Maveriqs Profile: Danielle Blum, CEO & Founder, World Nativ
By Lamin Turay
Danielle Blum is a former globe-trotter. She spent time learning from new cultures, working in retreat centers, and as an English teacher. After a number of years overseas, Danielle returned to the United States with a deep desire to transform the many ideas she had generated throughout her travels into a tangible community, where others could both grow and learn. In working toward this goal, she discovered entrepreneurship, her own superpowers, and created a platform where people can collaborate with others in turning their vision into a reality.
She is currently the CEO & Founder of World Nativ. World Nativ is a community of entrepreneurs and forward-thinkers, that provides networking, education, and collaboration opportunities. From business accelerators to mastermind groups, and even adventure networking, World Nativ has it covered when it comes to connecting people who are interested in interacting with other progressive individuals. I spent some time speaking with Danielle about how she came up with the idea for her company, and what it takes to build a community centered around ideas and inspiration.
How did you begin your entrepreneurial journey?
It goes back a few years ago when I graduated from the university (University of Colorado at Boulder), and I decided to travel across the world. I didn’t know what I wanted to do yet, but I knew I wanted to see the world and get out of the structured lifestyle that I was in. Up to this point I knew exactly how my life was going to look. Everything was predictable, and I craved to see what was happening outside of the bubble that I was living in.
I went across the world, and ended up having this incredible, epic journey. I became an English teacher, I lived in Spain, I ended up living in Thailand, and then Cambodia. I had all of these unique experiences, meeting all of these interesting people who had different ideas about the world. When I came back, it had completely changed me. I wasn’t the same person anymore. I started developing these creative ideas. I was no longer used to “the structure”. I was now more used to a “flow-state” movement, and that’s when I started getting all these ideas of wanting to bring people together. I wanted to bring these ideas that I had learned through community together.
So about a few years ago I discovered entrepreneurship. It was when I wanted to start learning how to bring these ideas to life.
How did bringing those ideas to life change your life?
I’ve always really been driven by this vision, and it’s almost something that just came to me. I didn’t force the idea to come to me. It came through inspiration. That idea has transformed my life. It’s pulled me to bring this new vision of what I want to see in the world. It’s helped me overcome challenges and fear, because I see the vision and the end goal. It’s put me in the most interesting situations. I’m meeting all these unique people, and I’m learning a ton. It just changes you. Making that decision to bring this idea into reality.
What problem is it that you’re solving with your company World Nativ?
I’ve always been very aware - since I’ve been very young - of seeing other people’s emotions. When people are feeling pain or what have you. I’ve seen a lot of needs in the world. A lot of it came from my own personal needs, and really, I’m my own target market here with what we’re building with World Nativ. The first need that I really wanted to tap into was this lack of community.
I came home excited - inspired to write all these ideas from traveling around the world down, and there was no one I could share these ideas with. I wanted to bring the ideas to life, but I didn’t know how to make it happen. So there were two things, wanting to have people around me, the community piece. Seeing there was a lack of community, of people that were inspired to bring visions to life. Then the second need was having these ideas, but when you’re just starting out, you have no idea what you’re doing. You have this hunger to want knowledge, and want to be around people that have paved the way before me. I could learn from them, and take those steps. So those are the two needs that we meet.
So basically you’ve created a platform for your own expression, and to help other people out?
Ya, this platform is really to bring all these different ideas together, and all these different people, and really find what it is that you want to bring into the world. What are you passionate about? What makes you feel alive? Then surround you by these people that are really behind you, and supporting you on all levels. It’s been so exciting for me because as I’m growing in this journey, not only do I get to grow my business, but I get to learn alongside these amazing people who are becoming my friends and lifelong business partners. It’s been great for everybody!
How do you come up with the unique experiences that your company provides? Where do you get inspiration from?
I believe that, if you’re having unique experiences, constantly going out of your comfort zone, and you’re willing to try new things, this is where the inspiration will come from. When there’s that spontaneity.
A lot of these ideas have come because of the traveling, or going to events and meeting people, and having conversations that just lit something up for both of us. It’s interesting. I’m just getting used to this process, but I’ll get this movement of inspiration where my mind moves to the side, and ideas will just come through because something will instigate them to move through. Whether I meet someone new and we have conversations and it’s just like, “Oh my god! We need to create this!” Or within myself, I’m like, “Uggh! I wish this existed!”, “I wish I had people I could talk to!”, “I wish I could have this, but I would do it in a way that would be the most fun, and most exciting, and most adventurous, and also with the people that I want to be surrounded with the most.” Those are the questions I asked myself, and align that with the inspirational vision.
With all of the networking groups and experiential workshops out there, what makes what you provide to the entrepreneurial community unique?
Like I said, I love adventure! I love that adrenaline where, you’re doing something new. I would go to networking events, and I felt like I wanted something more. I wanted a deeper way to connect with people. So we’ve actually created really fun ways, through our collaborative masterminding, and our networking. We’ve had glow-in-the-dark night hikes. We have a beach bonfire coming up on October 27th where we’re bringing people together, and we’re gonna have music. It’s a unique way to meet people in an adventurous way.
How do you find experts in areas like digital marketing or business growth to bring into your World Nativ events? How do you connect with them?
I’m naturally a connector, and I love going out and meeting new people. I go to a lot of events, I’ve also worked in the past in digital marketing companies. I have a network of entrepreneurs that I’ve built because of this. Usually I’ll go find people that are really successful at what they’re doing. I have conversations with them, and want to learn more from them. I really want to make sure that they’re actually doing what they’re teaching, that they’re not just teaching something they’ve read about.
We have experts in business, but also experts in personal development. This all comes from me just going out and exploring. Going to events, going to workshops, going to personal development seminars, and finding people who, when I see them it’s like, “Wow! More people need to know about you!” So I bring them in, and I bring the community to connect them together.
What about people who are not as naturally gifted at connecting with others? What advice would you offer to them to level up their networking skills?
In the very beginning when I had just started, I was terrified to send emails or go to business meetings, because I was afraid no one would take me seriously. I didn’t have all the business knowledge. I am still growing in that area. I was so scared to reach out to people, but for me it was the vision and strong desire to want to bring this into the world. I’d go out there and just ask anyways. Even if my heart is beating. Just ask, and share your vision. Share your “Why”. I’ve seen that, if you lead with that, it inspires people to want to be a part of it. Just keep going. If they say no, then find someone else.
When you're going through challenges you want to make sure you really love what you're doing. That's made me really driven."
What keeps you driven and motivated? What makes you feel alive about being an entrepreneur?
To me it’s not only about the business. I love the game of entrepreneurship that I’m learning. It’s definitely really challenging, but what I love about it, is how it’s teaching me about myself, and it’s teaching me about life. It’s constantly pushing my comfort zones. In the past I didn’t like that. It didn’t feel comfortable. I actually enjoy now pushing those comfort zones, and challenging myself, and I love learning.
What are the results that you see when you step out of the box and push your comfort zones?
What I’ve learned is, if something really lights me up, and I know it’s a “Yes!”, and want to make it happen, and it’s a new idea or partnership that know I want to do, I say yes no matter what. Then I go forward even if I have fear, and I do. I still have fear all the time. I don’t think that goes away, but I push past the fear. It ends up expanding me . It opens me up even more, and gives me more confidence in what I’m doing.
It’s at the point now where I actually like the challenges. It’s fun. When I see something where I’m being asked to speak, or be interviewed, it’s like, “Oh gosh! I’m nervous to do this”. I do it! Because it scares the shit outta me. I like that now. It’s fun.
What is your superpower?
I didn’t realize these things until I started my business. Until I started to take that step, and just go forward with my vision. Then I started seeing the skills that I have. I love connecting people. I find this person (gestures) and this person (gestures), and think, “How can I bring them together?” I can also see potential in individuals, and I see their gifts. I really believe in what they can create. I feel passionate about wanting to help them bring that to life. So connecting and really seeing people.
How do you go about executing on the ideas that you have?
In the beginning I had no idea what I was doing. I would have an idea and think, “How the heck am I gonna make this happen?” So I tried to start small in what I knew I could do. I just put on one simple event. I was scared to do that, and made a couple mistakes, but I was like, “Ok. I know I can do this”. The biggest things you can do is have your vision, but you have to take action on it. Even though you’re gonna make mistakes, and you're gonna stumble. I do it anyways.
I also do a lot of self-education. I’m constantly reading. I’m learning about business. I’m learning about marketing. I’m talking with experts. If I want to create something, and have no idea how to do it, I look for someone who’s done it before and who’s been successful, and I see if I can model them. I think that’s one of the biggest points, is to model someone who’s done it before you. If you can’t figure out how to do it, that’s the best way.
What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve received upon your journey in entrepreneurship?
The best piece of advice I’ve received was from my older brother, who’s a very successful entrepreneur. I’ve been very lucky that, from the beginning, he’s been there to guide me. The one piece of advice he gave me was, “Go learn from people who are successful, and absorb their knowledge. Then take that knowledge and take action and implement it”. So go learn from people that are doing it.
I took that and really just ran with it. I found people who are creating. Who are actually doing what they’re teaching. I built a business around learning.
A piece of advice I would also give is, be around people who motivate you. It gets really challenging, and sometimes you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ve seen in our community when people are feeling down, to have that person next to you who is feeling inspired to keep you going, makes the community piece so important.
How do you overcome obstacles when they come your way?
I actually have this strange analogy, and probably more women can relate to this, but I believe having a business is kind of like having a baby. The baby is going to cry, you’re gonna have to wake up in the middle of the night and change diapers, and do all these things. But you don’t think about it or question the baby. You do it anyways because you love the baby. I’ve realized that about my business. I love it! I’m so passionate about it.
I go through a lot of crappy times, but I’m inspired by what comes through me, and what I see unfolding with moving this into action. Being really connected to what you’re creating, and having that be really connected to your “Why”. When you’re going to go through challenges you want to make sure you really love what you’re doing. That’s made me really driven.
Also, shifting your mindset to seeing obstacles as opportunities. So every time you hit a block it’s not a failure. Instead of thinking, “Oh shit! I can’t do this,” see it as, “OK. How can I do this?” Freeze every challenge that you have into a question, and start getting your mind to become solution-oriented. Most people will hit their obstacle or they fail one time, and may not try again. I think that you just keep asking that question, “How can I do this?” Now when I see an obstacle it’s never a matter of “I can’t”, It’s a matter of when and how it’s going to happen. Shifting your mindset to being solution-oriented and questioning is gonna help.
When you are looking to learn more, but don’t have the ability to connect with another individual, how do you self-educate?
I’m really lucky with the network that I’ve built in that my business partners are really high-level entrepreneurs or digital marketers. I reach out to my partners and the people that are actually training individuals in our community. So I do get that attention.
I’m also always listening to podcasts. I’m always listening to YouTube videos. I love Tony Robbins and Marie Forleo. I listen to people that I really look up to. I’m constantly listening or reading books. Always learning.
I should go to a World Nativ event if…?
If I have this vision that I want to bring to life, and I want support on that vision. I should come if I want to be surrounded by this epic community of people in a fun, adventurous type of way. And I want to explore myself, explore the world, and meet amazing people. You’re gonna have fun!
Where can we follow you and World Nativ?
Find us on Facebook @WorldNativ, our website is http://worldnativ.com/, and we’re on Instagram @WorldNativ.
We would like to extend a huge thank you to Danielle Blum for taking time out to speak with us about World Nativ, and also for being our very first Maveriqs Profile video interviewee. If any of you have any feedback or questions for our latest Maveriq fee free to leave them in the comments section below!