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Leading Ladies - Ann Handley

AnnHandley_LeadingLadies

I've always been in awe of Ann Handley and her amazing writing style (love her humor!), but especially her career. Cited in Forbes as the most influential woman in Social Media and recognized by ForbesWoman as one of the top 20 women bloggers, Ann is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, a training and education company with the largest community of marketers in its category. Her book, Everybody Writes: Your Go-to Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content (Wiley), is a Wall Street Journal bestseller. 

Find out more about Ann in this feature, but also reach out on Twitter at @annhandley as well as @MarketingProfs!

HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START?

I started my career in publishing when I was 8, and I launched a weekly neighborhood newsletter with a construction-paper cover. It was limited circulation because my street only had a handful of houses. But the open rate was an astonishing 100%.

Later I branched into direct mail and invented blogging and I dug into audience personas.

Eventually that led me to journalism, which led to co-founding ClickZ back when “internet marketing” basically meant banner ads.

WHAT RISKS DID YOU TAKE?

I just had to think about this for a minute... because I’m trying to imagine a time when I thought that something worth doing was not risky. No outcome is ever certain – at least, not for anything big.

Deciding what college to go to. Accepting your first job. Getting married. Having children. It all has an element of risk, doesn’t it? You never quite fully know if you are making the right choice.

The key is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and learning to understand that your comfort zone is your dead zone.

WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT SCARES YOU?

Hmm. Another question that makes me pause. I used to be terrified of a lot of things most people would have zero issues with. But these days, I’m not really scared by much.*

Which isn’t to say things don’t still make me nervous – they do. But I’ve learned to not let fear derail me. Instead I use it as a kind of resistance to fuel growth, not unlike a sailboat uses the wind to propel itself into new water. If you’re standing still you aren’t moving forward.

* I do hate flying. And I worry irrationally about my children’s well-being when they’re away from home. (“Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating?”) Because mother.

LOOKING BACK ON YOUR CAREER, WHAT WAS A MAJOR TURNING POINT FOR YOU?

Learning to poke my nose out.  Because no one is going to invite me. This wasn’t a specific moment, but something I realized gradually over my career.

It took me a long time to get up the guts to poke my nose out, to advocate for myself, even if I was terrified of the consequences of sharing my own ideas. Of public speaking. Of being accountable for my own thoughts and actions and ideas.

Accidents occur most frequently at intersections. It’s a risk to poke your nose out. But it’s a risk you have to take.

There’s also a nuance to poking your nose out, because poking your nose out doesn’t mean shameless self-promotion or brazen aggrandizing or out-of-the-blue asks of people who can help you... with little regard for why they should.

And it doesn’t mean you take a dumb risk you haven’t prepared for.

Poking your nose out means you’ve invested the time learning what you need to learn, and understanding what works and what doesn’t and why.

And it means that you’ve figured out your story. You’ve identified why others should care and where you fit in: Why do your ideas matter to them? How can you help them?

So: Poke your nose out. Raise your hand. Join. Take a seat. Take your turn. Try. Launch. Tell your story. Tell others why it matters to them. Because no one is going to invite you.

WHAT ARE THREE PIECS OF ADVICE YOU'VE RECEIVED THAT YOU'VE CARRIED WITH YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?

1.     Learn how to write simply and write well.

2.     Never stop growing.

3.     Be grateful to your parents.

4.     Can I add a fourth? Don’t take things quite so seriously.

BIGGEST MISTAKE?

I’m tempted to say I didn’t trust my own instincts enough. But I suppose most people have to learn that the hard way. (And those who are born ultra-confident in their decisions from the get-go probably turn out to be insufferable human beings.)

In other words, I’ve learned a lot from the mistake of not trusting myself (and other mistakes I’ve made).

So not to get too philosophical, but would that still categorize them as true mistakes? Or are they now instead small turning points that have accumulated into a kind of wisdom?

I guess I’ll have to ponder that on my time… not yours. :-)

Leading Ladies - Kerry O'Shea Gorgone

LeadingLadiesKerryGorgone

If you haven't met Kerry O'Shea Gorgone, now's your chance. Think the name or the face looks familiar? It probably does as she can be found all over! Not only is she a speaker, writer, attorney, educator, host/producer for the weekly MarketingProfs Marketing Smarts podcast, she also develops marketing training courses for MarketingProfs. Phew! One impressive lady who I'm so pleased to call a friend. She has been there as a cheerleader for me as well as a wonderful example of a networker doing it the RIGHT way! Be sure to connect with Kerry on Twitter if you haven't already. 
 

HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START?

I worked in marketing while pursuing my MBA at Bentley, before I went to Suffolk University Law School. After I started practicing law, I figured my days in marketing were over, but it turned out that the law firms I worked for needed marketing and promotion, too! I worked in litigation, but also did passion projects like producing video content or working on my firm's website.

Eventually, I started teaching law at night and worked in marketing communication during the day as managing editor for a college magazine. I loved teaching, and started teaching full time at Full Sail University after relocating from Boston to Orlando back in 2008.

At first, I taught law, but when a position came up to teach New Media Marketing, I jumped on it. I started podcasting back in 2005, and had used online channels and social media for promotion when I was in higher-ed marketing.

At Full Sail, I brought in guest speakers to do webinars for the students, and found that I loved interviewing people! I mentioned that to my friend, Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs.

A few months later, when Matt Grant, who hosted the MarketingProfs podcast, left the company, she thought of me. I took over the podcast two years ago, and interview a smart marketer for 30 minutes every week. I absolutely love doing it! It's the best part of my job.

Eventually, MarketingProfs brought me on full-time to help them develop marketing training programs (and to keep up the podcast)! That's what I do now.

WHAT RISKS DID YOU TAKE?

Moving when I did was also a risky proposition. The economic downturn in 2008 rocked the job market. I had to list my house in Boston before I had another job lined up, but I knew it would work out (and it did).

If it wasn't for the move to Florida, I might never have started teaching full-time or hosting guest webinars, which set me on the path to MarketingProfs!

WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT SCARES YOU?

Regret. Even the prospect of regret. I'd rather do something and discover later that it was a mistake than pass on an opportunity and regret it later. 

LOOKING BACK ON YOUR CAREER, WHAT WAS A MAJOR TURNING POINT FOR YOU?

Leaving the legal profession comes to mind. ;) I was first in my law school class: everyone thought I was crazy to leave the practice and go into teaching and marketing. But creative work sustains me. As much as I love the intellectual challenge of law, I wasn't fulfilled doing someone else's work. I wanted to create something of my own.

WHAT ARE THREE PIECES OF ADVICE YOU'VE RECEIVED THAT YOU'VE CARRIED WITH YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?

Don't get your facts from just one source. That advice has served me well since my history teacher drilled it into my head in 8th grade! I would add "especially when that one source is your client."

Follow your own lights. My father told me that, and he meant it. Whatever hopes he might have had for me, he encouraged me to follow my own dreams and passions.

People can't help you get the job you want if you don't tell them what you're looking for (or even that you ARE looking). Talk liberally about what you love doing. If you're in the market for a new job, make sure people know what kind of position you want. The perfect job won't find you—you have to go looking for it!

BIGGEST MISTAKE?

I don't really believe in mistakes. Things that seemed like mistakes to me once turned out to be stepping stones to where I am now. I do wish I'd been braver. I always encourage college graduates to take that "crazy," low-paying job they love, or backpack around Europe if that's what they want. Be brave!