Maryna Shkvorets is a mindful parenting advocate and the creator of Mars & Stars Baby. Her mission is to remind new parents to fully enjoy those precious moments with their young kids and to not stress over the little things. She wants gentle and responsive parenting to be the new normal while also inspiring a generation of resilient, strong, and secure kids.
And lastly, she strives to help new moms and dads let go of the overwhelm that comes with being parents, and instead focus on the adventure. All it takes is a mindset shift and a little commitment to remind ourselves that raising kids is an honor and a joy.
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Welcome to your ValiantCEO exclusive interview! Let’s start with a little introduction. Tell us about yourself.
Maryna Shkvorets: My name is Maryna and I’m a business-focused mindful parenting advocate.
I started marsandstarsbaby.com when I created a super-breathable baby wrap, and I still connect with mindful, gentle, and adventurous families all over the world by sharing tried and true parenting wisdom.
NO child ever says I want to be a CEO when I grow up. What did you want to be and how did you get to where you are today? Give us some lessons you learned along the way.
Maryna Shkvorets: It’s true that owning a business or being a CEO was never on my radar growing up. I actually wanted to be a professor because I love to break down and introduce new concepts to curious minds.
I’m already a highly driven and curious person, and one day when I was completely rethinking my career, the business idea just popped in.
I’ve never considered myself business-minded, and I just couldn’t ignore the desire to start a business. Once you have that spark, learning the details – like setting up a website, ordering merchandise, attracting an audience – becomes pretty easy.
Tell us about your business, what does the company do? What is unique about the company?
Maryna Shkvorets: My company Mars and Stars baby was born with a single product – a lightweight baby carrier designed to keep you from sweating during your adventures.
This focus on reaching adventurous families led me to create a hub for mindful parenting.
Mars and Stars baby is unique in that it’s no longer about products, but more about reaching parents and helping them move past overwhelm and fully embrace the joys of parenting.
How to become a CEO? Some will focus on qualities, others on degrees, how would you answer that question?
Maryna Shkvorets: Anybody can become a CEO. It starts with a burning desire to bring something into the world and believing that you’re the person to make it happen.
Next, you have to be willing to learn. Learn the ins and outs of business. Learn how to lead a team. Learn when to lean in and when to let go. You can’t be a business leader or a CEO if you’re not willing to learn or to admit that you have to update your skills.
What are the secrets to becoming a successful CEO? Who inspires you, who are your role models and why? Illustrate your choices.
Maryna Shkvorets: The secrets to being a successful CEO are different for different companies. For me, the secret is focus. It can be so easy to lose focus or to give yourself a pass. But focus what separates those who achieve something and those who give up.
I’m particularly inspired by other small business CEOs and try to have regular check-ins with them. If I ever lose focus, I see them pushing through and doing what it takes and then I stop making excuses.
I’m also inspired by the new parents who gain something from my business. Knowing you’re helping someone is an incredible driver.
Many CEOs fall into the trap of being all over the place. What are the top activities a CEO should focus on to be the best leader the company needs? Explain.
Maryna Shkvorets: CEOs are problem solvers, so it’s only natural for them to be all over the place, solving problems and putting out fires.
But then a whole week passes by, and you’ve barely moved forward. Then a month. Then a quarter. So while it’s tempting to put our problem solving hats on every day, we need to prioritize:
1 – Reflection. Take a look back at past decisions and make an honest judgment if they were the right call and if you’d do it again.
2 – Planning. You have to decide where you want to go and how you want to get there. You can’t do it when you’re busy beyond reproach.
The Covid-19 Pandemic put the leadership skills of many to the test, what were some of the most difficult challenges that you faced as a CEO/Leader in the past year? Please list and explain in detail.
Maryna Shkvorets: The biggest challenge is the unpredictability of personal lives. You can’t expect a full productive day of yourself or your employees when your kids are out of school. And our ability to focus has never been stressed this way before.
Balancing personal challenges and business goals has put every CEO’s leadership skills to the test with all of us just doing the best that we can.
What are some of the greatest mistakes you’ve noticed some business leaders made during these unprecedented times? What are the takeaways you gleaned from those mistakes?
Maryna Shkvorets: Wrong calls and mistakes are going to happen. What’s missing is reflection. Not taking the time to reflect is the biggest mistake CEOs are making.
For every decision, even if it was justified at the time, look back and decide if you would do it over again. That will save you headaches and heartaches in the future.
In your opinion, what changes played the most critical role in enabling your business to survive/remain profitable, or maybe even thrive? What lessons did all this teach you?
Maryna Shkvorets: The most important aspect to my business’s success was focus. It would have been really easy to give up and throw in the towel but the lesson I learned is that even if you’re moving slowly, you’re moving.
I gave myself the permission to move forward at a slower pace without forgetting the full speed I’m really capable of.
What is the #1 most pressing challenge you’re trying to solve in your business right now?
Maryna Shkvorets: Businesses rely on patterns and these patterns have been regularly shattered and disrupted over the past few years. That begs the question – do we pivot? Do we try to weather the storm? Do we throw in the towel?
Answering this question may feel like a gamble where some win and some lose. So we small business owners have to help each other stay focused and motivated as we push through these challenges together.
You already shared a lot of insights with our readers and we thank you for your generosity. Normally, leaders are asked about their most useful qualities but let’s change things up a bit. What is the most useless skill you have learned, at school or during your career?
Maryna Shkvorets: That’s a great question! I don’t believe any skill can be useless because learning it leads you to pick up something you end up using. However…
My answer is social media. While it does bring some business benefits, the harm social media does to a CEO’s focus and attention is far greater.
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, we do have one more question. We will select these answers for our ValiantCEO Award 2021 edition. The best answers will be selected to challenge the award.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make, this past year 2021, for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Maryna Shkvorets: A very hard decision Mars and Stars baby had to make this year was taking a leap of faith. We’ve diverted focus from selling products and hired writers to articulate the mindful parenting advice from choosing a baby name to creating a night routine.
The products will always be available, but now we can engage with adventurous parents in a more meaningful way, and give new work opportunities to creative souls.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Maryna Shkvorets 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 Maryna Shkvorets or her company, you can do it through her – Instagram
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