Comms from the Shed: interviewing diverse voices on our present and the future.

Episode 4: We talk to author, businesswoman, entrepreneur and former Director of Marketing & Comms for Intel, Monique Hayward - about balancing multiple opportunities in a time of coronavirus.

Episode Summary

Author, businesswoman, motivational speaker and formerly the Director of Marketing & Communications for Intel. Inspired by her grandmother's entrepreneurial spirit in the New York of her youth, Monique has published two books: Divas Doing Business and Get Your Hustle On! She shares her thoughts on the Tech sector, a Hollywood A-lister mentor, and balancing the demands of corporate America while running your own business in a time of coronavirus.

Episode Notes

Inspired by her grandmother's entrepreneurial spirit in the New York of her youth, Monique has published two books: Divas Doing Business and Get Your Hustle On! She shares her thoughts on career opportunities in 2021, the Tech sector, a Hollywood A-lister mentor, and balancing the demands of corporate America while running your own business in a time of coronavirus.



Show summary & chapters

1mins38secs - My biggest challenge in the last 12 months.

3mins - A new era of career possibility.

4mins38s - Growth of the Tech industry during Covid-19.

6mins30s - A golden age for entrepreneurs, and investing in the downturn. "Your home is your new favourite restaurant".

8mins45s - From South Carolina to NYC - and being inspired in grandma's Beauty Salon.

12mins - Grits and eggs, and being mentored by Morgan.

15mins - Draw on diverse business acumen to balance the side-hustle in corporate America.

20mins - Still learning and trying to stay ahead of the curve.

22mins - Future of work, and the potential recovery in the United States.

24mins10s - An unusual fact about Monique.

25mins45s - a two week spell in McDonald's?

26mins44s - Careers, self-care and what comes next.

Episode Transcription

My name is Sam Bleazard. Welcome to Comms from the Shed, the interview show where you get to hear from a range of diverse and interesting voices on how they've coped during the global pandemic. 

In this series will be taking an informal look at life, talking to people who've been doing incredible things and asking them about their hopes for the future, in both their personal and professional lives. Hope you enjoy it.

On today's episode of Comms from the Shed, we welcome a female entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, who was the Director of Marketing and Communications at Intel. She's published two books, Divas Doing Business and Get Your Hustle On! And not only that, she's opened a restaurant in her hometown of Oregon. Monique Hayward thanks for joining us today. 

Yes, thank you so much, Sam. It's lovely to be with you. I am intrigued by Comms from the Shed. 

Welcome virtually to the shed. It's like the Tardis. 

I think it's pretty late in the day for you. It's early in the day for me. 

The sun is setting on the shed. Hopefully, that's not too scary a metaphor to start our conversation with. I wanted to ask you – because part of the reason behind Comms from the Shed was all about speaking to a range of diverse and interesting people and trying to articulate what this has felt like in the last 12 to 14 months of the global pandemic - so what would you say are the biggest challenges you faced into during the last 12 months? 

Sure, that's a fantastic way to start. I have had a challenge, right? In fact, I wound up in a situation where I took a job with the new company and within 6-7 months of joining that new company wound up in a situation where we had a change in leadership, and a change in direction and strategy that directly affected me and the 22 people who were in my marketing and communications organisation. I wasn't expecting that, and needless to say, to be looking for a job so soon after taking a new job, but it's actually given me pause because even when the fire was raging at the time - this is back in July/August when this happened, I decided that I would take a step back. How is it that I want to re-emerge from all this challenge and sort all these obstacles that have been put in the way with the pandemic. It was also about learning how to work from home and learning how to manage teams remotely and learning how to be effective in the relationships that we're trying to build - especially when you're used to being in the office and catching people on breaks or catching them in the hallway. Now you have to legislate for that through Microsoft Teams or Zoom. 

And how do you think remote working is influencing the way people think about the next career move? 

The world has opened in terms of career possibility and career opportunity. As organisations have realised that the technology infrastructure does have the capability to support people working from anywhere, anytime, in any capacity - in far reaching places that you could not have sourced before This proves that you can be just as effective or even more productive and effective working remotely in some cases than being, you know, stuck in an office five days a week for 40 hours a week. So, I think that gives us more choice. It gives us more flexibility to seek out companies or organisations that we may not have even considered because it was in another place or in another industry or in another capacity that we weren't even anticipating. 

Yeah, absolutely. You mentioned the Tech industry there, and you've spent over 20 years working at Intel. I just wondered what you thought about Covid 19 because, in some quarters there was some scepticism about the rise of global tech companies prior to the pandemic happening. But do you think covid 19 was the making of Tech, and did the crisis seal the deal? 

I think that for the technology industry in general, the likes of Intel, Microsoft, HP, Cisco, Workday, Facebook, Google, Amazon - everybody has a role to play in how we take advantage of the remote infrastructure to come out a winner in all of this. And I guess we could have a conversation about you know, whether or not these tech companies are too big or that they have too much power or too much influence. But at the end of the day, we all use them, and we all take advantage of the infrastructure that has been built. I don't think that there's anybody on this planet who thinks that they can live without the Internet or live without their PC or live without their phone. It's put in stark relief that this is an essential part of our lives and an essential part of how we get things done, how we do business, how we live our lives, how we how we work, how we play, how we show up and those companies have benefited for sure. 

Now I think it's fair to say that you're known as a pretty entrepreneurial person and a very entrepreneurial sort of spirit. I remember when the pandemic kicked in, certainly in the UK there was a feeling that you'd be crazy to start a business right now. You know, the high street was closing down and people were being put on furlough. And all those things that happened when we went into crisis mode. I'm starting to sense a different view of entrepreneurs and that kind of entrepreneurial spirit 12 months on. What's your feeling about it, as somebody who has started businesses yourself? Is this Is this a kind of golden age for entrepreneurs, or anyone's started one, or maybe even just thinking of opening a business? 

I think this is a fantastic time to be thinking about entrepreneurship, if that is in your plan. Like you said, I've started multiple businesses over the last 15 years or so, and I have a venture right now with my business partner down in Phoenix, Arizona. It's a personal chef company. We actually launched our business at the end of 2019 and oh, my gosh within a very short time here comes the lockdown, the stay-at-home orders. What we decided to do, as I think a lot of entrepreneurs do if they're thinking clearly, strategically and rationally about the situation – we asked the Q why did we start this business in the first place? What is it that we can do to ensure that this business is going to survive? As a personal chef service for clients who were not too keen on going to restaurants, I decided to invest heavily in marketing because that's what a lot of people don't wind up doing when they're going through a crisis or going through a downturn. They actually start to cut back on those kinds of investments. So, I said, you know what, I'm going to actually invest in marketing, communications and brand building. And one thing that I came up with as positioning around the new marketing strategy was - “your home is your new favourite restaurant”, and that was super simple. People can get it because in the context the pandemic, with restaurants being at half capacity, with all the sanitation measures they have to take on board, the fact is that you have to wear a mask. It affects how you experience that stuff, so we figured we could enter your home and do it safely, do it securely and give you a memorable experience that you'll be talking about for the rest of your life. Maybe something that you couldn't even get in a fine dining restaurant because of all of the constraints that those entrepreneurs found themselves in. 

You graduated in journalism and you did an MBA in marketing. What was life like for you growing up - where do you think you got the entrepreneurial spirit to start your own business? Who were your inspirations growing up? 

I split my childhood between New York City and Columbia, South Carolina, and I moved from New York when my parents got divorced when I was, 9, 10 years old. But we would go back to the city for the summer to visit my grandparents. My grandmother was an entrepreneur, and she also had a day job as a nurse. My grandmother would do that she would do her nursing job at the hospital where she worked at in New York and she would work overnight. And then she would drive from Queens into Manhattan, where her beauty salon was, and so she would work at the beauty salon all day, and then she would come home late in the day. You know, say 6,7 o'clock in the evening, she would, uh, fix herself dinner, taking a nap basically, you know, sleep for about four or five hours and then get up and do everything all over again. So, when my brother and I would visit in the summers, she would take us to her beauty salon, and we would sit there and, you know, listen to all kind of the beauty shop banter, you know, do various chores with my grandma. And, you know, she would make us sit there for hours and hours because, you know, we were in our teens and we couldn't really go anywhere do anything on our own. I never really sort of appreciated all of that. I was kind of bored and, you know, sort of like, why is my grandmother making me sit here? But then as I got older, and as I thought about where I was with my career, when I was in my late twenties, early thirties and wasn't entirely satisfied or fulfilled - I felt like, you know, I needed to fill in that gap. And so, I went back to that inspiration with my grandmother and was like, well, you know, my grandmother held down her job and her career, and she also started a business, and she didn't kill herself doing it, really? So maybe I could do that. 

I was just going to say, sounds fantastic. I just wonder if you remember any of the characters from those days?

Oh, yeah. It's so funny because, you know, a black beauty shop is a cultural icon in and of itself. So all these women who came in were kind of like…this is the eighties, right, so this is old school. The beauty shop was in Harlem and there was quite the cast of characters who would come through, who would want their hair straightened, or they want their hair put in curls or, you know you would have the iconic image of, you know the woman sitting under the dryer. Yeah, it was quite fun. 

It sounds like a tremendous amount of fun. 

Yeah, conversation always centred around politics. You know what was happening with the neighbourhood. You know, who is involved with who and, who's got this and who's got that. And then, of course, there was always someone you got to go run your numbers. Yeah, because, you know, everybody was into their little side hustle gambling thing. That was pretty hilarious, too. 

You mentioned the side hustle, and that's certainly something you cultivated in your own life. And I know that when you put out your book ‘Divas Doing Business’, you had a brush with a very famous actor - because the foreword is by Morgan Freeman, who I know many, many people will know as being part of the Hollywood elite. So, I just wondered how your brush with Morgan Freeman came about?

Morgan Freeman is an amazing human being, and the man that you see on screen is the man in person. I've had the good fortune of calling him a friend and an adviser, a mentor for many years now. And I met him when I was working at Intel, when I was the marketing and communications manager for our global diversity organisation. I hired Morgan to do a spokesperson gig for an event that we were doing in Atlanta. So, I was like, hey, you know what I'll step up and be Morgan Freeman's personal assistant for the day. Why not? And so, I did all the super sleuthing that I needed to do to understand who he was and his background, and all that good stuff, because at the time I wasn't a super-duper Morgan Freeman fan. I know that sounds like heresy coming from somebody like me, but I wasn't stalking him. I wasn't watching all of his movies. I certainly appreciated him and his talent and for being an iconic actor at the time, but I wasn't his number one fan. When I found out about him, and his career, what was really interesting was that he, too, had a side hustle. And he was a restaurant owner at the same time that I was a restaurant owner. And so that's how he and I connected when we met for the event in Atlanta. We started a conversation, and we were having this conversation over grits and eggs at the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta, and he was just wanting to know more about me and what I was up to - my background and my experience. And when he asked me those questions, I got the opportunity to ask him about his background and started to really engage with him on his entrepreneurial pursuits and how he was investing in restaurants and other businesses that were building community in places that he cared about. And so that's how the relationship was born. And it's been really fruitful ever since. He's an amazing confidante, an amazing mentor and someone who I have always admired and looked up to you ever since. 

That sounds fantastic in terms of the side hustle. How important has that been? And for maintaining balance in your life. I know you said that was it was a hell of a lot to take on, being a senior person in a major corporate organization like Intel too. What is its function in providing kind of checks and balances in your life? Having these other business opportunities, and business ideas? 

I can bring a lot of that sense and sensibility of having run my own business into a corporation, you know, have those conversations with my colleagues and with my stakeholders (and with my managers) about things that are insightful from an entrepreneurial perspective. Because a lot of times what happens, we get insulated in big companies, right? And we don't lift our heads up and look around and look outside enough of our organisations to really understand what's going on so that we can keep a finger on the pulse of what's happening in the real world. And so, having run businesses like a restaurant - and I was also a partner in a software company too - I have a personal chef company right now and you know that's real life, real people. So bringing that perspective into a big organization like an Intel or Microsoft where it works, you just give people some insight, some knowledge and some perspective that they don't necessarily get by way of interacting with the folks who they talk to on a daily basis in corporate America. Be creative with constraints because, you know, when you have a small business you're on the hook for everything, and it's your investment. It's your time. It's your energy. 

Do you think one almost feeds the other? So, I guess the entrepreneurial spirit can give the Corporate America boost. And I guess the solidity of corporate America can help you with the business plan and the marketing and promotion of something. Would you say that's fair? Can they be kind of self-perpetuating things that are in balance? 

A lot of my experience in corporate America informs how I run my small businesses, and so for me, having worked in large companies and having run big marketing campaigns and been a chief of staff, for example, I have executive experience. It really does help when I'm having a conversation in my small business context too, you know, to be organized and to be strategic, to understand how to invest, how to how to make good decisions, and have good processes. You also have to make sure that you have the discipline that is required to make good decisions about the business and to see things through. 

No, absolutely. And I forgot to ask you earlier on, because we just happen to be talking on International Women's Day, which is the eighth of March. In terms of your inspiration from your grandmother that you mentioned there, what kind of life lessons do you think you learned from her during those experiences that you talked about back in New York? 

God rest her soul, she passed away a few years back and I think about her all the time, and I do think about her every day and the inspiration comes in three ways for me. Number one, she was determined. If she made up her mind about something that she wanted to do, she would do it. If I make up my mind and I'm heading in a direction that I believe is right, that I believe is the pathway to success. I am on it. And there is hardly anything that can get in the way of me achieving that goal. So, determination is something that my grandmother inspired in me. The second thing is speaking your mind. So my grandmother did not hold her tongue. I think I'm a little more mindful about speaking my mind in the right circles and in the right context of making sure that I, you know, listen in my head before it comes out of my mouth. So I speak my mind, but I do it in a way that is really careful and really considered. And then I think the third thing is that my grandmother gave me really good solid advice and counsel about finances. She was one of those women who just saved her money, and in her retirement lived a pretty comfortable lifestyle as a result. She also indulged in luxury, she travelled and she lived her life. She managed her money in a way that could give her the financial freedom to live the life that she wanted to live. And that is something I definitely role model. So those are the three things that I've learned from my grandma. 

Those are great lessons and certainly relevant to today. I mentioned at the top of the show that you were an entrepreneur, you've started your own businesses and you worked in marketing. I mean, what do you consider the toughest of those things? What's the most challenging thing do you think you've had to do in terms of either publishing books, starting businesses or working in leadership roles with considerable pressure. 

Well, I think all of them are tough in a way, in a way that's unique to each one. So from my corporate career standpoint, as I’ve ascended through the ranks and become senior in organisations, I find that the higher I go, the more at risk I become. That's because every organization on this planet change the way that they view their customers, change the way that they view the solutions, the services and the products that they are delivering. I’ve found that in the last five years in particular, in my career, I have been just trying to stay ahead of the next reorganization. So that's been the toughest thing I think for me, from my corporate experience. On the small business side what has been tough for me has been just finding the time and making sure that I have everything prioritised in the way that I don't let things fall by the wayside because it is tough to manage a corporate career and an entrepreneurial career. The beauty of my current venture is that I have a partner and he's got 50%. I got the other 50% and so I can handle my 50% within the hours of the day that I have. He's focused on the front end of the service delivery, the customer engagement part of it. Working with our network of chefs and bartenders and servers, he does a lot of the quote unquote hard work. I do a lot of the cerebral work, you know, and keeping things organized and making sure that our bills are paid and all that good stuff. 

People are maybe now starting to look to the future, certainly more than they were a few months ago. The future is certainly still a very unpredictable place, but what is the view of the future of work in the U. S.? 

Well, I think that there are a couple of things that are driving people's hope and optimism. The vaccination regimen is finally starting to take hold, and people are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, because it has been a long road for all of us over the last 12 months. So, I think that that's one thing. The other thing is that life is starting to look like it could potentially be back to normal within the next, you know, 4/5/6 months. That means businesses are starting to invest in bringing workers back. I know when I talk to my friends and my former colleagues and others in my network, everybody is just ready to go. I mean it could be a good time to be looking for a job because the market is starting to open up. And, you know, companies are starting to invest, and they're starting to think about where they actually cut back previously. They can start to reinvest now because they have more certainty about where the economy is going. So, yeah, there's a lot of hope and a lot of optimism among those in my circle. But I also just tend to be hopeful and optimistic as a general principle. I want to see the sunshine, please. 

Actually one question I forgot to ask, and I've done this with all of our guests so far on Comms from the Shed, so I'd like to ask you. And you can take a moment to think about this if you would like, but I'd like you to share an unusual fact about yourself that people listening might not necessarily know. People have told me about all sorts of things. They've been extras in films, they like roller-skating. I mean, is there any one quirky thing that people may not know?

One thing people may not know about me is that I worked as a commercial model for several years. So here in the Portland area, I had an agent and I would do gigs. I would show up at different auditions for parts in commercials for print advertising campaigns. I've done voiceover work as part of that as well. So yeah I had this budding kind of creative career for a while, but I had to let it go because I started my own business. And then I also started to get really busy with my corporate career, so I had to let the commercial modelling and voiceover work go. 

I know that your first job was at McDonald's, and I think to quote it was so that you ‘could buy your own things’. I think that's a very good sort of aspiration! What do what do you remember about those times and where was this? Because I worked at McDonald's myself once in West London. I have memories because I used to open up the McDonald's in Richmond. It felt like the middle of the night when I was a student. I didn't know we were going to have this in common. But what are your memories of working in the Golden Arches? 

No, right. My memory of the golden arches. Just so your listeners know, let me put this in context for you. When I worked at McDonald's, the year that I was there was the year that they introduced Chicken McNuggets. And you know what was interesting about working in McDonald’s was that I didn't really last for more than a couple of weeks. I think I was there long enough to get my first paycheck, and that was it. I couldn't handle it. I couldn't handle the grease. I couldn't handle the smell and just being around the food. Well, I mean the irony is that, 20-25 years later, I opened my own restaurant business, but yeah, I just I couldn't handle it. Oh, my God. I was just like; I can't do this. 

Excellent. I'm glad I asked you about that, because we've found some common ground there, which is which I didn't realize we had. What are your hopes for the future – and what is the next stage of your career path? 

Yeah sure - I've got three things that I'm looking at, because it's not too far into the future that I'm intending to be retired. I am going to stop working at some point! I will always have something going on because that's my side hustle nature. But the day-to-day grind is going to come to an end at some point. But until then I am seeking out my next marketing leadership role in corporate America. So we are in the throes of that as we speak. The second thing that I'm focused on in the short term is making sure that Driscoll cuisine and cocktail concepts changes the game for personal chef services in Phoenix, and continuing to grow that business with my partner, Brian Driscoll. And then I think the third thing is to really appreciate everything that I need to do to stay healthy, focus on some self-care, right? That's something that I have had to learn over the years - to take better care of myself and find those opportunities for rejuvenation, to recharge, refocus, reenergize. It's so important. I mean, if there's nothing else that our listeners who are engaged in this conversation with us today, take away - take care of yourself, because you can't do anything for yourself or anybody else if you are rundown. Find those points along the way to stay true to yourself and true to your health, for sure. 

Well, that I think that's a wonderful moment to end on. I think it's a very good summary and some hope for the future in the months and years ahead. So many thanks for talking to us today and joining us on Comms from the Shed. 

Thank you very much. My pleasure. 

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