Ep. 138 – Shama Hyder: “It’s lonely at the top only if you were also lonely at the bottom”
Shama Hyder Show Notes
Shama Hyder is a trailblazing, award-winning entrepreneur who has built a global audience and is known for helping brands succeed in the digital age.
Shama is a visionary strategist for the digital age, a web and TV personality, a bestselling author, and the award-winning CEO of Zen Media – a global marketing and digital PR firm. She has been named the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com.
Shama has also been honored at both the White House and The United Nations as one of the top 100 young entrepreneurs in the country.
Shama is the bestselling author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing, now in its 4th edition and Momentum: How to Propel Your Marketing and Transform Your Brand in the Digital Age.
As a result of her success, Shama has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Technology Titan Emerging Company CEO award. She was named one of the “Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25” by Business Week, one of the “Top 30 Under 30” Entrepreneurs in America by Inc. Magazine, and to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list and more.
Most passionate about
I’m passionate about marketing. I’ve always been passionate about marketing. But today is another stage; when starting something new, you have more passion than experience, with time the experience catches up with the passion. The passion remains strong, but definitely takes you to another level. That’s where I am today.
Running Zen Media is very exciting for 2020, and there are many exciting kinds of stuff on the horizon.
I started my company when I was 22, right after my graduation. Part of not having a job in an organization then was that, there weren’t many organizations that specialized in social media and digital media. And at the same time, it was also the time of recession in the US and jobs were even more limited than usual.
I started with digital marketing. I saw the difference between us, and the traditional organizations that had to pivot and start learning the digital language. The fluency that is required has always been very native to us.
I love what we are doing today; we work with B2B clients around the world, delivering everything from launches to influential marketing, and digital PR. We combine passion and delivering, so every day is a mix of technology and communication.
We work with different types of clients because they’re attracted to us, but we focus more on B2B, and there is a big difference in the way companies do business. A big part of what we do is helping our customers to gain a reputation and attract more customers to them.
Shama’s best advice about approaching customers
My best advice is always to treat customers like they were the first. At some point in any entrepreneur’s career, things that were challenging become a lot easier, and it’s very important to keep innovating and to keep having that beginner mindset, to celebrate successes and to treat every customer like there were the first.
We live in such a world where, rather than trying to hide, it’s better to be as transparent as possible. I don’t treat any of my advice as a secret; I educate my competitors about new things. I always share.
Biggest failure with a customer
Part of that is thinking your customers are just like you. It’s a very easy mistake to make. I’m a reader I love to read and we produce a lot of content on our site, and I didn’t think about the fact that maybe not everyone likes to read. I never thought people would prefer watching videos over reading, but when I started shooting videos we were amazed to see how many people watch them. I was a little surprised, I thought ‘there is no way people would like watching videos more than reading books.’
To me, it was a moment to say ‘it’s not just about how you see the world, it’s really important to know how customers see it, and it may not always be what you think!’
My greatest failures have been in the area of hiring and firing and learning how to build a good team. When I started, I was really good at marketing and everything around that, and I assumed that I would be good at everything that goes with it. You don’t really learn these things, nobody teaches me that, it’s not thought in a class…
I had to work on that and figure out how one could build a great team, how do you motivate, and engage with people and get them excited, how do you recruit good people and contribute to their success.
I would say I was not a good boss. I feel like today I’m a much better boss than I was in the past… because you don’t know what you don’t know. And I do wish I would start learning that sooner.
Biggest success due to the right customer approach
I think the greatest successes are those we make with our clients. Most recently, I was really proud of a client that wanted to do something for their business customers, and we collaborated with them and came out with a ‘Biz-Mobil” concept, a business center on four wheels.
The most exciting thing about that was that it was very successful. I love it when you can achieve triple wins, and for me, triple wins are when you are able to help your clients, and they are able to help their clients and their clients are able to expand their business. When you’re doing your part well, there is a ‘Domino effect’ which is so powerful.
Recommendation of a tool for customer focus, marketing, or sales:
Slack is one of our favorites because we are a remote team. If you are a team of more than three people and you aren’t using Slack, you definitely need to use it. It’s built for businesses, and it’s a great tool.
The second tool most people aren’t familiar with is, Content in Motion by Olapic, and it’s a content platform for all your organizational things, whenever I find something that is interesting for me or engaging, I save it in the Content in Motion platform.
Shama’s key success factor
The thing that helps me and really motivates me on a daily basis is that, I love to contribute, I love to give back. For me, that’s a big driver, the way I do business, the way I am with my family, all contribute to our success. I feel like generosity is a strategy.
Since we believe that the best way for entrepreneurs to get a fast, big, and sustainable success is by leading your (new) market category, and the entire entrepreneurial journey reminds me of mountaineering, or conquering the mountain; I want to ask you if there is a mountain you dream of climbing or a mountain you have already climbed?
I don’t think that I’m a big mountain climber, but one of my favorite songs has to do with mountains. It’s called “The Climb” or ‘There will always be another mountain by Miley Cyrus. And it says, “There’s always gonna be another mountain. I’m always gonna wanna make it move.” And that’s so true. As an entrepreneur, whatever you do, I think it’s so important to enjoy the journey.
If you feel like that when you’ll get more, you’ll be happier you’re not kidding yourself.
You know, there is an adage – It’s lonely at the top, I think that’s true but only if you were also lonely at the bottom.
I’m constantly looking for what my next goal, my next challenge.
For me, it’s always about realizing that the bar is going to keep moving and asking myself if I am also fully enjoying the journey.