Ep 12: Megan McNally: The Good Enough Bucket

This is a transcript of Erica Mills Barnhart’s interview with Megan McNally on the Marketing for Good podcast. You can listen to the episode here and listen to more episodes on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts. Enjoy!

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

people, organization, feel, business, social media, women, story, marketing, storyteller, learn, true, conversation, leaders

Erica Mills Barnhart 

My guest today is Megan McNally. So officially Megan is a lawyer and strategic advisor to purpose driven people and organizations. She has spent more than two decades as an organizational leader, consultant, educator and public speaker, including Executive roles with the NPower Network, where we met, Washington State Bar Association Foundation and Pacific Science Center. In 2017, Megan founded the F Bomb Breakfast Club, a peer support community of over 3000 female founders and women business owners and was named one of the most influential people of 2018 by Seattle Magazine. Because she is such a badass, she has been featured in Geek Wire, the Puget Sound Business Journal, Seattle Lawyer and more. Megan, to me is the very best and kindest kind of rabble rouser and provocateur and really truly one of the most badass women I have ever had the privilege to meet. Megan I am downright delighted to welcome you to the show.

Megan McNally 

That is very generous and very kind of you Erica because of course I think of you as such a mentor and such a role model for me. So, this is a joy.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

I feel like at some point this interview I might cry.

Megan McNally 

Well, it’s not a very worthwhile interview if there is not some crying at some point.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Yeah, yeah. How are things? How are you doing?

Megan McNally 

You know, I always think it’s important to put a time stamp on interviews right now. So, we are on day 47,386,000-

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Just approximately.

Megan McNally 

 At home in the middle of a global pandemic. And I feel like I am doing okay, I feel like I am, you know, I’m wrapped in a whole lot of privilege. So, I have, you know, feel like I am pretty well supported in the situation that I’m in. I’m locked in with my wife, who I love dearly and have discovered that we still really enjoy each other even after being locked in together, which is no small thing, how are you?

Erica Mills Barnhart 

I’ve started replying in the following way this hour, like in this moment. I’m great. I’m talking to you. That’s amazing. You know, few hours ago, maybe a totally different headspace. That’s the, that’s the ride right now. I think.

Megan McNally 

I think we’re all on a ride right now. And, and something that has really just become obvious for me is we’re all on a ride, but we’re not necessarily all having the same emotions at the same time and so you’re right in one hour, you can be filled with specific, enormous gratitude. And then, you know, somebody in your same social circle is experiencing deep grief in that in that moment and an hour later, it’s the opposite. There’s something universal but we’re also having our own unique experience right now.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

I mean, that is one of the the most interesting things about it is that we are seeing some universals around humanity. I think we are seeing other things amplified, the darker sides of culture in society and being human. And also, it’s a moment of being hyper individualistic. And I just-

Megan McNally 

That individualism might be the death of us here in the US. And you know, there’s a flip, there’s a flip side to all of these things. But you know, I don’t want to jump ahead, because I actually don’t even know what you’re going to ask me. So, I don’t know that I am jumping ahead. But I have been thinking a whole lot about both the opportunities and the challenges of marketing and communicating with audiences right now when at any given moment there’s such a range of things that people are experiencing.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Yeah so let’s go there. It’s always tough, like marketing is always a bit of a gamble. Like you can do all the research you want and if you have the resources, definitely do it. But a lot of marketing is like trial and error and all the rest of it, as you well know. And I feel like right now it’s like, sure, let’s try that. It could work, but you just have no idea the moment that somebody is in. And even for the most part, that’s always been the case. And one of the things that, you know, you and I have grappled with together and also talked about in various settings, is this funny thing where, you know, let’s use nonprofits as an example because lots of listeners work for nonprofits and they think about like sending out a newsletter, as if the person on the receiving end is constantly in donor mode. But of course, they will be receiving that while thinking deep thoughts about charity. I always say like, no they’re not, get real. They’re like in the middle, like think about receiving anything right now like anything physical. One, you’re like, oh my god, do I touch it? But two and this, I think it’s not super new, like you’re in the middle of your kitchen, you’re thinking like, what am I gonna make for dinner? They’re really not in donor mode, right, which means you got to bring the joy factor at a pretty high level or the disruption factor, or something and now it’s like, how do you make those guesses?

Megan McNally 

Yeah, well, first of all, just validate that. I’ll share with you that, you know, yesterday I got a solicitation in the mail from an organization that I love dearly. And it was so everything about the, the envelope, the message inside annoyed me to my bone that like I was like, I’m not going to give to you today. This is an organization I love. But there is some risk in in some of those gambles. I tend to think of we should preface all of this with I’m not a marketing expert. Marketing is a is a piece of and related to and a part of, you know, the work that I do, but I’m not I’m not a marketing expert by any means. But I tend to think of it as, as the 80/20 rule, as in normal times being good, right like 80% of the time you’re using known channels and then a that is familiar to your audience, and the messages that you’ve got evidence are going to resonate, right. So, like 80% of it is known, and you leave 20% for experimentation and innovation. And that’s in general, that’s a good rule of thumb for all kinds of things. Right now, I feel like it’s probably more like 60/40. Right? We should be a little bit more experimental in in what we’re doing.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

So, one I don’t want any listeners to be like, well, never mind, I’m throwing in the towel. I’m just gonna, I’m gonna wait it out. I’m gonna go dark and wait it out till we’re on the other side of all this like really, please, if you’re listening to this, do not have that be what you’re hearing. I hope that what folks will hear is yes, there are a lot of unknowns and and this risks sounding trite but, and it’s a really good time to try some stuff. Because you don’t know. You don’t know. And so, you know, why not try some stuff?

Megan McNally 

That’s actually true. And I should absolutely clarify. So, first of all, an organization whose mission I love who have supported for years, I’m going to continue supporting for years and I would never stop because of a bad fundraising appeal. Right? So yes, I don’t think people should stop doing what you’re doing. You’re like, I think the risk that people are going to turn away from you is actually quite low. In this case, it was more that it read like a campaign that had been designed long before what’s happening now. And so, it was so missed the moment that you know that as a fundraiser as a professional, somebody has been a professional fundraiser, I really felt it like, who did this get past?

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Well, practically speaking, so on the show we talk a lot about the external execution is predicated on like solid strategy and internal alignment, you know, like what you see, you know, what you receive is like the tip of the iceberg, but you need all that internal alignment and so I feel like part of what’s happening is people aren’t because we are on day 4790 gajillion of this is what it feels like. I think there were folks are like, yeah, I don’t have it me to tweak that. I realize it may sound tone deaf, but you know what, I’ll be able to check it off my to do list. And there’s some there’s something very legitimate in that, like you got it out the door. Okay.

Megan McNally 

Yeah, like we’re all doing okay.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

We’re just all doing our best. We’re all doing our best. So I think that’s happening. You talk a lot about failure, something I love about you. So I saw this quote from Arianna Huffington, she said ‘failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success’.

Megan McNally 

Yeah, I mean, there’s there is no success without failure.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

I think we can think of no example. Will you talk a little bit about Diana TV and I was looking at your LinkedIn profile as I do to prepare and you, the little blurb under that for that time was ‘we made a passionate run at launching the first digital streaming network dedicated to women’s sports, we swung for the fences, missed by a mile and learned an awful lot’. I knew I was going to tear up at some point, it’s like already. So will you tell us about Dianna TV like what did it mean to swing for the fences? You know, how did you learn?

Megan McNally 

Yeah, so I am many things. Professionally, a Media Executive had never been one of them. I had never worked in sports professionally. But I am a passionate sports fan. There’s a whole lot of sports that I love. And the sports that I love the most are the hardest to find and watch. And I grew up being told that women’s sports in particular are not commercially viable. And I don’t believe that I don’t buy that. And I reached a point in my life a couple of years ago where I just honestly, Erica, I think you know, there’s times this just comes with age where I’m like, I’m just not buying what you’re selling anymore. There’s plenty of evidence there that women’s sports are commercially viable, doable. Others have tried it. And, and I just decided to take a big swing at it. So taking a big swing in this case meant I, you know, I’m a lawyer who worked for more than 20 years in the nonprofit sector worked in philanthropy, what did I know about sports, or media? But I decided to go for it anyway. And to try to build a streaming network that would be focused on women’s sports. And that, you know, there are lots of people who said, try small, maybe try to come up with an innovative Instagram channel and get a bunch of followers and I’m like, I’m not here to play small. I, you know, I have a big vision and I’m going to go for that big vision. And I did. And I and and I built a team of people around me who believed in that big vision too. And we gave it everything that we had. We weren’t successful. But it was, you know, I mean, what I say in my bio, it’s like, yeah, we, we swung hard, we missed a lot, meaning we fell flat. And everything that we learned in that process has proved to be useful in some way. I learned extraordinary things about myself, about myself as a leader, about myself as a person, people involved with the project learned all kinds of things that have helped now support the projects that they’re working on. So there were, you know, business success in that sense, how much we all learned from it. Still not easy to watch women’s professional sports as it is to watch men’s professional sports.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re to me when I think of you, your name comes in as synonymous with storytelling. And of course, you were, you are a two-time winner of the Moth Storytelling Competition. So that’s like officially, officially officially, you know proves that. But it’s true of how you did fundraising, how you did grant writing, I don’t know. I assume that’s how you do lawyering and strategizing and all the things you’re doing today. Have has that always did that come naturally to you? Have you always been kind of a storyteller? And, and I’m always curious if people who, at least I consider to be amazing storytellers think that that’s an inherent skill, you know, something that’s inherent to you or if it’s a learned skill?

Megan McNally 

I think it’s probably both. For me, I honestly think I inherited it from my grandmother. So my grandmother Marie Patricia O’Boyle McNally, we called her nanny, I had a very close relationship with my nanny, and she was the best storyteller ever. And I think that I inherited that from her and I didn’t know that I did. But I can tell you that as a kid, I exaggerated a lot and got a lot of joy exaggerating, you know. And, you know, at a young age, I think it was a thing where it’s like, there’s something about, I don’t know, if you’re telling a story, and people are really leaning into that story, and they’re curious and they’re compelled by what you’re talking about, like that connection. There’s something really heartwarming about that connection that I, I think I loved at an early age. But what’s funny is I think I was well into adulthood before I ever heard anybody talk about storytelling. Now it’s, you know, now it’s a buzzword everybody’s a storyteller. I think Facebook will even label you if you’re a visual storyteller or this kind of storyteller. It’s not something I set up, like a lot like fundraising. It’s not like I ever set out, like, I’m gonna be a storyteller. But I grew up in the presence of a really great storyteller. And, and I think, you know, some of it comes naturally from that experience. But I will say, as somebody who has taken the stage to tell a story, and has, you know, I’ve stood in front of some pretty big audiences telling stories. It’s, there is also a skill that you can learn. There’s an, you know, there’s an arc to a story. There’s important things to know about a story that you know, how you start it and the fact that you have to wrap it up at the end and the fact that there should be some kind of a crux that people really buy into in the middle, like, you know, like, I would say, just like fundraising, part art and part science and having an ability to blend those two, I think It’s pretty powerful.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Where do you see people blowing it with storytelling?

Megan McNally 

Number one, is the story is not your own.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Oh, that’s interesting.

Megan McNally 

Mm hmm. Yeah, I think there is no story more compelling than somebody’s personal story or a story from their personal perspective. So telling somebody else’s story, for me telling somebody else’s story is really risky and it’s, it’s much harder to do than telling a personal story. And this is important, of course, for organizations, when we’re when we’re always trying to tell stories that are illustrative of what we do. So how do you get into that really authentic space when you’re not telling your own story? And then the other thing I think, is that maybe sometimes this goes hand in hand with that it but is trying too hard. You know, like, not every story has to have this like grand drama and this, you know, poignant end and pithy things in the middle, like sometimes we just really, really overdo it when just a plain hold from the heart story, whether it’s comedy or a tragedy, you know, is often just, for me far more compelling.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Yeah, I mean, the word authenticity so overused right now, authentic storytelling. And for as much as they say in their tone of voice, like that’s a thing, that’s a thing. It’s a thing, if you want it to connect, I really think you have to go there. I think there’s a tension that is worth noting, where you have the person or people within the organization who are tasked with telling the good story, you know, whatever role that may be, and so off, they go to tell the good story. They sit in an organizational context. And that organization will have its own story it will have its own brand personality is your voice you know, how are you going to translate that, that your personal take or tone, and have that resonate at the organizational level, I think it can be tricky.

Megan McNally 

I think it can be really tricky. And that’s where it goes back to that being a mix of art and science because you can be a really great storyteller generally and it still takes some work to do that for the organization and in the you know, in a way that matches the organization’s brand, you know, merging you could do a whole season, Erica, on personal brand,

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Oh, yes.

Megan McNally 

Organizational brand and how they align and what happens when they don’t and what happens when somebody comes in and tries to bring too much personal brand, the organization brand or there’s a lot to explore.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Because this is new. I mean, if we index back to, you know, let’s just say 20 years ago, when you and I were, you know, doing some of this stuff NPower. Well, you know, you I think it was a time when sure, you know, that was an environment where you could show up, you know, and bring your full self. But we still have like a, there’s just a brighter personal professional. And now with, you know, the advent of social media, we all are so much more, I think forced to be one, like those lines are just very, very blurry and you know, that’s good and bad. We could have a whole conversation about that, but for sure people understand the idea of what personal brand is and different generations feel differently about how they can show up with that in different contexts and environments. Yeah, it’s messy.

Megan McNally 

Yeah, social media has been a game changer in a way that I think, only I don’t want this to sound pejorative, but I think that only people old enough not to have grown up in the time of social media can probably really sort of have that perspective of just how much of a game changer it is about that and the idea of personal brand, you know, I mean, yeah, 20 years ago, maybe we would talk about an executive profile. There was, you know, there might be an executive that I mean, an expectation that the Chief Executive of an organization or the President of a major board had to have a personal reputation that aligned with the organization. So it certainly wasn’t something where we talked about where like every level of the organization of who you are, when you leave the doors has something about, you know, the organization that there was definitely a different kind of line then, than there is now. Which is a double edged sword. It’s, I was just going to pull up some some interesting facts here for you. If you would indulge me for just a minute because the F Bomb Breakfast Club, our next meeting topic is about personal brand and how it relates to building a business. Just aside, if I could would you indulge me in just a quick sidebar.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Oh yeah go for it and tell listeners more about the F Bomb Breakfast Club.

Megan McNally 

Yeah, so the F Bomb Breakfast Club is a peer support community for women business owners and female founders. So we’re a group of over 3100 women, most of us are here in the Seattle area. But we have women actually in 11 different countries now, which is a whole lot of fun and a whole lot of US states. And we support each other. So this is not a top down model. It’s not an expert teaching everybody how to build a business. Instead, we’ve sort of set the table for women to come together and help each other learn through, learn how to build successful businesses and how to survive and hopefully be happy doing it which is no small, you know, no small task. We have among the things we do we have a monthly meeting. It used to be in person. Of course now it is virtual, but on the first f’ing Friday of every month at the A crack of dawn, is when we have our monthly meeting. And there’s different topic for each meeting. And our topic for the June meeting, like I said, is about personal brand and business. So what do you need to know as a founder these days? And so when we were getting ready for this meeting, these stats just really struck me because it doesn’t matter whether you’re in a for profit, business, social sector, business or government, I think this is true across the board. 82% of consumers are more likely to trust the brand, if its CEO is active on social media, right? And sales reps who use social media outperform their peers by 78%. That data is really compelling to me and that it’s not insignificant, that how you’re showing up in the world is impacting that organization or that business, that you are trying to grow in whatever role, you know, you’re in trying to trying to grow it.

Erica Mills Barnhart  

So one that’s fascinating, two where my mind goes with that is to like, okay, like you look at it, let’s let’s pick on Instagram here for a second. And, you know, so you scroll through your Instagram feed and we all know that a lot of those pictures are posed, and they’re filtered and all the rest of it. So, I guess I’m just left with this question is like, so how, how authentic to go back to that word, or true or real real do you need to be in your showing up on social media, like, what does that look like? And and if you’re so curated, and I feel like there is a push, particularly for women, founders, leaders, a push towards being a little more curated, at least physically, because of the social norms, to look a certain way and then you show up in person like how do you maintain fidelity between all of that?

Megan McNally 

Such great questions and your right sidebar that you know, there are stories that make the actual news like CNN ran a story about how interesting it is to see these male celebrities in quarantine and how cute it is that we can see their gray hair and their facial hair and their baggy t shirts. But we we have a very different expectation of women. Somehow right now women are still expected to be successful professionals, and homeschoolers and, and doing most of the housework and, and still dressing fashionable and having their hair done and makeup while they’re on video during the day, these very unrealistic gender expectations. But I think back to your question about you know, picking on Instagram that 87% of consumers say they trust a brand more if the CEO is on social media only gives you one data point. What I’m really interested in and would be really interested in exploring is, and what if they don’t like what they see there? Right? What happened when Lulu Lemon’s CEO, you know spoke publicly about how you know instead of it being a problem that Lululemon yoga pants turn out to be transparent, you know, his perception was women shouldn’t wear yoga pants. And you know what, what kind of damage to that do to the business and is that, can you repair that damage? What happens? What’s going to happen to Tesla if somebody doesn’t rain in and cut Elon Musk off social media here soon like what are the real, you know?

Erica Mills Barnhart 

With Elan Musk, I mean to use what was going on in my brain was if you can show up fully, truly who you are, and that happened that is representative of your of your company actually, there’s there’s a great efficiency in that because you’re like this who we are you either like it or not. And I, you know, I talk a lot borderline preach about the idea of just being radically authentic so that you can, like attract your true believers. Because, you know, if you try to mute whoever you are, and then people are like, oh, but I thought, you know, you just kind of end up pitching in the middle, which is, you know, you we all know, like, that’s just that’s not very compelling. And so then there’s some, you know, it just takes longer whereas if you’re like this is it, there is an efficiency to that. And, you know, if you want fans, you know, I’m thinking of I always think of Harley Davidson because they’re such an easy example. But Elon Musk, I would say like, I think that there are some folks who are like, he’s so well out there, but I kind of dig it. You know, like, he’s him. Like it or not, he’s him. And you don’t have to you don’t have to really wonder about it, I kind of appreciate it.

Megan McNally 

Yeah, I’m with you on the being radically real. You know, splitting the difference on anything never works. That was one of our tough lessons with Dianna sports TV, you can’t split the difference. But if I do it, there’s something to be said for being radically real. And there’s some risk. So you’re going to manage that risk. And there’s great examples of it. So when I think of, you know how important it is, when I think about this alignment between personal brand and organizational brand, I think the organizations that do it truly wrong, or if you know if there’s truly a wrong, it’s that like the PR department has tried to craft what looks like the personal social media account for the CEO. And you all know damn well, and this happens with politicians lot too, right, like and you know, just damn well it’s not them, that it’s not really them, or every message that comes out is promotional.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Yeah, yeah. You can feel it.

Megan McNally 

Yeah. You totally can.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

You want to know what I’m curious about? The CEO of T Mobile. Does he manage his own Twitter account?

Megan McNally 

I want to know who does and sidebar when the F Bomb Breakfast Club held its first meeting and Geek Wire wrote about it, John Legere, CEO of T Mobile, retweeted it and said, he wished that he could come because it sounded like a badass morning. And I responded on social media and said, sorry, you know, it’s women only but send donuts. And he did. He had his Executive Assistant, send us donuts to our second meeting. So I think he’s authentically, you know, I’ve I’ve met him we were we were finalists for Geek Wire Awards the same year, he won, I didn’t. But, you know, got a chance to meet and just chat with him briefly there and I, you know, I, I think real deal. I think you’re really seeing him he’s a little you know, really has a slow cooker on Sundays in his kitchen. And, and I will say he’s, you know he I think that’s a great example because like he has a brand and he’s out there and he’s on social media a lot and you get to see that he’s, you know, he’s a quirky he’s a quirky guy. That’s real. His passion for his company in the product and his the customers I think is very real. And yet he still doesn’t, you know, he doesn’t go so far out of lanes that it worrisome, like you don’t see him diving into political conversations, or, you know, or you know, conversations that are just like so outside of the scope of what you might be thinking about when you’re thinking about your telecommunications. And so I think that matters. There’s probably, you know, there’s probably I would bet, a really smart team around him who is saying, you can totally keep being you, just be mindful, just a couple guardrails. So let’s just pay attention.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Just don’t go that far to the-

Megan McNally 

Pay attention to those guardrail, which Elon Musk, it seems does not have, like, you know, things that might be in violation of I don’t know, SEC regulation, for example, you’d think would be a guardrail that somebody would put up for you, not to drive over. But-

Erica Mills Barnhart 

I do want to note that, it’s easier to be radically real. And I think that the more privilege you have, the more power you have, the more latitude you’re given on these things. So-

Megan McNally 

100% white men in particular, get so much license to be quirky, and there’s a risk in being quirky. We, another great conversation, we have had at an F Bomb meeting a couple of months ago was about the you might have seen this story, this amazing founder who had a product at Target unveiled at Target and Target advertised it during Black History Month in February, because she’s a Black American company founder and her product is a product that she said very specifically was inspired by her desire to serve black girls. And customers were outraged and they called it racist and they called Target racist for, you know, for hosting this product. I think there is I think there is risk privilege, you know, the more privilege we have, the more risk we’re allowed to take. And I think that’s something to be incredibly mindful of.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Yeah, definitely. I mean, the other thing is we think about social media, you know, FOMO is real. FOMO is real regardless and social media feeds that. And I just I think that that’s one of the downsides with marketing in general and social media in particular is that it really fomenting anxiety, which, you know, flow like a pandemic, already, like the baseline of anxiety is high, horrible for people’s mental health, etc, etc. And it you know, I’m just left with kind of like, okay, well short of like getting off social media entirely, so I’ve gone through times where I just have not been on Facebook at all, I just deleted all my social media apps off my phone, because it was just it was too tempting. And I could feel myself getting kind of sucked in not in a good way it wasn’t serving anything. And yet for all its downsides, it has upsides in terms of connecting with, you know, clients and audience and customers and donors and volunteers and all the rest of it. Have you seen any examples or do you have any thoughts about you know how to not, because part of Marketing for Good is that it needs to be good through and through. It needs to be good for the people doing it within your organization, it needs to be good for the people on the receiving end of it. I think we, you know, we have a responsibility in that way as people who do and can shape narrative. So have you’ve seen anybody doing that well or mindfully?

Megan McNally 

Yeah, I mean, I think there’s a lot of people actually doing it well. Ruchika Tulshyan is one person who I follow religiously on social media. So if you don’t know Ruchika, She is the author of The Diversity Advantage, which was published before the wave of diversity books, you know, that we now see that she was really early and leading the conversation, particularly in the business world. She was a journalist, turned author who really found a voice with the business community and with executive business leaders around diversity. And so she now is, you know, she’s an author, she’s a speaker, she’s a consultant, a communications consultant, with organizations. And she’s somebody who if you pay attention to her on social media, she number one chooses her channel. Right? So, like know what audience you’re speaking to and where they are. In truth, for my business life, my business world, my clients aren’t on Instagram. You know, that’s not where the audience that I need to speak to is from a business perspective. So why am I so if I’m on Instagram, it’s because I’m posting pictures of my cats, the run that I went on, or the food that I ate, that’s it.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

That’s your triad?

Megan McNally 

And it’s my friends and family who care, nobody else. Yeah, um, but you know, so she chooses her channel. So you will see her show up on LinkedIn and Twitter, and how she shows up is in the conversations that are relevant to the things that she does professionally. So if there is a conversation happening online or in the news that has to do with the role of diversity in business, and why it matters for a business in order to be successful for a business to thrive, why diversity matters if there’s a new story or conversation happening around it, she is in that conversation, it’s very rare that you see tweets or messages from her that are like, buy my book, here’s my latest article, listen to my thing, read my thing. And like that happens, but how she’s showing up is present in conversations that matter. And so I think you know, to me that’s one great example. Another one is Amy Nelson of The Riveter. So, you know, Amy is the founder of the Riveter, which is a women focus co-working space and community. And Amy is, you know, not only female founder and CEO of a company that’s raised a lot of VC money, which is venture capital money, which is hard to do as a woman. She’s also the mom of four young daughters, that she had in seccessive order. And so she, if there’s-

Erica Mills Barnhart 

 That’s 100% more little people than I have and that’s, I can only keep up with two.

Megan McNally 

Now imagine being locked in with them all during a pandemic, because they’re all under four, I think, one, two, three and four or something like that. Yeah, yeah. And so Amy is also very intentional about where she is on social media. She is on Instagram. Her audience really is a millennial and Gen Z woman and their, Instagram is their place. So she’s brilliant at how she uses Instagram stories, for example. She never talks about the Riveter, that’s not the point. She talks about what it’s like to be a working mom about what it’s like to be a you know, a mom trying to build a company and raise money for a company while she’s still breastfeeding one and her oldest one is about to have the first day of child care and the things that she’s talking about are so real and relatable and you will see her in her Instagram stories you might see her on her treadmill trying to get her workout in at 4:30 in the morning, because it’s only time to do it. Or her sitting on the floor of a bathroom pumping milk before she goes into pitch, you know, to an investor. And so it’s just a great example of like, know your audience know where they are, and then be in the conversations that are relevant to those people like be in that relevant conversation.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Sorry, I interrupted you. I’m sorry.

Megan McNally 

You’re good. I was done.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

There’s an undercurrent to this that I think is important to call out, which is a lot of folks, myself included at times, although now I’m getting older and so don’t worry about it quite as much. But it did happen when I launched this podcast is, is a latent fear or act of fear of rejection.

Megan McNally 

Oh, yeah.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

And I feel like, you know, we talked about fear of missing out, FOMO right? So that’s one thing. But I really feel, and you know, when I work with organizations, I see this so much where they’re, like, everywhere. And so I mean, a standard piece of advice I give is like, y’all got to give up a couple of those channels, because you just you can’t do well, and it doesn’t make sense. Like, it just it doesn’t really make sense. And, and, you know, trying to try to figure out where you’re going to be and being okay with it and going all in is brave.

Megan McNally 

Yeah, we need bravery.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

We need brave and, and by the way, though, that’s all well and good. I would say nonprofits in particular. I mean, there’s a lot of lip service pay to like go for it and be brave, and then there, they are penalized oftentimes, if it doesn’t work out, like yay, if it does, but really penalized if it doesn’t. And and I see that with, you know, women owned businesses and some, you know, definitely so it’s like, boy, being brave these days is, it’s hard. It’s awe inspiring. I mean, it’s really, for folks who really do it in the way that you’re talking about. It is awe inspiring. We need as much of that as possible.

Megan McNally 

Yeah, we really do. And I want to go back to this story of the Target company that I was telling you about. The company is called Honeypot. And so it was brave, of, of the founder, first of all, to launch her idea into the world and build her company. Like that takes bravery in and of itself. And then it takes bravery to tell the true story of what your inspiration is and who you care about serving that takes bravery. And immediately the, you know, the first immediate wave of backlash was really harmful, right where all these Target customers, boycotted Target and called it racist and all this kind of stuff. But what beautifully happened right after that, is that primarily women and led by black women came in beside that and said, Oh, no, we see her, we’re going to lift her up. And they, her product sold out off the shelves of Target in a very short amount of time after that. And so I do still feel like even though there’s risk, I do still think that there’s reward on the other side of it. And I think bravery ends up being rewarded. Yeah, I mean, it just it does. And, you know, back to your point about, you know, there’s this balance that we have to find between these two extremes. I think, you know, maybe at NPower we used to call it, you got to find the good enough bucket, right, like-

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Oh the good enough bucket, I still refer to the good enough bucket, I do.

Megan McNally 

I use it all the time, right like on one end of the spectrum, there’s perfect you’re never going to have the perfect marketing plan, the perfect strategy, the I feel the, like you’re not going to get perfect. And on the other end of the spectrum is going out scattershot with no real intention or strategy and throwing too many things at the wall all at once to see what sticks, somewhere in between, there is a thoughtful approach that is not just one person’s idea. Right? It’s been grounded in some way or validated in some way by a handful of people at least who understand the brand and the audience that you’re you know, you’re trying to reach and, and then and then there’s some and then intentionally choosing like what what channels make sense for that? What are natural channels for communicating? And then some bravery.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Bravery and like grieving. And there’s a little bit of grief if you’re going to be true to this and you’re gonna be like, we can manage two channels, which I would say in general. Well, there’s not that many organizations that can rock a whole bunch of them. We think that we can but really, that’s pretty tough. So then you have to like make room for okay, we’re going to grieve a little bit because we we’re not going to be on Facebook or we’re not going to be on whatever. Right and that’s healthy. Like, I love magic paper. Do you work with magic paper?

Megan McNally 

No, what is that?

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Oh, magic paper is so great. Okay. It’s like the poof paper. So you you can people use it different ways. I like to think of it and I’ve used it lots of different ways. But okay, the basic premise of magic paper is you light it on fire and it instantly evaporates. It literally goes poof, yeah. So I have used it to write down things that I want to let go of, you know, that aren’t serving me anymore. And then also wishes like you know, things that I am hoping for or things that I’m letting go up.

Megan McNally 

I didn’t mean to interrupt you. I did this on New Years. I didn’t know there was magic paper for it, it probably takes a lot less time than trying to get a piece of paper lit and burning in the rain.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

And when I can get clients to to be game enough to do it, it’s so cathartic, right? It’s so cathartic because it like I just like you just give it up to the universe, you know, give it up.Or you know, whatever, the Universe or God or the Divine, you know, like whoever it is for you. I have no commentary on that. I’m good with all of it. But you’re letting it, you’re giving it up.

Megan McNally 

Yeah, whatever, whatever it is, whatever that higher power is to you. You mentioned, you brought up failure earlier, mentioned how I love to talk about failure. A really important part of failure is is this grief and letting it go. If you ever tried to build something that you truly believed in, whether it was campaign for a product or an organization or a movement and you really believed in it and you and you gave it your all you gave it your best, and it doesn’t work. It is human to go through a period of grieving it. There’s a loss because you you saw it and it was real to you. Right? If you’re, if you’ve ever tried to write that like perfect fundraising letter and you were convinced this was the thing that was gonna bring back your donor who skip the past year you know that it’s it and you send it out and it falls flat. You go through a grief because you saw in your mind, people getting it, opening it reconnecting and running inside to go online and give like you saw it all and it’s not gonna happen and you go through a period of grieving it. And I think you have to you have to let yourself grieve it. Then you have to let it go. One part is natural, the grieving it is natural that comes and letting it go I think it’s a skill. That’s, that’s a thing that we have that leaders of organizations, I think have to practice, you know, we have to help.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

And encourage organizationally, that you have to lead by by example on this.

Megan McNally 

You demonstrate it, you lead by example, you make intentional space for it, you make space to celebrate it, you know, to make it a thing but, but I think the idea of this magic paper I think, is just, you know, beautiful because like, the idea was great and it is time to let it go, and I’m okay to let it go.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

And in Western cultures, we don’t have great we don’t have a great culture of grief, or we, you know, we don’t have great ways of dealing with it. You know, we don’t have ritual around it in the way that they do and a lot of other parts of the world so I think it’s particularly tough.

Megan McNally 

Yeah, I am such a fan of organizations who have really learned to create ritual around mourning, grieving, celebrating failure, and then really dissecting failures as well. Like there’s, you know, there’s some organizations I think do that so well. Not enough organizations, I think have really figured out how important that is not just for people’s mental health, but because I think Peter is the one who first said this and I love the idea that like, you know, things grow from compost, good grows from compost. So if there’s not compost, like, like, there’s a benefit to the organization, because even better ideas are going to come forward.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

And if you’re in these roles of, I mean, I think this is true of any but since I, you know, since the shows about marketing, if you’re trying stuff, you have to anticipate that, like, it’s not all gonna work. I mean, again, to be transparent about the podcast, like we tried all sorts of stuff. And it’s so frustrating when it doesn’t work. And so, you know, we just have to work hard to be like, well, alright, just learning and it’s a marathon, not a sprint. That’s another piece of marketing is everything feels like you know, it’s a sprint, we’re gonna be fantastic and, you know, oh, the heavens will part by next Tuesday. Probably not.

Megan McNally 

Probably one of my hardest things for me to learn as a professional, I am 50 now, and I think will be another 50 years before I’ve really mastered this is separating urgent from important.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Amen to that.

Megan McNally 

And I think in the social sector, in the nonprofit sector, we have a particularly hard time with it, because the stakes are so high and are so high for what we’re doing. And so I think it can cause us to put these sometimes just impossible expectations on ourselves that everything is going to be so good. It’s going to be the thing that changes world that saves the children, like, and so it feels so urgent all the time. And, and that isn’t sustainable.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Yeah. And I really, if you’re listening, I really hope that you’ll hear this that it’s coming from a place of goodness, there’s this pairing of like the issues that folks in social sector and social impact organizations are working on and they are urgent and important, both. And so just separating that out and and mission driven people are purpose driven people, whichever you prefer care so deeply about the work. Like there’s just a depth of commitment to it and when you pair those two things, it gets really crunchy. It’s the only word I can think of, it gets crunchy and hard. And by the way, that’s not it’s not sustainable. It’s not sustainable for staff. So again, looking at you leaders and managers who are listening to this, or maybe this is an episode you share. If you’re listening and you really wish your leader or manager would do more of this, of course now I’ve said it out loud so it’d be a little bit uncomfortable, but is to create this environment where it’s like, we don’t have to do all the everything. Right? Definitely not like today or even this week or even this month, like, you got to give it a little breathe a little breathing room.

Megan McNally 

Yeah. And and I just want to echo how important it is that that message has to come from the top. If leaders can’t separate urgent from important, how on earth can the teams of people that they’re developing to be the next leaders, how on earth are they going to learn and be able to do that? I think it’s really, really incumbent on leaders. Otherwise, it’s really difficult for a team ever to be able to really know how to, you know, prioritize.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Yeah, I mean, this is not exactly the same thing but whenever I do sort of leadership coaching, one of the questions I asked is do you send emails on the weekend and I will say one of the most standard responses I get is, you know where I’m going with this,  is they’ll say well yeah yeah yeah, but I do, but I tell my staff that I don’t expect them to. And inevitably, I just sort of look at them for bit and I’m like, yeah no, like, and that’s just not the way I get, I get that they probably really mean that. But that’s super confusing to folks. And, you know, inevitably they’re gonna you know, if your boss emails you at 8am on Saturday, you’re not gonna be like, I’ll get you on Monday, super busy, you know? Yeah, that’s, oh, that takes somebody who is very sure of themselves and their place in the world and all the rest of it to do that most of us will be like, Ah, you know, even if you wait a day, it’s like, okay, I can’t take it anymore. That modeling  of that behavior is tough and actually there are you know, I have, I also get that I have clients who work a lot on the weekends, it’s really productive time for them. There is that feature in Outlook, I mean, any email system you’re using where you can send it, you can have it at 8am or 9am, or whatever on Monday. You can do all the everything and just send it, you know, schedule to send a Monday, if that’s gonna be part of your culture. And by the way, if you’re creating a culture where folks are expected to work on the weekends, well, okay, you know, people need to recharge. So I can’t really say I’m super behind that, but at least be transparent. Because that’s kind.

Megan McNally 

Yeah, I’m with you. And I think, you know, part of this is that context always matters. Always. So if you’re talking about conversations between executives, between people who our power peers in the organization, over the weekend, that might be one thing, right? It might that that’s, that’s part of the trade off. You want to be an executive in this organization here’s what you need to know this is true at the Bar Association, here’s what you need to know. You’re on 24/7, there is no time off, right? Like you can take time off but you have to be available, your time off if you’re at an executive level, that’s an expectation. That is different than how you’re communicating with people who are, you know, if you’re in a hierarchical organization, you have people who are subordinate to you in power, then it is extremely important that you don’t do things like say, I’m going to send you a message at night but don’t feel compelled until tomorrow, just like you mentioned, I actually think that’s abusive. And it took me a long time to learn this. But it’s abusive because you are setting somebody up for a situation in which they cannot win, they respond to you right away there can be, you know, consequences for that. I told you not to respond until morning. Why are you responding right away? This person is a brown noser, right? Or if you actually follow the instructions and don’t respond till the morning, then, you know, then you have just as much risk of Oh, yeah, they really just see this as a job. And in the nonprofit sector I think that’s especially true. We have this judgment about people who put up you know, boundaries between personal and professional life we think mission driven work, you should be breathing this 365 days a year, like all the time, do you not really is this just a job to you as if it’s horrible, something to be just, it’s so, so important. And so I couldn’t agree with you more it really is the culture of the organization or even more than culture, if it happens to be the work of the organization is such that communication is going to happen all the time. I have friends who work in global organizations and so anytime, you know, your your clients on the other side of the globe, it is their business to enter communicating with you and so there can be a real blurring. Or if it’s the nature of the work that you do if you’re in I don’t know health, health care and you know, in in some way that could you know, demand that stuff happens.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Yeah, we’ll take calls from clients because they need immediate attention. Yeah. Yeah.

Megan McNally 

See, make that stuff known. Be clear about those expectations, talk about those expectations so that people can come into it in a way that, you know, like fully come into it, knowing that that’s what they’re coming into. But you can’t change the game on people. I will say I feel I know far too many organizational leaders who have found all of the right language to talk about the importance of self care, and I value your personal time and I want you to be a whole person and so I never expect these things. But then the behavior doesn’t doesn’t match that and that is just a recipe for I like I said, I think it’s abuse.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

Definitely a recipe for burnout, mass confusion, burnout. Yeah. I feel like where I want to go next, I know that we need to wrap this up. Where I want to go next step but the difference between like self compassion and self care. We’re just going to have to table it for another conversation. But I, it’s so important. They’re not the same thing. You can self care yourself all day and if you don’t have self compassion, you’re just kind of painting your toenails. Which isn’t bad, per se. Anyway, I think that that those are used synonymously and that they’re quite different and that matters for leadership and for sustaining in the work. Okay, I feel like we’ve covered off on a lot of a lot of topics and like some of them, maybe maybe doesn’t feel uplifting folks are like, Oh my gosh, so I end every interview, I think I warned you, I don’t know, by asking guests, what inspires you and what motivates you because inspiration, the root of the word means to breathe in and motivation is about action. So we need both. We need the breath to take action. So.

Megan McNally 

What a great question. No, I don’t think he told me that in advance. So you are really going to get off the cuff. But I would say first I’m, I am sorry if people listen to this and I brought them down, that certainly is not my intent. For me, the first thing I think of when I think inspiration is right now young adults coming into their, their professional life. I am so inspired by the generations coming after me.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

I feel like I so agree with that. I I’m thinking of all my students right now and oh my god, they’re, they’re amazing.

Megan McNally 

Yeah, I kind of miss teaching lately. I’ve really been missing teaching because of that, because of how much I learn from people who are, who are, you know, sort of just coming into their career or the, you know, the early stages of their career. I think we have so much to learn from them. I feel like you know, I think of Gen Z, I think of the folks coming through college now in grad school, very, you know, maybe in their first job or first job or two They’ve just been forged in fire. You know, if we think of the last two decades and kind of the life experiences that people have been through and their perspective on the world and their innovative ideas, and they just seem so less, sort of boxed in, then I feel like my generation and the generations before me were and so I’m constantly inspired and watching them and learning from them. And so anytime that I’m feeling worried down or crappy, there’s a handful of young, you know, professionals that I pay attention to what they’re doing. I look at what they’re saying, I listen. You know, I listen to them. I follow them because it gives me a whole lot of hope.I think your other question was about motivation. Right? What motivates me? Hmm. If I were to be brutally honest, Erica, what motivates me is the fact that even my pajama pants are tight right now. Here’s what I mean-

Erica Mills Barnhart 

I am so intrigued by where you’re going with this, Megan.

Megan McNally 

As you said, there’s a difference between self care and self compassion. So I, you know, the beginning of this pandemic work from home for for my wife and I, it started back in January, not in March when the rest of you started experiencing it. We were, you know, on the other side of the globe, when we started experiencing the impacts of what would soon become a pandemic. So we’ve been into this for quite a few months now. But when we first all kind of got locked down at home, I gave myself permission to do whatever I needed to to cope to get through. In those early days, I was very worried about my parents who are elderly and live on the other side of the continent. I was worried about whether my wife was going to lose her job about whether people we love we’re going to get sick, we you know, there are people in our in our in our life, who were really kind of in the line of fire, if you will, and I was really stressed, and I’m somebody who I really like to be active, and I try to eat healthy, and I tend to have a lot of rules for myself and I did a marathon, and I had, you know, at the very beginning of this, I was about to run a marathon, scheduled March 7. And I gave myself permission to let go of rules. Like forget it, like I’m not going to have kale for lunch, I want a brownie. And so I would go downstairs and bake sheet of brownies and eat a whole bunch of brownies and be okay with it. I let myself just be okay with it, that’s what I needed to do. And then we started worrying about the restaurants in our neighborhood and the cafes that we really love the places we go regularly like they know our name when we walked through the door. And we started getting like lots of takeout and getting these sandwiches and tubs of ice cream from my favorite place down the street. I just gave myself permission to do all of that. And I feel great about that. And then I hit the point where I’m like, well that is interesting because all of my, like, stretchy pants are suddenly tight, like how did that happen? Because it became just a reminder of like, it’s okay to give yourself permission to do what you need to do but then ultimately, you got to come back to what’s really important to you for the long haul, and kind of come back to what are you know, what are those guidelines for your life? So for me, it was like, my, my shrinking pajama pants was like, this reminder of like, yeah, I think at one point, you know, at a certain point here, I am happier when I’m eating pretty well, and I’m running a lot and I’m not doing those things. So there’s, it’s, it’s kind of a reminder, like, I’m gonna pay more attention to that. I’m going to be more mindful now. So my tight pajama pants are my motivation.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/makemysize/?hl=enI was going to mention this woman before but I’m gonna mention her now which is Katie Sturino and she’s a fashion influencer. She is what is referred to as plus size which I am not happy about that term and nor is she by the way. Oh my gosh her Instagram is sheer genius so she does a lot of the like, here’s a celebrity wearing a look and here’s me rocking that look and by the way I got it for a lot less and here’s how it looks you know when you’re not a size zero or two and then and then she started doing so if you look for #MakeMySize. I could honestly spend all day on this. So she has just this talk about being your true self radically you and so sweet in the whole doing of it. She shows she goes to you know, just ordinary stores and then she tries on their biggest size, which is usually a 12ish. Actually the name of her blog, I think it’s 12ish or something like that. Anyway, so she tries it on and she’s takes pictures of herself trying these things on and she’s a size 18 or something so a lot of it she’s like look I can’t even get my, you know my arm doesn’t even fit into the leg hole but she has this way of doing it that isn’t like defensive. There’s no malice. There’s just nothing negative about it. It’s just like I love your clothes. I would love to wear your clothes. Thank you. And so not surprisingly she has this massive following I think if I was to channel my inner Katie right now, if I may, she would be like, maybe you just need different pajama bottoms. You know, like, I don’t know.

Megan McNally 

 I would love to check her out.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

We will put it all in the show notes too for folks because man she is so much goodness. She was so much goodness. I love her. I have to say just like for so many years, you’ve inspired and motivated me like, and I can’t even talk about how many different ways and, and all of it. So to have time with you, it’s been a while and this is really, really, really been a treat. Thank you.

Megan McNally 

Well, the feeling is quite mutual. And I’m very excited for your podcast, which is a huge success. And it’s going to continue to be a huge success.

Erica Mills Barnhart 

I hope so I mean, my deep hope is that people will start thinking like it’s genuine. The whole thing is to think differently about marketing so you can do marketing differently. And that’s not just a little thingy-dingy that I wrote, which I feel like we are in a time were sure we want to get back to normal and we get to we get to say what’s going to be normal and marketing can be a force for good and it can really mess up a bunch of stuff and it can mess up the people doing it. And so, you know, I hope people listen and they they have a little mind shift and who knows where we’ll go. But thank you. Listeners, if you, I don’t know, want to continue the conversation, I do, as you can tell like literally and have on occasion talk to Megan McNally all day. If you would like to keep the conversation going hop on over to the Marketing for Good Facebook group and we will continue the conversation there. Do good, be well and we will see you next time.