About This Episode
With the goal of empowering executives to unleash their potential, Dana Theus, CEO of InPower Coaching, offered her expertise in communication and relationship skills. We talked about how to use those skills to help persuade leadership, colleagues and overall become a better digital marketer, especially if you’re a woman.
“I do a lot of work with women, especially women on the leadership track because the system was built for men, not women. Women need an extra way to think about success that feels authentic to who they are. When we are our best selves, we will be more successful in the world.” – Dana Theus
In this episode, you will learn:
- How can digital marketers become more effective when communicating negative news?
- How can you become a better listener to build empathy and understanding?
- Tips for persuading the C-suite vs cross teams.
- Tips for building relationships and be more influential in virtual meetings.
Dana Theus helps executives activate their most authentic leadership qualities and elevate their natural abilities to grow and lead others. She is a seasoned marketing executive with experience in Fortune 500 companies, tech startups, and nonprofits.
This episode of Digital Marketing Victories is about communication & relationship skills. Dana Theus shares with us to manage your work relationships, plan your career development, and develop better leadership habits that improve your ability to be more impactful.
Lastly, she gives tips on building relationships and understanding your clients and coworkers better to be more persuasive.
If you’re interested in learning how to build relationships more effectively, learn tips for how to deliver bad news successfully, this episode is for you.
Connect With Dana
- Women in Leadership: What Works – A Guide For Women, Their Mentors & Allies (Free download)
- Personal Brand Coaching Insights – Advice For Every Stage of Your Career (Free download)
- Change Management
- InPower Dimension Coaching Facebook Community
- Free career coaching resources
- Women’s Mastermind Membership
Other episodes you’ll enjoy:
- Episode 18: How To Be Persuasive In Managing A Digital Transformation Project – Tony Kopetchny
- Episode 17: How to Advance Your SEO Career – Morgan Petrov
- Episode 16: Ecommerce Launch Marketing Best Practices – Will Russell
[00:00:00] Katherine Ong: Welcome to the Digital Marketing Victories Podcast, a monthly show where we celebrate and learn from the change makers in digital marketing. I’m personally obsessed with how digital marketers sell through and get their ideas executed.
I’m your host, Katherine Watier Ong. I’m the owner of W Strategies LLC. We focus on organic discovery for our enterprise clients with a training centered approach.
Today we’re joined by Dana Theus. Dana’s the CEO of InPower Coaching. She helps executives activate their most authentic leadership qualities as a coach. She elevates her clients’ natural abilities to grow and lead others. Empowered leaders move beyond obstacles in their business and their careers to achieve self mastery, emotional intelligence, and an intuitive command of group dynamics. With this enhanced capacity, her clients can unleash their potential for higher levels of impact. And before starting your coaching business, Dana actually worked in marketing for Fortune 500 companies, tech startups, and nonprofits where I met her now, she coaches established and emerging leaders on how to develop lifelong emotional intelligence, managed their work relationships, plan their career development and develop better leadership habits that improve their ability to be more impactful.
This episode is gonna be perfect for you. If you’ve ever wondered how you can work on your communication and relationship skills to be more persuasive, which is the whole purpose of the podcast, change your strategy when communicating with the C-Suite, and be an effective change agent within your organization. Position yourself for promotion if you’re in house, and how to manage the stress that comes with being in our fast-paced industry. So without further ado, here’s our interview with Dana Theus.
Dana, thanks for agreeing to be on my podcast.
[00:01:45] Dana Theus: Thanks for asking me.It’s always wonderful to talk to you, but it’s also wonderful to talk to you when we’re both trying to think about helping other people. .
[00:01:54] Katherine Ong: Right, exactly. As background, Dana has been my mentor on and off. She’s the one who nudged me to start my own business. So it’s your fault. I’m kidding.
[00:02:03] Dana Theus: Wait a minute.
[00:02:05] Katherine Ong: I love what I do. I’m glad you gave me the little nudge . So can you tell me more about yourself, your marketing background and how you transitioned in particular from marketing to coaching?
[00:02:16] Dana Theus: Yeah. Well, so I started my career actually in government affairs, in international lobbying basically.
And that was fun, but. I realized that like who I would need to be to be that person who’s the best lobbyist in the world was not who I wanted to be. So I transitioned into marketing and I spent about 15 years there kind of launching internet sites when the internet was brand new, , like in the nineties, and then into the odds..
And, and I really love doing that and I love launching new businesses. I love the technology. I started doing strategic branding with a startup. Founders and executives. And in that context, I started getting to listen to them, you know, like the owners of the company, the, the people who are running the business and starting the business and, and listen to what their problems were when it came to branding.
And a lot of the time it came out like they’d come to me like, oh, we need a new logo. And then after I was talking to them, it’d be like, I don’t know what my business is . I’m trying to form my business and I figure if I get a new logo, I will know what my business is and how to market it. And so the conversations I was having with them on strategic branding was way more interesting than logo design and, and website design.
So I just said, you know what? I think I’m kind of, I ran my 15 year career in marketing and loved it, and I’m ready to start helping these leaders. Figure out who they are in their leadership self and how that relates to their company and help them become better leaders so they could run better companies.
So that, that took me into coaching. And in addition to coaching, I do like strategic plan facilitation and executive meeting facilitation and stuff like that. But my real passion is around coaching, and helping people become the leader they want.
[00:04:16] Katherine Ong: That’s awesome. So tell us a little bit more about, particularly your coaching services. Who do you normally help? What kind of support do you give them?
[00:04:25] Dana Theus: So, I like, I like to think of it as the person who knows they can be a better leader and be their best selves by being their most effective in their business. That’s the person I love to work with cuz they’re really, they wanna be successful, they want career success.
You know, they want to, to make more money and get more clients and like, you know, they want that kind of success, but they wanna do it by being authentic. They wanna do it by being their best selves and in that sense, get a twofer. And, and that’s, that’s my sweet spot. When we are our best selves, we should be more successful in the world.
But just being your best self doesn’t always make you successful in the world if you don’t know how the world works, right? How do the bus, how’s the organization you’re in really working? And so learning those skills takes us to different levels of success that are more sustainable. Cuz when we just work harder, we burn out.
We’re not more successful. So learning those abilities to be your best self in a way that makes you capable of more and having a greater impact. That’s the win-win. I do a lot of work with women, particularly women on the leadership track because the system was built for men, not for women. And so women kind of need an extra way to think about success that feels authentic to who they are, and that really is intriguing to me, and I get a lot of joy from having.
You know, come to me going, “I don’t know how to succeed in this environment” and leave our coaching engagement saying, “Wow, not only do I know how to succeed in this environment, I can do it by being my full self and being authentic”. And that, that to me just is, is wonderful. And it’s not, it’s, it’s a journey
So I like working with them on that journey.
[00:06:22] Katherine Ong: That’s amazing.
So I, I know you’ve worked with your clients on helping them be more effective communicators. But I’m kind of curious based on the stuff that folks who are listening usually have to communicate, which a large amount of the audience is SEOs.
So often times we’re communicating negative news. Either Google changed the rules and pulled the rug out from underneath the website we’re working on, or we just started and it’s a mess. And so how do you coach your clients on being more persuasive and yet still deliver news that could be at face value negative?
[00:07:01] Dana Theus: Yeah, there are, this is such a complex topic, as you know, and here’s, here’s my core advice, like the simple version of the advice, which is to, to, to look, to look at the person you’re communicating with as a human being. who has emotions . To think about the success of that interaction, not as a business transaction, but as a personal transaction.
So how can I communicate whatever it is I have to communicate to this person? How can I do it in a way that actually helps them? And if I come at every communication that way, I’ll think about it differently than if I think about I have bad news data. That I need them and I need them to sign this approval for this investment to, to change that.
You know, I, I know that that’s my business outcome, but I also know this is a human being who is gonna be challenged by this news, may get defensive, may be upset, may be stressed. You know, how can I give them this information and get them to understand their options? And the investments they could make in a way that would make them feel good about making those investments.
You know, if I frame the problem in those human terms, I’ll come at it differently, and then there’s a thousand communication techniques you can use to address, you know, to, to accomplish that. But the real thing is looking at them as human beings who have challenges and your job is to give, To empower them or to make them feel like they have options and, to, to, to take them from feeling powerless with the terrible data you’re giving them.
Make them feel more powerful because they understand reality and they know what their choices are that will make things better. So. That’s the basic answer to that question. There are a lot of tech, there are a lot of different techniques that might be helpful in doing that. I don’t know if you wanna dive into those
[00:09:17] Katherine Ong: Well, well yeah cuz I actually want to point the listeners to two different episodes that have a very similar answer to Dana’s.
So Will Russell and episode 16 actually talks about having empathy because he works on crowdfunding campaigns with entrepreneurs that have all the money on the line and how to be empathetic. And then episode 18, the one right before this one with Tony. Tony talks quite a bit about how to have that kind of empathy and envision that, you know, the employee you’re delivering this to, if you’re an outside consultant, it might impact their job.
Like that kind of empathy. So I’ve had some guests kind of cover the empathy part a bit. So go ahead, give us a little bit more, because I would love to hear a little bit more tactical stuff that folks can use.
[00:09:59] Dana Theus: Yeah, so empathy is definitely an important component. But I would say that from a, from a technique standpoint, let’s just take a scenario like you’ve got the monthly data on.
Your SEO stats and it’s not very good. You know, a couple of keywords crater. And I’m, by the way, I’m living, I am living through this. Like, I, I had, I was number one on my key keyword, and then Google lost my site for eight months. .
[00:10:30] Katherine Ong: Oh.
[00:10:30] Dana Theus: And my, my poor marketing person was like, You know, showing me the data, trying, we were trying to figure it out and it’s a long story I won’t bother you with, but you know, so I’m living this reality on both sides in a lot of ways.
So I, I get that. And, and I would say the first thing, the first thing to do is understand, okay, this is a bad day, this is bad news. I have to give them, what, where, what actions can they take to make it better? So before you even talk to them, understand their choices, and the choices that you wanna give them, that can get them out of the hole they’re gonna be in when they absorb the data.
So you’re gonna give ’em some bad news. Great. What will they be able to do? Will they be? Mess with some keywords to make it better. Will they be able to make an investment in retooling part of their site? You know, what’s, what is the spectrum of options you can give them from very low cost to very high cost.
And that may be financial, it may be their time. You know, like understanding the choices you can give them so that they can’t, they don’t need to just stay in the bad feeling of the terrible data, right. And in that sense, you’re, you’re not. It’s what you’re doing is you’re not just giving them the problem, you’re giving ’em a solution, right?
So the first thing to do when you’re delivering that kind of bad news, and this is different by the way, in some ways, than if you’re giving people feedback like I’m giving you, I wanna give you feedback that you didn’t do a great job leading that meeting. That’s slightly different. But this same principle applies.
You don’t wanna just leave them with all terrible feedback. You’re giving ’em, you wanna give them ideas and choices for how they can get out of that bad feeling place, right? Take positive action based on what you’re gonna be telling them. So that’s number one. Before you talk to them, be clear on what the problem is, but also be clear on either solutions or options you can give them.
Number two is to be empathetic . And you know, when you share the data with. Ask them how they feel about it or how they view it. Like get them to talk about their experience of receiving this data or this feedback. And what you’re trying to do there is, that’s part of how you are empathetic. You understand how they’re hearing you and you’re actually listening to how they’re hearing you.
Because, because you may think, okay, they’re not gonna like this because, they’re gonna have to go tell their boss that their stats went down, and they may be, as you pointed out, worried they’re gonna lose their job. If they’re worried they’re gonna lose your job, you want them, you wanna hear that from them so you can kinda ratchet up your empathy , right?
So, and, and part, part of what you’re doing when you’re asking them to talk about how they’re receiving it, you know, not only what questions do they have, but you know, do they understand it? Do you know what do they think are their biggest challenges? This problem is like you. You know what you think they are, but what do they think they are?
Part of what you’re doing is giving them a chance to process it because part of getting bad news is kind of having to process it , and if you give them the opportunity in your conversation to process it, you’re doing them a service to kind of help them think out loud about what to do with this.
How bad is this news? They may be thinking it’s much worse than it actually is. So let ’em talk about that. And then you could say, actually, it’s not that bad. So a lot of the time when we wanna deliver bad news, we’re uncomfortable with the idea that they’re gonna be uncomfortable. So we try to just move on by.
And so you wanna give them an opportunity to process a little bit and help you see where they’re at. So you can figure out how much empathy to apply . So first thing is come prepared with some solutions. Secondly, deliver the news, but then let them talk about it. Let them tell you how they’re feeling about it, what they think about it, what they don’t understand.
How bad do they think it is, and depending on your relationship with them, if you’re a consultant, you may be. Need to tell them it’s worse than they think it is, or it’s better than they think it is. Like, like, you know, based on what you’re hearing them talk about, you might have some work to do. Then you present ’em, you know, with what the options are.
You think maybe you need to confer with them and align with them on their options. And. What you wanna do is get to a place where you’re not stuck in the bad news. You have choices and you have an action plan. Because a lot of the time when we feel, when we’re feeling powerless, either cuz we just got bad news or because we had an uncomfortable interaction or whatever, the way out of powerlessness is.
What can I do? What action can I take that will help me start feeling better or help me start making this situation better? So again, in a feed, in a management feedback context, this advice might be a little different, but that framework works in almost every situation. You know, have the bad news data, have some solutions, let them process.
And then get to an action plan. I will also say that sometimes you can’t, you and or they can’t process in the first conversation and you need to give it time. So you might say, okay, you know, this is a lot. I know it’s a lot. Either there’s a lot of data I’m giving you, or it’s just a bigger problem than you thought you had.
So let’s have this conversation, let’s make it about the problem. I have some solutions in mind, but let’s meet tomorrow. Why don’t you take some time to think about, you know, the problem, and then we’ll come back to talk about the solution separately. Sometimes you have to turn it into two conversations.
[00:16:50] Katherine Ong: I think that’s super helpful.
I’m gonna play it back and use the transcript to create notes for myself. Especially, especially all the questions that you can sort of ask. That’s great. So I know as part of your coaching process, you also talked to your clients about building relationships. Obviously a big part of what folks in my industry need to do, I think to be persuasive, so, What kind of tips do you give your clients to be more influential, to build relationships?
And are there any things that you’ve pivoted to tell them about now that we’re in more of a virtual environment with some of our meetings?
[00:17:28] Dana Theus: Good question.
Dana Theus: Again, there’s a thousand techniques. I would say that the core that applies across, you know, in person virtual, managing up, managing down, you know, managing clients, all those different formats is, to try to understand to the best of your ability, what is the other person that you’re talking to care about?
Like, what motivates them? And, and this sounds so easy and sometimes. We just get stuck. Like, I can’t, I’m not a mind reader, right? I don’t know how to read their minds, but it’s amazing if you just ask people questions they want to talk about themselves. So if you don’t know what motivates somebody, you can kind of ask them and kind of, and just something like what does success look like for you?
I mean, a lot of people really need to think about that question. So it’s, you’re doing them a service, especially if you’re a consultant. You’re doing them a service by letting them talk about what success looks like. But anyway, to get back to the point, you know, understanding what people think success looks like for them gives you a way to think about how to communicate with them and talk to them and persuade them.
That’s tailored more to who they are than to who you are. And that’s work. You know, sometimes it’s easy to talk to them as though they’re us. Like, here’s, here’s what would make me sign this check or, you know, do this thing. But it may not do it for them. And I will say I’ve had clients, you know, who are negotiating like contracts or, you know, various kinds of work orders and things like that come back to me and say, you know, I actually.
We’re in the middle of the negotiation and I said, hang on a second. You know what, what, what really makes this agreement or signing work for you? And the other person just started explaining what they needed out of the contract and the whole negotiation changed. like, because they just wanted, you know, like, forget what’s on the, we’ll come back to the words on the paper.
Tell me what you need to succeed. And all of a sudden they were able to reach an agreement really quickly because they just shifted to. That kind of core, that core thing. Now, in a virtual world versus an in person world, you know the cues you get for what motivates people, what excites them, what gets them interested, you know, the cues can be a little different, but they’re still human.
Like, you know, you can be on the phone and ask a good question and listen carefully and really hear where their excitement goes up and where it goes down. So now you’ve got an indicator, you know, your job is to keep giving them things that turn ’em on, to get ’em excited, to get ’em interested. So pay attention to what’s working and do more of that.
I don’t know. Did we stay on the question or did we go off ?
[00:20:28] Katherine Ong: Yeah, I think so. I was curious about how you help folks be more influential in conversations, informal conversations particularly.
[00:20:38] Dana Theus: Yeah yeah so, so actually even the core technique underneath the, what motivates them and what does success looks like? Just pay attention to what interests them, what gets them to lean in versus what gets them to lean out and in an informal conversation.
Pay attention to what they’re getting interested in and do more of that. Now, I will say there are, there are like motivational personality types and maps. We always know about the introvert versus the extrovert, and there’s people who get it. Turned on by recognition, you know, feeling special. Like, you know, hey, you’re, you’re noticing who I am. I’m getting attention. And, and most of those are extroverts, but not always.
Everybody likes attention in some form, you know? And then there are people who are more intellectual, you know, they’re more about thinking about it and then let’s go do research. And there are other people who are very structured and they like stability and they like predictability, you know? And then there’s other people who are very relationship oriented.
They like community, they like to connect with other people. So, and there’s a thousand tests that do that, and you can try to think about, well, who is this I’m talking to? Are they more stability or, you know, knowledge oriented? And, and that can be helpful but personally I just find it’s more binary than that.
I’m either talking about something that interests them or I’m not. And if they’re, if I’m not, and I don’t know what it is, I just ask. What do they think is most interesting about this thing? And then listen to them talk and they give me all the cues I need to know how to keep ’em talking or, you know, reveal their values and their interests.
Dana Theus: Me, you know, it’s, it’s amazing how often we, we either ask questions and don’t listen or we don’t ask questions. So.,
[00:22:26] Katherine Ong: So do you have a good resource for people to become more question oriented? And a better listener cuz you brought it up a ton of times. So I’m kind of wondering if there’s some book you read that you know, really cemented it for you?
[00:22:41] Dana Theus: You know, no. Although, I do. I probably have some resources somewhere on my site I could give you, I do a lot of workshops on this about active listening and, and how to be an active listener. And honestly, we can do a two hour workshop, you know, and practice active listening. And it all comes down to this
Challenge yourself to learn how to just ask questions and not give. And, learn that as a skill. And the way you do that is the way I did it and it worked. For one week, I forced myself in every conversation to not give advice for the first five minutes . For the first five minutes, I just ask questions.
I got by the end of that week, I was a way better question, answer asker. because I couldn’t say anything if I didn’t ask a question.
[00:23:39] Katherine Ong: That sounds like you had a monitor sticky to remind yourself or something?
[00:23:42] Dana Theus: I did.
[00:23:43] Katherine Ong: Oh, okay.
[00:23:43] Dana Theus: I totally did. I just, it was like I could only do it for like a week cuz it was hard.
But at the end of the week, I was a way better question, answer asker. And the thing is, when you’re forcing yourself just to ask questions and not give advice, you actually end up listening much more carefully. Cuz you’re like, I have to come up, I have to follow this up with a question, not advice. So I have to listen to what they’re saying.
What would be a logical question they’re telling me about. Their dog, and I wanna talk about our contract, you know, , how do I, how do I ask a question that gets them from their dog to their, to the contract? Something like, you know, oh, well, you know, did, did your dog’s problem with his, you know, His, his whatever this thing is.
You’re talking about your dog running away. Did that keep you from getting to work on time? You know, like trying to get to the work conversation? It was, it was wild. But if you do that, if you just force yourself for a certain period of time to just practice asking questions and. And you’ll learn how to do it better, and you’ll become a way better listener as a result.
[00:24:48] Katherine Ong: That’s great.
[00:24:49] Dana Theus: I wish it was more complicated than that. It’s really not .
[00:24:51] Katherine Ong: No, I, I love, believe me, there are plenty of bus business books to read. I love an easy answer. Like that sticky note on your monitor for a week. So, because I know you, you were an in-house marketer. As we were chit chatting before this episode.
Katherine Ong: We came around to the whole, like, how do you keep your enthusiasm and expertise in particular as an in-house marketer? And I have to admit, this was my particular problem, which is why I became a question, which is why I consult versus in-house. . But say you’ve decided you love this brand and you wanna be in house, but you don’t wanna three months in, be fighting for all the expertise that they hired you.
[00:25:33] Dana Theus: What do you mean fighting for all the expertise?
[00:25:35] Katherine Ong: Oh, well, just having people, in my experience, I had people sort of question the things that they thought were amazing. When I was a consultant prior to being in one instance, I literally was a consultant and then I was an employee.
[00:25:47] Dana Theus: Oh yeah. The whole problem.
Dana Theus: As an outsider, you’re way more interesting, valuable, and smart.
[00:25:53] Katherine Ong: Yes, yes. That, that problem, that problem. But, but say you just really wanna be in house at a brand, so how do you make it work..
[00:26:02] Dana Theus: Well, having done both internal and external marketing, I will say that as an external person, you do have credibility. You just don’t have it internally. Now I will also say that when you start at an internal position, those first three months, are you shot at getting the most credibility? Not, not the most credibility you’ll ever get, but it’s your shot at setting the floor for your credibility.
So the way you show up in the first three months of your, of any job as a market or anything else, really sets the floor for your credibility. So you gotta really show up as your best self better than you were in your last job. Cause you, you still have some of that external. You know, kind of glow.
[00:26:50] Katherine Ong: Yeah.
[00:26:50] Dana Theus: You gotta leverage it. You gotta take advantage of it. So that’s number one is like starting off on your best foot. And then I would say that the, there, there’s, there are a couple, there’s, there are a couple of ways to stay motivated cuz there’s several problems that happen when you’re internal.
One is the credibility issue you’re bringing up. The other is you just get caught up in it. Politics, right? I mean, you know, organizations are like organisms and they carry all this baggage. And for those of us who are outside , part of the reason we’re outside is cuz we’re tired of the baggage and we like to stay apart from it.
So there’s the baggage problem and the, just the politics and the gossip and the cultural uniquenesses that become tiresome. And then there’s also another issue, which you didn’t bring up, but I think it’s salient, particularly in marketing. I think it’s probably true in any discipline, but I know it’s true in marketing, which is, you know, you get in, you get internal, and you know you’re part of that, how that company does marketing.
And you start getting less information about how other companies do marketing and, and you can lose pr, you can lose touch with best practices and trends and cuz you’re just, you know, all your effort every day is going to be like doing the way we do marketing. And I would say that that is the solution to all three of those.
Calling it a solution is probably overstating it A solution, a mindset. Let’s talk about it. That one. A mindset to dealing with all of those is to, okay, when you’re an outsider, you’re running your own business. You have to know. What you know your business brand is, and you have to know what success for your business is.
It’s a revenue number. It’s a number of followers. It’s like, you know, you, you know what your business success is when you go internally. You don’t technically have to do that as long as you’re getting a paycheck. As long as you’re not getting fired, you win. Right? But to manage all, to manage all these things, you really need a vision of your career success outside this.
So you’re taking this job and you wanna do a great job at this job for two years, or four years, or 10 years, you know, but then you’re gonna wanna do something else and, and these days, you know, people are moving so often, you know, the average job 10 years, like three years or something silly like that. It used to be like 14 years
So, So you gotta think of your current job as one of many stepping stones in your entire career. And when you think about it that way, and you keep that vision of your longer term career objectives in mind, then it puts these issues in context so you can deal with the baggage a little easily. It’s like, okay, I’m putting up with this BS.
Because I, my next stop is vice president and to be a vice president, I need to accomplish X, Y, and Z, which I can do in this job. So that’s why, you know, I’m here to accomplish those things so that I can go for a vice president job and be able to point at accomplishments that demonstrate I’m ready to be a vice president.
That’s why I’m doing this. So this, all this political baggage BS, I’ll only engage in to an extent. To the extent it serves my purposes. The other thing about having that kind of career, career context mindset is that, you know, you’re gonna be a vice president and you start trying to think and act like a vice president now.
And so that credibility issue, it, it, it’s, you may not have the, you may not have the credibility of an outside consultant, but if you’re showing up like a vice president when your title is director, you’re gonna have more credibility than if your title is director and you’re showing up like a manager, right?
So, when you have the, your current role and perspective to what your next role is gonna be, it’s easier to show up as more of a leader, as more as someone who’s more impactful. And the other thing is just having that career mindset kind of helps you know when you’re ready to move on. Like I’ve done everything here I can.
Dana Theus: I either need to go get another job, like the one I have to help me get to vice president, or I’m ready for that vice president role. Can this company give it to me? Yes. Okay. Let me try to get that promotion here. No time to get another job. I go on the job, let me go find a job.
[00:31:36] Katherine Ong: Spoken like a true marketer.
[00:31:38] Dana Theus: Exactly. Or I.
[00:31:39] Katherine Ong: It’s time for another job.
[00:31:40] Dana Theus: I can’t do this for the man anymore, so I’m gonna go be a consultant. So, so, so that’s my really, my key advice is, you know, have a vision of your next. Role and maybe the role after that, and then let that put your current experience in context. And the other thing, by the way, is that it gives you a way to think about your personal brand.
Like, yeah, I’m a director, but I’m gonna be a vice president, and so I wanna show up like a vice president. I wanna cultivate and nurture my personal brand to get me where I wanna go. And it just, it, it just gives you a way to. Outside. Oh, I know. The last thing I was gonna say was, you know, we get out of touch with industry trends.
We get out of touch with best practices. Well, if you’re thinking of yourself as like, okay, I’m gonna be vice president at a bigger agency. I need to be going to conferences, I need to be reading the best practices. You know, I, that vision of myself as the vice president at a bigger agency is, along with that vision, being up to date.
With industry trends and what’s going on there, and so it can. Give you a reason to read the news , you know, to listen to the podcast, to, you know, so it, cuz otherwise you could just say, ah, I don’t have time for that cuz I have to go get this report done. You know?
[00:33:07] Katherine Ong: Or you could launch an internal newsletter, which I’ve done every single place I’ve been at because it forces me to read the industry news and also makes me look like a quote, thought leader or change agent or something.
[00:33:17] Dana Theus: Exactly.
[00:33:18] Katherine Ong: And I have a deadline to read the news, get the newsletter out.
[00:33:20] Dana Theus: Correct.
[00:33:21] Katherine Ong: Not, not perfect for everybody, but that, that’s my crutch anyway. So how do you help your clients be influential in house? When they don’t directly manage the people who are in charge of the channels they need to influence.
Katherine Ong: Now, again, thinking of the SEO hat, because you do a lot of cross channel stuff, so it’s like the developers and maybe it’s the social media and PR team, and it’s the content team and it’s YouTube. I don’t know, just making that up. So you don’t manage any of those people, but they all have to be coordinated, ideally for you to be most successful.
Katherine Ong: So what tips do you give in that arena?
[00:34:00] Dana Theus: So you’re really in that context, you know, matrix management or it’s really stakeholder management in a lot of ways. You know, the core advice we talked about earlier still applies, you know, what motivates them, listen to them, be empathetic. Give them options, , um, all that applies for sure.
I would say in those situations, you know, it can be really hard because you need them to do things like, for you to be successful, you need them to do things. And so what you’re really looking for, I guess I would, in addition to the other things we’ve talked about, is that you really have to develop a win-win.
So if, if you, if, if it’s your team and they work for you, you can tell ’em what to do. You should engage them.
[00:34:42] Katherine Ong: Right?
[00:34:43] Dana Theus: Deciding what to do. So they feel motivated, but, but at the end of the day, you kind of set, you set the objectives, you set the goals. You know, when you’re working with somebody who is a peer, or not even a peer, maybe in another area of the business, but you need them to do something, it has to be in their interest.
So you’ve gotta figure out how to take what you need them to do. Work with them to find how they can do that in a way that also meets their goals in some way. You’re only gonna do that through conversation. Understanding their goals, understanding you know, what’s important to them, et cetera. And it’ll differ.
It’ll differ on the issue, of course, but you’re looking for the win-win. So, practice asking questions.
[00:35:30] Katherine Ong: Right.
[00:35:31] Dana Theus: Start every conversation and don’t let yourself say, ask anything but a question for five minutes, you know? And. And actually that goes a long way to just building relationships. Cuz people, oh my gosh, they’re listening to me.
That makes me feel good. I wanna talk to this person, right? They’re asking me questions and they’re listening to what I say. So develop, you know, be a good human being but look for the win-win. And that there may be negotiations involved. So you may need to be really straight with them and sort of say, look, I, here’s what I need.
Help me understand what you need so we can get a win-win out. And then be open to what they say and actually negotiating to find that win-win. Because what a lot, what we often don’t appreciate about negotiations is we get into a win lose mindset and the best negotiations create options neither one of us thought of by ourselves.
So like, I want A and you want B, so we’re gonna negotiate. How do we get A and D, you know, and as we’re negotiating, if we’re really paying attention to each other, we’ll come up with C , you know, we’ll find opportunities that we can work together that meet both our needs that we didn’t really think about before.
We started talking about how could we get a win-win out of this? So the idea is to think of your stakeholders as human beings. Talk to them in ways that help you understand like, what’s the win-win for me and them and how do we get it? And if I have to negotiate, how can I do it when it’s clear I don’t, neither one of us can lose.
We both have to win out of this and have that approach and that mindset. A lot of people respond well to that. Some people don’t . I mean, some people just, they’re, they’re just difficult people, you know? And then it becomes harder, of course. But if you take that, if you take that mindset of going for the win-win, you’ll get farther than if you don’t
[00:37:34] Katherine Ong: So, do you have different tips for folks if the person you are coaching needs to persuade up? So we’ve talked about persuading out, like matrix type stuff. How about persuading up?
[00:37:47] Dana Theus: Persuading up is a challenge and I would say that, you know, kind of depends on where UP is. So if you’re at the bottom of the organization and UP is a first tier manager or second tier manager, it’s a different problem than if you’re trying to persuade the CTO or the CIO or the CFO or the COO, the CMO.
And, but I mean, so the, the thing that’s common at every level is that something is keeping that upper level person awake at night. That’s probably not keeping you awake and you gotta figure out what that is. So not unlike the situation we were just talking about at points of light. There were things keeping her up and her constituency up that we didn’t really have any insight into until we talked to them.
And once we talked to them and we started to understand it, I mean, on one hand we’re kinda like, well, we can’t fix all those problems for them. But there was one problem for them. We could fix and understand it in their context cuz they, you know, their problem was engaging vol, engaging members, and engaging volunteers.
And what we were offering was an opportunity to. You know, people, right. An excuse to reach out to them and, and give them away to sign up and, you know, become a member and for free . And, and so, you know, when, when we understand that the, the things that are keeping them awake, we can figure out, okay, how can what we’re doing fit into that problem or that problem set that they have?
That’s true no matter what level you’re trying. Deal with, you know, if you’re managing up to a first tier manager Yeah. They, they’re trying to report to the second tier manager and stay out of the person’s crosshairs. Right. , like, that’s their, that’s what’s keeping them up at night. How do I not get yelled at
When you’re, when you’re managing up at higher levels, let’s just call ’em the executive levels, you know, sort of director above the problems change. Generally, the problems change and, and what’s happening there is that below that level, below the executive level, it’s about getting the work done.
It’s about meeting your budget, accomplishing your goals, you know, getting the work done. At the executive level, it is about those things, but more importantly, it’s about making sure the business survives . So yeah, you gotta get the work done to make the business survive. But sometimes those goals were.
Back before important things changed. Major competitors came into the market, and the economy changed. Inflation went up. You know, layoffs had to happen, right? So, getting the work done to, at the executive level, it’s always like, well wait a minute. Yeah. We need to get the work done for these business purposes of keeping the business alive,
And so when you’re talking to people at that level, You have to understand that what’s keeping them up at night is survival of the business. And I, I just coach someone kind of on this, they’re, they’re at a middle level. They’re in between managing, you know, managing the business and dealing with the executives.
They work in a marketing agency. They’re more in a project management role and then a technical role. I’ll just give you this example. His issue was employee engagement. Like employees are getting disengaged. I’m having a hard time getting them to meet some of their deadlines, you know, like, and, and people aren’t feeling connected to the business and you know, we’re not taking care of our employees.
That’s all really good. Those are good things to worry about. And when you take that message up to the executives, they’d kind of go, yeah, we know . You know, and so I talked to them about the distinction between, you know, treating employees well and employee engagement and retention, right?
So like the executives are gonna care about it when they think about retention and turnover and the costs associated with that.. More than they’re gonna think about taking care of our employees. It’s the same thing. . So, so my, my advice to him was, pay attention to your vocabulary and make sure it connects to the things that are tied to the business of survival.
Dana Theus: That’s number one. And number two is:
Not every, you know, not every company has a union, but if you think about it in terms of you. Management and union and workers, if you really wanna get management to pay attention to you, you’ve gotta believe you’re on. They’re on your side if they think you’re on the side of labor. You know, they’ll listen to you, but it won’t necessarily open the door and let you be part of their business survival conversations unless it’s a negotiation.
So if you wanna be influencing people at that level, you gotta make them believe you care about the businesses survival too. And whatever you’re bringing to the table. If it’s a bigger investment in SEO or you know, a different spend for, you know, how you wanna. Switch up the marketing spend or something like that.
It’s gotta be in the context of business survival. More revenues, lower expenses, you know, leveraging capital assets. You know, it has gotta be in that context or else you really don’t get their attention for very long. And, and as soon as one of those big things blows up, you lose their attention.
[00:43:30] Katherine Ong: Yeah, I think that’s super helpful advice. So let’s talk about stress. So the digital , we just talked about managing up a lot of
[00:43:41] Dana Theus: Everybody, stress just went up. Thanks.
[00:43:43] Katherine Ong: I know, right? So, you know, obviously we’re in the middle of a pandemic. That’s stressful also. A lot of this negotiation stuff is stressful. But then in the digital marketing space, we.
Katherine Ong: Just to get to change, you know, get to experience changing platforms and changing algorithms and just life is generally stressful. So how do you help your clients sort of handle the stress other than, you know, deep breathing and meditation and that kinda stuff.
[00:44:08] Dana Theus: Deep breathing and meditation helps . I think that, there’s a couple things.
One is, and it comes down to I think two, two basic dynamics. Have a vision of success for yourself that gives you a context, kinda like we were talking about before, like if, if you know you wanna be the VP and you’re like, this job is BS, but I’m getting these three key experiences to help me get where I wanna go, it puts your current BS job in perspective.
The same is true for any kind of. Like, know why. Why am I doing this ? Oh, and it has to be something more meaningful than a paycheck. You know, like the paycheck matters. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter, but you’ve gotta be getting something more out of it than a paycheck to put it in context. So, so put your, put your stress in context.
Know why you’re doing it. And if you’re not doing it for a good reason, seriously think about not doing it. And then the other thing is honestly, Have, have a, have a life goal. Have a vision for, for success outside of work that is meaningful to you. And for some people this turns into two to-do lists.
Here’s my work to-do list and here’s my personal to-do list and make sure you’re working on both of them like every day. But honestly, one of them. Best ways to, to make that real, let’s say, is every day have some time where you just step out of all the stress and rewrite your to-do list. Get ready for tomorrow, get ready for the day ahead, like, like step out of the doing and, and organize your.
Like, where do I wanna put my energy today? And this is where meditation and exercise can come in very handy, right? Because. When you’re meditating or you’re exercising, just clear your mind and then when your mind is clear or come and say, before I get into doing all that work, let me organize, what am I gonna get done before noon?
What am I gonna get done before the end of the day? It’s the most important thing for me to get done today, and when I do it, I’m gonna be happy. And the rest of it, if it doesn’t happen, I’ll just do it tomorrow. Like, like, take time to actually manage your energy and that presupposes you understand. What takes your energy and what gives you energy?
It presupposes that you pay attention to your energy. A lot of people end up wiped out at the end of the day because they work through lunch. So what they weren’t, they could, but the problem was at two o’clock or three o’clock, their energy cratered. And they didn’t. They hadn’t. Then they’re digging their way back up.
How do I get my energy back? Well, if you’d taken lunch and gone for a walk, , your energy wouldn’t have gotten so depleted. You couldn’t manage it. Right? So pay attention to your energy. What depletes it? What fills it up? When are you slipping past the tipping point? And then learning to manage. That’s the game because the stress isn’t going away.
The demand for our attention isn’t going away. All we can do is manage it, and what we’re managing is not our time. It’s our energy. So learn to manage your energy is my answer.
[00:47:35] Katherine Ong: That’s very interesting because on Tony’s podcast I was talking about energy, energy management. So it’s funny we’re on the, like the same wavelength there.
So one last question before we close out with my final usual questions. But, I’m particularly obsessed with the idea of a change agent. I think some in-house people might need to be change agents in order to be successful in the digital marketing space. So any tips there for how to be successful when your role is to really shake up..
[00:48:01] Dana Theus: Huh. Wow. This is a whole podcast.
[00:48:04] Katherine Ong: I know, I know I gave you hard questions cause I know you’re gonna have great answers. That’s why personal note taking for me really .
[00:48:13] Dana Theus: Yeah. Speaking as one change agent to another.
[00:48:16] Katherine Ong: Right.
[00:48:16] Dana Theus: I will say, and, and you and I both have gone on this journey from being an internal change agent to outside, there is almost no reward for being an internal change agent.
[00:48:34] Katherine Ong: Now everybody knows why you nudged me to be a consultant. Why? I’m happy to be a consultant anyway.
[00:48:38] Dana Theus: Yeah. Well, so well, let me, let me, let me qualify that a little bit and just say that. You and I change agents is a big part of our personality. It’s a big part of what makes us tick, what we love to do. We’re visionaries, we’re revolutionaries, and we are magicians.
We love to just go make it all different. We’re creators, right? There are ways of being change agents that are not that dramatic, that are more incremental. Those are the kind of people and the kind of changes. I mean, you can be a wacko change agent and still make incremental change internally. It may not scratch your itch to change the world, but it can scratch and itch.
So internal to organizations, you almost always have to be an incremental change agent in order to survive long term, because big change breaks. And the people who break things are seen as the enemy . Now, when you hire people externally to come break things, . The people, sometimes the people who hired you to break things are happy with you and pay you a lot of money and then pat you on the head and give you a good testimonial and you go to another organization to break things,
And, and it’s not always quite this dramatic, but, but those are the fundamental dynamics that’s going on. And organizations are designed not to be broken. That’s their job, is not to break .
[00:50:06] Katherine Ong: Yeah.
[00:50:06] Dana Theus: And there certainly are ways to change that don’t require breaking things. And that’s where you wanna get, where you’re getting people’s buy-in and you’re, you’re getting people on board and you can make change that way. Absolutely. I have a resource for that. I’ll send you a link to it if you wanna send it out.
But it is complicated and it takes a long time. And so you need to know yourself and what’s gonna make you feel like you’re making the kind of difference you wanna. It’s a good idea to become adept at making incremental change and getting people’s buy-in.
Because that’ll make you better at the big breaking things, change. But, you do have to understand that, you know, big changes break things. They hurt people and it’s not fun. And if you wanna be in that business, you’re not gonna have a lot of people liking you. So if you’re one of the kind of people that wants people to like you, don’t go into that business.
I don’t know if I’m answering the question.
[00:51:13] Katherine Ong: No, but I think you just gave me insight about my relationship in the house with other people. I worked as a change agent . Some people wanna be best friends with people they work with, and I never cared that much. So anyway, yeah, it gave me insight about why.
[00:51:31] Dana Theus: Yeah.
[00:51:31] Katherine Ong: I’ve had a few friends, but it was never like an obsession of mine.
[00:51:35] Dana Theus: Well, and honestly, you know, for big, the, for people who like big change and to be part of big change. Sometimes you just have to accept that not it, there’s breaking things and then there’s just starting new things, right?
[00:51:49] Katherine Ong: Mm-hmm.
[00:51:50] Dana Theus: But then you’re gonna start something that eventually has to be broken or you know, like eventually it gets, it gets to a point where it needs to be. Changed. And, and for those of us who thrive on change, we understand this cycle and we’re okay with it. We know people are, you know, we know it’s gonna hurt.
We know there’s gonna be duplicative effort. We know there are gonna be bunny trails and mistakes made that we have to recover from, and we get okay with that. It, you know, But a lot of people aren’t okay with that, and they struggle with it. And so if you wanna be effective, regardless whether you’re internal or external, you have to come up with your own strategies for helping people deal.
[00:52:26] Katherine Ong: Yeah.
[00:52:26] Dana Theus: And honestly, the one thing I will say, incremental change and big change is we know there’s gonna be resistance. If we think about resistance as something to be dealt with. We will, that will increase resistance. , if we think of resistance. As you know, the people who are resisting, they’re making me crazy.
I don’t wanna deal with them, but there’s probably one insight they have that I really need. And my job is to figure that out. And then when you take that approach, Now you’re listening to them, now you’re respecting them, you’re having conversations with them and in the back of your mind, you’re like, oh my God, I don’t care about half of this, but I’m looking for that one or two things that I need to know that they know that I don’t know or that, and when I find it, I’m gonna thank them for it.
And more often than not, when you go. At it. That way they feel respected. They feel heard. They stop resisting you because you found that nugget and you give ’em credit for it. You’re like, yeah, thank you for helping me understand this critical thing. I’m now gonna change my plan to factor in what you told me.
And all that other bullshit you told me. Oops, sorry. , , all that other stuff you told me that I don’t wanna listen to. I’m just gonna ignore it and you’re gonna feel good cuz I took this piece of informa, I changed my plan to factor in this piece of information and nine times outta 10, they’re thrilled.
And they stop resisting .
[00:53:55] Katherine Ong: All right, great advice as usual. So let’s thank you for being with me. I’m just gonna ask you a couple standard questions that we ask every guest. So, we’re constantly thinking about the audience as you’ve sort of mentioned, and ha as we’re trying to persuade folks. Have you ever had a recent aha moment about your target audience or one of your clients’ target audiences where they kind of perform differently than you expected?
[00:54:21] Dana Theus: Were they performed differently than I expected? I don’t know if this quote is the answer, but if it’s an in, it was an insight that was an aha. So I do a lot of work with women who are trying to get into leadership at various levels and be successful there. And one of the things, you know, women face challenges.
That men don’t. We know that I spend a lot of time talking to women about that. One of the insights I had recently was listening to them talk about their mentors and even some of their coaches and how their mentors sometimes don’t understand their problems. And so because they’re biased, because we’re, you know, we all come with biases and some of their mentors have biases.
And their mentors are giving them bad mentoring advice cuz they’re not aware of their own biases . And so I began to understand that to help my audience of women, I need to start helping their mentors too. And I need to start helping their mentors. See and understand their own biases to give better mentoring advice and that was really interesting to me as a sort of a, it’s kinda like the happy meal marketing problem, to sell the Happy Meals.
I have to sell the kids even though the kids, the parents are buying it, right.
[00:55:39] Katherine Ong: Right.
[00:55:40] Dana Theus: I started realizing, you know, to help the women, I need to help their mentors , but I also know some of their mentors hire me to help. So they are a market for me. And, and as I’m beginning to understand these relationships better, I’m actually beginning to think of the mentors as more of a marketing audience for me than I had before.
Dana Theus: And that’s cool.
[00:56:01] Katherine Ong: Yeah.
[00:56:02] Dana Theus: Gives me a whole new angle to think about my marketing.
[00:56:06] Katherine Ong: Yeah. That’s very interesting. So any particular win or resource that you wanna share with our audience today, other than the ones I’m gonna track you down that you mentioned .
[00:56:15] Dana Theus: Yeah, I’ll, I’ll send you a couple of different links. Remind me what I promised. But, yeah, I have, I have two, two, like white papers. One is just general career and leadership advice, and the other is for women, women in leadership. And I can send you the, the free, you know, And the, the Women in Leadership one comes along with some other benefits if, if people want them to other tools like we’ve been talking about. So, so, yeah. And, and you can find it all. I think this is your last question.
[00:56:47] Katherine Ong: Uhhuh. So it’s my last question. How do we learn more about you? Exactly.
[00:56:50] Dana Theus: Exactly. At InPowerCoaching.com. And that’s InPowerCoaching.com. It’s all there..
[00:56:57] Katherine Ong: Right. This has been amazing as I had figured it would be. So thank you for being on the podcast and sharing all these tips with our audience.I’m particularly loving all the female oriented stuff. It’s great. .
[00:57:09] Dana Theus: We can have another podcast just on that if you want.
[00:57:12] Katherine Ong: Yeah. Exactly. We might have to have you back. You got so much good stuff to share.
[00:57:17] Dana Theus: This was fun. I really appreciate it.
[00:57:19] Katherine Ong: Thanks so much for listening. To find out more about the podcast and what we’re up to, go to digital marketing victories.com. And if you like what you heard, subscribe to us on iTunes or wherever you get your podcast. Rate us, comment and share podcasts please. I’m always looking for new ideas, topics, and guests.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on Twitter @dmvictories. Thanks for listening.