With a Passion for Innovation, Technology & Education, Meet CEO & Founder, Marnie Forestieri at Young Innovators Academies & Childcare Network
Q: Let’s begin after High School Graduation … did you know what type of career you wanted to pursue?
MF: I've always had a natural inclination for journalism, entrepreneurship, and writing. When it was time to choose a college major, it was tough to make a decision. Therefore, I did what most teenagers do: the opposite of what your dad tells you. That's how I ended up in the school of medicine. Three years into the program, I realized that I couldn't do that to patients. I had no natural inclinations or passion for medicine. I switched majors to business. On a positive note, I have a lot of great friends that are doctors.
Q: When you worked for CNN en Espanol as a reporter in Asia, was this a dream job you always wanted? Tell us about some of the assignments you were given.
MF: CNN en Espanol was not only my dream job but also shaped my personality. At that time, I was covering breaking news in Asia. I was able to cover many different assignments, including a terrorist attack, breaking news, earthquakes, and human interest stories. One of my assignments was a piece on Latin American prostitutes in Japan and the Yakusa, the Japanese mafia. This assignment later turned into my first novel and became a finalist of an international literary award in Paris.
Q: Did you always have a desire to be an entrepreneur? Tell us about the Franchise you launched.
MF: I was a journalist at heart in my 20's. When my father passed away, I had to take over our family business and change my career. That's when my life as an entrepreneur began, and I realized that it was the gift that I could share with others.
Entrepreneurship is like practicing a sport or classical music. You develop skills over time by working hard and learning from your experiences. I've started many businesses in my life. Some have been more successful than others but looking back, every experience has become a scope and sequence for acquiring new skills.
One critical ingredient for me is to build businesses that last and adapt to market demands.
From my years as a journalist, I've developed a strong sense of when the market is changing because I listen to the customers. That's the reason I just left the company I founded as a franchise system in childcare to start a new venture in the same industry as a tech start-up.
From my previous experiences in childcare as an independent provider and childcare franchising, I have learned that the business models of the past are not going to solve the biggest challenges of the industry and will not work in the future. The childcare industry needs to be disrupted, and that's what Young Innovators intends to do. Young Innovators is a teacher owned concept and technology company that connects parents with the best independent childcare providers in our industry offering consistency through in the network with proprietary curriculum that brings to life research from the most prestigious universities.
Q: Where do you see the company five years from now?
MF: We are starting our pilot program in central Florida with 100 affiliated providers at the beginning of the 2020. We will be defining processes, gather feedback from end-users before we scale to the rest of the country and international territories.
Once we are ready to scale, we will start opening the new markets with more demand for childcare services, Florida, Texas, NY and then to California.
This will be an exciting journey, and there is only one guarantee: change. We understand that Innovation is never completed. There is always a new problem to solve, an iteration, or a fresh way of thinking to innovate for a better world. Based on current research and technological advances, our team is always designing, enriching, and testing new pieces of curriculum, technology to adjust to the rapid pace of change. Under the power of one brand, a curriculum designed to prepare 21st-century learners, operational systems, and a technology platform to scale, we present the solution to the three most significant challenges of the early childhood industry.
Q: What's the greatest fear you've had to overcome to get where you are today?
MF: The biggest fear was to disappoint people. Over the years, I have learned that some people in your past might not be the best fit for your future and it’s fine to move on from those relationships to get to your next level. I’ve built courage by walking away from those types of relationships and I have made a point to surround myself with positive individuals that have a healthy self-esteem, vision and values and share the same growth mindset. As the CEO, my main job is to maintain a growth mindset culture where people are allowed to take risks and learn from failures and protect the team from a negative culture.
Q: Can you tell our audience one of the most memorable moments of your career?
MF: I've learned that the most memorable moment in your career happens when you discover the gift to pursue things that you are passionate about, immerse yourself in your work with joy and accept the mission to share the gift that God has given you. I have many memorable moments that build up a creative confidence of reaching my next level.
Q: What's one lesson you've learned in your career that you can share with our audience?
MF: Love what you do every day, surround yourself with people you trust, give back, and help other women reach their next level. It doesn't matter if they appreciate it or not, give back as a habit.
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
MF: Oprah. She has inspired the entire world, especially minority women. She made it "her way" against all odds because she is authentic, passionate, gives back, and keeps reaching for her next level. Is wonderful to see how she evolves and reinvents herself.
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
MF: I think the biggest challenge women face is gender equality.
Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
MF: I am excited about the changes that the next generation will bring to the workforce. I am seeing the rise of the empowered young women that demands equal pay, respect, and opportunities. My advice would be never to compromise your personal growth for a negative corporate culture. Sharing your world with others requires each one of us, to enjoy the journey. There is always something better waiting.
Five Things About Marnie Forestieri
1. If you could talk to one famous person past or present, who would it be and why?
Oprah, because she makes this world a better place for all.
2. Who had the most influence on you growing up?
My parents, Alberto y Rafaelina.
3. If you were a superhero, what would your special powers be?
4. What app can't you live without?
5. What place you always dreamed about visiting?