• Rachel Laiosa

Building Prezence: An Interview with CEO Colleen

CEO Colleen Hayes came up to me at a coffee shop in search of a phone charger in the fall of 2019, and I’ve been writing for her ever since. My voice has always been heard when working for Colleen—from the junior of juniors to c-suite leaders, everyone has something to bring to the table in Colleen’s eyes. Her enthusiasm for every bold idea and crazy theory is a breath of fresh air.

Taking risks, challenging boundaries and creating deep connections is Colleen’s bread and butter, and Prezence is all the better for it. With such a big personality puppeteering this brand to new heights, it just made sense to learn more about Colleen’s initial vision for Prezence, how it came to be, plus her plans for the brand’s future.

RL: When did you first start thinking about creating Prezence and what did the creative process look like?

CH: I started thinking about my idea for Prezence when I took a 6-month break from the workforce to travel. For the first time in my life I had free time to simply think, read and journal. The expansion and relief I felt is hard to describe, and ideas were flowing through me constantly. I thought a lot about mindfulness, my practice, and all the tools I'd developed for myself. I evaluated the market and technology and learned that there was an opportunity to create a new category and a better product to meet both consumer and business needs.

The creative process was all over the place. Lots of conversation with strangers at bars, FaceTimes with friends I trusted, coffee talks with advisors and journaling on random pieces of paper. I'm a very visual person so I started mapping things out for our first product, the app, very early on.

RL: What continues to bring you back to this vision each day?

CH: Every day I spend time in reflection. I try and bring myself back to the greater mission with everything that we do—shifting technology from a stressor to a source of strength through digital mindfulness. I write down what I'm grateful for, little wins we experience, what frustrates me as an entrepreneur and everything in between. Seeing our team so engaged in creating thoughtful content and experiences keeps me going. I love watching our team. It makes me cry just thinking about it.

RL: How is this brand impacting its users?

CH: Prezence is not just an app or a company that helps other companies improve the mental health of their employees—it's a state of being. I love hearing stories of users and clients embodying the practices that we teach them. I think our brand is inspiring people to spend more time in the present moment. It's easy for anyone to meditate once or twice but to truly bring these practices into your daily life—that's when the real shifts happen for people. So that's my greatest honor. Watching the evolution of our community through small wins and little bits of progress.

RL: Where do you see this brand headed?

CH: We're headed in a really exciting direction. There's a lot that I can't share yet but buckle up for our innovation coming in 2021. Big things are happening and we can't wait to help more people everywhere practice mindfulness this year!

RL: What keeps you motivated to keep pushing forward?

CH: Like I said before—our team. I love it when the team comes to me with ideas on how to innovate, make a process better, or create something new for our community. Ownership is something that inspires me as the leader of Prezence. When I see that I know I'm doing something right. I stay motivated by practicing gratitude. That keeps me connected and motivated each day. We can't invite in more wins or accomplishments as a business without being grateful for what we have so I try to embody that every day even if just for a few moments.

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