Hello Jeanniey, please tell us about your journey from being a Corporate Customer Relations Director at J. C. Penney to Chief Innovation and Marketing Officer at DailyPay?
Well- it started before that. I went to college to be an elementary school teacher. My dream was to find creative ways to inspire young people and help them see how amazing they truly are. When I graduated, there were no teaching jobs open. I had no choice but to get a part-time job at JCPenney so I could have health benefits.
I fell in love with “business” at JCPenney and quickly realized that inspiring adults was just as much fun as inspiring young children, and it paid more! I was super fortunate to be taken under the office leader’s wing in Pittsburgh and learned a lot. I was promoted to the corporate office, moved to Dallas, Texas, given an empty room with a phone (it was before email existed), and told to create a way to make customers love the brand. What an opportunity! From there, my love of marketing grew. I became obsessed with data and was fortunate enough to be a part of the launch of email marketing. I became super obsessed with driving behavior using digital media. As I moved into roles with global ad agencies and Fortune 100 businesses, including Ogilvy, Barnes & Noble, and Mercer, I always sought out internal mentors who encouraged me to innovate, learn and be a better leader.
I’ve started five of my own companies and always looked for ways to and from there enjoyed leading teams, division, and even creating my own companies. And led some great start-ups
including Zinio, Ringblingz, and RebelMouse. These smaller companies further developed my marketing and leadership skills, which has shaped how I lead as the CIMO of DailyPay.
With my marketing skills, customer experience, and tech background, I am able to successfully combine these three areas to help DailyPay maintain its status as the gold standard in the industry and revolutionize companies’ payroll systems to enable real-time access to earnings.
I think most working adults have experienced gender or some other type of workplace inequality at some point in their careers. And women certainly have had a more challenging time rising to the leadership roles they may be qualified for.
Understanding that workplace equality is a critical element of success with your business is the first step to battling challenges that might be happening. Starting from the top-down and the bottom-up, simultaneously, companies should commit to making changes that will make a difference. This first starts by gathering data within your organization and understanding where the inequalities may lie, and what is causing them. Only at that point can you create a plan of attack that will drive results and deliver real change. At DailyPay, since we are a young start-up, we had the unique opportunity to start with a blank slate and create a company with no inequalities from the start. To that end, we have various employee resource groups for women, the LGBTQIA+ community, and the black community that provides networking, mentoring career development, and leadership opportunities.
Along with affinity groups and hosting events, a company needs to exemplify diversity and inclusion through its leadership team. We can only win when we win with diversity, and the leadership backs that statement up. Equality will never become a priority unless the entire Company advocates for it and backs it up with measurable action.
The secret is “AIR”
Approach everything that you do in an Authentic Manner where you Inspire others and ensure they Relate to your audience.
Everyone can and should do it. If you love what you do every day, you will naturally create an environment that people want to be a part of. They will follow you, learn from you, and interact with you. Years ago, I used to try to hide the fact that I was a mom of two girls, or that I loved high heels. I thought it would make me seem weak in the workplace, especially in a boardroom. Then I realized if I cannot be authentic in every environment, I can never be my best self. When I let people see me for who I am, I made stronger connections and built a much more supportive network. And, anyone who has experienced success will tell you, be bold, be yourself, and be the person that is always grateful and gives back to those who have helped you along the way.
With the outbreak of COVID-19, work from home has become the new normal. What was your hack to manage your teams and improve performances during the crisis?
For a moment in time, the entire world was catapulted into a space that no one knew anything about. There was no playbook, no best practices, we just made it up as we went. To get us through, I started by trying to consider the lives of my team. Were they alone, with young kids, scared, in a small home, stranded, happy to have quiet time, and much more. From here, I started to think about what would make things easier for all of these types of situations and build a sense of stability and assurance that we will get through this together. It’s kind of like what you need to do when you go into crisis management at work. This was a crisis.
But together, as a leadership team, we were able to focus on creating personal environments that met the needs of each employee. By offering choice and control over their environment, we were able to assure our teams they were the most important asset we had.
We hired an online personal trainer to hold multiple workout classes throughout the week, hosted community bonding sessions like game nights, had meditation sessions, started recording meetings to provide flexibility, gave them an on-demand pay option, and much more.
And they appreciated it. We knew that because we saw it in the level of commitment and work they produced. In fact, I am sure COVID made us all a stronger team and Company.
I worked my way up from the most bottom level jobs you could ever have and took every opportunity as an opportunity to improve my skills. I see myself as an open and fair leader, responsible for getting each team member to their “light bulb” moment and realizing they are much smarter and can accomplish much more than they ever thought possible. It comes from the teaching background, I guess.
That said, I’m a tough cookie. I’m direct and expect results. I’ve done the job every person on my team has had, so I never accept “no” as an answer. I have high expectations for my team and make myself 150% available to them every step of the way. I make sure I approach every situation with a “yes and” answer and work with my teams to enable them to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I love public speaking. It gives me a chance to inspire others. As such, I had spoken at conferences around the world (when we used to be able to travel) and continue to do so virtually. I’m frequently interviewed on radio and TV shows. You can see my recent TV interview here.
The most recent conference I participated in was the Women Economic Forum Bangalore 2020 Global Digital Summit, where I spoke on using chaos as a catapult to launch companies forward. I’m very excited about the global Hacking HR conference, where I will speak in front of thousands about HR innovation and the future of work.
During my career, I’ve had the chance to author and/or contribute to multiple books that focus on different marketing aspects. Global Marketing Leadership Strategies is a book that provides insights on how to lead in marketing in a competitive environment and Email Marketing: An Hour a Day lays down the basic foundations to become successful at email marketing.
As far as role models are concerned, let me share who inspires me. Without a doubt, the most incredible woman in the world is Kristina Mullen, my daughter. She was born 22 weeks early on a farm in Russia that had no doors or windows and survived the first 3 days of her life wrapped on a wooden board that sat on a pot of hot water. She was fed goats milk until they could get someone to get her to a hospital, where she spent 9 months getting strong enough to be able to be adopted. When we brought her home at the age of 2, she didn’t have any speech skills or know how to drink from a straw. With English as a second language and no “baby days” where people sang her nursery rhymes or rocked her to sleep, this young woman has never let anything stop her. She is a powerhouse cadet currently enjoying her freshman year at a military college. She reminds me every day that anything is possible if you have a strong support system filled with love and simply put your mind to it.
The best piece of advice you have ever received?
The best advice I have ever received came from my other daughter, who set up her own business at the age of 11, making hand-drawn greeting cards to help people feel better about themselves. When I asked her how she knew her business would succeed, she said, “If you don’t know it can’t be done, then it always can”.
The 2nd best advice was from a mentor who said, “confidence beats intelligence every time”.
Between those two, I’ve lived “outside the box” because, in my world, the box doesn’t even exist. It’s probably why I love my current job.
DailyPay is the perfect place for entrepreneurs to work. Jason Lee, our CEO, has created an incredible culture where you are encouraged to think out of the box and fail fast so we can excel. We’re constantly challenged to think outside of the box to create new campaigns and transform the antiquated payroll system. Think about this – for decades, employees have been paid on a bi-weekly cycle but failed to achieve financial wellness. DailyPay offers employees an innovative pay experience with an on-demand pay benefit that helps employees gain financial stability. Working at a company that strives to challenge the status quo with innovation and technology, I get to positively impact others’ lives while putting this advice to practice. How cool is that?