You have to be a risk taker, you have to be willing to lose it all. Because sometimes it gets that close and things don’t go according to plan, you need to still have that conviction to move forward. It is not easy but you must shake it off and go again. It’s like being a boxer that won’t tap out that’s how you get to be the top of your industry.
As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tamara Mon Louis.
Tamara Mon Louis is a renowned digital marketing strategist and business developer. She has helped grow multi-million dollar businesses in the hospitality, travel, healthcare and education sector for the past 20 years.
Tamara believes in keeping abreast of trends in the industry, for her team to be effective and constantly provide her clients with top services. Under her oversight, Monivan Digital is fast establishing a record of outstanding commitment in helping clients to identify new opportunities, build an online presence, foster engagement and building loyalty with their customers.
Her greatest motivation is seeing her client’s business revenue and services expand beyond their own expectations.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I’m originally from Trinidad and Tobago. Moved to the US for college. I attended Rutgers University and pursued a degree in Economics, I
After that, after college I moved to New York City, and took a job at in telecommunications it had nothing to do with my degree (lol) I was always a little bit outspoken got in trouble for talking back, or having an opinion, but I was always able to move through teams and get to that, to the highest elevation of the job right so while I was in college I was promoted to front desk shift supervisor, while I worked at Nine West I was the top salesperson, In the telecommunication company I was selected to be on one of the elite teams that was focused on one of the largest accounts. Very early in my career I was moved into a place of leadership or seniority. I understood that I had some leadership qualities but I was young and at that time you’re still trying to hone those skills How did I get to this career path, after being at the telecommunications company for over a year I started to get into that corporate cycle, that routine, with all the many rules that just didn’t make sense to me it all just seemed very limiting to, I felt boxed in right there’s. So I quit my job. I called my Dad that day and told him I quit he asked what was the plan and I told him I’m going to back to school to study multimedia design, he offered to pay my rent for the year and I did it, then I started to really look at what was happening with the internet and I focused in on digital marketing after the multimedia design program I got a job as a Digital marketing specialist and began to delve deeper and deeper into the internet marketing space I saw the future and my future. I signed up for a 6 week intensive program at New York University led by some of the pioneer digital marketers who were just figuring it out and teaching it on the fly it was marketing in motion I was on cutting edge of the new internet marketing this information combined with my design, and web development knowledge gave me a competitive advantage in a new field. I hired a recruiter and he pitched me a job at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and after a test project, 3 rounds of interviews, one they flew me out for , I was offered the job as a Senior Digital Marketing Strategist leading the digital side of their largest end of the year giving campaign helping to raise millions to beat childhood cancer. About a year and a half later Hilton Worldwide approached me, I had two interviews, flew out to Orlando and was offered a job as a part of an elite team of Digital Marketers hired with the sole purpose of taking back internet market share. At this point I’m starting to understand my value and I was honing in my leadership skills. After Hilton I worked at another travel related company and where I sat in the room with the CEO’s and led the digital marketing conversations. By this time I completely understood my value and so I quit and took a chance on me and becoming a leader and founder of Monivan Digital Marketing Solutions, where I work with small and medium businesses to navigate the digital landscape and grow their revenue through proven digital marketing solutions, thats the back story
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
The most interesting story for me was the first time someone quoted me as an expert. I had a call with a colleague and we were talking about her love for Pinterest and how it helped her to grow her business. I was so excited because at this time Pinterest was one of the hidden gems in the digital marketing space and a few months prior I did some testing and I knew that Pinterest was great for driving traffic to your website. I told her that I often joked that Pinterest is what you get if Google, Instagram and Facebook had a baby, she thought it was hilarious and true I was happy with her laughter but the next morning I woke up and I had been tagged on her on her Instagram post and it was her holding a sign she created saying
If Google, Instagram and Facebook had a baby, it would be Pinterest
- Tamara Mon Louis”
I remember that feeling like wait a minute she quoted me little old me, I swear I watched that post for hours, that was the mo
It was one of the most interesting things because it was the first time I realized that I was building a community that would evangelize my digital marketing principles.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The time I got fired by a client now that I look back on the experience was the funniest mistake. It was also such a relief. All the signs were there that this wasn’t the right client from the hoops we had to jump through to get the contract signed, but it was early in the business and I was more focused on how many clients, not necessarily the quality of clients and the right fit. Let’s just say that Murphy’s law was in full effect. The client was a fashion designer who needed exposure for her brand, and because she was a designer the creative we needed to market her had to be exceptional, I sent the creative to one of my graphic designers to handle and asked her to send back some rough drafts so I could give direction and we could flesh out something that would be mind blowing to the client, well the rough draft creative was accidentally sent to the client and she about lost her marbles, now I lost my marbles when I saw what she received, we did everything within our power to recover, I brought in one of my high top gun designers to redeem us but nothing worked, it was like was she saw the crappy designs she could never unsee it and we stayed in the design stage of the project for about 5 weeks way over the allotted time for design, so at this point we are losing money on this project every day and finally, I asked her to have a call and she said she wasn’t into it any more and would prefer we part ways, can I tell you how relieved I was because I understood we could not longer move forward the way things were. I learned three lessons.
- Don’t punish your business for your mistakes
- Know when to fold them and when to walk away
- Not every client is for you
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
If I had to thank anyone it would be the love of my life, my partner Khary. He has just believed in me, It reminds me of how my Dad believed in me. This man has moved with me from New York to Memphis to Orlando and was so chill when I decided to leave my six-figure salary to start my company. He has given me the space to pursue every dream and he is there to pick up the pieces on the not so great days Before I started my company I was up for a promotion it was between me and male colleague, who based on his tenure and relationships in the company, he had the competitive advantage, I knew I could probably showcase my skills to lead the like a show and tell, I suggested to one of the decision makers at the time that we should both do a project/challenge that was 100% focused on the skills required to lead, so they did it and gave us an assignment as a part of the interview process. I was so ready for every part of the interview, my assignment was done, I had my internal references, while my supervisor was on maternity leave, I lead the team effectively and efficiently for 3 months so I pulled together the highlights and successes within that time, listen I was so ready for this interview, I got in there things went well, it was like a tennis match the questions came and I had the right answer, the project was delivered and it was great. I walked out of that conference room knowing I left it all on the line and I gave myself a fighting chance. Two days later I found out I didn’t get the job I was at the office when I found out so I had to be gracious and polite and smile and take the compliments of how well I did during the interview despite not getting the job that I should be proud of myself, I was dying inside, I pulled out all the stops and I didn;t win I held it together until I got home and Khary asked me how did it go and that’s when I lost it I broke down at the front down tears, ugly cry tears, everything I was holding back released as I saw his face, he picked me up and he held me and I cried and I cried, that’s what I mean when I say he picks up the pieces, when the world breaks me down he puts me back together, he is the unsung hero in my life.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?
They don’t know that it’s an option. That’s the biggest thing holding them back right, everything we know about our lives as women has been ingrained. You should get married, you should find a good provider, you should have kids, you should be a good mom, you should be a good homemaker. No one says you should be the founder of a company.
Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?
Giving women the option to be great leaders has to start from that early age
We must all make the shift, the individual, society and the government. Women founders need to be a part of the “new normal” we must align. It has to start with more entrepreneurship programs and financial literacy, for young women in home and outside the home. Everyone should have a taste of the business life it should just be more of an promoted option
This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?
I think the main reason is that it is the most liberating thing you can do. It is the ultimate expression of freedom. Every day you wake up and you decide to add to the world by living out your passion and fulfilling your destiny. It is also the most satisfying experience as a founder you get to create and bring life to the big ideas.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?
The myths I’d like to dispel are that women can’t control their emotions, as women we are held to a different standard, and any sudden movement (lol) can be interpreted as being too emotional. When you are a leader of a company, every decision has to be well thought out and precise, there is no opportunity to let emotions get in their way.
Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?
No, everyone is not cut out to be a founder, there are two key traits of a successful founder, in my opinion If you don’t have these traits or work to develop them, then maybe a regular job is the better option
#1 You have to be a risk taker, you have to be willing to lose it all. Because sometimes it gets that close and things don’t go according to plan, you need to still have that conviction to move forward. It is not easy but you must shake it off and go again. It’s like being a boxer that won’t tap out that’s how you get to be the top of your industry
#2 You have to remain a student. You’re always learning and always listening. That’s actually how you stay on top of the game. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new that can impact your business and your customer’s business. I do a daily show on Clubhouse called the Top 7 Digital Marketing Trends @ 7, where I interact with small and medium sized businesses and listen to their triumphs and losses. I’m at the heart of solving their problems and providing solutions that help them increase their revenue. Listening to my target audience has increased my reach, and my revenue.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
Be confident in your abilities — Sometimes I get in my head before a client call, I’m always just a little nervous, my team laughs at it all the time. There was this one client call that I just thought to myself man I don’t know how I’m going to get through this call today, I was so nervous because this was a big contract. but as soon as the client jumped on the call and we did the intros and I asked some questions and then listened, and apparently I responded and calmed his concerns and highlighted how we could help his business and show results, he asked for the contract at the end of the call. Can I tell you I don’t remember what I said it was a complete out of body experience but to this day my team says it was one of my best sales close to date,
Keep your eyes open for the opportunities right in front of you — As business owners we are always looking for the next opportunity, they can be right in front of you. I mentioned the daily show I do on Clubhouse, it started on Dec 24th 2020 and I’ve been consistent the plan is to get to 365 days in a row, just for the bragging rights (lol) anyway after 6 months I was thinking what next how do I pivot, expand my reach and leverage the content and the community we built on Clubhouse now it has become a Live digital marketing reality show, on Youtube & LinkedIn same name Top 7 digital Marketing Trends at 7, where we are helping 3 businesses to improve their sales and meet their revenue goals through digital marketing. In this instance I leveraged the Clubhouse opportunity and some of the benefits to create transformational content and position my brand as a leader in the industry
Forgive yourself for mistakes! — In business we will make mistakes, please allow yourself some grace. I remember the first time we did a ACH to collect a client’s payment, I sent them the paperwork to sign, all way good or so I thought, until there was a double payment from the client, I had no idea what happened, but that didn’t matter, the client let me have it like I went to the back and robbed them (lol) I stayed really clam and worked with my bank to understand firstly how we could refund them right away and then to understand how it happened so we could avoid the situation, come to find out we requested the payment and the made the payment so their bank honored, we got it worked out but it was a huge mistake on my part but it has never happened again
Don’t make the same mistake twice — I’m a stickler for this one, if you’ve made this mistake before then you should acknowledge it, pick it apart to understand the mistake, take note of it, but do make the same mistake again. My team will tell you that this is where I get a littles sassy the first time it is usually all good, but the second time I’m way harder because my belief is that you should elevate with each mistake it is how you grow and then the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome, I think the the second time for same mistake is the gateway to insanity (lol)
Keep networking — I think it is important to keep expanding your reach and visibility. I look at my networks in layers the first layer is usually the friends and family, the second is the acquaintances and people that are familiar with you, the third layer of the network is where I believe the success begins, is the brand new layer these are the true believers in the brand they are not connected to you they owe you nothing. It’s been 3 years since I started my company and I’m finally penetrating that third layer of the network
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I’ve used my success to make the world a better place by mentoring young entrepreneurs In both Trinidad and the US. I’m honored to be a mentor for the Youth Business of Trinidad and Tobago and in collaboration with them help these young entrepreneurs lead. That’s it for me, it’s giving back through mentorship, spending time teaching them about digital, teaching them about entrepreneurship, answering any other questions, and giving them the confidence to be able to step forward.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
So I’ve already started the movement called Marketing in Motion it started with Clubhouse and now the Digital Marketing Reality Show “Top 7 Digital Marketing Trends at 7” The movement is all about small businesses and helping them to achieve their business goals through digital marketing, this movement is about economic empowerment through ecommerce So If I had great influence I would make this movement, bigger I would reach more small businesses and provide them with all with digital marketing strategies to sustain and grow revenue effectively and efficiently
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them
Abby Phillips from CNN, because she is from Trinidad and I love to see my Caribbean people rise, the bonus is I think she would be hilarious off camera
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.