This post is the final Professional Development class paper for our intern Janhavi Deorukhkar. She received an A+ and brought Christine to tears. Sometimes you don’t realize how insightful the people around you can be. Thank you Janhavi for your incredibly talented, hard work this semester. We are excited to see what you do next because you are going to rock it!
“Working in fashion is not an extended trip to the mall,” said Sophia Amoruso the author of New York Times bestseller book #Girlboss and the current Chairman of Nasty Girl fashion retailer. Her advice was a crude reality check for me when I started interning at MtoM Consulting as their social media and data analysis intern. Even though I worked on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest, my work was far from posting selfies and hashtagging every word in the sentence. So, my lesson #1 after bragging about getting to paid to be on Facebook is that your dream job (internship in this case) still requires real work, efforts and everything you learned in school (especially statistics); because people behind creating the social media frenzy are hardly those who spend time posting, they are number crunching, ROI seeking, content developing gurus who invest more in creating trends than just 140-character tweets.
I think the most valuable lesson I have learned from both the book and at my internship is that no matter how much revenue your company makes, “money looks better in the bank than on your feet,” (Amoruso, 2014, p.111). I read the book and to some extent have embodied this lesson prior to my internship but I saw this lesson in action at MtoM. For example, my CEO (Christine Wilson) took a swift stand when one of the strategists were planning on accompanying her colleague on a business trip which necessarily did not need two people. Christine quickly pointed out that paying for two people for full-day working hours and travel costs more than what the client pays, so no matter how compelling and beneficial the second person might be, from a pure business standpoint, it was unfeasible. Similarly, when I had met with my CEO for a possible job opportunity at MtoM, she had polity informed me that the day she charges her clients the kind of data analysis I will bring to the table, she will hire me. This was a surreal experience to not only be validated by your CEO for your abilities but learn a valuable lesson in resource management. No matter how lucrative the deal might seem, is that truly the right decision for your business in the short and the long term? In the book Sophia Amoruso talks about how that first moment is, when a startup company invests in their first office desk—I got to see that when MtoM purchased extra office space and how a simple act of purchasing IKEA desks for office can be a milestone but it is not registered as such to those who work there, except for those who worked for it.
Half way through the book Sophia talk about an eighteen letter word “entrepreneurialism” defined by Harvard Business School professor Howard Stevenson, as “the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled,” (Amoruso, 2014, p.186). I relate these words closely to my CEO, because as Sophia, Christine did not pursue masters or business degree (Sophia did not attend college) and still both women now lead successful firms based on their innate sense of entrepreneurialism. Amoruso explains that “entrepreneurial people are passionate about what they do, comfortable with taking risks and quick at moving on from failure.” I have observed all these elements in the C-level team at MtoM (especially in my CEO and COO). Both Christine and Tracey (COO) left high-paying, high-level jobs to start MtoM because they seek rewarding work and a pay that not only satisfies your bills but pays for growth and innovation. Seeing the opportunity to leverage mom bloggers and influencers is not new in marketing but there are very few firms who have got it right and MtoM is one of them. Observing them in the day-to-day operations made me realize that entrepreneurialism is what transcends you from leader to a creator. Christine and Tracey have moved passed the roles of leading teams to creating business opportunities for MtoM and delegating leadership responsibilities to other members on the team. Prior to working at MtoM, I had a misunderstanding that entrepreneurs, CEO’s are primarily leaders but after working for a startup, my perspective has broadened and I see that leadership is a position that people in C-levels team may fulfill but their core responsibility is to identify trends, opportunities, risks, drive growth and keep the spirit of entrepreneurialism alive.
Lastly, the lesson and memory I will carry with me going forward is about the following four words that I experienced in action, “that’s not my job.”(Amoruso, 2014, p.163) Sophia describes how she “hates” these words and she goes on explaining that starting her own company she has done every possible job that she currently has someone else working under her. So, when she comes across those words, it is understandable why she does not tolerate that attitude. Similarly, I have seen my CEO being practically proficient in roles of every employee at the MtoM. During the recent turnover of an employee, there was a task that needed to be completed which both Christine and I knew a little off. Instead of assigning the work to her employee, Christine sat with me and we spent over five hours learning about the issue, problem-solving and eventually getting the task done. She could have assigned the task to me or anyone, however, she embodies and practices the act of never saying “that’s not my job.” Her five hours could have been used for other tasks but her dedication to her company is exemplified through moments like these. In my previous workplace, I have come across that dialogue many a times, however, now I have learned how to embody the act getting the job done even when it is not your job.
Sophia Amoruso, Christine Wilson, Tracey McCoy are women who are leaders (#Girlboss) in their actions and their work precedes them. Studying about leadership, entrepreneurialism, management does not justify the full scope as well as observing these values enacted by real life leaders in real-life scenarios. I believe I will seek more opportunities to work with leaders than read or study about them and I hope I will come to a point in my career where I can contribute my own #Girlboss lessons for the future generation of women.
Amoruso, S. (2014). #Girlboss. New York, Penguin Group LLC.