Decision Dialogues - Hard Work and Personal Responsibility: Breaking Barriers - Monique de Maio

On the inaugural episode of Decision Dialogues, Mark Willoughby and Jennifer Faherty of Modera are joined by Monique de Maio, CEO of ondemand CMO. Monique talks about her varying experiences, starting with her family’s “immigrant-itis” and its effect on the decisions she made as she started to mold her career path from a young age, working full-time while she completed her undergraduate degree and then taking night classes to earn an MBA.

She then discusses her experience in corporate America, working in marketing and organizational management, and the inflection point that led to her decision to start her own full service marketing firm: she had come up against corporate sexism, the glass ceiling, and that her boss was “an idiot” who spent his time playing golf with her other boss while she was the “Manager on Duty” doing the work.

These experiences and decisions, combined with a great deal of hard work, aggregated to put Monique in a position to be able to take responsibility and “succeed or fail on her own merits.”

Listen here:

Transcript

Thanks for joining us on Decision Dialogues—we’re thrilled to have you along. My name is Mark Willoughby, and I’m a Principal Wealth Manager and the Chief Operating Officer of Modera Wealth Management, LLC. Today, my colleague Jennifer Faherty, who is Chief Client Experience Officer at Modera, and I will be chatting with Monique de Maio, Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of ondemand CMO, a full service marketing firm. Welcome everyone to the show, and I’ll hand it over to Jennifer to get started.

Thank you, Mark. And welcome, Monique, and thank you as well for joining us today.

Thank you for having me.

Yeah! So we’ve known each other for many years, but you know, I’ve been thinking about this—we actually have not really had that much time to just sit and chat around your background, and certainly your career and your business, so I’m looking forward to our discussion today. I kind of wanted to start at the very beginning and rewind, because I actually don’t know the answers to many of these questions, and it would give us some context. So as Mark mentioned, you have this business, ondemand CMO, but I was wondering if marketing was always the field that you’ve been involved with? How did that whole that career start in the first place? 

So to “back up the truck” as they say, no, marketing wasn’t always in my line of sight. Undergrad, I went to Pace University in Westchester. I did that quickly; I was busy working at the same time as going to college, and I was an international management major. I speak fluent French and Spanish, and I always thought that I would go into international—more organizational—line of work in management. And it sort of happened as a result of my going to work for IBM, while I was in college, and getting this exposure to the international division within that company, where I was helping with marketing. And then I was like, “Wow, that’s kind of interesting. Let me pursue that.” And then, you know, ended up going to Salomon Brothers, and then after that, going to school at night and getting an MBA from Fordham in marketing that was more intentional.

Okay, got it. So it was kind of a, something you didn’t expect, but over your experience, you kind of were exposed to marketing and really enjoyed it. So from there you were marketing in a corporation, or?

Yes. So at Salomon Brothers, our Wall Street firm, as you you know, you know, them to be or had been, we worked in the Event Marketing and Conference Planning department where I met my husband, Steve—who, you know, shh! Don’t tell anybody we were dating.

I met my husband at work, too, so shh!

There you go! And so the long and the short of it was, we were there, but it was very event-centric. And I knew that if I needed to be a more general person, and I wasn’t going to be called the conference planning girl, which was often the term that they used to describe young women who did marketing, I needed to do a pivot. So I went to work as the Director of Marketing and Programs for the Promotion Marketing Association, which was a not for profit, where people from Salomon Brothers thought I was completely out of my mind for doing—which allowed me to work a pretty a more normal schedule and allowed me to go to school at night. So I completed my MBA and three and a half years going to school at night.

Oh, wow. Okay, yeah, juggling a lot there. And you mentioned that they were kind of thought you were crazy for doing that. Why was that?

Well, you know, here you are on Wall Street and you’re making pretty good living, and you have these fabulous perks at the time—it was the 80s right? “Budget” wasn’t a word and we were traveling everywhere, I was going to Europe, I was going all across the country planning events, meeting fantastic people and I had a pretty great lifestyle. To go to a not for profit making sort of just about the same money as my base salary was like, “What are you doing you crazy girl you’re leaving on Wall Street firm and you’re going to a not for profit? Are you dumb?”

So that’s like a great first decision you’re coming to, right? So talk about so what like what what can you talk to us about what went into that decision?

Yeah, sure. The real decision was that I got to be director of marketing, and director of programs. So I leveraged my ability to put on events, but I was also leveraging a new skill that I wanted to grow, which was the ability to make marketing decisions for an organization, which I knew I would never be able to do if I stayed at Salomon Brothers, and I would forever be known as “the conference girl.”

Right, right.

Did I hear you right, Monique. So you did your MBA at night at Fordham, while you were working?

Yes.

And you also were working when you went to Pace University?

Correct. And I did that in three years as well.

Oh, so you’re a real sucker for punishment. That’s—

—And the only break I gave myself was when I went and studied abroad in London. That was the only break I ever got. That was a vacation.

So you studied and worked for six years.

Yeah!

Wow. Okay, back to you, Jennifer. I don’t know.

That’s a great point. 

No further questions from me. Wow!

Your honor?

Yeah, right? So even that decision, you did it intentionally. What made you want to do both at the same time, instead of take it, maybe—

—Oh, I don’t think I wanted to do any of that at the same time if I had a choice. I think it was—So being from parents who had no money, I could have gone to a much better school because my grades were much better, but honestly, Pace gave me a free ride, and they took all my AP credits, and so on. So I was able to do that without any impact on the family finances, and that was the motivating factor.

Wow!

Wow! There’s a lot to unpack there. Do you want to—you had a question there already, Mark?

No, I didn’t. I was just—six years of working and studying, I think I need to go take a nap.

Well, I love what you said about, kind of, you knew that was it. Because it’s kind of your family background, and you knew that was like the best decision in terms of—you know, we talked a lot about that a lot with, you know, in our industry, with finances, and all those kind of different decisions you have to make. I don’t know if you want to elaborate a little bit more on that, and kind of how that shaped you.

Sure. So I come from France, I was born there, and my parents were immigrants when I was little. So I was about five-ish. And you know, they had to reinvent themselves twice over, and I’ll spare you the immigrant-itis that we went through. But my parents were essentially born in French Algeria. And then when there was the French Algerian independence, they were thrown out, you know, they were white people in a country that didn’t really want any French white people. So they landed in France—that’s where my cousins and I were born—and then that didn’t go well. The old, “Well, the economy was terrible.” So we came here in 1969.

So the point is that my parents were uneducated. And my fathe—who was intending on having the family business, which is hospitality, they had restaurants in a residential hotel, and things like that—never really came to fruition. So here we are as immigrants and they don’t speak the language. So I’m the first one to speak the language, I’m the one that’s interpreting for the family. So at the age of five, I become the spokesperson for the family.

It’s a little early to be a spokesperson, but it was what it was. The point is, what I saw for myself was that I would never, ever be in a situation where I was living paycheck-to-paycheck. And that’s something that’s relevant for you guys, too.

There’s a biography here. At some point, Monique.

What a good story.

This is quite the story. This is quite the story.

We’ll talk, right? So I mean, we could back up the truck and say my grandparents were in Spain, and they were thrown out of Spain from Franco, and then they landed on the first boat that went to Algeria, so there’s three sets of immigrant moves, if you will, that inherently made me very conscious of what it was to earn a dollar, and what it was to spend dollars that they didn’t have. You know, I remember opening my first IRA with my first paycheck—I think it was my first, you know, official, corporate paycheck, and I think I might have been 20 or 21 at the time. So our motto is there’s nothing wrong with getting rich slowly, and there’s a miracle called compounded interest—use it.

For me, that was a very conscious decision, because I knew honestly, I just knew that there was no other way to do it, and I wanted to do it.

Yeah.

And I had to put myself through graduate school too, so I negotiated, not taking benefits from my employer in lieu to get some tuition reimbursement, and that was able to help. The trade association wanted me to work for them enough that they made that exception and gave me the tuition dollars in lieu of money for benefits, and I made up the rest.

Wow, that is really so admirable. And we’re kind of joking about the biography, but I personally would  love to read that and it would really inspire so many people so I’m going to get on your case to be writing that!

There’s so much to talk about there, and I so relate to the immigrant piece of it too. My parents also came over as immigrants and you know, one thing I always felt also was this very conscious sense of the dollar and even when they may have a success in their professional life, we were always cutting coupons and going to Costco or whatever it was at the time.

So I’m curious though, because at least in my immigrant experience, starting my own business was not something you know, my immigrant parents would think was a safe thing to do. So can you talk to us a little bit about that, like, when that happened, and what your parents thought of it?

So you’re right. Generally speaking, you know, the immigrant mentality is more security and predictability and things like that. But my dad had been an entrepreneur—and not a terribly successful entrepreneur in that he had to reinvent himself a couple of times. My father had an eighth grade education, because he had every intention of taking over the family business, and he was really pretty good at it until it was sort of moved from under him.

Having said that, he had to do his own thing, because he wasn’t qualified to, you know, even join—my father was a handyman. He couldn’t join a union, because I don’t think—he felt that he probably couldn’t have passed the the written tests that needed to be passed, right? And he always felt like at least, you get out what you put in, and I was always obviously brought up with a pretty good work ethic. So in these jobs—I loved these jobs, but I felt very stifled, and I felt very much like a woman, you know—now I’m 56—so that if you back up the truck, and you kind of do the math, I was in the middle of the IBM era, and the Salomon Brothers era when you went to went to work in a navy blue suit, with a little bow tie, and hopefully, you know, not colored stockings, because the day that I did wear colored stockings, I was actually called out for it.

So this is like basic crap that I’m saying, but this ultimately gives you this sense of like, unless I’m a white guy, in his 50s with a beard or something, I’m not going anywhere, and everyone’s gonna keep treating me like the little girl, and I’m petite. So there’s this whole notion of being, “Oh, you’re the cute girl!” You know what, I don’t want to be the cute girl. I want you to take me seriously. So that sort of led me to—and there was a trigger point for me, the exact day actually, for me to have that moment, I decided that to start my own business, because I had a fabulous career as a publisher of a marketing magazine called Brandweek. And I was doing great. It was fabulous. Super great.

Was that because you hit a glass ceiling, Monique? Or was it just you got done with the environment?

So a little bit of both. I was the only woman on the executive committee. I reported to a man—two men, actually the president and then the group publisher. There was a big joke that these guys would play golf all the time, and I would be the, you know, MOD—Manager on Duty.

There’s all sorts of other sort of things that led me to assume a certain position. And the one—I had my daughter, which is always interesting, after you have a baby, I’ll get back to that—and then I asked my boss, if I could telecommute. Imagine that! Remote working, guys!

I know!

Oh my goodness, no! Don’t tell me, it isn’t so. So it’s 1994, and I say, you know, “It doesn’t matter what day,” because at this point, I have a full time nanny, and she you know, whatever. It doesn’t matter. I didn’t ask for a Friday, I didn’t ask for a Monday. I didn’t ask for a long weekend. I didn’t ask for any of that. And now mind you—I am managing seven offices all over the country, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston all on different time zones, and they’re not in my physical presence. And he says, “I don’t think so.” I was like, “You know what? No, I don’t think so.”

Yeah, and that was it. That was the day that you decided, and so was it pretty clear? Or was it really more you knew you didn’t want to be there?

I knew I didn’t want to be there.

Was it also clear what you wanted to move ahead to?

So no, so—that’s an interesting question. Firstly, you know, I thought for a while at that point, I’m not freshly minted anymore, but I have an MBA and I have these sales skills, and I know I can sell, and I’m getting offers from other publications to be either a marketing director or a publisher, which is sort of interesting, right? Because you can be on both sides of the house. And I’m like, “Well, if I get more of the same, I’m going to have my nanny raise my child,” and this is going to be a little problematic, because that’s not really why I waited seven and a half years to have a baby. “I think I should really do this myself.”

So I talked to my husband and I said, “Listen, you know, we live below our means. That’s generally the way we approach most things.” I said, “We’ll try it. We’ll give ourselves a year or two, and if it doesn’t work, I can always go back to corporate. I could always go back to publishing or whatever.” And the honest thing is that I left my job was to retain clients who wanted to work with me before I even left. So the business was started before it was starting.

You know, a couple of things. Another guest, similar situation to you, Monique. A lady who started off in Wall Street. She introduced me to a term in a prior interview that I’d never heard before, which is “the mommy track.”

Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

It sounds like not quite the same as you, but a somewhat similar experience by the sound of it. She just saw the writing on the wall, and she went and set up her own business in the financial area. So interesting.

Very good. Maybe we’ll have a “mommy track” meetup.

So as a mother, though, having your own business couldn’t have been easy?

No, it wasn’t. Nothing worth having is really that easy.

True, I tell my kids that.

So the thing that was great was, you know, the full time help that I had, and the other thing that we immediately did was we converted a whole floor of our house to be like, designated office space. I had my own bathroom, my own floor. So I really never—I didn’t do the “I’m working from the kitchen table” routine. I was very, very prescriptive and very disciplined about really not being in their space during the day, unless you know, where my son was born four years later, obviously, for the first couple weeks, you you do what you need to do.

I think I remember my “maternity leave,” and I put that in quotes, because it’s a joke when you have your own business, was like, I worked part time for three or four weeks, and then I went back to completely, you know, the regular routine. It was better in that I was available, and I had these crazy hours, but I was present. I didn’t miss a you know, even a silly kindergarten play—you know, you and I used to see each other at Ridge School and think, “Oh my goodness, it’s so much fun.” But yeah, you were there, too. So it’s like, you do it.

Well, that’s really so important. Because I think when you start off a business, you know, you really do have to think about how seriously you want to take it. We hear now the term “side hustle” a lot.

Oh, yes.

Or “jobby” I’ve heard, you know—is this kind of something you’re doing on the side, a job, something kind of like a hobby almost? Or is this gonna really be a full-fledged business?

It sounds like you made that decision early on, like “No, I have to set this up as if I’m the CEO of ondemand VMO,” right?

Yeah. So you’re right, you’re absolutely right, I did make a conscious decision. The other thing that happened was, I was subletting space from one of my clients in downtown Manhattan in Tribeca. And so I wasn’t going in every day, but I was going in a couple days, you know, about two or so days a week, and then 9/11 hit. And so 9/11 was the first trigger to have and at that point, I was hiring staff. So that was the first trigger then had us become a virtual organization. And then five years ago, my husband joined the organization, so we literally have a family business now.

Oh, talk to us about that, for your husband. You know, I worked very briefly when I actually started the CFP, I worked with an accountant who also set up his office with his spouse. And I was the only employee, so I got to see kind of behind the scenes about their relationship, but tell us a little bit about how that worked, for you, how did that work with Steve joining your business?

So he has also a marketing background. He was a CMO, senior level management executive director at places like Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney, Citi, and he also was in both in the car business and in the financial services business. He’s got a CRPC, Series 7, Series 63/64. He’s got a bunch of those designations. So his expertise, his swim lane, is not mine. I focus on technology, technology services, education, not for profits. Where we overlap is on some clients, but he’s got his own set of clients where he has expertise that I don’t. And so I am so grateful and so appreciative of his skillset, because it’s super complementary to mine. And unlike—I don’t know—there’s just something about our DNA, I guess also the way we’re a couple right? Our personalities mesh pretty well. I would say 95% of the time, I am super grateful and super charged that he’s with me. And then there’s that 5% of the time you’re like, “Oh my God, if I see you for more than five more minutes today, I’m gonna blow my brains out.” Because it is—in fact COVID, let’s not kid ourselves, people!

That’s a pretty good percentage break—95 and 5%. I gotta try to strive for that one.

I think my percentages would be the opposite.

So his response if he were in the room would be like, “That’s why I play golf, and that’s why I go on really long bike rides,” and then I’m like, “Okay, that’s great.” I mean, we do have our own lives.

Yeah well, that’s great. I like how you kind of explained how your skillsets and experience really complemented each other. And I guess that brings me to a question about just your business. You mentioned kind of the industry areas your business focuses on. Can you talk to us a little bit about how that evolved and how it’s evolving now?

So ondemand CMO is 22 years old. So it’s been around.

Congratulations!

Thank you. You know, it’s funny, we were talking about, you know, “Are you serious about this business?” and in the old days, when I was walking my son up to school, people would be like, “Are you still doing that part-time, like, design stuff?” Yeah, no, not exactly.

So the way that we work is, we really become companies’ sort of extension of their marketing departments. So what they’ll have is, they’ll have a certain skill set internally, and then we supplement wherever they need. If they have like, people executing a lot of things, we’ll come in and do more planning, more strategy. And then if they have the strategic plan, and they have a vision of where they want to get to, we’ll help them execute it, and we either can be on a routine basis, where we’re that outside resource, or we can come in to just do a project or a problem.

So in the beginning, it was like, “Well, I have a client here, and I have a client here because they know me, and we started whatever,” and you were afraid to pick a swim lane. So that’s the one thing I would say is—I say to entrepreneurs, who are starting in any business—“Be prescriptive about who you want to serve, and what you want to do for these prescriptive persona people—however you want to, you know, talk about that stuff, your target customer, is your target customer for a reason. What is that? Why is that?” And then spend some real quality time doing the analysis as to who you could best serve, and why, and make that super clear.

Because if you’re trying to be all things to all people, which we all do when we start our business, we spend tons of calories chasing the wrong client, and then we regret it, because we can’t service them because the skill sets really don’t align, or do the chemistry. So the swim lanes, I talked about financial services. So we do a lot of work with RIAs. We work with people like Focus Financial, or Steve was on a long term contract with Citi, because they didn’t have his skill set internally. They were doing “integration and disintegration” as I like to call it, so they hired him literally, to be an extension of their staff.

You know, we have companies—small regional banks—We’re working with First Hope right now as an example. We had SB One until they were acquired by Provident. We talk about having—one of my favorite and heartfelt clients is a special needs school in Nutley, New Jersey called the Phoenix Center.

Yes.

Very, very neat. That’s one of the ways we also overlapped and got on each other’s radar. Because you guys are super supportive of their organization, they do God’s work, I love them.

And then on the enterprise side clients like Intel and Spectrum and Iron Mountain and Avaya, and people like that come in to call us because we know how to do sales enablement, right? We know how to do—What happens, you have a brand, you have a distinction, you have a value prop, and then you have to train your people to go out there and sell your solutions, services, etc. And solutions and services is our specialty, because it’s much more difficult, and that complexity makes me super happy. I love working on complex selling scenarios. So we come up with, “How do you go to market? What do you say? How do you pitch it? How can your salespeople sell?” Etc, etc.

That sounds like you have a lot on your plate. I think you’ve continued that trajectory of you know, having a lot on your plate with when you were at a business school and juggling all of that. I think it sounds like you’re you have a lot there that you do, which is great.

I hear a lot of large companies in there too, Monique.

Yes. So there’s a blend, it’s a nice blend, because the enterprise people are not—there’s not a lack of marketing people like when I work with Intel, there’s a particular division in the B2B space, the IoT division, for instance. There’s a ton of people with marketing titles, but they they lack the ability, if you will, to do marketing content development at the level that they need to do it so that it doesn’t sound like jargon, and so that it’s actionable, and then it’s easy to understand.

Because Intel as an example has an indirect channel model. They’re going through distributors that don’t just sell Intel—they sell their competitors all day long. So for you to first and foremost, you got to get past your competitors’ stuff, and then you’ve got to get share of mind, share of wallet, and action, like, what’s gonna incentivize somebody to talk about your chip versus the next guy’s chip So, yeah, I love this stuff. So much fun.

That’s great!

One last question from my from my end on this part—this is completely off the wall. But could you have set up your own marketing firm without the corporate experience, Monique?

I am so glad you asked that question, because I wish my son was in the room right now!

I’ll make him listen to it.

Thank you, thank you!

You know, I don’t think so, and this is what I tell—I mentor a lot of kids—I love talking to the younger generation, because, you know, just building our next generation leaders. I know that sounds cliche, and it’s been said, but I do really feel that. The answer is “No—not well, anyway.” Because I sent this to someone, I think I probably shouldn’t say who I said this to, in case she listens to the podcast, but you can’t just go into business . You have to foundationally, to understand structure, to understand process, to understand sort of how the big boys do it. And then you can judge whether or not you think it’s going to be an appropriate model for you, but without that context, this is what I tell people—there’s content, and there’s context. And you cannot do content without context. And that is the distinction. I think I would like to leave you with with that on that question.

And how long were you in corporate America?

So I think it was like somewhere between 12 and 15 years if I do the math, right? Something like that.

And do you think you had to stick around for 12 to 15, or was there an earlier stage that you could have left and set up on your own?

Hmm. So because I had such distinct and different experiences along the way… So IBM was interesting, but it was short, because it was it was a it was a specific time period. My career path at IBM would have been sales, and I knew that I didn’t want to sell mainframes, so I had to leave that. And then it was Salomon. Salomon was more event driven. And then it was PMAAa and that was more like, General Director of Marketing and Programs, and then it was publishing. So, in essence, I feel like I’ve been to sort of five train stations to fully understand how a train works from end to end.

So you needed all five?

I think I did. I think I did.

Okay.

It is so interesting, though, to look back now as one’s career and see all the different pivot points and, kind of what you take from those experiences and bring in now. And it sounds like you don’t seem to regret that much, because you can kind of see how it plays in.

Yeah.

But it’s always a fun question—Is there anything you regret?

You know what, the only regret I would say is what I spoke about before, which is not picking my swim lanes faster, and being much more—so my staff would always be like, “Listen, you need to be on the website” as an example, right? And I was like, “I don’t need to be on the web, blah, blah, blah,” and you kind of like, you take yourself out of the equation thinking that you’re doing yourself a service, and you’re not—because in actuality, who you are dictates who’s going to work well with you, and who is going to be attracted to working with you, because ultimately, when you sell a service, you’re buying the person. You’re not buying—I don’t have a widget. I don’t even have like a marketing automation thing. I’m like, “I’m not selling you anything, right? I’m selling you what’s here. So if you don’t like me, as I show up, and how I speak and how I can approach your business, you’re not gonna hire us. It starts with me,” right?

So I was always very reticent to put myself in the forefront, even though I’m not shy as a person—I didn’t want to be like the ondemand CMO, but then it just kind of happened. kicking and screaming.

You also didn’t embark with the express intention—“I’m going to put these five different career segments together, and then I’m going to launch ondemand CMO, you know. It’s like, at what point did the light bulb go off in your mind that you had the makings of something, that you could set your own business up? How many years into it did that—Was there a light bulb moment?

Well, the light bulb moment for me was, “I’m going to do this thing come hell or high water because my boss is an idiot.” So that was, you know? That was like my impetus, right? So I needed to, like, make that work. And then in the back of my mind, I was like, “Listen, I was a client of marketing agencies, and the reason I set ondemand up, CMO the way that I did”—the model that we did, and even though it’s not scalable, like, you know, now I look at it and go, “I wish this was scalable, because at the end of the day, we’re selling experience and expertise, and that’s not terribly scalable,” unless you know, there’s a conversation to be had on that side. But the point is, I was the recipient of really bad marketing. So I knew that if these people could make a living and do it poorly, I was sure as hell gonna do it right.

Yeah, in some ways you’re your first client, right? Or you’re able to take some, you know, your knowledge and apply it to yourself, which is great.

“Cobbler’s son has no shoes,” Jennifer.

Well, I think it’s great when you’re your own first client because then you can really see and speak from experience, really. 

That comes from the client experience officer. She knows.

She knows!

So what’s next for you, Monique? Like what’s happening in your business now? We can talk about this year, even though that’s like, you know, something we can’t wait to be over.

Let’s not talk about 2020.

Yeah, well, you know, what’s funny about 2020 for us? We’ve had a phenomenal year, we’re up.

And how did that happen?

The reason that we’re up is because a lot of our clients needed to pivot, and they needed to hit it quick.

Yes.

So like I didn’t take a day off from March 13 till I think June 15, I did not take a single day off. Not a weekend, not a night, not anything, because we were just like, we needed to do things in days and weeks instead of weeks and months, and we didn’t have it.

And your firm was already virtual by that point?

Oh, yeah. Thank God.

Okay. So you didn’t have to deal with the transition to virtual?

No. My husband and I moved this past year, and when we had the house built, we designated two specific offices—one for each one of us. So that, you know, this was completely seamless, knock on wood. Yeah.

So you worked like maniacs for that first two or three months?

Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah. And you really helped those clients pivot in a way. And it’s really those clients who were able to pivot probably, that are having success now, I would imagine, right? So you’re there for them. That’s great. So anything that we haven’t asked you that you’d love to talk about?

Sounds like you might have some advice for your teenage son.

Well, I said to Jen, if we can switch sons, I can give her son some advice then she can get mine because they’re in the opposite industries.

So I think at the end of the day, if you want something bad enough, you’re going to succeed, and you can’t be afraid of rejection, because you’re going to get it, and you can’t be afraid of people naysaying you, because you’re gonna get that too. At the end of the day, the only voice inside your head that you have to listen to is your own, so it’s either going to be a positive voice or a negative voice. You choose—either way you, you’re right, as Henry Ford would say.

That’s right. That’s right.

And just because you can doesn’t mean you should, that’s my other piece of advice.

Yeah. I like that one.

Since you brought up your son, if your kids were interested in going into business, is that something you would certainly advise them to do?

So this is a funny story. Both my children are entrepreneurs—go figure! My son has had a coaching and training business for youth sports for boys, specifically in youth sports, since he’s been 13, 14, something like that. So he’s going to be 20—tomorrow’s his birthday. So he’s been doing that for a while, and that’s how he makes his money. I call it his little money. And then my daughter has been a college tutor, a college prep tutor, on her own since she was a junior in high school, she was tutoring. And she’s now graduated, and out of school for the past year. And now she’s doing it for a professional tutoring company, because the theater is as you know, dark, and that’s really her passion. So she’s doing virtual theater, which is sort of an oxymoron in some ways, and she’s professionally tutoring. So she’s working for herself.

So both of them seem to have gotten the mama gene!

Yes! It’s in their blood and you’re in their DNA, right? All the way back to, sounds like, their grandparents!

Exactly! Exactly!

That’s wonderful. That’s great.

So you know, keep telling them, work hard. Because the only one you can blame—you can’t blame anybody but yourself. So you succeed on your own merits and you fail on your own merits.

That’s right. Well, that’s wonderful. Thank you so much. I have one last question. So what was the last non-financial decision you had to make, either today or recently?

Non-financial decision that I had to make? For us, I think maybe the biggest recent decision would be to have moved, out of Ridgewood, which was a real—that was a big thing for us, you know? The empty nest thing, of course that that was like a boomerang, right?

Yeah.

The empty nest, that didn’t work out so well.

Well, thank you so much. This was great to have you aboard. We learned so much. I wish we could talk forever because there’s so much I could still be asking you. And I know people will appreciate your story and be able to learn a lot.

Monique
Well thank you very much for the opportunity, it was great fun, and what you’re doing is fantastic. I said that to Anna that from you know, just from my lens, this is brilliant. So good

Thanks very much to Jennifer Faherty and Monique DeMaio, for letting us listen in on their conversation. We appreciate your time and perspectives. And thank you for tuning in. We hope you’ll join us next time on Decision Dialogues for more stories from successful business owners. So long for now.

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About Monique

Monique de Maio is CMO and Founder of ondemand CMO

ondemand CMO is focused on B2B, specifically in the areas of marketing strategy, positioning, messaging, lead generation, and sales enablement, helping clients drive more sales and increase profitability. ondemand CMO’s specific expertise is in tech, tech services, SaaS, telco, financial services/fintech, education, and non-profits. Current and past clients range from large brands like Avaya, Citi, Cushman & Wakefield, IBM, IPC, Intel, Spectrum, to mid-market, start-ups and non-profits like ACS, Focus Financial Partners, The Security Professionals, Safer World Group, United Way, YWCA, and The Phoenix Center, among others.

Prior to starting ondemand CMO in 1998, Monique was Publisher of Brandweek Magazine. Before joining Brandweek, Monique served as the Director of Marketing and Programs for the Promotion Marketing Association. She started her career at IBM and Salomon Brothers.

Born in Paris and fluent in both French and Spanish, Monique’s family immigrated to the United States when she was a child. She earned her BBA in International Management from Pace University, and her MBA in Marketing from Fordham University.

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