Interview with Danielle Carter and Andi Shaughnessy, Co-CEOs of ExpressIt Delivery
We took a few minutes with these Co-CEOs to learn more about how they work together to nurture and grow the business their father left to them.
Who are your biggest influences?
Danielle: My family is my biggest influence. I was so lucky to be raised by two amazing parents who taught us about values and believing in ourselves. Today, I am still constantly influenced by my family, even my children influence me in ways I would have never thought.
Andi: Definitely my parents. They both have sayings that continue to resonate with me daily for different reasons. My dad would always say, “You can do anything you want, it all comes down to how hard you’re willing to work.” And my mother always says, “Everything will work out the way it’s supposed to, just stay the course and keep doing what you’re doing.” They both, and now my mother more than ever, have always been the ultimate sounding board and the most positive influences in my life, both personally and professionally.
What drove you to start your company or firm?
Danielle: We didn’t start ExpressIt Delivery, our Dad did. It has been a family-owned business for over 38 years. When our Dad passed away from cancer six years ago, my sister Andi and I decided to come back to the family business. We certainly have had our share of ups and downs. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t think of him and hope that we are making him proud.
Andi: As Danielle mentioned - life events. A couple of months or so before our dad passed, he, Danielle and I were having a conversation about the future of ExpressIt where he simply said, “Girls, what do you want to do?” At the time, I was living in New York, in the middle of my dream career, working at my dream company – the National Hockey League. Every day decision-making doesn’t come easy to me, never mind on a life-changing scale such as this. After he died, I returned to work and I remember being on the phone with my mother, my uncle, and my sister, still trying to answer his question. Ultimately, I knew the fear of regretting not trying outweighed the fear of trying and failing. I knew I had to do it. So, I went upstairs and gave my notice.
Here at Boston Private we understand that wealth rarely has to do with money. What is your wealth really for? Tell us a little bit about what motivates you – the Why behind your passion and Why you work so hard to achieve your goals?
Danielle: When it comes to what motivates me, it’s a 2- part answer. I originally came back to the business to finish what our Dad had started so may years ago. I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy and it wasn’t. With our hard work, things started to change in the company. The motivation began to shift to a “let’s see what we can really do here” mentality.
It is exciting to see not only the growth we have had in the business but the personal growth. I find myself motivated more than ever to someday leave something behind that was greater than we could have ever dreamed.
Andi: In those beginning days, yes it was partly about continuing what he started, but in the spirit of complete honesty, the fear of failure consumed me. That was my number one motivation. In those years, we went through some really challenging times and operated in pure survival mode. However, like my mother said, it will all work out, just stay the course and sure enough it did. As the business started to turn a corner, my motivation started to shift as well. We’re a family company at our core and that drives a lot of what we do. Not only do I want ExpressIt to succeed for me and my family but for all our employees and their families that we see as an extension of ours.
As a business person, what has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Danielle: The biggest challenge has been, and may always be, in balancing work with being a mom of three children. It’s certainly a challenge all working parents go through. Before coming back to the company, I had been a full-time stay-at-home mom for over ten years. Entering the business world again as a mom meant a new set of challenges I had to work through.
I think I have finally settled in to a routine that works both at home and at the office. My husband and children are certainly supportive and understanding and willing to help when I need it.
Andi: Confidence. And by no means have I overcome it, but I’m happy to report it is progressing. Coming from a completely different industry, with minimal experience, and close to zero business sense, saying confidence was lacking would be a vast understatement. But I was confident that over time I would develop that belief in self that is so important in leadership – though it never feels like it’s happening fast enough. I love Sonia Sotomayor’s quote: “A surplus of effort could overcome a deficit of confidence” and that has always been my approach. I’ve never been afraid to ask for help, seek guidance, or ask the same question multiple times. I will always be learning and trying to evolve as a business owner, a CEO, and a leader. To be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied with my own level of confidence, but I will always make the effort to improve it.
What are some of the things you have learned about yourself that surprised you most?
Danielle: Something I learned about myself was that I wasn’t afraid to fail. We were willing to branch out to new industries and clients and see what we could do for them. We were willing to take some risks not knowing if they would work. I really think that this is part of what has led to the growth we have had. In business, just like life, we learn from both our successes and our failures.
Andi: Since I can remember I would always try and avoid any kind of conflict. My goal was to keep the peace no matter the situation. However, being a business owner, I quickly realized that’s never an option. In the beginning there were times I knew I had to personally address an issue and the anticipation would literally keep me up at night. Fortunately, over the last couple of years, I’ve learned and surprised myself that I’m no longer afraid to have the difficult conversations. I’ve realized they’re a part of life and necessary in order to make positive changes. I love the saying, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” and whether it’s due to experience or maturity, I’m in complete acceptance of the idea.
“If I could spend 30 minutes with a person of import, it would be….
Danielle: I would have to say that spending 30 minutes with any Female CEO would be the best 30 minutes I could spend with someone of import. Any opportunity to hear about their journey, their struggles and any advice they could share would be a gift.
As a female Co-CEO, there will always be so much left to learn.
Andi: This answer often changes for me, but currently it would have to be Gary Vaynerchuk. I love his energy, enthusiasm, business sense and his willingness to help others, which I think is one of his most impressive qualities. There’s something extremely genuine about his overall approach that makes me confident a 30-minute conversation would be profound.
And for fun – Bono, since I’m a diehard U2 fan.
My favorite part of the day is….
Danielle: Without question, morning is my favorite part of the day. I wake up at 5:00 am every day. I have about an hour to myself before the kid’s morning rush begins. It’s my quiet time to have my coffee, some days work out and get centered for the day ahead. No matter how tired I might be, I get out of bed because I know how important that time is for me.
Andi: Both at work and outside of work, Danielle and I spend a lot of time together. Being partners, sisters, and friends there’s a good amount to talk about on any given day.
However, when it comes to the business, my favorite is when our conversations turn into impromptu brainstorming sessions. We’re always throwing ideas around on how to take ExpressIt to the next level, make our employees happier, or provide better service for our customers. Nothing formal about it, just getting creative and seeing what happens, I love it.
ExpressIt is the Northeast’s innovative leader in reliable same day delivery & trucking. For over 35 years, we have been servicing clients in over 25 different industries. We are committed to providing the highest level of service and experience for our clients. We deliver it the way you need it.