Invisible Mentor: Carol McManus, America’s LinkedIn Lady
Company Name: LinkedIn Lady
Avil Beckford: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Carol McManus: I’m an entrepreneur. I left the corporate world in 2007 to start a coaching, consulting and leadership development company. I built that company to six figures using social media. My business has moved over to social media expertise and I’m now known as America’s LinkedIn Lady.
Avil Beckford: How do you integrate your personal and professional life?
Carol McManus: It’s easy especially now. I have always been a balanced person. I learned many years ago that you have to turn it off. Whatever you choose to do, whether it’s family or friends or personal activities, or the pets or the children, you have to separate that from business. In my case, there comes a certain point in the day, and it’s toward the end of the normal business day, sometimes it’s 5:30, sometimes it’s 6:30, or 7:00 pm, but when I turn off business, I’m done for the day and the rest of the evening is devoted to me and my husband. We don’t have children at home so it’s really about us, our time together. That’s my world and it doesn’t necessarily apply to other people.
My advice from my own integration, you want your business to support your personal life and your personal life to support your business. At the end of the day you have to set the rules on how you balance them because if you let either one get out of balance, the other one is going to suffer.
Avil Beckford: When you have some down time, how do you spend it?
Carol McManus: My down time is creative time for me. I have a couple of hobbies. I like to write so I often write. I love to read, but my physical creative activity is I love to do flower arranging with silk and artificial flowers and make different types of decorations. I find that very therapeutic so it doesn’t involve other people. It’s time for me to go into myself and be creative and do things which in my world brings beauty and satisfaction for me, but it has nothing to do with anything else that’s going on around me.
Avil Beckford: What are five life lessons that you have learned so far?
- Always be true to yourself. I remember my daddy telling me when I was a little girl that at the end of the day, the only person you have to sleep with is yourself. What he meant by that is you always have to be responsible for yourself.
- My father was very passionate about me being able to be independent, not that he didn’t wish for me to be married, and have children, and a wonderful life, and someone to share my life with, but because he grew up in the Depression he was passionate about wanting me to stand on my own two feet. That’s a second lesson I learned and it goes hand-in-hand with being true to yourself.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously and always be able to laugh at yourself.
- You have to have humour in your life. Without humour a life can be pretty dismal and boring, and it makes you a dismal and boring person to be around so find ways to bring laughter into your life. And if it doesn’t come naturally to you then seek people who are fun to be around and share that joy. Go buy a video of I love Lucy TV series, which will make you laugh.
- We only have one life, and the richness, satisfaction and depth that you get from life – and we don’t know when that life is going to end, life is very precious and for some it ends far too soon, and for some who live healthy lives it goes on forever. You only have one life and you are the only one who can ultimately control that, so having goals and knowing what it is you want to accomplish and what you can give back to the world, what is your legacy going to be, and I don’t mean legacy etched on Mt Rushmore with the presidents’ profiles because for most of us it’s nothing nearly that dramatic. But for all of us, leave a legacy, even if it’s only with your own family, or your neighbours or the people you interact with. But being conscious of that, and taking ownership for what you leave behind is the other big life lesson for me. And it’s something that I try to work on a little bit every day.
Avil Beckford: What process do you use to generate great ideas?
Carol McManus: I will give two answers to that because it comes up in two forms. I come up with a lot of ideas just when I’m in my own head. That could be when I’m listening to music, taking a walk or driving in the car. I let my mind wander, go, and think creatively. When I’m doing some of these crafty things I find I’m also creative and come up with great ideas. But having said that, the development and the richness of those ideas, come to fruition when I bring people into the conversation. I love to brainstorm and debate with people. I want them to challenge me and take the seed of an idea and help me improve it because I know I can’t do it all by myself. I’m very much an open book, so it’s letting me be creative in my own head, and then testing the market, but really using other people’s attitudes and experiences and impressions so that you can improve on what you thought was a really good idea to begin with. It always gets better.
Avil Beckford: What’s your favourite quotation and why?
Carol McManus: It’s a quote from Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, either way you’re right.” I’m paraphrasing a little bit but it’s so absolutely, 1,000 percent true. If you think you can do something, you’re going to put yourself subconsciously on a path to make it happen. If you think you can’t do it, you’re going to subconsciously put yourself on a path that it will never happen. Based on everything you’ve heard so far, you always try to put yourself on a path that you really have to believe in it and the tools and resources will come into your life to help you let things become real. If on the other hand you think you can’t, guess what, that’s going to be the reality.
Avil Beckford: How do you define success? And in your opinion what’s the formula for success?
Carol McManus: I define success as happiness. I think success is whatever ultimately makes people happy. And it’s defined differently for different people. For me, it’s the joy of being able to sleep peaceably at nights, that I’m able to provide for myself and the family, that I’m getting personal and professional satisfaction out of what I’m doing, that I’m influencing and impacting other people’s lives, and that I’m having fun doing it. So it’s all packaged together, it’s not just monetary, or about specific accomplishments, and it’s not just about joy, it’s all of that wrapped together. And I think every person needs to define what that is for themselves, and I don’t think anyone can say, “This is the formula for success.” If there is a formula, you need to define the pieces of what success is for you.
Avil Beckford: What are the steps you took to succeed in your field?
Carol McManus: Because I have a training background, I have always been the best student. I’m a teacher’s dream if you will because throughout my entire adult life, long since I left the college classroom, I’ve always taken courses or programs or conferences to be around people, and I think that has contributed to my success. My field has changed, my specialty has changed, it’s gone from sales to operations to executive to entrepreneur or to coaching to consulting to social media, so my career has had many dimensions to it. But at each level, I think my success came because I was first and foremost a good student, and invested the time, effort and energy through reading, listening to others, observing or mentoring under others, how they did what they did, that I could become the best at it that I could.
And if I found that I was on a path that didn’t feel comfortable, it didn’t feel right, or it was taking me off track, then I would stop and take another direction.
Avil Beckford: What advice do you have for someone just starting out in your field?
Carol McManus: Invest in yourself and continue to learn whatever you are learning. But in today’s world, I’m going to add something else to that answer, is that you always want to keep your eyes and ears open to the possibilities. We’re in a very different world today than the world I grew up in. When I grew up, there was an expectation that you got an education, you chose a career, and that sort of became your life path. And I was fortunate in that, that was the direction my life took, and it was only at the later stage of my life that it took a new direction. And what I mean by that is social media because when I left the corporate world four years ago, if someone told me that I was going to be a social media expert, I would have laughed. It wasn’t on my radar screen, but the world we’re in today, we have to be nimble and flexible, times are changing, things are happening at a rapid rate, technology has dramatically changed. The speed at which things happen, the speed at which we communicate, I think anyone, regardless of age, if you’re starting out today you certainly want to be goal oriented, but at the same time you want to know that those goals are not etched in stone, that other doors and opportunities may open, and you want to be open to those possibilities. So don’t get too locked in, that you miss the acres of diamonds that are right under your feet.
Avil Beckford: If trusted friends could introduce you to five people that you’ve always wanted to meet, who would you choose? And what would you say to them?
Carol McManus: I love this question because I could come up with 50 people that I’d love to meet.
- Abraham Lincoln: He was not a popular man, he was not a popular president, but he had leadership qualities that were so critical, and a true turning point in this country’s history. I would love to sit and chat with him about what he thought were the solutions to the country’s problems at the time, what were the key decisions and how did he make those decisions to lead the country in a more positive direction.
- Jack Welch: He is an extraordinary story, and there are many well-documented corporate executives in America, but Jack Welch because of his history of being able to do turnaround situations and to turn lemons into lemonades. I read his book, but beyond the heart and soul of what made him tick, and the kinds of things that kept him up at night that allowed him to accomplish what he accomplished.
- Martha Stewart: I would love to sit and have a conversation with her. Martha is a lightening rod. I find as I talk with people, people either love her or hate her, but what you cannot deny about Martha Stewart is that she is an extraordinary self-made woman with self-made success. She is focused and very successful and continues to reinvent herself. She is a model for always seeing the next opportunity. Again, I want to know what makers her tick, how does she think, what kinds of people does she surround herself with, what are her tolerances and intolerances. The other thing I admire about her, and it may be because of the space that she’s in, but she seems to be someone who has this balance of what’s important to her in her personal life and what gives her joy, and her dog comes to mind. She is famous for her chow chow dogs, her home and farm, but at the same time, she is passionate about her business and what drives her business and her brand.
- Lou Holtz: Because coaching is part of my repertoire, I heard Lou speak on multiple occasions. I’ve listened to his videos, he to me is the epitome of an inspirational coach and someone who in multiple challenges, not just Notre Dame but University of South Carolina and other places he was over his career, he has great quotes and great inspiration, and I would like to sit and talk to him about the lessons he had learned as a coach. I would actually ask him some of the questions that you asked me.
- From a more introspective level and understanding beyond the surface and the obvious. I tend to be focused on the now, but I’m a reader and follower of Deepak Chopra’s teachings and if I could ever have an hour to sit and talk to him, to really understand at a deeper level how I can understand myself, and take myself to a deeper level, that would be joyous.
Avil Beckford: Which one book had a profound impact on your life? What was it about this book that impacted you so deeply?
Carol McManus: That’s easy for me because the answer is the The Art of War by Sun Tzu. It’s not a new book by any stretch of the imagination. It’s been out there for a very long time. To me, the BI is the guiding light, the “bible” for business, life, for how to communicate , negotiate, strategize, for all of the things we are talking about, that are a part of my business and personal repertoire – it’s all right there in that book and I’ve referred to it, reread it many times. I try to read it once a year.
Avil Beckford: You are one of the 10 finalists on the reality show, So, How Would You Spend Your Time? Each finalist is placed on separate deserted islands for two years. You have a basic hut on the island and all the tools for survival; you just have to be imaginative and inventive when using them. You are allowed to take five books, one movie and one music CD, and whatever else you take has to fit in one suitcase and a travel on case. What would you take with you and how would you spend the two years? T he prize is worth your while and at this stage in the game there really aren’t any losers among the 10 finalists, since each are guaranteed at least $2 million?
Survival would be first and foremost because you have to have shelter and you have to feed yourself. For me personally, having a creative soul, I would write, write, write because I think if you have two years to spend with yourself everything that’s inside of you, and everything that you can imagine needs to come out and needs to be shared. That’s how I would spend the majority of my time when I wasn’t in survival mode.
- The Art of War, Sun Tzu
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Collins Business Essentials) – It’s a marvellous book because you have to have that expectation that you are in fact going to get off this island. That might take some negotiation and persuasion, skills that have served me well. It’s a book that I read regularly because as human beings that’s all we do is communicate and negotiate with people.
- Animal Farm by George Orwell: There are lots of good lessons there on how to survive.
- Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman: Or something similar to that. It’s a compilation of poems. It’s very inspirational and I think if you were on a deserted island you would have those moments where you needed to reflect and see the joy and beauty in life.
- Milton Berle’s Private Joke File: Over 10,000 of His Best Gags, Anecdotes, and One-Liners: It’s the greatest book ever. He is a renowned stand up comic.
Movie and Music CD
My all time favourite music CD is Tapestry-Legacy Edition (2-CD) by Carol King. I find all of the music she has written over the years, she didn’t sing, she wrote more than she actually sang, but that was such an influential, and remains an influential CD to me because there is so much inspiration and hidden messages in the music. I have listened to it over and over again and never get tired.
The movie is a tough one because there are so many to choose from. The one I choose would be the absolutely most outrageous, that would cause me to laugh and that would be Blazing Saddles (30th Anniversary Special Edition) because it is truly one of the most ridiculous movies ever made but every time I see it I never cease to laugh. I never cease to see new nuances and I think that’s something I would want to spend my time with.
Blazing Saddles – Movie Trailer
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Carole King – Tapestry
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Avil Beckford: What excites you about life?
Carol McManus: Life and people. I love being around people. If there is a challenge that I had, going from the corporate world to being a solopreneur, and commuting versus working out of a home office it was separation from every day having the interface with people. So I have crafted my business so that is part of my day now because I think the opportunities in life are endless. We don’t happily live in this world on a deserted island by ourselves and if you don’t take joy in the people who are around you and appreciate something about everybody regardless of who they are, where they came from, what they do, we are all a unique special person. I just love to talk to people, find out what’s of interest to them and it’s part of that expanded life – our universal life together. That’s what gives me joy and what I try to bring to the people around me.
Avil Beckford: How do you nurture your soul?
Carol McManus: Reflection and meditation. It’s supplemented by everything we talked about – the reading and the music and the creative outlets. The real nurturing comes from the downtime, the quiet time, the reflective time. It’s a learned skill that has served me well. I wish I had learned to meditate much earlier in life because it does really amazing things to center you and recharge your batteries so you can continue to move forward.
Avil Beckford: If you had a personal genie and she gave you one wish, what would you wish for?
Carol McManus: Good health for me and mankind. And where that comes from, it starts from a very personal place as I watched my father’s declining health. I had my mother come live with us in her later years with her declining health, her sister also because my aunt didn’t have children. As a young child, I went through health issues with my grandparents on both sides of the family. As I get older and the bones start to creak, things start to go wrong, you realize that the joy of life and the ability to do the things you want to do is all grounded in good health. I do believe that all the health issues we’re facing today, whether it’s cancer, heart disease on one end of the spectrum and things that alarm me are autism and ADHD at the other end of the spectrum, I personally have a strong belief that a lot of this is environmentally influenced. If I had one wish for the genie, it would be to wave her magic wand or whatever she uses to give good health to everyone because once you have health then there are no boundaries to what we can do.
Avil Beckford: Complete the following, I am happy when…..
Carol McManus: I’m talking to people like you because you stimulate me and I’m absolutely being sincere about that. This has been a delightful experience and what I mean by that is that interaction with other really smart, savvy people, that stimulate me, that cause me not to not only give and share my thoughts, but forces me to go in, think about and test myself and my own boundaries.
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