Develop your tribe by surrounding yourself with positive people. You don’t have time for people who are going to bring you down.
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 Shannon Shores, CEO of Wellex, Inc., which powers samedaySTDtesting.com. Shannon is a leader, entrepreneur, and kind-hearted badass who began her career out of graduate school by working at a suicide crisis hotline. Shannon answered the phones for those who were desperately looking for mental health services. Helping people has always been part of her character. She later expanded her career to include physical health, such as STD testing. At Same Day STD Testing, Shannon and her Sexual Health Advocates provide a discreet service for people concerned about their sexual health. Her company is unique because they take the time to listen and educate patients on testing.
Thank you so much for joining us Shannon! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”?
Ifinished graduate school from Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a master’s degree in social work in 2001. After a stint of helping people through a time of crisis, I have always found others interesting. It’s hard for me to see a random shoe on the side of the road and not wonder what that person’s story could have been. Today, I take that same level of empathy and pour it into my business. Anyone can share their sex-positive stories with me and I’ll work to provide proper STD testing services in a non-judgmental environment.
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?
On September 11, 2001, I was working at a suicide crisis hotline and took a call from a frantic woman who was running from the World Trade Center. She was distressed because her fiancé, who was on another floor, instructed her to leave and meet him outside. She called me out of fear and all I could do was listen. She just needed someone to be with her. Later on, she let me know that her fiancé did not make it. She knew because she had a voicemail telling her that he loved her but wasn’t going to make it out. That moment taught me to never take time for granted. Each moment that is given to us is not promised.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We say “Your Sex Life, Your Business” because we invite sex-positive conversations to those willing to share. It’s crucial for us to ask and answer the “embarrassing” questions people don’t want to discuss with their doctors — without judgment. Surprisingly enough, parents and grandparents are our biggest customers. One day I spoke to an 80-year-old man who came back positive for Herpes 2. After explaining his results and encouraging open communication and the importance of wearing protection, he surprised me by saying, “Thank you for the information, but please understand that when you get to be my age and someone wants to have sex with you, there is no time to run out for condoms.” Of course I had to giggle because of his response, but also virtually high-fived him for his sex drive!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person whom you are grateful toward who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Two years ago, I met an energized woman at a marketing training session for female business owners. She had a local marketing business and was interested in my story. Surprisingly, she was genuine toward me and my business. That connection turned into a friendship, which encouraged me to move away from fear and start growing. The growth would come in the form of interviews and awards. Her advice was simple — jump out of the nest and fly. Her confidence in me set these past two years in motion and have been the most successful yet. I will be forever grateful for that kick.
Okay, 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?
Guts, spunk, fortitude, perseverance, and nerve are the words that I think about when resilience comes to mind. When I meet someone, I always want to know what makes them tick and if they have what it takes to go the distance. As a leader, I need to know I have people by my side who are willing to get dirty and climb the mountain of success with me.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
My father, a man who battled alcoholism, comes to mind when I think of resilience. Many people don’t survive that fight, but he is now sober, healthy, and happy. The road to sobriety for my father started when he decided to do it for himself. His retirement came earlier than expected when he lost his job and he had a choice to make. Stay or take the leap to return home — where hurtful past memories also resided. He chose to come home and found peace and happiness in a new chapter of life.
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?
Born with hip dysplasia (where my hip was completely dislocated), I had to wear a leg brace as a young child. The doctors started to believe after a while that I would have long-term complications and difficulty walking. All I could count on were the prayers of my church, and soon the doctors saw signs of healing for the first time. You may not be a believer in prayer, but I am now 41 years old and can walk, run, and dance (don’t ask my kids) with the best of them.
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?
Years ago I fell in love and got married. My greatest setback began when I found out that my husband suffered from addiction. My natural instinct was to fix him, but he eventually lost his battle. He was running a business at the time of his death and left me in control. The day I took “his chair,” I knew the only way I could do it was if I made it mine. His shoes didn’t fit nor were they my style. It was time to leave my old life behind and develop a new me. Now the business is MINE and I run a functional, successful company with a team dedicated to helping people with humanity and integrity. Today, I’m a leader, entrepreneur, and kind-hearted badass.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
During my school years, there were times where I didn’t fit in or never felt like I was enough. I could never fly because of my “big ears” but I did learn how to soar as a person. For all the bullies I had to face who doubted me and called me names, I have survived. To all of those who have been bullied, it really is just stick and stones.
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.
- Trust in the plan. I pray every morning for clarity and wisdom. I believe in the path that is in front of me. You have to have faith.
- Never take “no” for an answer. Don’t pout, just get up and make it happen.
- Develop your tribe by surrounding yourself with positive people. You don’t have time for people who are going to bring you down.
- Take time to rest. We all need time for our bodies and brains to catch up, so play hooky when you can! You will be more productive when you are fully energized.
- Slay every day! We only have one chance to get it right. Be kind to yourself and learn everything you can to be the badass you are intended to be.
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 would love to develop a program for moms who want to get back into the game. These are women who have the skills but need the confidence. We would cover good résumé skills, learn how to brag on our successes, and discuss interviewing and negotiating skills.
There’s a female executive from the first company I worked with out of college whom I’ve stayed in contact with over the years. Recently, she let me know that she felt lost — lost after years of being a mom, wife, sister, daughter, and friend. She’s forgotten what it was like to feel good about herself and have the drive to do more. I looked closely at this once spunky gal, and we talked about a plan to get her back on track. While I don’t have the secret sauce to success, I gave her a plan for success without allowing herself excuses. She left that meeting feeling better and inspired.
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 🙂
Dr. Ruth, the queen of sex-positive conversations! Personally, I love her transparency recently about her own sex life. Dr. Ruth said that she never spoke about her own sex life because it was like the story of The Cobbler’s Children Have No Shoes. She gave sex advice for years and saved many relationships. This was also at a time when sex was very taboo. While it can still be that way, leaders like Dr. Ruth pave the way for us to have those conversations without judgment! Thank you, Dr. Ruth!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!