We intended to highlight the 20/20 Visionaries-to-Watch featuring Shannon Bex much earlier in 2020, but we found it wise to hold her story until it felt right to release.
When you think of the word vision, you almost immediately associate that word with sight, your sensory ability. It is something required to turn a thought into innovation. To have vision doesn’t specifically mean the ability to see something physically, but rather an intention or inclination to create change.
At the beginning of 2020, OBVIOUS had intentions of using our vision to create new stories, highlight new outlooks, and continue offering the cutting edge content that our viewers have grown to love over the years.
What started out as a promising new decade quickly turned into a dark age of disorder as COVID-19 became a global threat that altered all of our realities.
Amid the pandemic, the masks of American “justice” started to show themselves more clearly than ever before as an uprising from the Black Lives Matter movements called out the wrongful murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others at the hands of police brutality.
One thing was sure: It clouded our vision.
There needed to be some refocusing of what matters and what messaging #TeamOBVIOUS could provide to its audience that would resonate with something optimistic and hopeful.
The world has now spent more than half of the year enduring the stress of these trying times, yet we can still look towards the people making a difference as a means of inspiration.
There’s no doubt that the individuals selected in this article showcase a tenacity and touch of creativity that has shown the potential for greatness in their lives and for others.
They’ve used their heart and motivation to strive for change and create space for new generations to learn from them.
It is with great honor that OBVIOUS Magazine presents: The 2020 Visionaries To Watch.
20/20 Visionaries: Shannon Bex at Vooks | Danity Kane
What strategies or habits did you take from being a performing music artist to becoming an entrepreneur with Vooks?
Shannon Bex: No doubt, being a performer has allowed me to be very comfortable making pitches and presentations. I used to do one other thing as an artist was read through all con- tracts and do my best to understand how things worked instead of glancing over it and relying solely on my legal team.
I took it on that and countless other tedious business tasks that no creative really wants to do. I made myself get in the trenches no matter how unglamorous it was. I knew one day it would serve me. Now I am head of acquisitions at Vooks. I work with publishers and rights holders negotiat- ing deals to license the books you see on Vooks.
The digital space is continuously growing, and Vooks is undoubtedly in a position to be a leading business in that category. How will Vooks stay competitive in an ever-evolving industry?
Shannon Bex: Staying unique to what we offer will set us apart. It’s good to have your peripheral competitors; however, the moment you try to compete or do what they do, you lose who you are.
It’s very similar to the music industry. Being an artist requires authentic imaging that is captured sonically. That becomes your brand, creating a trend, or staying close enough to popular culture to remain relevant without losing yourself and becoming an impersonation of someone else.
There will be many things you can chase or jump to. It’s crucial to take wisdom and constructive comments then apply it appropriately to your journey without being swayed by opinions. You must understand how to differentiate, or you will be tossed on the waves.
What advice would you give artists and creatives like yourself who want to become more entrepreneurial?
Shannon Bex: Above all, understand your business, whether you stay in the creative world or get a corporate job. Always be open to exploring your interests and adjusting what you thought your path might look like. For me, the grind of my music career truly prepared me for this new role.
From the discipline, focus, drive, leadership, teamwork, learning new skills, long nights, understanding how each aspect of the industry works, taking meetings with heads of publishing houses to boardroom conversations.
Always be a student! It might be scary and uncomfortable to take those first steps into a new career, but you will find your rhythm. Five years ago, I never could have imagined what a fulfilling career transition, something like Vooks would become.
How have you or your business had to pivot during this global pandemic?
Shannon Bex: We have had a concrete timeline in place for marketing and content production through the calendar year before the pandemic hit. Because we are a digital library of storybooks for kids and many schools have closed, it’s caused us to ramp up our outreach making sure parents and teachers have what they need as a home turns into the school from free access and trials to resources.
What strategy would you suggest to anyone and their ventures directly impacted because of COVID-19?
Shannon Bex: At this stage, I honestly would say there are so many unknowns ahead of us all, so have patience as things change. If there is a way for your business to provide digital services, now is the time to transition. However, don’t lose the essence of your brand.
Think through the long term effect strategically. Though we are in a heightened state and feel scattered, be sure not to scramble. Make each choice with a clear mind. Focus on the important, not on the panic. Besides, keep the communication going with your team.
Photo Credit: Benjamin Edwards Photography
View the entire 20/20 Visionaries List here.