You’re crazy — you’re out of your mind. Women can’t do that.
Recently, Nike launched a very powerful ad about women. The ad focused on female athletes and their ability to defy the odds — the odds of course being naysayers who believe women are the inferior of the sexes. The feats that female athletes have accomplished while the throngs of the patriarchy doubted them isn’t the only space where women have been roadblocked. We’ve been told in every industry for millennia that we can’t do things, and we’d be crazy if we tried.
Call me crazy, but I launched an agency at the height of the financial crisis, with no outside funding and scant agency experience. In 2009, I looked at the industry and thought they were dealing with a dying model. They had heard of social media but few were truly embracing it. Obama had just won an election with social media as his greatest weapon, yet the legions of agency dinosaurs were all shying away from this very public and (at the time) very free form of marketing. I saw my in — I was going to start a “blogger relations” agency and help usher brands into the new world. Of course, nobody had heard of this thing called “blogger relations” and the term “influencer marketing” didn’t even exist.
Another truth about the year 2009? I was out of a job, again, at the height of the financial crisis and I was a middle-aged woman. My prescribed role at the time? Pat me on the back, put me out to pasture, and suggest I go after some consulting gigs. I wasn’t having it. I knew nobody would hire me, so I decided to create my own agency.
Marketing and advertising has long been a boys club and while the industry is hiring more women, it’s not uncommon to have an executive leadership team that’s predominantly male. And the issue of the pay gap is still glaring. I may not have set out in my journey as a business owner thinking, I’m going to empower young women and break the mold of what an agency looks like, but here I sit 10 years later, having employed dozens of women, with a largely women-powered team. At our agency, every person, no matter their rank, has a seat at the table and a voice. Man-splaining is such a foreign concept that some of my younger employees are shocked when they encounter it.
It’s truly an honor that this year, in the 10th anniversary of my agency, I’ve been selected as Atlanta AMA’s Marketer of the Year. It has taken crazy passion, crazy commitment, and crazy tenacity to get here. At times it was uncomfortable growth, at times I wanted to sell my agency and travel the world, but in the end, I built something and I’m crazy proud of it.