blog » September 29, 2018 by Renee

"State of the Union 2018" With 30Seconds Founder & CEO Elisa All Schmitz & Senior Digital Producer Donna John! by Renee

Blog Tribe Talk
5 years ago
"State of the Union 2018" With 30Seconds Founder & CEO Elisa All Schmitz & Senior Digital Producer Donna John!

Ever wonder what it's like to be a successful serial entrepreneur? We are excited to bring you a behind-the-scenes look at 30Seconds with founder and CEO of 30Seconds Elisa All Schmitz, and Donna John, our Senior Digital Producer! Elisa founded her first business, iParenting, while raising her three children in Chicago. After Elisa sold iParenting to The Walt Disney Company, she worked at Disney for two years. Since then, Elisa has worked to create and provide a unique platform for 30Seconds contributors to share, learn and grow with each other while making a difference (in 30 seconds).

Donna started her journey with Elisa as a writer for iParenting and then working her way up to Senior Editor, all while raising her three children in Texas. Can you believe that after working with each other for nearly 20 years, Elisa and Donna have never actually worked in the same physical location (except for several meetups)? Donna worked for Disney for five years after iParenting was acquired. Then as was meant to be, Elisa and Donna began to work together again to grow 30Seconds.

Elisa and Donna shared with us the ins and outs of 30Seconds and answered questions on how to become a 30Seconds community member and contributor and grow with this dynamic startup.

Q: Elisa, we know this is your second digital media startup. Remind us about the first!

I founded iParenting during my first pregnancy, right after graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with my Master’s degree in Journalism. iParenting grew to become one of the most highly regarded parenting websites in the world, rated “Best of the Web” by Newsweek, US News & World Report and even The London Times. It attracted a lot of attention from larger media companies, and I ended up selling it to the Walt Disney Company. I worked for Disney for two years, integrating iParenting into the Disney Family Network. For a first-time entrepreneur, it was an incredible experience. A few years later, I launched my second digital media startup, which has grown into!

Q: Elisa, what an amazing journey, and you’re not done yet! Tell us the connection to Donna along the way!

I have had the pleasure of working with Donna on and off for nearly 20 years. She started writing for me at iParenting, and I quickly spotted her talent and offered her a job as an assistant editor.

Donna, tell everyone what your initial answer was and why!

Funny enough, my initial answer back in ‘99 was no. Crazy, huh? Thank goodness Elisa reached back out and said she’d teach me anything I didn’t know. I said no because I had never worked with HTML before, LOL. I caught on quickly (there wasn’t much to it) and the rest is history. Working with Elisa over the past 20 years has been a blessing. I value her as a friend and a colleague.

Elisa: I’m so glad Donna said yes, and that our relationship has grown over the years. And to have her back at my side working to make the best that it can be is absolutely awesome!

Q: Elisa, what a wonderful relationship! Let’s shift gears to What is your goal with this platform?

I started 30Seconds as a way to help busy moms access helpful information on their mobile devices. It has grown so far beyond that. To me, is the best destination to inspire, and to be inspired, on a variety of lifestyle topics. It is a constant dialogue. Unlike other websites, which talk AT you, is a platform that offers authentic perspectives and insights to talk WITH you. We share in order to spark conversations and make positive things happen.

It’s a give and take with our contributors and our community. We share, we support, we bare the good, the bad and sometimes even the ugly. Why? Because it’s real, it’s authentic. And, 30Seconds is a safe place to do so. We always keep our eye on the positive, and when we see things taking a turn for the negative, or people wanting to take others down a notch, we nip that in the bud because that is not what we’re about. We understand we may not be for everyone, but our community is composed of diverse and varied voices of experts and “passionistas” who have something to share because they want to make a difference.

Q: Elisa, we can see that at work on the site every day. Something fresh is published on a daily basis that is informative or inspiring. What happened this year that you’d like to share?

So much has happened so far this year, where do I begin? I’m excited that we launched our seventh vertical, Pregnancy! This new channel offers info and insights for expectant parents, from week one to week 40. And speaking of pregnancy, we are hard at work on a new site dedicated JUST to pregnancy! Stay tuned for more info on that. So excited to share it with you!

We also had our first 30Seconds Summit. It started as a birthday party for Donna (happy birthday, Donna!) and turned into one of the most meaningful weekends ever. Renee Herren, Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead and Donna all flew in to Chicago for the weekend, where we had team meetings and time to just have fun together. And then we invited local tribe members over for a full-day of mindfulness, yoga, meditation, journaling and bonding. It led to discussions about how we can take this incredible experience to the next level. Stay tuned for more info on how you can participate in our next 30Seconds Summit, which will be a much bigger and bolder event!

Q: So exciting and can’t wait for the next 30Seconds Summit! In the meantime, how can contributors get more involved and grow with this dynamic startup?

If you noticed how I build my team, it’s pretty clear I like to promote from within. I believe in recognizing and growing talent. As with Donna, both Ann Marie and Renee started as contributors and have become core team members. I did the same with our channel leads. So proud to say we now have Jessica Acree as our Mom channel lead, Dr. Shayna Mancuso as our Health channel lead, Sheri Doyle as our Travel channel lead and Chef Gigi Gaggero as our Food channel lead. We may be looking for leads to support our Dad, Pregnancy and Beauty channels. If you are interested, please email me at elisa @! Stay tuned for other ways you can grow with us.

Q: Donna, you do the publishing every day. Tell us what it’s like to be on the receiving end of all those tips! And, how can contributors help make your job easier?

I’m like a kid on Christmas morning every day when I check to see what tips have been submitted! I love working with all these amazing contributors! To make my job easier:

  • Be sure to give your tip a read through before submitting. It’s edited before publishing, but the cleaner it is when submitted, the better. 
  • We love when you submit photos with your tips. While I can’t promise I’ll use every photo, I try to make them work. For our format, horizontal works best, but vertical can go in the body of the tip. If you have more than one photo, just email the rest to me at donna @
  • I’ve got another trick for you! If your tip is over the 1200 character limit, put the remaining text in the “Notes” section. Shhh!
  • If you include a reference to research or stats, include the url to the study or source so it can be fact checked and cited. Keep those tips coming in!

Q. How can we grow our audience and make our tips more successful?

  • Share and promote your tips after they’re published! Above the photo on each tip you simply click on the icons and share on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ and even through email. Easy and effective!Facebook drives the most traffic to your tips. Share on your personal pages and also any groups you are a member of. Pro tip: Facebook likes also appear as likes on your actual tip on! When you share and promote your tips, you’re helping to build your following and website/blog and also The more we grow, the more you grow! Also, share each other’s tips. If you promote others, they will likely promote you!
  • Another way to increase interest in your tips is to start or engage in conversation in the comments. Ask questions and tag other community members so they can engage. Answer questions on other’s tips. It’s all about community and engaging with others!
  • Invite your friends, family and followers to register and join the community. Encourage them to submit their own tips and get involved. We notice these things and will show our appreciation!
  • All of the tips on can be embedded on your website or blog. Simply click “embed” on the tip and copy and paste the code on your site and it will magically appear!
  • You also have personalized widgets to use on your blog or website. All you do is go to your profile on and click on Personalized Widgets and BOOM – you can have your tips magically appear on your website!
  • If you have any questions on any of this or if you have other ideas for how tribe members can promote their tips, please let us know. We are always ready to listen and make things happen!

Q: This is incredibly helpful, thank you! Anything else you would like us to know?

We just want to take a moment and thank each and every one of you for being part of our tribe and our community. We value every person and appreciate you so much! We believe everyone has something to share. So for those of you who have not yet shared a tip and become a contributor, we encourage you to do so anytime. It’s so easy, just click here to submit. And if you ever have a question about the submitting process, shoot Donna an email at donna @! We are here to help in any way we can.

Photo: From left to right, Ann Marie Gardinier HalsteadRenee HerrenElisa All Schmitz and Donna John.

Mindy Hudon, M.S., CCC-SLP
Oh! This is exciting. I sorry but I won’t be able to make it. I am at a professional workshop that evening. I am excited that I have been on this journey with you and Donna since iParenting! Saying “yes” to being part of the tribe nearly 20 years ago was the best decision I have ever made! Thanks for this remarkable journey and your friendship. Now my plan is to actually meet Donna IRL too!
Meredith Schneider
Oh can’t wait! This is gonna be an awesome #30Seconds chat! ☺️🎉

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