030: Breaking Down Biases, Boundaries, and Being Self-Confident w/ Maddie Deane (Office Hours)
Today’s Office Hours episode focuses on the many ways stereotypes and unconscious biases can make their way into the workplace. Maddie Deane, the SEO Team Lead at Optidge, is a young woman in the digital marketing space, and she discusses her experiences with certain behaviors that seem to question her expertise based on her gender or perceived age. She also gives some great tips on how to counter some of those questions and how to show up better for your coworkers, employees, mentees, and more!
An Optidge “Office Hours” Episode
Our Office Hours episodes are your go-to for details, how-to’s, and advice on specific marketing topics. Join our fellow Optidge team members, and sometimes even 1:1 teachings from Danny himself, in these shorter, marketing-focused episodes every few weeks. Get ready to get marketing!
Key Points + Topics
- [1:12] When it comes to generational stereotypes, we know there are plenty out there when it comes to Millenials, and Gen Z. Maddie is technically Gen Z, but she’s plenty close to the shift from Millennial as well. She has had to fight for respect in the workforce because there is this notion that these generations are not serious about their jobs. Many of the things framed as “negative” Maddie views as positive. Take being “lazy,” for instance. Maddie sees the reality as the younger generations setting healthy boundaries with work and having a better understanding of work-life balance. They know their worth, and they’re going to fight for that value. She’s mostly experienced this stereotype in previous jobs and with some of Optidge’s clients. Being that Optidge is a marketing agency, we deal with so many different clients, and for such a short period of time, they don’t always know Maddie’s background. Everyone has their own biases and histories. The brevity of the relationship with an agency account manager, department head, or specialist tends to lead to clients making quick judgments about the people they’re working with.
- [5:04] Maddie originally started her career in the psychology field. It certainly ties into the world of marketing well. It’s hard to compare the gender and age representation in the two fields for her, as she was only ever in the role of a student when in psychology. However, she does remember there being more women in positions of leadership, professors, and colleagues who were women in her psychology studies. In marketing and business in general, there’s more of a gender imbalance.
- [9:00] Maddie prefaces her story to say that there are certainly people who have had worse experiences. Hers are mostly small, subtle instances. When having conversations with clients where she’s the subject matter expert, she’s had people ask what college she’s attending or if she has an internship. Some people often ask to speak with her boss rather than simply trust her opinion. They often mean it conversationally, but the assumption is still frustrating. Maddie doesn’t often feel offended at the moment; it’s more just a passing thought of “that was weird.” Later she’ll then realize why it felt weird. There have been times when she’s simply ignored biases from others, and there hasn’t (yet) been an instance where she’s needed to call something out and say, “That’s not okay.”
- [12:17] Agencies, in particular, have a people challenge due to the person usually selling the client the service is the owner, but the people doing the day-to-day work are different. This is certainly a factor in how people interact with non-owner team members. It is helpful if the salesperson (regardless of their role in the hierarchy) sets expectations and gives introductions of the people the client will ultimately be working with, including things like age and gender. She also says a recommendation or commendation from the owner can work a lot, like a homepage passing link juice to an interlinked page and increasing the perceived value of an interior page. In this way, if the owner talks about how talented and skilled their employees are, it can go a long way with how the client will start their working relationship.
- [18:32] Tips for avoiding or countering the stereotypes and biases – Self-confidence. Women, generally, are raised to be less assertive than men. They use softer verbiage like “I think…” or “It might be that…” It can be very helpful to use confident, assertive language and posture to help portray a level of confidence. Maddie now has some experience mentoring some of her colleagues at Optidge, and she finds the best way to help them learn these same skills is to lead by example. She’s much more aware of how she presents herself, knowing she’s being shadowed by a new mentee. Given she has more experience with clients, she can also forewarn her colleagues if they’re going to encounter any potentially offensive behavior and how to pivot accordingly.
- [24:30] Sometimes, a client or manager will request the boss be present on a phone call or in a meeting. Maddie’s advice in those situations is to let your specialist lead the meeting. It solidifies her as the expert. Express your agreement with their opinions and reassure the client you’re on the same page. In general, Danny does a good job of jumping in if the client asks the same question in different ways to provide a different delivery of the same answer. Sometimes people just need things framed in a different way to understand.
- [31:00] At the end of the day, it’s the people who are in charge of decision-making that can make real change. This means the bosses and hiring managers are the best ones to counter biases and stereotypes when it comes to hiring new people. Awareness is the most important part. It’s not the responsibility of the woman or young person to promote that awareness. Sometimes you just get a weird vibe about someone, but you don’t know why. Maddie knows you have to truly push yourself and question why you feel that way. You might discover an underlying bias you were unaware of. Also, experience doesn’t necessarily equate to skill. It’s certainly a factor, but not the only one.
- [35:00] When it comes to women Maddie follows and views as mentors in the digital marketing space, she has a few recommendations. Aleyda Solis has great tips on technical SEO, and it’s nice to see a woman in that space. She also recommends Ann Handley and Amy Vernon. We also want to mention Women in Tech SEO is a great organization.
‘Guest + Episode Links
Danny Gavin 00:05
Today is a very special office hours episode with Maddie Dean, who is the SEO Team Lead at Optidge. Maddie’s worked on numerous campaigns with Optidge focusing on SEO social media, user experience, and much more. She’s driven by a passion for knowledge and helping others excel. She’s also been recognized by the University of Houston for a commitment to volunteering and social branding following a special project that she worked on with the Holocaust Museum of Houston, and I happened to work with Maddie on that before she came to Optidge. So today we are going to be chatting about being a woman and being young in the workplace. So Maddie, I’ve been waiting a long time for you to join the podcast. It’s really exciting that you’re finally on yes i’m very excited too and I think this is the perfect topic, so I’m very excited to finally talk about it.
Maddie Deane 01:12
Me too as well.
Danny Gavin 01:12
So you’re technically Gen Z? We’ve heard a lot of things about millennials and Gen. Z in the workplace. Much of it is not very flattering. How have you been received as a young person when you were entering the workforce? Have you had to fight, counter, defend against any of those negative stereotypes?
Maddie Deane 01:29
That’s an excellent question. And I think that’s really funny because I never considered myself a Gen. Z because I’m kind of like on the cusp. But either way, millennial Gen. Zi definitely know there’s a lot of like, stereotypes out there and I’ve had to counter some of them. I think the main one, just being like not taken too seriously, had to kind of fight harder for respect because it’s assumed that Gen. Z doesn’t really. Take their job seriously. I think it’s kind of the overall trend that I’ve seen. I’ve had to like, fight extra hard to counter that and like get some more respect for being in the same position as other people having the same experience, but maybe being younger. I think that’s definitely done. A little bit of a little bit of a struggle, but I don’t think there’s anything ultimately wrong with being Gen. Z, honestly. A lot of the negatives that some people say I actually do as positives. I guess it depends who you ask. I think Gen. Za lot of times is seen as lazy quote unquotes. But in my view, the people I’m around and the people that I see on like social media or LinkedIn or whatever, they’re not lazy. They just have a better understanding of boundaries with work. I think every generation has gone down a little bit in terms of like working 80 hours a week and that’s like the minimum, right? And then kind of. Having a better understanding of work, life balance and having a life outside of work, and I think Gen. Z is definitely like the peak of that right now. Where they work, where they get paid for it and they know what they’re worth and sometimes they cross a couple lines. That can definitely be radical about it, but it can also be a really positive thing.
Danny Gavin 03:08
You obviously mentioned that you’ve had to deal with this in the workplace. So I want to clarify, is that within your business of Optage or is this with people and clients and things like that?
Maddie Deane 03:20
It’s mostly been in some of my previous jobs, but with Optage, it’s mostly been with clients, not with like coworkers and stuff. I think my experience with Optage as an employee has been great in that sense. I think it’s mostly been like we deal with so many different clients and they don’t always know my background or who I am. You know, maybe they’re just meeting me for the first time where they have their own biases coming into this call that we’re having. So I think that’s been something where I’ve had to, I guess I’ve experienced. A lot more in that sense because you are an agency versus if I were at one company, I’d have more time to like build rapport and kind of build myself up. Or sometimes I’m only talking to this person once or twice and that’s the only action I get as an agency. So it definitely is a little bit different than what some people might experience right because in some ways, being in an agency, you have to, you’re like talking to a lot more people. But it’s like that interaction, that relationship is a lot, the quality is a lot less because you don’t speak to them as often. So kind of it breeds itself more of like potentially creating the situations where you’re on one-on-one People don’t really know who you are and therefore they come to maybe judgments or, you know, bias, you know, out of nowhere.
Maddie Deane 04:32
And I think they’re in their defense. I think they are almost like forced to make their judgments a lot quicker because they know I’m only going to talk to you for X amount of time and then I have to make a decision or ask my questions and they don’t really get the. Benefit of like, let me get to know you for an hour, you know anything. They have their own goals and their own business to worry about. So I get it on one hand, but there’s definitely underlying biases that i’ve come across for sure.
Danny Gavin 04:58
And we’ll go through those in a little bit. So you originally enter the workforce in the field of psychology, I believe your degrees in psychology and you’ve now transitioned to the world of marketing. So I always say that psychology and marketing are basically cousins. So it’s not a big. It’s not a big jump from one to the next, but as a young woman in particular, did you notice any differences in the way of gender specific treatment in the different industries previous jobs compared to now?
Maddie Deane 05:25
I think they are very like they definitely are related. It’s hard to compare exactly cuz in psychology I was only ever really in like the field as a student. You know, I had internships, I did a lot of like research things, cuz that’s the direction I was going and I graduated during COVID, which is when I kind of made that transition. But I definitely noticed there was a lot more women in positions of leadership in psychology. Most of my professors were women. Honestly, most of my classmates were women. So I’ve never really had any of that. Like people questioning me or any of those, like subtle kind of biases. I’ve never really noticed. And when I got to my master’s program for marketing, I started to notice that a little more, just in different classes and people asking questions. Like you said. We’ll get in some of those examples, but I think. There’s definitely a little more of an imbalance in marketing or just in business in general. Not specifically marketing, but the entire business world maybe a little more unbalanced.
Danny Gavin 06:24
I was recently in a final project meeting at the University of Houston and you know, we always ask for constructive feedback or criticism. And this is people usually take their MS marketing degrees, which you took as well in that final project. We asked them, you know, how can the program be better? What can we do? And she actually managed mentioned this and was the first time I ever heard it. But it’s like we, I want more women professors. I want more guest speakers who are women because you know, I’m a professional woman and I and yes, you know you’ve got some great men professors, but it would be nice to have more role models to look up to and people to emulate. And that came to me as like a huge shock because like in my mind it’s always like because of like the environment that I’ve built it’s. You know that it’s very favorable to women, but you know, and so it came as a shock. But I was like, yeah, good point. We’re missing those women leaders within the classrooms. So I could, I can, I can relate to that now better as my eyes have been open to it. Did you feel that way as well, Maddie, going through the masters program?
Maddie Deane 07:26
I did, and I remember one of my only women professors being before a class that was about women in entrepreneurship, which was a very cool class. But it was kind of like, of course a woman’s going to teach it because it’s about being a woman. But it didn’t. I didn’t really see a lot of women who were just like in the same space as, you know, a male professor or something like that, like teaching the same kind of like general subjects or something more complex. There’s definitely less, but there’s some which is definitely, like better than 0. And I do agree that Optage is definitely a special place. I think because we do have more women. We’ve had, I’ve done interviews before and had people kind of comment on like. Yeah, like everyone I’ve interviewed with has been a woman like that. They were kind of shocked by that in a good way, but I think that makes it kind of a better place for that. But it was definitely unique for them to see that.
Danny Gavin 08:17
And that’s why I think a shout out to Betsy Gelb, who was professor at the University of Houston for many years. I don’t know forty fifty. Years she, recently retired. But man, she was a powerhouse of a woman and an amazing professor. She was actually my professor as well when I did the NBA So I was sad to see her go, obviously, just because of everything in general. But I think also she was a great woman leader within the, you know, the marketing department, specifically at Bauer. But yeah, hopefully, hopefully, you know, these sort of messages get through to, you know, the head of the department, head of the university, and hopefully the women of Optage will also move to different, like, professorship roles. Because you all have, most of you have master’s degrees and there’s lots of opportunities from that perspective, an interesting insight and topic there. You know, I think, let’s get down into the nitty gritty. Can we go through some examples of a time or times recently when you’ve been ignored, overlooked, or had your expertise questioned in favor of an opinion from someone visibly older than you or a man?
Maddie Deane 09:16
Yes, I think I will say, I know that there are people who have had. A lot worse experiences. Most of my stuff has been very like small subtle things. I’ve never had someone be like, I’m saying this because you’re a woman. It’s a lot of kind of just the tone or the way they say it. But it’s a lot of just like small things. So I’ve had people ask me when the call starts, they’re like what college are you going to are you doing an internship? And I have to be like I actually have a master’s degree. Like this is my full time job and kind of like a search and they mean it in such a. Conversational way. But it’s just like the assumption that’s kind of, you know, can be a little condescending. Same with, like, asking to talk to my boss. And that’s a very interesting one because some of our clients know who you are and some of them don’t. So I’ve had people who don’t know who you are that just assume my boss is a man and they want your opinion, which happens to be true. But like, they don’t know that. Or maybe they do know you. And I kind of say like, oh, hey, like, I’ve already kind of talked to Danny on this. He agrees with me. And they’re like, I still want to know his opinion, but they don’t really. They want to hear it from somebody else’s mouth. I guess it is a little hard to distinguish whether it’s an age thing or woman thing because for me it happens to be both. You know, I again, they’re not saying I want to hear it because you’re young. I want to hear it because you’re a woman. It’s kind of just an assumption. But I do know talking to other female coworkers, they’ve experienced the same thing and most of them are older than me by a couple years, so i think it’s usually the gender thing, but again, I can’t really. Not on these people’s heads. I’m not sure exactly what they’re thinking, but I think that has come up for some of the female coworkers as well.
Danny Gavin 10:54
When that happens, do you do, like, do you actively think of it as, Oh my gosh, they’re doing this because they’re judging me? Or is it like later you think about it like, ah, maybe it’s that or like in the moment? Is it like you? Like, are you actually getting offended in the moment?
Maddie Deane 11:10
I think it depends. There’s been a couple of times where. I’m not usually offended in the moment because I don’t usually take things like in an aggressive way. I’m just not that way. But I’m usually just like, that was kind of weird. And then afterwards I think, why was that weird? And then I’m like, oh, it’s probably this. I think there’s even been a time where I didn’t even think about it because it’s some of them are like more small. And I I’m just like, okay, it’s it happens. I don’t think. I’m not offended and I think you’ve mentioned it and then like, they might be thinking this, you know, I think they wanted to have like a meeting with you instead of just me. And you were like. Is this because of the whole, you know, because we have been having this discussion and I hadn’t even thought of it at the time. So I’m sure there’s times I maybe there have been biases that I just overlook because it’s not going to. At the end of the day, I’m still doing my job. It’s not going to change anything, you know, But it’s usually after the fact there there’s never been anything super blame where I’ve had to be like that’s not okay. I like to think of it. If it did happen, I would say something, but luckily it hasn’t been like super offensive or anything like that.
Danny Gavin 12:11
You know, feeling that way, whether it’s immediately or after the fact, you can’t take that away from anyone. But is it possible that meaning, I don’t want to. It’s hard, right? Because sometimes it could be women, sometimes it could be young. We don’t know what it is. But do you think in general agencies have a challenge that like the guy who so sells, you know, the client is, let’s say, the owner or the boss, and then now the people who are doing the work aren’t necessary. It’s not exactly that person, but it’s other people. And maybe the reason that they signed with the company in the 1st place was because of that individual. And therefore when things come up, they’re like, oh, I want to speak to that person. So do you think it’s potentially, once again, I’m not trying to take away the feeling, but I want to like kind of move it a little bit. But do you think that’s that could potentially be the issue as well is like. People coming in, gaining trust from one person and then now they’re actually getting to work with another person. So whether that other person’s younger, different gender, they could be the same age, right? It could be like my twin brother, technically. So do you think that’s a possibility?
Maddie Deane 13:15
Oh, definitely. I think there’s definitely, I mean, even in we’ve noticed that sometimes not even related to like gender anything, but just like if you say something in the proposal period that doesn’t somehow get passed along to the deliverables. And it doesn’t get delivered, then there’s an issue. So like if that if those two stages aren’t really connected in an agency, then there can be issues from all kinds of ways. But I think part of it is also like setting the expectation. Like I don’t necessarily know what these calls that you have proposals go like, but I do obviously people are sold on what you’re telling them and they’re sold on like you talking to them and stuff. So if they don’t have the expectation that once we start, it’s going to be with someone else or it’s going to be with three someones to someones who however they. They’re kind of envisioning it one way and then their expectations aren’t met. So I think that could definitely play a factor whether or not age or anything is.
Danny Gavin 14:06
So that’s a great bit of advice that in the actual sales process we need to do our job to set up expectations and part of that is who are they gonna be working with and together with that. You can mention, like I’m saying me or anyone can mention the type of people that they’re going to work with. They might be younger, they might be a different gender. And you know what? That’s totally fine. And so just like we set expectations of like these are your, you know, these are the deliverables that you’re going to get. I think adding in that concept of who you’re going to be working with and setting that expectation that might make it easier later down the line. Like I don’t, I’m not saying it’s a solution, but it can’t hurt to help add that within the sales process at the beginning as well definitely it’s kind of like with SEO when you have like a link from the home page to another page and it like gives that page authority. I think you saying you’re going to be working with Maddie or you’re going to be working with Rachel and like they are blank, you know, just like a quick blurb. Then I think it kind of passes that trust onto that person. Because on the flip side, we’ve had clients where they trust me like undoubtedly, like i go into it thinking. Okay, I’m going to have to explain myself here. I’m fully prepared to like, give a full presentation and they’re like, cool. I trust your opinion. You’re the expert, whatever you think. And I’ve been like shocked by that sometimes, you know, because it doesn’t happen every time. But I think in those are cases where the client trusts us as an agency like that’s. And that’s a big thing we’ve talked about like just in general and finding our ideal client. But I think that’s the ideal, right, is they trust our expertise as a whole team, no matter who is the individual working on it like that. Is the ideal situation.
Danny Gavin 15:41
And it makes me think like obviously being the CEO of the company, I’ve tried to pull myself out of meetings because we like we have lots of meetings and so on and so forth. But I’m thinking that maybe it makes sense to put myself back into the like kickoff meeting because if in that kickoff meeting I can do a better job of cementing who the team is cementing who are the experts that actually might help later down the line. So something to think about. I didn’t, you know, sometimes as you think about you’re removing yourself from meetings because you need more time. And the reason why you’re not there is because you know the team is so great. It’s like the team is so great, they don’t need me to be on that call no worries.
Danny Gavin 16:20
But on the other hand, there might be an aspect of by Danny being there and kind of like for those who aren’t familiar with kosher, it’s right, like, so you go to the supermarket and you look at, you know, a chocolate bar is like, can I eat it? Well, you got to look for that kosher symbol. So it’s kind of like. Danny giving that kosher symbol on that, on the kickoff call where it’s like it’s totally fine. I have an amazing team and part of the reason that we’re successful is because of that team or if anything, it’s more of the team, right, than me personally. So yeah, that’s cool, that’s a good takeaway, from, you know our chat right now. But you know, maybe getting into some of those meetings, especially ones where you know this. Where we may even think that it’s like that stereotypical person who may come to judgment a lot easier no matter what it is, age, gender, or you know, any other sort of biases that they may have. And sometimes it’s not necessarily on purpose or evil, but maybe could be the way that they’ve grown up and the society that they’re coming from.
Maddie Deane 17:17
Yeah, I think it’s almost always unintentional. It’s a biases that they don’t, they don’t even know about it really, which I totally get. Like we’re always. Completely differently. Like the differences between Gen. Z, Millennial, all that stuff. But I think that’s why doing stuff like this is important because once you hear about it, you’re like, oh, you start to notice it in other places and start to pick up on it. My favorite example of that is my little brother was raised partially by me and my sister. So he is very aware of women’s issues and he’ll always bring them up and it cracks me up because he’s like. He’s like a six, four guy. And he’s like, I’m very aware of, like his presence on a street. And he’s like, I don’t want this woman to like be afraid of me or like unintentionally or like the way he says things. He’s so aware of those things because he’s heard me and my sister and everything we’ve experienced in all areas of life, obviously. But it’s just my favorite thing to like, see him mentioning those. I’m like, you’re being educated. We always call him an ally.
Danny Gavin 18:15
I love it. And that I think that brother went to the Taylor Swift concert with you, right?
Maddie Deane 18:19
Yes yes, he did yeah. He’s awesome. Yes, he’s good. And he’s going to law school now. So, you know, maybe he’ll be a true, true ally for women in law school.
Danny Gavin 18:31
So, Maddie, do you have any tips or strategies for cementing yourself as the expert in the room on your topic?
Maddie Deane 18:36
I definitely have tips. I’m not going to say that I use them all the time. Like this is something I’m still learning and, you know, trying to get better on. I think a lot of it comes down to your self-confidence and how you’re portraying yourself. I think you have to be. I think women are naturally not as self confident or as like assertive just in the way we’re raised, but men usually are. So I think kind of channeling that a little bit and using that when you’re giving advice, giving opinions, just talking in general and being more confident, using more assertive language. A lot of times I naturally will use things like I think or like maybe like softer kind of a softer pitch. But that doesn’t usually go over well, partially because of our industry and because they’re wanting an expert right, Like they want. And it may be that I fully believe this opinion, but I naturally just want to put in these like softer words to not offend anyone. But that’s not what they need and that’s not going to help them listen to me. So being more confident, kind of using proper language, it also really helps to predict questions. I think sometimes there’s less. If this person does have biases, they’re kind of looking for you to like not know something or. Look for an subconscious, you might be looking for an opportunity. So if you are more prepared and you predict what they might ask in advance, it helps you, helps you feel more confident, but it also just helps you appear better and not give any opportunity for that. I mean, not that it’s on you to not give an opportunity, but I think it can help for sure.
Danny Gavin 20:09
And I think portraying confidence, whether it’s, you know, someone who is young or a different gender, is really important. And the reason is, I don’t think if I’ve ever told you this story. But i was hired for a consulting gig with a really big ecommerce company and when I came in, you know, there were a lot of different stakeholders based on previous sort of scenarios. I’ve been very careful that when I come into an organization has lots of stakeholders, I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, right. I never want to actually go and like put someone in their place, like I don’t want to offend anyone. I want to come in and try to do a good job of like being a peacekeeper, but also bring to my opinion. And at the end of the consulting gig, I had the opportunity to potentially come on more fulltime consultant and in the end I didn’t get the job. And the reason is because the CEO felt I was not assertive enough. He basically told me Danny when you had an opinion, I wanted to hear it like I don’t want to hear maybe if that you know and even if it’s going to you know disagree or with someone else. But I’m hiring you for your opinion and for your information, and therefore that’s what I want to hear. I don’t want you to be apologetic. I don’t want to worry about stepping on people’s toes. So in that case in particular, like, I felt like it’s I’ve been in scenarios and I’ve told the story where I’ve, you know, called people out in a room where they’re right in front of me and I didn’t even realize. I feel like this is the opposite extreme where it’s like coming in and being a bulldozer and like, smashing everything down. I think in general you kind of have to be somewhere in the middle. But I think it you need to be, but I feel like it’s leaning towards the assertive.
Maddie Deane 21:48
I think it’s reading, reading the room a little bit. I think there’s times where someone wants a peacekeeper summers someone wants assertiveness. For me it’s hard to balance. I am naturally a peacekeeper like that is my personality. So being too assertive is just changing who I am, which like fundamentally i don’t want to have to change who I am just for someone to listen to me. If they’re not going to listen to me then that’s their loss. But at the same time, we do have to. Adapt to the situations you’re in to a certain extent, but with still kind of keeping true to like who you are. I think it’s definitely, like you said, a balance of like finding that middle ground.
Danny Gavin 22:26
And in situations like where I was, I think key is about communication where like who you’re reporting to. Find out what the style they want, right. Do you like, is it? Are you coming in to be careful, right. Or do they want you to come and just blow the place up and yeah, and that that’s it never hurts to ask, never hurts to have that open communication. When you do, that’s where success comes. You know? When you don’t, that’s usually, you know, it’s like it’s like choosing the door right or left. You know, some of the times you’ll be right, but some of the time you know, 50 % of the time you won’t be. So, Maddie, have you had any instances where you counseled A newer employee or someone you mentored and they began to work with a specific client that you knew to exhibit ageist or sexist behavior even It was just in a vague so how do you coach or how did you coach that employee?
Maddie Deane 23:12
I’d say this is probably like something I’ve dealt with more recently with just like doing more mentoring, managing and stuff. And so I don’t know the best way necessarily, but I think like we mentioned the tips before trying to. One, just sort of tell them that. But two, I think leading by example is the best form for me and a lot of times what the people I’m mentioning or new employees are doing is just shadowing. So if I’m telling them be self confident and then I’m not self confident in meetings, I think it can be confusing. So as much as I’ve tried to use those things before for myself, I think even now when I’m having like people watching that are following that I’m doing, I’ve been much more aware of that just to make sure that I’m like setting a good example. But also I think. Just letting them know, like it’s not personal if it does happen to them. A lot of these clients where I’m like, I know they act like this, I can kind of tell where they’re coming from. And I also know I’m not going to change them and their opinions, you know, there’s it’s not like I can make them think something differently. So I just try to give them a heads up where I can and just let them know it’s not on you. It’s just maybe they question everyone and we don’t know if it’s because I’m a young woman, maybe they just ask everyone like that. We don’t know. But you can be prepared for it and go into that meeting knowing. They’re going to ask you more questions than normal or something like that.
Danny Gavin 24:29
So it makes me think of that. I remember certain times where, you know, it’s been a big presentation, clients aren’t exactly happy and you’re really well prepared. But you’ve asked me, or maybe the client has asked me to be in the meeting as well. And for me, I always feel like it’s a tightrope where it’s like, you know, I’m here for a reason. Sometimes I need to speak up. But on the other hand, I don’t want to step on Maddie’s toes. Like I really want Maddie to be the main speaker. And sometimes it’s difficult. So if you were to give me advice like or not just me, but any other boss who might have to come into a meeting with, you know their lead like you and like they have to be there but also, you know, be careful. So what advice would you give them for that meeting? Like when is it appropriate for them for just speak or you know, how would you coach them?
Maddie Deane 25:17
I do think it’s good to let like me or the person need, because otherwise I think it just solidifies that like. You’re, you know, more something like that. But mostly like affirming the decisions or things like that which you mostly do like you’ll not along or you’ll be like, I agree with this, maybe add extra explanation if it’s needed. Things like that, just to kind of affirm that that’s correct. But then also maybe even like an introduction to be like, hey, Maddie’s going to lead. I trust her opinions wholeheartedly. We’ve discussed this. We’re on the same page cool like kind of. Set the stage there, I think can help, and then just throw out. I feel like it definitely depends. There’s been times where I was able to lead and you didn’t have to jump in a time. And then sometimes they just, I feel like you kind of jumped in whenever. They keep kind of asking the same question in a different way. And you can kind of tell like they’re just either I’m not explaining it right or they need somebody else to explain it. And I think that’s a good time to jump in when you can kind of see that we’re hitting a wall. We’re spending too much time on this topic like. Something’s not right here. And again, I know I’m not always perfect in my explanation, but it’s can sometimes be both ways. You know, I’m explaining it in a way that it doesn’t make sense to them. Maybe they’re not as receptive, so you jumping in can kind of help dissolve the situation a bit and like make it a little bit better.
Danny Gavin 26:33
So we use like the Batman, Robin example. But so Maddie would be the Batman, Danny would be the Robin, and when he has to come in to help, he will. But he’s definitely not the head honcho. It’s not called the Robin mobile, It’s the Batmobile. And it’s for a reason exactly yep. So I guess similar to that, what are your ways of fighting against being undercut as the expert in the room?
Maddie Deane 26:54
I mean, similar to some of the stuff we talked about before, like self-confidence and language, but I think let’s say you did all that, you prepped and you get to a meeting and there’s still kind of like not listening whatever is going on. I think this is the part I struggle with the most. I so badly want to just be like, OK, cool, you can talk to Danny and not fight it, but I think just it’s important to assert your expertise again and kind of. Stand strong on your opinion to at least try that and kind of not change your mind and be like okay, We’ll do what you want and say no, this is really what I think this is what we should do. And if they still push, then in our case, most of the time I’m not often in a call by myself, so I do appreciate that and it’s helpful to lean on, you know, if it’s an account manager that’s taking notes, I can be like okay, Can you set up a call with Danny or kind of pull the men to help defuse the situation a bit? Because like I said, I’m not going to change someone’s mind. So if they’re really pushing that hard and they’re still not agreeing that they still want to talk to you, whatever it may be, I think leaning, being able to lean on your team and like have someone you trust can help get to the next step. And sometimes that’s talking afterwards. And i think we’ve had times where they’ll be like, can you get Danny’s opinion? And I’m like I did get Danny’s opinion and then they’ll be like, can you get it again? And then me and the account manager will be like okay we’ll just tell them the same thing. But Danny, because you most of the time like, you know what’s going on. It is your opinion. They just don’t really believe that. So we’re just kind of like, yeah, we’ll check with him and then we just say the same thing. So it definitely helps to have a supportive team that can like check in afterwards and be like, all right, what are we doing? Are we all feeling good? Like that kind of stuff can help for sure.
Danny Gavin 28:31
So what sort of things do you wish others on your team, or others who are more aware of this can do to help counter this culture in their own coworkers or clients?
Maddie Deane 28:42
I guess it’s kind of similar to what you said about like you being in a meeting, but I guess even from like a coworker perspective, I do this sometimes. I kind of like noticed I was doing it, but I will like not along in a meeting but like Brianna or someone is giving updates. I’ll be like, yeah, I agree, even if it’s like paid search and I don’t really know. I kind of just like want to give them credit and like boost them up and let them know, like let the client know that I agree with them. We’re all on the same page. You know we are a team that’s thinking the same way. Same with like giving credit where it’s due. So like if you are the department head and someone else on the team really like did this. Like for example if I had someone that did the briefs, but I’m in the meeting presenting it to the client kind of being like this person made the briefs, they did a great job or this person made the creative, is it a good job? Can we just I think overall. Can help boost the team, but especially if it’s a younger person on the team, a woman on the team, it really solidifies their position and like their expertise.
Danny Gavin 29:45
I love that group effort coming together and supporting everyone. I know that’s something we do. That could be huge, right? You could have people in the meeting have nothing to do with certain parts of the meeting, but just to be there and support and, you know, bring that person up, that can change how that person is viewed in the eyes of the client or you know, the person you’re meeting with. That’s great.
Maddie Deane 30:06
Can be simple things, you know, like a they did a great job or just simple things like that. But and I think most of the time our team knows that because we say that all internally, but it’s like saying that in front of the client specifically can really make a huge difference.
Danny Gavin 30:19
I remember times where, like, I’ve said that on a call and yeah, we just got to do it more right do.
Maddie Deane 30:26
It more. Shout, shout, shout the praises from the rooftops exactly can hurt. Not just that, not just afterwards, but also even sending an email, afterwards like emailing. The clients, wow wasn’t. That great look what maddie. Did that was such that was awesome so yeah, I think that could be another opportunity as well, I think.
Maddie Deane 30:43
Our account managers are really good at that too, just because their personality is very like, they’re good at hyping people up. But they’ll be like, here’s the link to that great report, like they’re just very enthusiastic about everything and I think it makes everyone feel so much better.
Danny Gavin 30:56
Picking back off of this when companies are looking to hire. What do you think HR and recruiting team members can do to be aware of potential biases towards women, Men, You know, we could talk about certain ages or races really falls any in that category. And specifically in your case, because you’re coming from the perspective of a young woman, how could we like mitigate the negative effects of those biases?
Maddie Deane 31:22
As important as it is to know, like, what can I do? What can other young women do? What can coworkers do, I think, at the end of the day? The people that are in charge of decisions are the ones that can actually make change. So I think that’s an even more important discussion point because you know, the people, the people hiring or in this case, we can’t really control what our clients say, but we can definitely be aware of it. So I think awareness is the most important part. And I think it’s also important to remember it’s not on the woman or the young person necessarily to like make those changes. But again, but being aware I think is a huge thing and then kind of. I’ve noticed this whenever I’ve I have a very limited experience with interviews, but I’ve noticed it in myself. So i imagine on a wider scale this would apply where sometimes you just get a weird vibe from like someone interviewing and you’re like, I don’t know if they’re a great fit. I’m not sure, but maybe you don’t know why that is. You’re like, is it because of this thing? Maybe you can’t pinpoint it? And I think really pushing yourself and questioning why you think that way or why you feel that way is important because. It might be an underlying bias that you don’t know about, right? Like, and it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong necessarily. It doesn’t mean that they still aren’t a great fit. But if you question it, you can kind of figure out a lot more rather than just being like not a great fit. Why are they not great fit? Is it because I’m used to working with people that are more closer to my age? So then being younger, it makes me a little uncomfortable? Is it because I usually work with younger people and they’re older or you know, whatever the. Age, gender, race, whatever it is, I think really questioning yourself can make you be aware of that and then you can decide next steps because sometimes it is. It still may not be a good fit because of a couple different things, but maybe that first inkling that’s making you uncomfortable is some kind of underlined bias you have. And that’s not bad inherently, because we’re all raised certain ways. But what you do with that is what I think can make a big difference and ultimately shows like your own character and things like that. And also the other one that I always say is that experience does not necessarily equal skill, especially in like this age of Gen. Z and people getting into the workforce. Just because you have five years of experience doesn’t mean that candidate is any better than someone with one year of experience. Obviously it’s a determining factor, but I don’t think it should be the only thing, especially nowadays where we have online courses and so many opportunities to, you know, apply. Our knowledge. I think experience maybe shouldn’t have as much weight as it’s had in the past. I think about my mom who just switched her career. She just switched to psychology. So when someone looks at her they think okay 50 year old woman. She has 30 years of experience in the workforce in general, great, but she only has like one year of experience in psychology and those 30 years don’t do anything to help her. Look at microscope slides versus someone who is. You know, one of her coworkers that she tells me about is my age. And has the same exact experience as her, but is a lot younger and she, her coworker, actually got paid less when she started. I can’t prove it’s because she was younger or anything, but like, it was an interesting kind of note to see that like, my mom is being treated a little bit differently because she does technically have 30 years of experience, but in this case they’re doing the exact same job to have the exact same skill level. That’s obviously a niche example, but it was very interesting to kind of see that like, applied in real life.
Danny Gavin 34:53
So, Speaking of hiring, when it comes to female mentors who’ve broken that glass ceiling and paved the path a bit on being a woman in the digital marketing space, is there anyone that you’d like to follow and let her listeners know about that they should follow?
Maddie Deane 35:07
I think the main one I follow is I’m going to say her name wrong, Eleda Solis, because she’s specifically an SEO, which is what I work in. So her technical tips are super great, but it’s also just really cool to see, you know, a woman that’s. Speaking and doing like so many amazing things and just like very much the face of her business and things like that. So she’s definitely one I follow. And then Anne Handley and Amy Vernon are both in more like social media. So not necessarily the specific industry I’m in, but they’re I think they’re both just like great business women and have a lot of like cool tips. And again I think just representation is super cool to see and to watch them like girl bossing as they say.
Danny Gavin 35:50
I love that term. Do you know where that comes from? the internet i don’t know, just an Internet term.
Danny Gavin 35:57
And related to that, there’s actually a whole group, I believe it’s called Women in Tech SEO that’s also really popular. So I just wanted to make sure our listeners know about that as well. They really push specifically in the technical SEO space and ESA. There’s a couple different parts, but they push women in that space and try to get more women speakers and conferences. So that’s also an awesome group to take a look at. But definitely are a lot of talented women in the digital marketing space who I stay in touch with. A lot of our guests on the digital marketing mentor have been some of those. We’re very lucky that we do have those examples or you know, shining lights to look after. Well, Maddie, this has really been an awesome discussion and hopefully it’s going to be insightful and eyeopening for a lot of people who maybe don’t even realize that they have these biases and so that when they do get into those conversations. Whether they’re an agency, whether they’re a client, whether hiring people, whether they’re just talking to their coworkers, you know, it can let them open their eyes up just to see, you know, this new vision of who do I have some biases when I’m speaking to people and I maybe not respecting them in the in the right way? Yeah, this has been a really awesome conversation.
Maddie Deane 37:04
Yeah, totally agree. Thank you for having me.
Danny Gavin 37:07
Before we close up, obviously we need to do our lightning round. Maddie, you’re I think you’re a big book reader. So we would like to know what are your top three books that you recommend for our audience?
Maddie Deane 37:18
Alrighty so i like to read some like self help psychology books for my psychology background. So brene Brown is a big and if you’ve heard of her, but she’s very big in that kind of like psychology, self help space. And her book, Darren Grayley is super great. She’s about like. Empowerment and like being vulnerable and courageous to like learn more about yourself and push your boundaries. So it’s super great for personal life but also can definitely apply to like business or anything like that. So that is a great one. And also I’m going to say her name on but not nice by doctor Aziz Kazupra is about kind of kind of what I mentioned about like Gen. Z and like boundaries and that like people pleasing idea is definitely something I’ve like dealt with in my life and it kind of addresses like. There’s a whole different aspect of that and like sort of psychology and examples and things like that. So that’s super insightful. And my last one is We Were Liars by E Lockhart, which is like a young adult fiction book, but it’s one of my favorites, so love that.
Danny Gavin 38:22
I’m glad you threw in some fiction, cuz it’s important to have some fun every once in a while as well.
Maddie Deane 38:26
Love a good fiction book?
Danny Gavin 38:28
So Maddie, where can our listeners learn more about you?
Maddie Deane 38:30
I’m on LinkedIn, Maddie Dean, and that’s pretty much it.
Danny Gavin 38:35
That’s perfect. And I’m sure, like we’ve had with previous guests, you know, people who are going through the same situation or wanna chat, definitely reach out to Maddie on LinkedIn. I’m sure she’d be happy to discuss.
Maddie Deane 38:45
I’d be happy to talk to anyone about being young or being a woman or both.
Danny Gavin 38:49
Well, Maddie, thank you so much for being a very special guest on the Digital Marketing Mentor. And thank you listeners for tuning into the Digital Marketing Mentor. We’ll talk with you next time.
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