Goodbye to the Good Girls

Episode #007: Michelle Miller, Marketing Manager at Warren Rupp

Generations of women have been raised to be “good girls” where they’re taught to be polite, not speak too loud, don’t argue with others, and the list goes on and on. While these behaviors are taught to women at a young age, they tend to impact their entire life both personally and professionally. In fact, many women struggle to break free of this “good girl” behavior and never end up being able to advocate for themselves or get their ideas heard.

For us to really achieve equality in this world, that’s got to stop. We need the current generation of women in the workforce now to shed their “good girl” behaviors and start speaking louder, advocating more for themselves, and ensuring their voice and opinions are heard. And, then we need to teach generations of girls how to do this so they don’t fall victim to the same behaviors.

In this episode, we chat with Michelle Miller, Marketing Manager at Warren Rupp. She has more than 10 years of marketing communications experience at Seaman Corporation, Madison Services Group, and Alliance Community Hospital.

Stephanie's Strong Opinions

  1. Breaking the cycle of being a ‘good girl’ is on all of us. Let’s leave the world in a better place than we found it. 
  2. Marketing is a rollercoaster. Some days you feel like you’re a kick-a** marketer, and other days you deal with imposter syndrome. You’re not alone.
  3. There’s strength in asking for help. Collaboration is a powerful skill.

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Episode Transcription

Stephanie Cox: Welcome to REAL MARKETERS, where we hear from marketers who move fast, ask forgiveness not permission, obsess about driving results, and are filled to the brim with crazy ideas and the guts to implement them. This is not a fireside chat, and there’s absolutely no bullsh*t allowed here. And I’m your host, Stephanie Cox. I have more than 15 years of marketing experience, and I’ve pretty much done about everything in my career. I believe speed is better than perfection. I use the Oxford comma. I love Coca- Cola. I have exceptionally high standards and surround myself with people who get sh*t done. On this show, my guest and I will push boundaries, share the real truth about marketing, and empower you to become a real marketer. I used to be a good girl. In fact, I was raised that way, to be constantly polite, not speak too loud, definitely not argue with others, and so on. I followed these rules throughout my life until about 10 years ago when I realized that these types of behaviors were actually hurting me in my career. While everyone around me enjoyed working with me, my voice was never really getting heard. I can’t even count the number of times where I would share an idea that would get ignored only to have a male counterpart say the exact same thing, and everyone respond positively to it. And then one day, I got real frustrated, and I decided to stop being a good girl. Instead, I started speaking up louder, advocating for myself. Now don’t get me wrong, I did all this in a polite way, but I was done letting my voice go unheard. It’s the same time when I stopped asking for permission about what I can do in my job and just started doing what I thought was best, regardless of whether or not it was technically in my area. And you know what happened? People started noticing and no one told me to knock it off. And that’s exactly what I’m talking about with today’s guest. Michelle Miller is the marketing manager at Warren Rupp. She has more than 10 years of marketing communications experience at Siemens Corporation, Madison Services Group, and Alliance Community Hospital. And we’re talking about what it’s like to be raised as a good girl and what it takes to break that behavior, how women should advocate for themselves in their career and their personal life, and how she handles the rollercoaster of marketing and so much more. So one of the things that I think I posted on LinkedIn about this idea of being a good girl and how I felt raised to be a good girl who always did what she was told, was super nice and polite and how that looking back at my career that was a challenge for me really in the first, gosh, maybe seven years until one day I decided to stop and just start speaking my mind. I’m still, obviously, polite, but really kind of turned that on its head. And when I posted about that, you reached out and we had a conversation about that because you were kind of raised as a good girl too. So tell me more about that and how you define being raised as a good girl and what impact that’s had on you.

Michelle Miller: Sure. I’m very interested in birth orders. And I’m the oldest child, so traditionally oldest-

Stephanie Cox: Same.

Michelle Miller: The oldest children are rule followers. And so I feel like I very much have lived up to that. I also grew up Mennonite in a very conservative family, so very traditional gender roles. And as I started to get out of my undergrad degree and get into my career, a lot of what I did initially was just follow authority and do what was asked because that was exactly what I had been taught my whole life. So went through my first two jobs fresh out of college and just followed the rules, played within the lines, colored inside the lines, or played in the sandbox, whatever you’re supposed to say and do. And then when I got promoted at one point to run a marketing department, part of the reason for the promotion was because we didn’t want to keep things business as usual, and we wanted to take things from a very traditional outbound marketing department to a more inbound focused marketing department. And so if we wanted to really do things differently, we couldn’t do things the same way we had done them before. So in some ways I got the permission that I finally needed and could never give myself to go do something different and go do something radical and go do something a little bit crazy and out there. And it was supported, too, by the senior leadership team and by the organization as a whole, they were craving it. So that’s really where I started to open up this box of, hey, I can actually go do things how I want to do them or how I think they need to be done or whatever is the best fit for the business and not just whatever has been done before. So that was a real exercise for me in starting to just think way more creatively than I had before and work on some fun campaigns, and I got to hire some really awesome people, phenomenal marketing specialists and graphic designer, marketing coordinators. And we were all able to collaborate really well and then take these crazy ideas we had and push them live. So I wouldn’t say it was like I woke up one day and realized,” Hey, I don’t have to be a good girl anymore.” It was an evolution. It’s also a good exercise in learning just to think on your own and think independently. So it’s been an ongoing journey for me for sure.

Stephanie Cox: Do you think if you wouldn’t have had that opportunity, you probably would have continued kind of the status quo of how you’d been before? Or do you think there would have been some other catalyst in your career that would have driven it?

Michelle Miller: That’s a good question. I think every day, every year I’ve learned more and more. I mean, we all do. We all learn more and more about ourselves. And in some ways there’s still aspects of my life where I am still very much a good girl, and I have recognized that. And there’s some areas of my life, I’m okay with that. And then there’s other areas where I’m like,” I got to push the boundaries. I got to challenge myself. I got to move forward.” And if you’re not growing, you’re dying, so personal growth is something I’m also really passionate about, and I think is a really good thing. But I think having the right… I’ve also been blessed to have a lot of really awesome mentors and other people in my life who’ve helped me sort through some of these things and start to figure out that I don’t need to just break all the rules and have no disregard for them, like you said, still be polite, but do it in a respectful way. And I think a lot of it, too, is pulling some of the emotion out of it. So if you’re just really emotional, you can sometimes be perceived as being irrational or illogical. And when you really start to put your ideas and break some rules in the context of what’s good for business, that’s what needs to happen for radical business growth too.

Stephanie Cox: Well, it’s interesting that you said sometimes you feel like you still act like a good girl in certain aspects. I find myself the same way. I don’t know, it’s like I can’t beat it out of myself.

Michelle Miller: Yeah.

Stephanie Cox: There are times where I’m just like,” Oh, should I say that?” I’m like,” Maybe I shouldn’t say that.” And then sometimes it’s like I have to catch myself like,” Hell, yes, you should say that. You know what you’re doing.”

Michelle Miller: Well, the worst part is when you don’t say it and then someone else says it, and you’re like,” Right! I should have said it. Why didn’t I say it?”

Stephanie Cox: Well, that, and then my other one is when you say something, and then everyone ignores it, and then someone else says it, typically a man, and then they’re like,” That’s a great idea.” I’m like,” Was I not in the room? Do I not speak English? What the hell is going on?”

Michelle Miller: Yeah, that happens so often too. That’s something that I’ve been talking with some other peers about recently. Yeah, we have to make sure as women, we have to make sure we find some advocates of the male counterpart to help advocate for us and our ideas when we say something at the table, and then, yeah, it’s just echoed a little bit later and everyone thinks it’s a great idea. It happens too often.

Stephanie Cox: It does. And I remember when I was younger in my career, I literally was like,” I don’t know. Maybe I don’t communicate well.” I used to put all that, the onerous on me, maybe I’m not doing a good job explaining my thought or idea. And then I finally realized,” No, I’m doing a great job. They just weren’t listening.” And I needed to figure out a way to make them listen to me more.

Michelle Miller: Right. So how did you get through some of that? How did you start to find your voice out of curiosity?

Stephanie Cox: Honestly, I can almost tell you, I could describe the room and exactly when this all happened for me. It’s so weird and it’s so clear. I wasn’t looking to make this change. I was just sitting in a meeting and it was probably like the millionth, well, not literally a million times, but it felt like the millionth time I said something, and no one listened to it, and then like five minutes later, another person in the room said the exact same thing using almost the exact same words.

Michelle Miller: Oh, wow.

Stephanie Cox: And everyone’s like,”That’s a great idea. We should do that.” And I was just like… I finally just got fed up, and I kind of just said… And I didn’t say anything in the meeting, but I just went home and I talked to my husband about it, and I said,” I am done. I’m done being a yes person. I am done being quiet or being really polite with my ideas and not advocating more for myself and what I do because I do know what I’m doing.” And that really, I think, changed the trajectory of my career really dramatically, partially because I just decided to stop asking permission and just ask for forgiveness. So I started doing things that I thought the business needed to do. And sometimes they were in my area and sometimes they weren’t, but no one else was doing it. And so I was like,” Well, screw this. I suggested this four times. You didn’t listen, so I’m just going to start doing it.”

Michelle Miller: Right.

Stephanie Cox: “And if you don’t like it, you’ll tell me to knock it off.” Guess what? They don’t tell you to knock it off.

Michelle Miller: Oh, right. That’s so true.

Stephanie Cox: Right. They don’t. You to do good work, they don’t tell you to knock it off, so I started doing that. I had even an example of recently. And it wasn’t intentional, but I had said something, and I wouldn’t say it was ignored, but I think it was kind of a brushed aside. And then like a couple of weeks later, someone else said the exact same thing. And everyone’s like,” This is a great idea.” And they’re like,” Stephanie, what do you think about this?” And I could have just said,” That’s a great idea,” but I didn’t. I was like,” It’s a great idea. I thought so like a month ago when I said it.”

Michelle Miller: Good. Good for you.

Stephanie Cox: And it’s hard, and I said it in a really… And then I just was like I mean, it is what it is, right? Because if I don’t stand up for myself, then I don’t show other women that they can do the same, so I think about that a lot. And I also think if I don’t stand up for myself and call out in a polite, respectful way times when that happens, the people that are in my life, they’re not going to learn or they’re not going to recognize it. Because it’s funny when you talk to, especially some of my male counterparts in previous roles that I’ve had, I’ll say like,” Did you realize that I said the exact same thing and you didn’t listen to it until this other person said it?” And they’re like,” Oh, I totally didn’t see that.” They’re not even cognizant that sometimes that it’s happening. Now, some people are, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of really good guys out there, they don’t even realize they’re doing it. And so I feel like it’s just as much on me to advocate for myself, but also make sure that they’re aware of what they’re doing and how that’s impacting other people. Because not every person is as confident or as strong to stand up for themselves as I’ve become.

Michelle Miller: Right. And that’s one of my greatest learnings, I think, as a manager and as a boss is that I appreciate when someone comes to me and is like,” Hey, this happened,” or,” This is going on. Are you aware of that?” And most of the time, my answer is no because if no one comes to me and tells me, I have no way of knowing, right? So I am really appreciative when people come to me and say,” Hey, this happened. This is what’s going on.” And if the people like you and I, if we don’t stand up for these things, it’s just going to continue. And I became an aunt for the second time this summer, but this time to a niece, to a little girl. And so now I can’t help but think about what kind of world am I creating? I want to leave the world in a better place than I found it, but what kind of world am I creating for her? And I don’t want her to ever have to deal with some of these issues that I’ve dealt with. And also making sure that I’m telling her, too, I tell my nephew,” You’re smart and you’re strong and you’re talented and you’re funny,” am I telling her the exact same things? Because she is, and so she’s going to need to know that. It affects so many different aspects of your life, and I think it’s just so important to be vocal about what’s right and what’s wrong and standing up for that.

Stephanie Cox: Well, you mentioned your niece, I have a 14 year old daughter, and she’s very soft- spoken. And I always tell her,” You need to speak louder.” And she’s like,” Well, I don’t want to be yelling.” I’m like,” It’s not yelling, but you have important things to say.”

Michelle Miller: Right.

Stephanie Cox: I want to hear them, other people want to hear them. And you know, she just… I think by nature, some people are more soft- spoken than others. But she’s like,” Yeah, I don’t…” She will say like,” Well, I don’t know if… It’s not important what I have to say.” It’s 100% as important. And I feel like there’s this whole generation or generations, I guess, of women who have been soft- spoken, who haven’t thought what they had to say was important. And I really, like you said, believe that it’s on all of us to help lead the way for them and show them that their voice does matter, that they are just as talented as any other person in the world. They can accomplish anything they set their minds to, as long as they have belief in themselves. And part of my job as her mom is to give her that belief and that confidence.

Michelle Miller: Yeah. And they say your worldview’s shaped by age 12. So if you think about what you’ve seen and experienced by age 12 and how that’s going to impact the rest of your life… I mean, I think it’s so important that we focus on the next generation, especially like your daughter and age 14 and she’s finding her voice in the world. And so that way when they do enter the workforce, and once we do start to fix some of these gender gaps and gender roles and gender stereotypes, that she does have her voice, and it’s heard, and she has just as good a head, if not a better head on her shoulders than the male sitting next to her, and she’s got better ideas and maybe she has better leadership skills, and so I would hate for her to miss out on those.

Stephanie Cox: So when you think back to being raised as a good girl and having to overcome that, what impact do you think overall it’s had on your career? Especially early on, do you feel like it limited you and your potential? Do you feel like it was something that was holding you back?

Michelle Miller: Looking back, I didn’t realize it, but yes. I mean, if you use the example of even just speaking out at the table to advocate for your own idea that you said, five years ago, I may have just let that slide by. Ten years ago, absolutely I would have. Today, I wouldn’t, and I’d be more likely to just say,” Yeah,” like you said,” That’s a great idea. I’m really glad I brought that up and mentioned it.” And it can happen internally or sometimes it happens externally too. I work with a lot of outside vendors. And a lot of times it’s like I’ll give my recommendation, but then it’s like,” Well, let’s see what that vendor says.” And then it’s like what the vendor says is gospel and we need to follow that or we’re going to follow their plan. And I’m really glad I brought on that vendor because you’re always supposed to bring on people that are smarter than yourself. So I mean, it can come in different ways, not even just from your own team. I don’t even think sometimes it’s necessarily malicious. It’s like, yeah, we brought on this really smart individual or consultant or vendor, and we need to listen to what and see what the recommendations are. But at the end of the day, I mean, we’re all in our roles for a reason, and we’re all hired here for a reason. And so a lot of that’s due to our expertise and our background. And so if we don’t use our expertise, and even if we disagree with what our recommendation is, we’re not doing ourselves any favors and we’re certainly not doing our companies any favors.

Stephanie Cox: No, I completely agree. When you were talking about that, this immediate thought popped in my head. So we’re looking to add a pool in our backyard because, I mean, it’s 2020, I mean, what else are we going to do for the next year- and- a- half?

Michelle Miller: Right.

Stephanie Cox: And I talked to a pool company last week and set up a time for them to come out and give us a quote and everything. And they asked me if I was married, and I was like, I mean,” Yes, but why?”” Well, will your husband be there?” And I was like-

Michelle Miller: Oh, no.

Stephanie Cox: I mean,” Yes, but why?”” Well, we just need both of you there.” And I said to her on the phone, because at first I was like,” Are you trying to insult me?” And I just said, I was like,” Well, I guess you don’t need my business,” because who wants to deal with someone who… I can make a decision. I’m an adult.

Michelle Miller: Right.

Stephanie Cox: I’ve never been, at least in a long time, felt that, but that was a legit question they asked me, and I was just like, I mean,” I don’t need you to come out. We’re good. We’ll go with someone else.”

Michelle Miller: So I come from roofing, and there was a roofing company that they actually launched their entire website, and it was for residential roofing for shingles. But they actually pivoted their entire focus over towards women because after they did all their studies, they realized that women are the ones that are picking out the color of the shingles and actually taking the time to research what goes into their shingle, and they’re probably at home when the roofer is up there getting things installed. And so I thought that was really wise because they’re recognizing that women are running things, and they need to make sure that they’re talking to them.

Stephanie Cox: So thinking about the workforce overall, and obviously being a woman, but also a leader, what challenges do you face and do you see other women facing just in the workforce both pre- COVID and, I guess, post- COVID, the COVID world, because there has been, I think, a lot more put on women these days?

Michelle Miller: I’m very grateful that my only child right now has four legs and a tail and barks because I don’t know how mothers these days, especially the ones that are doing remote work and have to deal with remote school environments with multiple kids now… I mean, adding second grade teacher, fourth grade teacher to the list of their already unbelievable pile of things that they’re getting done, I mean, I bow down. I’m so grateful for women that drive our businesses and drive our children forward. So I think especially as remote work becomes normalized, there’s so many good things about remote work too. I mean, personally, I very much enjoy it. But also I think remote work can be great for households with working parents. So I think finding a new normal and finding a new balance and new expectations around what we expect out of remote workers, and especially for women, how that can benefit them is a good thing. And I think it’ll also help force us to quit looking at this punching a clock mindset and that you can only do do work when you’re sitting in your seat in your location inside the business, inside the four walls of the business, and really focus more on productivity and focus on output and focus on who’s getting stuff done. And I think that’s really positive for women because women get stuff done.

Stephanie Cox: That is so true. I feel like so many women I talk to, they’re like,” I get shit done.” And then I don’t feel like many men say that and I don’t know. It’s just interesting.

Michelle Miller: That’s a good point. I never thought about that.

Stephanie Cox: Yeah. I talk to so many women, and that’s like their hashtag, or they have Post- It notes that say that or when you talk to them about just their nature, they’re very focused on that. And I can think of a guy that I’ve talked to, at least in a long time, that has used similar nomenclature when talking about kind of their work or even their personal life.

Michelle Miller: Yeah. I need to unpack that for a little bit. Because I’m thinking about, too, if you just look at how women have to work a little bit harder to justify what they do and explain it. And I mean, that’s why we still have a pay gap, right? And so maybe it’s our way of saying,” Hey, look at us, please pay attention. We’re getting things done.”

Stephanie Cox: So thinking about just being in the workforce and being a woman, but also thinking about, I know you’re passionate about diversity, what do you think companies need to do more of to better include women, more diversity, whether that is ethnic backgrounds, whether that is gender, whether that is just even different socioeconomic backgrounds? Because I think diversity of thought is so important too, so how do you think about that and what companies should be doing right now to really advocate for it?

Michelle Miller: The one thing I have noticed as of late is that it used to be diversity and inclusion and now it’s diversity, equity, and inclusion. And I think it’s really opening up the door to different types of conversations. Like you said, it’s not diversity based on just race or ethnicity or gender, it’s diversity of thought. And going back to remote work again, this is a great opportunity for companies to bring in different people that they normally wouldn’t have access to if they require them to be physically in a seat within the four walls of their building. I mean, I live in a smaller town. It’s the city of Wooster, Ohio, and it’s not the most racially diverse area. And if companies in my area can leverage this remote work environment that we’re now in, they can pull in people from all over the country, all of the world, with very diverse backgrounds and use it as a real opportunity to strengthen their team. And if you look at, there’s study after study too, that’s done that if you have a more diverse leadership team, whether it’s race or gender or whatever, those companies tend to do better on their top to bottom lines. I mean, it’s a fact. And so having too many people of the same background just leads to one giant group think and no real progress is made. So I think remote work is definitely a way that companies can really grasp this. And it’s not something, I think, that’s just going to happen organically, unless… You need senior leadership and you need a team, you need a conscious, ongoing awareness of it, and it just can’t be some sort of flavor of the month either, which I think also tends to happen. There’s like this slurry of,” Oh, we need a more diverse workforce.” And then,” We’ll put together a team, and we’re going to do all these things.” And then after a month, it’s like,” Oh, Hey, remember that diversity initiative, what happened to that?”

Stephanie Cox: Yeah, I think that’s so important to mention that just the continuity of stuff like this, it’s not just one thing you fix. It’s something that’s going to be ongoing that we need to all challenge ourselves to think about on a regular basis.

Michelle Miller: Yeah, and getting people involved, too, from different levels they can’t just be a senior leadership team only thing. I think it’s something that you need every level involved in and contributing to. Because even if it’s just diversity in how we think and the ideas that are pulled in based on the nature of your role within the company, I mean, it could be from different departments, different levels, that brings in different backgrounds too and different ways of thinking. I also want to throw out the closet, I’m not a diversity expert in any way, shape, or form, but it’s just something that I’m really passionate about. Actually, I’m really thankful this year for the opportunity to access different resources and people. I’ve got book lists going on. Shout out to the public library for the ability to download these books that I keep seeing recommended online. And I’ve watched webinars and I’ve watched TED Talks and YouTube videos. There’s so much good content out there right now that if you don’t take advantage of it, that’s your loss.

Stephanie Cox: That’s a really good point. I’m not a diversity expert either. I just think I’m an advocate for diversity, and I’m constantly reading and making sure that I’m checking with people that have different backgrounds than me and getting their opinions on what would be helpful to them in every situation as well. As a marketing leader, and just as a marketer in general, I often think about this rollercoaster that we’re on, where one day you feel like you’re completely kick- ass and you’re crushing it. And then sometimes even later that day, you’re kind of like,”Do I even know what I’m doing? Am I good at my job? Do I know my job? Do I understand the internet?” So many marketers face that, and I feel like no one really talks about it. And then you kind of freak out and compare yourselves to all these other people who on social media clearly have it all together, which none of them really do. So how do you handle these constant ups and downs as a marketer, especially as a leader?

Michelle Miller: I mean, as marketers, if you look at the number of platforms or technologies that we use every day, first of all, I personally have a Mac, then I have my iPhones, and then I have my tablets, and then I have my Windows Dell laptop for work. Okay, so you’ve got those platforms. But then you also have all the different systems you use. You have Microsoft Outlook Teams, Zoom. And then you get online and you can use Asana for productivity. We use HubSpot. There’s Lumavate’s platform, then there’s Google Analytics, Google AdWords. I mean, it is believable how many platforms you have to be well- versed in. And the best part is all these platforms are making updates sometimes daily. And so you’ll go in there, and you’ll be like,” Oh, great. Facebook just made another update. Now I have no idea where to even find my page.”

Stephanie Cox: That’s what I felt yesterday with Zoom. Zoom apparently, I don’t know what they did, they did waiting rooms or passwords. And I’m sure they told me, but they didn’t tell me yesterday or the day when they did it. So I try all these meetings, and everyone’s like,” I need a password. What’s the password?”” I don’t know. I didn’t create a password. What the hell is going on?” So I feel you, trust me.

Michelle Miller: It happens all the time. I don’t think I’ve had a week go by where I’m not a little bit lost in the technology or program or something that’s made some update. And then, since all these things fall underneath the marketing function, we’re responsible for knowing and understanding these. So my favorite answer to a question when someone asks me about an intricacy within a program or,” Hey, can you run that?” Or,” How’s that performing?”” I’ll get back to you,” or,” Let me go look at that.” Because the worst thing you can do is just speak and know it all, and then you go in there, and you’re like,” Oh, crap. They changed their algorithm again.” One of our senior leadership team members recently saw that Google was making a change to their algorithm and they asked me about it. And I was like,” I don’t know. Let me get back to you.” And so I reached out to my website vendor, and they were like,” Yep, we just heard about that too. So we are researching it right now.” So sometimes people, you don’t even know. Even the experts don’t even know. So I always jokingly say that marketing, we’re a bunch of solutions finders. And by doing that, I had an engineer come to me recently and say,” How do I record my screen?” Well, luckily I Googled that the week before,” How do I record my screen on a Windows?” And I was able to give them the combination of keys that you need in order to do that. And he’s like,” Oh, thanks. That’s awesome.” So I think there’s so many times where we’re just solution finders. And that’s the one thing I say frequently is that,” Just Google, Google things.” The answers are out there. Someone’s made a YouTube video on how to do this before, so just go find it, and taking that initiative to go find it.

Stephanie Cox: That’s so funny that you mentioned solution finders. I feel like that’s 100% accurate. I can’t tell you how many times people are like,” Do you know how to do this?” And I’m like,” Yes.” Even back when we were in an office, there’s an issue with the printer,” Can you fix this?”” Yeah.” I got on Google, and I saw what the error code was, and then I hit the buttons it told me to do it, now it works.” So you’re like IT?”” No, I just know how to use Google. Can I teach you?”

Michelle Miller: Yeah, exactly. Let me show you. Let me show you this really cool website came out about, I don’t know, 20 years ago. Everyone uses it. Tracks all kinds of data.

Stephanie Cox: You type questions into it, it gives you magical answers.

Michelle Miller: Crazy.

Stephanie Cox: Sometimes there’s videos. Crazy.

Michelle Miller: Crazy, yeah.

Stephanie Cox: So thinking back just across your career overall, what’s one thing you wish you would’ve known sooner or realized sooner?

Michelle Miller: I wish I would have known sooner that it is actually… There’s strength in asking for help, and there’s strength in coming to your boss or presenting in saying that,” Hey, this is an idea I had. This is something that’s really cool. This is something that’s really good. But I’m going to need your help.” I used to try to do everything myself. That’s always been my shtick. Even growing up, I was always like,”I want to do it myself.” And there’s so much power in collaboration. It was humbling to jump into the workforce, and you try to do things yourself, and it doesn’t work. So I got my butt kicked pretty early on, fortunately. And then once you go through grad school, like my grad school, I got my MBA from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and a lot of their programs, all their classes are based on group work. So you hear,” Group work,” and you grown, right? Awful. But actually by that point, by the time I got through that, I was so thankful that they did it in group work style because we’re adults, we’re part- time MBA students, and we all live real lives. And there’s times where someone brings a background or experience that you don’t have into a class and then a concept makes sense based on their experience. Or someone would have a family emergency, and you’d pick up the slack for them that week in writing your paper, and then you would have a work conference you needed to go to and they would pick up the slack for you later. So I learned within the first year, you go from these conceptual undergraduate group projects to then actually using collaboration in a way that makes it so much more strong and effective, and you can have better ideas and better results. If a man is hungry, give him a fish, and he’ll eat once. But if you teach them how to fish, they’ll eat for the rest of their lives. So I jokingly say all the time,” I’m trying to teach other people to fish, so that way I don’t have to do it all.”

Stephanie Cox: I feel you on that one. I always liked, I told my team that,” I could do this for you, but then I’m always doing this for you. I want to teach you how to do it so you can do this. And then eventually you can teach someone else how to do this.”

Michelle Miller: Yeah. I think it’s a sign of good leadership, actually, because it gives other people opportunity to grow and develop.

Stephanie Cox: Completely agree. And I think as your point earlier that you said, if you’re not learning, you’re kind of dying. You need to be constantly learning and pushing yourself forward in everything you do, whether that’s personally or professionally.

Michelle Miller: Yeah. And that’s the other thing too, I’ve noticed recently now that I’m just on my computer all day, every day and have very limited human interaction is that I can get overwhelmed by content. I may have just closed out of a Google browser that had like 22 tabs open or something of all these things I wanted to learn and know. And I’m like,” I can’t. It’s actually weighing me down.” So I’m trying to get better now about just picking the things that I really want to read about or to learn about and only clicking on them or opening them when I actually have the time to watch it, so I don’t get into this tab fatigue of an insane number of tabs open. And I do that on my personal computer too. It’s a bad habit.

Stephanie Cox: I have the same problem. I think the other day… I am notorious for having like 20 tabs open in each window. And the other day I had like four different windows going with like 20 tabs each. And I was like,” I can’t even function now. What is wrong with me?”

Michelle Miller: And then the worst is I came in on Monday morning, opened up my computer, and my computer ran an update over the weekend, and I lost all my tabs.

Stephanie Cox: No! That is the worst.

Michelle Miller: And there was a part of me that was like,” Thank you, God, I needed that.” And then there’s another part of me that was like,” But my tabs, I had so much good stuff to read in there. What did I-”

Stephanie Cox: And I don’t know where the rest of it is. I’ve also started, this is horrible, but I’ve started Slacking myself because you can do that. And also, so instead of opening them, I just Slack myself the things I want to read. And then that way they’re there, and if something like what you just mentioned happens, I don’t lose them. Because I hate to keep the email in my inbox when it’s just something I want to read later because it’s not like a to- do action that I need to do. So that’s what I’ve started doing, so I Slack myself. Which is super embarrassing, but that’s the reality of the world that we live in.

Michelle Miller: Productivity hack everyone, you heard it right here.

Stephanie Cox: Slack yourself.

Michelle Miller: Slack yourself.

Stephanie Cox: Well, it was great having you on the show, Michelle. Thank you so much for joining us.

Michelle Miller: Thank you so much for having me. This has been a lot of fun. And I think if I can say one more thing too.

Stephanie Cox: Yeah.

Michelle Miller: I think it’s so important that… I know this conversation is slanted more towards women in marketing, but I think it’s so important that we keep having these conversations. And if you’re a woman in marketing and you’ve identified with some of the things we’ve talked about or you’re struggling with some of the things that we’ve talked about, find other women and find other mentors that you can talk to and that can help. Because we need to make sure that we’re supporting each other, and a lot of times these things just happen and we just let them happen and we don’t tell anyone. And I think finding people who can help encourage you and mentor you and guide you and even if you just need that daily pep talk like,” Hey, yes, you know what you’re doing. You’re good. Go get them.” Find people that can be your support group, even if they’re outside of marketing. Actually, especially if they’re outside of marketing because so many of us marketers are doing things with the power of one or two in our department. And so finding other advocates or people that can help support you or your function, I think that’s really important.

Stephanie Cox: I like to end each episode of REAL MARKETERS with something that you can do right now, and this one might be the most important one of them all. For all my women listeners out there, if you’re not speaking up for yourself, then you need to start right now. And if you’re already advocating for yourself, then you need to help other women find their voice. And for all my men listeners out there, continue to be our advocates. When you see a colleague share an idea that gets ignored only to have someone else share the same idea and get a positive response, help call it out. We can’t do this alone. Real change requires all of us, so what are you waiting for? You’ve been listening to REAL MARKETERS. If you love what you’ve heard, make sure to subscribe, rate, and review our podcast, and don’t forget to tell a friend. All of this marketing goodness, shouldn’t be kept a secret.