5 inspiring individuals changing lives on the South Shore and beyond.By Maria Allen, Noelle Barbosa and Laura DeSisto | Photography by Jack Foley
Principal of Strength Catalyst Partners
By any measure, Colleen Boselli’s life was humming along beautifully 17 years ago. She had a high-level position at a worldwide ad agency, three beautiful young children and a supportive husband. Then the unthinkable happened – a stage III breast cancer diagnosis rocked her world and caused her to reevaluate almost every aspect of her life including her career. That watershed moment was the catalyst that launched Boselli into her second, highly fulfilling act as a “strengths-based” consultant and coach. In this role, Boselli shares her knowledge with everyone from high-level corporate executives at big name organizations like Google, the Boston Red Sox and State Street Global Advisers, to small groups of women who come to group sessions at her Cohasset home and cancer patients at Dana Farber whom she meets with as part of her pro bono work. Boselli’s love for her work is contagious and she says that the best part is that she is able to witness the type of personal and professional transformations in others that she herself feels blessed to have had.
What exactly is strengths-based coaching?
Simply put, strengths-based coaching is the process of helping someone to maximize their potential and happiness by uncovering and deeply understanding how to use their strengths. Sadly, many people go through their whole lives without really maximizing their unique combination of gifts or strengths. Often, we focus on our weaknesses and try to fix them. Instead, we know from research that our greatest potential lies in developing and making greater use of our existing strengths. When we do this, we have tremendous benefits such as … more resilience, increased confidence, less stress, faster learning, and stronger enjoyment in whatever we are doing.
How exactly can the average person discover his/her strengths?
There are two ways to discover your strengths. One method is to “spot” them through careful self-reflection. To do this, simply ask yourself, “In” what situations, activities or environments do I feel most energized?” Alternatively, I typically use an online assessment to help my clients define their strengths. My website strengthscatalyst.com has detailed information on two very useful surveys.
How do you identify your strengths?
If you feel energized by being exceptionally well organized, you have the strength called “order.” If you take pleasure in helping others believe in themselves, perhaps you have the “esteem builder” strength. Are you guided by a strong ethical code? If so, you have a strength called “moral compass.” The aim is to bundle four or more of your key strengths together and find a role or activity that draws on them. This will feel great … but watch out, because your favorite strengths can be addicting!
If someone feels drained by a task or environment, does that indicate an area of weakness for that person?
Not necessarily. We have different kinds of strengths, including some that energize us and some that drain us. Our co-workers, friends and family mean well when they recognize our values and ask us to do even more of a certain task. But, they often don’t know that this could be drawing upon our draining strengths and making us miserable. Instead, you want to use more of your “unrealized” strengths. These are your strengths that have gone dormant for whatever reason, and they are the key to greater happiness and success.
Can you give an example of a client who changed course after identifying unrealized strengths?
Yes, I have a client who discovered her unrealized strengths of “spotlight” and “humor” and a result, is now trying her hand at stand-up comedy! I have countless examples with students, stay-at-home moms, professionals, retirees, and even cancer patients. Whether it’s a career change or a new hobby, by focusing on your strengths, you can really get into the flow and flourish. Life is too short to struggle and to be uncertain of your gifts. Instead, you should discover your strengths, develop them fully and watch your life unfold in ways you never thought possible.
Founder and CEO of Zen Den
Acclaimed personal trainer, manual therapist and all-around wellness guru Mary Kim-Garrity is changing the way people think about and treat chronic pain. With her extensive knowledge of neurological and muscular-skeletal therapy, she is a master of using movement as medicine. Just last year, she and business partner Michael Murphy opened a one-of-a-kind wellness center in Norwell called Zen Den that offers a whole-health approach to healing. The facility offers a wide range of fitness classes and therapeutic offerings, such as Pilates on a reformer, aerial yoga, kickboxing, barre workouts and BioCored suspension training, as well as flotation therapy, acupuncture, an infrared sauna, massage, nutrition consulting, life coaching and reiki. Kim-Garrity works with clients of all ages and from all walks of life and treats not only the complaint, but also the underlying cause of their pain. Whether helping a professional athlete recover from a sports-related injury or helping clients rehabilitate from chronic pain and illness at Zen Den pain clinics, she strives to help people feel their best inside and out.
Your father was the trainer for the Olympic Judo Team and your mother was an MD. How did your upbringing influence your career choice?
In what I have built at Zen Den, I am the hybrid of my parents. I work with elite athletes and use neuroscience to do so. My parents are huge influences in my life as they taught me about my culture, integrity and about living with passion. They taught me that I can do anything and be anything. Most importantly, they taught me how important it is to make a difference every single day.
At Zen Den my team can work with the whole client, from nutrition and fitness to relief from chronic pain. We want our clients to live their absolute best lives. In the Korean culture, aging is considered a gift, not a curse. I want my clients to stop blaming the aging process for their sedentary, pain-filled lives. Movement is therapy. Aging is wisdom. Zen Den is my dream come true. I am so grateful to my business partner, Michael Murphy, and my incredible team.
Why is having a whole-health approach to healing important?
I am so fortunate at Zen Den to be able to examine and treat my clients with a broader approach than if I were confined through a medical specialty. Health insurance regulations have resulted in the narrowing of many practitioners’ scopes of how they are able to address and fix medical problems, which is unfortunate. When I have a client come in with knee pain, I can look beyond the knee and figure out the true source of the pain—maybe they actually need work on their ankle or their hip. Our muscular skeletal systems are connected from head to toe. Often, a healer needs to be able to look beyond the acute site of pain to resolve an injury.
CorrectiveX™ is my methodology for correcting the forces of pain. BioCored Suspension Training equipment is my tool for creating “controlled instability” to get the brain’s attention to correct faulty muscle firing patterns.
Who does the Zen Den Foundation benefit?
At Zen Den, we don’t want to turn anyone away from the services that can help them the most. We started the Zen Den Foundation for families who have been hit hard by injury or illness, such as traumatic brain injuries, strokes and concussions to post traumatic stress disorder to multiple sclerosis and cancer.
Anything new and exciting on the horizon for 2017?
Zen Den Medical is opening in the first quarter of 2017. We will have a medical director, nurse practitioner and other medical professionals who can offer DNA testing, which will help our clients customize a health plan to resolve issues with sleep, hormone imbalance and nutrition.
How do you find Zen? What keeps you grounded?
Zen is my way of life, although it hasn’t always been. When I started to meditate 15 years ago, I found a way out of my head (my thoughts and fears). I stay grounded because I feel and know my purpose in life is to serve others.
Zen Den, 392 Washington St., Norwell, 781-424-0488
Founder of Moroccan Magic and Boston Business Women
What started as a quest to find a USDA organic lip balm that was smooth to the touch and also wallet-friendly has turned into a thriving enterprise for Milton resident Kristina Tsipouras. In December of 2015, the 32-year-old businesswoman and blogger launched Moroccan Magic, a boutique lip balm line made with organic argan oil and infused with essential oils. She recently took her brand to new heights by partnering with CVS Pharmacy to market her product to a national audience. Tsipouras, whose goal is to expand Moroccan Magic into a comprehensive beauty line, is no stranger to success (she also launched ZOOS Greek Iced Tea in 2013). She is a published author and the founder of Busy Girl Consulting Group, through which she mentors start-ups and female entrepreneurs about marketing and branding.
Last year, Tsipouras founded Boston Business Women, a professional networking organization dedicated to fostering connections and collaborations between women.
Who inspires you?
Women who want to help women – kind, authentic people who want to see others succeed and who want to lift others up to join in their success. I have many amazing mentors in Boston from Kip Hollister (founder of Hollister Staffing) to Suzy Batiz (founder of Poo~Pourri whose products produce more than $45 million a year in revenue). Women who don’t owe me anything, but take time out of their busy schedules to mentor young female entrepreneurs inspire me. I hope to do the same and pass the torch when I reach a certain level of success in my own career.
Who is your role model and why?
My role models were my grandparents and my father, who emigrated from Greece to Boston in 1970 to open a dry-cleaning business. They wanted to create a better life for themselves. They had an extremely tough life as they moved all over Europe to find work and support their family. Some nights they didn’t have enough money to put food on the table. When they arrived in Boston, they worked together as a family to buy a second dry-cleaning business in Newton, a rental property and a home. They are an example of the American Dream.
What’s new and exciting with Moroccan Magic in 2017?
Our independent stores can’t keep our products in stock and we are already expanding into other organic argan oil products. Our growth and expansion is happening quicker than we anticipated.
Do you have other beauty products in the pipeline?
Yes, by next year we will have several other products. I can’t announce them to the public yet, but expect some new amazing flavors and other skin care products.
What are the health and wellness benefits of using argan oil?
The New York Times has referred to argan oil as “liquid gold.” It’s known for its high vitamin E, antioxidant and fatty acid content. Google “the benefits of argan oil” and you will find endless articles and studies on the naturally moisturizing ingredients.
Do you have plans to visit Morocco?
Our goal is to visit our farmers in Morocco by early 2018. I am sure the inspiration and motivation that we come back with will create even more magic for the line.
What’s new and exciting with Boston Business Women?
Boston Business Women has also been growing quickly. Just last week, our Facebook group grew to more than 7,300 members. We have a new corporate initiative for women in business where we help corporations create stronger women’s networks within their own organizations. On May 17, we’re hosting the 2nd Annual Boston Business Women’s BE BOLD Conference at the Sheraton Back Bay.
What do you love most about being a business owner?
I love the freedom, though I work more than most of my friends in the corporate world. The feeling of owning my own time is just something that I could never give up. I am so in love with my work and my two businesses that no matter how hard times get, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I think it’s in my blood. I honestly don’t think it was a choice. It was more of a calling that I couldn’t ignore. If you have the entrepreneurial bug, it won’t ever go away. It only grows. I think that is why we see so many people in corporate positions now with “side hustles.” I think it’s great. We need more entrepreneurs and job creation in the United States.
How do you balance your professional and personal life?
I have learned that I will never be able to keep up with my to-do list. There is always something you could be working on as a business owner. I now schedule personal time and off time in my calendar and I prioritize it each week. Ask me again when I have kids. I am not sure how I will handle that balancing act. I am in awe of so many amazing business women who do.
Founder of the Cohasset Working Dog Foundation
Prior to 2011, whenever the need arose for the use of a K-9, Cohasset’s police department was forced to borrow one from a neighboring force in Scituate, Hingham or Hull. While the department well understood the value of these highly trained animals, it simply did not have the funding to purchase one of its own. That all changed the day Cohasset resident Trish Morse learned of the need and sprang into action to create a nonprofit and raise private funds to purchase “Erik”—a long-haired German shepherd trained in tracking and narcotics detection. For the past five years, Erik and his partner, Officer Patrick Reardon, have been serving Cohasset and surrounding towns. Since then, the “Cohasset Working Dog Foundation” with Morse at the helm has expanded to include therapy and service dog programs. In 2014, the foundation purchased Parker, a goldendoodle trained to provide mobility assistance to a young Cohasset resident. The CWDF’s therapy dog program includes two dogs that make weekly visits to Sunrise Assisted Living and the town library’s Reading Partner program for children.
What is the most surprising or interesting thing you have learned about dogs while heading the Cohasset Working Dog Foundation?
I knew very little about police K-9s, service dogs and therapy dogs when the foundation was started, so it has all been interesting, but the most intriguing part for me has been learning how dogs are being trained to detect high and low blood sugar in diabetics and to alert to oncoming seizures…sometimes 30 minutes or more before they even happen! I’ve also learned a lot about the challenges that service dog teams sometimes have when they are out in public. There has been so much to learn, but I’ve really enjoyed the process.
How do you maintain the training of Parker?
With any dog, training is a matter of “use it or lose it,” but it is even more critical for working dogs to keep up on the skills they’ve been taught, even if they don’t use all of those skills frequently. My goals for Parker have always been to practice for every likely situation that he might be exposed to while working. So for a few hours each week, we work on standard obedience tasks like recall, extended “stay” and heeling, and then practice mobility skills like bracing and balance. Some days we go in search of busy public places, loud machinery or other dogs and practice walking by without spooking or diverting his focus. He has gone with me to the dentist, doctor, bank, post office, restaurants and the mall. He has even attended the Elder Affairs “café” on Monday mornings, where he practices lying quietly out of sight under the table and being calm and well-mannered in a social setting. We practice escalators and elevators, and even practice ignoring the steaks and chicken in the meat aisle at the grocery store. All of these things increase his reliability when he is working. He is a total joy to work with, and such a fun and happy dog. I’m sure I get as much out of our training dates as he does!
What benefits do you or others notice that the children receive in the weekly reading program with the therapy dogs?
The Reading Partner Program at the library has become so popular. The children come to read with a black lab named Sophie for a wide variety of reasons. Some are dog lovers who just want to snuggle with her. Some are highly proficient young readers who love books and love reading aloud, and some come because they struggle greatly with oral reading or with reading in general. Still others come by because they are afraid of dogs, and their parents have heard that Sophie might be just the dog to help overcome that fear. She is a very intuitive girl who really loves her job at the library! It is amazing each week to witness the subtle interactions between Sophie and the children as they begin to read to her. There is a discernable relaxation that takes place after a few minutes. Sophie soaks it all in and seems to adapt to the children as they come in and take their places on the blanket on the floor. They know she won’t judge or correct them. I love seeing the children come back week after week and bring their friends.
What are your future goals for the foundation?
I really hope to award another service dog grant this year. We have a grant of up to $10,000 available to help a disabled resident with the costs associated with being paired with a trained service dog. It can be a long and expensive process, and we are in a position to help. Service dogs can help people with seizure disorders, mobility impairments, diabetes, vision and hearing impairments, autism and more. We are accepting applications now, and ideally we would like to be able to award a new grant every year. Another goal for the foundation this year is to expand our cadre of trained volunteer therapy dog teams to visit hospitals, schools, nursing homes and the library. We receive quite a few requests in addition to the weekly library visits, and it would be great to expand our team. Anyone with a calm, obedient and social dog and an interest in volunteering a few hours a month can contact me for more information.
CEO and Co-founder of Connected Living
While we live in highly technological world where communication can happen with the touch of a button, a large aging portion of the population has been left out of the conversation. Hingham resident Sarah Hoit, a social entrepreneur who has worked to affect social change in both the private and public sectors, operates a company that aims to bring millions of seniors across this digital divide. Hoit co-founded Connected Living, Inc., in 2007, with her partner, the late Chris McWade. The company offers a web-based platform that is used to connect thousands of people in senior living communities throughout the country, giving residents secure access to the internet, email, social media, photos, activity calendars and games. With the launch of a new Connected Living mobile app, Hoit’s team has created a way for multiple generations to privately share conversations, photos and more across a secure personal network, no matter where they live. The app provides caregivers with added peace of mind and gives seniors a tool to stay connected to their loved ones.
What were you doing before you founded the company?
Earlier in my career, I served as the deputy director for National Service (AmeriCorps) in the White House Office of National Service under the Clinton administration (1993-1995). During my tenure, I wrote the business plan for AmeriCorps and then took a Deputy Director position to help run the program as it rolled out. Over one million youth have now served the country through AmeriCorps since its inception. After leaving the public sector, I went on to develop Explore, Inc., an after-school enrichment and summer program. Explore partnered with school districts and community members and operated programming that met the academic and social needs of all students through the integration of experimental learning, homework, physical education and community service. Explore served over 75 schools in nine states. I sold the company in 2001. I also served as the managing director and partner at Thomas Partners Investment Management, a managing director with Sylvan Learning Systems and a management consultant to senior management in multiple industries in corporate strategy, marketing and communications.
What are the key components of the Connected Living ecosystem?
The Connected Living admin panel is a content management system that allows administrators the ability to manage all of their pertinent content from one point of entry. Community calendars, dining menus, photos, videos, alerts and bulletin boards are entered easily into the Connected Living admin panels and seamlessly disseminated to digital signage, in-room TVs, printed calendar/newsletter and our new mobile app.
Is the technology designed only for senior living facilities or can anyone use it?
The Connected Living app is for every household and is accessible as a free download for families. It was built to give families a “private” network to connect with those closest to them. It also enhances the offering we already have in senior living, bringing the power of a “connected life” into the hands of every resident and their families.
Yes, we have communities, both in the private and affordable sectors, using our technologies to serve their residents, families and community teams, including Bridges by EPOCH, Welch Healthcare and Retirement Group, LCB Senior Living, Beacon Communities, LLC and Brookdale.
In May of 2016 you launched a campaign to connect one million seniors using the Connected Living mobile app. How many have you reached so far?
We have reached thousands so far with our launch and in the next quarter will be releasing through our senior living partners and new large corporate partners such as Sodexo, Lyft and Higi health that will help us reach and exceed our initial $1 million goal. We would like Connected Living to be a brand that every household knows about and uses.
How do you accommodate seniors who are not tech-savvy?
We truly believe in a high-tech, high-touch experience for our users. We pride ourselves in delivering white-glove customer service. We have a team of caring, knowledgeable individuals in our Connected Living Center who understand who our end-user is. Whether our callers are tech savvy, and have been using technology for many of years, or are first time users, our team delights our customers to the best of our abilities. Our Connected Living Center is available seven days a week from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. EST. We consider ourselves the “anti-call center” because we never rush anyone off the phone. Our number one priority to ensure a positive caller experience each and every time.
What do you love most about your work?
I love making a difference every day, creating something that has not been done before, and most of all I love the team I work with. They are passionate, committed people who care about creating positive change.