In September 2021, I took over as CEO for a full-service digital marketing agency, 1SEO Digital Agency. 1SEO has been in business since 2009 when Lance Bachmann and Jolin Bachmann started the company.
It has been a privilege to lead an organization with the highest standards. 1SEO Digital Agency has become a top 2% marketing leader in the United States. Our team has grown to over 100 employees representing all walks of life.
For me, becoming a CEO was a combination of drive, tenacity, and working harder than anyone else. It has been a challenge to overcome certain obstacles along the way. It’s been an incredible journey, and I’m excited to share my story.
I’m not a “success story.” I’m still a work in progress, and I have more to learn. I don’t need to be perfect to succeed. Every day, I work hard and try to improve myself, and that’s all anyone can do. Success is within reach for everyone.
I’ve come a long way, and I want to share my experience with you, hoping that it’ll help you too. So, here’s my story…
Stepping Into This Role Did Not Come As a Surprise
Lance came to me several years prior, letting me know of his plans for the future of the company and the role that I could potentially play. During that conversation, he made it very clear that it was up to me; it was my job to gain or lose based on what I wanted for myself and the future of 1SEO.
It Wasn’t My First Time to Prove That I Belonged
This would be a great time to tell you about my childhood, how I am the oldest of five siblings, how I was supposed to be a boy, and how I spent most of my childhood trying to act and behave like an adult. The good news is I’m going to spare you that long boring story for now. Instead, I want to share the significant obstacles I identified and faced while becoming the CEO of 1SEO.
You see, the part that I haven’t told you yet is that Lance Bachmann is my brother-in-law. Well, ex-brother-in-law technically; can you even have an ex-brother-in-law?
Regardless, that was an enormous obstacle. In business, nepotism is highly frowned upon, and although that wasn’t the case in me becoming a CEO, it was an obstacle that I had to overcome.
Building A Better Future
When I decided to join 1SEO, I honestly did it for one reason: to build a better future for my family. My family consisted of my wife and my son. It sounds small, but I had big plans. I left a job in sales and marketing and joined 1SEO as a project manager. I made less than $30,000 a year when I started.
The job consisted of working with upwards of 100 small to medium-size business owners to ensure their marketing was moving in the right direction. It was not an easy job, and anyone in this role now knows precisely what I mean. Multiple clients means multiple bosses.
In this role, you are jumping from meeting to meeting and from client to client every day. Without fail, there are multiple fires to be put out daily, sometimes more than manageable, and emails and phone calls are coming in droves.
I mentioned nepotism earlier, and it was stacked against me for a good reason. Not only was I the owner’s sister-in-law, but I was also married to the CFO of the company. Don’t judge me; if you knew how much time and energy 1SEO took in my life, you’d understand how joining the company was part of me building a better future for my family. I needed to let my work ethic, skill set, and capabilities speak for itself.
I Worked Harder Than Anyone Around Me
I cared more than everyone else, and I was invested emotionally into the company’s success.
As I became familiar with my job, role, and responsibilities, I started to uncover another obstacle that I honestly didn’t feel I would be facing in 2011. That obstacle was being a woman.
Yes, you heard me right. The types of clients that I serviced were anything from heating and air-conditioning contractors to lawyers and physicians and even e-commerce businesses. I found myself regularly having to prove to the other employees that I belonged and to my clients that I was capable of understanding their needs. Sadly, this wasn’t my first experience with this issue.
The first few times I encountered it, it was in the construction business, but now I’m in digital marketing. Why does it matter what gender I am to manage someone’s marketing?
The Answer Is It Does
It is easy to get upset by these stereotypical problems, but I am not a stereotypical woman, nor do I ever want to be. I enjoy watching people’s faces when they realize that I am so much more than a typical woman.
I can talk about capacitors with an HVAC contractor and litigation with a DUI attorney, and selling condoms in bulk all in the same day. No, I am not making up the condoms; I managed an account at one point that was an online subscription service for condoms. Isn’t that fantastic? I thought so, and so did my client.
I Came In With The Gloves On
I make sure that I figuratively have my hands up, ready to bob and weave. This pertains to every encounter I went into for a long time, and sometimes even today. I am a woman, and it’s not an issue because I know what I am capable of. The new people and clients in my life didn’t.
They judged a book by its cover, and let me tell you, it’s a pretty small cover because I stand at 5′ 1″ tall and 120 pounds. Big things come in small packages. Or does that saying pertain to dynamite?
After being a project manager for many years, I had established myself in a senior role and was promoted to manage the entire team of project managers. I shared tips, tricks, and mindset secrets that allowed me to be a successful project manager and digital marketer. It was not all rainbows and unicorns; there was also blood, sweat, and lots of tears. Lots of tears.
I knew who I was
I was a female in what is predominantly considered a man’s world. Talking to business owners who were primarily men about products and services that were mainly created by men. Knowing this allowed me to have any necessary rebuttals ready to roll. I prepared harder for my meetings. I very quickly learned that if a client was happy with their digital marketing results, they didn’t seem to question who was working on their account.
On the other hand, if an account was not performing well, there were many times where the client would reach out to Lance or a former project manager, to ask them their opinion on performance. I understood that I had two options:
- Make sure that all of my accounts were performing phenomenally
- Constantly defend myself, my work, and the clients’ investment in their marketing.
I wish that I could only choose the former, but it can’t always be rainbows and unicorns in digital marketing.
There are times where marketing needs to be adjusted, there are times where strategies need to be changed, and there are times where things are just flat out not working, and you haven’t quite figured out why. So, unfortunately, I had to learn how to defend. Don’t get me wrong; most clients are delighted with their digital marketing results.
Still, in reality, most clients never really question you or what you’re doing, so it is the minority that takes up the most considerable amount of time, effort, and energy.
Of course, I armed myself; how else do you defend anything? I armed myself by learning more about my clients’ businesses and learning more about my clients themselves. I prepared longer and harder for my meetings, and I spent more time listening to what my clients had to say to show them that I cared.
I wish there were a better answer, but in reality, whether I am male or female, I would hope that someone working on my digital marketing would care enough to do the type of preparation that I did for my clients. The ugly truth is, it wasn’t expected of my male counterparts but was expected from someone like me.
The hiring process
After several years of managing the project managers, I started to get involved in our hiring process. Through that, Lance began to see something in me that he had never seen in any of the other employees he had; my ability to connect.
I was promoted to VP of operations and put in charge of hiring for the company. I led developing new processes and procedures that helped the company run more effectively. It was one of the first times that I felt a job was explicitly designed for my strengths.
Human capital was my primary focus
From there, I moved into the role of chief operations officer, where the human capital part of the company became my primary focus. That still included processes and procedures but centered mainly around the employees fulfilling those processes and procedures.
Several years later, I am now CEO of a multi-million dollar digital marketing business considered one of the top agencies in the United States. I didn’t build 1SEO. Lance, Jolin, and so many before and after me have created a fantastic organization. I am now trusted to take it to the next level.
You would think that with a title such as CEO would come respect from clients, employees, and others regarding your skillset and your capability. That isn’t the case. The same obstacles and issues that I faced coming into the industry are still there today. These challenges must be met daily with clients, employees, colleagues, and many others. I get questions like, did you get the job because Lance is your ex-brother-in-law or are you going to be able to keep up with Lance’s passion and drive?
- There are still clients that will reach out to Lance when they don’t know if they are getting the best answer from me.
- There are still employees that may question why I am in the role
- There are still colleagues that are unsure if I have what it takes to bring the company to the next level.
This is their issue, and their obstacle to overcome, not mine. As long as I do my job and continue to put my clients’ needs at the forefront of what we do at 1SEO, then I will continue to overcome any obstacles thrown at me.
This is the mindset of SheHandlesIt
It doesn’t mean it will be easy; it doesn’t mean that it will be hard. It means that no matter what is thrown your way, your job is to find a way to handle it. So, handle it.