“Don’t fret about your company name — your values and mission are much more important. At the time I started, I named my company FWD Action, many years later I realized that the equity was in my name — not my company name.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Maria Botta, an independent Digital Marketing Consultant helping startups, mid sized and Fortune 500 businesses. One of her focus has been to help female founders grow their businesses.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
My career started in TV as an Associate Producer and I climbed the ranks, until becoming a successful independent Producer and Executive Producer. I worked in TV, Film and Commercials until 2008 when the US economy tanked. At that time I re-evaluated my career and decided that change was necessary, I also saw that in order to pursue my passion in Digital Marketing I needed to go back to school and get an MBA. I had always admired the Thunderbird program and applied to the EMBA program in Europe and graduated in 2011. Ever since then, I have been working in the Digital Marketing space with great success, working with startups, mid-sized and Fortune 500 companies.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company
Well, one funny misunderstanding that happened was…. I got a ping on LinkedIn from a business acquaintance. I thought this was business related and innocently, I agreed to set up a time to meet over drinks — unfortunately, it was not a business meeting but a date. To my embarrassment, I got it totally wrong!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
From my experience, I know that one size does not fit all and understand business from a number of perspectives, this allows me to help my clients develop the internal/external resources to meet their Digital Marketing growth. I work closely with Operations, Legal, Finance, HR and external resources to help businesses organize things like governance, employee guidelines, legal requirements etc.
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?
Not really one person, but a group of people — my family and very close friends.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
In an official capacity, I have worked with a number of non-profit organizations as an Advisor, I have also written about business and female leadership. Unofficially, I have an open door and offer a 15 minute consultation to anyone who is interested.
Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
The Daniel Pink book — A Whole New Mind, really changed the way I thought about myself as a business person and the value that my right-brain/creative brain brings to business. Until I read that book, I did not value the creative part of me and what it adds to the world. This was pivotal and encouraged me to apply to Business School despite the fact that I did not have a “classic” business background.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. It is OK to fail as long as you get back up and have learned something of value that moves you forward. Never regret failure, value it as a treasured lesson. I failed a lot in my first few years, and learned more than I could ever have imagined….
2. Grow slowly, savor each moment, understand how and why you are growing and continue on that track until you achieve your goals. Slow and steady wins the race. At times, I have been frustrated by what I considered slow growth in my business but then I always look back at where I was a year ago, 6 months ago and see the progress.
3. Be cautious who you align yourself with — it’s ok to be very different but make sure your core values are the same. Example — I started doing business with a company that wanted to join forces with me — however the partnership they proposed was very one sided — at the time I thought it was OK just to get the experience — but it turned out that they owed me money and were not delivering to their clients as promised. Now I vet the companies/individuals I partner with to make sure we are aligned ethically.
4. Seek outside help — financially, taxes, organizational or a Business Coach. You don’t have all of the skills to make your business successful, spend some time and money to get the best advice and help for your business. I made the mistake of trying to “go it alone” and do everything myself — and while I can do it, I never do it as well as trusted professionals. Plus, contracting out allows me to focus on the things I am very good at, not just ok…
5. Don’t fret about your company name — your values and mission are much more important. At the time I started, I named my company FWD Action, many years later I realized that the equity was in my name — not my company name.
Can you share 6 “non-intuitive tips” to succeed in your industry? Can you explain?
1. Help others along the way — it’s very competitive, and people often don’t help each other. Even a small gesture can go a long way.
2. Don’t go out and offer a course, seminar, workshop or other — I am constantly bombarded by these with claims of learning the “secrets” to success. Trust yourself and your advisors more than these self proclaimed experts.
3. It’s OK to keep it small, scaling is a big endeavor and not always right for your lifestyle or goals.
4. Admit when you don’t know something, keep learning and show it.
5. Trust your intuition or your gut feelings — they will rarely fail you.
6. Take time off to recharge. In the US people rarely take their vacation time, but it’s really necessary in order to avoid burnout.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
I really admire Elon Musk, and would love to have a leisurely dinner with him. He just seems so interesting and interested in many different things, I know the conversation would never be boring…..
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
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If you would like to see the entire “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” Series In Huffpost, ThriveGlobal, and Buzzfeed, click HERE.