Build Networks, Strong Teams and Support Systems with Lynn Power (MASAMI)
Katerina: So, I welcome Lynn to the studio.
Lynn: Oh my god, thank you. Hi. Thanks for having me.
Katerina: Hi, how are you?
Lynn: I’m great. How are you?
Katerina: I’m good, good. Lynn, are you, um, you have a bachelor’s in Criminal Justice. How did you get into advertising?
Lynn: You know, you’re like the only person that actually picked up on that, which is amazing. You’ve done your research. Um, yeah, so I was one of those, you know, Liberal Arts college students who didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up. So I had a double major of Criminal Justice and English and I was thinking of going into law school which would have been a disaster because that’s just not at all what I would be good at. And when I graduated, I was actually thinking of joining the FBI. And I was really interested in that and then I applied and went through the whole rigmarole, and they basically said there’s a hiring freeze.
So then I’m like, “Well, now what?”, you know? “What am I going to do now?” So I ended up meeting a recruiter. Back in the day when you had to cut ads out of the paper because they didn’t have, there’s no, there’s no, you know, online resource. And she basically said, “You’re gonna work in advertising. I’m sending you on an interview, take the job.” And it was for a receptionist at an ad agency and sure enough, she was right. She’s like, “You’re gonna love it.” So I took the job and that was it.
Katerina: And you never looked back…
Lynn: I never looked back, you know… I found it was actually a perfect career for me because when you’re in advertising, you get to work on lots of different businesses. And it just makes it interesting, right?… Because every day is different. And you get to learn about lots of different things so that’s that was super enjoyable for me.
Katerina: Yeah. So, and it’s been 30, you’ve been in the advertising industry for 30 years, so that’s quite a career.
Lynn: Well, I’m old, I mean, yes… 30 years… I was in the business, I was running agencies, kind of, towards the end which is a very different job, by the way, you know, you’re dealing with HR and finance and all that stuff. You’re not dealing with the creative part of it so much anymore, which I really enjoy the creative part of it. Um, so that was one of the reasons why I kind of thought, “Okay, I’ve done this as far as I could do it.” Like, “Enough.” I wasn’t really enjoying it. Um, but yeah, I left.
It’ll be, yeah, two, two and a half years ago roughly. I started a brand consultancy, and I was working mostly with startups, helping them figure out their brand story, brand foundation, that kind of stuff. And then I met my business partner in haircare James, and sometimes life just throws stuff at you that you have to take, right? You’re just, it was serendipity. He was at a point where he had these products, these formulations and he just didn’t know what to do with them. And of course, I’m like, “Oh, I know what to do.” So we developed the branding and the packaging and the whole nine yards and launched in February.
Katerina: Yeah. Because you, you also, throughout your career you were sort of moving to different agencies and you ended up being a chief executive of a very famous company. How did you manage to get to that level? Because, you know, they talk about this, you know, ceiling, career ceiling and it’s especially difficult for women to get to senior management roles. How did you manage to get so high?
Lynn: Now, part of it is luck and part of it is making your own luck because I was at a large agency called BBDO for almost 10 years and I really loved it, but I definitely hit the ceiling. I was running an account or piece of an account, and you know, that was pretty much it. There was nowhere above me to go because the people that were there, the men that were, weren’t going anywhere. I mean, so, I would have waited and waited, waited and waited, so I decided, you know what, I’m going to go somewhere else so maybe there’s a little more opportunity. So, I left. I actually went to McCann to work on L’Oreal, but I hated it. I really didn’t like it. The culture there was really difficult and toxic. So I did that for a year and then I was thinking, “Okay, what do I want to do?” And actually one of the creatives that I worked with at L’Oreal had gone to a smaller agency called Arnold, and she called me up and she’s like, “Oh my god, we need somebody to run the Hershey account. Will you come over here?” And my feeling was, well, yes and no like, I’ll do it if there’s an opportunity to take a bigger role.
So, I went into that saying, “Okay, you might be hiring me for this particular job but I really want a bigger role to, you know, manage the office kind of thing.” And it took two or three years to get me in that role but I, but, but I did it. They, you know, they promoted me into that role and then, you know, it was just really successful. We grew the office like five, fivefold in five years. And it was just a really, really fun, great job. So, what I found was, and probably not so unique to the ad industry, but, you know, companies are reluctant to give you the big job unless you’ve had the big job. So, how are you going to get the big job if you’ve never had a big job, you know what I mean? So it’s like you got to put yourself in a position where you can get promoted into that but it’s tricky because it took a lot longer than I thought it would take. There were two other guys that wanted that job, you know?
It just, you just have to like, kind of put your head down and do your work and, um, also ask for what you want. You make it clear upfront. If I probably hadn’t said that going into that job that, you know, my expectation was that I would be elevated, they probably wouldn’t have done it because, you know, there are other squeaky wheels, other people that would have been demanding things. Um, so, that’s sort of how that happened, yeah. And then, and then of course, as I said, once, once you’ve done that kind of job, then you get calls for all kinds of jobs that are, you know, running agencies and all sorts of things and, and that’s, that was my, you know, moving to JWT was. It made such a big vulnerable, venerable agency as you, as you said, you know, the oldest ad agency in the world. That, that just seemed like a good challenge to try to turn that around.
Katerina: Yeah, cuz you were in charge of the turnaround of the company, right? When it was struggling? How did it go? Um, what changes did you…
Lynn: Well, yeah, I mean, I really ran, I ran the headquarter office so I wasn’t in charge of everything but, um, it was really, it was tricky because, um, so, I had a boss, the global CEO was named Gustavo Martinez. And there was a very public MeToo lawsuit, um, that happened.
Katerina: I’ve heard about it.
Lynn: Yeah. It was crazy.
Katerina: There were some articles online about it.
Lynn: I know. So, that happened like, two years into my job there and we had been doing really well. We, you know, we were winning business, things started to turn around, and then that happened and everything screeched to a grinding halt, you know? He resigned after a week. And because it wasn’t going away, this was sort of the first sign of “Oh, this is here to stay”, this MeToo thing. And he, um, so he ended up leaving and then, I mean, I was dealing with the lawyers, the clients, you know, the HR issues and, you know, we had a lot of clients that were questioning, “Well, what kind of culture do you have there that that goes on?” I’m like, “Well, our culture is actually a really great culture.”
Um, you have to let that investigation, in that case, play out but that’s not everyone’s experience, trust me, you know? Um, and it just made it incredibly difficult to get traction. So, the company really struggled and suffered and now, JWT doesn’t exist anymore. It was folded into another agency called Wunderman so it’s called Wunderman Thompson which, you know, for me, was sort of sad.
Katerina: Yeah. So, what did you like the most about your corporate career?
Lynn: I liked the variety and the people, you know? You get a lot of energy from working with interesting people and creative people and that’s, um, that was super enjoyable for me and I like, like I said before, like working on different businesses. I always found myself circling back to beauty. That was always one thing that I worked on throughout my career and then I’d end up, you know, I worked on L’Oreal and then all sudden I’m working on Clinique. And then I’m working on Nexxus, and you know, you just, that was always something that I enjoyed. Um, but I liked working on lots of different things, you know? Kept things interesting.
Katerina: And I guess you, you feel like it’s something you’re passionate about, to work on your own sort of brand, the Masami brand. I actually did some research about what it means and “Masam” means “becoming”, “become”, and “mi” means, gosh, it’s “beautiful”. That’s it.
Lynn: That’s right, yeah. Yeah. Well, oh, I was just gonna say it means, it means that which was great, but it’s also a nod to our muse, Masa, who is my partner James’s husband.
Lynn: Yeah, so he’s from Japan. And he’s the real reason for the ingredient that we use, that’s the sort of secret to our hydration. Um, it’s just seaweed, it’s an ocean botanical um, that basically, you know, he was eating every day. He grew up in northeast Japan so to them, it’s like the way we eat kale or avocados, you know? So, um, so Masa really was the inspiration so he, so the name has really two meanings.
Katerina: Yeah, yeah. Do you think that your experience, uh, you know, working for advertising, for a number of advertising agencies actually helped, um, you know, establishing this business? Because it’s been going for two and a half years? Or something like that?
Lynn: Yeah, it’s about two years but we just launched in February, so, you know, all the time leading up to that was the development of, you know, the formulations, the packaging, the name, all that stuff. Um, oh, absolutely. I can say my experience helped. I mean, I’ve done this for other brands, numbers, numerous times. And it just always felt like I’m helping other people build businesses and make money and now I’m like, I want to do it for myself.
Lynn: You just start to feel like, why am I doing all this for everybody else? Um, but, yeah, now my experience is um, beyond branding and marketing, you know, go to market strategy, you know, um, figuring out distribution, all that stuff. And so, it works out great because James and I have very complementary skill sets. He’s like the, you know, super passionate, product development guy. So he’s always cooking up like, what’s next. So we already have three new products in the pipeline.
Lynn: And I’m like the business, the business person, you know? So it’s a really nice partnership.
Katerina: Yeah. So, what will be your advice, um, for people who think about becoming an entrepreneur? Is it best to start working for someone else and gain experience, or just jump into starting up your business?
Lynn: I think it depends where you are in your life. I think there’s always a benefit to working for other people and seeing what they do.
Lynn: What you don’t like also, because there’s a lot to learn from even like, the bad bosses. Um, and, but I also think if sometimes people do that they get stuck, you know, they just, they just get stuck in these jobs and then all of a sudden, years go by and you missed that opportunity. So, um, I always do encourage people, if you have an idea, if you have this vision of doing something, don’t wait too long. Um, you know, I think the trick is if you’re going to do it on your own and you don’t have a lot of experience working for corporations or for other types of companies, um, then you just have to be really mindful of finding people around you, surrounding yourself with skill sets and capabilities that maybe you don’t have.
So, you just don’t want to have that blind spot. Um, and, you know, I think, um, a lot of the entrepreneurs I’ve worked with and startups I’ve worked with, um, you know, they, they’re a little more reluctant to find mentors or find, you know, um, build a network, I guess, of resources. But that’s super important, you know? It’s like you can’t do everything. Um, and I don’t even pretend to do everything and there’s stuff that I really don’t even like to do. So, that is like, I know I don’t really like it so, yeah. I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna try to figure it all out.
Katerina: Do you have a mentor?
Lynn: Um, I probably have several, actually, and I would say, I would say I also have people that I work with, that is, they wouldn’t call, they wouldn’t be considered mentors because they’re much younger than I am. But I learn, but I learn from them every day because they know things that I don’t know. I mean, my kids even, you know? They, they’re teaching me what to do on TikTok, you know? I have no idea. So, it’s, um, I always feel like even, you know, we had a program when I was… reverse mentorship, where it was like the old people learn from the young people and I think that’s really valuable, actually.
Katerina: Yeah. So, on the, on the stress level, I guess, you know, you’ve been working for advertising as several advertising agencies. And I guess you were managing someone else’s money, how to spend them, right?
Katerina: Someone else’s budget. Now you’re running your own business, and now you have to make all those decisions. How is it different? Or do you find any problems, figuring out what you should be or shouldn’t be spending or is it, is it easy because you already have this experience?
Lynn: Well, the big differences, we have, like, two nickels, because we’re self-funded as opposed to my clients who had, you know, huge budgets. So, when you have such limited resources, you just have to be really, really mindful of what you’re doing and what you’re spending and, um, it’s been actually pretty easy for us because we have a, you know, a plan. We kind of all are aligned on what we need to do. We know what products we want to put out next so, um, there’s no squabbling about the budgets, it’s like, you know, this is, this is sort of what it is. Um, but yeah, I would love more money. I’d love to have more money to spend.
Katerina: Yeah. Because the women entrepreneurs I’ve been talking to, they say that, well, it’s, it’s sort of a, it’s all, it’s coming from a lot of entrepreneurs that a lot of creative people, they are also lacking marketing and advertising, marketing experience and I guess you coming from the industry and you know all the tricks of the trade right? So that’s probably a little bit easier for you, isn’t it? Because you, kind of, can go back to your previous experience.
Lynn: Oh, absolutely.
Katerina: You have to guide the new ways, to market using digital marketing and all that.
Lynn: Yeah, I mean, the last, really decade of advertising agencies have been transitioning to more digital anyway. So, um, that’s not that difficult. I think the hard thing is more staying on top of all the algorithm changes on, you know, Facebook and Google and now there’s a new Instagram prod, you know, there’s just, just trying to stay on top of all now. Um, but as I said, I’ve got, I’ve got people on my team that are just, just more tapped in, um to some of that, and I just learn from them. And that works out really, quite well.
But having that experience, the branding marketing experience, has been invaluable, for sure. I mean, we get things done so fast, because we just, I just know, I just know what to do, you know? There’s no, there’s no real question. Um, so I do think the advantage of having a lot of experience when you’re starting up a company is, you can just move at a much, much, much faster pace. Um, because you’re much more confident in your decisions, you know what works, you know? You just don’t have to do a lot of road testing, if you will, you know?
Katerina: Yeah. So since, so since the, uh, since the start of this new business, Masami, um, what was the most difficult, sort of challenge, or um, the problem that you had to overcome since the start of the business?
Lynn: Well, I would say, you know, we launched right before COVID. So, um, even though we are like self-care, you know, which is a hot thing right now, um, it’s, it was definitely a weird time and we’re an unknown brand, you know? So, um, getting people to want to try us, trust us, use us, review us, you know, that’s, that’s all tricky amidst, you know, a global pandemic. So um, we definitely have, every day is like a new day, when you go, “Okay what’s gonna happen today?” And I would say we had to pivot a little bit, and we’re still doing that, um, which is normal but like, figuring out, you know, what to focus on, it’s, you know, content versus social versus digital acquisition and there were, there were a few weeks when we just didn’t do any, any advertising because it was like, you know, it just doesn’t feel right. Um, so that’s been, that’s been the biggest challenge, is trying to figure out, you know, how to manage through all this stuff that’s unprecedented, really.
Katerina: Yeah, because your company’s been, well, around for a couple of years now and, according to statistics, um, you know, small business statistics, that, I think a large chunk of, a large majority, the majority of companies kind of cease to exist in the first 18 or so months.
Katerina: You know, which they said could be the most difficult time for, for, for startups, and you seem to be kind of already sort of approaching the two years to mark right?
Katerina: So, was there a point, since the incorporation of the company that you thought maybe, oh, maybe it’s not gonna work? Or did you have any doubts or did you always believe in your idea?
Lynn: Yeah, I really didn’t have any doubts because the product formulations were so good. And it’s really hard to do clean haircare. So, to do clean haircare well and have it be high performing, it’s really hard. So, the fact that my partner had figured that out, was, was huge, you know? And like I said, I’ve worked in the industry for brands where they didn’t have as good of products. So you know, and you’re trying to make things up to make them seem good? But in this case, I was like, “Wow we really have, you know, a fantastic product that people love.” So I never had any doubts about that. Um, you know, there are always decisions you make along the way and you might question that decision or another decision but the brand itself I feel like is super relevant.
Katerina: Yeah. Because product quality is very, very important, isn’t it? Especially, for the physical product. And I understand your partner is overseeing the quality, right? Uh, the processes? ’Cause, why I’m asking, is, I used to have a, well, I created a brand with supplement Brompton. I used private label manufacturers in the U.S. and I had to close the company because, well, I couldn’t do it in the UK because there were no opportunities. The U.S. is more advanced in terms of private label manufacturers. But the problem I had with my manufacturer is that the quality, I mean, your manufacturing, a powder, and it was, there were lots of ingredients, added to the powder, and the colour of the powder was kind of dependent on one ingredient which was, was like, powdered berry and imagine that the first batch kind of came out a little bit purple, which was the normal colour. And the second batch was absolutely white.
Katerina: So, this, my, my customers were emailing me saying, “What’s going on?” It’s totally white and because I wasn’t there present at his manufacturing plant to oversee the quality process. And then the next batch he released, it was just almost dark black. It was so dark, he just put, put too much of it. And it was just this inconsistency in terms of the product quality. But, in your case, you have a partner who was overseeing the quality of the product right?
Lynn: I do and we also have a chemist in Chicago where we make our products. And so, you know, they have the recipe, if you will. And that’s what we really stick to. I mean we get our main ingredient Mekabu, which is our Japanese ocean botanical. We get that right from Japan in powder, in our product, but everything else, you know, that is, the product is made in the U.S. So, yeah. We try to, uh, obviously control that piece of it for sure.
Katerina: Yeah. Because it is important for a physical product. But, um, you know, just thinking about you moving from the corporate career to entrepreneurship, how do you, you know, how do I achieve, um, life-work balance, if there is such a thing?
Lynn: I just don’t think there is such a thing. So, I always talk about it as, actually it’s like work-life imbalance because there are gonna be days when you’re going to be super focused on whatever, your children, your husband, your situation. And then there are gonna be other days when you’re very focused on work, and sometimes it’s months that that happens. But what I actually do now is blend everything together. I don’t really have any separation between work and life meaning like, a lot of my friends work with me, um, which has been awesome.
Um, and I drag my kids to things like, I took my daughter to the Indie Beauty Expo in January. And she sat behind the booth, and she wore the little Masumi shirt. And she complains, but, um, you know, it’s, it’s sort of like, I just kind of blend it. And that seems to work now. Okay, it’s a little easier for me because my kids are teenagers. Um, so, you know, if I had little kids I couldn’t, you know, bring them to my work stuff but, um, but now that my kids are older, it’s like, I just drag them along. And that’s, that’s kind of a, you know because I travel a decent amount, I mean not so much with COVID, but I was travelling a decent amount so, um, it’s just a good way to kind of try to do it all, right?
Katerina: Yeah. So, how do you, uh, how do you relax? How do you, um, look after yourself? How do you, um, what strategies do you have not to have burnout? Because that’s very common for entrepreneurs, to have burnout. They just want to go flat out, working on their businesses and getting about themselves.
Lynn: Yeah, that’s a good question. I mean, I don’t think I have any sort of magic bullet but I do yoga pretty much every day. Um, and that usually, you know, I kick off my day and that usually helps because it’s sort of just, you know, lets me focus a little bit. Because I’m somebody, I have a hard time getting my brain to stop because there’s always stuff going on. And so, you know, just having, having a little, I have to force myself to have a little, like, downtime or calm time, off time, whatever you call it. Um, ’cause I don’t like sitting and doing nothing, but you do have to do that, so. But yoga has helped me a lot because um, it’s just, getting into it every day, that just makes it a little bit easier.
Katerina: Yeah. So what has the, in your view, what is the most, sort of important skill entrepreneurs have to learn to run successfully their business?
Lynn: I would say it’s, um, building a team. How to put the team together and finding the right skill sets and finding people who are culturally compatible, meaning they share your vision and they share your values. That’s huge. I’ve run into many entrepreneurs and startups where the team is not aligned, or they’re lacking key skill sets. Um, and that’s just hard to make a business for when, you know, you don’t have a solid team so I would say, number one, build a team and be very self-aware again. I said it earlier but like, of what you’re good at and what you don’t. What you want to do and what you don’t want to do. Because then, you just need to supplement with people that know how to do that stuff. If you don’t like to do the finances, get a really great finance person on your team, you know? So, I think that’s absolutely critical. And it’s something you can learn because people have asked me, “Well, I don’t know how to hire people.” And, but you can figure it out and learn over time. It’s like muscle and you can build that.
Lynn: And then I think resilience, you know? You just have to sort of recognising that stuff is gonna happen and you just have to keep going, you know? Stuff out of your control that’s gonna happen right?. I mean, it’s the nature of the beast.
Katerina: Do you consider yourself being a resilient entrepreneur?
Lynn: Oh my god, absolutely. I think you have to be.
Lynn: I think you have to, sort of, be willing to dig in and if something’s not working, look at something else too, you know, you just have to, you have to be open-minded, you have to be willing to try different things. Um, that’s another place where I see entrepreneurs get stuck, are they don’t want to change you know? They have this vision and the vision is set, it’s like, well that’s not really working. So you do have to, you know, be willing to mix it up.
Katerina: Have you ever thought of quitting or just kind of, you know, going back to the corporate career?
Lynn: Oh god, no.
Lynn: No, no. I would have a hard time going back into the corporate worlds. I just like my freedom. I like the flexibility. Um, and also, like, I’m somebody that’s wired to be productive and I like being busy. I like making things. So, if I just decided to, retire, I would be miserable, I think.
Katerina: Yeah, so you’re responsible more for the creative part of the business, right? Coming up with…
Lynn: I would say, so, yeah. Like the marketing…
Katerina: The marketing side of it, yeah. I was actually teaching um, on the module just, and we had to put together market research, the project and then the launch. The project and how to like, a brand extension, and yeah, students just found it so difficult to actually, coming up with some, some, some creative ideas, I guess. How important creativity is, for the entrepreneur? What do you think?
Lynn: Uh, I think it’s really important because if you think about how many messages we’re inundated with all the time, you have to figure out a way to breakthrough. Um, and it’s not that easy and a lot of times, you know, founders get caught up in their own idea or their own vision that doesn’t really resonate broadly. So, you know, you’d have to translate it into something where people see it and they get it and it’s also really hard sometimes to distil your thinking into a few words or a sentence, or an elevator pitch basically. That I think, for many entrepreneurs, is the hardest part. They just, they can tell you in five minutes or 10 minutes what they do but, you ask them to say it in 20 seconds and it’s like, impossible.
So I think, I think, um, that’s one of the things that founders and entrepreneurs need to, sort of, think about more. It’s like, how to really articulate the brand because the brand foundation is so critical. And, um, oftentimes people get enamoured with the product, and they’re not thinking about the brand. And then they’ll go ahead and launch stuff and it’ll be all over the place, you know? The brand personality and the voice will be totally disconnected and then the iconography won’t feel connected and the logo will feel you know, so it’s…
Katerina: I just loved it on your website, this, this, Our Story. I think it was James? Met someone and fell in love?
Lynn: Masa. Yeah, yeah.
Katerina: …like reading a poem about it.
Lynn: Yeah. That’s what really happened. I mean he met his husband who was Japanese and he went to Japan and it was really, that was the start because if it wasn’t for Masa, we never figured out that we can put the seaweed into our products, you know?
Katerina: Yeah. And especially for, for, for your brand, because it’s, um, uh, it’s quite a premium brand as well because I’ve looked at some prices. For the shampoo, I think it’s $38 or something like that?
Katerina: So, who is your target market then? For this product range?
Lynn: So, it’s interesting because when we did our consumer testing, we tested on every hair type that we could find. And we found that the product is, you know, it’s hard to say that it works for everyone because there are always people that will say that they don’t like it, but it basically works for 80 to 90% of people, and that includes men. So, and that was intentional because, you know, when I worked in the industry for brands like L’Oreal, you know, they would grow by adding more skews to their, to their shelf. So, they would create the version for colour treated hair, or the version for, you know, you want smooth hair? Do you want shiny hair? You know, you’d have to pick your choices.
And we just decided no, we want to actually create products that work for everybody. We don’t want to have versions of our shampoo. There’s one shampoo. And it’s like, that’s, that’s one shampoo that works really well, and that’s what it is. So, um, yeah. That was sort of our philosophy so back to your question about the target when we launched, I really thought it was going to be like these beauty explorers who live in more urban areas, who have discretionary income. They’re called HENRYs in some places, you know, high, high earners, not rich yet. Um, but what I found is actually the people that love our products most are a little bit older, um, either their hair’s starting to thin a little bit and they want the volume which hydration gives you, um, or the other, two other groups — pregnancy, because we have…
Katerina: It doesn’t have all the… yeah.
Lynn: Well, that sort of emerged as an interesting target and then also people with really curly hair love our styling cream. They love our products because they struggle with how to maintain their natural curls in a way that looks natural and not, not using products that give you that crunch, or that weird hold and stuff. And so, I’ve had a lot of curly hair converts who like, just are absolutely like, will only use our product, basically, from now on. They just love it.
So, that’s been a learning experience, you know, figuring out, and that’s, you know when I talked earlier about needing to be able to adapt and sort of pivot, that’s one of those things where you’re like, “Oh, I guess the target isn’t exactly what we thought it was.” Oh, and by the way, we have like 40% of our buyers are men. Now, I knew that you know, our products are gender-neutral but I didn’t think we’d have that much, that high of a, um, sort of male, you know.
Katerina: Men just want to be as beautiful as women today.
Lynn: They need it, too. They need hydration, too. Exactly. But yeah, we’re good with men. I mean, we just figured it would be easier to get women. So when we do advertise, we tend to target women but like, um, we have like a lot, you know, as I said, men find us and I don’t even…
Katerina: I think some men actually pay more attention to the, to the, to their, you know, faces more than women.
Lynn: That’s true. Absolutely…
Katerina: Yeah. Flipped on its head. No, yeah, it’s, it’s, um, definitely, I’ve looked at it and the design was really kind of sleek and it’s, it’s, you can tell it’s a premium brand. But, yeah, for the premium brand, as you said, you have to build this sort of brand awareness and have a story behind it so people associate your brand with, with it, with the story and, and buy it. But, uh, you also mentioned that you’ve been, um, involved in some mentoring of, of, of women in advertising. And what do you think is the most, um, you know, the biggest problem for, for women, women in the corporate world, and also maybe when they become entrepreneurs? What are the most, um, well, what is the limiting, you know, what limitation women have in the workplace? Or in the, you know, in business when they run a business which they can overcome?
Lynn: I would say the thing that I see consistently and I was guilty of this too is that women don’t ask for what they want. Women just sort of think, okay if I work really hard and have it down, you know, I’ll get promoted, I’ll get noticed, but in the meantime, the guys are in their boss’s office asking for the raise and the promotion and, you know, and then, and then what happens is, you know, the squeaky wheel. You know, you, you start to look around and then, wait, how did that guy get promoted before me?
And while you never really, it shouldn’t, I always felt like I shouldn’t have to say that I want to get promoted. It’s obvious, like, you know, and I’m doing a better job, like, but I think the reality of the world, is that if you don’t put your, your desires out there clearly and state what you want and make it like this is, this is the plan that I have and this is what I expect and this is what I want, then you’re not gonna get it. Longer to get it, you know?
Katerina: I’m just kind of applauding to you because you, you are a CEO in a big organisation and, um, women just, there are not many women, you know, chief executives in the board, uh, on the board of directors because for some reason, um, they just can’t get there. Um, and, um, I don’t know. I was talking to some girl on this programme about misogyny and she’s running an app, well, she’s got her own app, which is just for girls, and she has a number of men on the board of directors and she’s being challenged on, on a daily basis how to run her own business. And, yeah.
Lynn: That’s annoying.
Katerina: Yeah. And, uh, she’s, she’s just struggling, in a way, and she, she just, “I don’t understand, you know? It’s my business and I have this 50-something man telling me how to run a girl-only business.” Um, so, yeah. This is a challenge for any woman. But, um, and what about the women intrapreneurs? What do you think is the, what are we lacking, you know, when we start businesses? What should be the, what should we be working on?
Lynn: I would say…
Katerina: To make it more successful.
Lynn: It’s something I mentioned before, but I think women need to be more, more conscious or mindful of building networks and support systems. Uh, because men have those already. And a lot of times women will start something or do something and not really have that network. And so, I always say to women like, meet people, just because, like, you know, and it’s women are more, you know, it’s like, “Oh I’m too busy. I don’t, I can’t have coffee with that person.” It’s like, no. Make, make, get, make yourself get out there. Like, I used to meet three or four new people a week at JWT, that were just interesting, because you never know where there might be a connection or there might be serendipity or the, you know, so. And it’s so important to have a network of people that support you.
And the other thing is to join female founder groups because I’m a member of several, and just having that resource to be able to ask questions, um, to be able to actually support each other. One of the things we started doing with Masumi when COVID hit was joining forces with other female-founded brands to do giveaways and gifts with purchase and blog posts and, you know, social media and helping each other. So, you know, it was easy because I had a built-in network of the types of brands that I could tap, and it’s been awesome, like having the ability to support each other, but if you don’t have that network, it’s so much harder.
So, I would say when you’re thinking about stuff, you know, think about that and then also just make sure that your road test your idea with a lot of different people, that you get feedback along the way, um, you know, so that it’s a viable, scalable idea. And it’s not just something that you love but it’s something that you do market and builds a business off of.
Katerina: Yeah. I, presently, been doing some, some, some research for me on, on Facebook, you know, Facebook Insights. And, you know, you got, there are keywords found in entrepreneurship, small business, and then you kind of select, you know, women, or, and you realise and then you click on groups they like, and they don’t seem to be liking any of the business-related groups. It’s all babies and engagement rings and, on Facebook.
Katerina: So, it’s, it’s like they’re running businesses but they’re sort of, they’re still kind of meant to be moms and partners, and, and this is what they’re all about. And not much focusing on business-related, um, you know, topics and groups is like almost this is, their priority is being a woman, and being a mom, and being a partner as opposed to just kind of liking on the pages, ‘How to be a better businesswoman.”
Lynn: That’s true. Yeah, no, I think, I think there’s truth to that. And I will say, it was, it took a little time for me to figure out where those women were, where the groups were, but they are there. You just have to do a little digging.
Katerina: Yeah, yeah. Because, ’cause I guess it’s a bit biased because it’s, it’s, it’s selecting according to the number of likes. But, uh, yeah, if you want to know if you’ve used this Insights, um, Facebook Insights, but you can choose to say, look at the way, you know, that, you know, is the majority of people, you know men or women, and you click on women and then you can see what is even the age, sort of bracket, bracket of women who kind of have this criterion of, you know, liking entrepreneurship and stuff like that. But then you go into much more detail about what they like and what pages they’re looking at. And they’re not business-related.
And that’s my main problem, I think, for women that are not really, um always focusing on the business side of it. And I think the movie that they, uh, I think the movie they like is like, 50 Shades of Grey. Never seen… Oh, I need to watch it. But, um, no, this is, uh, this is interesting, I think, talking to you. But, um, uh, what advice would you give, uh, women entrepreneurs who aren’t starting now?
Lynn: Because of COVID?
Katerina: Um, the job market is in slumps and people choose to maybe _____ side hustle and, um, especially those who have been _____ and stuff like that. So, what advice would you give to these entrepreneurs?
Lynn: Yeah, I still think it’s like, figure out if the idea you have has merit, you know? Um, make sure there’s a market for it, get your network in place, get your resources in place, figure out, um, you know, who you really need on your core team to make this thing work and make it be successful. You don’t have to leave your corporate job right away, you know? You can do a lot on the side and figure some of this out. Um, so, I always say it’s not an “either-or”, especially these days. Um, so, once, once you feel though that you’ve got what you need, you know, then you’ve gotta, you’ve got to really commit because it’s just, you’re not going to be successful if you’re just doing kind of half-ass, you know?
Katerina: Yeah. So, what, what final advice, specifically women entrepreneurs, who is our audience for this podcast?
Lynn: Yeah, I would say, um, act like a man, find mentors, um, and I would also say, put yourself out there, you know? Um, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Um, that goes with, you know, if you’re meeting with investors, you’re meeting with partners, you’re whoever. And leverage other women who are, you know, you’re gonna find super generous and want to help. That’s been my experience.
Katerina: Okay. No, thank you so much for, this advice and thank you for coming to the show, Lynn. It was a pleasure.
Lynn: Yeah, thank you so much. I really enjoyed it. Thank you.
Katerina: Good luck with your new business. And I’ll hear more from you in the future, I’m sure.
Lynn: Thank you.