Last week, while in the middle of a strategy call with my new-business team, I suddenly was overcome with gratitude and pride – and a little disbelief over how far my dream and my company have come in this quick eight-year journey. The gratitude and pride were inspired by my talented staff members who always have passion for Mekky Media and faith in what we can accomplish when we come together. The disbelief is something I feel when I reflect on starting my little agency on a wing and prayer, hoping for the best but uncertain what the future would bring.

Today, as Mekky Media celebrates its eighth anniversary (on June 5, 2024), I can’t help but think about the risk I took back then, while still recovering from cancer and just after losing a job. I wasn’t sure what direction life would take me next. But my husband Sam and my mom and mentor helped me realize that the universe was speaking to me – if not now, then when? So I sat down at my dining room table and got to work, and Mekky Media Relations began to take shape.

I’d like to say it was an easy transition and quick road to success. But, of course, it was not. It took a lot of incredibly hard work – all by myself in the early days – and there were countless sleepless nights. But slowly, I began to build a loyal client base made up of businesses, brands, entrepreneurs and nonprofits that I deeply care about. Through successful PR campaigns, I helped them tell their stories and achieve growth. Thanks to these wins, over time, I was able to start hiring a team – and not just any team, but truly the best PR professionals for whom I’m grateful every day!

Today, Mekky Media is strong and growing, with exciting new opportunities on the horizon. But even in the good times, I believe it’s important to continue to reflect on the past and all the learnings along the way. So on this eighth anniversary, I share eight of those key leadership lessons. I hope they can inspire my fellow dreamers, whatever your dream may be!

  1. Stay the course. When you’re an entrepreneur, there are good days, bad days and everything in between. A fellow business person once told me, you can feel as if you’ve won the lottery one day and as if you were hit by a truck the next. The range of emotions can be tough to process, and this might make you feel like giving up. But I have been reminded many times that every day is a new day – and staying strong, being flexible and toughing it out is always the right move. This has enabled me to survive to celebrate more wins and experience incredible rewards.
  2. Culture is the key to success. We strive to maintain a positive and healthy culture at Mekky Media, one that is built on respect, a close connection to each other and core values that we live every day. This means that I always make time for things like communication, team building and recognition, no matter how busy I get. I want my team members to know how much they are valued. Prioritizing company culture takes time, but it is essential and so worth it. I have seen it pay off in the success of our recruitment and retention. My team is the best of the best!
  3. Invest in your talent. In addition to feeling appreciated and heard, a team must feel rewarded, both financially and in terms of opportunities for growth. I have brought on Insperity, a full-service HR solution, to provide benefits, access to leadership coaching, professional development and more. This, too, has added to our success in attracting and retaining top-tier talent that drives the success of the business.
  4. Don’t try to go it alone. I have learned the hard way that I can’t do it all. I am not an expert in all things. And even if I were, I don’t have time to be responsible for every aspect of running a business. So I have surrounded myself with people I trust who provide essential support on business, legal, HR and other matters. I’ve also found it helpful to learn how the team’s skills, abilities and personalities stack up and how we can complement each other, or compensate when necessary. We invested in a Working Genius analysis for the team thanks to my dear friend Allison Cummins of Blue Outcomes that was enlightening and has made us work better and smarter together.
  5. Learn to let go. In the early days of Mekky Media, I felt the need to be involved in every detail for every client. Over time, I have learned to trust my team and delegate. This has saved my sanity and has given me a little time to focus on my mental and physical health, which was neglected for the first several years. In addition, letting go of the day to day enables me to focus on strategic planning, attracting new clients and building the business, which are so important to our long-term success. My vice president, Carleigh Rinefierd, makes this possible. While I am always accessible and still heavily involved when issues arise, Carleigh is my second in command and fulfills the key role of leading the team and making sure we are achieving incredible success for our clients.
  6. Believe in yourself, and manifest the clients you want. I’m glad I didn’t limit myself when dreaming of the kinds of clients I wanted to serve. I aspired to partner with heavy hitters like Abt Electronics, Redbull, Westfield Old Orchard, the American Library Association, Giordano’s and Phil Stefani Restaurant Group… and more and those dreams came true! We have leveled up and achieved great success for these and many other well-known brands and businesses. This requires confidence and believing in yourself, along with dedication and hard work. We make sure every client we touch gets the expertise and service that we are known for. This has enhanced and protected our reputation and made it possible to keep dreaming big.
  7. Invest in marketing. From the start, I have made it a priority to get the Mekky Media name and value proposition in front of as many audiences as possible. We are always transparent and proud of who our clients are, and we share their placements and our other successes consistently throughout our network of social media channels. Now I am building on our Mekky Media marketing efforts by focusing more on my personal brand. This means sharing my journey and promoting myself as a public speaker. Any chance I have to tell my story and offer increased learning to others promotes the company, elevates the team and helps us all grow.
  8. Nothing is perfect. This can be a hard one for a perfectionist like me to accept. But believe me, I’ve had BIG GROWTH in this area. As a leader, it’s important to understand that we all make mistakes, and it’s not realistic to expect smooth sailing all the time. What matters more than perfection is passion for the company, the work, the results and those you serve. I simply expect myself and those around me to try our best and give our all.

Even with the many ups and downs, these eight years have been pure magic. I am forever grateful to the hundreds of clients we have been honored to partner with and support, as well as the talented team members who have helped Mekky Media succeed beyond my wildest dreams. I am also thankful for my network that has been there for me and rewarded me time and time again. I have benefitted from so much support and guidance, and today it is my privilege to pay it forward by coaching and helping to build the next generation of leaders.

I can’t wait to see what the next adventure is. The sky’s the limit!