Making Conversations Count


Episode 20

Why not do it now? Vicki Connell (formerly O’Neill), Growth Marketing Consultant

Making conversations about sacrifice count!

Ever had what felt like an impossible goal? One that you know will mean huge sacrifice? It scares the pants off you doubting if you can be an ambitious startup? 

Vicki works with entrepreneurs, small business owners and executive leaders who are stuck in their business and need someone as a partner to coach them to their next level of success. Vicki offers growth marketing consultant advice, strategy plans & also organises in-house marketing teams. 

One thing about being your own boss means you wear many hats, some are obvious others are not. The people around you will influence results. A fresh insight can be all the difference.

Vicki joins Wendy in an honest conversation about making the right sacrifices, the a-ha moments and how she found her way through… 

A lesson from this episode: Don’t settle for what is given to us, we can create our own futures. 

#marketingstrategy #startups #sacrifice 




Making Conversations Count – Episode Twenty

March 4th 2021

Wendy Harris & Vicky Carroll



00:00:00: Introduction

00:00:55: Do you still date?

00:01:47: Getting your name out there

00:05:07: People not process

00:08:22: Vicki’s pivotal moment

00:11:42: You’re out of control of having a job or not

00:14:10: Marketing and sales not sales and marketing

00:14:58: Degree or not to degree?

00:17:28: Final thoughts


Wendy Harris: Welcome to Making Conversations Count the official podcast, hosted by me, Wendy Harris, bestselling author and trainer of over 30 years helping people pick up the phone and create the best first impression.  Today I have a lady who is joining us all the way from Ohio, and she is going to share with us her story, the one conversation that created a real turning point in her life.  It is the indomitable Vicki O’Neill.

Vicki Carroll: Hey, Wendy.  Thanks for having me on your podcast.

Wendy Harris: I’m so happy to have you here, Vicki.  It’s great because it sort of feels like we’re going full circle, having been on your own podcast.  So, I know that you’re an avid podcaster and you get the game so it’s brilliant to do a bit of role reversal.

Vicki Carroll: Yes, it’s awesome to connect with you again, I’m so glad that John Esperion connected us way back when and we’ve stayed in contact this entire time.  It’s been awesome.

Wendy Harris: I know.  Just watching you online as well and being able to engage through the content that you put out and even seeing a name change, because of course I know you as Vicki O’Neill, but I should really correct myself; it is Vicki Carroll now.

Vicki Carroll: Yes, exactly.  I married the man that I’ve been dating for ten years.  We finally tied the knot, yeah, in October so, yeah, I’ve decided to change my name.

Wendy Harris: Do you still date?

Vicki Carroll: Do we still date?

Wendy Harris: Yeah, well people say that when you got married you stop dating.

Vicki Carroll: Yeah, I mean actually nothing’s changed because I was already living with him, so it was just a matter of going through the process and making it legal.  No more you’re living in sin.

Wendy Harris: To have a lovely, fabulous holiday, I’m sure.

Vicki Carroll: Yeah, we went to Hawaii, so it was absolutely beautiful.

Wendy Harris: One of the places that is definitely on my list to do.

Vicki Carroll: Yes.

Wendy Harris: Tell us a little bit about what you do at Kenkay Marketing and how you help people.

Vicki Carroll: I help small business owners who are challenged with getting their name out there.  They’ve tried different marketing strategies, they’ve posted online, they’ve tried networking and really have come to a point where they either don’t know how to take it to the next level or their business has plateaued, and doing the same things over and over again just aren’t working anymore.

So, bringing me on board, with the experience I have in different industries and with different types of businesses, even business size from start-ups to working in a corporation, I have that outside perspective that I can bring that perspective and then that creativity from other situations into that conversation and just really help them take their business from plateau to grow.

Wendy Harris: Quite often I would agree that it’s very difficult to see what is going on in your business if you’re in the thick of it.  But being able to step back and have somebody to take you that step back, to look in with fresh eyes to see what’s going on, you can very quickly, when you’re working with somebody they’ll go, “I know exactly, it’s obvious now isn’t it?”  But it just needs somebody to hold their hand to do that and then to be able to help them to implement something, because it’s something new for them to try.

Vicki Carroll: Yeah, exactly and we know just from being business owners ourselves that we wear multiple hats, and we get so ingrained in our business that we do not spend time working on our business.  And just like you said sometimes it just requires somebody from the outside coming in and really just kind of lifting their heads and looking around essentially to say, “Hey, here’s what’s going on, here’s what we need to do”, and then they kind of have that aha moment, like, “Why didn’t I think of that myself?”  But it is just a by-product of the situation; sometimes it just helps to bring somebody in.

Wendy Harris: No, it does definitely and if there is anybody that’s looking for help, I would certainly give you a shout if I was stuck with anything, because it is just having somebody with that kind of experience that can help.  I know that it is a tricky situation sometimes as well, isn’t it, because you’re having to dig deep into somebody’s business.  A lot of business owners do take it very personally because it’s their baby isn’t it?  So, it means that the conversations that you have to have can be delicate and I know that that something that you’re really mindful of, Vicki.

Vicki Carroll: Yeah, you nailed it completely.  When they reach out to me a lot of times, they think they are having a problem with marketing; but then actually through conversations, there have been times where I’ve uncovered it’s not marketing that they need help with, they might have something broken internally with their process.  Or it could be a team member that they have that might be creating more damage than good.

It is a delicate conversation and approaching it from the fact of, “Hey, here’s the experiences that I have had and here’s why this has worked and why I am recommending it” and kind of approaching it from my experience instead, it kind of helps with creating the perspective that they need to see what is going on in their business.

As business owners we do not want people coming in and telling us how to run our businesses, but I think with the right approach and just understanding people’s personalities, that’s part of it too through conversations, as you very well know, that you can understand who people are and how they best operate, and then you tailor your approach to that conversation based on how they’re going to accept it.

Wendy Harris: Yeah, and I think the realms of a consultant has changed.  Certainly, I remember the 80s, gosh feeling old now, but I remember the 80s where they would have people come in and shake everything up.  I am trying to think of the name, it was in my head and it’s gone out the other end, but they would come in and they would audit all the departments and they would look at all the teams and everybody would shake in their boots because they knew that they were all going to be streamlined, possibly out of a job and this sort of thing.  I think that has sort of changed; the subtlety is more around, “Let’s come in.  You got this job on merit, so let’s look at your strengths and then let’s look at where we can support you to do better”.  The language has changed, do you think, Vicki?

Vicki Carroll: Yeah, I 100% agree.  I think the language has changed to be more focused on the people instead of the process.  I’m a firm believer if you focus on people and diving into their strengths and understanding that we all have weaknesses, not putting somebody down because they can’t do something, but lifting people up based on what they can accomplish, that’s how you’re going to drive results in your business.  When you take care of your people then a by-product of that is taking care of your business; but I’ve seen if you take care of your business first and then just force your people into doing what you want them to do, that sometimes can be a bigger challenge than the opposite.

Wendy Harris: Yeah, it comes down to culture really doesn’t it, in terms of then the people if they are feeling that there are invested, they will organically drive themselves to want to do better and that has the ripple effect of shining through the business results and the numbers and things like that.  So, yeah, I think it’s important because then those representatives of your business are going to go out and have much better conversations with your potential customers as well.

Vicki Carroll: Exactly, because the marketing of your business goes beyond the walls of your business.  People talk about their jobs, people talk about their bosses, people talk about their business and you want most of those conversations to be positive.  So, the best way to do that is to supply them with good experiences and if there’s an experience that we know realistically is going to be bad, then just how you handle it is the conversation that is going to go beyond the walls.

Wendy Harris: Negativity always seems to seep out a lot quicker than the positive stuff, and if you convert that into a Chinese whisper then, oh my goodness, you could left with all sorts of different wrong messages going out there.

Vicki Carroll: Yeah, exactly, it’s how are they going to perceive this message.  Everybody can apply a different label to a conversation and their perspective is the one that is going to be talked about, right?  So, create the best experience that you can and when there is a situation that’s not positive, it’s not like you have to be a Pollyanna to turn it into a positive, but it’s understanding again who that person is, how you can best work with them based on their personality and their receptiveness to not only change but just to get better, right.  It’s all about growth and the only way that you can do that is to open yourself up to the possibility of correcting things and just knowing the direction that you’re headed in and helping them get there.

Wendy Harris: That is just about driving everything forward isn’t it, is to want to do better and to grow.  Everyday is a school day.  I’m intrigued, talking about school says and learning new things, I need to know, Vicki what your pivotal moment was.  Are you ready to share?

Vicki Carroll: Yes, I can share.

Wendy Harris: Because I really am excited to hear this one.

Vicki Carroll: This is the pivotal moment when I decided to start my business.

Wendy Harris: Okay, and how long have you been running your business now then, Vicki?

Vicki Carroll: I started KenKay Marketing in 2010 and it was a by-product of side projects that people had been bringing to me, just small things like, “Hey, can you help me design a logo?”  Of course, I’m not a designer but I knew people who were.  So, I did that over several years actually and then in 2018, I lost my corporate job.  I was let go from my corporate job and I had gone through a series of jobs; at that time, I was doing sales, so a lot of my experience has been marketing but then I have some sales experience as well.  In sales, once you start doing things over and over again, to me I need to have difference.

So, it was actually — I saw it as a blessing in disguise because I’d always wanted to be 100% focused on my business.  At that time, I’d kind of been seeing signs anyway that his was going to happen, because we were going through a corporate restructure.  As a by-product of that I decided that now’s the time that I need to really dive into my business 100% and make something of it.  The timing was good because my youngest daughter was a senior in high school and prior to that I wanted to make sure that my time was focused on my daughters.  So, I didn’t want to be full-time in my business because I knew how much time you needed to invest in that, and I didn’t want either one to suffer.

Wendy Harris: It’s sacrifice isn’t it?  When you’re a mum and a woman and driven —

Vicki Carroll: Yeah, and I was divorced at that time so a single mum at that time, and when they were with me, I wanted that time to be 100% with them, so it was just a matter of prioritising and so the timing was good in 2018 to do this; so it was that time.

I’d always thought about it.  I remember way back, even as a kid, people were playing with dolls, they were playing with this, I wanted to play office.  Which friends have phones and which friends have these writing pads that we can like just set up a desk and actually have them playing office?  So, I mean I’ve always wanted to be in business.

I remember in 2008, actually sitting down on the couch and wanting to start my own business at that point and I’ve even like started a website, it was called, “iMarket results”, the “I” for iPhone and then  I even created content and so I’d started something back then, so I know that it’s been something that’s always been kind of brewing and something I wanted to focus on.

In 2018 it was just that moment where I was like, “Okay this is it.  If I don’t do it now — like why not do it now?”  That was the time where I just knew that I had to be 100% in my business because it was a goal I’d had, and I knew that that was the time to do it.  So, ever since then I’ve been ploughing forward and trying different things and technology evolves and when you start something in a business; things change.  So, I’ve done a lot in the last three years with my business including pivoting, because sometimes you have to do that too once you start a business.  You start it doing this and you end up doing this, so it’s been interesting.

Wendy Harris: Was there one particular conversation that you had with somebody that said, “Okay, this is the time for me to do this then now”; that is the evidence that I needed that’s presented itself in a conversation to open the floodgates and go, “Right, I know what I’m going to do”?

Vicki Carroll: Yeah, it was actually the conversation I’d had with my boss at that time when I lost my job.  So, it was a conversation with him that I just realised I just don’t want to have this situation happen again, where you’re out of control with having a job or not.  For me, it was, “Okay, this is the situation and I’ve always wanted to do this with my business so now’s the time to just make it happen”.

So, nobody ever like planted a seed to create a pivotal moment like that but that was like the pivotal moment for me for going 100% into my business.

Wendy Harris: What did your boss say?  Did you turn round and say, “Well, I’m going to go out on my own then”?

Vicki Carroll: He gave me time in the office.  So, I think it was like three or four weeks after he had told me that this was likely going to happen, and he was just like, “Work on whatever you want to”.  I said, “So, if I want to work on my own business and getting that 100% up and running, are you okay with me doing that?”  He’s like, “If that’s how you want to spend your time, go ahead and do it.  You are welcome to use the company equipment to do what you need to do”.  So, he was completely open to it and he supported it.

So, he knew the situation was unfortunate.  He’s like, “If you want to go out on job interviews, you have time to do that too”.  So, he was very helpful given the situation and I think I owe a lot to him as well for that and just being very flexible and open to allowing me to have that space.  Then the equipment and what I needed to actually make it happen at that time.

Wendy Harris: Things happen, don’t they, and it’s not necessarily in his control either as to what’s happened, but he has to manage that.  It does all come down to relationships so you must have had a really good relationship with him.

Vicki Carroll: We were good.  We worked very well together; me and then my counterpart.  We divided the United States in half, and we managed an inside sales team, so I had 13 employees that I worked with and my boss was actually in my job before he got promoted, so there was a lot of, “Here’s how you can do this”, and a lot of sharing of information that is going to make me the best person I can be at that time.  So, he was very helpful and then my outside perspective, the marketing side of me which is the part I’m most passionate about, brought that to the job as well, which then helped my team become better inside sales reps.

Wendy Harris: So, the marketing should come first.  I know that people say sales and marketing, but I’ve had this argument before why is it sales and marketing?  It should be marketing first.

Vicki Carroll: Thank you, you’ll never see me put sales and marketing first ever.  It’ll always be marketing and sales.

Wendy Harris: I did have S&M in my headline on LinkedIn for a while, and I used to get inappropriate messages.

Vicki Carroll: Yes, “Okay, I need to switch this”.

Wendy Harris: It took me a while before somebody I knew who knew me well enough that said, “You’re brave”.  I was like, “Why?”  They pointed it out and I was like, “Oh”.  I thought I just had this like strange magnet around me but it’s hard isn’t it?  When you’re a mum you’ve used all of that experience, all that back experience of working and I know a little bit that you went and studied as well, didn’t you while you were a single mum?

Vicki Carroll: Yeah, I have actually done that.  I did the backwards approach to getting my college degree.  Most people after they leave high school, they go four years, get their bachelor’s degree.  It took me about 20 years.  I was actually challenged by my director in a previous job.  It was like my first full-time job in a marketing role and it’s the company that I owe so much to, including the tuition reimbursement to get my bachelor’s degree, but I had done all the moving I could laterally, and I wanted to go to that next level.

He’s like, “Vicki, a requirement of going to the next level is having your bachelor’s degree”.  I’m like, “I’ve got the experience”, and he’s like, “It doesn’t matter.  That’s a requirement of the job.  If you want that job, you need to go back and you need to get your degree”.  I’m like, “Oh my gosh, how am I going to do this?  Full-time, job, married, two young girls under the age of 5, and I need to go back and get my degree”.

I got on the accelerated programme.  It was when online colleges were just coming out, so it was like University of Phoenix and, I don’t know, DeVry University is where I ended up going, because that was one of the very first colleges going online.  That worked best with my schedule.  So, I got on the accelerated programme and just very structured with my time in order to make it happen.

So, my husband at the time was very lenient and very accepting and of course, he and I had a conversation ahead of time of what it was going to entail and how it was going to change my time, and we worked very well together during that time and it worked.  I finally got my degree, and I was just like, “Oh thank God”.  I’ll never do that again though.

Wendy Harris: You got your promotion?

Vicki Carroll: I did.  I got a promotion and then after that, you couldn’t go any further because all the people that were there at that next level, they were lifers.  So, it’s like I can either be okay with where I am right now or it’s time for me leave, so I’d been with the company for it was about 12 and a half years.  I hated leaving but I had things that I wanted to do, and I just wasn’t going to be able to do them there.

Wendy Harris: That is what comes through from the whole story.  I’d say that there’s more than one pivotal moment that you have just uncovered there and that is that we should not just settle for what is given us, we have to create our own futures and sometimes that means that you have to really knuckle down and it has to make life — it makes life hard but if the intentions are all for the good, I mean look; you’re your own businesswoman today.

Vicki Carroll: Yeah, it’s a by-product of all of those different things I’ve gone through, right.

Wendy Harris: I am applauding, nobody can see us, but I am applauding.  It’s inspirational when people think, “That is far as we can get”; barriers are put in our place.  It’s up to us to knock them down or go round them, find that way past and that’s exactly what you’ve done.  Thank you so much for sharing that with us today.

Vicki Carroll: No problem, thank you so much for allowing me to share it and giving me the platform to do so.

Wendy Harris: If people want to pick up the conversation with you on your journey and any kind of additional help that they might want, how is the best way for them to find you?

Vicki Caroll: They can either go to my website or if they want to search for me on LinkedIn they can either go to Vicki O’Neill or it’ll say Vicki Carroll.

Wendy Harris: I think it says Vicki Carroll now.

Vicki Carroll: It is going to change things, but the URL still says Vicki O’Neill so either way.

Wendy Harris: We will make sure it’s in the show notes so that people can find you, Vicki.  Thank you so much for sharing with us and to the listeners, make sure that you hit up the website so you don’t miss a guest, you don’t miss an episode.  There will be a button that you can click, and this is the URL, it’s  Vicki, it’s been fab having you, great to catch up with you; see you soon.

Vicki Carroll: Thanks so much, Wendy, I appreciate it.  Great seeing you too.