5 Things We Need To Do To Close The Gender Wage Gap, with Lauren Hasson, Founder of DevelopHer

I have helped thousands of women negotiate higher salaries and build confidence to secure better jobs. I developed a repeatable, scalable, and affordable platform that provides women knowledge and specific tools and empowers them to realize their value and potential, take personal responsibility for their career growth and reach higher to create their own success. My vision is to share this mission with companies and educational institutions across the nation.

As part of my series about “The five things we need to do to close the gender wage gap,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Lauren Hasson is the Founder of DevelopHer and a senior engineer in apps and information security at a leading Silicon Valley fintech company.

Lauren transformed her career from rock bottom into a top, high-profile professional and nearly quintupled her salary in less than four years. Now, she’s moving the needle to bridge the gender wage gap and inspiring thousands of women to build their best careers and break glass ceilings.

Lauren’s work with DevelopHer has been featured in the international IEEE Women in Engineering Magazine, and she’s been hired by top companies like Google, Dell, Intuit, Armor, and more to train and inspire their women. Lauren has received a number of awards for her work, including the Women in IT Awards Silicon Valley “Diversity Initiative of the Year” Award, a Gold Stevie Award for Startup of the Year, Consumer Services 2019, a Silver Stevie Award for Female Solo Entrepreneur of the Year 2019, and two Bronze Stevie Awards for Tech Startup of the Year, Services and Startup of the Year, Consumer Services. Additionally, Lauren was recognized by the United Nations as a Finalist for their WSIS Stakeholder Platform Prize and by the Women in IT Awards New York as a Finalist for the “Innovator of the Year” Award.

In addition to her DevelopHer work, Lauren is an accomplished software engineer. Her professional engineering work has been featured in Apple keynotes, she was one of 100 top innovators invited to attend the UK G8 Innovation Summit, and she’s won multiple, high-profile hackathons. In her career, she’s held both senior leadership and senior engineering roles at startups and prominent agencies alike.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” that brought you to this career path?

Six years ago, I had just returned from the UK G8 Innovation Summit and had a conversation with a male coworker that changed the trajectory of my life. During our conversation, he complained to me about how little money he was making. When he told me his salary, I was stunned! He was making exactly what I was making at the time though my experience and credentials far outweighed his relative value to the company. Even worse, he had been hired at a rate 50% higher than when I first joined the company at his level.

Instead of blaming others, I didn’t wait and became the change I wanted, and I got it! Within just two years, I TRIPLED my salary and that difference was SIX-FIGURES — that’s an additional six-figure amount that I earn EVERY year now!

The journey to tripling my salary wasn’t an easy one, it was one of trials and failures, and of course, iterative successes. Each failure brought new insight to the journey and how I could use what I learned from each failure to my advantage to ultimately succeed. Of course, I absorbed every piece of knowledge I could find on personal and professional development and salary negotiation to arm myself with tools I needed, but it was in the failures I found what worked for me, and how I could leverage my own strengths to realize success.

Bad experiences and personal loss are opportunities to learn. This is the foundational message of DevelopHer and what we strive to instill in other women. I also recognized the importance of owning the outcome you want for yourself. I don’t expect opportunities to be given to me. I go out and create opportunities for myself!

But achieving this success wasn’t enough for me. I had invested thousands of hard-earned dollars, as well as hours and hours of my life, overcoming my own pay inequity. I looked around and saw other women struggling with the same issues. Someone had to make a change and decided I must be the change. I wanted to arm women with tools to overcome pay inequity, without having to struggle to find the resources as I did.

So, I did something about this and launched DevelopHer in late 2017 with only my personal savings and no outside investment and all while working full-time as a successful software and information security engineer. I created DevelopHer to share my experiences and help other women see there is always a way to get through challenges and be a positive force in their own careers. I wanted to distill the essence of how to negotiate for higher pay into a scalable, relatable, and affordable program to help women overcome pay disparity and arm them with tools to earn higher salaries and give them the confidence to reach higher in their careers.

DevelopHer is the realized vision of a scalable and affordable platform that can reach millions of women. The DevelopHer platform has empowered thousands of women to earn 26%, 43%, and even 67% salary increases in just a single negotiation. Women have also gained the confidence to secure better positions and move beyond glass ceilings, bridging the challenging opportunity gap.

I created something that inspires women to seek an understanding of their true value and to continually learn and seek growth. Women who know their value and know their relative value in the marketplace will be better able to command higher salaries, either within their current company or with another employer. With this understanding, they are better prepared to take the most important step, which is to self-advocate.

My goal is, and has been from the beginning, to create real change at a grassroots level. The continued growth of DevelopHer depends on women telling their compelling stories. In the beginning, I wanted to tell the stories of talented, strong women who had faced their own personal and professional challenges and had ultimately overcome them. It was in these shared stories on which women could build a base of knowledge and empowerment from which they could propel themselves, and others further. In two short years, DevelopHer has expanded its reach and influence to thousands of women. The change is real and all from women sharing their knowledge and experiences. The change and impact are evidenced by the clients DevelopHer has served, and by the number of awards, DevelopHer has received.

A few of DevelpoHer’s awards and accomplishments include:

  • Women in IT Awards Silicon Valley Diversity Initiative of the Year 2018
  • Winner of Gold Stevie Women in Business Award for Startup of the Year, Consumer Services 2019
  • Winner of Silver Stevie Women in Business Award for Female Solo Entrepreneur of the Year 2019
  • Winner of Stevie Bronze Award for Tech Startup of the Year, Services 2019,
  • Winner of Stevie Bronze Award for Startup of the Year, Consumer Services 2019,
  • Finalist for United Nations WSIS Stakeholder Platform Prize 2019,
  • Finalist for the Women in IT Awards Silicon Valley Diversity Initiative of the Year Award 2019,
  • Finalist for the Women in IT Awards New York Innovator of the Year Award 2019,
  • Featured in DataBird Business Journal as 1 of 250 Inspiring Female Entrepreneurs 2019,
  • Invited to attend meetings with the United Nations in New York City and Geneva, Switzerland to discuss bridging the gender wage gap in technology,
  • Collaborated with the Chanel Foundation to empower women in technology

These awards and acknowledgments are only the beginning of the DevelopHer story. Our future is in the adoption of the DevelopHer platform by businesses and institutions of higher education. This adoption will allow women at all levels to learn and grow personally and professionally, and to conquer the gender pay and opportunity gap.

Through my experiences with DevelopHer, I have personally witnessed that teaching and arming women with knowledge and empowering them to take responsibility for their career growth creates value, not only for the individual but for the companies where they work. According to one company officer, members of their women’s network who attended, “left ready to take a new look at how they are approaching career growth and personal motivation.”

I have come so far in two years with DevelopHer, but there is much work to be done still. I will continue speaking engagements, but I plan to secure additional partnerships with companies and educational institutions to implement the technology platform for the benefit of their students and employees. It’s my vision that DevelopHer will be THE resource for women and employers of women and the international benchmark for companies who wish to credential their commitment to women.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

I’m best known as the face of DevelopHer and for sharing my own personal stories of overcoming pay inequity and building my career from nothing. What is most interesting and what people don’t often realize is that when I founded DevelopHer I had so much imposter syndrome that I didn’t think anyone would care about my own story. Instead, I shared the stories of other leading women in tech and their career journeys. Who was I to tell my story when there were so many other women, more accomplished, more successful who would better be able to tell their stories?

One of the most surprising things I found was that women relate to me personally. My story was one of the every-woman. Because I have been genuine and authentic, without glossing over the less glamorous details of my experiences, they wanted to hear more of my story. Since I found my own voice, I have been able to engage more audiences and reach more women than ever before.

Can you share a story about the funniest or most interesting mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I am most known as a natural, inspiring, and charismatic speaker who compels women to take action. This has not always been the case, though.

Twelve years ago, I was hired to speak at two organizations. I bombed at both of these events. One company went so far as to fire me. The other was more benevolent in their approach. They offered that my content was good, but I needed to practice.

I left speaking to audiences on the table for over ten years.

The next time I would speak, the outcome would be much different. I spent a lot of time preparing my content, practicing my approach, and perfecting my delivery. I fully embraced owning my outcomes and ensured the next time I spoke; the results would be different. They were. The new and improved presentation was received with a standing ovation!

This theme has been repeated throughout my life. I make mistakes, but don’t let those mistakes determine the outcome. I learn from mistakes and use them as fuel to propel me forward. My message and lesson for others? Fail early. Learn much. Succeed often.

Ok let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. Even in 2019, women still earn about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. Can you explain three of the main factors that are causing the wage gap?

Gender pay equity is a multi-variate issue that won’t be solved with a singular approach. Three broad areas that will have a profound effect on equity in pay and opportunity lie in policies, practices, and personal responsibility.

  1. Policies

Existing policies, laws, and regulations fall woefully short of ensuring equal pay. Two foundations of equal pay policy show how behind the times the public fight for equal pay is. The Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act both are over fifty years old this year.

Mandating equality and enforcing government policies can be difficult. What can be implemented is reporting. There are several resources for rank and file salary and employment data, but information on higher-level management positions across industries and specific companies is not readily available.

Policies could, and should be implemented requiring transparency of position and salary data. This would arm women with the knowledge of how their compensation compares with others with similar roles and spheres of responsibility.

2. Practices

Organizations should invest in the growth and development of their professional women. Offering professional women resources will empower them to become better employees, better leaders, and provide natural role models within the organization on which other women can look up to and draw upon for their own success. This creates a domino effect that has a positive impact on the entire organization.

Through my experiences with DevelopHer, I have personally witnessed that teaching and arming women with knowledge and empowering them to take responsibility for their career growth creates value, not only for the individual but for the companies where they work.

3. Personal Responsibility

I overcame my pay disparity by taking direct and deliberate action, not by waiting for policies to be enacted or expecting my company to do the “right thing.” I overcame pay inequity through extensive self-education and driven self-advocacy. I urge that women seek an understanding of their true value, continually learn, seek growth, and, most importantly, self-advocate.

Real solutions will include policies in concert with the resources of business and the efforts of the individual to be truly successful. Therefore, in the end, it is all of us, the policymaker, the employer, and the individual to take ownership of gender pay inequity, and empower women with the knowledge and tools to be their own champions. The cumulative value created will benefit everyone.

The DevelopHer mission is to foster engagement by business and the individual at a grassroots level to effect true change.

Can you share with our readers what your work is doing to help close the gender wage gap?

My mission is to empower women to advocate for themselves and arm them with knowledge and skills to end gender pay disparity. I established four tenets of the DevelopHer mission:

  • Owning Outcomes
  • Knowledge
  • Self-Advocacy
  • Empowerment

I urge women to own their outcomes, seek understanding of their true value, continually learn, seek growth, and, most importantly, self-advocate.

I have helped thousands of women negotiate higher salaries and build confidence to secure better jobs. I developed a repeatable, scalable, and affordable platform that provides women knowledge and specific tools and empowers them to realize their value and potential, take personal responsibility for their career growth and reach higher to create their own success. My vision is to share this mission with companies and educational institutions across the nation.

The scalability and affordability I offer through DevelopHer programs have allowed and empowered thousands of women to earn 26%, 43%, and 67% salary increases in just a single negotiation. Through DevelopHer, I have created real change at a grassroots level. Women have gained the confidence to secure better positions and move beyond glass ceilings, bridging the challenging opportunity gap.

I arm women with tools to earn higher salaries and give them the confidence to reach higher in their careers. This change and impact are evidenced by the clients DevelopHer has served, and by the number of awards DevelopHer has received.

At my corporate speaking engagements, women are invited to participate in and take responsibility for their own growth and success. Organizations investing in the DevelopHer Zero to Hero program have found their employees benefitted from a fresh look at their careers. I will continue to secure partnerships with companies and educational institutions to implement the technology platform for the benefit of their students and employees.

My business model has seen early success, and I have been hired by top companies like Google, Dell, Intuit, Armor, and more to train and inspire their women. I have also achieved success in higher education with partners such as Indiana University, the most recent higher education partner to adopt the DevelopHer platform.

Through my experiences with DevelopHer, I have personally witnessed that teaching and arming women with knowledge and empowering them to take responsibility for their career growth creates value, not only for the individual but for the companies where they work.

Can you recommend 5 things that need to be done on a broader societal level to close the gender wage gap. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Transparency of Data

All organizations should create an environment of salary and position transparency. Lifting the veil of salaries and position titles for executive positions would only be the start. As many of these positions are also accompanied by variable forms of compensation such as bonuses, stock options or other incentive pay, reporting the value of a total compensation package at each executive level would help inform and even provide incentives to professionals on the rise.

Through DevelopHer I have already provided data for rank and file tech positions. The next step will be to provide information on executive-level positions. This will arm professional women rising to C Suite positions information they need to negotiate salaries that match their true value.

  1. Organizational Professional Development Programs and Practices

We need to encourage organizations to implement practices that encourage professional development of women. Career growth and leadership development are seen as nice-to-haves in many organizations. In truth, the development of future leaders, especially in the ranks of professional women, is critical to organizational success.

The DevelopHer Zero to Hero program teaches women how to recognize their professional value and how they can seek out their own best career. Organizations that have invested in the DevelopHer Zero to Hero program found that their employees benefitted in ways far and above realizing their professional value. According to one company officer, members of their women’s network who attended, “left ready to take a new look at how they are approaching career growth and personal motivation.”

  1. Role Models

There is a deficit of women’s success stories, especially in tech. Women have successfully risen to the C Suite, but their stories remain untold. This lack of prominence of female role models short-changes professional women who would benefit from the collective histories and the shared experience of what it means to be a professional woman in technology.

DevelopHer has brought many stories of successful women in technology into a shared space where all women in tech can see there is success to be achieved, and there is a way through to break through the gender glass ceilings of pay and position.

2. Encourage Personal Responsibility

The first tenet of the DevelopHer mission is to own your outcomes. This means taking personal responsibility for both where you are and where you want to be. We cannot blame others for our current situations; instead, we need to take ownership of the future we want and the things we need to do to realize that future.

3. Financial Literacy

Throughout our educational lifetime, we are taught how to prepare for a professional career. What we are not taught is how to plot our financial future and negotiate a salary that is reflective of our true value in the economy in which we live.

Realizing your professional value is not only taking stock of what you do for your employer but what your value means to your employer. Professional women who know this value and understand its significance to their employer will not only increase their personal wealth but help them to realize the value in others when they reach executive levels.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I want to emphasize to professional women that recognizing and increasing their value will benefit them so much more in the long run. If professional women as little as leave $5,000 on the table at the beginning of their careers, it could mean a seven-figure difference in salary over the course of a career.

I’m communicating this right now through DevelopHer.

I designed the DevelopHer platform to be scalable and accessible by everyone. I am working on expanding this accessibility by securing additional partnerships with companies and educational institutions to implement the technology platform to communicate this message for the benefit of their students and employees. My vision is for DevelopHer to be THE resource for women and employers of women and the international benchmark for companies who wish to credential their commitment to women.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“I’m unstoppable not because I don’t have failures or doubts, but because I continue forward despite them.”

When people hear that I tripled my salary and made a six-figure difference in my earnings, they imagine that it was immediate and happened overnight. What they didn’t see was how many times I tripped and stumbled along the way.

Just as with my first attempt at public speaking, I have failed so many times in my life, but each time I picked myself back up and asked myself what could learn from the failure. Learning from failures and maintaining the resolve and commitment to learn and continually grow has propelled me forward.

I want other professional women to stand on my shoulders and learn as much as they can from my mistakes.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would like to have an in-person meeting with Melinda Gates. I found that we have much in common. We are both from Dallas. We both went to Duke University, we are both computer science majors, and we are both Thetas.

Most importantly, we are both advocates for women in tech as well as experienced technical women ourselves. We both believe empowerment on women in tech is a necessity for companies to truly be successful. Supporting and empowering tech women in their careers creates value, not only for the individual but for the companies where they work. Melinda Gates embodies this message, and it would be an honor to meet with her in-person.

This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.


5 Things We Need To Do To Close The Gender Wage Gap, with Lauren Hasson, Founder of DevelopHer was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Five Ways For Influencers To Monetize Their Brand, With Manny Patrick Vargas of LightSpeed VT

Retreats — people will always want an experience, one of my clients is ever-popular across all social channels and creates the most epic videos on earth. People would love to spend a few days with him in action, getting to see the experience from the inside out while making a true connection.

As part of my series about “How Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand”I had the pleasure of interviewing Supermanny, Manny Patrick Vargas.

Supermanny AKA Manny Patrick Vargas is the Celebrity Brand and Sports Partner with LightSpeed VT out of Las Vegas whose vision is to connect sports and entertainment, celebrity instructed online training, to every fan worldwide, with the mission to supply fans with unlimited, on-demand, belief and knowledge, via online training.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I appreciate the opportunity. I was Born and Raised in Las Vegas, NV. Grew up right where the airport sits and calls the Las Vegas Strip my backyard. In fact, I live at City Center now, so it’s safe to say it is my backyard! In all fun, it’s been quite the journey. At a young age, I was pressed with my adversities, multiple near-death experiences by age 6, car accidents, broken bones, scars on my face, and even the loss of my mother by age 10. This all came before I picked up a baseball bat young, that gave me some hope into becoming someone, someday. I played for a good 9 years through the collegiate level and then quit because I lost my love for the game and choose to pick back up in the real world. I moved back home from San Francisco to Las Vegas and then got into the restaurant business bussing tables at the MGM Grand. Over the next several years I worked many restaurants and service-based jobs, moved to LA, found myself addicted to gambling, drugs, boozed like crazy, and then at 26 years of age became the owner of 3 restaurants here in Las Vegas. Short-lived those entrepreneurial endeavors were due to me being a complete mess, completely in my own way, until 2015, at 29 years old I decided to get sober and that is when my entire being turned a corner and headed for unstoppable success. Upon studying myself through elements of personal growth, mentors, tons of action, I wrote a book, started a podcast, traveled the country for two years as a speaker, and am now the Celebrity Brand and Sports Partner with LightSpeed VT. It’s challenging to put all the details into a tight well-written piece because they are infinite, nonetheless, that’s a good summary to get rockinnn n rollinnn.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you in the course of your career?

Well, over the course of the two years I was traveling the country, I would wake up in new cities every other day and it wasn’t unusual for me to literally forget which city I was in. I’d wake, look around, and then ask myself, where am I? The sort of questions I was used to after blacking out drunk for so many years before that. But in this case a much for an enlightening experience. And to that note, only 10 years before that I took a trip to Reno, NV with a buddy exploring a business opportunity at the young age of 22, and I remember, we had nothing, no experience, no idea where to start, yet we knew we wanted to make something happen there, and upon checking into the Harrah’s hotel, walking through the halls, I remember saying to myself that one day, one day I will travel around the country and live in hotels. 10 years later, I was doing exactly that and making a difference. Just keep at it and don’t stop believing!!

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I’m always connecting people that I know/have relationships with others of the same in which they go off and do big things together. Make a bigger impact, create gangbusters products for people to improve the quality of their lives, etc. In essence, facilitating power players to impact on a much bigger level with great reach and leverage.

If someone would want to emulate your career, what would you suggest are the most important things to do?

  1. Ask what else can I do for people?
  2. Start relationships not to make sales but to become friends
  3. Get up earlier, stay later, and in between outhustle all
  4. Be a worthy partner over an opportunistic profit seeker
  5. Earn trust through excellence
  6. Prepare and execute

Is there a particular person that made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful?

There are so many. Honestly, there is no self-made man/woman. It’s impossible without the help of great people in your corner. I have a saying “borrow to become” meaning that you surround yourself with people who have much more success than you, position yourself as the student, ask great questions, and then when they give you answers, USE THE ANSWERS IMMEDIATELY. Essentially, borrowing their knowledge, using it, and then discovering more of your unfolding destination. However, one is my father. He always believed in me, gave me the support I needed to become anything I wanted. When I was down, which was very often, the words were always the same, “Come on son, get back up. You can do it, it’s not over yet. Alright, you’re trying again, let’s get it done this time.” NEVER EVER DID HE PUT ME IN A BOX WITH NO, YOU SHOULD PROBABLY JUST GET A JOB, STOP DOING THE ENTREPRENEUR THING. It was always an encouragement. And for him, I am forever grateful.

Can you share a story?

A young businessperson came to a neighborhood to offer his solution, a lawn maintenance service. He knocked on the door of the first house. A little girl opened.

“Hey, little girl! Is your mom home? I have an amazing offer to discuss with her.”

The girl called her mom.

The woman saw the young businessperson and quickly said, “thank you young man, but we don’t really need anything.”

Hearing this, the young man sighed and said, “please ma’am, at least let me tell you about the service. I haven’t been able to get any contract commitments today. Please?”

Then the girl looked back at him and said, “Hey mister, how many doors have you knocked on today?”

The young businessperson answered, “around 30.”

The girl continued, “do you know that Walt Disney was turned down 303 times before Disneyland got financing?

Do you know that John Creasy was rejected 750 times before he became a famous novelist?

Do you know what colonel sanders spent two years driving across all states asking restaurant owners to buy his chicken recipe and was turned down 1010 times?”

Do you know that Supermanny from LightSpeed VT has been ignored and turned down 2,379 times by agents, managers, and investors, before he supplied the fans worldwide with unlimited, on-demand belief, and knowledge, via online training?”

The young businessperson remained silent.

Then said, “dad, aren’t you Supermanny?

And didn’t you used to door knock and sell lawn care when you were my age?”

To which the father smiled and replied, “yes son, I share this story with you to remind you that you can be the hero of your own story, too.”

So what are the most exciting projects you are working on now?

Every one of my client projects is a thrill. We co-create learning experiences that are designed to give the masses an insider’s peek into the tools, resources, approach to life that has made all of these individuals wildly successful as celebrity brands in their respective fields. Some clients teaching people how to become famous, how to get their own TV shows, how to reach financial freedom after being on TV, all the mechanisms one could imagine that assist a learner during the process, with new experiences emerging daily as we are constantly discovering new talent!

What are your “Top Five Ideas About How Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand”. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. I’d be outta my mind if I didn’t say online training first! Being that is what I do now and have several influencers who I am helping. Most don’t know where to start because teaching, training is not their sweet spot. But first and foremost, leveraging the audience and community they have with a product that the people are going to buy somewhere else, why not make it you? Mind map, outline, and get the creative process started. I’ve sat across the table and asked them questions in which we captured content that would end up being usable and able to be reformatted for a good solid structure of a future course that could be monetized.
  2. Retreats — people will always want an experience, one of my clients is ever-popular across all social channels and creates the most epic videos on earth. People would love to spend a few days with him in action, getting to see the experience from the inside out while making a true connection.
  3. Physical products — I was recently sitting in a meeting with the manager of several influencers and one of his clients had just launched a jewelry line. The number of units sold was in the hundreds of thousands during the first few days!
  4. Sponsorships from big brands — brands are forking over money left and right to have exposure to the influencer’s audience. I have a client who is a star on HGTV and did several specialty deals in the home improvement arena.
  5. Conferences — yes, your own. I spoke to a team of a lady the other day that has a great brand and wants to start doing events to build another extension to her thriving brand, she’s open, anxious, and ready to figure it out and execute. During the same conversation, this team asked me to start preparing thoughts for another top tier personality who is already doing live events 4 times a year to the tune of 2.5 million dollars. Not a bad way to drive additional business.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂

Bob Iger — if you are reading this drop me a line manny.vargas@lightspeedvt.com

It would be to open negotiation and see how far we could get, and if I could hang with the king of the jungle ☺

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

IG:@therealsupermanny


Five Ways For Influencers To Monetize Their Brand, With Manny Patrick Vargas of LightSpeed VT was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Author and Podcaster Jandra Sutton: “Here Are 5 Things We Need To Do To Close The Gender Wage Gap”

Understand what’s going on. The gender wage gap isn’t just about women not asking for more money. We are asking for more money. In many cases, we’re demanding it. But when we’re already at significantly lower pay despite equal (or greater) experience, it can make it harder to make up the difference. (Especially when employers insist on asking about previous compensation.) We have to acknowledge that a problem is real and impacting women around the world — especially women of color — in order to understand what’s going on and how to fix it. Especially if unconscious bias is playing a role.

As part of my series about “The five things we need to do to close the gender wage gap,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Jandra Sutton, who is an author, entrepreneur, and host of The Wildest Podcast. She’s also the co-founder of The Paid Well Society, a community dedicated to the advancement of women through recognizing their value and honoring their potential in their journeys to being well-paid.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” that brought you to this career path?

Throughout my career, I’ve felt like I was being driven forward by a series of random events. I have a Master’s degree in History, and I’d planned to pursue political journalism…until I discovered live-tweeting. I was fascinated by the application and the ability to communicate with people around the world in real-time, and my obsession with social media grew. I began volunteering to help different organizations with their social media marketing simply because I could — small businesses, non-profit organizations, a local library, and more.

Eventually, I ended up working in customer service for the Nashville office of a growing iPhone app, and it was during a meeting at the San Francisco office where our CEO asked who was managing the Twitter account. No one responded, and I shoved my hand in the air and asked for control. I was given passwords and control of all of our social media accounts within minutes, and I helped the company become an early adopter of using Twitter for customer service during events with large sales volume.

From there, things pivoted again. I wanted to start my own digital marketing agency, but desperate for clients I took a part-time paid internship for a midsize book publisher in Nashville hoping it would turn into my first on-going client. Instead, a few weeks into the role, the publisher pulled me into his office and asked if I wanted to be the new director of marketing. The previous director had received a job offer, and they needed someone to fill the role ASAP — and join the leadership team on the cover of Publisher’s Weekly.

I threw myself into the role, learning everything I could about the publishing industry and traditional marketing before I realized I needed guidance. I’m a big believer in learning through doing, but there are limits when you’re thrust into promoting 3,000+ books with little experience in the publishing industry. I started looking for other opportunities that would allow me to learn more about the industry, and I landed a position as the digital marketing director at a literary PR firm where I coached authors and publishers on how to build an amazing brand online.

From there, I really felt like my career was able to flourish. I knew I wanted to write books and help people, so I published my first novel, launched The Wildest Podcast, and released my first course on social media marketing for writers. I’m still working in publishing, now as a senior literary publicist with Guide My Brand, but I’m enjoying the ability to share my love for marketing and publicity while exploring my passion for personal development and helping people achieve their goals.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

I’m not sure I can top going from intern to Director of Marketing in a month. It was bizarre, challenging, and totally worth the leap.

Can you share a story about the funniest or most interesting mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

At the PR firm I used to be at, we would sometimes text our clients updates for things that needed a quick turnaround. One day, I texted a friend, “Hey, you going to boxing this afternoon?” Somehow, my phone glitched and it sent the text to a celebrity client. I was mortified (and beyond grateful it was something innocuous), and I nearly had a panic attack. Thankfully, the client was super cool about it, and I was left with a funny story.

It taught me that things happen, sometimes beyond our control (thanks, technology), and that no amount of careful planning and preparation can stop them. Learn to roll with the punches, laugh things off, and don’t take yourself too seriously. No one cares about the little stuff as much as you think they care.

Ok let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. Even in 2019, women still earn about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. Can you explain three of the main factors that are causing the wage gap?

There are a lot of things contributing to the wage gap, especially for women of color, but three of the factors that are within our control as individuals are communication, clarity, and confidence.

One, there’s a massive communication problem in the workplace. Talking about money is still seen as taboo, especially for women, which means important conversations — about rates, salaries, and benefits — aren’t happening.

Second, the lack of clarity around work, compensation, and money issues, in general, is causing serious confusion and roadblocks to growth. Because, sure, let’s say you happen to know the average salary for your position where you’re located. You think you know what to expect, but what you don’t know are the differences in company culture, job requirements, and the daily demands of the job. This means you might see two graphic designers with similar experience working in two very different jobs. One that requires the standard 40 hours per week, a flexible schedule, work-from-home days, and a generous benefits package, while the other is pushing 60–70 hour weeks, zero room for growth, teetering on the edge of burnout, and seriously underpaid for the work she’s putting in…but all she sees is a job title and a number, so she assumes that’s all she can get.

Finally, there’s a major crisis of confidence when it comes to women in the workforce. It’s something I’ve struggled with myself, so I know how debilitating it can be. However, studies have shown that women consistently discount themselves from opportunities at work. Women tend not to apply for jobs unless they’re 100% qualified (versus 60% qualified for men), which means many of us are pulling ourselves out of the game without even trying to play.

Here’s the thing though — recent research shows that it isn’t a case where women aren’t asking for more money as much as men (they are), so clearly there’s more going on here. However, I do believe that confidence in ourselves and in our ability to do a good job — and a willingness to walk away from anyone who doesn’t recognize our worth — is critical.

Can you share with our readers what your work is doing to help close the gender wage gap?

Earlier this year, I started meeting up with a friend of mine, Tiffany Napper, once a week for coffee and brainstorming. We work in similar arenas — she’s a creative director and Instagram influencer — and we both have big ambitions for helping women step into their power both personally and professionally. A few weeks later, we sat at a coffee shop in Nashville discussing money and our hesitance to ask for more (even when selling our own products and services) and she pulled up a digital product from a competitor.

We’d both released free resources to help grow our email lists, and here was a woman using the exact same model in a similar industry…and it was working. Massively. Her audience was huge, her self-reported income was insane, and her freebie was lackluster.

It was barely three pages long, a basic design that appeared to be made in Canva, with resources on social media marketing…and she was successfully using it as a funnel to attract audiences into buying her top dollar courses and e-books.

Meanwhile, my freebie was thirty-two pages — filled with almost every secret I’d learned about social media marketing over the last decade — and it wasn’t even working. We realized that we were doing WAY more work than necessary (and giving away too much free content), and it sparked a conversation about how much women tend to do…more. More than they need to do, more than they’re being paid to do, and the lack of clarity and communication around money was crippling.

We’d heard of whisper networks where women shared salary information with close friends, and we thought, “What would happen if we created a massive whisper network? What if we created a community where women could anonymously share their salary information, see other women’s submissions, and ask questions about money, work, negotiations, and more with other women?”

Within a few days, The Paid Well Society was born, and we quickly grew to over 300 members within a month. Every woman we spoke to mentioned something similar — they’d all been wanting to talk about money, to figure out how to earn more — and it became clear that we landed on something that women didn’t just want. We need it.

In 2020, we plan on expanding the group as much as possible, not only by inviting new members to join, but also through free and low-cost education on various money issues, both in-person and virtual events, and doing whatever we can to support women in their journey to being paid well.

Can you recommend 5 things that need to be done on a broader societal level to close the gender wage gap? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Understand what’s going on. The gender wage gap isn’t just about women not asking for more money. We are asking for more money. In many cases, we’re demanding it. But when we’re already at significantly lower pay despite equal (or greater) experience, it can make it harder to make up the difference. (Especially when employers insist on asking about previous compensation.) We have to acknowledge that a problem is real and impacting women around the world — especially women of color — in order to understand what’s going on and how to fix it. Especially if unconscious bias is playing a role.
  2. Speak up. We need to be having more conversations about money. Full stop. Men should be sharing their salary information with women, women should be talking to other women, and we need to include information like job requirements, benefits, and more. We should also be speaking up in the workplace, not just when we negotiate for our own salaries, but when we’re talking with friends and colleagues as well.
  3. Take active steps. Here’s the thing — it’s not good enough to be a passive participant in the efforts to close the gender wage gap. We need to be actively pursuing equality between men and women at every step of the way. That means we should be supporting companies that take steps to eliminate the gender wage gap, implementing policies that mandate equal pay, and creating a society where everyone wins — regardless of gender.
  4. Bring people with us. Maybe you’re thinking the gender wage gap doesn’t impact you, or you’re satisfied(ish) with what you’re earning. Maybe you’ve successfully crossed the divide by yourself, and you’re finally being fairly compensated. That’s amazing! However, just because you’ve made it to the other side doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist anymore. We need to bring other people with us. I love hearing about women like Jessica Chastain who not only insisted her co-star Octavia Spencer (an Oscar winner!) get paid the same as her, she also negotiated five times more than the original offer.
  5. Get mentored (or be a mentor). The first time I asked for more money, I remember being plagued with self-doubt. I wasn’t sure if I deserved more money (spoiler alert: I did), because I had no clue what was normal. Fast forward a few years, and now I have cheerleaders in my corner who are pushing me to ask for way more than I would’ve been comfortable within the past. Even better? I get to share that knowledge with other women who I mentor, women who are exceptional at what they do, but simply lack the confidence in their own ability and the knowledge that their work is worth more.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Less work and more play. I’m a big believer in personal development, and — as someone who spends way too much time obsessing over the latest productivity hacks — I think we have a culture that is overworked and overstressed. We’re teetering on burnout as a society, and I want to facilitate a mindset shift where we can have what we want without needing to sacrifice everything to get it. Shorter work weeks, better work-life balance, accessible healthcare, and ending the stigma around mental health care are all vital to creating an environment where everyone can thrive. We don’t need to work harder to get more done. It’s a cliché, but I truly believe it’s time for us to work smarter.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

— Thomas Edison

This is something I’ve learned (the hard way) in my own life. I’ve always been multi-passionate. As a creative entrepreneur, it’s easy for me to get pulled in different directions simply because I love trying new things. Writing a book, launching a podcast, creating a course — half the time I do something simply because I want to see if I can.

After finishing grad school, I started pursuing a career in music. I grew up singing and performing in musical theater, and I loved every part of being on stage. Soon after, a friend of a friend heard my music and decided I had talent. He had amazing connections, and he started sharing my music with producers and other industry folks who said I had potential. At the same time, however, I was struggling to get a job after graduation. I’d applied for 347 jobs in a year before I got one (I kept a list), so when my contact told me that I needed to record a demo, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it happen.

I ended up talking myself out of it, landed my first full-time job, and let the dream of pursuing music slip away. I’d been so close, and I have no doubt I could’ve made it, but I took myself out of the game. I prevented myself from succeeding. Now, I use the example of success being like knocking on a door. You don’t know when the door is going to open. It might be in 5 seconds or in 5 years, but if you walk away from it then you’ll never get to go through it.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I’ll probably go with Jaclyn Johnson, the CEO of Create & Cultivate. I love what she’s doing, especially with the mixture of amazing content and in-person events. It’s something I hope to grow into over the next few years, especially as The Paid Well Society grows.

This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.

Thank you for having me! I really appreciate it.


Author and Podcaster Jandra Sutton: “Here Are 5 Things We Need To Do To Close The Gender Wage Gap” was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Kristin Addis of Be My Travel Muse: “Why solo travel builds independence, self-efficacy…

Kristin Addis of Be My Travel Muse: “Why solo travel builds independence, self-efficacy, self-esteem, and bravery”

The mission of Be My Travel Muse is to empower women. I believe that solo travel builds independence, self-efficacy, self-esteem, and bravery, among other things. I’ve become the most empowered version of myself thanks to the times when I had to be a chief problem solver. I learned that people are mostly good, and developed a sharper intuition and belief in my own abilities. I show women that this is not some special nor innate skill I have that makes me a good solo traveler. It’s available to everyone. In addition to my own story, I share the stories of solo female travelers from all over the globe including India, Kenya, and Indonesia among many others, in order to paint a fuller picture of what’s possible.

As a part of my series about social media stars who are using their platform to make a significant social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristin Addis.

Kristin is the creator and author behind Be My Travel Muse, a travel brand that empowers women to travel the world solo. Over the past 7 years Kristin has hiked, hitchhiked, camped, and solo traveled on six out of seven continents on earth and her website, Instagram, YouTube, and more all provide a blueprint for other women to do the same. Read by more than 3 million people this year, bemytravelmuse.com is one of the leading female travel blogs in the world.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I started my career as an investment banker of all things! After four years of working what I thought was a dream job, I realized that it just wasn’t for me. What I craved was freedom. I’d always been creative growing up, spending my free time writing, painting, and reading novels about far-off places. I decided to take a sabbatical to travel and while on the road, I gave my dream of being a travel writer my full effort. Over seven years later, it’s worked out!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

Wow, it’s hard to narrow that down! One of my favorite memories was hitchhiking solo in China. It was winter, I was in the snow, and over the course of many different car rides through two provinces, I was shown more generosity than I ever have anywhere else. The people who picked me up regularly bought me lunch gave me gifts, and one even quietly bought me a bus ticket, without me realizing until it had already been done when he couldn’t take me the whole way. I’ll always think of China fondly for the kindness I was shown by perfect strangers. People really do make the place wonderful.

If you want it to be strictly career-related:

I struggled to make any money for the first couple of years that I did this. It wasn’t until I wrote a book called Conquering Mountains, How to Solo Travel the World Fearlessly, that my career finally took off. Plenty of others had written e-books but it was this book that was so targeted and unique that suddenly made me the authority on solo travel. I got media mentions, interviews, and a steady income stream after that. It was amazing.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Though I kick myself over it now, I used to take gorgeous photos with my DSLR camera that I reserved for my blog, and then take out my phone and snap photos of the same place for Instagram. My IG posts were over-saturated, terrible phone photos of all the same places that I had wonderful DSLR versions of for years. I’d just assumed that tons of filters and phone cameras were what Instagram was about to back then. Now I realize what an opportunity I was missing to stand out with better photos from day one.

Ok super. Let’s now jump to the core focus of our interview. Can you describe to our readers how you are using your platform to make a significant social impact?

The mission of Be My Travel Muse is to empower women. I believe that solo travel builds independence, self-efficacy, self-esteem, and bravery, among other things. I’ve become the most empowered version of myself thanks to the times when I had to be a chief problem solver. I learned that people are mostly good, and developed a sharper intuition and belief in my own abilities. I show women that this is not some special nor innate skill I have that makes me a good solo traveler. It’s available to everyone. In addition to my own story, I share the stories of solo female travelers from all over the globe including India, Kenya, and Indonesia among many others, in order to paint a fuller picture of what’s possible.

Wow! Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by this cause?

There have been many. I keep a document of those who have written heartfelt emails over the years and it’s over 40 pages long now! One of my favorites was from a woman who had been scared to travel solo. She felt encouraged by the resources on my blog and moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where she met her life partner. Now they live abroad and she’s living a life she hadn’t even thought was possible previously. It’s amazing how one little action can beget so many more amazing actions. I’m glad to be a catalyst when and where I can.

Was there a tipping point the made you decide to focus on this particular area? Can you share a story about that?

Back when I started my blog I remember reading a rant by another blogger about how the world didn’t need any more ‘solo female travel bloggers.’ I don’t know why I let it get to me! I initially focused on off the beaten path travel as a result, but the fact is, I AM a solo female traveler and I started to realize from emails and messages from my audience that they were mostly women, too. Once I published my first book, Conquering Mountains, How to Solo Travel the World Fearlessly, its success made it clear that I could best serve women and it’s where my heart and passion have been ever since.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

I wish that there was less fear of being spread about women doing things on their own. I remember the New York Times came out with an article that really put down solo female travel and it disappointed me because the vast majority of women experience less violence abroad than they would at home, and it spreads the idea that we can’t do things alone. We don’t need a chaperone to see the world, and the pervasive myth that we do is damaging.

What specific strategies have you been using to promote and advance this cause? Can you recommend any good tips for people who want to follow your lead and use their social platform for a social good?

I constantly travel to places and do things alone that other people have labeled dangerous. I love traveling in Africa, which the media has portrayed in such a terrible light, I regularly hike and hitchhike solo, and I try to be as real and honest about all of it as possible. I don’t think women need to see more perfect or curated content about an unattainable life that they can’t have, I think they need to see authenticity.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

I wish someone had told me:

That there is room for everyone. I had a point in my career when I felt like I had to be ‘the best’ and at ‘the top’ and it all felt so competitive to me. Now I realize that there is room for everyone and that by focusing on my own unique gifts I’m putting myself way farther than by focusing on winning.

Don’t do it for validation or ‘likes’. I recently watched a TED talk by Joseph Gordon Levitt speaking about how doing art for validation or praise ultimately stifles creativity and I have seen that to be true. When I focus on creating something amazing for the gift itself, it always turns out better.

Do something different. In the beginning, and even now sometimes I’m sure, I would see what was working for other people and try to do it, too. That’s common in any industry I’m sure. However, if I’d really thought ahead I would have seen the potential for Instagram and posted better pictures since I was taking them anyways for my blog, I would have put more time into Pinterest, and would have focused less on, say Twitter or Facebook marketing.

You’ll never feel like you’ve ‘made it’. I used to think that when I had 100k followers on Instagram I’d feel like I had made it. I thought once I got one million blog readers in one year I’d feel the same, now at 3x beyond that my sights are set on the next rung of the ladder. Each milestone is just a step while on the voyage, and the joy has to come from the journey. There is no destination.

Don’t make it about you. I didn’t start making serving others and their experience on my site my sole focus of content creation until my third year. Before that, I wrote more in a diary format. I’m sure some early readers miss that or unsubscribed once I started to do more informational articles, but my focus on providing invaluable information that people usually have to pay for or figure out firsthand, and to be helpful, got me way more subscribers and readers in the long run.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’d like to see more women bravely doing what inspires them most. The world is a better place when people feel like they can do amazing things, and while solo traveling is a brave act, I’d love to see women taking it further into starting new businesses, doing things they previously thought they couldn’t do, and doing it in the name of positivity and for the betterment of the planet. I’d call it the Empowered Woman Movement. Stay tuned!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“What you seek is seeking you,” by Rumi.

It puts you in the captain’s quarters of your own life. We truly are the architects of our own destiny and it’s important to remember that when what we are doing is in service to others, the universe conspires to make it so. At least, that’s been my life experience so far.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I love Reese Witherspoon’s focus on putting more women in media, shifting the focus from what we wear or how we look to what we do and what we create. Her speeches are empowering and I love seeing her new projects. I was a fan after Legally Blonde, but I’m a mega-fan now that I see her speaking her truth and empowering women. I know it takes courage to do all of that when she could take an easier route, and I’d love to know what her turning point was, and how she put her plans into action.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

The best way is my website, BeMyTravelMuse.com. You can also find me on Instagram @bemytravelmuse, YouTube.com/bemytravelmuse, and join my BMTM Solo Female Traveler Connect Group on Facebook!

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!


Kristin Addis of Be My Travel Muse: “Why solo travel builds independence, self-efficacy… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Emma Green PhD: “I Survived An Eating Disorder and So Can You”

Never give up hope. You’re not broken. Use whatever tools and resources you have at your disposal and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. The little steps will add up.

As a part of my interview series with public figures who struggled with and coped with an eating disorder, I had the pleasure to interview Emma Green, a freelance writer, and an online health coach. She holds a PhD in Health Psychology and is a certified personal trainer.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally?

I work as a freelance writer and online health coach. I live in London in the UK.

Thank you for your bravery and strength in being so open with us. I personally understand how hard this is. Are you able to tell our readers the story of how you struggled with an eating disorder?

I began struggling with an eating disorder when I was 14 years old. At the time I was being bullied at school, which was something I felt unable to control. I struggle to remember much about this time except a deep sense of happiness and low self-worth. My mum recalls me saying to her that I didn’t feel like I deserved to eat. Also during this time, I began exercising obsessively. I wasn’t old enough to go to the gym but I asked my mum to take me to the local swimming pool as often as possible. After a few months and visible weight loss, my mum took me to the doctor. I didn’t have the self-awareness to realize that I was struggling with an eating disorder so rejected this suggestion from the doctor.

Over the next few years, I got better physically as I ate more and curtailed my obsessive exercise. However, I haven’t healed mentally so when I went away to university I began struggling again. I was at university for four years and got worse and worse every year. Disordered eating was constant, along with obsessive exercise. I also dabbled with laxatives which I used when I was in social situations and felt pressure to ‘eat normally’ like everyone else.

I was finally diagnosed with anorexia at the age of 20. I was immediately prescribed antidepressants and was referred to a therapist. Over the next few years, I gradually became stronger, mentally and physically. I have three other therapists, all of whom helped me get closer and closer to what I would define as being fully recovered.

What was the final straw that made you decide that you were going to do all you can to get better?

Never give up hope. You’re not broken. Use whatever tools and resources you have at your disposal and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. The little steps will add up.

A friend from school came up to visit me at university. We were very close at the time so we knew exactly what the other person was thinking at any given moment. Because I was struggling so much, we were more distant than usual which she noticed. After her visit, she said that she knew something was off and I knew then that I needed to get help. She could see that something had taken over me that was completely masking who I was as a person.

And how are things going for you today?

Today I am fully recovered. I don’t exercise obsessively, I don’t weigh, track or measure food in any way and I accept my body exactly as it is. I have days where I feel a bit down but I never turn to disordered eating or exercise to cope. I have so many other tools now, which serve me much better.

Based on your own experience are you able to share 5 things with our readers about how to support a loved one who is struggling with an eating disorder? If you can, can you share an example from your own experience?

  1. Don’t ever make comments about size, shape or weight.
  2. Listen as much as possible if the person is willing to talk.
  3. Be a good role model. Don’t engage in talk about dieting or about how your body looks.
  4. Offer to eat meals with them to help ameliorate anxiety around food.
  5. Don’t expect them to get better overnight. Eating disorders take years to recover from.

Is there a message you would like to tell someone who may be reading this, who is currently struggling with an eating disorder?

Never give up hope. You’re not broken. Use whatever tools and resources you have at your disposal and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. The little steps will add up.

According to this study cited by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, at least 30 million people in the U.S. of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder. Can you suggest 3–5 reasons why this has become such a critical issue recently?

I don’t know whether eating disorders are more common, or there is just more awareness. It might be a combination of both. Certainly, the diet culture that we live in fuels eating disorders. Dieting, especially for women, has become so normalized. The belief that ‘” smaller is better” is pervasive. Engaging in disordered eating is almost a rite of passage. It’s a way that people bond with each other and if you’re not engaging in it, you can feel as though you are missing out.

There are constant messages from the fitness industry telling people that they need to punish themselves with exercise, burning as many calories as possible and making their body fit a standard that society has decided is acceptable.

Messages about health and weight have also become conflated. Despite the wealth of evidence about the social determinants of health and the significance of health-promoting behaviors, people believe that they have to be thin to be healthy, which is not only scientifically inaccurate but also deeply damaging.

Based on your insight, what can concrete steps can a) individuals, b) corporations, c) communities and d) leaders do to address the core issues that are leading to this problem?

We all need to embrace a Health at Every Size (HAES) approach. We need to see that weight stigma is a social justice issue. We need to celebrate body diversity. We need to acknowledge the social factors that only affect health directly but also make it harder to engage in health-promoting behaviors. We need to support individuals to eat and exercise intuitively, by tuning into their body’s cues. We need to challenge the patriarchal, capitalistic and racist forces that make people feel like they have to be in constant pursuit of thinness in order to be worthy. We need to radically rethink health and an approach to it, urgently.

As you know, one of the challenges of an eating disorder is the harmful,and dismissive sentiment of “why can’t you just control yourself”. What do you think needs to be done to make it apparent that an eating disorder is an illness just like heart disease or schizophrenia?

Some people won’t ever understand eating disorders and I think we have to accept that. If people are open to learning more, I’m always happy to share my experiences as well as scientific research, but people are not necessarily willing and able to hear that. It’s frustrating but we have to accept that we can’t necessarily all be on the same page at a given moment in time.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have helped you with your struggle? Can you explain why you like them?

I found books by Jenni Schaefer hugely helpful in my recovery. She wrote in a way that felt like she could see exactly what was in my head. She also wrote about life after recovery, which can be equally as challenging as recovery but for different reasons. You lose so much of yourself in the disorder that you have to go on a massive journey of rediscovery afterward. which feels really overwhelming.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” by Carl Sagan. It’s a useful reminder that we should all remain skeptical of the messages we receive and think about them critically, rather than merely accepting them without question.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

At the moment I’m running a “Non-diet December” challenge on Instagram. It’s consists of daily tasks that people can do which help them to build a healthy relationship with food, exercise, and their bodies. It’s all about tuning in, and honoring those needs.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the largest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would like everyone to start listening to themselves more. We are thrown so many external stimuli that we can easily drown out our own thoughts and feelings. Developing that self-awareness is not easy but it is so worthwhile.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I’m @emmafitnessphd on Instagram. I’d love to connect!

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!


Emma Green PhD: “I Survived An Eating Disorder and So Can You” was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“How I Was Able to Thrive Despite First Experiencing Impostor Syndrome” With Podcaster Phil Machi

Change the perspective. It’s extremely unlikely anyone can know every single thing about any subject. I like to think of expertise as a combination of incredible knowledge, passion, and a willingness to find answers. Whatever you’re an expert in, you can probably think of a handful of people in your life who don’t share that same level of information and excitement. In other words, compared to some people you probably ARE an expert.

As a part of our series about how very accomplished leaders were able to succeed despite experiencing Imposter Syndrome, I had the pleasure of interviewing Phil Machi, a cartoonist and entertainer who produces and hosts “Stay ‘Tooned!”, a podcast that talks with animation industry professionals about their craft. For years, Phil Machi has explored his creative passions through comic strip series such as “Livestock” and “Retail Sunshine.” The latter of which now consists of three independent book publications under his Livestock Productions company name. Machi holds a BFA with a focus on traditional animation from Bowling Green State University.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

Absolutely! I’ve always had a passion for telling stories. It’s taken many forms, from comic strips to animated films, and more recently with podcasting, but the thread that runs through it all is the art of entertainment through storytelling.

I grew up with a heavy tradition in community theatre. This developed into a pursuit of independent filmmaking which includes animation. Reading comic strips, superhero books, and dissecting animated films consumed my childhood and helped to shape who I am today.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

In April of 2018, I took a leap of faith on a major dream. Many artists will tell you the ultimate goal is to support oneself solely through the creation of their art. This is one of my most sacred hopes and ambitions in life: To create and be financially sustained by those creations.

I left corporate America so that I could devote my full-time attention towards “Stay ‘Tooned!” In about 20 months’ time, I experienced undeniable personal growth.

My ‘takeaways’ (thus far) are: to look inward every day, seeking to understand what it will take to satisfy my soul. And above all, to be devoted to something I believe in no matter what happens. If you don’t believe in what you do with everything you have, the road ahead will be that much more difficult.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I’m a firm believer in pursuing the legacies we create. When I make anything, I always ask myself if it’s a project I can truly get behind. This may sound a bit heavy-handed but I think it’s important to make work that honors your personal beliefs.

For “Stay ‘Tooned!”, a big part of what inspired the show’s genesis was my desire to pay respect to the people who are already overlooked in the animation industry. As an artist myself, one of the things that make Livestock Productions stand out is my sincerity and empathy which comes through in my interviews.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I moved to Austin, TX from Ohio in the summer of 2013. This was a massive undertaking and something I had dreamed about since I was a teenager (moving to a new state, but not necessarily Texas).

One of the first things I did upon arriving was the search for local networking events centered around the entertainment industry. I knew I wanted to pursue a more art-centric lifestyle so meeting people in that field seemed like a great place to start.

The Network Austin Mixer proved wonderfully helpful, particularly because I met a woman named Judith Ruder. I lovingly refer to her as my local “stage mom.” She believed in me right from the start and wasted no time introducing me to other attendees with enthusiasm. Judith has remained one of my most sincere supporters and friends ever since and have even helped volunteer when I put on the First Year Anniversary Celebration event for “Stay ‘Tooned!” I am so grateful to have her in my life and appreciative that I met her so soon upon moving here.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the experience of Impostor Syndrome. How would you define Impostor Syndrome? What do people with Imposter Syndrome feel?

This is such an important topic because it’s increasingly being experienced in this social media-based culture, we’re living in. Impostor Syndrome is the fear a person has regarding their expertise. It’s the belief that they aren’t good enough for respect or praise and that somebody will “find them out”, potentially leading to their ultimate humiliation.

Self-promotion is a vital piece in being a successful entrepreneur — whether you’re a photographer, business owner, performance artist — you have to be your own loudest voice. But at the end of the day, we are all still very flawed people. We may project a confident persona but that doesn’t mean our social media accounts accurately depict the whole person behind it.

The dilemma here is: we don’t want to bog the world down with our problems. On top of that, doing so could tarnish our branding, and yes, for entrepreneurs in the public eye, congratulations… YOU are a brand.

Showing the most appealing elements of your life while being faced with the daily grind and the uphill battles that come with the territory, can produce Imposter Syndrome.

If you’re like me, it manifests in lots of negative self-talk.

Let’s be honest, when you sell yourself to the world, what you’re saying is: “I’m an expert in this.” Or “I have something so amazing, it’s worth parting with your hard-earned money for!” But if you’re struggling to hit sales targets, or get enough attention on YouTube, Twitter, or any social platform, your brain tells you “Who died and made YOU the expert here? Clearly the world isn’t buying it so you should just quit.”

What are the downsides of Impostor Syndrome? How can it limit people?

The problem with Impostor Syndrome is that it naturally becomes a gateway to negative thinking, which leads to negative conditioning. Whether it’s systemic of our culture or perhaps just part of being human, we would rather put ourselves down than assume we have authority on a subject.

The dangers are clear: we limit ourselves by consistently focusing on what we don’t know. By focusing on what we lack, we cultivate an abundance of nothing. For me, this turns into flat out procrastination. Instead of heading face-first into a challenge with enthusiasm, it’s more comforting to avoid it altogether. This can lead to missed deadlines or even total project abandonment.

How can the experience of Impostor Syndrome impact how one treats others?

My default assumption when meeting or listening to an expert in any field, is to take them at their word. Once I recognized Impostor Syndrome setting in, however, I started wondering how many other experts were secretly experiencing the same haunting feelings.

I wouldn’t say I treat people differently now, rather I try to keep in mind that it’s worth giving experts more than just the benefit of the doubt. I give them credit for having the courage to own their expertise enough to make it define them.

We would love to hear your story about your experience with Impostor Syndrome. Would you be able to share that with us?

I’d love to! I’m going to refer back to “Stay ‘Tooned!” once again since it’s my most recent (and intense) example.

When I started the show, it was challenging to define myself to…myself. Meaning, thinking in terms like “talk show host” or “animation historian” was potentially problematic. While I do know a great deal about the history of animated films in modern history, I also know for a fact there are other people who have more knowledge and experience.

This immediately led to heavy feelings of guilt. How could I confidently put myself out there as an expert if I didn’t completely respect my own voice?

It took a great deal of daily self-coaching to finally arrive at a place of peace. Accepting the fact that I would never have all the answers or even perhaps as many answers as other experts, was really okay. And this didn’t mean I wasn’t an “expert”, especially since that definition seems to be relatively up for grabs anyhow. Watching and creating cartoons has been my lifelong pursuit so who’s to say I’m not an expert?

Ultimately, I decided that I’m willing to accept myself as an expert who continually expands his knowledge base.

Did you ever shake the feeling off? If yes, what have you done to mitigate it or eliminate it?

I’d love to tell you that the effects of Impostor Syndrome are all behind me. The truth is it’s something I still battle each and every day.

The answer here is to acknowledge those sneaky thoughts and note when they appear as pattern recognition. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to remind yourself of what you ARE capable of.

In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone who is experiencing Impostor Syndrome can take to move forward despite feeling like an “Impostor”? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Catch the “Impostor” thoughts as they’re happening. This means stopping whatever it is you’re doing the moment you feel like you aren’t good enough or qualified enough to follow your passion. Notice the thoughts and isolate them as what they are: thoughts.
  2. Change the perspective. It’s extremely unlikely anyone can know every single thing about any subject. I like to think of expertise as a combination of incredible knowledge, passion, and a willingness to find answers. Whatever you’re an expert in, you can probably think of a handful of people in your life who don’t share that same level of information and excitement. In other words, compared to some people you probably ARE an expert.
  3. Don’t compare yourself to others (too much). I know I just mentioned comparing in the last point. That’s because comparison is how we make sense of the world around us. But if you’re comparing to the point where you beat yourself down, then it’s no longer productive. You don’t have to be “the most” or even “the only” in your field. As an expert, your mission is to have a respectable amount of knowledge and experience with a unique viewpoint that only you can provide. Anything more than that borderlines unreasonable expectations.
  4. Celebrate your achievements. I’m not telling you to gloat and wave those awards in your friend’s faces, here. But it’s completely reasonable to take some personal satisfaction in a job well done. Even the little accomplishments count! Celebrating causes you to pause at the moment and recognize something good. Doing this enough can help turn that negative thinking dial down a few notches.
  5. Express gratitude. Whether it’s thanking a colleague or just being grateful for waking up each day, taking a moment for gratitude is another positive influencer. Giving a nod towards the reasons to be grateful, builds object permanence. Similar to an infant who gets confused during a game of peek-a-boo, if we continually hide the great things, it’s as if they’ve left us. When we aren’t grateful for what we DO have, we’re cultivating feelings of loss.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’d like to inspire people to nurture themselves through thought. Sure, you could take a vacation or a spa day, but if you don’t get your inside life sorted out, it can be a real challenge to enjoy taking breaks. So many people have their internal default set to “failure” and I believe an abundance of issues stem from there.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

Comedy has always been a huge part of my life so I’d have to say either Jerry Seinfeld or Howie Mandel. Both comedians have accomplished so much and they seem to recognize how to manage their own dark thoughts. They’ve excelled in spite of adversity and I admire that.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Patreon for Stay ‘Tooned!: www.patreon.com/philmachi

Community Page for Stay ‘Tooned!: https://facebook.com/groups/staytooners

Facebook for Phil Machi: https://web.facebook.com/philmachi

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/philmachi

Twitter: https://twitter.com/philmachi

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


“How I Was Able to Thrive Despite First Experiencing Impostor Syndrome” With Podcaster Phil Machi was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Rising Through Resilience: “Give young, high potential employees an opportunity to shine while…

Rising Through Resilience: “Give young, high potential employees an opportunity to shine while letting them fail”, With Neil Golson

Give young, high potential employees an opportunity to shine while letting them fail. That may sound counter-intuitive, but part of empowering younger employees is letting them know that you’re there for support and guidance, while advising that they’re held accountable for the results.

In my work as a coach and consultant, I speak with business leaders across multiple industries about their most significant challenges. One common theme continues to emerge — rapid change and disruption are the new norms in business, and the only constant is the demand for resilience. At the heart of resilience is the ability to adapt and recover quickly from adversity. I am certain that more than intelligence and talent, resilience is the single most important trait required to succeed in today’s highly complex market.

My “Rising through Resilience” interview series explores the topic of resilience in interviews with leaders across all walks of business.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Neil Golson, Executive Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Partnerships at FlashParking, a mobility technology company. Neil is applying his past marketing strategies in order to position FlashParking to be a player in an entirely new category. Beyond simply perfecting the parking experience, FlashParking is reframing the way that urban communities perceive garages by leveraging their technology to transform physical assets into mobility hubs, which will ultimately transform the mobility grid.

Neil Golson is FlashParking’s new EVP of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships. Neil leads FlashParking’s efforts to help isolated parking assets transition into connected mobility hubs that will be at the core of the smart city. Prior to joining the FlashParking team, Neil served as Head of Marketing & Sales Operations for Residential Energy at Tesla and Sr. Director of Business Development for SolarCity. Before that, Neil spent seven years at The Coca-Cola Company leading the McDonald’s Division for the Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa and as the Senior Brand Manager for the Coca-Cola brand in North America. Neil earned a B.A. in Journalism and Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his M.B.A. from Auburn University. He currently lives in Austin and enjoys spending time with his two girls.

Thank you so much for joining me! Before we begin, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

Absolutely. At first glance, my story seems a bit all over the place with time in North Carolina, California, Montana, Alabama, Texas, and China, but what has always fascinated me is tackling complex problems with multiple stakeholders. In high school, I loved the debate team and competing as part of the Model United Nations teams. In college at The University of North Carolina, I had the opportunity to refine those skills further through a double major in Political Science and Journalism, with a focus on persuasive communication in public relations.

After graduation in 1999, I hopped on a one-way flight to San Francisco and joined the dot com boom as a very early employee in a startup called Everdream, founded by Lyndon and Russ Rive with their cousin Elon serving as Chairman of the Board. That was an amazing experience at a technology startup that didn’t quite fit the mold for the dot com boom but was solving a real problem. The company was eventually acquired by Dell and became a big part of Dell’s Small Business Services.

Following that startup experience, I wanted to better understand how large companies functioned and had the opportunity to join The Home Depot in a Store Leadership Program that enabled me to spend time, both as an Assistant Store Manager and time in Corporate Merchandising. I quickly fell in love with retail and the opportunity to test and learn daily with different products featured on endcaps, product demos and DIY classes, and staffing/deployment models to drive consumer/contractor sales, special orders, and customer/employee engagement.

From there, I went to business school with a plan to build on what I’d learned and shift into a career in product marketing and brand management. I landed an internship then a full-time job with The Coca-Cola Company to launch their ready-to-drink coffee business. I worked on several different brands leading up to running the flagship, red can Coca-Cola. During my time at Coca-Cola, I had the opportunity to work on Superbowl ads and American Idol while also working with Wal-Mart, 7-Eleven and local bottlers to introduce new packaging, including the 100-calorie mini-can. While it’s certainly fun to shape a national conversation with a Superbowl ad, launching a new package, building out the supply chain and fundamentally changing a category, was one of the highlights of my career. That opportunity led me to Asia and working with McDonald’s in a fascinating part of the world where both brands were growing rapidly. My team was able to expand into new categories like coffee with McCafé, and real fruit smoothies.

As amazing as the international experience was after my second daughter was born, I knew it was time to get back to the US. I had also been dealing with the unbelievable amount of air pollution in China, so I jumped at the chance to work with Lyndon Rive again and joined SolarCity to help accelerate the transition to sustainable energy. After a few years of hypergrowth, SolarCity became part of Tesla and I broadened my focus to ensure that every electric vehicle sold was powered by sustainable energy with a solar system, residential battery, and home charging. Doing that through the launch of Model 3 as it continued to set sales records quarter after quarter, was very special.

After five years at SolarCity and Tesla, and with electric vehicles and sustainable energy generation well on their way to the mainstream, I decided to start looking for a new problem to solve and that brought me to Austin and FlashParking.

What are the top three factors you would attribute to your success as a leader at FlashParking?

Vision, Strategy, and Persistence.

When I announced on LinkedIn that I was joining FlashParking, I had several friends reach out asking what the real play was because they knew I wasn’t joining just a parking company. Well, they were absolutely right. The vision to evolve isolated parking assets into mobility hubs acting as congestion capacitors for a smart city, as multi-modal logistics hubs, and as a marketplace for busy consumers and their autonomous, electric vehicles is massive. It’s also a simple, and somewhat obvious solution for so many trends we’re experiencing right now.

Painting that vision and influencing real estate owners, mobility companies, and municipalities to align and execute, will require a very clear strategy to create alignment. The transformation must happen quickly to harness the opportunity. We need to demonstrate quick wins for each of these stakeholders because the current trends in urbanization, e-commerce, electrification, and autonomy are moving so fast that if each stakeholder tries to optimize the system for only their best interest, we risk turning our urban cores into giant, cluttered parking lots.

This is where persistence comes in. Today, there is no cost to scooter companies for staging on public sidewalks, no cost to transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft for increasing traffic congestion, and no cost to the air pollution coming from combustion engines. We’re just starting to see municipalities step in and price these externalities, and that’s what will change behavior when done correctly. These costs have to be created in conjunction with all stakeholders so that they actually create change that moves society forward and doesn’t attempt to prevent change from happening. It’s not going to be easy, but the result will be cleaner, more efficient smart cities.

In your opinion, what do you think makes your company (FlashParking) stand out from the crowd?

FlashParking was created by founders from outside the parking industry with a lot of guidance and partnership with industry leaders. The result is a true cloud-based operating system that provides the extensibility to transition isolated parking assets into connected mobility hubs. The real-time visibility and flexibility of the system allows for customization to the unique operation of each garage and the integration of different services and amenities to match the needs of the local consumer.

How has FlashParking continued to thrive in the face of rapid change and disruption in your industry?

The best way to handle change and disruption is to remain nimble and either get ahead of it or find a way to shape and harness that change. I believe that FlashParking has been able to do both, and the key moving forward, will be to work closely with the companies and municipalities that are driving that change to ensure that parking operators and real estate owners have a seat at the table.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s jump to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. All of my successful clients seem to have one quality in common, and that is resilience. What does resilience mean to you?

Resilience is about getting hit and getting back up. Having the confidence in yourself and your beliefs to not let anything, or anyone, stand in your way.

When you think of tenacity and endurance, what person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

My manager during the transition from SolarCity to Tesla, Bryan Ellis immediately comes to mind. When I first met Bryan, he ran financial planning and analysis, but he was different than any other finance person I’d ever met. Bryan was a business partner and knew what we needed to accomplish and was able to model, listen, remodel, identify options for success, and work with the leadership of every different function to ensure they were all crystal clear on what was necessary to deliver. As we went into the transition and the founders of SolarCity and the majority of the executive team moved out of the business, Bryan stepped into a primary leadership role and handled everything that was thrown his way while communicating to a large organization going through an immense transition. He always did it with a smile and clear, authentic communication, regardless of what was happening. He always followed up, always had an adjustment, always had the willingness and excitement to jump in and figure out how to identify and remove roadblocks.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

It’s interesting. I thought about this one a lot and honestly, I can’t remember someone telling me that. I’m sure it’s selective memory, but I’ve worked with so many great teams, great leaders, and great companies, that I’ve never thought of anything as impossible.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

As part of the transition from just selling solar to selling the full Tesla ecosystem — from the electric vehicle to the solar system powering it — I had the opportunity to build and manage the first team within Tesla that was expected to sell all of our residential products. Iterating on the customer journey in real-time with varying value propositions while merging CRM systems, sales cultures, and keeping up with the already crazy pace of change in both businesses took everything I had. As soon as we got the whole thing working, the entire team was integrated into a new sales organization and I shifted back into a sales operations and marketing role. While I knew that was always the plan, that transition was tough emotionally. It took me a few months to authentically be back at my normal self as we fine-tuned the new organization, addressed challenge areas, and got the whole thing back up to speed. It really took a commitment to the principles and process and continuing to push for what I knew was possible.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

A big part of my experience growing up was willing to seek out an independent adventure. It likely came from my summers at YMCA Camp Thunderbird. That sense of adventure led me to be an exchange student in high school in Spain, which then led me to a public boarding school at the North Carolina School of Science & Math. I also was supported by hiking, camping, and white water rafting with my father. That continues today as we’ve hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro together in Africa, as well as the Great Wall in China.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. What strategies do you use to strengthen your resilience? (Please share a story or an example for each)

I feel like my daughters strengthen that for me every day.

What are your thoughts on how leaders can create a more resilient workforce?

Give young, high potential employees an opportunity to shine while letting them fail. That may sound counter-intuitive, but part of empowering younger employees is letting them know that you’re there for support and guidance, while advising that they’re held accountable for the results.

Extensive research suggests that people who have a clear purpose in their lives are more likely to persevere during difficult times. What is your purpose?

My purpose is to leave the world a better and happier place than I found it. There’s so much negativity in our society today. That’s what drew me to authentic, positive brands like Coca-Cola, that allow you to react to the world and not just talk about features and benefits. It’s also what drew me to companies like Tesla and FlashParking, that are using technology to solve real problems.

What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?

The quote that guides me every day is, “Live a Great Story.” For my 10th wedding anniversary, my wife and I hiked to the base camp on Mt. Everest. On the last day, you hike through a memorial zone that families and friends have put up different things to remember climbers that died on the mountain. That last day has some serious elevation and every step you take is difficult, but for some reason when I passed a monument with that quote on it, I was flooded with emotion and sat there for quite a while. When I got home and looked up the climber, I learned that he had come to Everest from the US, he left his two young daughters at home that were the same age as mine. His memorial had that quote on it and to me, the way it connects to resiliency is that if you’re living a great story, then you’re in charge of the narrative, you’re in charge of how it ends and every great story needs a hero that doesn’t let anything stop them.

Can our readers follow you on social media?

FlashParking’s Website: https://www.flashparking.com/

FlashParking’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FlashParking/

FlashParking’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/flashparking/

Flashparking’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/flashparking

FlashParking’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/flashparking/

Neil’s Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/neil-golson-3123842

This interview was inspiring. Thank you very much.


Rising Through Resilience: “Give young, high potential employees an opportunity to shine while… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Dr. J Paul Rand: “Here Are 5 Things We Need To Do To Close The Gender Wage Gap”

End Gender Bias (Enact Progressive Family Leave Systems): This failure in our system starts with the courts. Family court commissioners blindly discriminate based on what the court feels mom and dad should be in life. This is not justice; it is likely the most overlooked cancer in our government system that if it is not treated very soon could bring down our entire way of life. Meanwhile, the private sector is not helping end the bias of gender roles despite the robust advancement of women in personnel and HR roles. Did you know that according to Forbes, less than 17% of companies allow men to take paternity leave? Forcing men out of the workforce with no parenting leave rights is no better than penalizing women for having children. It further serves to prevent women’s advancement, too, by forcing them back into experienced-based hierarchies of hiring and compensation, not pay-for-performance systems. The ability for families to ensure a livable wage is earned by at least one earner is critical, and progressive models that holistically support American families should be a priority for every corporation.

As part of my series about “the five things we need to do to close the gender wage gap,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. J Paul Rand, MBA, CPCN.

Dr. Rand is an Executive at RSolutions, PLLC an applied thought-leadership think tank. He was selected as a Regional White House Fellow, and once was the youngest elected public official in Washington State (both non-partisan positions). He is a Big 4 C-level adviser featured by FORBES, Puget Sound Business Journal, NBC, CBS, and more. As an Organizational Development Leadership Authority, he prescribes solutions maximizing ROI through organizational development/human capital performance strategies: a process he defines in his 2020 publication “Culture-ROI”. He is proud to have helped over 3000 female clients advance their careers over the past 15 years; but equally proud of his research and publication the DadJob: the fastest-growing career in America. He runs a non-profit (The-Orchard.org) where he was endorsed for his groundbreaking work supporting combat veterans since 2007. You can find him exclusively on LinkedIn or at www.jpaulrand.com

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” that brought you to this career path?

Early in my career, I was afforded a chance to conduct research at the intersect of higher-education, personnel departments of large corporations, and professional non-profit associations to research, design, and deliver organizational learning systems. The focus of my research at the time was maximizing human performance in the workplace by working with leading-edge Human Resource and personnel department authorities. In time I became fascinated by the objective of putting the human back into the workforce (and now back into the digital era).

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

I was contacted by a follower on LinkedIn (I can be found exclusively on that platform). He nominated me based on my research to serve as a non-partisan Fellow in the White House Fellows program. Out of over 2500 nominations I was selected as a Regional White House Fellow and made a policy proposal on how to advance America with new learning systems within the Department of Labor, some of which I will discuss here.

Can you share a story about the funniest or most interesting mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I am still making them, in a desperate hope to remain relentlessly motivated in my work like it is day-one — a proven discipline of the Amazon Company, and name of their HQ based in Seattle!

Ok, let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. Even in 2019, women still earn about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. Can you explain three of the main factors that are causing the wage gap?

I have created award-winning programs helping to economically advance thousands of individuals not just in being hired, but in performance, pay and leadership positioning as organizational thought leaders, applied scholars, and advanced performance-focused personnel professionals. This has included local, state, and federal accreditation and endorsed programs that I designed. Many of the programs were awarded by the Society of HR Management for ten consecutive years based on the individual performance of my clients. The participants were 90% women and represent to date over 85% of the personnel departments in Seattle (the City of Companies).

Based on my experience and research for over 15 years on this matter, I suggest that this issue is not an issue of men versus women. Equality is an American issue.

The wage gap exists due to:

  • Gender pay likely is a symptom of gender bias in board and executive roles in the corporate sector.
  • Adherence to an outdated management control model that does not embrace collaboration, innovation, and new perspectives by embracing systems self-defined roles and compensation for employees that fits the modern technical economy.
  • But I would suggest the root-cause: Antiquated gender role bias in our (family) court system.
  • To help define the complexities of the wage gap and the importance of why women’s advancement as organizational board leaders is imperative over the next decade for the health and performance of our economic system, my team at RSolutions has created a publication available in 2020. I hope your audience will check it out.

Can you share with our readers what your work is doing to help close the gender wage gap?

For nearly two decades I have been working to help women to break the stigma of women in work, shatter the glass ceilings (by helping several become elected officials) in government and private sectors; and actively coached, mentored, and trained thousands of women pioneering a pathway for younger generations of women in the workforce through applied professional sciences which I outline in an interview with this outlet previously.

Recently, I have been writing a lot lately about the Culture-ROI method while working with an elite team of AI scientists (in collaboration with Nestor-Up, learn about this system at www.RSolutionsPLLC.com) to create an applied organizational culture-performance system. This system will ensure companies can monitor, measure, and compensate fairly for collaboratively focused culture-building roles in the organization.

One past example I am proud of is the thought-leadership of professional scholarly programs at the Strategic Learning Alliance, a system run by women owners with over 30 years in both health-sector negotiations and IT sectors. These women are pioneers and I encourage any women who feel discriminated against, held back, or prevented from excelling to learn about these two leaders and their applied professional programs for coaching and negotiations in professional roles. They will immediately impact your ability to break through the barriers!.

Can you recommend 5 things that need to be done on a broader societal level to close the gender wage gap? Please share a story or example for each.

My research on this has revealed a few concerns summarized here that address what I believe is the root-cause behind the pay gap:

  1. Solution One: Embrace the Learning Economy by implementing learning sabbaticals and academies: higher education often lags the private sector. One way they do not is they understand the value of life-work balance with a sabbatical system. Organizations achieve ROI within three years of investing in educational programs (undergraduate to advanced degrees). I have helped to influence and forge learning organization systems, with some clients investing over $1B annually in education benefits. When we change our paradigm that life-work balance can drive ROI as much and better than work-life expectations, we can impact our working and living cultures profitably. I speak about the depths of this in an overview of my policy made to the Department of Labor and the White House on LinkedIn and also in an article with this outlet here in addition to other HR-focused interviews available on my website.
  2. End Gender Bias (Enact Progressive Family Leave Systems): This failure in our system starts with the courts. Read my publication DadJob and see the shocking evidence that the root cause starts with one government branch that has no checks on its authority. It does not take much effort to research the fact that family court commissioners blindly discriminate based on what the court feels mom and dad should be in life. This is not justice; it is likely the most overlooked cancer in our government system that if it is not treated very soon could bring down our entire way of life. Meanwhile, the private sector is not helping end the bias of gender roles despite the robust advancement of women in personnel and HR roles. Did you know that according to Forbes, less than 17% of companies allow men to take paternity leave? Forcing men out of the workforce with no parenting leave rights is no better than penalizing women for having children. It further serves to prevent women’s advancement, too, by forcing them back into experienced-based hierarchies of hiring and compensation, not pay-for-performance systems. The ability for families to ensure a livable wage is earned by at least one earner is critical, and progressive models that holistically support American families should be a priority for every corporation.
  3. Cultivate a Culture-ROI HR Strategies: Engage your organizational culture, and change the dynamics of your organization for the better! I am regularly cited for the importance of creating culture-ROI systems. Processes in an organization that focus on humans first, then leverage proven time-tested business models to empower technology solutions. Instead, according to research, less than 80% of companies lead with people-first organizational strategy. This despite plenty of evidence it separates the good from great. I write in 43 cities about this message as a Leadership Trust member of the American City Business Journal. Check out my work on my website for articles, but I challenge all HR professionals to spearhead being the solution and present in all departments and not stuck in the legalistic silo created by outdated HR leaders of the past century who merely responded to legislation and did not proactively seek to innovate personnel departments. What’s the ROI? Take a look at the City of Seattle’s growth where 85% of their HR leadership has been trained and supported in this method. Year over Year for a decade its experienced hypergrowth and created millions of jobs through economic gain. Culture-ROI, that embrace true diversity of thought with people-focused strategies drives ROI, it’s that simple.
  4. Learn Negotiations and Coaching as Applied Professional Sciences: women ask for less money than do men. Historically, the glass ceiling was shattered during the Great Recession. Women took jobs for far less than men, with more seniority, was offered (or would take). This is tremendous in that depending on the studies examined there are equal rates of men and women in corporate America (note: several indicators that over 66% of women hold higher degrees, and more women are being hired into corporate roles than men for the past two years). Consider work by two leading scholars I have had the pleasure of supporting over the years. They have created an applied professional certification program for women to advance in both coaching and negotiations. The fact is that less than 3 out of 10 female job applicants negotiate a job offer, versus 7 out of 10 men. Learn negotiations, learn to coach (to teach and guiding collaboration and performance accountability in the workplace). The system evolved from a nurse turned Union-negotiator (a very rare role over the past thirty years); and another female leader who cut her teeth as a single mother in the IT sector over 30 years ago (in an industry still plagued by gender role discrimination). When it comes to understanding struggle and the value of some of the ideas I share here, these two have lived it, researched, and innovated a great first step every woman considering a professional career should learn from. Learn about how negotiations can impact your job scope, your life-work balance, and earn better income (not just by learning to negotiate, but by also holding a certification). This is the best first step women can do immediately to enhancing pay and performance in the workforce. Check out their programs at www.strategiclearningalliance.org Imagine ending the wage gap by 2020 by simply helping inspire women to negotiate their worth using a system designed by women negotiators, for women to advance in corporate roles, but created in coaching like process to ensure application of outcomes based on natural strengths of women.
  5. Social Media versus Real Social Interaction Addiction: we have a right to opinions, but we also have a duty to keep destructive, negative, and biased opinions to ourselves. This age of shaming moms (who want to work; or dads that want to stay at home; and vice versa) must end. The notion we can attack people on social media from a place of personal opinion is a testament to our character as a nation. Likewise, stop believing everything on social media, accept it as entertainment at best. Be engaged in professional networking in responsible and mature forums and online programs, learning, and professional society events. These are ecosystems of evidence-based debate, collaboration and professional focused responsibility to make a more perfect community, workplace, and union. This is a far better use of everyone’s time pending some type of control on the abusive use of shaming, trolling, and creating conflict based on opinion, inadequate and flawed data collection methods, and hype.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Well thank you for that statement; I appreciate you saying so.

I would have to say that my movement of focus this year is DADJOB. A system by fathers, with fathers, designed to help men be better for kids and community. Did you know that there has been a 4-fold increase in the number of stay-at-home dads (and many of them are disabled?). This is really important to me as a father of three daughters and one son; equality requires we ensure girls have the chance to earn really amazing income and career opportunities in corporate America, but also it requires we start to recognize it is important we help young men and current dads to be supported if they choose the dad-job — the fastest-growing job in America.

As a society, this is a new role and supports equality of pay as much as equal opportunity and respect for parents as a whole. There is a lot of support needed to men can feel welcome in this new role. It is a new phenomenon, and to encourage equality and diversity it is important men and women, young and old read this publication. Just like programs at www.strategiclearningalliance.org and my publication at RSolutions can help advance women in the workforce with modern professional performance tips, trends, and learning lessons. Gender equality is needed now.

This is an exciting adventure and one not only of personal experience for myself but also a three-year research endeavor I have taken to understand the complexities of this new gender role. Be sure to check out the 2020 public release at www.readDADJOB.com or on my websites!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Not everything that can be counted, counts; not everything that counts can be counted. I hope I have respectfully represented this quote by Einstein in my interview responses with you!

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I think I could help both Arianna Huffington and Melinda Gates in both advancing women in the workplace and creating innovative ground-level economic outreach good for social services and fundamentally changing our attitudes across the country in many ways. It would be a pleasure to learn from them over lunch or breakfast.

This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.


Dr. J Paul Rand: “Here Are 5 Things We Need To Do To Close The Gender Wage Gap” was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Future Of Travel: “Many businesses are catering to outdoor travel” With Ruben Martinez of…

The Future Of Travel: “Many businesses are catering to outdoor travel” With Ruben Martinez of GlampingHub.com

What we are seeing is that within the hotel industry you have bigger chains and mid-size chains looking to diversify and they see a lot of potential and opportunity within the outdoor and glamping spaces. They are wondering how to become a part of that whether it is by investment, adding glamping accommodations onto their property, or by converting properties that were not producing well into outdoor glamping spaces. These hotel businesses are seeing the upside and are starting to invest.

As part of my series about “exciting developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ruben Martinez.

With over 31,000 accommodations in over 120 countries, Ruben Martinez, Co-Founder of GlampingHub.com says glamping is here to stay. While undergoing his MBA at Regis University in 2011, Martinez and friend David Troya, of Sevilla, Spain, was currently getting his MBA at the University of San Francisco, they first heard the term glamping. Seeing the potential of this very young industry, they decided to create a place where people could come and find these unique and incredible types of accommodations and ultimately reconnect with nature. Since launching in 2014, Glamping Hub has grown to become the world’s leading portal for glamping accommodations in the outdoor travel industry and continues to grow and list new accommodations across the globe daily. From launching Glamping Hub’s Denver, Colorado office, to the first-ever Global Glamping Summit in 2018 to the creation of the American Glamping Association, Martinez strives to build a community in which travelers can collect memories, not things.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I studied international business as both my undergraduate and MBA. With the new knowledge and excitement to get started, I wanted to pursue this as a career but did not really have a plan laid out during the time of my education. After my undergrad, I worked for a company doing product development and found that I was not very passionate about this field. I wanted to be more in charge of my destiny but did not really know what this meant. I decided to take some time to plan my dream and went to Spain to take Spanish classes and try something different. That’s when I met David Troya, Founder of Glamping Hub. We then together started working in a travel company, and ultimately returned to the states to each do our respective MBAs, Myself at Regis and David at USF. While at USF David heard the term “glamping” and came to me wondering if this was something we could do, and together we created Glamping Hub, the new world’s leading portal for unique outdoor accommodations across the globe. We did not start Glamping Hub because we were experts in the outdoor industry or knew everything there was to know about glamping, but because we had a passion for international business and saw a lot of potential in this new and fresh market to be innovators and become experts. No one was attempting to do what we wanted to do, so we jumped at the opportunity, and our story began.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Glamping Hub is a global company, with a global reach. We offer something that is different and unique to many individuals, yet comfortable and accessible at the same time. It is almost the best of both worlds situation where maybe someone has or has not gone glamping, but as soon as they do, it makes a lot of sense to that individual. Glamping Hub is uniquely positioned to represent the future of travel because people are extremely curious about the idea of glamping and are so easily able to be comfortable with it once they experience it first hand.

We have individuals from many different cultures and countries with offices in two different countries, the USA and Spain, and Glamping Hub does not just provide these unique accommodations to one small market, rather on a global scale in over 120 countries. They are provided to the global market, to everyone everywhere.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

Staying connected by having daily and weekly check-ins, catch-ups, and conversations with people on our team and in the industry allows us to stay in tune to what is going on and to share our energy. It allows you to be creative and come up with new ideas together as well as ease the burden.

Within this industry, there is so much room for collaboration and partnerships, and to really share in the cool things that can be done. That can also make it feel overwhelming and daunting, so by maintaining and structuring the focus and goals and task at hand while remaining organized, also is major in keeping up the momentum.

Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

The innovation is accessibility to a new version of travel, were for individuals who tried ten years ago to go do glamping in a treehouse in Costa Rica was tough and challenging, and made it really hard to achieve the goal of booking a stay and having that experience. The innovation is very centered around the accessibility not just only to the types of accommodations and locations, but also to the experience, and the accessibility of being able to have different experiences, and differing price points. This allows us to get people outdoors more often, whether or not you have or have not experienced the outdoors.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

There are a few different “pain points”. One is accessibility, and under that, you have individuals who like the idea of going outside but the idea of traditional camping is daunting, expensive, and a lot of work. You have this group of people that now have a hurdle and can’t make that jump because of the process and where to start. On the other hand, you have these really unique properties and businesses and often because many of these are small locally owned and run businesses. They are the ones doing the day to day work, check-ins, maintenance, customer service for their sites, and the experience part then can get left behind due to time constraints. This is where Glamping Hub steps in. By driving the booking process and customer services, marketing their properties, and bringing exposure to the truly unique experience they offer, hosts are able to focus strictly on their property and the experience they want their guests to have. This allows them to do what they do best.

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

We are seeing within the industry now that there is a significant outside investment, and that these new businesses are not necessarily going through the hurdles that the earlier older businesses went through. Within the industry, the status quo has changed in that, our website has allowed people to have this accessibility and possibility of stepping outside their comfort zone. There are a new lens and mindset from many different angles. Whether it is the investment or the individual, there is a demand now for experience-based travel unlike ever before. It allows people to enter the market by starting their own property or site, insurance companies to come in and ensure these properties, outside activities and recreation to partner with these properties, manufacturers to provide tools and pieces and solutions to put the sites together, and more. We were able to break the status quo in that travel is one way, when really it has so much potential and find the way they want to travel.

Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to travel?

What we are seeing is that within the hotel industry you have bigger chains and mid-size chains looking to diversify and they see a lot of potential and opportunity within the outdoor and glamping spaces. They are wondering how to become a part of that whether it is by investment, adding glamping accommodations onto their property, or by converting properties that were not producing well into outdoor glamping spaces. These hotel businesses are seeing the upside and are starting to invest.

The millennial generation over the next two years is going to spend more money on travel over paying off loans or saving money to buy a house. The purchasing power is now coming to fruition and their priorities are different from other generations. Companies need to be aware of this and pay attention to how these next generations are traveling. Some companies will capitalize on this and some will be too late.

Many businesses are also catering to outdoor travel, through activities, excursions, products, and offering everything from affordable to luxury in order to offer you the experience you crave.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

My perfect vacation would be a treehouse on the beach in Mexico. Just sitting on the beach reading a book, taking a dip in the water, and absorbing all the sounds and relaxation that paradise has to offer. I prefer to go off the beaten path, somewhere where there aren’t a lot of tourists, and I can learn about the landscape, the culture, and the people from where I am visiting. A beach, a book, and a beer make my perfect vacation.

Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We recently set up an innovation and entrepreneurship club at a local high school in Denver, Colorado. This local high school is for first-generation high school graduates only. They go to school four days out of the week, and one day out of the week they have a paid internship at banks, law firms, hospitals, and more, where they are able to get real-life working experience and pay for their schooling. You have to be at or below the poverty line to get into the school. Our program gives them access to the idea that one day they can be an entrepreneur. The success rate for entrepreneurs is staggering, and this demographic is pretty much nonexistent. The journey of an entrepreneur is already an uphill battle, and for this demographic, the odds are already worse. The idea is to plant the seed, give them exposure to other entrepreneurs, and give them programming to show that if they do want to be an entrepreneur they can and have that option. The end goal is to provide an opportunity to grow.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Linked in:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/ruben-martinez-b39703a/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/glampinghub/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/GlampingHub

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/glampinghub/


The Future Of Travel: “Many businesses are catering to outdoor travel” With Ruben Martinez of… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

5 Ways For Influencers To Monetize Their Brand, With Neeta Sreekanth of INFLCR

Create an engaged audience. There’s a lot of fake numbers in the digital space. The most important metric that matters is the engagement rate of your social accounts. If you have a million followers but there are two retweets, there’s a problem. Make sure you’re building an audience that is receptive to your content and taking actions on your content. On a case-by-case basis, it’s a good idea to be taking advantage of Q&As, tools, etc to interact with audience members (maybe a fan is having a bad day and there’s an opportunity for a cool interaction), but always be deliberate and make sure you’re having responsible interactions on social.

As part of my series about “How Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand” I had the pleasure of interviewing Neeta Sreekanth. Neeta holds the first newly created role of Chief Operating Officer at INFLCR, leading the company’s marketing, sales, client success, operations and athlete engagement departments. In this role, Neeta is focused on emerging markets, partnerships, strategic innovation and operational execution as INFLCR expand into a new era, employing creative innovation to continue building the company’s brand as the leading social media content delivery platform for sports.

Neeta joins INFLCR from IGN Entertainment, the leading internet media company focused on the video game and entertainment enthusiasts, where she was Head of Social Content and Strategy, overseeing relationships with social platforms, spearheading content partnerships, and driving social content strategy around key events. Prior to IGN Entertainment, Neeta was the Manager of Social media at ESPN, where she managed original content creation and strategy.

She has a background in sports as a former Division I college basketball player, later moving into early career positions with the Los Angeles Sparks, CBS, and the Dallas Cowboys. Neeta is now based in a newly opened Los Angeles satellite office and reports directly to Co-Founder & CEO, Jim Cavale.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Neeta! What is your “backstory”?

I grew up watching sports, being around it as a ball kid with the Dallas Mavericks and just falling in love with the game of basketball. I knew that I wanted to identify with that in the long run, in any way, shape, or form.

So, I grew up around sports, played sports, sports is what I know. Throughout my entire career, I’ve had some sort of footing in the sports and entertainment industry, and sports has been a consistent theme and a guiding force in my life.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you in the course of your career?

It has to be a story from my time at ESPN, I know the perfect one. December 28th, 2015, a Monday Night Football game between the Broncos and the Bengals, I was absolutely frozen out there. Probably one of the coldest games I’ve ever been a part of. I was on the Broncos sidelines shooting content for ESPN social (I had been at every Monday Night game that year), and at this point in the game, the players were running off the field for a second. It was so cold, they were going straight to the heater to warm up (a gas/propane heater) because every one of them was frozen.

One player runs up to the gauge to try and crank up the heat, and while doing so (even the knob had frozen because of the cold) he turned it and it broke off of the heater unit. The gas went, just, incredibly fast, and the fire that was powering the heater broke containment. I happened to be standing right near it on the sidelines, and it caught my entire left leg ON FIRE for a solid five seconds.

I actually didn’t notice it right away! I was bundled up in a lot of layers, but I was also just so cold! Plus I was paying a lot of attention to the game instead of the heater.

Two photographers happened to be nearby, noticed what had happened, and ran over and threw snow on my leg to put it out. I realized what was going on and took a knee to make sure the fire was totally out, and then got checked out by the ESPN medical staff (thankfully my layers helped to protect my leg, it was really just a little red).

I patched myself up and went and finished the game.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I believe in “paying it back.” I feel like throughout my entire career, people have “paid it forward” to me. Along the journey to where I am now, I’ve always had mentors and teachers offering guidance and advice, helping me get to the next level. And so, even as I was working my way and gaining traction in the industry, which is something I’m still working on even today, I’ve always made it a point to offer my own time when people in my network reach out for some help.

Whether it’s reviewing a resume, helping to make an introduction to someone, hopping on the phone to chat for 10–15 minutes, I think it’s important that you give that kind of guidance to people who are in a similar position as I was a few years ago. That extra bit of help can be extremely valuable for others who are trying to get into an industry like sports, which is a particularly tough industry to crack.

If someone would want to emulate your career, what would you suggest are the most important things to do?

The most important first step is to distinguish yourself from other people in your space, and that comes down to three things: working harder, working smarter, and networking.

Working hard is about taking advantage of any time that you can put towards achieving your ultimate goal. So, when I was in college, I was playing basketball, I was going to class, doing internships. In the summer, when I wasn’t required to be at school, I was at internships. I was taking advantage of every moment.

After graduating, and when I joined the Dallas Cowboys, I was spending my own time (after leaving the office) reading and understanding the different tactics others were employing on social. I was really focusing on how I could outwork other people that were parallel to me when it came to an opportunity that was coming down the line.

Working smart really came down to understanding what my ultimate goal was, and I knew that I wanted to be in the social media industry. So, figuring out what things were most important at any role that I might want to pursue, and understanding what those employers or those hiring managers were looking for. And then making sure that I was making myself better at those skills, which ties back to working hard.

Not only was I making it a priority to use all of my time effectively to be ahead of my counterparts, but I was choosing what I worked on deliberately to be the most productive in the long run.

And then the networking piece, I had been blessed with a lot of really great mentors and opportunities that others haven’t had, and I wanted to take advantage of that fact by networking with every single person I came across during those specific times. That’s from my time as a ball kid with the Mavs, or my time at ESPN, which is where I built my entire Rolodex really. I always wanted to make sure that I was creating a relationship that lasted beyond whatever project we were working on, and I encourage others to take advantage of their own network to do the same.

Is there a particular person that made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful?

If I had to boil it down to one person, I think the first person who made an impression on me growing up was Jim Guy. He was the man who first gave me a chance as a ball kid with the Dallas Mavericks, I still keep in touch with him to this day. He showed me the discipline that it takes to work in sports, how tough it is, and he was always an ear to listen to any of the challenges I was facing.

Most importantly, he took me under his wing when he had no reason to, at such a young age. I learned a lot from him, and a lot of the mindset that I still have today comes from his (continued) mentorship.

Here’s a story about Jim.

Becoming a ball kid with the Dallas Mavericks meant going to their summer camps, and completing a rigorous application. 1000 people applied, and I think it was maybe 80 people who were ultimately selected. I went in to the Mavericks basketball camp, not knowing anyone at all at the camp, I just signed up because I loved basketball and the Mavericks and wanted to participate.

Jim ran the youth basketball camps, he did stats, and he ran the ball kid operation. He would come in and coach players, and I just showed up and played really well every day at this camp. Jim noticed me because of my play on the court, but more importantly (he told me after the fact) that he loved my attitude. And really from the outset, given that he barely knew me, Jim had me in the demonstrations at camp. He was the one who taught me that just because I’m tall doesn’t mean I need to stay down low and play post or play center. He’s the one who told me to face the basket, and shoots, and to wear the number 41 as a reference to basketball great, Dirk Nowitzki. If it wasn’t for Jim, not only would I not have had the opportunities provided by the Dallas Mavericks’ ball kid program, but my on-the-court game would be completely different. If he hadn’t given me the confidence to square up, dribble, shoot from distance, and play more like #41, my entire basketball career and life might have been different.

Can you share a story?

Here’s another story from my time at ESPN, this time it was 2017. Dolphins vs. Patriots, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Monday Night Football, in Miami. Before the game started, Bill Belichick (known to be a very serious person in general) enters the field, and the first thing he does is actually make a beeline for the ESPN set to find Randy Moss.

Randy was covering the game (I think it was his 2nd time actually commentating at a Patriots game). Bill finds Randy, and instead of just talking to him and saying something casual like “Hey, how’s it going,” he says “You’re one of the best two players I’ve ever coached. It was you and L.T.”

And, seeing that kind of respect that Belichick had for Randy Moss, given that Bill was about to play a very important game, really motivated me to be as good at my own craft as possible, to where some of the most respected people in the industry would talk to me in the same way.

I saw something really special: it was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. The amount of respect that the best coach in NFL history had for, arguably, the best wide receiver in NFL history just helps put into perspective that there’s more to sports than what happens on the field. I just hope to one day have my own legacy (in the context of my profession) reflect even a percentage point of that powerful interaction.

So what are the most exciting projects you are working on now?

The most exciting project I’m working on now is figuring out how INFLCR as a platform can help athletes monetize their name, image, and likeness. Being at the forefront of a very exciting future in college sports is an incredibly powerful opportunity and a project that I am not taking for granted.

What are your “Top Five Ideas About How Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand”. (Please share a story or example for each.)

First, grow your social distribution.

Whatever platforms you’re on, make sure you have a strategy in place to grow those distribution points in the most organic way possible. That means putting together a content strategy for each of those distribution points and growing your brand in the most responsible way possible. The higher the distribution, the more you can monetize and get paid to advertise through your channels.

Next, create your own unique voice or personality.

Answer this: “why should brands spend with you?” This boils down to the character you have (and bring) to your social voice, personal brand, and any other media where you are represented. It’s important to have that voice because brands want to make sure they’re aligning with someone who isn’t a robot.

Third, maintain relevance.

In this day in age, brands want to spend with influencers that are relevant. If you’re not relevant, you’re not getting a penny. For example, an athlete stays relevant by performing at the best of their abilities on the court and engaging their community responsibly off the court. Same for the entertainment world, except they might be performing at their best on-screen. Very important: stay out of trouble.

Fourth, create an engaged audience.

There’s a lot of fake numbers in the digital space. The most important metric that matters is the engagement rate of your social accounts. If you have a million followers but there are two retweets, there’s a problem. Make sure you’re building an audience that is receptive to your content and taking actions on your content.

On a case-by-case basis, it’s a good idea to be taking advantage of Q&As, tools, etc to interact with audience members (maybe a fan is having a bad day and there’s an opportunity for a cool interaction), but always be deliberate and make sure you’re having responsible interactions on social.

Finally, have a clear understanding (and sellable pitch) of who you are.

1–4 basically summarize and add up to #5. The key is to make sure that all of your channels, engaged audience successes and metrics are communicated clearly to brands and vendors so they see the power you bring to the table and want to continue spending more.

Here’s a story: in a previous role of mine, we were looking at influencers as places of distribution. And I went away from looking at people that had a million, two million followers, and I looked specifically at their engaged audience. You could have 200,000 followers and have a more engaged audience than someone with a way higher following. Having a clear idea and clear numbers around the engagement that your audience has with your content is powerful and must be communicated to brands.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂

I have two! Mark Cuban, or Elon Musk.

Elon is one of the most brilliant minds of our generation. His innovation when it comes to technology, specifically in regards to Tesla, has changed the way we view the electric vehicle and disrupted that whole industry.

When it comes to Mark Cuban, he has made a lot of investments, but he’s also been through it all. He’s seen success, he’s seen failures, he’s learned from his failures. Every time I hear him speak I recognize that he has a lot of knowledge to impart, and I feel like saying two words and letting him just unleash on a conversation is something I would truly value from an education standpoint.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Twitter: https://twitter.com/neetasreekanth

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/neetasreekanth

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/neetasreekanth/


5 Ways For Influencers To Monetize Their Brand, With Neeta Sreekanth of INFLCR was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.