Women Of The C-Suite: “Don’t throw people under the bus” With Nancy A. Shenker

“A cowgirl gets up early in the morning…decides what to do…and does it.” I have always set goals and worked hard to achieve them.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Nancy A. Shenker, Founder/CEO of theONswitch Marketing and Writer/Speaker. Prior to starting her own business in 2003, she was a C-level marketing executive and worked for big brand companies. She has written four books, including one about AI, machine learning, and robotics and publishes a regular column in Thrive Global called “The Silver Hair Playbook: How to Be a Bad-Ass >50.”

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

An English/Psychology major in college, I developed a passion for marketing and storytelling (content generation) early-on. After achieving the 1980s dream of having a C-level job and being a mother, I decided to forge out on my own. My career has included financial services, publishing, and the conference/event industry. Although the path was sometimes winding, I have been able to apply my creative, tech, and leadership skills throughout.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I was able to get a (very small) client a feature front-page story in the New York Times and on TV news, followed by getting another client an Oprah feature. These were tipping-point moments in my business evolution as well as my clients’ lives/businesses and proved that FOCUS and SWEAT — and, of course, targeted and compelling storytelling — can lead to great things!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I entrusted an inexperienced employee to order promotional products for a client’s grand opening. Instead of ordering human-sized apparel, she ordered doll-sized apparel. I learned that although new employees need independence and opportunities to learn from their mistakes, having a system of checks and balances is always a good idea. (I had to eat the $$)

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I treat my clients’ budgets and businesses with the same care and commitment as my own. I have always charged flat fees rather than hourly rates and go above-and-beyond for every client, no matter how small. I am also always talking to strangers wherever I go and many of those interactions have led ot new business relationships.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I’m on the board of a non-profit that provides resilience-building programs for people who lost a loved one due to violence (9/11, military action, mass shootings). Incorporating volunteerism into my life adds an important dimension.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

One size doesn’t fit all in leadership. Get to understand what motivates individuals and manage each person accordingly. Give other women opportunities to shine and share credit. Be a caring and patient mentor.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

When a team gets very large, you need to create an organization structure that gives people a clear and easy way to get training and guidance. Hire strong direct reports but stay close to what they are doing without micro-managing. Focus on the big important issues.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

When I was pregnant with my second daughter I was put into a role I found unchallenging. Before I came back from maternity leave, I told the division head (a very senior executive) about how I felt and he gave me a new role as his chief of staff. It was a game-changer in my career and he was willing to take a chance on me even though I had an 8-week old infant at home.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I have mentored many young women and men over the years.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why.

  1. Set clear goals and communicate them well and continuously.
  2. If you have “bad gut” about someone or something, trust it!
  3. Be grateful to the people who help you achieve great things.
  4. Surround yourself with talent and do not feel threatened (especially by other women)
  5. Support your team; don’t throw people “under the bus.”

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Fighting ageism in the business world.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“A cowgirl gets up early in the morning…decides what to do…and does it.” I have always set goals and worked hard to achieve them.

How can our readers follow you on social media?




Thank you so much for these inspiring insights!