We had the good fortune of connecting with Vivienne Damatan and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Vivienne, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Before starting my own business I was at the top of the proverbial professional ladder. I was serving as the Vice President of Sales and the only female leader on the executive team of a technology start-up. I was also doing my best to navigate all of the adventures and challenges that being a new mother presented. It was tough to juggle both, but the company was thriving and things were looking up.

And then, as it does, life happened.

2 days after my daughter Zoe’s second birthday, she was diagnosed with a rare disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) – a rare neuromuscular disease which slowly degenerates the muscles in your body, starting with things like the ability to move your hands and arms, the ability to walk, and eventually the ability to swallow and breathe on your own.
After her diagnosis, my reality completely changed.

In an instant, I became her honorary nurse, a researcher, a community builder, fundraiser & advocate in the fight for universal treatment access while still leading a team at work, managing my own grief and just trying to navigate the regular craziness of being a first time mom.

Zoe’s doctor told us that there was a singular treatment available that could stop the progressive muscle loss that SMA causes, but it was not accessible for kids like her. Being told that something existed that could save my daughter, but that she wouldn’t be able to access it was almost as devastating as receiving her diagnosis.

And then it was infuriating.

And then it became my fuel.

I made it my personal priority to get my daughter access to the one treatment that could help stop the muscle-loss and live an extraordinary life.

I redefined my priorities, shifted my routines and mindset, and challenged myself to identify and take action that aligned with my goal, and Zoe became the first and only SMA patient in our area to receive coverage for treatment privately.
Today, instead of being dependent on a wheelchair and breathing machines, she can run, dance and get into all sorts of toddler trouble all on her own.

In order to navigate this unexpected new reality, I found ways to manage through the overwhelm, chaos and seeming powerlessness to achieve what I was told was impossible. I also witnessed firsthand that we have the power, ability and responsibility to create what we want in our lives, and I committed to helping as many people as possible do this for themselves.

In 2019, I stepped down from my executive role and haven’t looked back. I started Lead-on-Purpose, an executive coaching and consulting practice which focuses on helping professionals at transition periods of their lives and careers reach the goals that actually matter to them and create exactly what they want.

What should our readers know about your business?
Lead-on-Purpose is a coaching practice forged in love. It was created as a result of the most painful thing I’ve experienced in my life, feeling powerless and broken but walking through the fire anyway. What came out when I emerged from the fire was pure love and a very clear commitment to the legacy I want to leave in this world. I have seen through our journey of becoming a rare disease family that even when circumstances make it seem impossible, we all have the power, ability and responsibility to create what we want in our lives. Through coaching, I am committed to helping as many people as possible do this for themselves.

At Lead-on-Purpose, I get to help people who feel stuck in some way or scared of a transition that they want to make. People connect with me when they are changing careers, companies, industries, roles or lifestyles. These transitions can sometimes feel overwhelming and scary. People are usually wrestling with Imposter Syndrome or low confidence and could really use a non-judgemental partner to help them get clarity on what they want, set healthy boundaries and expectations, and create a plan and accountability to get to where they want to go.

I guess what sets me apart is that I’ve been there. I’ve been through so many transitions in my life. I have moved countries, industries, career paths. I’ve been engaged and then not, married with no kids and now a parent of a rare disease child, part of a team as an employee and now a independent small business owner. So I get the challenges and fears of moving into the unknown, I really get it.

I can honestly say that I love this work. The thing that excites me the most about coaching is getting to work one on one with clients and seeing their entire energy shift as they start to realize they actually have way more control over their lives than they previously thought. It’s empowering for them and motivating for me to continue doing the work.

One of the most impactful lessons I’ve learned in building this business is that the journey is just as important, if not more important, than the destination. For a naturally very goal-oriented person like myself, that was a hard lesson. With focus and dedicated work, the goal will eventually be reached. But by shifting the focus to the journey versus the outcome, some incredible questions get explored. Who do I want to be along the way? How am I living into my core values each day? What can I do today to be 1% better than yesterday? Focusing on those kinds of questions makes the journey to the goal even more rewarding.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m a huge believer in food as a way to share culture and bring people together, so of course my list of must-visits would include some great local eateries. For me it’s Avila’s Mexican restaurant on Maple Ave for the brisket-stuffed chile rellenos or Gabriela & Sofia’s Tex Mex for the amazing salsa.

I’m also a sucker for a good view, so pack up that Tex-Mex and take it to enjoy the skyline from Lake Cliff Park and I’m good to go!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d love to dedicate my shoutout to a man I’m proud to have had as a mentor, Jim Hayhurst. Jim was my CEO at Pretio Interactive, the mobile advertising tech company I was working at when my daughter was diagnosed with SMA. When I got that call from Zoe’s neurologist that rocked my whole world, he didn’t even blink before telling me to take as much time as I needed in order to get my feet under me again. And when I was ready to stand up and fight for treatment, he was the first and most steadfast warrior in my army.

Jim showed me what an impact a leader who truly cares can make, and for that I will forever be grateful. I can honestly say that without him and his authentic values-driven leadership, my life and even the lives of family wouldn’t be the same. Now that deserves a shoutout.

Website: www.lead-on-purpose.com

Instagram: @VivienneDamatanCoaching

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/viviennedamatan/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VivienneDamatanCoaching

Other: To learn more about Spinal Muscular Atrophy or our family’s journey, follow www.facebook.com/smallbutmightyzoe and @smallbutmightyzoe on IG.

Image Credits
Kathleen B Photography, Coastal Lifestyles Photography

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