300 The Politics of Promotion – Bonnie Marcus

Bonnie Marcus' Story – What We Discussed

  • From Teacher to Entrepreneur – A Divorced Mom’s Journey to Success
  • How to Identify Your Unique Position at Your Job
  • Success Tips for Women in Corporate
  • The Politics of Promotion
  • How to Get Ahead and Stay Ahead at Your Job
  • Link to Bonnie's earlier episode on Relaunch!

Listen to ReLaunch Show on iPhone or Android App

More about our featured guest Bonnie Marcus

Award winning entrepreneur,  Forbes and Business Insider contributing writer, Bonnie Marcus, M.Ed., has real conversations for real women about real situations in the workplace today. As the President of Women’s Success Coaching, Bonnie assists professional women to successfully navigate the workplace and position and promote themselves to advance their careers.


Full Transcript

[00:02] Joel: Welcome to today's show, your daily dose of inspiring stories, fresh ideas, and practical solutions to help you relaunch and become known in your niche. If you are a daily listener, welcome back to the show. Thank you for tuning in, and thank you for joining us in the before and the after show online conversations. And if you are new here, just know that you are among friends, and this is what you can expect: Unique insights, a-ha moments, and actionable information from self-made successes, as they share their trials, tribulations, and their come-from-behind victories.

[00:46] Joel: And today's promotional partner is Podcast Movement 2015. Pei and I are second year presenters at the conference, we're excited about that, and we are leading the workshop, along with our good friend Russ Johns, that will teach you how to launch your podcast to number one, grow your audience, and build your brand. You can link to the event details by visiting the blog article that accompanies this episode, and if you use the promo code “relaunch,” you can save 10% off the ticketed price. And Pei, what is the direct link that we need to go to so that we can get the information from today's show, and also connect with the podcast movement?

[01:31] Pei: It's joelboggess.com/… Oh wow, /300.

[01:38] Joel: Nice. Relaunchshow.com/300, that will get you all of the information that you need on the upcoming conference, plus background information on today's show with today's guest. And speaking of which, joining us on the show, the author of “Politics of Promotion: How High-Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead”, Bonnie Marcus. And Bonnie, it is great to have you back on the show, welcome.

[02:10] Bonnie Marcus: Thank you so much for having me back. Let me congratulate you both, on your huge success. It is really impressive, and I'm sure there's so many people who can learn so much from you on how to launch a good podcast. You guys are terrific.

[02:26] Joel: Oh, thank you, Bonnie. We are just having a blast doing this show. And we're so excited that you agreed to come back, and gosh, I'm really excited about talking about your book. Now, the first time you were on, you shared a dramatic story of your experiences in corporate America, and how it kind of shaped your outlook, and how it also created a lot of anger, and a lot of bitterness within you, because of some things that had happened, that you were passed over, and overlooked for some different things. But you and I were talking before the show, and you were sharing with Pei and I a little bit about a different relaunch that actually helped you learn how to position yourself effectively in the workplace, and also, how it helped you become known in your niche. And I'd love to hear about that story. If we can just start there, and just kind of unfold from there. I definitely want to get to the book a little bit later on in the show, but… Is that okay with you, if we go ahead and start there?

[03:31] Bonnie Marcus: Oh, it absolutely is. And it was my personal journey, and how I entered corporate America in the first place, because I was trained to be a teacher. I have a Master's degree in Education. I got married fairly young, had kids right away, and then I ended up getting a divorce. So I had two little kids, and not a huge income, and I was trying to figure out how I'm going to support these children without a tremendous amount of child support, and how I could spend all day with little kids, and then come home to my own little kids, and have the time, and the energy, and the focus, and the patience, I should say.

[04:21] Pei: So you were teaching what grade at that time?

[04:25] Bonnie Marcus: I was teaching kindergarten.

[04:28] Joel: Okay. So that takes a lot of energy, and a lot of everything at every level, I would assume.

[04:36] Bonnie Marcus: Right. So I made a conscious effort to look for a [9:00] to [5:00] job, and I answered an ad in the paper. One of the local medical groups was looking for an administrator for a joint venture that they were just starting with a management company, and 30 physicians. And that initiative was to start a cardiac rehab center. So I answered that ad, and much to my surprise, with absolutely no business background, I managed to land that job.

[05:19] Bonnie Marcus: I figured out that their mission was really cardiac fitness, certainly, it was to make money, too, but it was how to help patients transition after some kind of a cardiac event, whether it was surgery, or a heart attack, et cetera. And they had an exercise facility there, and they had telemetry monitoring, and that kind of thing. And they needed somebody to basically run the business. And I walked in there, I had no business experience, and as I tell this story and chuckle, I didn't even know how to balance my checkbook at the time, [chuckle] truly. But I had been an aerobics instructor, and I was able to tell them how important their mission was, and how it was aligned with my own, which was definitely to be fit, and also told them the story about my dad who had a heart attack when he was very young, and how we completely changed our lifestyle to include exercise, and diet, and all of that.

[06:24] Pei: So you connected with your potential employer at a very deep level. Smart girl.

[06:31] Bonnie Marcus: That's right, that's right. But I didn't even know [chuckle] I was being smart at the time.


[06:37] Joel: Well, take the compliment, because we're trying to give you one.

[06:41] Bonnie Marcus: But I didn't. It just… It came naturally to me, and I ended up getting the job, and they taught me the business, and they taught me how to balance the checkbooks, the books. And within a year and a half, I was running 11 centers for that management company.

[07:00] Joel: Fantastic. Put that on a shelf for just a second, and let's talk about the two important points that Bonnie brought out that is really going to be helpful for people that are listening to this show that are determined to become known in their niche. Now, what did Bonnie do before the interview and the meeting? She researched…

[07:21] Pei: I was just gonna say…

[07:22] Joel: She researched the company, and she learned using whatever resources she had at that time, what the company's mission was, what it stood for, and probably learned a little bit about the founding members, and things of that nature. And then, she looked for ways that she could connect the dots between that company's organization and what they were all about, and also what she was all about. So she did her homework, that's one of the reasons that it worked. It wasn't because she had certificates or degrees or recommendations from 20 physicians that she knew, but it was because she did her homework, and she looked for a way to weave herself into that tapestry of the business that she was going to apply to. Another thing that she did is… And she didn't even realize she was doing it, from what it sounds like, but she tapped into the power of stories. And if you wanna make your point…

[08:26] Pei: Yes, the storytelling.

[08:28] Joel: Not only… Well, storytelling, yes, but what Bonnie did is she created an emotional experience. And I wasn't there, but I bet when she was telling that story of her dad, there's no doubt that Bonnie was getting emotional because…

[08:42] Pei: It's a personal level now.

[08:44] Joel: Absolutely. And since she was getting emotional, the people that she was talking to were getting emotional, Pei.

[08:51] Pei: I have to compliment Bonnie here, too. Even if you give them the credit for teaching you how to balance the checkbook or run a business, but you were still, were without any experience to run those… Did you say 11 centers?

[09:12] Pei: So there's gotta be something in you, that's beyond just your educational background and business background, and maybe even beyond what they've taught you, that took you to that success.

[09:28] Bonnie Marcus: Well, thank you. [chuckle] It was helpful for me. I realized I had the people skills, and what you said, Joel, is very true, that you can form a bond with people, a very strong bond when you connect on an emotional level. And in this case, it was the mission of their company. And so, they were able to discount the fact that I had no business experience at the time, because, obviously the mission was more important, and they felt that in looking at my educational background, and talking to me, that I was smart enough to learn. But I think that emotional connection was really important.

[10:16] Joel: Absolutely. I think it may have been John Maxwell that had said that, “They won't remember what you said, but they will always remember the way you made them feel.”

[10:26] Bonnie Marcus: Made them feel.

[10:28] Joel: And that's exactly what happened. Okay, so here you are, you're running 11 centers, go ahead and pick up the story if you would, please.

[10:37] Bonnie Marcus: Well, I stayed with that company for four years, and what happened was reimbursement changed for cardiac rehab, and it didn't seem to be a viable future anymore. So, I moved over to another organization where I was for eight years, and worked my way up from an entry level position to the point where I was running a national company.

[11:03] Joel: Okay. So this is back, going into the… Kind of entering the story that you told us about on the first time you were on our show, correct?

[11:13] Bonnie Marcus: Right, right.

[11:15] Pei: And for our listeners…

[11:16] Bonnie Marcus: And the journey was bumpy. [laughter]

[11:19] Pei: Oh.

[11:19] Bonnie Marcus: It wasn't a straight path. It was a straight path to a certain degree, and I thought that I was definitely on the fast track to get a promotion at one company, and found out that I was overlooked. And that's the story that I shared the first time I was on your show, to that opportunity that I went, and I interviewed and landed a CEO position.

[11:46] Joel: Okay. Bonnie, if you would just kinda go with me here, and help us fast-forward a little bit, people can definitely pick up the information from that last corporate experience in our first show. And let's kind of move into the work that you're doing now, and specifically the book that you wrote. I remember that book was under development when we had our first show, and we were kinda kicking around the idea of having you back so that we could really dive, deep dive into some of these ideas and plans and strategies, so that we can help our listeners get ahead and stay ahead. So, how do we need to introduce that part of the conversation? Talking about the politics of promotion.

[12:38] Bonnie Marcus: Well, I think a good transition is to say that, when I was ready to leave corporate America, and I wanted to become a coach, I went back and, I think it was a nine-month course to be certified as an executive coach, and I started my company, Womens' Success Coaching in 2007. And I wanted to coach professional women to be successful. At that point, I wasn't really tapped into what is now my niche, which is how to help professional women promote themselves and position themselves for success. And so, over time, that niche became more defined, and I realized that from my own experience in the corporate arena, I saw so many women that were passed over for promotions, that were so talented, that weren't really putting themselves forward in a very savvy and effective way, that I became much more focused on helping women in the corporate setting, and how to navigate all of the politics and the reality of that organization.

[13:59] Bonnie Marcus: So there are really two parts to it. One is to identify your value, what you're contributing to the organization, so that you can offer to help others achieve their goals, you can offer to help the business move forward, because of the value you bring to the table. And then how do you do that? And with whom do you do that in the organization? That's only one part of it, but what are some of the things that you need to look out for in the organization and either navigate around, or deal with in some level? How do you build allies and champions? So it's all about relationships, really, and that's how the book developed. It was specifically trying to address the needs of women in that setting.

[14:54] Joel: So, let's take that apart then. So, understanding your values, the values that you're contributing to the organization, do you have a tip or two, Bonnie, about how our listeners can start to identify their values, the values that they're contributing, either to the company that they work for now or to their own company, if they're self-employed or entrepreneurs?

[15:19] Bonnie Marcus: There's a whole chapter in the book on this. The tool and the toolkit for this is a mirror. And I use the mirror because it's very important to self-reflect, tune out what everybody else is doing and saying and focus on what is unique about the way you approach the work, and how your work affects positive business outcomes. And there's an exercise that I give in the book where you can write down a couple of situations at work in which you are involved, and talk about what your contribution was to that success. And then you can begin to connect the dots for people and use that as a way to talk about your accomplishments, but not in a self-serving way at all, in a way that serves the greater good of other people in the organization and the business.

[16:21] Pei: Yeah. So, Bonnie, I love the tips you're sharing. And would you either take yourself, or somebody you coached as example of how you connect the dots, look at your accomplishments, so you kinda know your unique positioning?

[16:41] Bonnie Marcus: Okay. Yes, I can give you an example that's in the book from a former client. This woman had hired me because she wanted to get a promotion, she worked at a very large financial services firm that was siloed, and she was in the marketing department and she wanted to get promoted, but there was no opportunity for her there. So she knew she had to move to a new silo, and she didn't know anybody, and that kind of thing. So we went trough this exercise, and she was managing a digital marketing platform at the time. She had an MBA business background, and she was a techie, she had a technical background as well. Now, as I tell this story, I know myself, I am so not a techie. I mean, I'm okay, I can manage my own technology, but I don't see things with technology solutions.

[17:48] Joel: Sure, preach it, sister.

[17:51] Bonnie Marcus: Right? So, I mean, I could work with what there is, but that's about it. So what Katie had going for her was, that she could see what the business needed, and what the success metrics needed to be, but she could then think in terms of, what would be a good technology solution? And so, as we talked about how she could build visibility and credibility for herself across the organization with people she didn't know, we identified some people in different departments and she would meet with them and say, “Hi, I'm Katy. I work over in marketing, and I really would like to know more about what you do here. Can you tell me a little bit about your work, and what are some of the projects that you're working on? And do you find some of these projects are challenging, or have any of them really stalled? Because, maybe I can help you find a technology solution to deal with that business problem.”

[18:58] Bonnie Marcus: And so, she was telling… She was giving, offering to help based on the value she could bring.

[19:03] Joel: I love that story. And really, it kinda goes back to the equation that I sometimes use, and that is, see clarity, comes confidence… Or, excuse me, with clarity comes confidence, and when your… The person that you wrote about in your book, “Politics of Promotion”, Katy, I believe her name was, when she got the clarity on the value that she was bringing the organization, she had the confidence to then go to whatever department that she was going to, to kind of ask them, “Okay, how can I help? This is what I have in my toolkit, so to speak. How can it be of service to your department?” Pei, you have your hand up.

[19:47] Pei: Well, also… Yes, now she got a tool so she can be proactive rather than waiting for other people to discover her, or finally somebody can actually ask her. So she can reach out…

[20:04] Pei: I love that.

[20:04] Joel: And find her own possibility.

[20:06] Joel: That's a great observation. So, instead of waiting in your cube going, “Gosh, when will somebody acknowledge my brilliance?” Right, Bonnie?


[20:14] Bonnie Marcus: Which we know doesn't work.

[20:16] Joel: Exactly. Instead of that, but she's actually taking control of her own future, and harnessing her gifts and making them available.

[20:29] Bonnie Marcus: The point is also, that first of all, it can be very confident and authentic because it's so related to who you are and how you approach your work. It's a big “a-ha” moment when you figure this out, and figure out how you are adding value. And the other thing is, it's very powerful when you are offering to help others based on the value that you know you contribute.

[21:00] Joel: Absolutely. Couldn't have said it…

[21:01] Bonnie Marcus: So, it's an effective way to do it without bragging, and without… So, people began to see her as a contributor. They saw her as a subject matter expert, and that was the best way for her to build visibility across the organization.

[21:19] Joel: And that's what being known in your niche is all about, increasing your visibility. I love that word that you used, because once you're known in niche, your visibility is naturally going to escalate. Talking with Bonnie Marcus today. The book is called “Politics of Promotion”, and we will, of course, include all of the go-to social media hotspots, and a direct link to get the book in the blog article that accompanies this episode.

[21:52] Pei: Which is joelboggess.com/300.

[21:56] Joel: Relaunchshow.com/…

[21:58] Bonnie Marcus: 300.

[21:58] Joel: 300. Wow! Boy, that just sounds good, doesn't it?

[22:02] Bonnie Marcus: A nice round number.

[22:03] Joel: Bonnie, it's been a pleasure. You're welcome back on the show when your next book comes out. Have a wonderful…

[22:08] Bonnie Marcus: Oh, thank you so much. It's always great to be on your show.

[22:12] Joel: Have a wonderful rest of your day. Bye-bye.

Connect with Bonnie on Twitter, Facebook and her website.

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Joel Boggess

Keynote Speaker | Corporate Trainer | Award-winning podcaster I help teams ignite their courage, take bolder steps, and get greater results. Together, we create possibilities that bring empowerment, meaning, and financial impact.

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