Economic Impact Catalyst takes great pride in ensuring that our employees have the ability and freedom to do what they love while working toward a bigger cause. This blog post centers around a conversation between Jodi McLean, Director of Sales and Marketing at EIC, and Ramya Tirumala, Marketing Associate at EIC, in honor of Women’s History Month.
“I believe in the power of storytelling. By sharing stories that create mental imagery and stir a visceral emotion in the minds of the audience, the stories come to life. Telling the real, human stories behind our measured data creates inspiration and action. Data may be king, but stories are magic.” – Jodi McLean
Jodi has had experiences in a variety of settings, including going to broadcast school. Jodi’s first corporate job was at HSN (Home Shopping Network.) She worked at HSN for 11 years, ultimately as a Sr. Supervising Producer. This is where she developed her storytelling and pitching skills. Jodi also learned sales skills while working at Northwestern Mutual selling life insurance, like her father and grandfather before her. “Northwestern Mutual has a remarkable sales training program. This is where I learned the basics and principles of salesmanship, and those fundamentals will always hold true. All these various roads helped me to learn transferable skills that lend to my position now,” Jodi states. She also spent several years leading Client Experience for a leadership development accelerator, training CEOs from around the world to effectively scale their companies. Now, she works as Director of Sales and Marketing for EIC, and is grateful for the previous experiences that have allowed her to reach a place where she feels confident in her abilities.
Value in Company Culture
Jodi sees the importance of values and carries that mindset into everything she does. “The culture at EIC is incredible. I’ve worked for large corporations that did not think twice about the experience of team members. Work-life balance is meaningful here, it’s honest, and the attention that David [Ponraj, CEO of EIC] pays to our health, both physical and mental, is huge. The mission of the company aligns with my ethos. It’s also important to me to shop small and support my community, which is what EIC’s mission is truly all about. I feel as though I am making a meaningful difference in the lives of others each day at work.” Truly, one’s work environment affects one’s happiness. Jodi sees the way the team interacts with each other and that when life has to be tended to, the team works together to communicate and understand the needs of one another. That’s the product of a carefully nurtured culture, and that starts at the top.
Storytelling Translating Into Empowerment
Jodi has always been a storyteller: “I enjoy that part of marketing and sales. I am innately good at it. As a female leader, having been overlooked many times in favor of a male counterpart through the years, I think it’s exciting to openly celebrate growth in my professional journey through writing. I’ve written books and blogs about it. Authentically sharing through written word opens doors, and creates different avenues to grow. I don’t have trouble getting through to people because I publish and read a lot. I’ll research and learn other people’s stories before I connect.” As explained, sales and marketing allow for stories to be told. Through the power of understanding and sharing these stories, we can make a true impact. In this position, Jodi has been able to share exciting stories about the small business growth and impact that has been created in their communities through the resources of our clients and partners.
Diversity and Equity in the Workplace
Jodi spoke of the emphasis around corporate and community DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion): “What does that really mean? What does that look like? To focus on DEI efforts…how do you measure that? How do you show meaningful change? For me, storytelling is the best way, and that means sharing how our clients are meaningfully approaching DEI. The Entrepreneur of Color Fund that we are helping to establish with the DEC Network in Dallas, is intentional and shows real work; work that we can track and measure. Connecting with other leaders allows for a ripple effect. The more we talk about it and show real DEI efforts, the more we can show measurable action at work, and real, true impact through numbers and human stories. This could be examples such as giving a grant to a person of color and helping grow their business with technical assistance.” Seeing the true impact that diversity and inclusion has within communities that EIC works with makes so much of a difference. There is change happening, and that transports the phrase “diversity, equity, and inclusion” to a more intentional, standard practice with a proven playbook.
Everyday Challenges Turned into Opportunities
Jodi’s to-do list is never-ending: “There’s so much I want to do. The company is growing so fast and I cannot keep up with all the things I want to accomplish each day. The more storytelling I see internally and externally, the more it opens my eyes up to different efforts and opportunities. I need to make sure I know what is do-able and prioritize things in a manageable, sensible way that best serves our company, our clients, and our future clients. I have a positive outlook on life. I think of myself as water…if there’s an obstacle, I find a way around it or under it. I don’t acknowledge negativity.” In Jodi’s role, it is immensely important to balance sales and marketing. It is important to acknowledge both departments daily and be sure the two are working in tandem, as this allows for efficiency on both sides. Throughout the workday, there are many tasks that need to be completed. Jodi utilizes the team, communication, and resources to help create a flow that allows her to put her best work forward.
Inspiration, an Endless Journey
Inevitably, Jodi has become who she is by being around those who encouraged the best in her. “My Mom is my greatest female inspiration. I watched Mad Men, which was set back in the 60s, when ‘men made all the money’ and women were the secretaries. Watching a female transition into an executive role on that show was so inspirational. Why that particular storyline resonated with me is because someone at the high school where my Mom taught in the 1960s told my Mom ‘McLean, you’re going to be Principal one day’ and my Mom remembers thinking “why would I want to be Principal? That’s a man’s job.” After that, her Mom set out to be an administrator, going back to school and bringing home boxes of papers every night. Mom’s struggle to finally become Principal, and ultimately Superintendent, after being passed over by male applicants time and time again, encourages me to work hard every day. My Mom was taking care of both me and my sister while working full time, taking college courses, and trying to move up the ladder with so much resistance. She is strong and she is resilient.” Clearly, her mother impacted her life by helping her realize how far goals and hard work can take you. Jodi’s other female muse is Maya Angelou. “Her beautiful writing style and artistic grace, sparked and fueled by her many, incredibly difficult challenges, reminds me that there is truly nothing I can’t do. True beauty can come from despair… my troubles are minimal and my opportunities are endless.”
Significance of Women’s History Month
During this month, there should be a constant reminder to remember the true roots and positivity of women. For Jodi, she believes in the importance of highlighting equality by action. “It’s important to keep shining a light on female leadership. I am not the biggest fan of phrases like #bossbabe #girlboss and “shepreneur”, as we should just consider ourselves leaders, not ‘female leaders’ if we truly want to be seen as equals. At the same time, there is a much smaller percentage of female leaders and [especially] people of color in executive roles. We need to reach a true level of equity before we can be seen as ‘just leaders.’ Until then, we need to keep talking about female leadership and the importance of having that diversity in thinking and executing at the higher levels.” Discussions about empowerment are thought-provoking and real. Empowerment results from human equality across the board, and it is not just limited to the position someone is in professionally. Throughout this month, Jodi recognizes the emphasis that should be placed on creating a space for both women and men to be appreciated equally.
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