When Orianne Gambino left her corporate job at vacation rental company Airbnb, she wanted her next role to revolve around helping entrepreneurs and other professionals succeed in their careers. In 2021, she launched coaching business Gambino to do just that, calling upon her previous experience at Airbnb, where her role involved supporting small business owners as they turned their respective passions into Airbnb Experiences. Today the Biarritz, France-based entrepreneur helps professionals navigate challenges around leadership development, cultivating a positive mindset and thriving during career transitions – so they can excel at whatever they set their minds to.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
My clients are high performers. They either own their own business, or lead a team. They are doing great professionally – but they struggle with their relationships with themselves. Together, we work on rewiring and simplifying their mindsets.
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
Publishing my own book on gratitude called “The Little Book of Happiness.” I overcame a lot of fear and self-doubt in order to do so, and it gave me the drive to call myself a true writer.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Sales drains me. When I started as a coach, it felt like the only way to get clients was through cold messaging. LinkedIn automation is huge in the industry. Nothing felt less aligned than sending those out.
I ultimately had to take a step back and accept that it would take time to get clients, which meant being open to freelance gigs and external consulting while I built my personal brand. I still sometimes do some cold outreach, but more as a way to grow my network than as a way to get clients.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations which have affected your business decisions?
In the span of one year, my parents divorced, my mom got sick, I relocated, I got an injury that prohibited me from working out, and I lost a couple recurring clients. As a consequence, my mindset was not at its best, which impacted my business.
It was a lot at once. And when you start to struggle financially and mentally, the people who love you try to support you by giving their opinion. While the intention is good, it creates a lot of friction if you don’t learn to block it out.
I’ve found that, as a business owner, I usually know what to do – I just need time and space to bring my ideas to life. Advice tends to slow this process and bring confusion (which is why I believe so much in the power of coaching).
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Starting a business is lonely, so surround yourself with people who understand what you are going through. Find a safe space for yourself – be it three hours by yourself to do nothing work-related, a community of like-minded entrepreneurs, or a mentor, a coach or therapist.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I get it all out through journaling, and give myself permission to feel sorry for myself for a day. I go for a run, do some yoga, take a cold plunge, indulge in a meal I love, or sometimes just stay on my couch and watch a stupid TV show.
When I allow myself to feel the way I feel, the darkness goes away, and I’m fired up again.
What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days?
My happy song is “Atab” by Hadi Zeidan.
Who is your most important role model?
I’m a big fan of Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso. I admire her authenticity. ◼