The New Millennial Leadership Program with Kat Rice on reaching the WE Generation
Patrick: Welcome to The New Millennial Leadership. This is Patrick Dougher. My guest today is Kat Rice. Kat is a social marketer par excellence. She was recognized in 2009 by Microsoft as one of the premier social marketers in her industry. She has had over seven years of being an SEO and master Internet marketer.
She and I connected about a year ago at a speakers meeting, and I was really stunned with her depth and her understanding of what you really need to do to have a presence and to build a marketplace in the social media.
The other thing I was really stunned with is how she is so cross-generational. She can speak geek, and she can speak Boomer, which is cool because so many of the group that I grew up with can barely spell “geek,” or “Microsoft,” or “Windows,” or any of those things. We are trying our best to keep up with the New Millennials that were born with a keyboard in their hand. Kat, I’m so thankful for you being on the show today.
Kat: Well, thanks so much for having me, Patrick.
Patrick: One of the things that I want to get into, I know you’ve got a book coming out, and you really have a clue when it comes to how to have a huge impact in the social media.
I know you’re big in the arena of elections and politics. I know you’re actually a consultant to some of the different parties and stuff like that. What’s your story? How did you get started in all of this?
Kat: It’s actually funny. I wanted to be a novelist. I wanted to write fiction novels, but I knew that I couldn’t make any money at that. I didn’t want to be a starving artist.
My parents were entrepreneurs, and they had a business mentor. I remember being 16, and going to see him in his office, and sitting down, and being like, “Well, what do I do? What business should I go into so that I can pay for my writing habit?”
He said, “The Internet’s where it’s at.” Then he asked me if I was a coder, and I said, “No. Well, I could do basic programming, but I wouldn’t call myself a hacker or anything like that.”
He said, “Well, you’re too old now.” I was 16 at the time. He said, “You’re too old now, so you better find something else to do online.”
So, I started researching when I was 17 and started my first company at 18 doing online marketing. It was great advice, though. I never hire programmers now unless they did it as kids.
Patrick: I’ve heard that from a couple of people. I know Mike Caning’s a big guy in that industry, and he trained himself as a child. I sit there, and I’m thinking, “Wow, that’s an interesting transition.”
But, as far as what you’re doing to create the success you’re having today, what would you say you’re doing the most significantly? What are you really bringing to the table now?
Kat: I think that it’s probably just persistent passion. There have been any number of uphill battles. My second company started in 2007, or maybe it was 2008. Anyhow, right about the time when the recession was hitting. It was so hard. It was so hard.
I was watching people who had way more experience drop out of the game, but I realized that was my moment to start shining. The fact that we made it through the dip is what kept us going. We didn’t give up. Anybody in my company, we all worked hard to make it through those crunch periods, and I think that that’s the biggest thing is the constant. If your passion is big enough, you’ll continue to be persistent.
Patrick: You really have tied together your passion and your profession, haven’t you?
Kat: Yes. I’m the same person online that I am offline. Some people are really frightened of that, but I try to be the same person everywhere, so it seeps into every area of my life.
Patrick: One of the things that we talked about last week, and I’m so thankful that we had the time to visit because you really flipped something inside of my head, and that was I want to be a benefit and a blessing to not just my children, but their whole generation. I think it’s really important as fathers, as people that are trying to have an impact and be a benefit to the nation. You want to always give.
I just noticed that a lot of your generation, so to speak – the New Millennials – had grown up in a certain way, a certain surrounding that was very groupish. Yet you said all the Millennials have tremendous leadership within them. They see themselves as leaders.
The more you said that, the more I went, “She is absolutely right.” As leaders, your generation – how would you want to contribute to them? What would you tell them to really shine in and to expand their own leadership, to grow their own leadership within themselves during this time period?
Kat: Well, we’re in a period that Generation Y, or Millennials, whatever you want to call them, are getting the short end of the stick. We’re really hurting with the job market. A lot of us were raised by really entrepreneurial parents or we watched our parents do corporate America and it didn’t work.
So, there’s a lot of antsiness that our parents are telling us to do one thing, which is go to school, get a good job. But a lot of people want to be entrepreneurs. They don’t want to do the ball-and-chain thing forever, because it’s just not the same. The go to school, get a good- ob thing doesn’t work because companies aren’t willing to keep you forever anymore, and we’re all aware of that.
So, a lot of people are doing the job-hop thing right now, where they’re trying to get enough experience to go out on their own. Then there are a lot of people who are starting companies right now. I would say my advice to my generation is just really stick with it.
Find something that you are really passionate about that you want to do every day and whatever it takes, find a way to do that every day because you’re not going to be happy if you don’t.
Patrick: I so agree. It’s find your purpose and your passion, make sure those are congruent, then find an invoiceable activity around that. You have, with the social media that you do. What are some of the services that you offer into the marketplace right now?
Kat: They call us a boutique online marketing store. In other words, we dabble in a little bit of everything. I have some really high-end designers who do logo and design work. We do websites. We set up blogs.
I also do online strategy where I’ll sit down and help somebody with their total online presence. We do the social media. We do training. So, if it has to do with the Internet, then we touch on it. We even do viral tracking and things like that.
Patrick: You also do a fair amount of speaking as well, don’t you?
Kat: I do. I love speaking. I think that this was my avenue to get there indirectly. I particularly like doing hands-on workshop-type stuff so that people feel like they walk away with something they can immediately use in their company.
Patrick: What do you think you do better than anybody else?
Kat: What do I do better than anyone else? It’s the ability to take someone else’s idea and magnify it. There are so many people out there who have, across the generation, really great ideas that they’re really passionate about, and they just don’t know how to tell other people about it. They feel stuck. They’ve got this big idea in their heart, but they can’t express it to anyone.
So, I am the ghostwriter, in essence, for their dream, whether that’s in the form of an online media campaign, whether that’s the form of a website, whether that’s generically just being this is the direction you should go with that. That’s how I see myself, as being really good at that.
Patrick: I completely agree. I see you as a universal translator, for the Trekkies out there, but with a megaphone with a real amplifier built in because you have the ability to take… You did it with my idea of the New Millennial Leadership Program. You said, “But you’re missing one key.” Then once that key is inserted, then it makes all the sense in the world, because I see leaders in this generation.
I see massive leaders that are going to have huge impact and that are going to be able to affect not just one country, but nations. Yet, they need to believe that they can. Even more so, they need direction. It would be helpful if they were able to look at some of the good stuff that in leadership that’s been passed down along the way, take those pearls and use them to amplify their own mission. What do you think?
Kat: I think my generation has a lot of really great ideas and a lot of big ideas, ideas that they think are much bigger than them. So, they either get stuck in two places. They either start announcing that idea to everyone with nothing to back it up. They don’t actually know what direction to take and they’re not putting a lot of action behind it. This is generic. Obviously, there are some people who’ve really shined.
Or they have this big idea, but they don’t tell anybody because they don’t know what the practical steps are to where they can get their message out. So, the problem here is that there are a lot of really great ideas and a lot of leadership meant to be had, but the building blocks to get to the point of being able to express that is the problem.
Patrick: What would you recommend that someone do to begin to put that plan together and move into that mission and purpose?
Kat: One of the first things to do is if there’s anybody who’s done anything even close is start talking to those people, whether they’re older, whether they’re the same age. Just start asking questions; every question you can think of, to get started. Then start physically making a plan on paper or on your laptop. But, start writing that stuff down.
Then the next big step is market research. I don’t mean that you hire a company to do market research. That’s very ‘90s. Now, you can do it through things like Twitter, or you can just Google to see who’s done research before and plant that research into your own idea. Those things can start at least giving you a map of where you need to go.
Patrick: The other thing that I’ve seen is that this generation really does understand the concept of find the people that want to hear what you have to say and go stand in the middle of them. They get it. They’re beginning to see how to do that.
The other kind of cliché, but it’s so powerful, and it’s a lot more fun to live this way, is go where you’re celebrated, not where you’re tolerated. So, you get into the group. You get into that. Whether it’s online or offline, you get into that group, that tribe, if you want to call it, that will celebrate your creativity, and your vision, and your passion, right?
Kat: Right. Eventually you’re going to have to step out of the happy comfort group and deal with the people who maybe are less excited about your group. But, you definitely need that backup, that support, if you’re ever going to get anywhere, because without it, the first wind that blows you too hard, you’ll break, and you need that support group behind you.
Patrick: That is so good. That is so good. How would you want somebody to get a hold of you?
Kat: Email is definitely the best way to get a hold of me. My email address is email@example.com. It’s just like “verbatim,” but with an extra “i” in it.
Patrick: Very good. Say that one more time.
Kat: It’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patrick: Very good. Of course, you’re all the social places too. They can find you on Facebook, I know because we’re friends on Facebook. And then Twitter and any other media that you want to make sure people connect to you on?
Kat: Veribatim is the key. If you look that up on Twitter, then I’m there. If you look that up on LinkedIn, I’m there. If you look it up on Facebook, I’m there. That’s also my website and where my blog is at, which I update at least once a week.
Patrick: That’s great. How did you come up with that name?
Kat: “Veri” is the Latin root for “truth.” Then we were playing on the word “verbatim.” We wanted to take what people’s concepts of their company are and make it verbatim onto a website. So what they had in their mind was truth in marketing directly to the consumer.
Patrick: That is so good. I know that a lot of people really want authenticity in marketing, don’t they?
Kat: Yes. It’s so important, especially if you’re marketing to my generation. Transparency is definitely key.
Patrick: Anything else that you would want to say to even my generation as far as marketing to your generation?
Kat: For your generation, I would say just don’t assume we’re all kids. It sounds really cliché because we want to be grown up, but a lot of us are getting older, and we’re making decisions. We can vote now; things like that. We’ve got a lot to bring to the table.
Don’t be scared of us. Also, don’t just assume we don’t know what we’re talking about. There’s a lot of energy that can be gained by the Baby Boomer generation by feeding off of Generation Y. What we need to have is a successful relationship, and sometimes it needs to be the older person who reaches down first.
Patrick: That’s absolutely right. I totally agree. One of the things that I see is I see tremendous, not just potential – there’s real leadership, real energy, real wisdom, just goodness and glory in the generation coming next.
The thing that I was so impressed with when I started studying the Millennials is that they didn’t accept a brand. They named themselves.
Kat: That’s exactly right.
Patrick: They weren’t the Gen Y, or Gen X, or Gen Whatever. They said, “No, we’re the Millennials.” Then even beyond that, instead of continuing the descent of, if you look at the Boomers – well, really, the Boomers; I hate to even admit this, but they’re the ones that embraced a whole bunch of noise. They were part of pulling, really, I have to say it this way, prayer out of schools. They began abortion. They endorsed it as far as allowing it, and legalizing it, and so many other things that really changed a whole lot in the way that our nation had been thinking. Let’s put it that way.
I know that we’ve run up a huge debt, which is just going to be a real nightmare for a lot of people. But, once we get through that eye of the needle, your generation is going to shine in a way that is going to be amazing because you guys literally stood up and said, “You know, we’re not going to be like you. We’re more inclined to wait to get sexually active. We’re more inclined to be a little bit more good to our word. We really don’t want the BS as far as who’s telling us what you promise. If you tell us something, you just do it.” That’s the best thing. Am I being consistent with what you know about your own? Is that what you’re hearing, too?
Kat: Yes. There is definitely a want to be better. That’s huge, especially from people in leadership positions, whether they’re corporations or politicians. Holding people to task, the desire for transparency, the desire for keeping companies and other people honest is really important. Of course, in exchange we try not to be hypocritical and do those things in our own lives.
But, I’ve got to say, everything positive that I see in my generation, we definitely learned some of it from people, Baby Boomers, whether they were our parents or other leaders that we said, “That. I want to be that.”
So, everything that’s good, I would say it comes from the Baby Boomers and then the other things, like the individuality, is stuff that we learned as a cohesive generation.
But, I think there’s a lot of hope. We are the future, but we’re really aware of that burden that’s on our shoulders, that there’s a lot of things that are wrong, and that we need to fix it before it gets any worse.
So, there’s a lot of responsibility that’s been thrust on my generation. They say by the time we’re 30, with immigration, Generation Y will be as big or bigger than the Baby Boomer generation, so it’s a huge group of people. I think that we get underscored a little bit by how large the Baby Boomer generation is.
There are a lot of things that are being thrust on all these kids’ shoulders, and I think we’re stepping up. So, what we need is just people to believe that we can. It’s this circular process that if you believe in us and we believe in ourselves, then we do things good, which makes people believe in us more. We need that positive reinforcement happening from the generations higher than us.
Patrick: I completely agree. I am so proud of your generation and what I believe it’s going to become. I’m going to hold that out there and just say I believe that you guys are going to do amazing things. I’m really thankful to be able to sew into it
Kat, thank you again. Let me make one more thing. People should get a hold of you via email, and that email again is?
Patrick: And if they do connect with you, what should they expect?
Kat: In how long it takes me to get back?
Patrick: Yes, probably pretty quickly, I imagine. Actually, is there anything they might be able to request of you; maybe some keys to being better on social media? What should somebody ask for when they connect with you?
Kat: Yeah, if they have questions about social media or generic marketing questions, I can definitely answer those if they’re simple enough, or at least point you in the right direction. I love being able to help and educate people. It’s very, very important to be educated in technology in this current age, so I’m more than happy to do that.
Patrick: I appreciate that. Kat, thank you so very much. Again, this has been The New Millennial Leadership show. My name’s Patrick Dougher. Our website is DoerSuccess.com.
I’d love to visit with you on ways that we can change this generation and be a benefit, I should say, to this generation coming forward, and helping support them, and building them up to be the leaders that they are and that they’re becoming. Thanks again, Kat. We’ll talk to you next time.
Kat: Thanks so much.