Chief Operating Officer, 10+ Years of Digital Marketing Experience
May 15th, 2018
It was a hot summer day in Wallingford, CT. The whole team was in office for one of our quarterly team get togethers.
We were in the middle of our annual Dip Day, which is the best day of the year - yes, even better than Christmas - because everyone makes and shares a different dip and you eat dips for days.
Awww, My first Dip Day
As I waited in the buffet-style line to dip away, Britt Schwartz, came running up to me excited about a podcast idea and a really great name she came up with. (If you get to meet her in person, ask her the story of how she got the name...)
As she spoke about the concept of MarketHer, a podcast for women in marketing, I was ecstatic and immediately wanted in.
At the time, I had a personal blog I aptly titled, “Women in Marketing,” which she knew I had started out of frustration for lack of resources or conversations around things I had encountered in my career that were definitively gender-related.
I don’t pull that card often, but it does happen, and other than “women’s assertiveness training,” there was nothing online to find support.
So, we decided to make it ourselves.
Women succeeding marketing and leadership is a topic we are all passionate about (since you know...that’s what we’re trying to do), but we weren’t sure if other people would care; If our CEO, Bob Ruffolo, would even go for the idea and how we’d pull it off with full-time careers and busy family lives.
Thankfully, all three of those came to fruition, but what I never expected is how much the show would help me become a better leader, both in the workplace and within my local community.
Every Episode is a Group Coaching Session
Each week, we select a topic based on what we or our audience is actually struggling with at the time.
The format is not to come on video and tell you what to do or just rant.
We are not experts in women’s leadership and never pretend to be. In reality, we are our audience, and every episode, we talk about a topic that no one seems to want to broach.
We bring honesty and rawness to the conversation with the goal of figuring out some actionable advice together.
The beauty is, after each episode, we stir up conversations on our Facebook Page and Group. where our viewers share their stories and advice on how they got through a particular situation.
We’re building the community we always wanted to be in, and learning from our members as much as they learn from us and each other.
If you’re considering starting a podcast, the constant learning is invaluable.
I’ve Gained More Insight Into My Team (and So Has My Boss)
It just so happens to be that my two co-hosts are my direct reports.
Britt was originally hired to backfill my Strategist position, so when we started the podcast, we had already built a strong relationship.
Then, as I moved into my leadership position, I knew I needed to get to know Angela Myrtetus much better than I did. I was actually nervous about it because we hadn’t worked together a lot yet, and you can probably tell from the first few episodes, we were still building our chemistry.
Fast-forward to today, and I think Angela is one of the funniest people I know. I’m so glad I get to do the show with her to understand what drives her personally.
As a trio, we have gone into deeper conversations that I don’t know we would’ve had it not been for MarketHer. These conversations built trust and understanding.
They also helped me understand what they truly care about so I can better coach and help them achieve it as their manager.
After all of this, they know when I give them feedback, I genuinely care about them and am giving the feedback because of that (not that they need much of it!).
In addition to my co-hosts, we address topics affecting some of our team members. We get Slack messages all the time about show ideas or articles that the women and men on our team found inspiring.
What better intel is there than that as a leader?
Thanks to this channel, I have a much greater understanding of what we need to do as an organization to better support and train our team - both men and women. We’ve even been able to further develop a culture where people feel okay being vulnerable and speaking up about issues they’re experiencing.
Bonus: My Team Gains More Insight Into How I Feel
An added bonus I never considered is that everyone I work with gets better insight into me.
He gets insight into what I’m working on, so conversations, like our one-on-ones, are even more effective.
(Hi, Chris, I know you’re reading this because you’re awesome and read all our team’s content.)
The same goes for those I manage.
As IMPACT grows, one of my fears is not building a strong enough relationship with everyone on the team.
Back in the day, before I became a manager and we were smaller, I worked alongside everyone and was one of the team. As I’ve changed roles and we’ve hired more people, they never knew the “me” that was on the front lines understanding what they do and go through everyday.
My hope is, by doing this show, they can see me for me, as another human being just like them struggling with the same things, and that’s it’s okay to discuss it to move past it versus feeling like you have to be perfect.
I hope this helps me seem more approachable and they know that I’m here to support them, not judge them.
On the podcast, they hear my opinions directly, understand what makes me tick, and get opportunities to connect with me on outside of work-related topics.
I Figured Out My Personal Brand
Now, I’ve talked about this a few times on MarketHer.
For the longest time, I could not figure out what in the world I would ever speak about if I was to consider being a speaker.
We have so many smart people who work at IMPACT, plus a whole boatload more within the industry, so I never saw how I could add anything different or original to the mix.
I wish I could say I figured out a personal brand before MarketHer and had this perfect marketing plan to build my thought leadership around it, but nope, that wasn’t the case at all.
Instead of waiting for the perfect plan, I decided to dive right in and do the show because I knew I would enjoy it, learn from it, and learn some new skills.
In doing so, it’s led me to figuring out what I really want to do, both with my career and outside of work.
Leading the Way
I just graduated from a leadership program through my local chamber of commerce, and now the expectation is I should go out and make more of an impact in my community.
This pending graduation stressed me out to no end. I had no idea what I wanted to do to help, similarly to how I felt about a speaking topic. I wasn’t sure how I could be valuable other than volunteering my time.
In our final leadership session before graduation, we had a speaker talk about personal brands, and how you could marry that with your volunteerism.
It was in that moment that I totally tuned out the rest of what she said (sorry!) and realized that I want to pair what we do on MarketHer - motivating women - and what I’ve always loved doing - working with children.
I have no idea what that looks like yet because we don’t have anything locally around building confidence and leadership skills in girls (I may have to just create it, like MarketHer!), but now I know I can be a better and more effective community leader.
If you know of any existing organizations, please comment!
You Can Do This Too
It’s been an interesting 10 months since we launched MarketHer to say the least. What I thought would be a show to help others ended up helping me in even more ways than what I described here.
In exploring my personal brand, I have been able to hone my leadership skills and develop the relationships I need to be a good leader for my team.
You can do the same, whether you choose a podcast or personal blog.
Being your authentic self opens up doors and sharing what you know enables your team to get to know you on a deeper level. So, what are you waiting for?!
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