Create your own blueprint, there is no manual — Once you have the true motivation to make an impact through your company & determine the key measures of success along the way, you have to create your own blueprint.
Build it, and they will come is a myth. — Networking and marketing are integral parts of a company’s success. It’s great that you have services or products. If no one knows they exist, there will be no impact.
A great team built on the same values is worth its weight in gold. — When you select a team, make sure they follow the same framework and principles as your company. This helps the company machine run smoothly.
As part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company” I had the pleasure of interviewing Shazia Peeran.
Shazia Peeran is passionate about helping the community thrive. She does this through creating products that make our lives easier, volunteering & giving back, and through her work in the Financial Services industry. As the founder of Giving Digitized, Shazia helps charities thrive in a virtual environment with their donors, making it easier to serve the community.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
When the pandemic happened, I realized that the charities like those I volunteered for over the years would be the hardest hit while serving those who need it most. There was an opportunity to create something that solves real-world problems, and I stepped up to the plate. In short order, I created Software as a service to make serving the community easier. This was made easier by the giants who have come before in building businesses, namely Marc Benioff and Tony Robbins.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
There were two choices in 2020:
1. Wait for the world to go back to normal
2. Make a change to enable volunteerism in a socially distant way
The smart choice was evident, and we built a platform to help both volunteers (individuals and corporate) and charities.
In the past year, we built a platform that helps charities and donors with virtual giving and staying safe and organized. While everyone was trying to work from home, charities had many challenges to disseminate needs quickly and easily to the community & know when those things were being sent over. Also, it was challenging for the community to know what was needed at any given time. As a volunteer over several years, I knew the challenges well and built a platform that would make both the charities’ and donors’ lives easier.
At this time, charities in 4 states & communities from 9 states participated actively using the platform.
Giving Digitized is committed to enabling our community to support each other and continue to help those suffering from the pandemic’s impacts. Our virtual giving platform connects those in need with those who can provide.
A massive challenge for charities is the need to function efficiently in a virtual environment that keeps the donors safe and provides families and children with their care. For charities, it provides a transparent view of the requests from the community. They use it to request and receive in-kind resources and distribution with verification where it’s required. In addition, it helps them with the logistics they manage.
The application is built to help the community and charities continue to support those in need in a socially distant way. It cuts down the planning process for those who want to do good individually and in groups.
Sometimes, there is a mismatch when there isn’t transparency of what’s needed, or sometimes individuals are just eager to help. I wouldn’t say I like wastefulness, which was one reason I built the platform. Many generous individuals want to help and sometimes the donors need to know the exact need.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
There were many pieces of work that were challenging and gave me tremendous opportunities to grow from the start. Most people have an inherent limitation in life — either by thinking someone else will solve the problem or not acting because they want to figure out every detail before executing. For me, it was crystal clear that we are the ones who will solve the pressing problem and need to start right away. I knew the what and the why and set out to figure out the how. I have spent most of my life serving the community through volunteering and giving back a percentage of my income every year. This past year, 2020, allowed creating an avenue that would increase community impact by enabling others to participate easily in giving resources virtually.
Getting the drive to continue through any minor bumps was made easy by knowing that our goal is to help one million individuals through the platform & focusing on and addressing issues worsened by the pandemic, including but not limited to hunger, homelessness, and economic opportunity.
By clearly knowing the impact this build would have, we were determined and found a way and made ways to deliver a platform. This included finding innovative ways of solving a problem and creating a product that enriches people’s lives.
So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
At this time, charities in 4 states & communities from 9 states participated actively using the platform. Many organizations in the community, from local homeless shelters, transitional housing, and community centers, have leveraged the platform. Giving Digitized is committed to enabling our community to support each other and continue to help those suffering from the pandemic’s impacts.
So far, we have completed toy drives, coat drives, and shelter refresh supply drives. The health and hygiene virtual drive is ongoing and will later have a food drive, school drive, and disaster relief. Organizing and helping charities connect with their donors virtually and keeping both the community and the donors safe. This has led to hundreds of more individuals receiving resources totaling tens of thousands of dollars. In addition to the work, we donated 24,550 meals to address food insecurity last year.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We saw there was an opportunity to help and stepped in. What helps us stand out is we understand the needs of charities and volunteers and have built a platform that makes helping the community easier. It’s making giving back as easy and intuitive as buying and tracking anything online.
Each time someone sees the platform workings on the charities side and volunteers, they see it as something that’s much needed and is a welcome change. It doesn’t get old to hear the many ways this can help (think natural disasters, coat drives, food drives, etc.) & that it’s about time there was a platform built to make giving virtual and, most importantly, organized.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
The funniest mistake was by far the assumption that creating a single link of a gift basket existed on all platforms. Well, spoiler alert, this doesn’t exist. This lesson led to learning and creating some cool underlying technology that supports the ease of use.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Early in my corporate career, I was told that working long hours leads to success. It’s not the long hours, but the quality of work, determination, compassion, and camaraderie that leads to success.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
The three character traits that I believe are instrumental to the success of Giving Digitized are courage, compassion and determination.
Courage. To do what nobody has done before, you need to be bold and do what hasn’t been done before. You need to make a bold move and continually take massive, determined action to reach your goal. This means stop worrying and get around to taking action.
Compassion and Determination Life gives us the privilege and responsibility to be more. Be compassionate and kind with others and yourself. There are some days that there will be setbacks. That’s expected. At those times, don’t focus on the things that went wrong since you started and beat yourself up. Instead, focus your energies on the massive change that has happened along the way. And use that positive momentum to find a way or make a way to reach your goal.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Focus on the outcome and let the pull of your goal take you forward. This means that you don’t focus on the mechanics of what needs to get done. By doing this simple move, you will be energized by the outcomes and will wake up with unbelievable energy to thrive.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
I often see people focused on their product or services and not on their clients’ needs. Fall in love with your client by solving their need and not what you are currently providing them. This way, you will be able to continually provide your clients and partners massive value.
In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
In my experience, the mindset of the company’s leaders is most underestimated.
When a company’s leader is centered on the correct principles and values, they can lead without hesitation, set an example & implicitly influence their teams.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”? Please share a story or an example for each.
Of course! These are the 5 things I wish someone told me before I began leading the company that would have saved me time and energy in the early days of Giving Digitized.
- Create your own blueprint, there is no manual — Once you have the true motivation to make an impact through your company & determine the key measures of success along the way, you have to create your own blueprint.
- Build it, and they will come is a myth. — Networking and marketing are integral parts of a company’s success. It’s great that you have services or products. If no one knows they exist, there will be no impact.
- A great team built on the same values is worth its weight in gold. — When you select a team, make sure they follow the same framework and principles as your company. This helps the company machine run smoothly.
- It takes a little time and patience — topivot and playfully implement different approaches to reach your goals.
- Create a simple, digestible plan — that makes it easy to review and focus on the impact, vision, value, and measures with your team.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂
Talent is created equally. Opportunity is not.
We started by creating a virtual resource-giving platform to connect donors directly to charities that serve communities across the country and beyond. This helps with the immediate need to obtain resources for those impacted by the current environment (the pandemic).
The next link is to help obtain the right opportunity and make it easier for those in need & those that support them. This would be all the way from upskilling to be placed in careers.
How can our readers further follow you online?
The best way to connect with me is by participating on Giving Digitized https://givingdigitized.com or connecting on social through Instagram @givingdigitized
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!