Marissa Keenan

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Marissa Keenan, I am a partner and owner of Sweet Peaks Ice Cream. I am a flavor creator, community builder, and small business leader.

What has been one insight or lesson that has been most helpful in your career?

The importance of building a team. It is important to build a team of people that you can trust, rely on, and share a vision.

What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake that in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress.

I asked my husband this one and he said jokingly “opening an ice cream shop.”
I think the biggest mistake for us was thinking that my partner and I could do everything. Initially, we tried to wear every cap, but we stretched ourselves so thin, we didn’t have enough time to focus on the more important things. Leadership is not just the act of knowing how to do everything, it also involves the act of leading.
This mistake helped us immensely in hiring the right people and assembling the perfect team.

Project forward ten years. How will your industry or field be fundamentally different then? What opportunities do you see?

There is a huge trend in thoughtful consumerism. In the next ten years, consumers are going to spend more time thinking about what products they are purchasing and where they are coming from. Support for local businesses serves as a huge opportunity for small companies to grow both business and community.

What are some bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

When I was first talking about starting my business people told me “not to build a job for yourself.” But in order to have the lifestyle that I wanted, I had to create the job that I wanted.
Some people think that you need a ton of money to pursue a dream. But it doesn’t take as much as people say. What matters most is starting with what you have, and working hard.

In the last two years, what have you become better at saying no to?

I’ve become better at saying no to what takes me away from my family, and what doesn’t support what we are doing at Sweet Peaks. I try to focus on what fuels me, not drains me.

What is the one book you recommend most often and why?

Setting the Table by Danny Meyer.
Everyone in the company is given a copy.

What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?

Find someone who is doing what you admire and pitch them your ideas, ask questions, and shadow them. I recently read an article in the New York Times about this. Check it out –
Coming out of college there is high stress to get that big dream job, but that probably isn’t going to happen. Focus on the steps to get there. Everything you do is worthwhile and nothing you do is wasted. Whether you are a summer camp counselor or an ice cream scooper, you are gaining skills. Try to learn as many skills as possible, and become extremely diversified. If you go through life focusing on learning as much as possible, at some point something will spark your interest, and this spark will light a fire under you.

What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?

Treat people the way you want to be treated.


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