Heidi Ganahl (MA 1999) has a lot of powerful messages, especially for young women, but perhaps the most powerful message this serial entrepreneur wants young people to know is that it’s okay not to know. “We need to normalize not having it all figured out at 22. I don’t think enough of us speak up on that, and that’s on us as older women,” Ganahl said.
Ganahl’s professional road has taken a lot of turns—it certainly wasn’t a straight line from a corporate job in pharmaceutical sales to founding and growing doggie daycare brand Camp Bow Wow to more than 100 franchises to her current passion of encouraging leadership among young women. But that’s kind of the point. Ganahl has built a career out of disregarding conventional paths and instead following her joy. Lately that joy has been SheFactor, the national, socially driven channel to empower young women to create lives they love.
“My daughter, Tori, came home her senior year of college and had a meltdown about what to do next—and this is a really driven kid who’s always known what she wanted to do,” Ganahl said. “At the same time, I had just become a regent for the University of Colorado, so I was hanging out with young people a lot. I noticed this ‘deer in headlights’ look in a lot of young women. It’s such a great time for young women in terms of all the opportunities, but all the options are almost paralyzing.”
So she sat down and wrote a letter to her 20-year-old self, which turned into “SheFactor: Present Power, Future Fierce,” a book to help young women launch a life they love. SheFactor caught on, and her daughter joined and now helps run the business. In summer 2019, the Ganahls launched live SheFactor chapters around the country, and they were really building momentum when, well, you know what happened next.
“I’ve felt deep, deep sadness this week for the 19 million women and girls across the earth in Afghanistan. Eleven million women in America head back to college in the coming weeks and 144 women sit in our U.S. Capitol leading our country. Sadly, the women now ruled by the Taliban face a sudden and horrifying shift in their lives that we can’t fathom here.”