In this five-part series, we highlight women at Bidtellect nominated by their peers for their inspiration, leadership, and success in the industry. We asked them everything from career advice to juggling teams and personal goals to the perks of being a woman.
Terah Bocchi is the Senior Vice President of Sales. Her clear communication style, strategic thinking, and ability to lead a large team spread across the country with strength, kindness, and support makes her an irreplaceable member of the Bidtellect family. One nominator wrote: “Terah is vital to our success at Bidtellect. Not only does she lead our sales team, but she also works with all departments to ensure that we have all of the tools and information to succeed. I can honestly say that Terah is the best boss I’ve ever had. I wonder sometimes if she has more hours in a day than the rest of us.”
Here, Terah talks the fallacy of work-life balance, embracing your unique communication style, finding mentors, and handling the challenges of the pandemic.
How long have you worked in the advertising industry?
I kind of fell into the industry. During college I interned at a Pharmaceutical company and I thought that was what I wanted to do. But after college, the interview process was long and I needed to make money, so I took a job at a media startup. It had a similar idea to YouTube, but this was 2005, so no one knew YouTube. In the year I worked there (before it ran out of funding), I did everything from marketing to sales to account management. The experience really piqued my interest in media – and the rest is history.
The biggest lesson I learned throughout my career is that the path you think you’re on is always changing. Opportunities arise, you take a chance on them, and each leads to the next step. When I graduated from college, I remember my grandpa asking me for my five- and ten year plan. Even today I don’t know what that plan is. I just know I am going to continue to work hard to the next evolution of my career path and see where it takes me.
What is a struggle or difficulty that you had to overcome in your career – as a woman or otherwise?
I often think about how far the industry has come since I started, and how the Me Too movement brought to light the ubiquitous underbelly of womens’ experiences across all industries. I think of some of my own earlier experiences: sexual harassment, being told I could never earn cetain titles or postions because I was a mother – those things were and are still very real in some places and companies.
The advertising industry has evolved greatly over the last decade. I personally have evolved as well. The things that I would laugh off, not speak up about, or how I’d let a man talk for me and me and my ideas I no longer do or let slide. It was a very uncomfortable progression to have the confidence to be myself.
Don’t work somewhere that doesn’t respect you as a parent. You can be very good at your job and be a parent.
I used to think my personality was a weakness. That I somehow needed to conform to my previous male bosses’ personality types to be successful: be louder, be tougher. It took me a while to understand that wasn’t the case. The qualities I found in good management had nothing to do with how loud they were or how tough they came off.
What strengths do you think you have as a woman that are unique to women that make you successful?
I do think there are definitely different types of communication styles between men and women, but I also believe people have different styles and approaches based on their own personal experiences outside of gender. I don’t really look at them as strengths and weaknesses, I look at how they complement each other. This is why it is so important to have diversity in company leadership. Difference in opinion and different approaches and differences give unique perspectives to situations and a lot can be learned from each other.
What woman or women do you look up to (in your life, at Bidtellect, your past, or the industry)?
It’s funny to reflect on if I had a mentor; I say funny because my answer off the bat would be no. I never asked for anyone to help guide me. But when I really think about it, I had mentors at each step of my career. Some helped me navigate managing others, grow as a new young mother, recover from bad client meetings, and celebrate big or small wins. Others mentored me by example: I worked with some very amazing senior female sellers early on in my career at a local television station, and I watched how these women hustled, how they presented themselves in front of clients and internally. Now that I am more settled in my career and comfortable defining where I need direction, I have asked others to mentor me in areas that they have already experienced to help me navigate how to get to where I want to be.
I also find that peers are my greatest sounding board on reality checks and advice. Asking advice from those in similar management positions isn’t a weakness; it is a strength and a gift to learn ways of leading. It’s about shifting your mindset from “pretending I know everything while I figure it out” to “I don’t know this, but I am going to ask someone I respect to help me through it.”
Although I don’t know her personally, Whitney Wolfe Herd is a woman I look to. She’s the cofounder and CEO of Bumble, and on the day the IPO made her the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire at age 31, she celebrated with her son on her hip. It brought tears to my eyes. Here is this talented woman, who took a risk venturing out on her own, created a wildly successful company, and when she reached a massive milestone, she didn’t look like most “CEOs,” she did it with her child. Images of leaders like that show women that they can do that, too. It shows working mothers that success – in work and family – is possible.
I remind myself of all the past challenges women faced long before me so that I have the opportunity to be in this position. For that I do feel empowered and grateful. We can get through this. Women are resilient, strong, smart and determined. History shows us that.
What does being a great leader mean to you?
I used to think my personality was a weakness. That I somehow needed to conform to my previous male bosses’ personality types to be successful: be louder, be tougher. It took me a while to understand that wasn’t the case. The qualities I found in good management had nothing to do with how loud they were or how tough they came off. I also believe you can be a leader without a “leadership” title.
What’s your advice for balancing work and life responsibilities?
“Work – life balance” is not a possibility as a working mother. Balance, to me, implies that there is some magic formula you can tap into to not feel like you are making sacrifices in one area versus another. That will never be the case. In my experience, I will never have enough time for both to feel a “balance.” Instead, I look at life day-to-day and assess what needs to be accomplished. Is there something more pressing at work that is going to require more of my attention today and less at home? The next day, my kids may have something more pressing or important that I need to make room for. Work-life flexibility is a more realistic approach. The ability to blend your life and your career together on a schedule that allows you to choose how your time is best suited is ideal for me.
Be comfortable with your communication style – it is your strength. Understand the power of speaking. Speak up. Hear your voice.
How have you handled the new challenges of the pandemic?
One of the biggest challenges I’ve seen brought on by the pandemic is that women have taken the brunt of the responsibilities. They are juggling kids and homeschool on top of work, and they are leaving their careers at greater rates than their male counterparts (McKinsey). In interviewing multiple female candidates in the past sixth months for jobs here at Bidtellect, most were looking to leave their current positions because their company didn’t support them as coronavirus closed schools and disrupted their regular care plans. I have been so fortunate that at my company having kids has never been used against me.
A year into this pandemic, I find myself searching for peace and for joy in the chaos. The days can often seem like a never-ending task list that needs to be completed. The feeling of being spread thin and not fully available to everyone is ever present. In those instances, I remind myself of all the past challenges women faced long before me so that I have the opportunity to be in this position. For that I do feel empowered and grateful. We can get through this. Women are resilient, strong, smart and determined. History shows us that.
What advice would you give to other women or girls starting out their careers?
- Work for people that align with your priorities personally and professionally. Think: career development, maternity leave, work-life acceptance.
- Be comfortable with your communication style – it is your strength. Understand the power of speaking. Speak up. Hear your voice.
- Don’t give up. Take risks no matter what stage of life you’re in. Quitting without a job lined up is what brought me to Bidtellect.
- Build your professional community: mentors, friends, family, authors, influencers. Leaders are everywhere and it isn’t necessarily in their title. Be there for others and lean on others.
- Create your own balance. Say no. There is no “work/life balance” right now, so find a method that works. Carve out time for yourself, like a 30 min workout or a Zoom happy hour with friends.
- Remind yourself of the things you are grateful for.
- Take it one day at a time.
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