30 Influencers Who Unknowingly Helped Create a Marketing Dude (№ 11 thru 20)

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In part one, it became apparent how people so disparate in background — from Dr. Jane Goodall to a just-out-of-school marketing intern — influenced the making of a marketing person. These next twenty people are just as interesting and impactful and have lessons for all of us.

Vicki Davis

Vicki and I met randomly. Back in 2006, I was working for Elluminate (an educational webconferencing company now a part of Blackboard), and I received a call from Vicki. She is a high school teacher and asked for project support via some free Elluminate webconferencing services. “Sure,” I said. “What do you need?”

We got Vicki and her team up and running and testing and doing amazing things with her Flat Classroom project in days. In fact, another vendor she had called (it rhymes with “Feb Tex”) didn’t return her call until a few weeks later, when she was already executing her plans with us! The lesson I knew, and that Vicki re-iterated: Always pick up the phone and don’t assume that “no money” means no influence.

Since that fateful day, Vicki has become a worldwide educational influencer, author of multiple books, popular podcaster and blogger. At the end of 2017 Onalytica named Vicki the top female edtech influencer on Twitter.
She is an amazing person and dedicated teacher who I have had the privilege of helping a dozen years ago in a small way. Who has repaid me over and over in her advice, support, and interviewing me for her podcast.

Most of all, she has taught me it is possible to make a fundamental phase shift in a career (Vicki started out as a corporate person before being an educator) and reflect the skills you honed in one area in a completely different one. Google “Vicki Davis, the Cool Cat Teacher.” You’ll be amazed. Thanks Vicki

Linda Ysteuta

I met Linda when she was a director at Bose on a project called the “Bose Ride System” which was a project trying to improve the health of long-haul truckers. I had the privilege of reporting to her as a contractor for a year. Yet, even six years later, we still talk and even meet to discuss ideas. (I am actually writing a draft of this essay at a cool nearby café I introduced to her).

Linda went to MIT with an earlier influencer in my career. She didn’t tell me this story, but he did. Apparently, Linda and Yonald were in an MIT high school program for brilliant MIT types. And Linda solved a problem better than anyone else in that high school program. So well in fact that Yonald remembered it 27 years later!

Linda re-enforced in me that good ideas can come from anywhere and that good ideas often have multiple areas to be applied. Who would have thought that managing vibration (like in noise cancelling headphones) could be refactored and repurposed and have an impact on trucker health? Linda’s latest NDA project (separate from Bose) will possibly impact the ways that children and young adults learn how to address anxiety with less pharmaceutical involvement. All of this from an amazing engineer! Thanks Linda!

Beth Marcus

Speaking of MIT, I worked for a short while for Beth Marcus, an MIT grad and faculty member who was involved in early haptic feedback game controllers (thing of a game controller that vibrates when you are in a video game car crash.) As my dad would say, Beth is a “character.” (This is a good thing!) When I worked with her, she was the picture of a disorganized genius. Go ahead, picture that stereotype in your head. That is her.

Beth trusted me and gave me a chance at working on a nascent mobile gaming idea and platform. While that iteration didn’t succeed, what Beth did give me was renewed confidence that I could actually do amazing marketing ideation and messaging and compete with the “big boys and girls” even without the MIT degree or Stanford MBA. She also reiterated to me the value of networking and keeping in touch with everybody. Beth can basically hook you up with anyone anywhere in the high-tech world with either one or two degrees of separation. And she trusted me, even after just a short time, with meeting and pitching investors.

More importantly, she showed me another strong example that being a single parent was compatible with being an entrepreneur. Thanks Beth

Anne Hernandez

Anne was my first manager out of college. She was tough as nails and, although she only remained my manager for about a year until she changed roles, she has had a lasting impact on my work ethic and understanding of how to traverse the maze of big companies as both an employee and consultant. I learned some hard lessons from her too. Lessons that today I still talk about with peers and mentors trying to figure out if I or she or neither of us had done the right thing or not. Just the fact that I still think about those things so many years later means she was a true influence! Thanks Anne!

Tracy Wemett

Tracy is the CEO and founder of a distributed PR agency called Broad PR. I started working with Tracy over 20 years ago. What’s amazing is that, despite the fact that I have brought her zero (ok, maybe one) paying client since then, she remains a business friend and confident. Tracy has shown me that it is possible to rebound from the deepest personal and professional challenges with personal power and professionalism. She’s also showed me that extensive non-profit work — she is an early supporter of and a current board member of the Many Hopes foundation — is not just compatible with a professional life, but is essential to it. She’s also connected me to many other professionals who I have had the ability to hire over the years. Thanks Tracy!

Teresa Tranchmontagne

Dr. Tranchmontagne is a picture of humility. I never heard about the challenges of her background until a nurse at an ER room told me when the nurse learned that Dr. T was my primary care physician. I’ve never hesitated in an conversation or procedure with Dr. T because of our different genders. This should be no big deal, but even in 2018 it can be a big deal. But she makes it easy. Not to mention that she always finds the time to talk about my family, my jobs, and any issues I may have that contribute to my health picture. This lesson and her style in implementing it in a casual and respectful way has not been lost on my in my attempts to improve how I deal with others professionally but still as a human. Thanks Dr. T!

Janna Gilbert

I met Janna a long time ago in my first ed tech product management position. At the time, she had around 40 students in one of the earliest private online schools. Fast forward 20 years and she now runs in international organization with thousands of students across dozens of topics and impacts untold numbers of students and contracting teachers across the globe. While I haven’t spoken with her recently, we do touch base every few years. She taught me how to treat a client as a partner and a friend, and how any quality, long term business deal had to have those kinds of roots to have an impact on the world. Thanks Janna!

Tamara Drake

I had the pleasure of working with Tamara when she was a Quality Assurance leader at Elluminate and then later at another startup in Calgary. To say that our business relationship has had its high highs and its low lows would be accurate. But the things she has taught me directly and indirectly through both good and challenging times has helped make me who I am.

From her modeling how to walk the line of being a leader and being a friend, to showing her teams how gender assumptions and technical abilities had best not be brought up around her, to her directly and indirectly teaching me tools and process as well as management skills — Tamara has had an amazing impact on many people and has helped me grow as a marketing person. Thanks Tamara!

Carol Szatkowski

Carol gave me a chance at my first position back east after I moved back from the Silicon Valley. Hers was the first company I worked for that although involved in tech, was a straight sales organization. (It was a placement firm.) Up until that point in my career, I hadn’t seen nor learned from a person who rode the line between sales, technology, and the plain hard work of working the phones and building relationships so clearly and demonstrably. Although I only worked for her a short time as I transitioned into tech and marketing roles full time, over the years I have kept in touch, hired people through her firm, and even provided references for her placements when I knew their work. Carol also taught me how to spot a good headhunter and stay away from resume mills. Thanks Carol!

Daisy Chow

I had the pleasure of working with Daisy earlier in my career. She had come out of technical programs and was an entry level employee. A talented one at that in a very high tech company. And she’s about a dozen years younger than me. Yet, a short while after we worked together, she decided to move her career into baking! Although I have only been in touch with Daisy over social media and a few emails over the years, she is my model and reference point for someone who unabashedly decided, at an early career point, to do what she loves. And that is no small lesson. Thanks Daisy!