I realized that inspiration doesn’t always come when you want it to, when you have carved time out to carefully consider possibilities, when you are in control and mentally free to create. For me, it came from pressure and stress. It came from anger. It made me realize that I have to be open to all of my emotions, all of my various states of being, and that ideas, visions, and inspiration will equally come from the good moments as well as the bad.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
MyVitro is the only company that offers organizers for fertility medications. People growing their families through Assisted Reproductive Technologies spend 41 billion dollars annually on these treatments. Whether it’s because of the stigma still tied to treatment like IVF or because companies are simply unaware of the size of the market because so many keep it a secret, this community is woefully underserved. The strength of our sales and brand growth is proving that this is a very strong market to serve.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My husband’s trust in me and my idea is the only reason MyVitro came to be. While I knew instinctively the pain points of the IVF community, and had more than enough passion and conviction in our mission, he grounded my ideas with logic and planning. His background in entrepreneurship and assessment of the market opportunity was crucial, and he empowered me with his belief in this business.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
I think as a society we tend to shy away from negative emotions, we want to avoid struggle, and I think to be resilient you have to truly experience all of the highs and lows. Don’t be afraid of loss, heartache, failure, or disappointment. Growth and inspiration can be found there if you are brave enough to face it. If you are living your life because of someone else’s expectations, it will be hard to fight through adversity because it isn’t what you really want to begin with.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
Walt Disney’s path to his massive legacy is one I think of often and take great inspiration from. He had a number of setbacks along his journey — business failings, personal failures, mental struggles and a World War. All of this plagued the growth of his empire, but he never let anything stop his path forward. We launched our business the same week that COVID-19 hit the US shores. Launching our business during the global pandemic has required a huge amount of resilience.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
When my husband and I started dating, we lived 750 miles away from each other. He was rooted in Ohio with a business and a child from a previous marriage. My decision to relocate to Columbus from Boston was met with skepticism and reluctance by many of my friends and family. Not only for the move, but also for taking on the role of step-mom. Just because something will be hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Seven years later we are a happy, modern family living out our dreams together in Columbus, Ohio.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
A major setback is what propelled me to start my company. Miscarrying so many times and struggling with fertility treatments inspired me to not only start MyVitro, but also to try and give back to other people who are struggling to conceive.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
My mom was the definition of resilience. As a single mother of three kids, she worked three jobs to support my brothers and me on her own. She was beyond upbeat and sacrificed endlessly to raise us. She made it to my school events and volleyball games, she helped me tour colleges and showed us the fun in life even when times were hard. I don’t know how she found the time to do everything or the mental capacity to get up every day on her own and take care of family, but she did. I hope she passed that resilience on to me.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
All of my tips for becoming more resilient relate in some way to conserving mental energy and strengthening your emotional acuity. This frees up your capacity to take on the true challenges and overcome adversity more easily time and time again.
- Don’t Take Things Personally: Too often we expend precious energy on perceived slights or provocations and I’ve found it’s almost never personal.
- Don’t Lie to Yourself: Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses is invaluable.
- Let Things Go: Holding on to grudges, bad ideas or relationships that have soured will hold you down. Have the confidence to move forward without baggage.
- Be Flexible: Being able to pivot saved our business. We were set to launch MyVitro with our first product, our IVF Organizer, in early 2020. Our manufacturing team selected a factory in China that was quickly shut down due to COVID-19 and delayed us for months. We quickly pivoted to launching a planned follow-up product, our Fertility Caddy, instead and successfully launched the IVF Organizer later in the year.
- Believe in Yourself: Less than two months after we opened our store, fertility treatments nationwide were canceled due to COVID-19. Sales virtually stopped. We had no idea when treatments would resume and had to decide if we should pack up or keep moving forward. We continued to press forward, building the knowledge of our brand and engagement with our target audience. Six long weeks later, treatment resumed and we had a single day of sales that netted more than our entire first month of operation.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I hope that women are becoming more empowered to take control of their fertility. There is no shame in wanting to understand our bodies, to seek out as much information as we can about our fertility early on, so that we can make educated decisions about having a family. External forces, like relationship status or career aspirations, have many women putting family decisions on hold, and I don’t want that to stop them from understanding what their options are or will be in the future.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
I would love to have lunch with Barbara Corcoran. Not only is she an incredible business woman, leader, entrepreneur and Shark, but she has overcome diversity in her life and has never let it hold her back. She went through seven years of fertility treatments and IVF to have her son and has a wonderful perspective on the idea of work-life balance for women who want children and career success.
How can our readers follow you on social media?