From grad student to “Millennial Master of the Universe": I am Shama HyderFeatured
When did you know your career was your calling? Right out of grad school! Here's the story: I had just graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Masters degree in Organizational Communication and Technology, and I'd done my thesis on Twitter. At this point, Twitter had only 2,000 users! It was VERY early days for social media, and I just knew that it would forever change the world. This was a time where most people thought social media was a fad. I couldn't even land a job because the industry didn't exist. That was when I started Zen Media, my own company, and never looked back. I realized I had a gift for seeing what others didn't quite see just yet, and more importantly, I was able to communicate that vision. I wish all students would take communications in school - regardless of their major - because being able to share your ideas is vital. What is your best advice not just for building networks but more importantly for maintaining meaningful networks? Think of networks like credit card points. The more transactions you make, the more points you accrue. By transactions, I mean truly ENGAGE with people. Add value, ask questions, and connect people to each other whenever it makes sense. Life is a contact sport. You can't expect to get much by sitting on the sidelines. You have to PLAY to win! And, it's a team sport. You want cheerleaders, AND you want to go to bat for those who you believe in. I'll also add that it doesn't happen from behind your phone. Texting only goes so far. It is safe but not impactful. You can choose safe or you can choose impact. The truth is too many young people (and older people too…) are afraid of rejection. The road to success is paved with multiple rejections. You don’t hit a homerun each time. The more you swing, the higher your chances. I also want to add that proximity is power. Whenever possible, be in the same room with the person you want to connect with. What is the most surprising thing you have learned about leadership? That it's a learned skill. There ARE natural born leaders, but that doesn't mean they understand good leadership. That's a skill you have to learn and it requires a lot of humility. Leadership isn't about lording over people. True leadership is learning how to achieve your goals by helping people achieve theirs.How did you identity and strategically utilize your main strengths? By choosing to actively identifty them and build on them. I love tests like the Briggs-Meyers (ENFJ!) and PRINT because they help you understand your strengths and weaknesses. My ability to see what others can't (yet) and then communicate that effectively has been a key component of my success. I lack patience with slow moving objects and people (Ha!) and that's something I am working on. I do believe in amplifying your strengths rather than focusing on your weaknesses but there's a "passing grade" for every weakness which I think you should strive for. For example, it isn't fair to say "oh, I suck at math and so can't add 2 plus 2." You should learn to do basic addition, and then it's totally fair to say "I suck at calculus." (#truestory)How do you make sure your voice is heard, especially in teams where you were more junior in areas you were less familiar with? I started my company when I was 22. I'm often still the youngest in a room. Today, my portfolio of work speaks for itself. There's a proven track record so clients trust that I know what I am talking about. When I was youngermore junior, it took a lot of self confidence and I often had to reduceremoving the risk for the client. I knew I could deliver, so I'd make it a no-brainer for them to hire me. Basically, if they weren't happy with what I was delivering, they'd be under no obligation to continue. And, it worked. I don't believe in “fake it until you make it”. I DO believe in betting on yourself. Don't expect others to take that risk. I always understood the burden was on ME to prove myself, and not on them to even give me the opportunity. In that way, I never took anything for granted.How have you felt yourself change through your career?My career really defines me. When I first started, entrepreneurship was something I did. Today, it is very much who I am. I am also a wife, a mom, a sister, a daughter...I wear many hats, but my career is extremely meaningful for me because of the the breadth of difference I am able to make. It's my contribution to the world. Lastly, we wanted to give a shout out to Forbes8, which provides on demand video content designed for entrepreneurs at every stage of their journey.Shama Hyder is the founder & CEO of Zen Media - a b2b marketing and pr firm. She has been named the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by Fast Company. Forbes, Businessweek, and Inc have all recognized her as one of the Top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs in the field of marketing. Shama has built a global audience and is known for helping brands succeed in the digital age. She is a bestselling author, an international keynote speaker, and has been named one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Marketing for four years in a row.