Hello, I’m Mary and I Wear Too Many Hats
As many entrepreneurs who launch a business do, I feel like I’m caught in a tornado of things that must be done to keep my business afloat. I have to take on multiple roles in my single owner business, from being in charge of sales, to producing marketing content and overseeing communications, to being the project manager who ensures my projects stay on track. Then, just when I think I’m done, I have to take on the office admin and accounting tasks as well! As a result, my online communication can be random. I have to admit that when faced with an ever-growing pile of paper to sort through, promoting my business is sometimes the last thing on my mind. Two Point Uh Oh! is an opportunity for me to maintain more regular communication with my clients and fans by bringing them all to one platform. It’s a great place for them to tune in from time to time as they see fit and to learn about my latest activities and offerings.
A Seattleite During the Golden Age of The Dot Com Bubble
I grew up in a middle class neighborhood in Seattle. Over time, I watched that same neighborhood morph into a dot com multimillionaires’ neighborhood. I was there when Starbucks started with one store at Pike Place Market, expanding next into my neighborhood. My parents would go there religiously on their weekend morning walks. Now, like the rest of you, I see Starbucks everywhere in the world. Amazon.com is another example of a company that grew to its current gigantic size from humble Seattle roots. Along with Red Robin, REI, and many other successful companies, these businesses have become ingrained in Seattle’s culture.
It was a life-changing experience for everyone in Seattle no matter what their age. For instance, my dad is an architect. At the time he specialized in remodeling and restoring old 1900 craftsman style houses. Then his clients began requesting all sorts of new things, from a personal movie theater to a secret arcade game room hidden behind a bookcase that opened by moving a single book. Very James Bond. My mom, a public school teacher, was allowed to check out a computer from her school every summer and bring it home for me to use. First it was a big clunky apple with a floppy disk drive. It only had one game, Oregon Trail, and was good for little more than learning how to type. The following summer, she brought home a Macintosh. Every year, the technology upgraded a little. I would play on the computer, discovering its functions. When my mom had to return the computer to her school, I would beg and plead with her to bring it home again. Finally, she was allowed to keep one of the older computers year round. The first thing I did was figure out how to get onto the Internet. I bought a clunky router, read the instructions, and hooked it up to the phone line. I was so excited to access the Internet, browse the Web, and create my first email account.
When I started high school, I borrowed my uncle’s lap top. I set everything up and quickly got into creating PowerPoint presentations, Word documents and Excel spreadsheets. I was better at it than many of my teachers, who still didn’t know their way around a computer very well. “How did you do that?” they frequently asked. I was out to impress them, always aiming for that “wow!” effect, and I made sure to stay one step ahead of my peers. I also wanted to get that A+ for creativity. Some of the nuns didn’t like my modern ways and scolded me, but what can I say? I’m a triathlete and competitive by nature. I was proud to be the one to teach my swim coach how to use excel to calculate workout plans for the year.
When I arrived at Seattle University, I had to find a way to pay for the high price of my education. I combined my love for competitive swimming and technology to create swim team marketing videos. I also created a successful business using an underwater video camera to analyze swimming strokes and give swimmers and triathletes rapid feedback on their performance. Each participant left with a copy of their video to take home and study. My first underwater video swim clinic sold out, and I was booked solid after that, with many repeat customers. I posted the swim clinic online in swimming forums, and I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiastic response from the community.
After university, it took me 6 months of searching for and applying to jobs before I finally landed one. I was hired to work for Microsoft via a vendor company. The experience of working for a massive machine like Microsoft with a campus the size of a small town was overwhelming at first and a bit of a culture shock. My bosses and colleagues would throw so much technical jargon at me that I felt like they were speaking a foreign language. But I stepped up to the challenge like any athlete worth her salt, and soon I was using the jargon like a pro. Microsoft’s internal communication platform and wiki pages were my first experience of a corporate Web 2.0 culture, and I took to it naturally. Soon, I became the one being called in to set up the SharePoint sites, which were part of the web application platform developed by Microsoft. It was a great experience and I learned a lot about project management and the importance of a good communication platform to a large team.
How I Got To France
In 2006, Microsoft asked me to help them coordinate one of their events with an event in the South of France. I was in charge of logistics and getting alignment with the other event. It was my first time working abroad and I had no idea what to expect. I asked my boyfriend at the time (now husband) to come along as the translator. He had studied French for eight years which made him fluent in my view.
As I worked during the day, my husband would wander around town and speak to the locals. At night he would attend the client dinners with me and make sure I didn’t order sheep’s head or duck’s liver by mistake. He fell in love with the French way of life (minus the sheep’s heads) and decided that moving to France would be a great adventure. I made a promise that if he got a job in France, I would follow him.
Sure enough one year later, my husband found a job and voilà, I was in Paris, France!
We started our life in France with only six suitcases of possessions. I couldn’t believe I’d moved countries. I didn’t have a work permit. I couldn’t speak the language. How was I going to find others in similar situations?
Facebook was my lifeline to friends and family back home, but I knew I had to branch out. With the help of Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn, I found numerous resources for expats and networking meetings in English. I started to meet people and develop a network and to blog about my experiences in France. My growing online network pointed me to resources, and soon I was learning what I needed to do to get my career back on track. Thanks to the information I’d gathered, I was able to get a freelance work permit and create my own business, McLassiter Consulting. Facebook and social media became my window into the world of other expats in the same boat as me.
As an expat with a small business in France, the tools of Web 2.0 give me a way to showcase my business to my niche audience by telling my constantly evolving story. My competitive nature is sparked by challenges, and I love applying what I’ve learned as a triathlete about goals and results to my clients’ benefit. I also love those moments when an experience I’ve shared online turns out to be helpful to one of my readers. My online platform helps me gather all my hats in one place and portray myself as I truly am. It offers transparency to my clients. When they hire me, they know who and what they’re getting.
And now you do, too. Stay tuned for more from Two Point Uh Oh!