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  • Starting from Nothing – The Foundation Podcast

    Guest Name Interview – Mary Shenouda

    Introduction: Welcome to Starting from Nothing – The Foundation Podcast, the place where incredible entrepreneur show you how they built their businesses entirely from scratch before they knew what the heck they were doing.

    Dane: How do you become one of the top paleo chefs in the world cooking for some of the world’s top celebrities, famous authors, famous golfers, famous musicians, and famous movie stars? And how do you actually make the leap from an employee for eight or nine years into finally doing your own thing in the world? Well, join as Winny and I explore the conversation with the paleo chef known as Mary.

    Welcome everyone to another edition of Starting from Nothing, a place where we slow down the conversation of what it’s like to see people start stuff when they don’t have stuff.

    What we love about talking about this kind of thing is that we don’t see it talked about in many places. We see established entrepreneurs talking about how they’re running their enterprises. But very often do we hear about the early stages of startup, the emotional turmoils of early stage of startups and the magical process of getting that first sale.

    I have a very, very unique guest on the show with us today and I was lucky enough to meet her through a friend of a friend and I had no idea who I was sitting across from the table from at that point. As she spoke and as I learned more about her, I thought she has to be on this podcast.

    I’d like to introduce Mary to the show. Hey Mary.

    Mary: Hi.

    Dane: I got a nice little bio here I want to read about you so people know more about you before we get in. It starts like this. While most are still in college, Mary was a top performing sales executive alongside peers 15 years her senior performing above her objectives effortlessly. Within two years, she made a pivot and became a public relations agent for a top Hollywood photographer where she worked closely with A-list celebrities and managed high-profile events.

  • It was during this time her visionary and early use of social media contributed to a 700% increase in revenue for her client – that’s awesome. Over the last decade, Mary has developed and executed successful strategic sales and marketing plans and consistently closed business with Fortune 500 companies. Always crushing goals that were thought to be unattainable, Mary is consistently able to identify, win, retain, expand business and individuals. Who wrote this? Did you write this?

    Mary: No, PR got all that.

    Dane: This is good. It keeps going.

    Because of her impressive record and precise execution, her sniper-like talents have her regularly handpicked by executive board members and CEOs to coach teams and one-on-one at every level within organizations. There’s no surprise that she has chosen to forge out on her own and become an all encompassing advocate and coach for you.

    Dang! What’s like an example Fortune 500 company that you worked with and how did you help them?

    Mary: Almost any major brand or consumer or B2B. If you’re new in the company it’s been a client of some sort through all the companies I’ve worked before. Primarily, Lyris is a company I worked at and it was online marketing, and it was email, content management, social media. Social media only became a thing when I started working there, and they didn’t really believe in social media at the time or think it was going anywhere. I decided to sell a service package for a lot of money and then like we need to offer social media now and built up that team.

    Then I worked at a company called Gigya which was games occasion in social media. Gigya dominates that market. Earliest they did, I haven’t been in Corporate America in two years now. This is Mina.

    Dane: Mina, welcome to the show. The thing that’s not in the bio is Mina. Can you give an introduction for Mina, the cat?

    Mary: Mina is my client’s cat. I’m actually at my client’s house right now. Mina is a aggressively affectionate creature. I’m actually allergic to cats …

    Dane: Are you?

    Mary: … so this will be fun. Yeah.

    Dane: Well, thank you for doing this interview at your client’s house.

    Mary: I’m thanking him for letting me have the space in between our sessions. Look at this, this is dope. This is The Grateful Dead in San Francisco in 1967.

    Dane: That’s pretty cool.

  • Mary: Makes me miss home a little bit.

    Dane: Were you a Grateful Dead fan?

    Mary: I wouldn’t say I was a fan like listening hardcore, but I just was more nostalgic for the stupid San Francisco. I just know a lot of really dope things come out of this city or have been in the city.

    Dane: Yeah. What I know about Grateful Dead is they have a cult-like following.

    Mary: And they have a final tour in Chicago, I think.

    Dane: You're at a client’s house, what are you doing for this particular client?

    Mary: He’s been a client of mine for a year and a half. He’s a professional golfer. In the beginning it was private cheffing. I only cook for clients for a certain period of time and then I tell him our time’s come to an end. And so it’s transitioning more into a coaching capacity now.

    Dane: Nowhere in your bio did I ever read anything about cooking. What does that mean?

    Mary: I’m known as Mary the Paleo Chef. Did you check out

    Dane: I did, but people listening have not.

    Mary: You did at the table, or I think you did that right when you met me.

    Dane: Yeah. Yeah.

    Mary: I operate as Mary the Paleo chef. I run Founder of Eat Play Crush, which is my motto; eat clean, play often, crush life. I left Corporate America to be a private chef for a few notable people in Silicon Valley. I would still get asked to do a lot of coaching type things for folks, but I won’t go into leveling up or facing demons or anything emotional until I can fix your diet and get you into a healthy routine.

    I subscribe, obviously, as the paleo chef to a paleo type diet. I refer to it as paleo because that’s a different template for each body. You’ll notice profound – not just physical changes but emotional and psychological changes when you start to eat clean and feed yourself the way you should be fed. When you incorporate meditation and play into that, now you're ready to go into the coaching. I don’t leave anything separate from each other.

    Dane: Wow! It sounds like painstakingly integrative comprehensive approach.

    Mary: It’s fun.

    Dane: A fun-staking integrative comprehensive approach.

  • There’s a number of routes we could go on this interview. We can talk about what is that healthy route you go down, but I want to get into how you started. You mentioned how you left Corporate America to become a chef for notable people in Silicon Valley. I want to slow down that moment in time and – How long were you thinking about doing this before you made the decision to leave?

    Mary: Three months, maybe? Really sick my whole life, it is coming back. By sick I’ve had migraines since 2nd Grade. I was told I have cancer twice, Lupus, really bad hives. I would be having a physical anxious reaction even though my mind would tell me everything’s okay. Doctors were taking blood and giving me all these medications that were only really making me a lot sicker.

    I decided to do my own detective work. Stumbled upon Ted Talk by Dr. Terry Wahls around the mitochondria which had a light bulb go off because I had done a report on mitochondria in high school which everyone seems to like the fact that I rewrote the words to Beastie Boys song about the mitochondrial function which I got an A on. It made sense because I had that background in that.

    I back door into paleo after sending out my own lab work to find out that I’m a Coeliac which means I cannot eat gluten and I’m also intolerant to Casein which is a protein found in dairy as well as soy.

    I was stoked to find this out because now I had answers as to what was making me sick essentially my whole life, and changed the way that I ate. Everything that bothered me within a few months went away. Folks were starting to notice differences in my health and asking me questions.

    A particular person in San Francisco had asked me to come to their house and talk to them about paleo and what I was doing differently and asked me if I would – “I don’t have time to cook for myself, will you just cook for me?” And my response is I don't cook for people. I’m an Account Executive in a tech company.

    He wrote me a check as to how much he would pay for this and I was like this is [comparable 00:08:53] and this is a lot of fun, and this integrates everything I’ve done to date with my life.

    I tried to do both for a couple months. I was commuting up and down the 101 and my body went into adrenal fatigue and shut down on me. I pulled over on 101. My pants were just soaked in sweat because I was super stressed out. I knew I had to make a choice. So I just went home that night and chose paleo chef and bought and then went in the next day and resigned and said I would figure it out. Here I am a couple years later.

    Dane: Let me just see if I tracked all that correctly.

  • You thought about it for about


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