Daria Benedict is CEO and Founder of Halo of Change, a Los Angeles-based consulting agency centered around six key pillars: consulting, campaigns, content, publishing, philanthropy and futurism.
Her company donates 15% of all profits to charity. She is a philosopher, social entrepreneur, digital strategy, content, social marketing, and partnerships executive in the entertainment, impact, cannabis, blockchain and traditional media spaces. She's also a writer, coalition-builder, speaker, indie rapper, activist and two-time Emmy Award nominee for short-form video content. She serves on the UCLA Masters of Social Science Advisory Board and is a passionate producer of ideas that change the world.
Q: Why did you choose your present industry at this time?
Humanity has never known a more digitally connected time than we have now, and it holds so much obvious opportunity to harness change and do good with it. It has never really felt like a choice to me. It just feels like where I'm supposed to be because this is exactly where I am if that makes sense.
My love of humanity, technology, doing good and creating and sharing abundance combined with my skills, the things that bring me joy and my work experience make the business of doing good and being better a natural industry cross-section for me. I get to combine my love of logic with my love of creativity, connectivity, and communication -- whether through campaigns, content or consulting -- to create positive ripple effects in our world. Through Halo of Change, we get to help build the future that I envision for myself and for humanity. Plus, no two days are ever exactly alike!
Humanity has never known a more digitally connected time than we have now, and it holds so much obvious opportunity to harness change and do good with it.
~ Daria Benedict
Q: What is the best/worst moment you can remember in your career?
The worst moment of my career was back when I was 26 (I graduated from UCLA two weeks after turning 21, so I entered the workforce earnestly, eagerly and early). I affectionately refer to the moment as 'Goldilocks and The 3 Ad Agencies'. I had worked at three different entertainment advertising agencies in LA for two years each, and ascended the corporate ladder pretty quickly, doubling my salary every time I moved up.
I started at a huge agency, moved on to a small agency, and ended up at a mid-sized, boutique agency. For a long time, I thought that the adjustment I needed to make was what size agency I worked for. On paper, I was doing really well, but I didn't love what I was doing. I was a successful account executive but always fiercely creative, and back then there was a huge line in the sand between account and creative staff. It was like good ideas, input or even creative problem solving were only 'allowed' if you had the title 'designer' or 'creative director.' The stress of the job itself... living and dying by the last possible FedEx dropoff times for overnight deliveries, dealing with studio clients who didn't always have great energy, and worst of all having this unspoken ceiling on my creativity compounded into a personal crisis of faith. I had poured myself into being the best at what I did, and I had become accustomed to a certain pay range. Did I have it in me to leave that world and start at the bottom again somewhere in a totally different field? Was I being ungrateful for the success I had achieved if I did make the switch? Most importantly, what was I going to do instead? It turned out to be a pivot point in my career where I decided to put myself out there and take chances. I put my intentions out into the universe and held space for my future self in that very moment. I ended up landing an even better job, with even higher pay and on the client and creative side of things that launched my digital and entrepreneurial career and earned me two Emmy-Award nominations. But I still remember the day clearly when I came home from work, exhausted and unfulfilled, realizing that it wasn't about agency size at all. I was not in the right job, period. I spent a few hours puddled on the floor in the office of my then-downtown-LA loft, staring at City Hall and doing serious soul-searching. It was a rough night, to say the least.
My best moment happened two years ago. I had just left my last corporate job -- a job which I truly loved (Vice President of Digital and Television Social Impact at Participant Media) -- and was thinking about what to do next. I'd been working since I was 13 and decided, for the first time in my life at 36 years old, to cash in most of my savings (all self-made; I don't come from money and have never won the lotto) and stop working for at least 6 months. I was going to let myself do all of the things and projects that I always said I'd do when I had time outside of work, but of course, never got to. I even turned down a stellar job that I was offered right away, and it was the best thing I've ever done for myself.
During that time off I learned so much about myself, and equally as important, I learned how to merge my inner creative and strategic world with my exterior work life. I was profoundly productive and filled with gratitude every single day of that six months that turned into a year. I erased the boundaries between 'work Daria' and 'home Daria.' My soul, skills and purpose unified during this process. Suddenly everything I'd ever been through made sense, nothing was for naught and Halo of Change was born out of that time in my life.
Q: Who is your role model or hero?
This question is always so hard! There are so many -- both fictional and IRL. It depends on what strengths I need to summon on any particular day. To name a few off the short list... Socrates, Mary Poppins, Captain Spock, Barack, and Michelle Obama, my parents, my 2nd piano teacher Magda, Joan of Arc, Angelina Jolie, Neil Degrasse Tyson, David Bowie, Jay Shetty, MLK, my best friend Mary, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez... I guess that's more than a few. LOL.
Q: What is your favorite book?
This is another hard one (I was a Literature Major). I'd have to say either the Xenogenesis Trilogy by Octavia E. Butler or The Man Who Grew Young or Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.
Q: Do you use any specific method or system to run daily operations of your business?
I try not to live by absolutes in any category in my life, and one of my strengths is that I'm flexible in how I accomplish different things. Change is the only constant in life, so flexibility in both outlook and execution is a key factor in how I approach everything.
That said, I've learned that if I start each day with gratitude and then remember to really listen to and think for myself -- whatever my gut instincts are telling me to feel about everything -- the path of least chaos leading to the most success in any situation becomes strikingly clear to me.
Once I am set with my intentions around anything -- be that a project or a much larger initiative or creative work -- what needs to be done to execute those things usually follows naturally.
I also do this thing where I challenge myself to just be better. Not better than anyone or everyone else; in fact rather the opposite. I want to be better at everything I do the next time I do it. I played sports in school and am unquenchably curious about learning, and applying that hungry, competitive nature to my day to day tasks helps me have fun no matter what I'm doing...whether it's writing a strategy, volunteering, dancing or cooking for a dinner party.
I try not to live by absolutes in any category in my life, and one of my strengths is that I'm flexible in how I accomplish different things.
~ Daria Benedict
Q: Looking back - if you could advise a younger version of yourself to do something different - what would it be?
#thinkforyourself. I was really bullied when I was in elementary school, and I always felt like an outsider. It made me hide my gifts and insights... all of the things that made me 'me'. I'd go back and tell myself that the power is inside of me -- it has been all along. That the little tremors of instinctual feelings of greatness and HUGE ideas that I was ignoring in order to fit in were the seeds of what would lead to my joy and success in the future, and that I should listen to them instead of tamping them down. I'd also tell myself that construct only works for me when it actually works for me. Otherwise... #thinkforyourself, man.
Visit Website: www.haloofchange.com
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