Tessa May Marr, CEO
We've been profiling our team members this year, as I'm sure you've seen. This month, we interviewed our CEO and founder so you can all get to know who started this whole thing from the beginning.
Where’s home for you?
I as born in raised in Edmonton, Alberta and spent my first 10 years of adulthood in Calgary so technically, I’m an Alberta-girl. But just over a year ago, I decided I needed to find a city that really fit me and I found that fit out west in Vancouver. I fall in love with this city more and more every single day I’m here. When I’m here that is—I travel a tonne! I sometimes say my home is “Cloud 9”.
Why did you start Mad Media?
Marketing has changed drastically over the years, and a lot of the best marketers out there were grown in the days of traditional marketing strategies and tactics, and those don’t always work anymore—or at least not on their own. I think this is such an important time for companies to get really honest about what they don’t understand and find the resources to help them, so they don’t get left behind. That’s sort of where we come in. My team understands that businesses need to get digital, and online. They need to connect with their target market where that target market lives. They need to have two-way conversations. They need to stand out. They need to be able to be found—and by the right people. We understand that a website is the new storefront, and the power and psychology behind the right design. There is a method to this madness.
While Mad Media offers marketing and design services, your expertise is social media. How did you get into that?
When I first joined Twitter, I noticed how many businesses were using it and engaging with me, and how it was, in turn, driving my behaviours. I also couldn’t help but notice how many businesses were not using social media and that got me thinking — maybe there was an opportunity there. I wanted to help businesses capitalize and connect on these new social platforms that were cropping up all over the place. In order to test this theory, I set up a Twitter account called @gfyyc (which has now grown into a not-for-profit I also run). It was here I really saw the success of different tactics and campaigns and got to learn. I also invested in my own learning—committing to reading at least four industry blogs each day and attending some conferences to learn from industry experts. It’s a terrific community to be part of and as things are always changing, there is always more to learn. I think that’s part of what makes it exciting.
You are part of a virtual team and you work remotely. Where is your favorite space to work in? (Why?)
I love to mix it up. That’s part of why I started this business. I don’t want the same thing everyday. I want to travel and see the world, so working Monday through Friday, 9-5 in an office doesn’t really work for me. My office is my computer—I have everything I need on here, so I’m free to toss it in my bag and head out on the go. (It’s fitting that right now I’m writing this blog on a plane… haha.)
When you’re not working, what are you up to?
When I’m not working… haha. Well, I do have more than just Mad Media on my plate. I also run Gluten Free Calgary—an online resource centre for people living in Calgary and beyond (and I have a fabulous team of volunteers who help me make it all possible). As the founder of GFYYC, I also sit on the board of the Canadian Celiac Association, Calgary Chapter. But that’s all work, or a version of, I suppose. I do also love yoga—it’s such a great and much-needed mental and physical break for me! I also danced for many years growing up and there is still nothing that lifts me up, so I try to fit in a lyrical or ballet class once a week if possible. And above all, I travel. That’s probably my biggest passion. I’ve blogged about my adventures for years. Oh and of course, wine (my all-time favourite way to unwind).
What was the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Starting a business, probably. This has been such an incredible and challenging adventure, and I’m only just over a year in. I think I had somewhat of a sense of what starting a business would look like—my father was an entrepreneur as well and the success he saw and the pride he had in his company inspired me. I knew I wanted that. But I don’t think anything could have prepared me for this. Half the time you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, but you just kind of keep going, keep moving, keep making decisions and keep learning. The stress is almost unbearable at time—it really does take over your whole life. But when things work well, when you take a moment to really look around and take notice of what you’ve built, it’s overwhelmingly fantastic. The key is to remember to take notice!