Work It – Book Interview

Heidi Cohen Interviews Carrie Kerpen

New book – Work It: Secrets for Success from the Boldest Women in Business


Q: What’s your best piece of advice for readers looking to improve their marketing?

A: I actually think the career advice in the book around networking is essential to marketers. There’s plenty of good marketing advice in here—but until we learn how to network, we are unable to unlock the potential of collective knowledge.

We can learn from leaders that came before us and trailblazers that are paving the way today. In today’s world, everyone is accessible in some way. Imagine how much better a marketer you’d be if, rather than reading from a book, you could meet the masters of marketing and talk shop over a cup of coffee.

Q: What was the inspiration for Work It?

A: It actually started with a podcast. In 2013, I became the CEO of the social media agency I co-founded with my husband, Likeable Media, and I noticed that the majority of my fellow agency leaders had three things in common: They were loud, extroverted, and male. My only choice was to work with what I had, which were two specific qualities: one, I’m a connector, and two, I’m a closet introvert.

So I decided to start a podcast, called All the Social Ladies, which would allow me to use my people skills to interview female decision-makers at brands, giving them a chance to share their stories—while not having to be overly self-promotional myself. And guess what? My plan actually worked—the podcast acquired more than one million listeners and doubled the size of the business. But after listening to these powerful, inspirational women share their lessons and insights, I had a realization: Maybe this is more than just a podcast.

Q: What is the key concept behind your book?

A: Every successful woman has a different path, a unique story. In my book, I share the stories of how I’ve “worked it” throughout my career and life, but that’s just one tool—I wanted to create an entire toolbox of advice that women can choose from.

“Working it” means identifying your unique assets—your knowledge, your experiences, your strengths, and your weaknesses—and leveraging those to achieve success your way. And that’s the key message of this book: There is no one right way to achieve success. There is only your way.

Q: What do you want readers to take away from your book?

A: My intention is for every reader to walk away with at least one nugget of insight or clever trick that they can use to get ahead in their careers and lives. Maybe it’s how to build your own “personal advisory board.” Maybe it’s how to ask for a raise or negotiate your salary. Or maybe it’s a motivational quote from any one of the more than 50 bold women featured in this book, from Sheryl Sandberg to Reshma Saujani.

Most of all, I hope readers walk away knowing that there isn’t just one right answer. We don’t all define success in the same way, and we don’t all achieve it in the same way. What works for me might not work for you. Having a successful career or life means building it on your terms—and working it your way.

Q: How do you describe yourself professionally?

A: I’m an author, speaker, and entrepreneur. I’m what you might call an “accidental” entrepreneur. Despite having a rather loud inner self-critic, I built a multimillion-dollar social media agency at a time when there was no one to teach you about social media marketing. Together, my husband and I did it without any formal education on how to start or run a business.

We now own multiple businesses and I currently serve as the CEO of Likeable Media, which was named Crain’s sixth Best Place to Work in NYC. I’m the author of Work It: Secrets for Success from the Boldest Women in Business and a columnist for INC and Forbes.

Q: What are 1-3 books that inspired your work/career?

  • Built to Sell by John Warrilow helped me understand how to build a scalable business.
  • Onlyness by Nilofer Merchant taught me to value my own unique self.
  • Profit First taught me how to make my business profitable in a simple way.

Q: What is the biggest challenge that you’ve had to overcome?

A: The biggest challenge that I’ve had to overcome is one of the biggest challenges, I believe, that most women face: a lack of confidence. While men often overestimate their abilities, women tend to underestimate themselves. It’s often referred to as “the confidence gap,” and it’s impacting both our net worth and our self-worth.

When I became CEO of Likeable Media, I struggled with a lack of confidence like never before. Dave was stepping down to launch a startup, and I was stepping up to lead the agency through a tough time: We were low on cash, high on staff, and in a very competitive marketplace. Doubting that I could handle such an overwhelming challenge, I did the only thing I possibly could do: I tried to “act as if.”

As women, we tend to choose competence over confidence. But if you don’t have enough confidence in your ideas and abilities to deliver on them, then it won’t matter how great they are. And if you don’t believe in yourself? Just act as if you do.

Q: What’s something unusual or fun that most people don’t know about you?

A: I grew up in an area that was primarily Hispanic—just outside of Jamaica, Queens. Growing up around many people whose primary language was not English, I developed a Hispanic accent, rather than a New York one. I spoke with a Hispanic accent until I was 14 years old, and I don’t even speak spanish!

Q: Is there a piece of content, a social media campaign or a marketing campaign that you worked on that you’re particularly proud of?

A: I am always most proud of the work we’ve done for non-profits—and my first one where we raised money to fund a school in Tanzania through a program called Tweetsgiving—which was the first successful twitter only fundraiser ever. That was truly amazing. We do amazing things for large brands, but that always stands out in my mind.

Q: Is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you’d like to share?

A: Just that I believe the first word in your site’s name is key—ACTIONABLE. Taking action is key—especially for women. It’s easy to get stuck in analysis paralysis….but it’s important that we feel comfortable to test and learn, test and learn. That only happens when we take action. Thank you.

Where to find Carrie Kerpen

Thank you Carrie.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

Creator Economy Expo
May 5th - 7th in Cleveland, Ohio

Join bloggers, podcasters, authors, newsletter writers, speakers, coaches and consultants, freelancers, and YouTubers at THE learning and networking event for content entrepreneurs.

Read our interview with Joe Pulizzi, Content, Inc. – Revised Edition