Power Women: Randi Boyette of Spark Medical Marketing On How To Successfully Navigate Work, Love and Life As A Powerful Woman
An Interview With Ming Zhao
Be collaborative and work with others — The more people I brought onto the team at Spark, the more I saw how far we could go together instead of just one. Working with others is inspiring and also can be challenging at times. Differences of opinion help us grow. Watching my team grow over the years and thrive in their roles brings me the most satisfaction.
How does a successful, strong, and powerful woman navigate work, employee relationships, love, and life in a world that still feels uncomfortable with strong women? In this interview series, called “Power Women” we are talking to accomplished women leaders who share their stories and experiences navigating work, love and life as a powerful woman.
As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Randi Boyette.
Randi Boyette is the founder of Spark Medical Marketing Inc., a digital marketing firm that helps take medical and aesthetics brands into the digital marketing space with a team of experts. Businesses have grown exponentially as a result of the Spark Marketing digital formula for success. After many years in sales and marketing, Randi saw the industry taking a strong turn to digital marketing and decided to immerse herself in the opportunity and take the company in that direction.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?
I grew up in New Jersey and had a pretty traditional upbringing. My mother stayed home to care for and raise my sister and I while my father worked around the clock to provide for our family. I often wondered as a child why my dad wasn’t around all the time, but as I grew up and understood his goals as an entrepreneur, it became a foundation for my own work ethic. He did whatever it took to achieve success, which set up our family to have everything we needed. His drive was instilled in me, and today he plays a role in my business.
Can you tell us the story about what led you to this particular career path?
After working in corporate America for many years, I realized I wanted more control over my schedule, success and personal life. I had learned so much, but I was looking for a change. Since I was a child, I dreamed of working in the aesthetics industry. I knew where my passion was, so as soon as I had saved up the capital to start my own marketing agency, I did it! With years of experience in sales and leadership, I felt ready to branch out and make something of my own. It was not easy, but my relentless drive and strong work ethic got me where I am today.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
After finishing my bachelor’s degree, I was recruited into a career in communications. It wasn’t in an industry I loved and I quickly realized I didn’t have the passion for the role. So I decided to make a change and invest in my future — I took a job at the Dior cosmetics counter. My love of the beauty and aesthetics space was strong and this was the path to get my foot in the door with a company I dreamed of working for. I took a huge salary cut but knew I would not stay behind the counter for long. Sometimes you have to go backward to go forward, which is exactly what happened. It was the first time I took a huge leap in a direction I wasn’t sure of, but it paid off. I was able to reach my goal by getting in front of the right people and quickly landed a job in corporate Dior. This taught me that the path is not always straight up.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Resourcefulness — I strongly believe in being resourceful. Anytime I am presented with an opportunity, the answer is always yes. I might not always know how to do something and might be faced with a challenge, but I always figure out a way to make it happen. Whether hiring for a particular skill set or diving in and learning it myself, I always find a way. Success comes from saying ‘Yes’ to growth and overcoming obstacles along the way. When faced with the changes in the digital marketing space from Covid, I quickly pivoted our strategy to help our customers solve the problem of getting new customers by marketing telehealth or video consultations, and it was a success!
- Self-Motivation — Being an entrepreneur can be challenging, especially in the beginning. You are the only one pushing yourself on the good days and the bad, it’s critical to motivate yourself every day. No matter how little sleep I have had, as we work many late nights, I wake up motivated by the fact that our entire team is depending on me to do what I do to keep the business alive.
- Resilience — I had many doors slammed in my face while growing Spark. I thought it was the biggest curse at the time, but I kept going. No matter how many times I was told ‘no’, I persevered. Resilience is a character trait critical to success, not only in a career but also in life.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. The premise of this series assumes that our society still feels uncomfortable with strong women. Why do you think this is so?
I think this is because society still has trouble viewing women in a position of power. We are taught to be ‘sweet’. Society holds onto the traditional female role and has not come to the point of leveling the field. People will look at the same instance, call a man powerful but then call a woman harsh or too strong.
Without saying any names, can you share a story from your own experience that illustrates this idea?
It seems no matter how many hours you work, no matter what role you are in, people still ask me if I have time to clean the house, cook dinner every night, and go grocery shopping. It’s still shocking to hear questions that feel very old school today. Of all the things we could discuss, these are the types of questions asked. It can be challenging for some people to see powerful women wearing a different hat than society had molded for us.
What should a powerful woman do in a context where she feels that people are uneasy around her?
As much as I can say keep forging forward, we also need to be able to read the room and pull back when we need to. Not everyone will understand your drive. Assess the situation and adapt as needed but maintain who you are.
What do we need to do as a society to change the unease around powerful women?
I like to refer to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s quote, “Better B**ch, than mouse.” Don’t be so concerned about being a people pleaser at all times. Instead, society needs to stop attaching a stigma to powerful women and level the playing field by treating everyone equally.
In my own experience, I have observed that often women have to endure ridiculous or uncomfortable situations to achieve success that men don’t have to endure. Do you have a story like this from your own experience? Can you share it with us?
Yes, I experienced it first hand in one of my first jobs many years ago when things were different. I was on a sales team made up of all men. I was the only woman on the team. I remember we would all be closing sales deals left and right then anytime a salesman couldn’t close a deal, they would look in my direction and say, “Send Randi to talk to the customer with a skirt and heels and she will close the deal.”
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women leaders that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
The biggest challenge women leaders face is having to prove ourselves twice as hard for half of the credit.
Let’s now shift our discussion to a slightly different direction. This is a question that nearly everyone with a job has to contend with. Was it difficult to fit your personal and family life into your business and career? For the benefit of our readers, can you articulate precisely what the struggle was?
Yes, it was difficult to find a relationship that was right for me and my career. Men wanted me to fit in a very traditional role, but that wasn’t where my life was going. At first, they seemed fine with having a career-driven woman in their lives, but many times they would grow tired of the long hours and commitment to success. Finding a partner that wanted to be in the business with me was a game-changer.
What was a tipping point that helped you achieve a greater balance or greater equilibrium between your work life and personal life? What did you do to reach this equilibrium?
When I turned 40, I decided this is who I am, this is who I want to be. I don’t need to be a certain type of person society accepts, and I don’t need to feel judged because of it anymore. So, from that point on, I decided anyone who would be in my life needed to fit with who I am and where I am going.
I work in the beauty tech industry, so I am very interested to hear your philosophy or perspective about beauty. In your role as a powerful woman and leader, how much of an emphasis do you place on your appearance? Do you see beauty as something that is superficial, or is it something that has inherent value for a leader in a public context? Can you explain what you mean?
As women, we are led to believe from a young age, the more beautiful we are, the more will be bestowed upon us. I put more value on beauty and appearance when I was younger and rising in my career than I do now. However, I do believe it is important to keep up with ourselves. Our outward appearance is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves, and as leaders, we should set an example for the discipline of self care.
Beauty can become superficial when it is excessive and placed above all other traits. I’ve not felt this way for myself, but I see some that do and I feel their self-confidence could be hindering their judgment.
How is this similar or different for men?
I would say this is similar for men. Men in powerful positions need to take care of themselves and keep themselves up. It goes both ways here. While women still dominate the beauty and aesthetic market, demand for men’s aesthetic services has been growing.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Powerful Woman?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Be financially savvy — Since my 20s I have been financially planning for my future. I was always saving and being conservative with my money. I actually saved up the funds to start Spark Medical Marketing on my own and accepted no outside funding. I stepped down from my national director role in corporate America, took a massive pay cut, and began the journey of entrepreneurship. Being financially savvy allowed me to take a chance and start my own company.
- Social intelligence — Making meaningful connections throughout your career is critical. It is something I have formed relationships that last a lifetime. Forming alliances is critical for success. You never know who you can help and how they can help you in return later on. Within the last year, we had a technical hiccup at Spark, I was able to call upon a business associate with who I maintained a friendship. That relationship and the help my friend extended to me saved me from a huge amount of potential problems.
- Resourcefulness — While growing Spark, so many different opportunities came my way, but in many directions. At first, I wanted to build a social media company, then a new opportunity came my way focused on websites. I wasn’t an expert in websites at the time, but I said ‘yes’ and made it happen. Then the business evolved into something vast. When you want something so bad, you will do anything and go anywhere to achieve it. Opportunities don’t always come in perfect packages, you have to go outside your comfort zone.
- Relentless drive — I am known for my relentless drive. Having a business to lead and support is what gives me that drive every day. My thoughts…never settle and be ready to pivot! I have always been driven to develop a solution to a problem because when we solve a problem for our customers, they will run to your business. I developed the idea for SparkConnect, our proprietary marketing automation app, by listening to customers and their needs. Our marketing strategies were successful, but the medical practices struggled to find time to turn those interested in the medical and aesthetics treatments into patients. Through SparkConnect, we are able to solve this problem and automate the process. This put Spark on the map and set the bar high for the industry.
- Be collaborative and work with others — The more people I brought onto the team at Spark, the more I saw how far we could go together instead of just one. Working with others is inspiring and also can be challenging at times. Differences of opinion help us grow. Watching my team grow over the years and thrive in their roles brings me the most satisfaction. At Spark, we are fully remote, but we are constantly developing ways to foster collaboration on the individual teams and between the teams. Through team-building activities, games, brainstorming, even virtual happy hour chats to socialize which we call Spark After Dark, we are able to stay connected.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I would love to have lunch with Sarah Blakely, the founder of Spanx. She seems very down to earth, yet she is one of the most successful businesswomen of our time. She grew her company with pure hustle and it’s great for women to see this. She often talks about how she never had a business plan, she just forged ahead for success and I can relate to that. I don’t have a grand plan, my plan is whatever it takes!
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.