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Wynne Tyree, CEO of Smarty Pants, tells working women to "Put on Your Big Girl Pants."

Wynne Tyree, CEO of Smarty Pants, tells working women to “Put on Your Big Girl Pants.”

Wynne Tyree is CEO of an internationally known children’s market research firm. Her clients are some of the largest companies in the world (Think: Lego and McDonald’s.) She’s also a wife and a mom (which is how I know her; our kids are in Tae Kwan Do together.) When it comes to inspiration for other business women she’s full of practical advice.

Here are twelve success building tips she presented to the “Women Empowered” gathering sponsored by the Bank of Tennessee. 

1. Know your WHY. Wynne actually had us take a few minutes to write down our personal “whys.” After thinking her son was developmentally late at crawling, she placed a red toy just out of his reach in front of him. Guess what? He crawled! What moves you forward?

2. Specialize. Be an expert at something. Take a cue from the medical world and specialize. “Tell me why you’re awesome in 60 seconds.”

3. Take Calculated Risks. This was my favorite visual as one fish jumped from one gold fish filled bowl into a bowl of water with no fish in it. Be willing to do what others won’t. “99% of Americans swim in the same bowl,” she said. “You don’t regret the things you do. You regret the things you don’t do.”

4. Be Passionated and Contagious. Tell yourself you’re great and you will be!

5. Get Uncomfortable. Sometimes we have to move outside of our comfort zone in order to really grow, learn and succeed.

6. Surround Yourself with Amazing People. Nobody succeeds alone. Move with the people you want to be, not the people who you used to be. Move toward the people who are where you want to grow. Along with that, be slow to hire and quick to fire.

MarketingMel

Wynne Tyree (an amazing woman!) and CEO of Smarty Pants and Mary Ellen Miller of MarketingMel.

7. Demand Excellence. Wynne said if you’re concerned with an employee who’s turning in less than excellent work, role play with a trusted companion/spouse. If they’re not performing up to par they may not want to be in your company.

8. Know your value and ask for it. Wynne said women often won’t ask for their real value whereas men will ask for “another $10,000 and then go out and play golf together two hours later.” She asked each of us to actually put a pencil to paper and calculate own net worth as we considered the many facets of our work and home careers. Add up the value of each job and then divide by two to get our real hourly rate. When she looked at life like this, cleaning the living room wasn’t quite so important. What is the best use of our time?

9. Stop Multi-Tasking. Learn to Compartmentalize. Multi-tasking is a lie. We actually need to create walls, structure and time frames. Set boundaries with e-mail (and with our kids if we work from a home office.)

10. Be “Selfish.” While that may sound strange, Wynne said we have to first put on our own air masks before we can start saving others when a plane is going down. What “fills our bucket?”she asked. Do more of that to save our own sanity, first.

11. Say “No.” “Remember the trampy girl in high school?” Wynne asked, as chuckles filled the room. “When you’re not so accessible, you have more value. It ups your ante,” she said.

12. Reassess and Course Correct. Check where you are and be willing to make a detour. For example, if after three years your original business plan didn’t work out, let it go and move on.

Which of these tips resonates with you? How will apply them in your business or every day life?

For more information about Wynne’s fascinating market research business visit www.smartypants.com.

 

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On the home stretch after swimming 300 yards, biking 5.8 miles and running a 5K.

Mary Ellen Miller, MarketingMel, on the home stretch after swimming 300 yards, biking 5.8 miles and running a 5K.

Recently I heard a Millennial state that her generation now outnumbers Baby Boomers in the workforce. “The Boomer generation is dying,” she added. Really? As a member of that generation and someone who just competed (and won my age group) in my first Sprint Triathlon I take exception to that statement. Dying? I pondered my recent mile swim, six mile bike ride and four mile run (and that was just training over three days!) Immersion Interactive, an agency specializing in the 50+ consumer, says Boomers are the most health conscious generation ever. We’re eating healthy and competing in  sports. (Been to a 5K lately and looked at the huge age spread of participants? I met a fabulous 85 year old woman competing at two recent 5K’s who’s my new hero! I want to be active like her when I get to be that age.)

Now that my first Triathlon is over, I reflected on what I learned from this competition. These tips translate well from sport to business to life.

1. Encourage others along the way – I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to hear the experienced cyclists encouraging me as I peddled my way up the course’s steep hills. Biking is not my strong suit at all (I was still figuring out which gears to use and when) but a kind word here and there from the experts kept me going.

2. Transitions are inevitable – Life is about transitions. We move from one family formation to another (my husband and I are now parents of a teenager. Before long we’ll be “empty nesters.”) We change jobs and careers. In Triathlon, while speed of transition is key, it’s also an opportunity to take a breath and look forward to the change that lies ahead.

3. Play to your strengths – I swam collegiately for Cornell. So you can guess which sport is my strength. Five years ago I took up running. When it comes to biking, however, I’m a complete newbie.  Sure, I will work to improve my weakness but I know where I have my greatest degree of confidence and strength. It felt great to hit the first leg of the race,(swimming) at a sprint pace.

4. Stay positive and visualize – At one point in the run we were confronted with the steepest hill I had ever seen in a 5K. There had been a guy near me throughout the entire race.  We’d encouraged each other all along the way. This was our big chance. “We’re at the beach… it’s flat” we said aloud pretending between gasps. “We can almost see the finish line,” we said, huffing and puffing up the seemingly never ending hill. It worked. The visualization and positive support got us through that hill. After the race we introduced ourselves and fist bumped. Just an hour before, we were complete strangers. Now we’d been through athletic torment together and survived!

#1 in my Age Group

Won my Age Group

5. Set a Goal and then go for it – I wrote down my time goal in my personal prayer journal and in my running journal at least three times. It gave me something to focus on. What did I need to do in order to achieve those goals for each sport? When I was training I knew what the end game was. I was delighted when my final time was actually three minutes faster than my goal time.

6. Celebrate your victories – Whether or not you walk away with a top place medal, you celebrate when you reach a major milestone, like finishing the race! That in itself is worth celebrating. What victory have you had (small or large) that you and your team can celebrate today?

Which of these tips resonates with you for sport or for business?

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ToDoListIt’s time to roll out another new year and with it all of the hopes and changes that a new season brings. Old man 2014 withers and fades and the bouncing new baby of January 2015 is upon us. So many times we think “big” when we think of the changes we’re going to make in the new year. Perhaps that’s why gym memberships balloon like December waistlines each January, only to fall off once the sore muscles and routine of discipline sets in.

Instead of declaring broad, sweeping changes like to “lose 20 pounds in two weeks” or “win the lottery” what if we take time to examine our lives and make one, small change? That’s right. Just one, small change that we can implement daily.

In 2014 I did something so simple that not only worked, it streamlined my life. I’m delighted to share this tip with you. (I learned it from Success Magazine publisher Darren Hardy.)

Each night before you go to sleep, write down and PLAN the following day! Simple right? But it works. If you actually wait until the new day is upon you (as I did for years!) you will feel overwhelmed.  Write down the night before what the next day will look like. Quite simply, plan ahead. You will be amazed how much more smoothly the day will flow and how accomplished you will feel when you chart your course the night before.

What are some simple and small tips that you will be using to meet your goals in the new year?

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Students in MarketingMel's "Gettting Professional With LinkedIn" workshop at Milligan College.

Students in MarketingMel’s “Gettting Professional With LinkedIn” workshop at Milligan College.

LinkedIn is one social media platform woefully underused by college students. Recently I was invited to present a LinkedIn workshop to a group of Milligan College Juniors and Seniors. The students who attended came on their own time so the classroom was full of soon-to-be graduates who were eager to learn.  It was a two-part session with the first hour sharing information and questions about LinkedIn and the second being hands-on creation of individual student profiles. Students brought their laptops.  Each student brought their resume to class in order to have it handy for the LinkedIn profile creation. First we extensively reviewed the demographics of LinkedIn which leans heavily male 25-54. Income levels skew $100,000+ and the typical LinkedIn user checks in around 8 AM and 5pm, before and after work. Clearly, these are the business professionals who will be making the hiring decisions for these students in the future. Here are a few of the tips I shared with the college students.

  1. Professional Photo: Probably one of the most critical elements of LinkedIn is the good, professional head shot. The school provided a professional photographer. Then each student had a professional head shot made to upload for their profile creation during the hands-on portion.
  2. Professional attire: All students were advised to look professional for the photo. In other words wear clothes appropriate for a job interview.
  3. Use LinkedIn to find potential job leads: LinkedIn has an excellent internal search engine specifically for jobs. We used this as an example in class to look for “marketing jobs in Johnson City, TN” as an example.
  4. Join Groups and ask pertinent questions: I showed the students how I used an actual LinkedIn group, the Public Relations and Communications Job Community, to crowdsource in helping me prepare for the talk with them. We received 25 very helpful comments on using LinkedIn to find a job that I shared with the class.
  5. Updates: Post regular updates on LinkedIn that will be of use to your business audience.
  6. Get references: When we went to the hands-on portion of the workshop I invited students to connect with ten people, then seek out a written reference and  give someone they know a written reference. (In LinkedIn as in life, what goes around comes around.)

What tips would you share from your LinkedIn experiences? What recommendations would you make to help seniors in college as they prepare to enter the workforce? Do you have a need for a similar workshop at your college, university or place of business? If so, please contact me via this web site.

View the prezi created by MarketingMel intern Alex Quillin for the workshop:

 

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Mary Ellen Miller of MarketingMel, and Dr. Stephen Marshall of ETSU award the new scholarship to Alex Quillin.

Mary Ellen Miller and Dr. Stephen Marshall of ETSU award the new MarketingMel PR scholarship to Alex Quillin.

As any of you who reads this blog regularly knows I am a HUGE believer in supporting the next generation of Public Relations professionals. Last week I had the opportunity to take that support to the next level by teaming with the newly created Mass Communications department at ETSU to establish and award its first scholarship: The MarketingMel Public Relations Scholarship. I am delighted to announce that my new intern, Alex Quillin, is the first recipient of this award! Alex is one of the most level headed 19 year olds I have ever met with a strong entrepreneurial bent and a bright future ahead of her. She is as smart as she is beautiful, carrying a 3.8 GPA and already a junior in semester hours. Dr. Stephen Marshall, one of MarketingMel’s advisory board members, is the newly named department chair. He joined me on campus for the ceremony announcing Alex’s scholarship. To read the full story on the ETSU web site and to see what great jobs the previous four interns have moved on to, please click here.

 

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Amanda Boone from Summit Leadership Foundation joined me for the Communications seminar.

Amanda Boone from Summit Leadership Foundation joined me for the Communications seminar.

Last week I attended a day-long workshop titled “Communications Skills for Women.” Put on by Fred Pryor it was a great brush-up on tips we all know but need to be reminded of from time to time. Although the workshop was billed “for women” these tips will also resonate with my male blog readers. Some of these tips I actually gleaned from my classmates over lunch that day (the great part of workshops and seminars is often the people you meet there!) Which do you agree with and what would you add to this list?

  1. Phone Interview Tip: When on the phone with an employee ask them to repeat back what you have said. Do not just ask “Do you have any questions” because of course their answer will be know. Asking them to repeat bak what you have said engages them.
  2. Ask for what you want/Be specific: Assertiveness is about gaining a sense of self control.  It is a choice that you and you alone can make. We need to ask for what we want and to be specific in our requests.
  3. Put a time limit on interrupters: In my case this would be social media. If I don’t limit myself when I’m working on social media the next thing I know a half hour has gone by. What are your interrupters? Are they people in the office or habits that you have?
  4. Let go: Wow! I had my own personal nirvana with this just recently. I found out that a person whom I had given business to had said some negative things about me. I stewed about that for far too long. Finally at the suggestion of a friend I “let it go.” Boy, did I feel better! I will know not to do business with that person again but I can certainly be cordial to him.
  5. We need to respect ourselves and others: We teach people how to treat us. Do you allow people to interrupt you? We actually practiced this as a class exercise. Best to challenge interruptions by setting boundaries. “I know you have so much to contrite. When I’m through in five minutes I will give you the floor.”   And finally:
  6. Saying “no” is saying yes to myself! How many of us have gritted our teeth and said “yes” to something only to regret it later. I really like the concept of all of us having to make some “me” time. “No” can be a difficult word  to use but it can be learned!
  7. Bonus tip – Check your “BRA” : Whenever you get angry, check your “BRA.” B – Breathing; breathe through your diaphragm and count to three. R- Relax, and A – Attitude. Just thinking about checking my bra is bound to diffuse the tension!

Which of these tips resonates with you and why?

 

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