Meet Jan Mercer Dahms. As a professional speaker, trainer, and avid networker, it is hard to be in the same room (even a virtual one) with Jan and not be inspired. To say that Jan has had an eclectic career just begins to tell the story. When looking through Jan’s incredible journey, there are a few things that stick out and the one we will be focusing on today is around the power of the network. There are many things that defines one ability to succeed- intelligence, grades, alma matter, hustle, etc but what is rarely discussed is the powerful role the network plays and how detrimental the lack of a network can be to the success of all kinds. I never fully understood the saying “It’s not what you know, but who you know” until moving to NYC 14 years ago where I was constantly reminded of the importance of your network, or in my case, lack of network. Having a strong network gets you past the initial resume review, that first round of an interview, meeting with that hard to reach VC, and in touch with that journalist whose writing is seen by everyone who matters in the industry. Building a network takes years and a lot of effort. So how has networking and opportunities associated with it shifted to the digital world? I sat down with Jan to discuss further. See our chat below!
#TechTuesday Highlight #64: Jan Mercer Dahms, Vice President of U.S. Development at Mayshad Group
Who is Mayshad Group?
Mayshad is an ecosystem of brands by women, for women. Jan guides the launch of CHOICE, a next-generation technology that will revolutionize how accomplished, diverse women network, connect, and form meaningful professional relationships with each other and with the brands, companies, and institutions that champion equity for women. She also leads the corporate diversity and inclusion initiatives and programs, bringing best-in-class methodologies and practical leadership guidance directly to C-Suite and senior leaders
How/why did you get into your space?
I’ve always been passionately obsessed with change. My own professional background is incredibly eclectic; and in my earlier years, the career path probably didn’t make sense to most people … including myself at times! SO MANY PIVOTS! I grew up in fashion retail; my family owned a small chain of clothing stores in the Midwest. From fashion and cosmetics to radio and what is how “healthtech”, I became known for helping companies embrace internal change, whether it meant change for people, systems, or processes. After spending time in pharmaceuticals, I had an “I must save the world” moment, which leads to a pivot to academia, where my research was at the intersection of public policy, gender, reproductive rights, and critical race theory. After spending a decade working with nonprofits, helping them to embrace and implement change management initiatives to ensure sustainability and improve transparency, I decided it was time to create change for myself. This was the ah-ha moment for me, when all of the places and spaces I had previously dabbled in … from operational infrastructure building and technology implementations to my passions around gender, mentoring, and human rights, all finally made sense. I launched my own ventures, SWIG and 6-Figures. SWIG was a Management consulting agency, helping companies understand how they are perceived and experienced by their end users/clients/communities and 6-Figures as a networking organization for professional women. I then transitioned to social impact investing and served as a divisional CEO for Folio Financial, and now serve as Vice President for Mayshad Group, a company dedicated to empowering women through our media division, tech platform, and corporate consulting. I live in the best of all worlds right now and am excited to be a part of the change that comes next for professional women.
What role do you play in the tech ecosystem and why is that role important?
We often say at Mayshad that we are bringing humanity back to social media. Given that the Covid-19 pandemic will undoubtedly change how we individually and collectively live each second of our lives, we know that women and men crave community and belongingness more now than ever … but in safe and healthy ways. My career has been largely built around “experiences,” and not always placing tech at the center of that work, but as a vital and must-have component of it. I’ve been fascinated with helping people work smarter, faster, and more innovatively, and yes, technologies help us do just that. But, my passion is around the human component of how we can use technology, not as a substitute for, but as a complement to improving how we connect and form meaning as human beings. Our new social platform will accomplish just that. It is designed as an end-to-end relationship management solution that is part professional, part personal, complete with professional member matching, individual and group relationship management, and goal setting and tracking, while rich in curated content relevant to highly accomplished women.
How has technology impacted your industry and why is this important?
Covid-19 spurred an immediate transition to a business model driven fully by digital media and technology. In the past two months of remote work, we’ve listened and learned from our ecosystem and have developed ways to engage our audience in perhaps more meaningful and intensive ways via our Brain Trusts, workshops, and live-streamed events than what we were able to deliver in the physical world. While physical live events will remain a part of our model once we return to face-to-face events, we know that we can deliver solutions to our market — and more quickly scale that market — due to our fast pivot.
What do you believe is the most exciting tech trend for 2020 (as it relates to your industry)?
The obvious answer is the acceptance (finally!) of virtual working and companies investing Cluster work — and continued real-time ways for employees and team members to stay connected virtually — which could replace the traditional office. Cluster work, the concept of working in small groups with people that are more aligned to your geography, not your company.
Who is a person that inspires you in the space and why?
Every single woman who has tried to raise capital for her business. And every single investor who invests in female-founded companies.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into your space?
Listen, listen, listen.
You don’t have to be perfect. But you have to take action. Try, embrace failure, and try again. Learn from your experience.
Anything else we should know about you or you want to include?
My advice to all women, no matter what your industry or job function: Figure out your Plan B. Now is a time we must think of diversifying our careers in the same way we diversify our portfolios or our charitable giving strategies.
#businessunusual #networking #leadership #remotework #Innovation #Technology #Startups
Have thoughts on this week’s trends or questions for me or Jan? Post your thoughts in the comment section or share them on Twitter. Please include the hashtag #techtuesday and mention me @ScarlettSieber! Until next week. 🙂
You can connect with Jan on LinkedIn.