“It’s Okay to Start Small,” Shawna Guevara from VMLY&R
Welcome to the Pass the Mic and the Defining Moment series. We’re giving powerful women the opportunity to make the world their mentee. These rockstars are joining us to share their stories and sage advice with up-and-coming women.
Meet , Campaign Program Manager of VMLY&R. Although Shawna began her career on the client-facing side of business, she shifted her focus just three years ago to the advertising world and has loved it ever since. She also works in the DEI program to support and encourage diversity both with the company and with her clients.
Shawna stopped by our podcast booth at Advertising Week New York last month. In her Pass the Mic interview, she shares her recipe for success and her philosophy for personal growth. From taking first steps to following through, the audio below is sure to motivate and inspire you.
One Step at a Time
“The only way to eat a sandwich is one bite at a time. And that is how I would suggest. Take one bite. Take one small step, whatever that looks like. Maybe it looks like getting an LLC. Maybe it looks like creating some really cool branding for yourself to get you motivated. Maybe it looks like telling your partner or your spouse what your dreams and hopes are and getting that support from them. My advice would be one step at a time, one bite at a time. Don't get so bogged down in the big picture. Sometimes it's okay to start small. Do what makes you happy. Do what motivates you. So, if working on branding for your non-existent company motivates you. I do love the fact of taking one step at a time and doing whatever that one thing is that motivates you first.” – Shawna Guevara
Get a Skill
“I have two things. I think the first would be to have belief in yourself, to have faith in yourself, to have faith in your skills. And if you feel like you don't have any skills, go get some. You know, it's just as simple as YouTube university, Google university, TikTock university, and it's just that simple. So, get a skill, something that you feel positive about, something you feel motivated about, and I think that would help yourself. You can then start saying, ’I'm really good at this and putting that out into the world.’ Putting that out into your career, into your work environment.” – Shawna Guevara
Follow Through and Focus
“I think one of the things I've learned is your path is your path. And if you make that decision to go left, or go right, or take this new client on, or try this new experiment, then stick to it. You will love the fruit of those flavors. It's going to be hard. It's going to be difficult. You're going to be stressed. But in the end, it was a decision that you made, and just follow through and focus on it. One of my words of wisdom would be, always bet on yourself. You're stronger than you know. You're smarter than you know. You're fiercer than you know. Bet on yourself, and you can't be wrong.” – Shawna Guevara
Your Network is your Net Worth
“My advice would be to follow your own path. There's no right or wrong way, and you never know who you're going to meet. And then, I do have one last thing: the power of networking. I've heard this many times, and I hate to say this to sound redundant, but your network is your net worth. And so, knowing people, genuinely knowing people, an authentic connection. I have to say that, not just knowing someone and saying, ‘Oh, hey, I know you. Okay, great. Can I use this? Can I borrow your talents for this?’ No. An authentic connection creates someone that's in your corner, someone that speaks your name in rooms that you're not even in. And that's where we all want to be. So the power of your network is very important.” – Shawna Guevara
Give Something Back
“At first, you also have to be able to bring them something. It has to be a true partnership. You can't just take, take, take, take, take. So, what is it that you can give this person? Maybe it's something as simple as just saying, ‘Hey, I know you're super busy, and I'm really good with time management. If you send me these things, I could help prioritize them for you.’ But there has to be a give and take in this relationship.
You can't just always take from your mentor. You have to be able to give something back, even if it's just something that you're knowledgeable in. So, for instance, I know how to open a job number. And it was something so simple that my mentor did not know, but I was like, ‘I have you covered. I can show you; I can teach you.’ So make sure that you're bringing something to the table, because you don't want to be that person that always takes. You have to give as well. It has to be a mutually beneficial relationship.” – Shawna Guevara
“I'm going to actually throw you for a loop here, because one of the things would actually be the power of entrepreneurship. So, I speak into the room when people are basically subject matter experts. You're here, take your learnings, take your knowledge, and use it to better yourself. Use it to make money for yourself. And so, if there is a woman or a man or anybody in my LGBTQIA+ family, definitely use your knowledge and become an entrepreneur. Work for yourself; make money for yourself. Spend hard nights for yourself. And so I think that's just very important.” – Shawna Guevara
Expand on Joy
“My age, Sophie, when you just realize you want to be the boss, and it's just that simple. I like the way I would run a business. I like the way I would treat my employees. I like the way that the back office runs. I love all these things, these aspects of my business. And if I love it, why wouldn't I want more of it? I love going into my own personal office and seeing my employees and their smiling faces. So, definitely if it gives you joy—Hello, Marie Kondo!—if it gives you joy, expand upon it.” – Shawna Guevara