New Year Bringing New Lessons from Life

We’re approaching episode 100 of the Making a Marketer podcast (!!), and this season I decided there will be occasional episodes where it’s just me–this is the second one of this kind (check out episode 89 for the other).

Taking what seems like just circumstances and seeing it in a different way! There are so many lessons in everyday life–we need to look for them. The lessons in this one didn’t creep-up on me, y’all – they just about slapped me in the face!

Holiday adventures, lesson from football, and new year / new work are all covered.

Could This Snowed-In Story be a Metaphor for Life Choices?

Have you ever been snowed-in? As someone who grew up in silicon valley, we only had snowPhoto of my car snowed-in in the lower Sierras of Northern CA after Christmas 2021 once in my childhood – and though it was just a dusting, we lost our minds, it was so cool!

I’ve had people tell me they would absolutely love being snowed-in and cut off from the world, a sort of forced tech detox, if you will. But, here’s the thing… without knowing when it will end? 

The day before I was supposed to leave my brother’s house (the day after Christmas) in the lower Sierras of northern California, the snow began to fall. It was so pretty and I was really happy about it! I did not think through how I would drive away from there in my front-wheel-drive Honda Civic, but it had never snowed enough to keep me there in year’s past.

Being without power for a day and a half is also disconcerting. Thankfully, my brother and his wife have a wood burning stove that heats the house (primarily), so we stayed warm!

I found myself being so grateful for my charging brick so we could at least listen to music. I also realized I had downloaded a movie from Netflix and had some shows on my iPad, so we ended up having some entertainment! I read a lot. I colored. I slept well.

My car being hooked up to be towed out of the snow and iceBy the time I was five days into being STUCK, my brother asked if I have AAA?

Aaahhhh, and there it was, my attitude improved – I felt the grumpiness leave my body, and I was able to enjoy our quiet little new years eve (with power, gratefully!) with a renewed sense of hope for getting my car towed out… and home the next day. Now, the getting out process wasn’t easy, but I did it!

Looking back, I’m playing Monday morning quarterback on that six days! I wish I wrote more. I wish I got more introspective. It’s the whole “If I knew then what I know now” kind of thing… But that’s always easier said than done, right? 

Lesson learned: I don’t do well feeling I don’t “have a way out” in any situation, so this was perhaps a metaphor to drive home this point – we should all get out (of whatever it is) earlier than we do. I didn’t want to drive on Sunday because the traffic was going to be nuts. Looking back, I should have spent the extra 2-4 hours driving home on Sunday so I wouldn’t have been stuck for almost 6 days! 

So I think we can do this in our business and personal lives. 

Exiting, saying goodbye — letting go of relationships, letting go of jobs, letting go of clients, whatever it is. Doing that sooner than it might feel comfortable, I think, is almost always going to yield more positive results. I think a lot of people who make change look back and say to themselves, I wish I had done this sooner.

Never. Give. Up. – Not a Cliche, y’all – But a REAL Thing!

I’m a huge sports fan, as many of you have come to realize over the years. Nothing makes me quite as happy as my team winning or as cranky as my team losing. My non-sports-fan-friends, please bear with me on this one–the lesson is life and business-related, I promise!

2019 was a dream year for my football team – the San Francisco 49ers. We started out 8-0,Photo of me and my sister Maureen after the 2019 Divisional Round win over the Vikings clinched home field advantage in the playoffs early, and it was so insanely exciting because they had been terrible the previous five years. This was our year! Of course, it ended with a Super Bowl loss to my co-host Jen’s Kansas City Chiefs, which was soul-crushing, but that season was such an amazing ride.

2020 was full of “you know what” and a TON of injuries. We were terrible, which got us a high draft pick for 2021. What came with that was all sorts of quarterback controversy this year.

Think whatever you like about Jimmy Garoppolo’s abilities as a quarterback, but he has led this team on and off the field with so much grace. A rookie quarterback came in and cast a shadow in a way, but it also lit up a competition the fans took to crazy levels. Jimmy never let all the noise seep in and destroy his ability to lead his team. They believe in him 100% because of his leadership.

Coming back the last week of the season from being down 17-0 to the LA Rams (winners of theMe in front of Levi's stadium with a Playoffs towel during the NFL Playoffs in 2019 NFC West division) and winning 27-24 in overtime is epic! It really was the last 2-minutes that were so extraordinary. A monster drive that ended with a touchdown to tie the game made overtime — and a chance to win, sending us to the playoffs — a reality. 

The pastor of the church I grew up in had a saying “Never give up” (I realize it did not originate with him, but that’s where I learned it). Sounds simple, but it is aPhoto of my church with the words "Never Give Up" on the outside of it challenge in the face of adversity (he also had it put on the building, as pictured to the right!).

No question, every human on this planet has been through plenty of adversity over the past couple of years.

If we’re able to keep our eye on what we’re working towards, the key is to stay at it. If I had given up on my business when my biggest client decided to shut down his business, I would not have had all of the great experiences and new relationships built over the past four years. Simply put, it hasn’t been easy, but I wouldn’t be where I am right now, which is exactly where I’m meant to be.

Lesson here: Keep your eye on the prize and keep a never give up attitude because doors will open that you did not expect. If you give up, you don’t know what could have been.

Quick Starts Are Deceiving (aka, good things come to those who wait)

That’s actually an awesome segue to my third and final lesson for this episode.

“It takes courage to begin. It also takes courage to end.”

-Mark W. Schaefer

In the last quarter of ‘21 when people told me “it looks like everything is going great for you,” I thanked them. And then I went on to explain to them “I’m a duck.” I wasn’t a duck because the water rolls off my back, but because on the surface things look cool – like I’m guiding across the water easily… but you know what’s happening under water, right? 

What you can’t see is all the kicking to keep moving and find my way to what is next. 

I spent the better part of 2021 – especially the last six months – searching in earnest for a new full-time professional “home.” 

While also knowing podcasting is something I wanted to lean-into further, I was in search for other opportunities there also.

TSNN's "Trade Show Talk" podcast logoAs I shared on the last episode, I’ve found a new professional home at Event Marketing Partners! This month it was also announced I am the host of Trade Show News Network’s new podcast, called “Trade Show Talk.” That show will also have two episodes per month, focusing on a different theme each month. We started out talking about Community and every person listening to this will benefit from the wisdom of the first two guests.

Did I mention I’m also hosting trivia weekly at a neighborhood bar/restaurant? I am.

All of this news caused someone on my Facebook page to comment “Congrats on a fast start to 2022!” to which I replied, “ ‘Fast start’ after many many months of working hard to make everything happen!!”

This brought to mind famous people I’ve heard commenting about people saying they are an “overnight sensation” – when it took them years of hard work to “get” that break!

Final lesson: Oftentimes it looks like things are just happening / coming together for people, but know that it’s extremely unlikely it happened overnight!

What’s Next for Making a Marketer?

Jen and I recorded episode 100 on Jan. 14th to accommodate our VERY amazing guest’s schedule and we can’t wait to share it with you (it will be published on Feb. 23)!! We’re keeping the person under wraps at the moment, but we will be dropping some hints in the lead-up to see if we can get any accurate guesses! 

Next up is Chad Illa-Peterson and we will talk storytelling – he’s going to help us learn how to discover our stories and the emotions that connect us with customers…

Do you have any examples of things you learned like I did over the last few weeks?

Here’s this podcast episode if you want to hear me talk everything in this post!

Business Lessons Pulled from Life

In 88 episodes of the Making a Marketer podcast I had never done a show with just me! I have been toying with the idea of creating a brief third episode each month that’s just me sharing what I learned that week, so perhaps this is a “toe dip” into that — I’ll see the feedback I get and maybe this will become a regular thing.

If you’d like to listen to it, this is it… and this is the transcript.Promo image for the Making a Marketer podcast with guest Megan Powers

As I entered into my recent BIG birthday week, it hit me that it’d be fun to have my friends and family share things they have learned from me throughout life that can be applied to business. Well, among the merriment, not thinking about work, and all the activities we had planned… that never happened.

SO! I thought I’d share things I learned throughout the week from these friends, family, and experiences that aren’t just business related, but SELF-CARE and personal-related. 

You get out of relationships what you put into them

I had three friends fly in who I have known since kindergarten and 5th and 6th grade. We don’t see each other super frequently, but these friendships have been nurtured over the years. You don’t still have friends for that many years by accident, though, right? It takes work! We do pick back up right where we left off because we have so much history, but we have been making an effort over the years to stay connected. I know I can count on these people for anything I need. One of my newer friends said that’s a testament to me as a person, but EVERY relationship takes 2!Four childhood friends celebrating a BIG birthday year

I fully believe this is the same thing in business. Relationships we build with co-workers, colleagues, and clients are worth continuing to nurture, regardless of whether they have something FOR you. There is a huge chance you all will be able to help each other in the near or distant future, Especially given the environment we’ve been in for the last 18 months through this pandemic where we aren’t having those in-office conversations like we used to, right?

Reach out to a couple of former bosses or colleagues, and set up a coffee or drink meetup — even if it’s over a video call! I feel super fulfilled every time I do — and we both get ideas for how we can help each other.

Having a plan is crucial, and being flexible about everything not going just as you planned is equally important

As I set out to celebrate this milestone birthday I wanted it to be a big deal. I’ve traveled to New Orleans, Vegas, Mexico, and Catalina for significant birthdays of friends, so I wanted mine to be a trip too. The MAIN reason for that was to get people to commit–to really commit to spending some quality time with me and our other friends. Combine still being in a pandemic with having some friends in education, this wasn’t the ideal time to have everyone travel.

I had the idea to have it be local — to get a beach house here in San Diego — and I sent out a preliminary survey to get the pulse… and no one was anti-SD (surprise!). I figured those staying at the house would go to everything and all the other events would not be over-crowded, so I’d have a chance to get QT with everyone. This didn’t go exactly as planned, however. There were some no-shows, surprise appearances, quick visits, some wrong directions taken (on me!), and we rolled with it.

The best laid plans as we plan events or do anything in business are just that – plans. It’s important to be flexible and understand (as hard as it might be in the moment) everything will work out as it should! You might not get the client you want, or as big a deal as you want, or as many participants as you want, but ultimately there will be a lesson at the end. When I worked in AV production I had several events in-a-row where there were failings of equipment or people that were totally out of my control. It was the most stressful time in my career.

Ultimately, my team pulled off what I felt was a really clean event. When I handed the recordings to my client at the party and asked her how she felt… she blamed us for some failings on her part. This “I just can’t win” moment is ultimately what pushed me toward a different career path. BOTTOM LINE: If something isn’t working for you? Make a change. I was over feeling that way and complaining about it, so I took immediate action and made a change.

Paddling against a strong current is hard, but worth the payoff
Megan on a Stand Up Paddleboard in Pacific Beach, CA

This house on the bayside in Pacific Beach had stand up paddle boards we could use and I had never done it, so I was super excited! One of my friends went first and she went far, really fast… And it took her a long time — and what looked like a circuitous route — to get back to where we were on shore. I was a little worried about trying to stand up the first time, so I started on my knees. I also started to turn around what felt like very quickly because it looked like it would be difficult.

A few days later I started out standing — had a better paddle — and a plan to stay close to shore. I didn’t fall and all was going according to plan until the current I was going against got stronger and stronger. I felt like I wasn’t moving there for a little while, despite how hard I was working!

It hit me this is a metaphor for my current professional journey. Sometimes it’s easy going and the wind is against our backs. And sometimes it feels like we aren’t moving forward or making any progress at all. The key is to not give up, but to keep paddling, no matter how hard it is. I was close enough to shore that I could have given up and walked the rest of the way, but I didn’t — I talked to some guys on shore who encouraged me! If you feel stuck or like you can’t move forward, talk to someone. Whether it’s a friend or a trusted colleague, or even a coach… someone else can help you through the rough spots and get you to shore.

We can all see business lessons that come from our everyday lives… Do you have any you’d like to share? I’d love it hear it!

I’d love to hear what you thought about this episode! I’m glad I was able to do it for this show.

Relationships Matter – An Open Thank You Letter

I’m not alone in calling Jessika Phillips a soul sister, but my (core) reason might be a bit different Photo of Megan Powers and Jessika Phillips at SMMW19 from others. It’s a little unorthodox to write a thank you letter openly as a blog post, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought there are some killer lessons to be learned from this gratitude.

So, here we go!

Jessika, I’m pretty sure I saw you speak before (I knew) we had mutual friends. Your talk was about relationship marketing and I had to be there to see if your viewpoint was in line with mine. I used to be in sales in the event space — first in a venue and then in audio visual production. I happened upon sales by accident, but I was pretty good at it. One thing I never did, though, was cold call or what I like to call “dialing for dollars.” 

See, I learned early on that I could attend industry conferences and networking events, and meet people who could become customers. I was strategic in which events I went to and with whom I (intentionally) spoke, but I never overtly sold to them. I established a relationship – they would learn what I do – and one day we might get an opportunity to work together (I built a $2.5 million book of business this way, btw).


Of course they matter because that’s how you build trust. A highly respected consultant in the AV space said once that people who claim they are “relationship sales people” are kidding themselves (I’m paraphrasing). Now, of course there was more dimension to the discussion, but I’ll never forget reading that and thinking – nah, not if you do it right.

THANK YOU, Jessika, for articulating the C.A.R.E. approach: “Capture Attention, Articulate Message, Relationships (for repeat and referral business), and Exceptional Experience” in your talks.

I was delighted to hear this was recognized as “a real thing” in marketing also, as I had seen it work for me first-hand in sales.

RETURN on Relationships

About 11 years ago I read a book called It’s Not Just Who You Know by Tommy Spaulding. He talks about “relationship economics” or “relationship capital.” There are many levels to this (too much to get into in a thank you note!), but at the heart of it is what you teach, Jessika. One quote from his book highlights it well: “…it’s never been more important to figure out how an organization can give more than lip service to the idea of building a culture that values authentic relationships, because relationships have become the currency of the modern economy.” 

I know I’ve heard you say a version of this, and it’s remarkable how you not only walk the walk yourself, but you have built a culture in your company NOW Marketing Group where everyone is on board with this concept. And as an event professional myself, I was beyond impressed earlier this month to see how you built this concept and feeling into your conference, Social Media Week Lima (SMWL).

Your company, your event, your personal brand — they have all expanded because of who you are. Because you not only live in authenticity, empathy, curiosity, and gratitude, but you make those around you want to live in these too.

THANK YOU for proving that relationships matter, but also that we need to nurture them.


The Memory Jog slide from Chad Illa-Peterson's talk at SMWL21As Chad Illa-Peterson gave his talk at #SMWL21 on how we all have stories within us, he shared that our stories are our unique selling proposition. He provided some exercises we can do to work our creative storytelling muscles. After one of the exercises he shared I found myself thinking about how, exactly, I ended up in that event center in Lima, Ohio.

In brief (succinctly going back ~9 years)…

    • I worked for a non-profit where I needed to learn more about social media
    • I joined the San Diego Social Media Club 
    • The club had an event at a restaurant owned by a group I had worked for
    • I approached them and won the business (managed their marketing for 6.5 years)
    • Club members talked about an event – Social Media Marketing World (SMMW) in ’13
    • I attended SMMW14 where I made a ton of friends I still have today
    • I met Phil Mershon (SME’s SMMW Director of Events) in ’15 at the Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA) Summit, and shared I had attended his event for the past two years
    • I got to know Phil and helped him with his audio visual production selection for the following year
    • I volunteered on the SMMW Community team, working under Jen Cole in ’17, and a wonderful friendship was formed
    • Jen and I started a marketing podcast with our friend Elizabeth in August of ’17
    • Jessika Phillips was referred to have on the podcast–and our relationship started
    • I got to know Jessika and this extended group of amazing friends over the years
    • Jessika hosted a networking event she invited me to at SMMW
    • I kept hearing about what a great experience SMWL was, but wouldn’t make 2020
    • 2020 happened and #SMWL20 did not
    • Jessika hosted me at #SMWL21
    • I made a handful of new contacts & friends – new relationships… What’s next?


Margo, Ali, and Megan holding Mark Schaefer's Cumulative Advantage booksAnother cool thing that happened at SMWL — Chad gifted me a signed copy of Mark Schaefer’s new book Cumulative Advantage. As I read this book, I can’t help but think it’s these relationships I’ve built over time that are cumulative. Those relationships I built while in sales? They are exactly what led to the success of my own business for almost eight years now! “Success is a collision of events” is one section of the book (in chapter two). I was able to build and maintain a successful business because almost all of my clients came by referral from this accumulation of relationships.

Of course, I wasn’t thinking about it in this exact way at the time, but I built relationships and did good work… Looking back, Mark has also made me realize I took specific actions to “sway serendipitous fate” in my favor. I intentionally built relationships, hoping they would bring me business in the short term, while knowing it was about more than that (even back then).

THANK YOU for bringing this incredible group of people together.

EVENTS In Person – They Hit Different

I nurtured existing friendships. I have a dozen new friends. I have several new podcast guests. And I have some potential for new business relationships. This happened because you brought us together and you enabled me to be there! 

Jennifer Watson on stage at SMWL21Jessika, you also put together a rockstar speaker lineup. I didn’t leave with a long list of tactics to put into place, but almost every speaker got me thinking — truly thinking — about how to move forward on goals I’m setting for myself.

Relationships are only as good as the work we put into them — we have to nurture them. Environments that meetings and events afford us provide the framework, but it’s the people who Chad Illa-Peterson on stage teaching about storytellingtruly make experiences memorable.

THANK YOU for all you do to teach about relationship marketing and for what you do to bring people together. I look forward to speaking with you and Mike Gingerich LIVE on Magnet Marketers on September 28th to explore exactly how events bring us together, and enable us to establish and nurture relationships.

I think this quote by Priya Parker from her book The Art of Gathering puts your event perfectly:
“A gathering run on generous authority is run with a strong, confident hand, but it is run selflessly, for the sake of others.” 


P.S. For those of you who are reading this (who aren’t Jessika)…

If you aren’t yet convinced relationships have a HUGE role in our marketing (nee, business), then you should sign up for this cool relationship marketing managers thing she has going.

Increase Profit and Innovation Through Inclusivity

Diversity. Equity. Inclusion.

These are all words that have become part of our lexicon. They should have always been important and common, of course, and in recent years they have been amplified.

Never before had I heard someone put it in dollars and cents… In easy to understand terms where we not only have a better appreciation, but we also get true clarity on inclusion… Someone who clearly articulated we should show ourselves grace.

Melissa Majors is that person!

Behind the scenes image of Megan and Jen hosting episode 84 of the Making a Marketer podcast with Melissa Majors

BTS view of us recording the show using!

Melissa spoke at Global Meetings Industry Day this year and I knew in a matter of minutes that I wanted to have her on my Making a Marketer podcast. While my podcast is “for marketers,” just about every episode has value for those who work in business in any capacity. We made a concerted effort starting with season four to bring more diversity of look, voice, and thought to the show.

Which makes Melissa the perfect person as our final guest of season four.

“Growth-minded leaders recognize that inclusion is much more than a moral obligation; it’s a competitive advantage.”

Melissa shared a stat from Mackenzie and Company, which has been conducting research “to isolate the impact of inclusion on the bottom-line for businesses.” What they found is businesses that are the most inclusive are outperforming their competition with 49% higher profitability.

Wouldn’t you take almost a 50% higher margin for doing the right thing? Any company that wants to remain (or get) successful would.

Differences Between Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

“…it’s over engineered; everybody kind of lumps it all into one big thing… Diversity is variety. Equity is making sure people have what they need to thrive. And inclusion is involving others equally. Inclusion is action.”

Breaking it down like she does helps us to better understand how DEI should be viewed.

“So I am a big believer in not making people feel guilty for who they are, and their inherent beliefs. And I think at times, also, we have a tendency to vilify people who are in power right now. And so I’m really intentional about trying not to do that.”

This perspective from Melissa is so useful to those people who feel guilt.

When Hiring or Looking for Work

Just as I need to show myself grace in the process, Melissa helps us understand we need to show grace in understanding the pace of things. AND that we can make a difference from the inside of organizations that still might need to make change.

One of the seven categories of leadership where true change can happen is through the hiring process. I’ve written about hiring for culture over skill set because “anyone can learn a skill,” but it turns out that’s how people are typically excluded.

“So our brain is naturally wired to prefer familiarity… we like to be comfortable, we like to be surrounded and build teams where there’s going to be camaraderie and people fit in. But what we know is that more diverse teams are outperforming homogeneous teams, because they have different perspectives and viewpoints.”

It turns out this also makes for more innovative teams! So, the moral of that part of this story is to hire forA lightbulb graphic difference and not familiarity. *Light bulb*!

Keeping Unconscious Biases at Bay

This brings about the topic of biases–we ALL have them.

“So embrace your bias, don’t deny they exist. And when you do that, you’ll be able to mitigate those biases from controlling your actions.”

Being aware of biases and making incremental changes based on these realizations will help each of us — and the organizations we are involved with — become more and more inclusive.

“But when you embrace your bias, you can start to identify patterns of your bias and who you might be prejudiced toward.”

Bottom Line: This is Content We All Need

On Making a Marketer we really love evergreen content, so no matter how long ago we recorded an episode, you can listen back! Or new listeners can find any topic they are interested in and benefit from it regardless of the timing.

The advice and information shared on this show is absolutely one of our most important. Not only one of the best, but the most important. Every human should read Melissa’s book! I reached out to get her scheduled before I even knew she had a book coming out, and I was delighted she did.

It will be one of the most important books we read this year. Listen to the show – or watch the video – and you’ll be motivated to get the book too: The 7 Simple Habits of Inclusive Leaders.

What are you doing in your organization and circles to promote inclusiveness?