Celebrating awesome entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs just like you. Learn from others’ stories, successes, advice, and actions.
Meet Daniella, the Co-Founder of The Virtue Project. Daniella is a corporate purpose and social impact strategist. She believes it’s good business to do good. With nearly two decades of experience in both agency and client-side roles, her people-first approach and strategic mindset make her a sought-after leader and practitioner. With empathy and compassion at the root of everything she does, Daniella is driven to do meaningful work that benefits others and builds toward an equitable and sustainable future.
As Co-Founder of The Virtue Project, Daniella helps companies improve business outcomes by uncovering their social purpose and designing strategies that align with their goals. She has worked with startups, established brands, nonprofits, and individual thought leaders, applying an ever-evolving lens of equity, diversity, and inclusion to all her projects.
Prior to her entrepreneurial leap, Daniella devoted herself as Managing Partner of the communications firm, BICOM. An inclusive leader and trusted strategic planner, Daniella oversaw and influenced the success of industry-leading brands, such as UNIQLO, ASICS, Shopbop, Vans, The North Face, and Saputo. She set a precedent for her unique expertise at Coca-Cola, where she held senior roles in brand marketing and communications. She played an integral role in launching and shaping the Canadian brand positioning, voice and brand love for vitaminwater and smartwater, helping fuel its growth to the top of their respective categories.
Daniella volunteers with the Black Talent Initiative, an organization that aims to influence, inspire and promote equitable, anti-racist workplaces for today and tomorrow. Additionally, she serves as an advisor for In a Perfect World, dedicated to unlocking the potential of young people to change the world.
Daniella shares practical and thoughtful advice that will motivate everyone – from those just starting their career to seasoned founders, leaders, and executives. Get inspired by Daniella!
1. What are your sources of motivation and inspiration? How do you stay motivated/keep your cup full?
My family is a natural source of inspiration, especially as my kids get older and learn more about the world around them. While my day job is about helping people and companies use their capital to create better outcomes now and in the future, I am motivated to do better every day as an example for my family. This also means letting them see me make mistakes, not knowing all the answers and questioning my beliefs.
I’m also motivated by my bright, ambitious friends and peers doing impressive work. Many are juggling multiple priorities, overcoming challenges, and courageously blazing new paths for themselves. Sometimes a well-timed meme or supportive check-in is just the fuel to stay on track!
2. What book/podcast/documentary/piece of content do you recommend the most and why? Which have greatly influenced your life?
This is the year I fell back in love with reading! I found it so difficult to get through my pile of must-reads since the start of the pandemic, but I’m back and so happy. Reading some fun nonfiction was my springboard, and since diving back into the pages, I’ve drastically reduced my time doom-scrolling on social. I can’t be the only one who felt this way, so if this resonates – I’d love to know a few titles that got you out of your reading drought!
On to the question at hand – these are a few influential gems that have made the most impact on me, generally falling into the “how to do life better” genre.
I am a student of Blair Imani and appreciate both her short form “smarter in seconds” lessons on IG and her guidebook for life, “Read This to Get Smarter.” She educates on a breadth of social issues, demonstrates how to be an informed, compassionate, action-oriented ally, and instills confidence in using your privilege and power to be an accomplice to positive change.
Aja Barber’s “Consumed” is another must-read for anyone claiming to care about climate change, decolonization, and their opportunities as consumers to make a difference.
I love Alok Menon’s writing. They are a poet, comedian, and public speaker, but their writings on their website and social content is so moving, provocative, and visionary.
There are many books on purpose, corporate and brand activism, but the one that resonates with me most is “The 360ºCorporation” by Sarah Kaplan. This is one of the most practical and approachable guides for business leaders who are serious about corporate purpose and sustainability. This provides a roadmap for how companies and their stakeholders can collaborate to co-create transformational paths to better outcomes, even in the face of the many real challenges and demands inherent in staying a profitable, resilient business.
3. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Mel Robbin’s shared the three lessons she learned during the most challenging year of her life, and one was “life is always trying to teach you something.” I think this applies to my time as an entrepreneur – each win, loss, challenge, and opportunity comes with a lesson – it’s about being open and receptive to it. Each experience is a chance to learn and grow, but the key is also taking a moment to celebrate how far you’ve come, especially when times are tough.
4. What advice would you give to future entre/intrapreneurs looking to make their mark on the world?
Start with why. You will be tested, and often! Being crystal clear on why you are doing the work you do and how it benefits others can be a grounding force when you need it most. Working with companies of all sizes to define their purpose is the first (and often my favourite) step in building social impact strategies.
Surround sound perspectives. While personal and company values create an important filter for decision-making, you will always risk bias and upholding oppressive and institutionalized racism, ableism, misogyny, etc., if you aren’t gathering insights from those with diverse lived experiences and who challenge your way of thinking. In addition to leading to better business performance, it’s critical that everyone understands their role in redistributing privilege and power, no matter the size of the company.
Define success for both the short and long term. Understanding how to define success and the timeline for tangible results will vary and can be as unique as you are. Manage your own expectations and those of others upfront – change and progress take time. Working in social impact or sustainability often means working towards a goal that may not be realized in your lifetime or where traditional business metrics don’t apply. Use this as an opportunity to find what measures matter most to you and your stakeholders.
Get your admin house in order. Yawn, right? But so important! My time as managing partner of a mid-size agency trained me in the importance of improving business performance with relevant systems and tools, especially around financial management. Building the right behaviours early on helps as your business scales up, helps you be comfortable with cash flow and expenses, and contributes to building measurable goals.
Inspired by doing good herself and supporting businesses to do good, Daniella's career and life ambitions have a positive ripple effect on communities and people. Her illustrious experience and purpose inspires us to continue to be grounded and focused on our own purpose and why.
Follow Daniella's journey of making an impact – follow her on LinkedIn.