Susan McPherson held many positions during her time in corporate America, from PR Newswire to Fenton Communications. Along the way, she made many connections that allowed her to create her own consulting company that focuses on social impact- McPherson Strategies. Today, Susan’s clients range from Tiffany & Co. and J.C. Penney to Coca-Cola and Blackbaud. Susan is an expert consultant, innovative entrepreneur, and Twitter master. Here’s how she does it all.
How do you define success?
Success is so very personal to all. As I have aged, I would describe it as waking up in the morning and looking forward to the day and all that it holds in store for me. Very simple, but very tangible. Success is feeling comfortable in your own skin and body and being able to share that power with all those around you.
Why did you decide to create McPherson Strategies?
It was actually originally meant to be just a placeholder until I figured out what was next. At my previous employer, I left with the promise from two organizations telling me they would each hire me for a consulting project. I left on a Friday and started consulting on the following Monday. (Not taking any time off as I was fearful they would change their minds!) I had been receiving a paycheck since I was 15 years old and that was a very long time ago. 😉
What was the biggest obstacle you faced when creating McPherson?
Getting over my fear that I indeed could be an entrepreneur and a successful entrepreneur.
It’s somewhat rare to find a marketer that’s so passionate about social change. Where does your passion for social change come from?
It has been literally inside me since I was a young child. My late mother worked for public television because the content was vitally important. My late father was a history professor who taught at an all-women’s college for 39 years. I was taught from the get-go that giving back and being kind and compassionate were the most important traits one could possess.
Your work focuses on social impact. What is the biggest mistake businesses make when it comes to social impact?
There are a few. One I see often is companies putting off supporting causes and making the right environmental choices out of fear that doing so will cost too much or take up too much precious time. Many often believe they should wait to focus on such things after the business is profitable. I contend that you reach profitability if you do so from the start.
The second one I see is not involving your employees and customers/clients in your efforts and asking them what causes they care about.
And the third is not being authentic when identifying with specific causes – what makes the most sense and what will keep your employees interested and passionate about the cause over time.
What advice do you have for young women trying to become entrepreneurs?
State what you want and don’t be fearful to request help when needed. When you doubt yourself, do what you can to squelch that urge to give up. Be kind, be considerate, say ‘Thank you’ and always show appreciation and gratitude for others. Take those meetings even though you may be stretched for others. Take those meetings even though you may be stretched thin and build your networks. Relationships with friends, former clients and former colleagues are truly what has enabled my business to grow and thrive and I credit those contacts as my secret sauce. I am so very thankful for all of them.