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Leadership isn’t a popularity contest with Teresa Valerio Parrot

Leadership isn't a popularity contest with Teresa Valerio Parrot

Teresa is the Founder, Principal, and “Resident President Whisperer” at TVP Communications With over two decades of work in higher ed, she has only known a career focused on making higher ed more relatable, presidents’ and boards’ decisions understandable, and student and faculty successes known.

Teresa and Josie catch up in this episode, diving into what to prioritize on social media, why leaders should move away from wanting to be liked as one of the major metrics for success, taking care of your people and yourself, reclaiming thought leadership as a strategy, as well as mentorship.

Wonder what kind of dog breed describes Teresa and Josie? Make sure to tune in and see if you agree. 

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Notes from this Episode:

More About Teresa Valerio Parrot

​​Teresa often says that while her husband is her true love, her alma mater was her first love. She re-energizes when she steps onto a college campus and TVP Communications’ clients can verify that she lights up when she visits. Higher education is her love and her home. She serves as TVP Communications’ resident “president whisperer” for her ability to get senior administrators to share their thought leadership expertise.

With over two decades of work in higher education, Teresa has only known a career focused on making higher education relatable, presidents’ and boards’ decisions understandable, and student and faculty successes known. If her first home is a campus, then her second home is on an airplane and her third is on stage as a keynote and conference presenter. Teresa has spoken on behalf of nearly every acronym in higher education’s alphabet soup and she is proud to return to the planning committee for the American Marketing Association’s Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education and serve through 2025.

Teresa is pursuing a doctorate degree in higher education from the Simmons School of Education at Southern Methodist University. She lives just outside of Boulder with her husband and dogs. Each year she threatens to become a runner and instead spends her time traveling with her family.

Connect with Teresa Valerio Parrot

[00:00:00] Josie: Did you hear the news? Alumni FM is officially University FM. It is the same great team now producing podcasts that tell stories across campus. Their mission is to elevate the voice of your institution, whether that’s alumni, students, faculty, or leadership.

University FM is the only podcast agency focused on educational institutions to make shows that are worthy of listeners’ attention and support strategic plans. It’s easy to work with them, and they keep the process simple, from podcast strategy to production, to growth. If you’re wondering what the heck they do and the quality they provide, look at this very show, it has been epic.

If you want to create a podcast for yourself or take your current show to the next level, reach out to them. You can start with robert@university.fm or find them at www.university.fm to get started.

[00:01:20] Hello, and welcome to Josie and the Podcast. I’m Josie, and I’m asking, what does it mean to lead in the digital space with heart and humanity? On this podcast, Josie and the Podcast, I spend time answering this question with heart, soul, and lots of substance.

My goal is to share conversations that encourage you, empower you, and yes, even entertain you to rethink digital strategy for yourself and the organizations that you support.

All right, let’s get to know today’s featured guest. Teresa Valerio Parrot often says that, while her husband is her first true love, her alma mater was her first love. She re-energizes when she steps onto a college campus. And TVP Communications’ clients can verify that she lights up when she visits. Higher Education is her love and her home. She serves as TVP Communications’ resident “president whisperer”, which we talk about in this show, for her ability to get senior administrators to share their thought leadership expertise.

With over two decades of work in higher ed, she has only known a career focused on making higher ed more relatable, presidents’ and boards’ decisions understandable, and student and faculty successes known.

If her first home is a campus, then her second home is on an airplane, and third is on a stage as a keynote and conference presenter. Teresa has spoken on behalf of nearly every acronym in higher education’s alphabet soup. And she’s proud to return to the planning committee for the American Marketing Association Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education, and serves through 2025.

Teresa is pursuing a doctor degree in higher ed from the Simmons School of Education at Southern Methodist University, which we talk about in this episode. And she lives just outside of Boulder with her husband and dogs. Each year, she threatens to become a runner and instead spends her time traveling with her family.

This is like the best intro bio ever, by the way. As this episode is coming out on March 1st, the first day of Women’s History Month, I just couldn’t think of a better person to feature first. You can, of course, follow us both on all the socials.

Find the podcast on Twitter, @JosieATPodcast. I’m @JosieAlquist. And Teresa is @tvparrot. Everything we talk about, from resources, people, and post, is found on my website, josieahlquist.com/podcast. Enjoy.

[00:04:12] I am so excited today to be joined by a fellow instigator, good troublemaker, mentor. Teresa, thank you so much for joining us today on the podcast.

[00:04:29] Teresa: Thank you. I am so excited to be here. And I hope I get to laugh as much as you laugh with other guests. So, if at the end of this, we haven’t made each other laugh many times, I’m going to be disappointed in both of us.

[00:04:40] Josie: Fair. We can do a laugh count, like a counter.

[00:04:44] Teresa: Right, exactly.

[00:04:45] Josie: Well, let’s kick off with your bio and react to it a little bit. So, on Twitter, because you are not on meta-platforms, which that could have been one of my questions today, but we’ll maybe get into that later. On Twitter, your bio says, “Higher ed truth-teller. Dissertation = athletics governance. Proud mom living the dream @TVPComms. Trusted Voices Podcast co-host, Inside Higher Ed blogger. @TVParrot@qoto.org, I’m assuming that’s your Mastodon username.

[00:05:20] Teresa: It is.

[00:05:21] Josie: So, give us a couple insights into what you’ve included in your bio.

[00:05:26] Teresa: So, interestingly, you were saying you and I had a conversation about my bio, and you said make sure that it represents the totality of you. So, as you were reading that, those who are listening can’t see it but I was squinting my nose because I was thinking that’s a lot. But I also think, people who know and love me would say, I’m a lot. So, it really is giving an insight into what I do during the day and I love and people probably know me best for, but also making sure that there’s that humanity that I also have a life outside of what I do for work, and giving a little bit of tidbit for that, whether it’s being a mom and you are going to get proud mom posts, or talking about my dissertation and what that up-and-down looks like and feels like. I want to make sure that people understand. And we’re thinking about ourselves as full people, not just, “This is what I do for work.”

[00:06:17] Josie: Well, the one thing that’s missing is about your fur babies.

[00:06:21] Teresa: I know. They’re not here today right now, because they love Zoom. They like participating Zoom. They’re not here right now. But the reason that they’re not there — because they used to be there — is that I put my Mastodon link in there and something had to go. And they’ll be back, don’t worry,

[00:06:36] Josie: Yeah. Mastodon’s been coming up in all the interviews as we all try to explore different platforms to keep finding ourselves, whether or not Twitter’s around or not. Well, let’s take it back to early days. We don’t need to throw out our ages or astrology or anything, but what was your earliest memory of technology? What were some tools that was burned into your brain?

[00:07:03] Teresa: So, I think this will explain quite a bit about why I’m not as judgey about parents who have their children watch iPads. I had something called a Speak & Spell. Did you have one of these, Josie?

[00:07:14] Josie: This was my first memory and just makes me adore you more.

[00:07:19] Teresa: And I still have one, by the way. I found one on eBay. It was new in the box; it had the owner’s manual. There was a booklet that came with it. It had the original headphones. I still have it, yes, because I was reminiscing about it a number of years ago. And so, I told my husband I’m going to buy one.

And I think it was all of $5. And it was just as magical as I remember it being. Also, I’m not as good of a speller as I remember being. But that was I remember being a first. And how brilliant was it even back then that we could put headphones on, so our parents didn’t have to listen to our misspellings?

[00:07:53] Josie: I don’t remember the headphones.

[00:07:54] Teresa: Yeah.

[00:07:55] Josie: It’s… they’re a little bit more like earbuds, almost. I just pretended it could do things it wasn’t really doing. I just, like, make believe that it was, I don’t know, doing things.

[00:08:04] Teresa: I did the same thing. Like, it was my control panel for me to rocket, you know, blast myself into space.

[00:08:11] Josie: Yeah.

[00:08:11] Teresa: I had all of these different backstories about what it was beyond just something that could help me spell.

[00:08:16] Josie: That’s awesome.

[00:08:17] Teresa: So, that was my first, but I was just thinking about your question. I thought it was a good one.

I think it was my gateway-drug, though, for my family to move into that Commodore 64 space. Because then, when the Commodore 64 came, I was older and it was a whole different thing.

[00:08:32] Josie: Have you sought that out on eBay yet?

[00:08:35] Teresa: No, no, I haven’t. But, you know, interestingly, my father-in-law has a really significant Atari collection. So, one of the things I love doing is going to vintage bookstores, period. But vintage resale stores that have books and, also, old Atari games, because one of my goals is to find him another game that he doesn’t have. And that’s a harder and harder task these days.

[00:08:56] Josie: Yeah. Gaming’s coming up a lot, when I ask that question. So, you got some other kindred spirits. Well, so today, in addition to maybe still having that Speak & Spell, at TVP, you are known as the president whisperer. When I saw this, I think I had heard it about you before I actually read your bio, but I was like, “This is amazing,” just that visual. As we know executives and all people in life, we need other people around us to support us, but sometimes from an outside perspective. So, how the heck did you cultivate the skill to guide, especially presidents, behind-the-scenes, over time?

[00:09:40] Teresa: So, it’s actually funny that you pulled that from my bio. It’s a very polarizing line. I have some presidents who have said that they don’t really like that line, because it makes them feel like they can be managed, which I always just smile, and then we move on to the next topic. But what I would say is that I do think that there is this trusted person that each president has. And it doesn’t have to be me, it can be many different people. And some presidents have multiple people who fill that role.

And I think what that role is, is to observe and process all of what is going on, all of what the internal and external factors are, and then just help that president move through to get to a decision-making space. So, my first job right out of college is, I was a special assistant to a president of a university system. And I got to be behind the scene and see that, I think, more power is actually held and more influence behind the scenes than people recognize. 

And that’s really what that line is, is about recognizing the connection that you can make with someone else, and the ability to pull together for them the totality of what they’re facing to help them in their decision-making. It’s really a listening and observing and processing role, as well as that trust-building. But I really do think that’s a lot of the work that I do. 

[00:11:03] Josie: Well, and such a unique path and access that, even those that have worked maybe, on a campus for decades may never get what that looks like. So, you work with presidents, boards, executives, faculty. You’re guiding them through some really public moments, as well as whispering, and coaching, and guiding. What do you think that those individuals really need to prioritize right now, related to communications? Because, like, especially, in my space on social media, it feels like they need to be everywhere, everything all at once, like that movie.

[00:11:38] Teresa: Right.

[00:11:38] Josie: And there’s, like, literally the meta-verses everywhere that can be happening, and that can be very overwhelming. So, what would be your guidance?

[00:11:46] Teresa: First, I would say narrow so that you don’t feel like you have to be everything all at once, because that’s when you spread yourself too thin. And that’s where, I think, we are continuing to see burnout at all levels. So, that would be my first suggestion. But I also think we should be thinking about moving people away from wanting to be liked as one of the major metrics for success.

That’s a goal of mine, and that’s something I work pretty significantly on, as myself, as well as helping other leaders through what it is that they’re working on. And I think, part of why I really am stressing that these days is that we need leaders to make tough decisions. And where I usually see the hang-up and a hesitancy to do so is when they start thinking about, “What will this mean for how people view me?” 

And that’s actually not how I want them to be framing it. I want them to be thinking about what is in the best interest of the institution and our students. That should be first. And they should be at best tertiary, maybe beyond that, for what happens next. Because if you do your job well and you have your priorities focused on the institution, you’re going to be fine and people will like you enough. Not everybody will, but enough.

And I think that is how we need to be thinking about this, rather than this popularity and what do people think and “how many likes do I get, and how many nice emails do I get in a week?” It really should be about impact.

So, that would be one thing. I’m also talking about that truth matters, and why that’s important. And it’s not to say that I think anybody is lying. I think, instead, we start to think about perspective-telling sometimes rather than truth-telling. And I think there’s a difference there.

And then, the last thing I would say right now is I’m really encouraging leaders to take care of themselves and take care of their people. And I know that’s been a theme for the last three years that we’ve been saying pretty significantly. But as of this fall, I started to see that fall-back and fall-away, and that really concerned me, because we need to keep our people and we need to value them. So, I’m reminding leaders, that wasn’t just a blip and that wasn’t just a side effect of the pandemic. And you and I, both, I know, have read so many articles that say this existed before the pandemic, it was exacerbated by the pandemic, and it still exists.

[00:14:13] Josie: Some of those are both profound but disruptive in leaders needing to hear, moving away from the popularity that might be hard to hear. I work with a lot of leaders that they want to only put out the positive or be seen in a positive perspective.

[00:14:36] Teresa: Yes.

[00:14:36] Josie: So, how does one then, like, even to me, it then appears inauthentic, right, when you’re not even bridging. So, how do you even get a leader to start, whether it’s what they post on social media or just internal in themselves, whether if that’s wellness or perspective taking, like, how do you start to guide an executive in that direction that it’s not just going to be in the positive sentiment category?

[00:15:02] Teresa: So, I think that goes back to some of the president whispering, in that, you need to help them work through what it is that they’re concerned and they’re worried about. So, if we think back to the horse-whisperer, and we’re thinking about Robert Redford and the horse. Sorry, presidents, who say I make them sound like an animal. Here we go.

One of the things that you have to do, right, is that you have to walk somebody through their fears, or in his case, walk the animal through its fears to help them understand that the worst-case scenario may not be a worst-case scenario. And here’s how you make sure that it isn’t, and here’s how you make sure that you’re mitigating what could be a bigger issue or problem.

And we see this pretty significantly with those presidents who need to be talking very honestly about finance, and they don’t want to. They don’t want to tip their hand that the institution may not be as healthy as everybody thinks it is, right. And they don’t want to create fear in what will this do to prospective student’s thinking of coming and all of these different issues, when what we need to be thinking about is, if your situation gets worse, have you already built in an understanding of where you’ve been, so that they understand where you’re going?

And if you want to do that when it really gets tough, it’s too late. And that’s when we hear our leaders say, “Well, everybody is negative, and how do I turn this? And it feels very personal.” It’s because we haven’t given people the steps along the way to understand what we’re building towards, and also, help them understand what you’re working through, so that they are more empathetic to you as a human and as a leader when you get to some of these really pivotal points.

[00:16:37] Josie: Totally, building trust and community and open communication, whether you’re in a really great financial situation or enrollment, whatever that is, or, you know, if you’ve got an uphill climb.

Your note about not comparing presidents to animals or horses, I actually find it quite enlightening. Like, maybe this is a new question to add to the podcast. Like, if you had an animal, what would be your animal? I had a supervisor once compare me to a pitbull, because, as you know, they can be super loving and protective, but they can also, like, if you send them out on a task, they’re going to get it done. I had, I had some growth in my early stages of being a professional. I was a bit more on the doing side.

[00:17:27] Teresa: We joke about this internally at TVP Comms. I am very much a Labrador. I am 100% an optimistic, dopey, right-by-your-side, ride-or-die kind of a Labrador. And we joke about that all of the time. So, sometimes, when too much is going on, the team will be like, “All right, Labrador, give us… bring us back around comment.” So, that would be me as an animal.

[00:17:52] Josie: I love it. You also mentioned about taking care of your people. And that’s been, you know, a focus on this podcast this season, is talking very upfront about wellness, mental health, taking care of your people, taking care of yourself. I’m jumping ahead a little bit, but you at TVP started the four-day work week, which other organizations have done, but I couldn’t help but ask what the status update of that is and how it contributed to how you see as yourself as a Labrador to take care of your people at this time.

[00:18:29] Teresa: You and I have talked about this because I know you’ve been very intrigued by this. And with everything that we were seeing happening on our campuses and the burnout, it would’ve been irresponsible for me not to look back to my own team and say, “How are they doing? And as I looked at that and I realized, I also need to make sure I’m retaining my people, not just say it to my campuses, but do it as well, that, what were the easy and hard ways to do that? So, we went through a number of different measures, including doing a trial test of four days a week. And we tweaked it a little bit. So, all of our team is in Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. And then, people can choose a couple of different paths. Monday off or Friday off. I’m a half Monday off, half Friday off. We have some people who take half a day off and then the other four days of the week they work an hour less. So, we try to figure out what works, if you’re a parent or if you are working on a dissertation, or if you want that extra day for you, what makes sense for the team.

And then, we did some other shifts within our team, like, moving away from hour-long meetings. And we have 45-minute meetings if we had thought it should be an hour. If it was 30 minutes, we’re thinking about, should we have a meeting, right? A number of different ways to kind of, work through how we partner.

And we also, as much as possible, have moved to phone calls away from Zooms because that was a source of exhaustion. And I can tell you, we feel better about it. We’re still four days a week. We’ve tweaked a little bit as we’ve gone. And we’ll continue to ask how it feels for everybody because I think it’s important that we get that feedback along the way, too.

[00:20:08] Josie: And all your team is remote. You’re all over the place.

[00:20:13] Teresa: We’ve always and only been remote, correct.

[00:20:16] Josie: Yeah. Awesome.

[00:20:17] Teresa: So, we used to use Zoom back in the day well before the pandemic because working from home, sometimes you get lonely. And before we all were on Zoom, there would be days where I would never see a person besides my husband and my daughter. So, we used Zoom, because every so often we just needed to see other human beings.

[00:20:35] Josie: Yeah. I feel that. I have, like, literally a goal to physically get outside once a day. You are also a Peloton-user. And so, even my exercise sometimes can be inside.

[00:20:47] Teresa: I am a Peloton-owner. I know you are a Peloton-user. I was on the other day and you were on, and I was, like, “I’m not even going to high-five her. I’m just going to quietly just work out, because if she looks, she’s going to see I haven’t been here a while.” Peloton sends me messages that they’re worried, so…

[00:21:04] Josie: No, no shame, no shame at all.

[00:21:09] Teresa: It’s all going to come back.

[00:21:11] Josie: Well, we’ll talk about it in a little bit. You have a few things that are on your to-do-list, including being a doc student. But before we get there, I want to keep digging into, not just whispering to presidents, but to guiding higher education and even what I defined as reclaiming thought leadership.

[00:21:34] Teresa: Yeah.

[00:21:34] Josie: And I, kind of, like, messaged you the other day because you were preparing for a keynote to a group, or at least a pocket of the field and student affairs, that there has been some less-than-supportive responses, just to the terminology of thought leadership, that sometimes it’s not a compliment. And I can really see you reclaiming it, because it can be, when used with action, when used with philosophy and leadership, that it can be used for really good. So, I think it’s misunderstood. So, how would you define thought leadership?

[00:22:08] Teresa: So, I’m going to share a continuum with you that I think, hopefully, your audience will appreciate. And I think in the MarComm world, we seem to be more comfortable with thought leadership. So, I’ll, kind of, put that in as a middle spot. But where we find a little bit of cringe and we get uncomfortable is when we’re talking about influencers, right? That’s where we really start to think that makes it about you.

And I think some of what you’re talking about, I would say, is on the influencer side, not on thought leadership. And, I still think influencers have an important role, because it means that you’re influential and you have the ability to influence others. So, thinking about what that responsibility is, is important. So, in my mind, influencer feels like that space that everybody is assuming thought leadership is.

And thought leadership, in my mind, isn’t about me. That’s more on the influencer side. Instead, I see it about being, about the industry, about higher education, driving those conversations that we all want to have, that we know we need to have, and thinking about weighing in on widespread issues that we’re all talking about and you have a perspective on.

So, I think, this really is a higher-level conversation than how most people think about thought leadership. That’s what I think, is that thought leadership equals advancing your industry. So, I call myself a thought leader, I hope I’m a thought leader. I’m trying to be a thought leader, because I want to make sure that I’m looking out for those who work in MarComm, those who work in higher education, those who are interested in what it is that we do in advancing the lives of our students, and thinking about mobility and opportunity. I want to live in that space as a thought leader because that’s where my passion lies.

And then, I think, where we see others in multiple fields feeling more comfortable is in this public scholarship and public writing space, which means you’re sharing more of your academic experience, whether that’s scholarship or what it is that you’ve done.

And I think there is that opportunity to take, “Here’s my scholarship. Here’s what I’ve done from a public scholarship standpoint. Move that into, what is the bigger gain associated with that? What are we trying to do? What is the future that gets you to thought leadership?” And then, once you start to build an audience, then you have the opportunity to influence others.

So, I see it as a spectrum, but I feel as if there’s a judgment associated with wanting to share what you think. And as we know, that’s where the fun is. That’s when you have conversations with others, and that’s where you really start to make a difference, because your mind expands and other people’s minds expand, and you get to hear from people, and you work on community as well as what comes next. I hope I’m a thought leader.

[00:25:01] Josie: Yeah. Well, and I want to echo, it’s not about you, it’s advancing the industry. And then, I sat in one of your workshops that was put on by Inside Higher Ed. And you talked about, like, it’s advancing scholarship, not just putting out publications, but thinking about those larger pieces. And I think that’s what TVP really does, right? Like, you all are trying to get people on, not just these internal sources of higher ed, but, like, larger media platforms —

[00:25:32] Teresa: Yes.

[00:25:32] Josie: … whether that’s CNN or Forbes or whatever, as we think about being so insular all the time.

[00:25:39] Teresa: Right.

[00:25:39] Josie: And so, I’m all for reclaiming it. And I think the other reason why, maybe, thought leaders, there’s been pushback on it, is that so many in our field are white men. And so, when I see and/or hear someone like you and Erin, thinking about starting a podcast, I am like out of my seat, saying, “Yes, we need more women on podcasts.” Like, we’ll talk about your Inside Higher Ed, Call to Action blog that you have, but I think that’s the piece of it, too. We need more diverse voices. We need different pockets of campus, and not just campus, but campus partners.

[00:26:17] Teresa: I agree.

[00:26:18] Josie: So, I want to talk about your podcast, Trusted Voices. It’s described as higher ed’s most high profile and high-impact issues occur at the intersections of leadership and communications. Trusted Voices is hosted by yourself and your partner in crime, Erin Hennessy, bringing you conversations with the people, navigating them right now. So, hopefully, by the time this comes out, you’ll have a few episodes already out.

[00:26:46] Teresa: Yes.

[00:26:47] Josie: But give us a little insight about how that came about, what you’re going to be talking about, and why specifically Trusted Voices is filling a gap that we really need to tune into.

[00:26:58] Teresa: So, interestingly, when the pandemic hit and everybody was doing their Zoom happy hours, people really enjoyed hearing Erin and I banter. And we talk about what the current news is of the day. We both think we’re hysterically funny. She’s funnier than I am. And we really were just talking about what we all do, I think, in a different way than some people had experienced.

And what we would hear at these different Zoom happy hours is people would say, “I would love to hear a podcast about you.” And we’re like, “Oh, that’s so sweet.” And then, at some point, we thought, “Well, maybe we should think about a podcast.” And then, you came to us and said, “Why aren’t you all doing a podcast?”

So, that was part of what we’re doing. So, our show was really split into three sections. The first is, what are we reading and what are we doing? And it really is we’re hoping people will hear how we talk during our own Zoom happy hours, because we still keep those up. Sometimes, we’re really angry about something. Sometimes, we’re really excited about something, and we’ll share that.

And then, the next part of that is, we realized we have this amazing opportunity experience, I don’t know how to describe it, this job that we get to be around some amazing leaders, some amazing individuals, and some great people. And so, we thought, well, if we were to talk a little bit about what are we following, what if we were to talk to a trusted voice who can help us think about a topic that may be in the news or may be top of mind and how they’re thinking about it and how they’re experiencing it?

So, we already have a president that you’ll be hearing from. We already have a very trusted reporter that you’ll be hearing from. And we’re lining up some additional guests. And they have these amazing ways of thinking about our industry and our world that’s just a little bit different from our vantage point and can give greater insights in terms of how and what we should be thinking about.

And then, the last part of it is, what are our takeaways from that conversation with the individual? And it’s interesting because our first interview was about 30 minutes, and our first discussion of takeaways was over 30 minutes, because it just made us think about so many different ways to present leadership into exhibit leadership and how to share ideas and what communication and trust should mean and how they should be incorporated. It was a fantastic conversation.

[00:29:19] Josie: Well, you all go out, hit subscribe, download those episodes, and tune in. But you and Erin are also just a fun follow on Twitter, too. It’s almost like listening to a podcast in text form where you’ll get all kinds of different pieces of your lives or perspective taking. And I think you, both of you, do so well at not just, again, that’s not reactions, it’s thought leadership to really pressing news and topics.

[00:29:45] Teresa: I hope that people follow us. And I do think that they will get a little bit of a taste of the banter that we do have back and forth. So, we don’t always agree, and we’re fine with that, but we always try to make it fun for ourselves, even if nobody else finds it either fun or funny. We think we’re hysterical.

[00:30:04] Josie: Banter is welcome. I call it sass. So, you have an inside higher ed blog, called Call to Action. It focuses on marketing communications topics in higher ed. How long has that been around? And what kind of pieces have you been putting out lately?

[00:30:21] Teresa: I think we’re, yeah, we might even be coming up on, maybe, seven or eight years of that, yeah, if there’s actually a great backstory for the blog. So, I’ll give that really quickly. For years, I had been berating Scott Jasick and Doug Letterman, that the only time they covered marketing and communications topics is when they were going to slam somebody, when there was a controversy or a faculty didn’t like a new logo or whatever it might. It always felt as if MarComm professionals were the punching bag for what may or may not be a situation that’s in their control. We’re just, kind of, the scapegoat for whatever the situation might be. “Oh, that’s a communications issue. That’s a marketing issue.”

And so, after me saying many, many times how frustrating it was for me that there wasn’t this more holistic discussion of marketing and communications that inside higher ed was sharing, Doug and I went out for coffee. And he said, “Great, then you need to come up with a blog so that you can fill that space.”

I just remember stopping and looking at him and thinking, well, be careful what you ask for. Be careful how you complain. And make sure that you’re ready for what that opportunity is. So, the first number of years, I partnered with Michael Stoner on the blog because I wanted to make sure that we were looking at the topics at marketing and communications lens, and I wanted to make sure that I was thinking through someone who is a trusted voice, right, to also bookend where I was in my career and to make sure that we were building the blog as strong as we could. And when Michael retired, then we continued that still with the marketing and communications focus, but we brought it in-house to TVP Comms.

So, pieces run the gamut from marketing, communications, social media. We’re looking for what people see as coming next, what they’ve already experienced, any insights they have. Some of the pieces that do really, really well are how-to pieces, so helping people understand advice or something that’s a digestible nugget. So, we’re always open to pieces. And anybody is welcome to email me or reach out to me to get our writing guidelines.

[00:32:21] Josie: And can they submit if they’re not in marketing? What if they’re in an academic unit, student affairs, library?

[00:32:29] Teresa: Oh, absolutely. I like that you just mentioned that. One of our most recent hires, DJ, whom you also know, he comes to us from student affairs. And I think what intrigued me about DJ is his title was very student-affairs-focused. His… he thinks his work was very student-affairs-focused. I think his work was communications. I think his work was relationship-building.

And I think we have people in these silos of how we think about what their unit does, and it does nothing more or less than that. And there are so many jobs across an institution that are communications-focused, are relationship-building-focused, and are marketing-focused. We just need to point that out and share that with them.

[00:33:12] Josie: Absolutely.

[00:33:13] Teresa: So, please, others, send your ideas. And we’ve had a couple of presidents who have submitted pieces. We’ve had a number of different offices. We’ve had some people from athletics. All of those contribute to the marketing and the communicating of what we do.

[00:33:26] Josie: I know you’ve nudged me a couple times. I promise I’ll give you that.

[00:33:30] Teresa: Please, submit something. You have some great content, and you also have such a great voice in sharing that information, too.

[00:33:37] Josie: Well, the digestible sometimes is my challenge. I have too much to say.

[00:33:44] Teresa: Give us a series, then we’ll take those, too.

[00:33:46] Josie: Oh, okay. So, there was one piece I wanted to talk about called University Leaders Have a Responsibility to Speak Out. There’s been a few other articles that have come out this last year of how people like presidents aren’t speaking out as much, with a variety of reasons behind that. You and Ali Lincoln wrote a piece, as we go back to the beginning of our conversations, how presidents, many times, just want to be seen as positive, popular. That’s not really part of the job. Give us kind of the cliff notes of that piece and where you’re pushing, where you continue to push today about that responsibility to speak out.

[00:34:27] Campus Sonar partners with higher ed campuses and associations that value marketing and communications as a strategic ally. Together, they empower leaders with insights from online conversation and social listening data to develop and align their strategies with the goals of the institutions they serve.

Join Campus Sonar for an expert panel about how campus leaders can increase institutional advocacy on March 23rd. Register from the Campus Sonar website, or you can find the link in the show notes.

[00:35:07] Teresa: I think we’re seeing this interesting spot that presidents are in where everybody wants a statement about everything, right? They want something that is reactive to a situation or to a moment in time. And what we’re telling our presidents is that’s fine, and you need to think about whether or not that makes sense for you, for your leadership, and for your institution. But more importantly, we want you to dig into what that issue is. And do you have something that you should be saying and doing about it? Because we all have these, you know, one or two-paragraph thoughts and prayers kind of things that we put out at various times. And what does that do?

And there was a time in higher education when our presidents would speak out on some topics and they would defend either the industry or an ideal or a perspective. And I think that we are at a point where that is necessary again, and I think especially because so many of our campuses are focused on sharing data and sharing research and sharing scholarship.

And with questions about science right now and about alternative facts and some of the ways that we see core elements of what we produce and the trust that we bring to the table, I think we have a responsibility to defend what we do, what we develop, the people that we support, so many different aspects of what we do, so that we aren’t just thinking about our roles as statement providers. Or, sometimes I feel like we’re just people who are town-criers, more than we are leaders talking about what we should be doing and why it matters for our institutions, for society, for our country, and for our world.

So, there was a time when presidents felt more empowered to do that. I think a number of them have received feedback from their board to be careful, for many reasons. I think a number of presidents feel a generational divide right now in their alumni base. So, they’re trying to please all people. And as we talked about, it goes all the way back to the beginning.

Sometimes, you have to do what’s right and you have to be willing to face the fear associated with making that decision or saying that bold statement because it’s the right thing to do and it’s the leaderly thing to do.

[00:37:21] Josie: So, we’re also seeing a new generation of presidents —

[00:37:27] Teresa: Yes.

[00:37:28] Josie: … as from retirements to transitions. So, if a person listening that aims to be a president, as you also mentioned, boards may be another hindrance for a president speaking out, how could one, through the whole process, already kind of have a pretty strong sense of what could, say, the freedoms or expectations or discouragement someone might be facing, as they think about speaking out, going into possibly a presidency? That was a really mouthful of a question, so there you go.

[00:38:05] Teresa: Oh, no, I understood exactly what you said.

[00:38:07] Josie: Okay.

[00:38:08] Teresa: Here’s what I would say. I think it’s when you… let’s go all the way back to my continuum of sharing your ideas, right? If you’re talking about your scholarship, the scholarship usually builds towards, kind of, your platform for who you are and what you think. It, at least, influences it. And from there, that shapes how you’re thinking about your thought leadership. And that gives you the opportunity to use your scholarship and your experiences as a springboard to talk about the industry.

And what I’m seeing interestingly, is that we have a number of presidents that we’ve worked with who’ve received their next job, in part because of what they’ve said and how they have gone about saying it. One of the, deans that we worked with, whom I adore, is Doug Hicks and he is now president at Davidson. And when he was announced, I was just so pleased to see the faculty sharing some of his thought leadership pieces to say, “We are hiring a president who is willing to say what he thinks and to take some stances.” And to have faculty say that about a new president is pretty awesome. And to have them notice his pieces and how he was framing his own leadership and his own impact really meant that we were pretty successful with that.

We have other presidents that the boards have liked that they had that presence, because they know that, in this very crowded market where every institution is trying to be everything to all people, they need a president who’s a little bit different, takes stances, and is willing to say something so that they cut through the clutter.

[00:39:41] Josie: So, it’s not just saying something, but it’s of substance.

[00:39:45] Teresa: Correct.

[00:39:46] Josie: And you would mention scholarship, which is like the love language of higher ed, right?

[00:39:51] Teresa: Right, right. And that’s usually a more comfortable spot for people to start.

[00:39:56] Josie: Yeah.

[00:39:56] Teresa: So, thinking about Doug as an example, his scholarship area was in leadership and religion. So, we started a little bit more on the religion side, moved a little bit more towards the leadership side. But it was able to give him a comfort zone as he was feeling his way into his thought leadership.

And I would almost challenge anybody, it’s almost like a riff off, right? Like, give me a topic and let me see how I can help you find that bridge to where you want your thought leadership to be. Let’s have a conversation and build that bridge. Because every single area, I don’t care if it’s physics or if it’s the classics, give me a topic. We can find a way to give you that path so that you’re really talking about where you want the industry to go next. You just have to be willing to put the time and the effort in to take those steps.

[00:40:40] Josie: One, the strategy of building a platform.

[00:40:43] Teresa: Right.

[00:40:44] Josie: Like, I know politicians might use that term, but again, we can reclaim it for higher ed. Starting with your research, starting with your personality, I think that’s awesome. Okay, so we got to talk about you and your doc student life. So, how are you doing really right now? Let’s start with that.

[00:41:06] Teresa: I am so behind. It’s not even funny, but it’s going to be fine. Because here’s the thing, once you have a deadline, you make it, right? I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but it’s going to happen. And everybody who sees me in March just know I’m going to look really tired. It’s going to be fine. But I should be… Should be — this is what I’m jinxing myself. I should be defending my dissertation in March so that I can graduate in May.

[00:41:29] Josie: Okay, but you’ve had years of coursework leading up to this.

[00:41:36] Teresa: Yes.

[00:41:37] Josie: And for those familiar or not, it’s a journey. So, how was that like being a mom, having puppies, running this successful business, and becoming a student again? What was that like?

[00:41:50] Teresa: So, I actually, the fall of 2019, my daughter went away to college. And my husband and I looked at each other and we said, “What are we going to do with ourselves? Like, what are we doing here?” And we had things that we wanted to do together, but kind of this mom space that I had, what was I going to fill it with?

So, my husband said, “Well, where did you find fulfillment? And where were you happy? And where were you challenged? And how is this an opportunity for you to shift from helping someone else reach milestones to you reach milestones?” I was like, “Oh, I think I want to get my doctorate.” Well, that was a great idea.

So, I applied prior to the pandemic hitting, I got accepted just as the pandemic hit. So, I started fall of 2020. My first year was remote. It was all Zoom. So, I’m in an Executive EdD program. For a weekend, a month, for 12 hours a day, for days, I sat in class on Zoom. I just want everybody to appreciate that for a second.

And did all the coursework. And I originally thought to myself, well, this is a perfect timing because the world’s going to slow down. And then, I realized it’s all just going to speed up. But it has been so fantastic. I chose to pursue an EdD in higher education because I have had so many of these different experiences, and I’ve experienced so many different really monumental moments in higher education. And to learn the theories behind that and to see what the greater application is and to have new ways to talk about what I do has just been so phenomenally powerful. And I’ve loved every minute of it.

[00:43:37] Josie: And as a whole getting a doctorate, when you work specifically in the pocket of marketing and communications in higher ed, isn’t quite as common, but we’re starting to see some, and not just to move to faculty, but like the ed, which is what I have, as a practitioner.

[00:43:55] Teresa: Yes.

[00:43:56] Josie: Why do you think it’s important or why maybe someone might want to re-reflect pursuing a doctorate while working in MarComm in higher ed?

[00:44:07] Teresa: I cannot encourage it more significantly. It really rounded out my exposure to higher education. My cohort is very, very diverse. Whether it’s ethnically diverse, it’s where our backgrounds lie, our ages. I’m not the oldest. I’m happy to say I think I’m probably smack dab in the middle, which I was surprised at. I thought I was going to be the geriatric student, and I wasn’t. Although, I’m still adjusting to how libraries work now, right? Like, there’s no card catalogs, there are no little golf pencils, right, in Canvas and all these different things that have happened over the last couple of years.

[00:43:56] Josie: Yeah.

[00:44:41] Teresa: So, I’m not the oldest. And what I also recognized and I loved about my cohort and my program is we have people from community colleges and we have people from regional comprehensives and R1s. And it has rounded out how I think about higher education. And as much as we all lament, we focus too much on the elite institutions. We do. And we also encourage that in so many ways.

So, to be around colleagues who are at the community college level and are talking about what their impact is, it really grounded me back in the higher education that I know and love. And I’m around people who are really working with first-gen students and those who don’t have family backgrounds of higher education acceptance.

And it reminds me of my family, and it reminds me of the impact that higher education has had for me, which is really why I’m in this, to begin with. And I am second-gen but first person to go to an institution like mine and to live in a dorm and to have the four-year experience and to navigate graduate school. I’m the first one to go to graduate school, the first one to continue through. And my dad, you know, went to a community college. And my brother went to a service academy. So, our experiences were so different. I feel as if being with my cohort reminded me about that variety. And that makes me a stronger practitioner in what I do every day.

[00:46:13] Josie: And I find, going back to speaking the love language of higher ed and scholarship, we need more scholarship from those that have done specific research around marketing and communications, whether if it’s about mental health or practices, obviously things like podcasts and blogs are great, but getting it into academic journals. So, talking about your scholarship, your dissertation, mine was a mouthful of a sentence and so is yours. That’s just part of the deal.

[00:46:42] Teresa: I just kept adding to it. It’s a paragraph.

[00:46:44] Josie: Presidential and board governance of Division I intercollegiate athletics, how the players, the rules, and the games are influenced by temples, prestige, and positioning. Oh, my goodness, this is going to be juicy.

[00:46:57] Teresa: It is, my theoretical framework — you’ll appreciate this — is like, you know the meme of the gentleman who has all of the different things charted out and he has the string tying all of these different theories together? That is my conceptual framework, and I’m so darn proud of it.

[00:47:12] Josie: Awesome. So, you’re looking at a few institutions. Wait, when are you defending and graduating?

[00:47:18] Teresa: I defend at the end of March.

[00:47:21] Josie: Okay.

[00:47:21] Teresa: And then, I’ll graduate in May. So, hopefully, this summer I’ll be able to share this with everybody.

[00:47:26] Josie: Okay.

[00:47:27] Teresa: And I chose not to focus on a marketing and communications topic. Spoiler alert, if I had to do it again, probably would’ve done something closer to what I do in my real life. But I wanted to challenge myself. And so, I decided to think through some of those topics — let’s go all the way back to the beginning of our conversation — where I see presidents worry to make decisions or to take bold stances. And quite often, it’s around athletics. And quite often, there is this interesting dynamic between the board and the president that puts the president in that position of not wanting to make those tough decisions.

So, I decided to tackle that as my topic because it felt more aligned with, not the MarComm side, but that leadership side. And as you mentioned before in relationship to our podcast, I do think that where I work is that intersection of leadership and communications. People think communications is standalone, but it is so ingrained in leadership.

So, I decided to take this on as a topic to see about building a leadership framework at the end of this to talk about what works. So, I’m looking at three institutions, all Power 5 athletic programs, who have presidents who have been in place at least 10 years. Because if you’ve made it at least 10 years, it means that you’ve probably had some athletics issues and you’ve been able to successfully negotiate those.

So, what does that leadership framework look like? So, you have good governance, but you also have strong leadership, too.

[00:48:56] Josie: Well, it fully connects back to communications. Athletics is such a core, I mean, especially big institutions, big athletic programs can be quite the public-facing component for the campus.

[00:49:11] Teresa: Absolutely agreed. There’s a real reason why they talk about athletics being the front porch. And I start my dissertation by saying, I agree. I buy that. And also, some of our front porches need a little bit of repair work, because our front porches are connected to the foundations of our home.

[00:49:29] Josie: Yup.

[00:49:29] Teresa: And we need to be thinking about what vulnerabilities there might be for the greater structure.

[00:49:34] Josie: Yep, absolutely. Did you play athletics in college?

[00:49:38] Teresa: No, but thank you for thinking that I might have.

[00:49:40] Josie: Stop it. My team… I played soccer in college accidentally. Like, it wasn’t supposed to be a team, but all because of Title IX, they added it on. So, anyway, fascinating. Before we get into my last questions, we’ve talked about a few platforms that you’re on, that you can be found, but where can people find you to connect?

[00:50:04] Teresa: The easiest place right now, let’s see if this maintains, is probably on Twitter. I’m @TVParrot. I’m also on LinkedIn. I’m trying to increase my presence there. So, it’s all three names, Teresa Valerio Parrot. You also were welcome to send me an email. I love talking with people. I’d love to chat with you. And that’s teresa, T-E-R-E-S-A, @tvpcommunications, with an s at the end, .com. And then, I also… I feel like I’m in a couple of different places. And I never shy away from people who direct-message me. I like to have conversations and meet people. And community, really, is at the heart of where I like to spend my time.

[00:50:46] Josie: Yeah. And you really do do that in practice. I am quite positive our first connection was probably in a Twitter DM.

[00:50:55] Teresa: I think it probably was.

[00:50:56] Josie: Liz Gross was, like, nudging me probably for a year to reach out to you. Finally.

[00:51:01] Teresa: Why did it take a year?

[00:51:03] Josie: I was intimidated. I don’t know.

[00:51:05] Teresa: Are you serious? I’m a labradore. 

[00:51:09] Josie: I know. Well, listen, this is why I have people, this is literally why I have people on the podcast, so we can, well, Anne, my approach with leaders is to demystify you, make you less intimidating and approachable. and especially if I knew you’re a Labrador this whole time. it’s that one. give like, can I pet your dog Oh, too funny. 

Well, if you knew your last post a tweet or an inside Hi Ed article was going to be the last one that you put out, what would you want it to be about?

[00:51:45] Teresa: We talked about this a little bit before, but, it really would be a love letter to higher education. I say in my bio, and I mean this, that my husband is my true love, but my alma mater was my first love. And I, I know it sounds cheesy. I’m a Labrador, but, but it’s true. I don’t think that I understoody own potential and I don’t think I understood just concepts and how things are connected and, and was able to be smart until I stepped onto a campus. Right. I think there was so much of my childhood. So, I’m Hispanic and come from a very large Catholic family, very blue collar, and the goal was always to be the pretty one, not to be the smart one.

And so I don’t know that I ever. Saw in myself what those opportunities could bring to be the smart one. And when I stepped onto a campus, that’s the expectation is that people want to see what you can do and, and help you stretch to your potential. And it was the most freeing and exhilarating time of my life.

I’m still getting that through my doctoral experience. So, it would really be a love letter to my first love, and having that be higher education.

[00:52:57] Josie: I love that.

[00:52:58] Teresa: So, at least a thread, right? It’s not something that’s going to be brief, and that might have to be a post

[00:53:04] Josie: Absolutely. Well, for now, when you think about your presence in places that aren’t meta platforms, what do you want your presence to impact those that come across it and to the greater industry, basically, what’s your purpose for leading online?

[00:53:21] Teresa: I think it’s to make sure that we’re talking about building community. That’s so important to me. and you know, I really stress that, I’m happy to talk to anybody who wants to talk about whether it’s, getting your accreditation in public relations. Drop me a message, I’ll let you know what my experience was like and help you be successful in your journey on that.

Or if it’s about getting your doctoral degree or it’s about how to meet others in our industry, I’m happy to do that and I love when people reach out and say, would you be willing to be my mentor? And as you and I, we had this conversation, I said, yes, but you have to mentor me back because I don’t, I only know so many things in so many places and you know, so many things in so many places, and let’s find a place where we can learn from each other.

I really think on social, I try to fill some of those gaps too. I like to share insights, whether it’s from an article or something that I’m thinking about. And then, I also, maybe this is the approachability part, Josie. I try to be a human being and to be funny and to give an insight, not just too good, but also like, you know, I’m really tired or I’m struggling, or what does this look like? Or what resources do you have? Because I tell my presidents, That they need to take these risks and challenges. 

And part of that is to make them human to others. Not just a title, but a human being. And if I’m not doing that myself, then I’m missing an opportunity. And it sounds to me like maybe I need to do it more so that I’m more approachable because I’m not a scary person and social media allows me to do that in a way that feels more comfortable for an introvert. it allows me to share and put out there in ways that, can be different or, or just feel scary if it’s not social.

[00:55:03] Josie: Yeah. Well, and to be fair, this was years and years and years ago when she was getting me to reach out outside of student affairs when I was just building community around marketing, communication professionals. And obviously I, I love it here and I love my student affairs people, too,

[00:55:22] Teresa: Yes. And you’re thriving.

[00:55:24] Josie: Well, I do really appreciate, I was one of those that reached out and said basically, will you be my mentor?? And I do love that, perspective that it is two ways. It’s not just, you know, like one directional coaching that we’ve taught each other, elements, and that we have another community of people that are navigating businesses within marketing and communications in higher ed like we need each other, especially since we work from home or, we’re popping around, all the time, and this industry is changing all the time and our worlds are so, I’ve really appreciated the time you’ve given to me, not just on this podcast, but the things that you’re whispering to me.Very much, very much meaningful Indeed.Is there any, recommendations or resources that you haven’t already mentioned that you want to make sure that listeners maybe check out that I can link in the show?

[00:56:17] Teresa: Absolutely. So, I know that you, have guests who talk about books or websites or, people to follow, et cetera, and I’m really going to go a little bit old school and I’m going to talk about how I’ve built my community. Because I think going back to what we talked about, if I could get other people to engage in that, it’s part of my thought leadership, but it’s really part of my passion. So, this is my opportunity to say that I really cut my teeth with CASE with the Council for Advancement in Support of Education. And then, I grew into a space where PRSA, Public Relations Society of America meant something to me.

And then from there I expanded to move to the American Marketing Association and what that could be. And each of those, Slices that really reflect my career and they reflect my path. And I would encourage people to be thinking about, what list serves look like for those. And I still think conferences have value and, what community can look like.

And if they’re regional gatherings. I’d encourage you to put your name in the hat for committees, for conferences or to be on boards or commissions. I just went onto the national board for PRSA and I’m super excited about that, and I think that we all can think about, not just what are these formal groups that we build community with, but also what are informal ways in which we can connect with others.

You mentioned one of those, whether it’s a mentor and mentee relationship, or I would say co-mentors or, you pulled together, and I’m still so thankful for you for doing this, a number of us who don’t compete for business, but we live in the same ecosystem and we have the opportunity to talk to each other about business.

And I have another group that is tied to marketing and communications professionals that are senior leaders. And, and we get together, whether it’s on Slack or in groups to talk about that. You just had one of my all-time favorite colleagues, Jenny Petty on your podcast, and, she’s one of my closest colleagues.

And just having those within, our community, Binti Harvey is another one, that we can reach out to and say, what’s going on with you today? Do you have half an hour just to talk? Whether it’s about something great or something you need to process or something that you need help with? I would encourage people, if you’re looking at resources to think about what are the structured and unstructured ways in which you can build network and you can build community because those end up paying dividends across your career.

[00:58:52] Josie: Well, that’s a great way to end our chat today as this episode will kick off Women’s History Month and to especially support each other, as women. And again, you’ve been one of those people for me, so I very much appreciate it.

[00:59:05] Teresa: Right back at you, Josie.

[00:59:06] Josie: Okay. First, we have to talk about this one, and maybe I need this new question in every interview. Like, if you were a dog, what would best describe you? Teresa says she’s a lab. I shared how I was at one point, described as a pit bull. That’s pretty adorable. I think she also has a little pit bull in her, in like a good way.

Cuddly, fierce, loyal lab’s pretty great too. As we think about beyond the fur versions of ourselves, Teresa encourages the leaders, the boards, the campuses she works with, to think of ourselves as full people versus only what we do for work. And she’s definitely leading by examples, especially on Twitter and LinkedIn.

She shares, about her dogs, about her hiking, about her travels, about being a mom, her doc journey and some good old, just overall golden nuggets. What I also love that we got to talk into a little bit is about mentorship and she gave these three tips. For thinking about living this full life, don’t burn yourself too thin. The truth matters and it’s important to take care of yourself and your people. It’s can be pretty simple as that. I appreciate that. I also want to dig into about thought leadership. I shared briefly when I was asking her this question that in some pockets of higher ed, the phrase thought leadership kind of has a bad rap, it might have a negative connotation.

And that, Teresa’s approach is definitely one of, reclaiming that word, but also defining it and not letting it just be thoughts, but strategy. Because a lot of times she’s working with leaders who might deep down, want to be liked, and thinking that’s a metric of success. But we need to move leaders beyond feeling like they need to be popular. That they have to use their channels no matter which communication tool to be more than a personality. We need them to use their voice in a strategic way. They have thoughts, but we want to amplify those. That doesn’t mean that we’re crafting statements of responses for every single unfortunate, maybe crisis that happens in our world, but even in other ways that, again, her team at TVP definitely does an amazing job of.

As we think about her own thought leadership, she has built up this amazing, blog on Inside Higher Ed, called Call to Action. It’s on my vision board, I swear I’m going to write one of those, hopefully this year. She’s on the finish line to her dissertation. You all just join me in cheering her through the last phases, which can be some, rough roads as you get to that endpoint.

And then this podcast, which again, I’m just so darn excited, when her and Erin came to me thinking about doing a podcast, I literally almost jumped out of my chair and wanted to put together a strategy and a plan that they of course have taken to the next level. And if I was to encourage an episode to check out, well actually there would be two because the cool way that they are organizing these, they have a guest, a trusted voice.

So for example, Eric Coover, who’s a senior writer at The Chronicle of Higher Ed, and if we don’t really hear this, Insider experience of what it means to be, a journalist, a writer for, whether if it’s for the New York Times or for The Chronicle, that sometimes they, you know, the dance they have to do as journalists, in relationships, and information. And so, they even gave tips. So, if you sometimes get a call from inside higher out to The Chronicle and you feel really defensive maybe, and sometimes maybe you, you should be. But this one I think gave a larger context around that. And then, the second episode is actually the one right after.

So, they’ve released two in a week. The second one is just Erin and Teresa kind of, deconstructing it as well as anything else that might be happening during that time. And I really don’t know of another show in higher ed doing that, especially with these really timely topics that they are covering.

Another big part of the season again is mental health and wellness, and I’ve been following TVP communications move to a four-day work week since they’ve announced it, they’re really documenting it like on LinkedIn or other members of the company or kind of sharing their experiences, even moving to have less meetings on Zoom and more to phone calls. So, thinking creatively about how we do our work even, that could have some, positive outcomes for you and your team. And we didn’t really hit the topic on the, on the head one can say about how her mental health and wellness journey is going, but she does talk about it a little bit on the Servant Marketer podcast with Jenny PettyAnd she talks a little bit more about tools and practices she uses. So, I would definitely have you go check out that episode, which I’ll link in the show notes. 

There’s one final thing that I want to reflect and talk about, because I talk about, you know, like how I found Teresa and how I was, a little reluctant at first to reach out to her that I was intimidated.

And if you have it caught on, if this is your first episode with me, I’m on a lifelong journey of overcoming imposter syndrome. For some reason, I am especially intimidated by women. I think I was brought up, and I think some of my elder millennial women might, connect with this, that we many times were brought up to see other women as competition, whether if that was early days, to, romantic relationships to sports, to whatever. And so, I’m working on that. But I, if you didn’t check out my last episode, are online friendships real? I talk a little bit about friendships, connections, and networking. And specifically, there might be some gender differences, at least for me. 

So, let me just squash and clarify my experiences with this amazing woman now in my life that of course I regret not reaching out to earlier because I could tell when I said it, she was a little caught aback. And so Teresa, I want you to know that, the second I did finally reach, I’m sure it was just in a Twitter DM. You like it immediately bonded and I think you were the one that suggested that we have a phone call, that it wasn’t just like, oh, hi, are you nice to meet you.

Yeah. You know, ‘cause I’ve had those two where you can tell, like it’s just kind of pleasantries and so fast forward today. I am honored. I’m baffled. I’m just giddy to get to call you friend and mentor. Now we get to chat one-on-one monthly and we’re also part of like a little marketing and communications mastermind.

So, we learn from each other as well as others that have business in Higher ed MarComm. So, a lesson if you are on the market for a mentor, just to ask, but maybe not right away, but if there’s someone you admire, respect, I encourage you just to reach out first, introduce yourself or have someone that might have a connection with them to connect you.

And you may not want to immediately say, “Hey, will you be my mentor?” unless you are a current student, because you kind of get a, a hall pass, a free pass, a golden ticket. One could say, when you are currently a student, and well, I’m like seven or eight years out from that now, from my doctorate. Build the relationship, build the trust, and then ask for the defined relationship because sometimes structure can matter.

I think I knew her at least for over a year and a half before I popped the question, like a promposal if she’d be willing to, you know, be a mentor, especially on the business side. But what I loved even more is what she said back to me that it would need to be two way that she would want to be mentored by me too and that is awesome. That mentorship really should be, not just one directional that we can learn, up, down, and all around. And this woman has gone to bat for me, whether in an introduction, reviewing a proposal for consulting, or sending me a handwritten note, which I just received yesterday that just about had me in tears, which didn’t have to do with work at all.

So, thank you so, so very much. Not only for the work that you do in higher ed, but for me too, as a person, as a woman trying to build this business. And I have so much to learn from you. And again, y’all please join me in congratulating her and supporting her as she becomes the future doctor, that will be a really amazing day.

So, something that we both share is our love for building community, both informally and formally. She even wrote about it in the Call to Action inside Higher Ed blog. So, think about the last time that you actively worked on building your community, your network in an intentional way. And making those moves to open up your circle as well as making it too directional.

Who are you letting in? Who are you reaching out to? Who might you be you intimidated by, but for the wrong reasons that you’ve been waiting too long to reach out, but also who do you know needs support? And second, the thing that really hit me and I think is really going to influence my next shorty episode, is digital leadership isn’t just about selfies and socials and status updates and behind the scenes.

You got to use your platforms and voice in more amplified ways. Then even just short form, social media, podcast, blogs, media sources. It’s also not just about statements of it, it’s about moving into deeper conversations on behalf of the entire industry. So, look at your feed and see if you are contributing your leadership or just posting a lot of fluff. Because Teresa would really join me in saying we need it full of good, hardy stuff. So, thank you for joining me today. I can’t wait for our next one-on-one mentorship call or meet-up or whatever that happens to be next.

Thank you for joining me in this episode of Josie and the Podcast. Join the conversation online. You could find me on most platforms at @josieahlquist and the podcast on Twitter, Josie at Podcast, and now on Instagram, @josieandthepodcast. All those show notes and resources can be found at josieahlquist.com/podcast. 

You know what you have to do in the digital spaces? If a tree falls and no one’s around, do they hear it? If a podcast of release and no one subscribes or share, it doesn’t exist. I know y’all are out there, but let me know. Make sure you hit that bell. You smash that button. What do the kids say? Share it like it, love it. I know there’s an acronym. I probably should look it up. On the business side, if you’re interested in working with me, speaking, consulting, coaching, find me at josieahlquist.com.

Thank you again to my podcast sponsors University FM and Campus Sonar. I appreciate y’all so much. I’m sending digital hugs, loves, and waves to whatever corner of the world you’re listening in from. This has been Josie and the Podcast.

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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