Gabby Ianniello is a Podcasting Expert and the Host & Founder of Corporate Quitter. She quit her corporate job in February 2021 to pursue business (without a plan) and took to podcasting as a fun, side hobby in May 2021 until she figured out her “serious, adult business.” Since then, she’s gained over 30k followers and subscribers has been featured in multiple media publications including the New York Times and Good Morning America, and helped thousands of ambitious individuals find their voice, build their brand, and ditch their 9-5’s.
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Table of Contents
Let’s start with a brief introduction first. Introduce yourself to our readers.
Gabby Ianniello: I’m Gabby Ianniello, a Podcasting Expert and the Host & Founder of Corporate Quitter! After years of dealing with the office theatrics, jumping through unnecessary hoops, and having to constantly overdeliver and prove to upper management that I was capable, I saw how the veil of constant ‘busyness,’ once lifted with COVID, showed me just how unfulfilled and trapped I was in my life. So I unraveled it to build a new one, and that was how Corporate Quitter was born.
Our audience is interested to know about how you got started in the first place. Did you always want to become a CEO or was it something you were led to? Our readers would love to know your story!
Gabby Ianniello: Ever since I was little, I wanted to do big things. I instinctually knew that there was so much more that I could do, but I didn’t know how or what to do. This was before the internet was what it is today, so I took to the “traditional path” in the meantime until I “figured it out”. At the suggestion of my parents, I got my degree in education but after graduating, realized how little it paid, so I took to NYC to find my golden opportunity. Since I had a teaching background, most didn’t believe I was qualified for business because of how I looked on paper, so I started my career in New York City as a nanny and housekeeper. After building connections and fighting with recruiters to give me chance, I finally got my first corporate job as an Administrator on Wall Street. After that, I job-hopped aggressively between Tech, Asset Management, and Real Estate Development so I could learn and earn more as much as I could, not realizing I’d be learning the foundational skills I needed to quit my job and build my own business.
“Selfmade” is a myth. We all received help, no doubt you love to show appreciation to those who supported you when the going got tough, who has been your most important professional inspiration?
Gabby Ianniello: It sounds corny, but my most important professional inspiration has been my best friend, Teodora. When I was hired as an Executive Assistant at my Asset Management job, she had already been working there a year and was the person to teach me the ropes. She not only set a solid foundation for me as an employee, but she also taught me how to be extremely strong and resilient in tough situations. Whether intentional or not, she taught me how to be a better communicator, stand confidently (all 4′ 11″ of me!), and command a room with ease. Now, almost 5 years later, she’s become my closest friend, my shoulder to cry on, my business cheerleader, and I wouldn’t be where I am without her.
How did your journey lead you to become a CEO? What difficulties did you face along the way and what did you learn from them?
Gabby Ianniello: All the frustrations, the roadblocks, the office theatrics, the “nos,” and “you’re-not-qualified” pushed me to always put in 150% and learn as much as I could to prove to those around me that I was capable. I used to think my shortcoming was that I had too many skills, interests, and curiosities because I could never call myself an “expert” in just one thing, but instead proficient in a lot of things. Little did I know that my becoming a multi-passionate, multi-faceted person was the exact foundation I needed to juggle multiple hats in business as a CEO.
Tell us about your company. What does your business do and what are your responsibilities as a CEO?
Gabby Ianniello: Corporate Quitter, which started as a podcast, helps ambitious individuals learn all the different ways they can make an honest living outside of the traditional 9-5. We’re still in the early phases of development as we’re in our first year of business, but we’ve slowly been releasing a suite of products geared towards helping people learn how to harness their skillsets and stories, build their brand, and live a life by design instead of by default. As the CEO and Founder, it’s my job to keep the machine moving. We’re just starting to hire more help so more tasks are being taken off my plate, but I’m still the one who’s brainstorming the ideas, creating the content, and executing.
What does CEO stand for? Beyond the dictionary definition, how would you define it?
Gabby Ianniello: In my eyes, being a CEO is more than just the overseer, but is the root of the company’s success. A company and its employees are only as good as its CEO, so it’s up to me to be as transparent, honest, and trustworthy as possible so that everyone that I work with, collaborate with, or come in contact with is the same way. In this day and age, people are craving honesty and integrity, and sadly most businesses ignore it and place “professionalism” at a higher priority. As we’ve seen with the Great Resignation, people don’t want the fake “as per my last email” fluff anymore – they want to interact and purchase from companies and brands that are REAL. I have to embody that every day and in everything that I do.
When you first became a CEO, how was it different from what you expected? What surprised you?
Gabby Ianniello: It was more of a mindset shift than anything. I had to undergo serious training with a business coach so that mentally I could step into the role of CEO. For months, I was approaching everything from that of a directionless and frustrated entrepreneur with a cash-eating hobby. After 3-months of training and working through limiting beliefs, I stepped into the role of empowered, and laser-focused CEO which helped me create a business that has been recognized by the media globally, approached by brands and sponsors, and is on the verge of financially exploding (in a good way!).
There are many schools of thought as to what a CEO’s core roles and responsibilities are. Based on your experience, what are the main things a CEO should focus on? Explain and please share examples or stories to illustrate your vision.
Gabby Ianniello: The main thing that a CEO should focus on is the vision, not the how-to. If there’s anything I’ve learned in my year-long journey of growing a business from the ground up is that strategic planning is GREAT, but very rarely in life does anything go to plan. When I first quit my job to pursue business, I had a ton of TERRIBLE business ideas, stemming from personal hobbies and interests (indoor plants, organization, teaching, etc).
I spent so much time and effort creating these elaborate plans without taking action and absolutely nothing happened. Not only did the plan not go to plan, but it shifted entirely to another idea. Planning is only used to exhaust every possible creative solution to get you where you want and need to be. As the saying goes, energy flows where your attention goes. Once I started focusing more on the long-term vision, did things start to fall into place. Also, there is no such thing as mistakes. I spent so much time, in the beginning, afraid to make mistakes that I didn’t take action. Action creates motion and motion is where the magic happens. Even the most skilled athletes, creatives, and CEOs make mistakes, and yet they still get where they need to be. Publishing and pursuit are more important than perfection.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Gabby Ianniello: Taking on debt to fuel my dream. We’re taught that debt is bad when in actuality it’s a tool if used properly. After spending most of my young twenties paying off my student loans, which I thankfully did, I swore to myself I’d never put myself into debt again… and then my business idea came. I knew instinctually that I needed to invest in my business to fuel it and achieve what I wanted faster, and yet I was terrified of putting myself into a hole again. I had to rewire my brain and change my perspective towards money so that I could pay for staff, coaches, subscriptions, and products, and I’m glad I went with my gut and did it. It would have taken me 5x as long to achieve the success we’ve had in business had I played it safe and not been scrappy.
How would you define success? Does it mean generating a certain amount of wealth, gaining a certain level of popularity, or helping a certain number of people?
Gabby Ianniello: You have to define what success means to you, and it’s normal for this to change over time. The reason I left corporate to pursue business was that I wanted to make an impact. That’s it. I had already climbed the corporate ladder, hit six figures, and got the fancy Brownstone apartment. I had already checked all the boxes on what was supposedly deemed as “success”, and yet I felt empty and unfulfilled. Yes, having the “money and fame” is great, but that’s only a by-product, not my mission. My version of success now is having flexibility in my schedule, getting a full 8-hours of sleep every night, having time to do the things I love NOW instead of waiting until I’m older and retired, and making a positive impact on those around me.
Some leadership skills are innate while others can be learned. What leadership skills do you possess innately and what skills have you cultivated over the years as a CEO?
Gabby Ianniello: It’s natural for me to anticipate the needs of others and be a great problem solver. As an entrepreneur, your business has one job, and one job only – to solve someone’s problem. If you naturally can empathize with those around you, understand what they’re struggling with, and can come up with solutions for them, that’s a great foundation for business. Some of the skills that I had to learn that moved the needle for me were being a good storyteller, trusting my gut, and executing on that, and effective communication.
How did your role as a CEO help your business overcome challenges caused by the pandemic? Explain with practical examples.
Gabby Ianniello: From being a founder or CEO, you’re naturally a problem solver. You creatively think of every possible scenario in which you can get to where you need to be, even if that means doing something crazy or deviating from the path. When I first started this journey, I was originally thinking I’d lean into helping people organize their homes. Obviously, with the pandemic, that wouldn’t have worked, and I’m so glad it didn’t. It made me change my perspective from a physical business that requires in-person or 1-on-1 help to something of an online business that doesn’t require me to physically be anywhere. At the time I didn’t realize the benefit of switching gears, but the silver lining is that my pivoting helped create the life I truly wanted which was beyond what I thought was possible.
Do you have any advice for aspiring CEOs and future leaders? What advice would you give a CEO that is just starting on their journey?
Gabby Ianniello: Work on your mindset and limiting beliefs before tangible skills. If you have a negative attitude or have past trauma that you haven’t worked on, it will leak into everything – your business, employees, branding, customers, collaborations, etc. I truly believe this is why new businesses fail – they focus too much on the “rational” and not enough on the foundational. You need to work on the inner before you work on the outer or your imposter syndrome, self-sabotaging habits, money issues, and negative, generationally-rooted thoughts will be your downfall.
Thank you for sharing some of your knowledge with our readers! They would also like to know, what is one skill that you’ve always wanted to acquire but never really could?
Gabby Ianniello: I’d love to learn and be fluent in Mandarin. I’ve tried downloading Apps and studying the language, but it never clicked. I’d love to try again in the future when I have more time to focus on it or when I can travel to Asia and learn it through experience.
Before we finish things off, we have one final question for you. If you wrote a book about your life today, what would the title be?
Gabby Ianniello: “Corporate Quitter!”
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Gabby Ianniello for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Gabby Ianniello or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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