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Mary Nice, digital marketer + leadership & business coach

We’re so excited to announce The Art of Sway, a podcast that brings you inside the world of marketing as seen through the lens of influence. This has been quite the project for us, and we’re thrilled to offer the first of many episodes to come!

Each week, our CEO and host Danielle Wiley sparks candid conversations with industry insiders and influential tastemakers, in order to uncover all the ways influence impacts our work, our lifestyles, and the choices we make.

Our first episode features creator/consultant Mary Nice, and we got into a great discussion that ranged from TikTok’s unique vibe to all the tricky ways gender conditioning can influence women in the workplace. We loved making this episode, and we hope you enjoy it too!

A few standout moments:

  • (5:16) Mary shares the maybe-surprising reason she started on TikTok
  • (8:52) Changing the world, one workplace at a time: how the environments we build can affect all aspects of our lives
  • (10:20) Gender disparities in the workplace, and being told to “be friendlier” as a woman
  • (12:08) Danielle and Mary wrap things up with a provocative talk about gender conditioning and the value of being aware of these all-too-influential patterns

Scroll down for a full show transcript!

Mary Nice
Danielle Wiley
Mary Nice, digital marketer + leadership & business coach

Episode 1: Mary Nice Transcript

Danielle Wiley: Welcome to The Art of Sway. This is a podcast that brings you inside the world of marketing through the lens of influence. I’m your host, Danielle Wiley. Each week through candid conversations with industry insiders, we will uncover how influencer marketing is making an impact across all consumer buying habits and is changing the way we talk to each other. Let’s dive in.

Talking with Mary Nice is always such a pleasure, but I have known Mary for a very, very long time, and it’s always just a thrill to see how amazing the people that I care about have done with their lives both personally and professionally and Mary has really, really been killing it professionally. I hope you guys love this conversation that we have. We cover a bunch of topics, including how and why Mary became an influencer, why TikTok was a less scary platform for her when she was just starting out in her influencer journey and then some really great, great conversations about the tricky ways that gender related social conditioning can really screw us over at work. This was a great conversation. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Here you go.

Mary Nice is a highly sought-after leading marketing strategist and international keynote and workshop speaker who has led digital marketing programs for prestigious international companies, including the Walt Disney Company, Unilever, Kraft Foods and Kimberly Clark. Before starting her own consulting practice, Mary was digital marketing director at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, where she led a range of innovative digital initiatives, including overseeing the park’s digital marketing strategy, establishing the digital marketing analytics practice and starting the first social media listening program for the Walt Disney Company.

Previously, Mary was an early member of the digital practice at Edelman, which is where we met. While at Edelman, Mary worked on various projects for international corporate clients, such as Ben & Jerry’s and SE Johnson among others. So, as I mentioned, Edelman is where we first met. We were both working in digital. You had the unfortunate job as intern for my husband. You always tell me it’s not unfortunate, but-

Mary Nice: It’s not unfortunate.

Danielle Wiley: … but since that time we’ve actually worked on projects at Sway Group and kept in touch. And you were actually an early babysitter of my kids. So you are very special to the whole Wiley family and we are so happy to have you here today.

Mary Nice: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Danielle Wiley: So let’s dive into this. So I wanted to talk about your journey to becoming an influencer, but so why don’t we talk a little bit… So we know that you were at Edelman and then you went to Walt Disney Company and then you became a consultant and strategist. So if you want to talk a little bit about that journey, but then specifically about how that has transitioned into you actually becoming an influencer yourself.

Mary Nice: Sure, sure. Which is so weird to hear people talk about me as an influencer. I was raised in the digital marketing sphere of my career, and I took a job at Disney leading digital marketing strategy. I knew immediately when I went in house that I was made for the consulting world. I think as you get further along in your career, you pretty much are built for agency or you’re built for in-house. For me, I felt like I was built for agency world.

So I started my own business and I had that business, which I still have today six or seven years later, but it took a turn about a year ago, and this is one of those kind of life moments that just happens and I found myself in the hospital with a slipped disc that I had to have surgery on.

I woke up from surgery and I had to stay in the hospital for a few days and I just was scrolling my phone, thinking, “I have something to say. I have things that I want to get out there.” And I’ve always been hesitant to do that because I’m scared of what people will think. I’m scared that especially in my work circles, they’ll think that I think I know better than they do, or they think that I am conceited or, fill in the blank of all those stories that go through your head. I was sitting in my hospital bed thinking, “You know what? Screw this. I’m tired of playing small and being the second in my life to all of these other people that I’m playing for.”

So I just started and we can talk later about the different topics that I talk about, but I just started. And all of a sudden, a few weeks later I was scrolling my phone and it was like 100,000 views, 200,000 views, 300… It was on TikTok. So I started actually on TikTok because it was a little bit more of a safety net for me, because my people weren’t necessarily there. It’s a little bit easier to be anonymous on TikTok. Whereas on Instagram and LinkedIn, those were the people that I was worried the most about what they thought. For some reason, the whole stranger dude and mom’s basement who likes to comment on how white my teeth are or what have you, that doesn’t bother me.

Danielle Wiley: I’m so much more nervous getting in front of one person and speaking, but put me in front of a hundred people who I don’t know, I’ll say anything when I-

Mary Nice: A hundred percent. Yeah, yeah. A hundred percent, a hundred percent. So I just started and I never expected anything of it. More than anything, it was a step for me to really believe in myself and believe in my message and then everything else came after that. So I never really sought to influence if you will, but it just happened.

Danielle Wiley: One of the things that’s kind of fascinated me as I’ve watched this journey over the past year is, how organized it seems. You have so many great topics and your newsletters, which you send out via LinkedIn, are so deep and rich and researched. Tell me a little bit about that process of the content planning and what goes where and how you determine which platform and how far out in advance are you? To me, it’s kind of easier being a CEO than being an influencer.

Mary Nice: It’s really interesting. I feel like I’ve learned a lot just about myself and the type of work I enjoy through this, but early on, it was pretty fly by the seat of my pants. Then I went through this period where I started approaching myself a little bit more like I approached my clients. Like, we’re going to do a content strategy, we’re going to do planning, we’re going to see how it all connects together. We’re going to take one thing and da, da, da, da. And I’ll be honest with you, for me, it feels way too formula-ey and it felt like I was actually getting a little bit away from what I loved and the heart of it.

So, I’m in this process right now of trying to figure out how to reconcile those two. But you mentioned my email and that’s where a lot of my content comes from. Through this process, I really learned that I love deep research. That’s not surprising given I’ve run the analytics practice at Disney for digital and social and I do a lot of analytics works, but I love research, finding nuggets and figuring out how to string that story together.

I think the reason why I pour my heart into those emails is, because it’s the longest form where I can say, “This thing can’t be solved in 15 seconds. You need to know everything that’s happening in your brain, everything that you have been conditioned to [inaudible 00:08:08] so then you can see that path forward.” We can’t really get to that in 15 seconds, but you definitely can get closer to it in email.

Danielle Wiley: I know everything about what you talk about and write about, because I get your newsletter. I’m one of the old people who watches you on Instagram, not TikTok, but why don’t you take this opportunity and tell us a little bit about who your audience is and what you are talking about on all these platforms?

Mary Nice: Sure, sure. So I am endlessly fascinated at how neurologically we are wired, how we are conditioned and then just the innate kind of who we are and what we want, how all that comes together in the workplace. And I’m really passionate that work and careers and jobs and the environments that we build in those areas can really not only propel us forward and help us achieve our dreams, but can make the world a better place.

If our workplaces are solid, our workplaces are connected, our workplaces are places where we learn to be human together, then our world is going to be a better place. We’ve just gotten so far away from that so I use these platforms to really explore topics of just how to make work come alive, whether that’s productivity, whether that’s managing people better, whether that’s learning how to be managed, all of those topics.

Danielle Wiley: I’m super fascinated in how these issues are different or actually exist for women when they might not for men and the difference in the genders. When we talk about some of these issues, especially in the workplace. What have you seen?

Mary Nice: I think it’s absolutely different. It doesn’t mean that men don’t have their fair share of issues because I know that they do, but when it comes to women and especially the performance of it all and the pleasing of it all and the need to play small and the conditioning to play small, I think that plays such a role for women in the workforce that just isn’t as present for men. It’s not necessarily a good or bad thing. It just is what it is.

Danielle Wiley: I think it’s a double whammy too, because on the one hand, we have the conditioning that’s telling us to stay small, but on the other hand, and I saw this, I actually saw this a lot at Edelman because I did work with my husband similar levels and just looking at pay disparities, which I got to see because I was married to him.

Second of all, just the way men can say something and how it’s perceived and just seeing how other people react to what comes out of a woman’s mouth versus what comes out of a man’s mouth and the way that it’s said. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that I need to try to be nicer or I was being too harsh, or I need to dial back my feedback, or… I think there’s just certain messaging that women receive that just helps to reinforce that conditioning.

Mary Nice: A hundred percent. I think about it too. This is why I’m so passionate about integrating the conditioning on both sides, but also what that conditioning does to our brains, because just as we have been conditioned to play small, to be second fiddle, to think that we need to please everybody, men have been conditioned in another way. Society has conditioned them in another way and so all of us have these patterns that are running deep in our brains, that if you really get to the heart of the matter, a lot of times there’s maliciousness behind it, for sure, but many times there’s not. And there’s just not a knowledge of what is happening.

So if we can empower people to understand the humanity of it and what physiologically is happening to us in these moments, then we can see it happening, take a step back, and everybody can talk about it from an even playing field.

My biggest challenges have been with women in the workplace, because I feel like a lot of times with men, if you bring it up, they’ll be like, “Oh, I didn’t know I was doing it.” If you bring it up to a woman, it totally just crushes their whole identity. It’s not as easy as somehow the literature and the topics on Forbes or the Inc magazines make it out to be. It’s a lot deeper.

Danielle Wiley: I frequently say to myself as I look at competitors and in the space and I think, especially in my industry, a lot of my competitors are women-owned businesses and we don’t talk to each other. There’s just the different vibe there. Then I look at PR where I came from, where most of the CEOs or founders are men and they talk to each other and they golf with each other. It’s still competitive, but there’s a relationship there that I think as women, we’ve been conditioned out of-

Mary Nice: Because we’ve had to freaking claw our ways to owning our own businesses and you’re like, “Wait a second. If I stand down for one second, is this all going to crumble?” It’s like we’re all in this house of cards.

That’s why I find women groups so empowering and encouraging and masterminds and things like that, where you can just really ideate because I find my best business propelling ideas definitely come from my women relationships.

Danielle Wiley: Okay. So you did something very exciting. I think you went last month, was it, but you did some sponsored work, at Business Insider-Lenovo collaboration.

Mary Nice: Mm-hmm.

Danielle Wiley: Tell us how that came about, what that felt like to suddenly be sponsored and-

Mary Nice: It’s crazy.

Danielle Wiley: … made it to the big time.

Mary Nice: Made it to the big leagues, baby. Well, so throughout this, as my following continued to grow, I’d get random emails like, “Do you want to work with us?” Da, da, da, da, da, da, da. And I’ve got my business. I’m doing coaching. I’ve just got a lot going on, so typically I ignore them or I write back and I’m like, “Hey, I just can’t do it right now.”

I’m also really protective of my community. So I’m really choosy about who I’ll put in front of them. Well, I got this email from Business Insider saying, “Hey, will you be the talent,” it still makes me laugh, “Will you be the talent in this video shoot for… ?” It was a Lenovo Verizon partnership. I was like, “Okay, this feels like something.” I think I texted you, and I was like, “This feels like something. Right?” So yeah, it was great.

So The Insider is the parent company of Business Insider. They actually have a content creation agency within the company and Lenovo and Verizon’s media partner actually did this buy with Business Insider for a new laptop that Lenovo was putting out that actually has 5G Verizon integrated into it, which is freaking cool. You don’t have to have wifi.

Danielle Wiley: Awesome.

Mary Nice: I know. I was like, and the computer is totally legit, but yeah, I went to New York. I had filmed three videos for them. There was hair and makeup. There were all these agencies there and in my brain, I’m like, because I come from the marketing background. Obviously, I’m like, “That agency is this much. That agency costs this much.” And I’m like, “Y’all are spending how much?” But it was so fun. And I’m really happy with how they turned out.

I asked the client from Lenovo, “Why did you want me in it?” She was like, “When you deliver a message, I think people really listen to you.” So it just felt so good and reassuring. I just was so flattered, I guess.

Danielle Wiley: We should hire you to do a video for Sway Group, because you just-

Mary Nice: Done.

Danielle Wiley: … spoke to our whole, just the authenticity of an actual people or influencers because they’re coming from an authentic space and truly have a recommendation and it fits within their life and it doesn’t seem like a total non-sequiter for them to be talking-

Mary Nice: Right.

Danielle Wiley: … about this product or service.

Mary Nice: It made me just even expand how I even thought about it, because they didn’t even want me for my channels or my following. They wanted me because people see through the baloney of advertising. They know if a person sitting there is talent hired from a talent agency or actually knows this space.

Danielle Wiley: So this is a question that we’re going to be asking all of our guests and I am curious to know what your favorite commercial was when you were a kid.

Mary Nice: So I’m like a nineties kid, but the game Mall Madness. It was this board game that… This is what I’m talking about, the dang conditioning of women. It was this board game and you got a real credit card and you got some money and you went around the mall and you bought stuff. It was like, I’m trying to think of the same song. [Singing]. Then on the commercial, it said, “Only withdrawals, no deposits.”

So it’s basically like, “Hey 10 year old girl, you are a conditioned. Spending money at the mall makes you happy.” So I was listening to the commercial and the rhetoric behind it, and I’m like, “You get a real credit card and cash, all withdrawals, no deposits.” Isn’t that awful?

Danielle Wiley: Well yes, absolutely. Totally awful, but-

Mary Nice: So fun.

Danielle Wiley: Little me in the eighties would’ve loved that game.

Mary Nice: It was so fun. It was so fun. So that’s the one that-

Danielle Wiley: And how do you win?

Mary Nice: I don’t even remember-

Danielle Wiley: You buy the most?

Mary Nice: … how you win. It’s… You probably buy the most and it would be like, so it has this speaker announcer. It’d be like, “There’s a sale at Sunny’s Jewelry Shop 50% off.” And you’d like run over, figure out how to run over. [inaudible] Terrible.

Danielle Wiley: Well, my favorite commercial was Murphy’s Oil.

Mary Nice: Oh.

Danielle Wiley: A cleaning product-

Mary Nice: Surprise, surprise.

Danielle Wiley: … which is sad.

Mary Nice: Don’t be [inaudible]-

Danielle Wiley: But it had a good jingle.

Mary Nice: It had a good jingle? What was the jingle?

Danielle Wiley: [Singing]. Oh, and it goes back.

Mary Nice: Okay. See, that’s a good jingle. See, that’s a good jingle.

Danielle Wiley: It’s a good thing.

Mary Nice: It’s a good product too.

Danielle Wiley: Well, this was amazing. I want to thank you for being my first guest.

Mary Nice: Absolutely. I’m honored. I’m honored.

Danielle Wiley: I also wanted to remind everyone to follow Mary on, you are on both Instagram and TikTok and your handle is @verymarynice. What’s the best way for people to find you on LinkedIn so they can subscribe to your newsletter?

Mary Nice: Just look up Mary Nice. It should come up.

Danielle Wiley: Okay. Perfect. For the listeners out there, don’t forget to share and follow The Art of Sway wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.