Influencer Interview Series: Mom Was Right!

From task management to deal negotiation to team coaching, being a mom has a lot of things in common with being an effective business leader. That’s why, for this upcoming Mother’s Day, we’ve interviewed a number of marketing influencers to find out how their mother’s wise words and guiding hand have shaped the kind of marketer they are today.

We asked each of them to point out (1) something that their mom has said that turned out to be right and (2) the best piece of motherly advice they’ve ever received. Here’s what we found out:

Jan Gordon

Jan Gordon, Currati

Mom was right:

Cherish your family and friends and let them know they matter – (I have always followed this advice).

What’s the best advice you got from your mother that made a difference in your life right now?

Stay active, be of service to others, look at the cup as half full, read a book, join a community, stay curious and keep learning new things. I’d say these two pieces of advice have truly shaped me as a person.


Jeremy Miller

Jeremy Miller, Inspired Blue Media

Mom was right:

Mom was right when she would always tell me to work hard, stay humble, smile often, never stop learning, be thankful always, and love. It’s those few things that I have taken with me in every venture and endeavor in my life.

What’s the best advice you got from your mother that made a difference in your life right now?

The best advice my mom gave me was spiritual. Don’t always rely on my strengths but lean on the strengths of whom I call my Lord. For those who may not be spiritual I would encourage you to find a good mentor or a good small association of people who want to see the best in you. I often believed that I could do what I wanted if I worked hard enough. But in reality I realized that what I most needed was good people to lean on, good people to help me through trials, and good people to help me learn.

Related:  Influencer Interview Series: Jan Barbosa Marries Content Marketing and PR


Jan Barbosa

Jan Barbosa

Mom was right:

Mom Was Right…. You should always strive for the best but never look down on what you have.

What’s the best advice you got from your mother that made a difference in your life right now?

The best advice my mom gave me that made a difference in my life was… “In your professional life, Its not enough what you know, but to show what you know”… Right ‘now’ in social media we would call this “SocialSelling” or selling your own brand… And we know, it certainly works.

Related: Influencer Interview Series: Jan Barbosa Marries Content Marketing and PR


Sam Hurley

Sam Hurley

Mom was right:

Mom was right when she said “You’ll get there…”

What’s the best advice you got from your mother that made a difference in your life right now?

She always reassured me that I would achieve everything I wanted to achieve in life…but in good time and when the time is right. This always helped if I ever doubted myself. So far, her words have came true.

Related:  Influencer Interview with The “Return on Relationship” Expert: Ted Rubin


Reginald Chan

Reginald Chan, Reginaldchan

Mom was right:

that I shouldn’t be working so hard (LOL)

What’s the best advice you got from your mother that made a difference in your life right now?

Don’t be a failure like her. Work hard to achieve whatever I want to achieve. (seriously)


John White

John White, Bebee

Mom was right:

Education is the key to success.

What’s the best advice you got from your mother that made a difference in your life right now?

My mom always said education is the one thing in life that nobody can ever take away from you, material possessions come and go. She encouraged me to go back to school and pursue an MBA. Doing so made all the difference in my career and life. I was able to transition into doing something I love and makes me happy.


Mike Allton

Mike Allton, The Social Media Hat

Mom was right:

Mom was right about many things, as I’m seeing first-hand with my own young children these days. But the one thing she always said which really resonates with me today is that I would make a good teacher. Growing up, my mom worked for the high school as a guidance counselor and taught graduate-level courses at a nearby college. Whenever she said that I’d make a good teacher, I’d instantly picture myself as one of my own teachers, or her, and that kind of career was completely uninteresting to me. It took 15 years of exploring different jobs and careers before I finally discovered in myself what she’d said was there all along – a real passion for helping people to learn and grow. I just had to find a way to do it along my terms, which happens to be writing and presenting.

What’s the best advice you got from your mother that made a difference in your life right now?

When it comes to advice, again, my mom shared plenty. What stands out most today is not so much something she said, but rather something that she did, and continues to do, which is to serve and network. My mom is one of the most active members of the community – from leading civic organizations to lending her vast experience to the schools – making her a true inspiration. Despite retiring years ago, she still maintains an extremely busy schedule and there’s no one in the community who doesn’t know and respect her. She has even been a commencement speaker! According to the Dean, “We are delighted to have Dr. Sommers as the commencement speaker. She is a champion of education and has been an avid supporter of BGSU Firelands and our entire community,” said Balzer. I couldn’t find a better role model for serving and networking, and continue to look to her as I figure out my own way forward. Thanks mom! 🙂

Related: Influencer Interview Series: Mike Allton Wears The Social Media Hat


Anna Hoffman

Ana Hoffman, Traffic Generation Cafe

Mom was right:

My mother taught me one thing my entire life, but that one thing turned out to be the most valuable lesson of all. She taught me to learn from her mistakes. My mother was an alcoholic by the time I was 4. I barely remember her not being drunk…

What’s the best advice you got from your mother that made a difference in your life right now?

On the upside, that’s exactly how I knew what I didn’t want to be like and helped me figure out how to live my life differently. As a result, I was the first one in my family to go to college. To travel the world. To have a great marriage of 20 years. To have a beautiful daughter of my own. Hopefully, my daughter will have a much better answer to these questions when she grows up. 😉


So there you have it, we’ve just taken a snapshot of how the people who shape the industry have in turn been shaped by one of the most important persons in their lives. You’re also very much welcome to chime in and share something about your mom in the comments. Advance Happy Mother’s Day!



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Influencer Interview with The “Return on Relationship” Expert: Ted Rubin

There’s an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.”

Works in real life, works better in business.

See, while everybody loves fast, business is a marathon, and what matters is finishing the race — not starting with a bang (and finishing with a whimper, or not at all). It follows that the stronger your relationships are, the farther you’ll go. It’s a pretty simple idea, but there’s somebody who can reduce it to its simplest term.   

Just ask Ted Rubin, (who actually doesn’t need an introduction but I’m doing it anyway for the benefit of the 0.01% of you guys who don’t know him) acting CMO of Brand Innovators and one of the most popular and loved social marketing strategists in the history of social marketing strategizing. Really, he’s a legend in his own right.

In this episode of our Influencer Interview Series, he talks about the value of relationships in marketing, millennials, and the evolution of marketing. And of course, his wild socks.

The Savvy Marketer: You’re the most outspoken and passionate proponent of the importance of “relationships” in marketing. Tell us how the concept came about. Was there an epiphany, or was it the product of experience?

Ted Rubin: I have always been a relationship guy, built them wherever I was, and took them wherever I went. Over time as digital developed and social scaled I realized we are at an incredibly important time in the evolution of “relationship commerce” (buying from people you know and trust). This is the time when our actions will decide if “relationship commerce” ends up as simply a phrase on a list of buzz words, or becomes an effective – and meaningful — way of doing business worldwide.

The deciding factor will be whether or not enough brands and marketers are willing to go beyond just talking about relationships… to actually building and sustaining those relationships with consumers, peers, employees, and others in their social graph.

How many of us believe in the business value of relationships enough to put in the effort required to turn a one-time contact into an ongoing meaningful interaction?  How many of us even believe that “business value” and “authentic relationships” even belong in the same sentence?? I do, because I have seen this play out time and time again.

As CMO of e.l.f. Cosmetics ( from 2008-2010, I pioneered a program to develop and utilize blogger relationships to exponentially increase and sustain the e.l.f. brand visibility, and because of the blogger energy, talent, and networks,  the program provided the e.l.f. brand with a unique approach toward not just beauty, but also accessibility, interactivity and consumer engagement. At that time, the jury was still out on the business value of social media, but the success of this program confirmed for e.l.f. (and a few other previously skeptical businesses) that building relationships with consumers is absolutely of value to the company.

That e.l.f. experience is what formed my ROR (Return on Relationship™) philosophy, and with each conference I attend, each new interaction I have with bloggers and consumers, and all the stories I hear and see about the impact of social media in influencing purchases… I see confirmation that it really is all about relationships. 

The key to continued success for any brand/retailer/etailer is building relationships and identifying with the customer. – Ted Rubin tweet this


Related: Building Tremendous Credibility and Make Clients Refer You

TSM: Investing on “relationships” isn’t like you’re reinventing the wheel as far as marketing goes, but why is it so appealing and effective at the same time?

TR: Relationships are the new currencytweet this not because this is something new, but because now anyone can do it 24/7 without ever leaving their home.

TSM: Social media is working wonders in marketing. Do you see it being the great equalizer in the foreseeable future? Or is it already slowly leveling the playing field?

TR: Welcome to the ‘Age of Influence,’ where anyone can build an audience and effect change, advocate brands, build relationships and make a difference.

TSM: What are the challenges in social media marketing today?

TR: It’s hard work and brands and marketing departments do not like that you cannot simply lock and load our plan, and then execute. In today social marketing world, it is a constantly evolving process.

TSM: How do you incorporate “return on relationship” in content marketing?

TR: Let’s say, in my humble opinion, Conversation is the best Content… and conversation is at the heart of Return on Relationship. A brand that steps up its engagement game could not only protect its organic reach, but also find a significant competitive advantage. We all love when someone listens to us. When your fans hear from you, their excitement will spread along with your reach and reputation.

Related: SOCIAL INFLUENCERS: The Powers-That-Be

TSM: From politics to pop culture to business, it seems that millennials have a significant impact. Are millennials really that big of a factor in marketing goals?

TR: Depending on where you get your marketing advice, or if you pay any attention at marketing conferences or just about every marketing newsletter, you might be reading a lot about a newly discovered species called “Millennials.” We’re not sure what planet they came from, why they’re here, or what they plan to do with all of the shiny, high-tech gadgets that they’re constantly staring at. We just know that there are a lot of them, they seem to have disposable income, and we’d really like them to spend some of that income at our businesses. It’s just too bad that we don’t have any data or historical insight that might help us better understand the strange new creatures living among us.

If that sounds ridiculous, it should. Marketing will always evolve with the trends and technology of the times, but the core qualities of good business appeal to customers regardless of their generation tweet this (or their planet of origin). So lighten up… Millennials are not that scary! They’re human, like you and me.

There’s no doubt that Millennials, as a group tend to rely on social channels, research, reviews and each other when making a purchasing decision. The thing is, so does everyone else who owns a smartphone and has friends. How you connect matters, but it’s really just an introduction. The most important thing is how you treat them after you’ve made the initial connection.

TSM: You’ve been around for quite some time and have earned the respect of the industry. How has marketing evolved in the past decade in terms of the best practices? What direction is it headed in the next couple of years?

TR: Things ARE changing. Traditional advertising certainly isn’t extinct, but there is simply too much noise out there, and people are sick of it. They’re shutting out the blast advertising that has crept into every aspect of their lives and centering in on the things they truly care about—friends, family, personal interests and need, and social connections. You need to take a step back and study this shift in order to take advantage of it.

For brands, that doesn’t mean you can simply move your blast advertising campaigns into social channels. You actually have to make real conversation with real people and help them get what they want. That means knowing your prospects well enough to understand what they want. It also means creating content that’s helpful, entertaining, educational, or all of the above—content that helps them make a decision; content they want to share with friends.

Related: You Can’t Hit Two Birds with One Stone: Creating Content for Demand Gen & Lead Gen

Smart brands have noticed that we’re moving to a “connection economy,” and they are producing ongoing content that meets the new search “relevancy” standards. They’ve studied their audiences, listened to their social conversations, and have developed plans to use that content in their social profiles to emotionally connect to their audiences and encourage conversation. When it resonates, it gets shared and receives comments and likes, which makes that brand more visible.

What it all boils down to is that in the new world of content marketing, the Content “IS” the Ad. Sharing, conversation, and emotionally connected content will be the ads of the future. tweet this Instead of thinking in terms of “Convince and Convert,” start thinking in terms of “Converse and Convert.” tweet this Helpful content gives your customers reasons to stay engaged—not just react—and also increases brand advocacy.tweet this

So start thinking like a publisher because the more relevant, helpful content you create, the better you can drive engagement. And as my Return on Relationship (‪#‎RonR) formula illustrates…

Content drives Engagement, Engagement drives Advocacy, and Advocacy correlates directly to Increased Sales. #‎NoLetUp! tweet this

TSM: What’s the deal with the socks? Are they some sort of lucky charm (do you even believe in them?) or you just love them like that?

TR: The “sock thing” started as a happy coincidence, more or less, but it ultimately confirmed much of what I believe about marketing. I’ve long enjoyed wearing wild, vibrant socks, and I would show my latest pair off at speaking engagements on occasion or simply sit with my feet up where people could see them.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

After one such engagement a few years ago, Sandy Jenney, a blogger friend whom I like and respect, asked to take a photo of me and my socks, and I was happy to oblige. She posted the photo to Twitter, as did I, then went about my business.

When I returned to Twitter, my feed was jumping—people loved the socks, especially the bloggers attending the conference and those following the conference via social media. They were sending me pictures of their crazy socks. They asked where I found mine and offered sock-shopping tips for when I visited their city. The next day rolled around, and my socks were still a hot topic. Yesterday’s socks were great, but what pair is Ted wearing today?

These days, my social connections get a little worried when I haven’t posted a sock picture in a few days (#tedsockie), and I’m as likely to be asked about my socks by a CMO or CEO as I am by an online acquaintance. Most people are willing, or even anxious, to join in on a sock photo—my socked feet next to theirs—and let me share it with the sock-loving public.


Ted Rubin

Ted is a leading Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist and Acting CMO of Brand Innovators and in March 2009 started publicly using and evangelizing the term ROR: Return on Relationship™.



Check out! Influencer Interview with The Modern Marketer: Matt Heinz

Influencer Interview with The Modern Marketer: Matt Heinz

We are in the search for our next influencer interviewee,

we would love to read your suggestions. Comment below!


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