It’s our pleasure to launch our new weekly Wednesday Wisdom Spotlight Series with MogulMoxie® Maven Emma Singletary Battle.
Starting with this interview, MogulMoxie.com will feature the story of an inspiring woman who is walking in her purpose and transforming lives along the week.
Today, we feature Emma Singletary Battle. Emma is an extraordinary wife, mom, family member (she’s TC Cooper’s cousin) and corporate executive turned entrepreneur. Open your heart and your mind … then get ready to be inspired by Emma’s incredible journey.
Emma is a graduate of the prestigious St. Mark’s School (Southborough, Massachusetts), where she attended high school. She earned her Bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Spanish from Duke University and her MBA from Harvard Business School. She is the founder and CEO of MarketVigor.
Let’s start with your thoughts on one of our favorite words: ambition. What does ambition mean to you? What role has it played in your life?
“Googling ‘ambition’ turns up this definition: ‘a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.’ That’s the positive way to look at it, but a confident, ambitious woman is sometimes perceived as pushy or overbearing. I’ve certainly experienced both positive and negative perceptions over the course of my career. My high school’s Latin motto; ‘age quod agis’ or ‘do what you do well’ best describes my personal definition of ambition.”
Awesome! It’s true that women are often unfairly perceived in a negative light when they exhibit ambition. We working here at MogulMoxie.com to help change this! Let’s move to your career. Tell us about it.
“I started my working career at the age of 8 handling tobacco leaves on my grandfather’s farm in Hemingway, SC. Working hard in very hot sun with large, icky, green tobacco worms waiting to crawl up the back of my neck is what makes categorize this as my first work experience.
After working successfully with several other companies, including Quaker Oats Company (now Pepsi Co.) and Sara Lee Branded Apparel (now Hanesbrands). During my corporate tenure, I developed the Hanes Casualwear digital strategy and fell in love with all things Internet. I was also honored with an amazing opportunity to join an eMarketplace start-up that Sara Lee had invested in and from that point forward, I was hooked on the entrepreneurial and dynamic world of tech enabled start-ups.
I started my company MarketVigor in 2003 under the name IYSIS Business Services. “IYSIS” is an acronym for; “If You Succeed, I Succeed”. My vision was to provide consulting services as a partnership rather than a for-fee service. I began as a single consultant providing strategy and marketing solutions for B2B and B2C companies. Over the past 14 years, I’ve alternated between taking on challenging assignments at interesting companies and operating the business. In 2014, my husband joined me and I added several subcontractors to expand from strategy, planning, and analytics to digital advertising, social media advertising, and email marketing execution.”
How interesting! Your journey is a powerful reminder that there are many paths to successful entrepreneurship and business ownership. Tell us about a typical day in your work life.
“On a typical day I wake up between 5:00 am and 6:00 am, check my phone apps, and head out for an hour of exercise. It is very important for me to get my exercise in first thing in the morning or I feel out of sorts the rest of the day. To do so, I try to make sure that my earliest meeting is at 9:30 am.”
“In between meetings I work on administrative tasks. I often work while having lunch, but am trying to schedule more lunchtime networking events. My work day takes a break around 6:00pm for dinner. After dinner, I check my email and follow-up on my to-do list. My after-dinner routine can go late if I have a lot to do, or I may decide to wake up before 5:00 am to finish. I find that if I go to bed with something not quite done, I will naturally wake up early thinking about it.”
What motivates you to get things done?
“Solving puzzling business challenges motivates me. I enjoy creating order out of chaos, fixing what’s broken, optimizing what isn’t broken, and finding solutions to complex strategic questions. In the end, I want to win.”
We love this! This perspective certainly requires confidence. Have you ever struggled with confidence?
“I struggled with confidence at a very critical time in my career. I had just been promoted to Vice President of Marketing at HanesBrands and found myself in a very political situation. My new boss told me that he thought I got the position because I had ‘over-networked’. He even put this criticism in my performance review as an area that I needed to work on. I had never heard of ‘over-networking’ and I felt shocked and devastated.”
“I stopped seeking out opportunities to play golf with executives or meet decision makers for lunch. I was paranoid about some of the influential friends I had and found myself spending less time with them so that I would not be accused of being the beneficiary of favoritism. Of course, this was the exact wrong thing to do, but I did not have good mentors to help me navigate this temporary setback.”
“Thankfully I moved past this, and when I see others who are limiting themselves to soothe the ego of others, I quickly offer my support, guidance, and advice to help them move past it too.”
The idea that a businesswoman can somehow ‘over-network’ is an example of the double standard so many women face in corporate america. Thank for sharing how you conquered this obstacle. In the spirit of conquering, what have you accomplished, created, or built that makes you the most proud?
“My proudest career accomplishment was rallying my team to turn around the Asheboro textile plant and save 500 jobs for many years.
During the height of NAFTA, when so many sewing and textile operations were moving offshore, HanesBrands was planning to close the Asheboro, NC plant while I was the plant manager. We were the smallest textile plant and scheduled to close due to our cost-per-unit being higher than other, larger textile plants.
After I shared our fate with them, they felt that we were close enough in unit cost to save the plant. So, we worked to optimize operations, add another shift and schedule overtime to prove that with more operational hours the plant could meet, or beat, the unit costs of the other plants. It worked. Despite still being much smaller in volume, we got the Asheboro unit-cost below that of the other plants and staved off plant closure for many years. It was a very challenging and extremely rewarding experience.”
Wow! Congratulations, Emma! Thank you for sharing your journey to “here” with us. How can our readers keep up with you?
Emma’s journey is filled with so many golden nuggets of wisdom. Here are two that you can implement into your personal life right away, starting today!
• Never limit your ambition, passion and work ethic to make others feel comfortable with their mediocrity. After being criticized for ‘over-networking’, Emma had to re-build her confidence the hard way because she didn’t have access to good mentors.
• Find creative solutions to overcome setbacks. Emma saved 500 jobs by rallying her team and lowering their plant’s cost-per-unit.