December 18, 2019 4:00 am Published by

Episode 37:

Female Leaders | At a Crossroads

As female leaders, we often reach a crossroads where it feels like we have to choose between work and family instead of following a natural path. It is an illusion that Shannon Miles knows all Female Leaders | Discovering the Third Option, with Shannon Milestoo well. After working towards her dream job for four years, Shannon and her husband decided to have a baby. On paper, everything looked perfect; Shannon and Bryan would continue their lives in sales with a nanny lined up to help carry the weight. But when her daughter was born, Shannon wanted to spend much more time with her new child than she anticipated—becoming a stay at home mom was never in the cards.

The Third Option

Shannon managed to phase out of her position and work part-time so she could spend time with her family and build financial stability simultaneously. However, what started as a temporary financial bridge turned into a more permanent solution. Shannon stayed with the company until the founding of Belay in 2010 and fought hard to achieve work-life integration. She realized there is a third option, and many female leaders need to explore it for themselves. Shannon worked harder and just as much; the only thing that changed was where she did it. But where do you go when there are no clear next steps? Shannon saw entrepreneurship as the only viable option.


Upward mobility was no longer an option for Shannon or her husband in their current jobs, but they always entertained the idea of starting a business together. Virtual staffing was a thriving niche with the potential to fill a much greater market need. So, they built a line of service and Belay was born. Shannon and Bryan founded Belay with the mantra “own not run.” From day one, they have been preparing the organization to run smoothly while they’re not in the picture. Shannon and Bryan designed their business to serve the life they want to live, offering a service that enables their clients to do the same! Female leaders face many unique challenges, but there will always be a pathway to the time and financial freedom you’ve been searching for.

About Shannon Miles

Shannon Miles is an advocate for people to have a career AND the flexibility they crave to keep their priorities in a healthy order. She is the CEO and Co-founder of BELAY, a staffing company serving businesses all over the U.S.

When Shannon faced an all too common, yet emotional decision to stay home with her new baby or return to a fast-paced, demanding career (that she loved), she knew that there had to be a way to have both. Shannon first asked her boss if she could work part-time from home and her boss said “no”. She resolved not to accept that initial “no” as final but rather stuck to her convictions and proposed the same plan to her boss’ boss. He said ‘yes’ and she began planning how to make her schedule and workplace more flexible a reality by creating what she calls “The Third Option” – having a career and a family and succeeding at both.

With her personal experience as a driver, the idea evolved for an innovative staffing company where all employees and contractors work remotely from their home office. Shannon and her husband, Bryan, cashed in their 401(k)s in 2010 and founded BELAY. The company has exploded to 700+ team members, all working from home, pursuing their own Third Option while serving BELAY’s 1,400+ clients.

Without an office, BELAY has graced the Inc. 5000 list five times and was awarded the number one spot in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Best Company Culture.
Shannon’s new book The Third Option: Why a Woman Doesn’t Have to Choose Between a Career and Family, but Can Actually Have Both and Succeed is now available. In The Third Option, Shannon shares how she took a leap of faith to create a flexible career that gives meaning to both her work and her family, and she shows how you too can accomplish the same.
Shannon is passionate about serving others and inspiring them to live fuller, richer lives. She lives with her husband Bryan, and their two children, Harper and Rainey, in Atlanta. Practicing what she preaches, they spend their days running the company from their porch in Georgia, from the mountains in Jackson Hole, or from the beaches in the panhandle of Florida.

What You Will Learn:

  • How Shannon discovered a third option at the crossroads of work and family
  • Why female leaders should pursue a career they love and time with their family simultaneously
  • How Shannon transitioned from part-time employee to full-time entrepreneur
  • How Shannon and her husband founded Belay
  • Why you should strive to own not run your business
  • How Shannon and Bryan designed their business to serve the life they want to live


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