“You Have To Be Fully Confident Even If You Do Not Feel This Way” 5 Startup Strategies with Kathleen Emily Murphy
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kathleen Emily Murphy, Founder and CEO of Market Me Too, a boutique, globally aware, marketing and management consulting firm focused on helping companies fully optimize the performance results of their marketing and sales teams. Regardless of the industry a company is in, or the size of the company, the performance results Market Me Too has achieved for its clients are not only impressive, but more importantly repeatable. Ms. Murphy’s ties to the entrepreneurial world began when she joined and supported the founding team at Staples and experienced early on the excitement of growing and taking a company public. She was also an executive member at American Power Conversion (APC), and played a key role in growing one of her divisions to over $200 million in revenue in 18 months. Her clients have included companies in a wide variety of industries including the education, music entertainment, fashion, high technology, non-pharmaceutical TaSS software and medical device field. Her work has been awarded and recognized by numerous companies as the “gold standard” performance, and one company awarded her a “Rock Star” award for one of her projects which is equivalent in the high technology industry to winning an Emmy or Grammy award.
Yitzi: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I never considered being an entrepreneur, and was essentially told when I was in high school by a guidance counselor my future included working at a minimum wage job, and I would never be able to go to college based on my SAT scores. My SAT scores were low because I did not test well on standardized tests due to being dyslexic, but at the time I did not know I had this learning disability. What this guidance counselor did not take into consideration was that my grades were outstanding, and I was receiving numerous invitations from both Ivy League and other equally impressive schools to consider being a team member on either their soccer or lacrosse team, or both in some instances. These institutions were less concerned about my ability to take and perform well on standardized tests, and focused instead on my potential both as a student and athlete. Although I did not pursue playing sports at the college level, I never forgot the lesson about others who see potential in you which you may not. This is what ultimately led me to become an entrepreneur, and to focus my attention on doing what I enjoyed doing, was passionate about and could excel in while helping others succeed and making a living at it. Luckily for me, I always believed I could do anything despite what someone told me was not possible. I also believed in myself and found confidence to pursue things against the odds fueled by the amazing self-confidence I gained from the athletic fields and my performance on them when I was younger.
Yitzi: Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on?
I am currently working with an Emmy Award winning producer on a TV pilot show for the senior living space, which is one of the fastest growing industries considering that 1 billion people will be 65 or over by the year 2023. The focus of the show will be on highlighting people who are having a dramatic and positive impact on improving this industry from both a technology and physical infrastructure perspective. This show concept was developed by Anthony Santiago, and who is the Founder and CEO of Affinitas Life.
Yitzi: Which person or which company do you most admire and why?
I’m dyslexic, but I was not officially diagnosed until I was 20 years old, and a junior in college. I always knew I learned and processed information differently than most people, and had to work much harder at learning than others, but I never understood why. Having a reason why I always felt different in the education system while I was growing up was really freeing, and allowed me to channel my concerns about my learning style differently. This lead me to studying accomplished dyslexics in the business world such as Richard Branson who is the founder of the Virgin Group. I admire Mr. Branson because of the obstacles he overcame as a dyslexic person who was in the process of growing a business empire, and one which many told him he would fail at. I also admire him because he was able to focus not on what his deficiencies were, but instead on understanding how to leverage the strengths of others who complimented his own strengths. He also does not take himself too seriously, loves having fun at what he is doing, and has a highly optimistic outlook on life. All of these are admirable characteristics from my perspective, and ones I also strive to also achieve.
Yitzi: How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I am leveraging the success I had by being a mentor. I am a mentor for a national organization called Women Unlimited who mentors executive women, and I am working with my second team of four incredible women executives in the financial and pharmaceutical industries. My first team graduated from this half year program this past spring. I have also mentored (5) women Babson College MBA students, along with close to 100 people during the last twenty years. Mentoring others is a privilege, and I often feel like I derive more satisfaction from this process than my mentees. Some of the people I am mentoring have been my mentee for close to twenty years. My philosophy is I will mentor someone for as long as they wish to be mentored by me.
Yitzi: What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why.
- (1) It is harder than it might look. There are so many details when it comes to starting a new business, and I recommend having someone to help coach you through the process if possible. This will help you to avoid many of the potentially costly mistakes many new entrepreneurs will make.
- * (2) Networking is the key. Do not be obnoxious about it, but every opportunity you are in front of someone you have a chance to share your company value proposition with them. They may not be a prospect for you, but they likely know someone who could be which is why seeking out networking opportunities is key, and needs to be done continuously throughout the lifetime of the business.
- * (3) You have to really be comfortable with selling your expertise and be fully confident even if you do not feel this way. When you are first starting out in business, you may not always feel 100% confident with the sales promotion aspect of your business, especially since most people are not born sales people. However, as they saying goes “fake it until you make it”, and only you will really know how you feel. At some point, you will also realize you are not nervous about the selling process, and might actually begin enjoying the process.
- * (4) Don’t underestimate your value when selling your services. Often when people are starting off they either give away, or do not charge enough for their services or what they are selling. It is far better to price your services a bit higher than you are comfortable with, as this will give you a position to negotiate down from. Besides, keep in mind you have the expertise they do not, and the prospect needs your professional help.
- * (5) You do not have to be good at everything and ask for help. There are going to be a number of business areas you either do not have enough experience with (e.g., accounting, marketing, sales) to name a few, and you will need to depend on asking for help from others, even if it is simply advice on how to do something in the area you need help with. It is important to be comfortable with asking for help and not trying to do everything yourself, as time is your greatest asset, and you need to utilize this asset wisely and not waste time and being unproductive by not asking for help when you should have done so.
Yitzi: I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. 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, or I might be able to introduce you.
I have always been a huge fan of Ellen DeGeneres, for numerous reasons. However, the main reason I am a fan of hers is because she made me laugh when I had suicidal back pain prior to having my back surgery on my birthday on March 15, 2016 to contend with fixing (3) ruptured discs which were touching my S1 nerve. I have always admired Ellen’s comedic ability, the way she is able to relate to people so genuinely when she interviews them, and how generous and kind she is to both people and animals.